Freight Shipping vs. Parcel Shipping

Let's face it: Knowing which shipping service to use can sometimes be confusing for shippers who may not be experts. After all, you have a business to run, and shipping is just one part of it. However, knowing the basics that distinguish freight shipping vs. parcel shipping can help you better understand your options and choose the one that makes the most business sense.

Freight Shipping 101

Here are some facts to know when shipping freight:

  • Freight deliveries are larger than a single parcel and contained in crates or on pallets
  • Freight services can include ground (less-than-truckload, full truckload) air and ocean freight
  • There could be accessorial fees for additional services such as liftgate, residential address fee and more
  • Shipping rates are typically determined by the freight class of your commodity including its density, stowability, handling and liability.

Learn more about the different modes of freight shipping.

When should I use freight shipping?

Use these guidelines to help recognize when to choose freight shipping:

  • Your shipment weighs more than 150 pounds
  • Your shipment is stacked and wrapped on one or more handling units (pallets, crates, etc.).
  • You're moving large, heavy or irregularly shaped items that require special equipment for loading or unloading
  • The final packaged item exceeds 165 inches in width or length
  • You have several large packages going to the same destination

Parcel Shipping 101

Here are the fundamentals of parcel shipping:

  • The weight limit on packages is 150 pounds
  • Due to the smaller size, parcels are usually machine sorted and handled multiple times, which can result in higher incidences of damage
  • Trucks make multiple stops each day, delivering to the doors of various recipients

When should I use parcel shipping?

Parcel shipping is primarily used for shipping individual parcels in a variety of packaging types and delivery speeds. Follow these basic parameters to help you recognize when to choose parcel shipping:

  • You need affordable service for standard lightweight envelopes or boxes
  • Your shipment is smaller than what will fit on a pallet (10-15 boxes)
  • You need a variety of delivery types with 1-5 day service guarantees

Simple Way To Determine the Best Shipping Method

The best rule of thumb is to choose your shipping method based on the weight of the shipment. Remember that parcel shipping is typically for a load under 150 pounds. Most parcel delivery companies will view a shipment near 150 pounds as simply a larger-sized package. But, some carriers may consider loads around that weight to be light freight.

Is it time to consider third-party logistics (3PL) services for your shipping operations?

Shipping can be confusing. There are a lot of moving parts and items to consider well beyond freight vs. parcel shipping. Unishippers can help. As a leading provider of 3PL services, we offer expert shipping services for small to medium-sized businesses that rely on shipping as a core function of their operations.

Unishippers offers a full range of parcel services including ground, overnight and next-day shipping through our relationship with UPS®, one of the world's largest and most trusted package delivery companies. We also offer a full range of truckload and LTL freight services for heavyweight shipments through our partnerships with more than 65 national and regional freight carriers across the country.

Learn how Unishippers can help you save money, time and hassle on all your business shipping. Contact an expert today.

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