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What is freight shipping? A beginner’s guide for businesses

If you have your own business, you should be able to answer this question: what is freight shipping? If you need to learn about freight shipping, read on.

Are you a new business owner trying to learn the ropes of import and export? If so, you’ve probably wondered: what is freight shipping?

Read on to learn all about freight delivery options and benefits. We’ll also cover the features to look for when choosing a provider.

An Introduction to Freight Shipping

So what is freight shipping?

Basically, freight shipping refers to the process of transporting goods and cargo. It can be transported by sea, air or land.

Freight shipping is necessary for any shipment that is larger than 30 inches by 30 inches by 30 inches or weighs over 150 pounds.

Depending on how much cargo you have, there are different shipping modes.

Freight Shipping Modes

There are three main types of shipping modes available to you.

Full truckload (FTL)

Full truckload means that you are shipping a full container. These can be shipped by rail or road.

A full truckload is typically between 24 and 26 pallets. This cargo is picked up from the pick-up location and delivered to the destination.

Partial truckload (PTL)

A partial truckload (called PTL for short) is when you need to ship between 6 and 12 pallets.

It’s not likely that your inventory will have to be transferred to another truck before getting to the destination.

Less-than-truckload (LTL)

A less-than-truckload shipment can be between 1 and 6 pallets. This type of freight shipping is very common.

Especially because businesses want to get their goods to the consumers quickly, without waiting for FTL before scheduling a freight delivery.

With LTL shipments, the cargo often gets moved to a different truck on the way to the destination.

Now that you understand the three main types of freight shipping, you need to understand about intermodal and expedited freight.


Intermodal freight shipping is the type of delivery that is done by a combination of transportation modes.

Perhaps your inventory is shipped by rail and truck. Or by ship and truck. Yet, rail and truck is the most common intermodal method.

Using rail in your freight shipping can lower fuel use and costs!


Expedited freight shipping refers to any shipment that is time-sensitive and must be delivered quickly.

This type of cargo will typically be shipped by air or truck. Of course, you will pay a premium for expedited service.

Now that you understand the specifics of freight delivery, let’s look at the benefits.

Benefits of Freight Shipping

Freight shipping is a cost-effective, reliable way to get your products to their destination on time.

The main benefit of freight shipping is the flexibility it offers you.

With LTL or PTL shipping, you don’t have to wait for a full truckload to get your goods to your customers. You can ship on demand and keep the process flowing.

Also, the sooner you send out inventory, the more space you have in your warehouse for new products. It also allows the consignee to purchase in shorter cycles while reducing their own inventory.

Most freight shipping services aren’t locked into a specific carrier. That means if another provider offers a better package, the shipper can take advantage of it. If there’s a delay at the port, the shipper can arrange for alternate travel to make sure the cargo arrives on time.

Also, freight shipping is more cost-effective than parcel shipping items due to their weight and size.

Factors That Determine Freight Shipping Rates

If you are new to freight shipping, you are probably wondering about shipping rates.

As with most things, the price can vary depending on several factors.

First, whether you choose FTL, PTL or LTL will impact your price. The distance between the pickup and drop-off location will affect the rate as well.

If you live in or close to a major metropolitan city may help you get lower rates.

One of the biggest considerations is size and weight. And if your goods require special handling because they are fragile, perishable or hazardous, you will likely pay higher costs.

How to Choose the Right Freight Forwarder

Now you’re wondering how to go about choosing a freight shipping company.

The most vital consideration is the company’s experience.

You want someone that knows what they’re doing. Years of experience means your forwarder has seen things like dockworker strikes, port shutdowns, and custom and warehousing issues.

They will know how to handle it with professionalism and accuracy. An experienced forwarder will also have a network of business partners around the world.

If you ship cargo freight internationally, this is vital.

Make sure your forwarder has the necessary insurance. When you’re dealing with expensive shipments, this is a no-brainer.

It’s also wise to ask for references before you partner with a freight forwarder. Most companies will be proud to share their testimonials with you. If not, that’s a big red flag.

Good customer service is also paramount. Does the forwarder get back to you quickly when you request a quote? Do they answer your questions?

Remember, the cheapest price is not necessarily the best way to find a reliable and reputable forwarder. Keep in mind that the money you save in fees could cost you in delays, lost shipments and other problems.

Read here for more information on choosing a good freight company.

What is Freight Shipping? Now You Know!

Thanks for reading! We hope this beginner’s guide has answered all your questions like, “what is freight shipping?” and “what factors determine price?”