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LTL&FTL : What Is The Difference and How to Optimize My Option?

LTL (Less Than Truckload) and FTL (Full Truckload) are two different logistics freight shipping methods with distinct characteristics.

Load Size:

  • LTL: In LTL shipping, freight from multiple shippers is consolidated onto a single truck. Shipments typically range from 150 to 15,000 pounds. Since the truck carries freight from multiple sources, each shipment occupies only a portion of the truck's available space.

  • FTL: In FTL shipping, the entire truck is dedicated to a single shipment. This is suitable for larger shipments that require the use of the entire truck's capacity, typically starting from around 10,000 pounds or more.


  • LTL: LTL shipping tends to be more cost-effective for smaller shipments because the cost is shared among multiple shippers. Rates are usually determined based on the weight, dimensions, distance, and freight classification of the shipment.

  • FTL: FTL shipping is generally more cost-effective for larger shipments since the shipper pays for the entire truck's capacity. Rates are typically calculated based on distance and may be influenced by factors such as fuel costs and demand.

Transit Time:

  • LTL: Transit times for LTL shipments may be longer compared to FTL shipments because the truck makes multiple stops to pick up and deliver freight from different shippers along the route. However, carriers often provide estimated transit times to help shippers plan accordingly.

  • FTL: Transit times for FTL shipments are usually shorter since the truck travels directly from the origin to the destination without making intermediate stops. This can result in faster delivery times, especially for long-distance shipments.

Handling and Risk:

  • LTL: LTL shipments may be subject to more handling as they are loaded and unloaded multiple times during consolidation and deconsolidation processes. This increases the risk of damage or loss, although carriers take measures to minimize these risks.

  • FTL: FTL shipments generally involve less handling since the freight remains on the same truck throughout the journey. This reduces the risk of damage or loss associated with handling and transfers.

Space and Flexibility:

  • LTL: LTL shipping offers flexibility for shippers with smaller shipments since they can utilize only the space they need without paying for unused capacity. It's suitable for businesses with varying shipment sizes and frequencies.

  • FTL: FTL shipping provides shippers with dedicated space and greater control over the entire truckload. It's ideal for businesses with large or high-volume shipments that require consistent capacity and prefer direct transit without intermediate stops.

If you have an e-commerce fulfillment business, the recommendation between LTL and FTL shipping depends on several factors.

Choose LTL (Less Than Truckload) shipping if your shipments are smaller and you want to save on costs by sharing the truck space with other shippers.

Choose FTL (Full Truckload) shipping if your shipments are larger and you want faster delivery times since the truck goes directly from origin to destination without making multiple stops.

Consider factors like shipment size, delivery speed, cost, fragility of goods, and flexibility needs to make the best choice for your business.

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