For those that don’t know exactly what freight refers to, freight is the transportation of bulk goods, via road, rail, ship or air. Freight shipping is vital for all types of ecommerce businesses. Today, we’re going to talk about the basics of freight and what you need to know about freight classifications and freight shipments.
How Does Freight Shipping Work?
Freight shipping refers to the transportation of cargo throughout the world. Freight shipping is set up between a merchant and freight broker, the merchant books the shipment to transport their inventory from one location to another.
Freight Shipping Today
There’s no question that freight is a major pillar in the U.S. economy. The U.S. alone invested $21 billion dollars in 2017 for just domestic transportation. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of June 2017, there were 777,240 for-hire carriers, 700,591 private carriers, and 80,247 other carriers on file. 91% of all carriers operate 6 or fewer trucks.
While those numbers may be surprising, the freight industry is growing. A lot of that growth has been fueled by online ecommerce, leveraging platforms like Shopify and Magento to launch ecommerce stores. Companies like Thill help them with their fulfillment processes, many of these companies rely on freight to get their inventory to our warehouses.
As for the freight types, it varies from one company to the next.
Different Types Of Freight
There’s a total of 3 different types of freight.
- FTL – Full-Truckload
- LTL – Less-Than-Truckload
- PTL – Partial-Truckload
Let’s define each so you understand what they are and what they do.
Full Truck Load (FTL)
Full containers can be used to transport inventory. These type of shipments can be transported using road or rail. FTL containers can move up to 24-26 full pallets. FTL shipments are known as direct shipments, meaning they start from the pick-up location and travel to the end destination.
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments include 1-6 pallets. LTL shipments are the most common type of shipments used. With LTL shipments, inventory is usually transferred to different trucks on the way to its destination.
Partial Truckload (PTL)
A partial-truckload (PTL) shipment includes 6-12 pallets. With PTL shipments, once shipments are loaded, they rarely use additional trucks to deliver to the end destination.
What Classifies As A Freight Shipment?
For a shipment to be classified as freight, a shipment has to be larger than 30 inches by 30 inches by 30 inches or weighs over 150 pounds.
Now, standard trucks can transport a maximum of 26 total pallets. The typical dimension of a pallet is 48 inches wide by 40 inches long, with a max height at 80 inches tall. If a pallet exceeds 48 inches in height, it would be considered as a double-stacked pallet.
Truck beds and containers are typically off the ground about 4 feet. In order to load or unload the truck, warehouses usually have an elevated dock. If a warehouse doesn’t have a dock, the truck can be unloaded using a forklift or loading equipment. If any pickup or drop-off location does not have a dock or forklift, a truck with a lift gate service can be booked. Keep in mind though, you’ll be required to pay for it if that’s the case.
Freight Shipping And Ecommerce Fulfillment
You may be wondering how freight shipping ties into ecommerce fulfillment. When you’re working with third-party-logistics (3PL) service providers, many ecommerce businesses use freight shipping to send inventory to fulfillment centers.
Most of the 3PL companies around the U.S. will help you book freight shipments as needed. A lot of them will help with inventory receiving and making sure everything arrives as it should. It doesn’t matter if you’re spending $10K on a shipment or $50M, you want that freight shipment to be accurate and on time.
Here at Thill, we help ecommerce businesses book freight shipments in the United States. We work with dedicated freight specialist to help you with all of your freight needs.