LTL vs. FTL: Which Is Right for Your Business?

Categories: Trucking.

In today’s highly competitive shipping market, you may be weighing the pros and cons of less-than-truckload freight (LTL) and full truckload freight (FTL) for transporting your products from the ports.

Common wisdom on this subject often serves as the guidepost for many in the freight industry. Many consumers now expect lightning-fast fulfillment speed, which is often easier to implement with FTL, even though LTL can be more cost-efficient.

LTL is typically better for small shipments, while FTL is considered better for large shipments. However, depending on your organization’s needs, there are other factors to consider.

Here, we’ll break down what you need to know about both shipping methods, so you can determine what’s best for your business.

Less-than-truckload freight

Here’s how less-than-truckload (also known as less-than-load) shipping works, as well as some of the main pros and cons of this shipping method.

When you use LTL, your products travel in a truckload containing other businesses’ products as well as yours. Since your goods aren’t traveling in exclusive shipments, cost efficiency is one of the main benefits of LTL. These types of shipments maximize efficiency by saving money for carriers, which, in turn, saves money for your business.

There are, however, some downsides to LTL. Because these shipments contain shipments for multiple businesses, drivers must make more stops, which generally takes more time than FTL. Additionally, more stops along the way means more frequent loading, unloading, and handling of products, which can increase the chances of damaged products.

LTL might be a good option for you if:

  • You only need to transport a few pallets of product at a time
  • Your products are not particularly fragile and/or can withstand being handled multiple times throughout the journey
  • You have relatively flexible pickup and delivery windows
  • Cost efficiency is a higher priority for your business than lightning-fast delivery

Every business has unique needs and circumstances to consider when choosing a shipping method. But if your organization meets all, some, or most of the above criteria, LTL may be the best option to pursue.

Full truckload freight

FTL shipping uses an entire truck to exclusively ship your products rather than sharing a truckload with other businesses’ goods. This shipping method offers a much higher degree of control and precision than LTL freight.

The primary advantage of FTL is that it allows for firm pickup and delivery times and dates, as well as mitigating the frequent loading, unloading, and jostling of products seen with LTL. Much like using an exclusive rideshare service, the downside to this method is that using an exclusive truckload equals a higher price point than the one you’d find when using a shared truckload.

FTL might be a good option for your business if:

  • You need to transport a lot of product at once, or bulky products like furniture 
  • Your products are fragile and/or shouldn’t be handled too much
  • Your products need to be picked up and delivered on a strict time schedule (e.g., perishable products or products with guaranteed delivery windows)
  • Speed is a higher priority for your business than cost

GlobeCon is your fulfillment and distribution partner

For over 35 years, GlobeCon has been a trusted partner for businesses like yours. We’re dedicated to seamlessly moving products through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to anywhere in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Leveraging our strong network of contract carriers, we can transload your containers from the port to an over-the-road carrier. And, of course, we’re adept at accommodating both less-than-truckload and full truckload shipments. 

No matter which shipment method is best for your specific needs, GlobeCon is ready to support you and the success of your business.

Contact us