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How Less-Than-Truckload Shipping Works

Time to read: 5 minutes

Moving cargo from one destination to another is a constant challenge due to continuous changes in supply chain procedures. You will inevitably encounter logistics problems regularly. This increases the need for adaptable solutions that help you make quick decisions that satisfy your business requirements.

No matter how dependable containerized distribution centers are, they cannot handle some of your supply chain requirements. Less-than-truckload shipping is a method that transports your goods straight from the point of origin to the destination. This will provide you with an effective end-to-end cargo trip.

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Less-than-truckload shipping, often known as less-than-load (LTL), is a service for relatively modest loads or quantities of freight. Several large, nationwide parcel carriers and specialist logistics companies provide less-than-truckload services.

Several eCommerce companies that often need to send smaller batches of goods might use these services to meet their shipping requirements. Companies of less-than-truckload cargo provide economies of scale to reduce the freight costs of individual shipments.

LTL shipments typically weigh between 150 and 10,000 pounds and are organized on pallets.

They are very effective, combining partial loads to generate whole multi-stop truckloads. But the amount of space required, the type of goods being shipped, and the locations of collection and delivery all affect shipping prices.

LTL freight can usually be transported, expedited, or guaranteed. Moreover, LTL freight can be sent with additional customized services. These services include lift gate pickup/delivery, inside pickup/delivery, residential pickup/delivery, and reweighing/reclassification. On the other hand,  accessorial fees are the extra costs associated with these services.

Four Benefits of Less-Than-Truckload Shipping

LTL shipping is best for firms with occasional or infrequent shipping needs, as it is generally more cost-effective than shipping through full truckload (FTL). LTL shipping can also offer more flexibility in terms of delivery alternatives and travel durations.

LTL shipments are frequently combined with other loads headed to the exact location, which can lower transportation costs. Also, many LTL carriers have guaranteed travel timeframes, making it suitable for shipments arriving on a specific day. LTL shipping is generally a practical and affordable choice for companies with modest or irregular transportation requirements.

1. Cost Effective

LTL freight comprises numerous smaller shipments that make up a full truckload. You only pay for the space you utilize because your package only takes up a percentage of the truck’s allotted space. It guarantees that your costs will be much lower than a typical full truckload transportation.

The ability to significantly reduce shipping costs is LTL’s main advantage. Low rates are typically only available to large shippers. But, even the smallest startups can obtain an excellent shipping quotation for their freight when using LTL freight.

2. Built for eCommerce Operations

Businesses must ensure their shipping strategies meet the expectations of their customers. It’s especially crucial in a world where eCommerce purchases are part of the business norm. LTL shipping increases productivity and delivery times by avoiding the requirement that every shipment fill a full truckload. Utilizing LTL shipping assures your freight or inventory ends up exactly where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

3. Contributes to Sustainable Practices

Sharing truck space with other retailers is a good way to make your operations more environmentally sustainable. Fewer trucks carry full loads due to LTL shipment instead of more trucks hauling less than their capacity. This decrease in the number of trucks required to transport goods lowers emissions and your business’s carbon footprint.

4. Access to Logistical Expertise

Smaller operations frequently lack the funding to hire in-house shippers. When small businesses use LTL shipping, they have access to the logistics experts who work for LTL shipping companies. Their knowledge and services are of great help to augment the logistics processes of a small business.

Factors to Consider for Less-Than-Truckload Shipping

The unique characteristics of the products you sell will determine the shipment solution you need. Your choice may be influenced by your shipment’s size, the fragility of your goods, the required time to market, or budget constraints.

While many businesses find less-than-truckload shipping to be an exciting opportunity, it’s essential to consider several criteria when selecting the best LTL carrier.

When one does not have enough items to load a trailer, it’s best to go with LTL. Local collection and central distribution terminals, or hubs,  are essential to LTL. The hub terminal is where goods are sorted and transported after being gathered from the local ones. 

Shipment Specifications

Understanding the freight class of your package can also help you narrow down the options for less-than-truckload carriers because it affects pricing. Calculating freight density determines the freight class. 

Knowing your freight’s weight and dimensions is essential to optimize this. You may get the density by dividing the weight in pounds by the cubic feet. LTL carriers make use of this data for usage. The better the freight can be used, the smaller and heavier it must be, and vice versa. Prices increase with the less dense shipment, which will be a significant deciding factor.

Higher classes are reserved for items such as hazardous materials. These require special handling and equipment, which are reflected in additional costs.

Pickup and Distance Delivery

A truck will use more gasoline and cost more the farther apart the pickup and delivery points are. Shippers need to evaluate the freight firm’s operation area as shipping outside their area will cost more and take longer to deliver.


LTL refers to transporting items from many retailers on the same trailer. For a single company’s goods taking up the entire trailer, this is known as full truckload freight. With FTL, your cargo is the only thing on a specific truck. This will give you exclusive use of the whole truck and the potential to fill it. If you have large, delicate packages, FTL may be preferable to LTL. However, LTL will be more cost-effective if you only need to transport a few boxes.

There are significant differences between LTL and FTL when comparing carrier transit times. Transit is highly predictable when you have a full truckload. Your carrier will pick up whatever you send and drive it directly to the recipient. The actual delivery date may differ significantly from the predicted delivery date for LTL. This is because LTL transit only travels to the final consumer due to the numerous stops they must make.

Less-than-truckload shipping gives shippers access to high-tech technology,  equipment, and security. They can benefit from expert transportation without incurring exorbitant personnel, equipment, or space costs. LTL freight also minimizes the risk of damage by keeping pallets and packages together. Thus money is saved, and customer satisfaction is increased.

Getting Started with Less-Than-Truckload Shipping

While planning LTL shipments, there are a few factors to remember. But it should include dimensions, documentation, labeling, and packaging.


When measuring the freight’s length, height, and width in a single shipment, make it a habit always to round up. You’ll need precise specifications to avoid unnecessary fees and maximize truck capacity.


Go over the “bill of lading” to complete the shipping transaction. This paper serves as a shipping receipt for the goods. But remember that this paper needs to be as accurate and thoroughly inspected.

Labeling & Packaging

All labels and packaging should be printed and in excellent condition. It’s best to place them onto pallets to minimize the truck space your goods require. Also, place heavier objects at the bottom of pallets. Ensure your labeling is visible from the pallet’s exterior.

To keep everything running smoothly, consider utilizing shipment tracking. It’s a great idea to integrate your tracking solution if your partner carrier does not provide any shipping technology for visibility. 

A great solution is a transportation management system (TMS) to optimize shipments and gain better visibility. It’ll also provide you with business intelligence and expertise in the global supply chain. These systems give your global supply chain a competitive edge while reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

Every LTL trucking load should be able to be examined by a TMS to determine whether it may be coupled with other shipments on nearby routes. With this data, it then constructs whole freight truckloads with many stops.

Your company should consider LTL freight shipping as a potential logistical choice. Depending on your products and your most frequent cargo types, less-than-truckload shipping can be very efficient and economical. Maintaining knowledge of how the LTL industry functions and how it may help you can help you make the most of your LTL shipments. And having this knowledge makes it easier to decide what actions to take next to make the most of LTL freight.

ZhenHub brings your products closer to customers all over the world. eCommerce shipping has never been easier with cost-effective and trackable shipping services. Optimize your shipping strategy by signing up.

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