Parcel or Pallet? Which to Choose?

While these two shipping options can appear quite similar, determining whether to ship parcel or pallet (less-than-truckload) for your business operations is vital. Knowing the differences between the two will assist you in determining the safest, most cost-effective, and most efficient shipping options, when deciding among the best LTL trucking companies.

Parcel Shipping

Parcels are typically small, lightweight shipments that generally weigh less than 100lbs. Boxes can sometimes be categorized as parcels if their combined girth and length do not exceed 165 inches. Parcels are labeled and shipped individually and usually require little assistance to transport. They will often contain protective materials inside, such as bubble wrap or Styrofoam.

The manual handling means that the boxes are more susceptible to damage or being misplaced. Nonetheless, with many checkpoints and transfers, parcels are generally easier to track when compared to other pallet shipping options. Furthermore, parcel delivery trucks have a calculated route that remains static, making parcel shipping perfect for time-sensitive shipments.

Pallet Shipping (LTL)

If your freight is bulky and weighs more than 100lbs, LTL trucking services may provide a better shipping option. Pallet shipments have a significantly lower risk of getting damaged as there is less manual handling and fewer checkpoints. LTL trucking companies will move freight by using forklifts, which is safer when compared to conveyor belts often used in parcel shipments. Pallet shipping allows for multiple packages to be transported to the same location. Transporting freight pallets to a fulfillment or distribution center – where it is consolidated with other cargo pallets going to the same region – allows for cost-savings on these types of shipments.

Differences between Parcel and Pallet Shipping

Listed below are some of the key differences that exist between parcel and LTL trucking services.

  • Tracking: As parcel shipping often involves many checkpoints it may provide more regular updates on the shipment’s current location.
  • Cost: Pallets are heavier and larger than parcels and therefore more expensive. Nonetheless, they are an affordable option if you are shipping large amounts of cargo to the same location.
  • Safety: Parcels are lighter and more fragile than pallets and because they are shipped in greater volumes, they tend to get manually handled at the numerous checkpoints involved in the transportation process. This makes them more vulnerable to damage and/or loss.
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