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Freight vs. Parcel: How Do I Choose?

Sweet versus savory. Beach versus mountains. Chocolate versus, well, everything else! Life's full of tough choices between equally great but very different things. For small and mid-sized business that ship on a regular basis, one of the biggest decisions comes down to this: freight versus parcel.

By the end of this article, you're not only going to be knowledgeable on the difference between these two powerful Worldwide Express shipping options, but you'll also know when each method usually is the best choice for a given shipment.

To start out, let's define what freight and parcel shipping mean, exactly:

Freight shipping
Put briefly, this is the heavy stuff. Generally, any shipment that weighs more than 150 pounds is considered freight. If it weighs a lot, comes in a large package, needs to go on a pallet, or takes up some or all of the space in a large semi-truck, chances are you're dealing with freight.

Parcel shipping
As you probably guessed, this is the lighter stuff. Generally, if your shipment weighs less than 150 pounds, and/or can be lifted without assistance, you're probably talking about parcel.

Now that you know the definitions of freight and parcel shipping, it's time to dive in a little deeper on when it's appropriate to select each option.

Why should I choose freight shipping?
Here are a few items that should factor into a decision to ship via freight:

  • Lower risk of damage. Less-than-truckload (LTL) and full truckload (FTL) shipments are generally secured on pallets and better protected in trucks, trains, planes and other containers. Since they're usually larger in size than parcels, carriers generally have less capacity available to devote to freight shipments. That means a smaller volume of shipments on any one vessel – and likely less probability of damage.
  • Better for heavier shipments. Parcel shipments, as mentioned above, have weight limits, so if your shipment weighs into the hundreds of pounds, you're looking at freight.
  • Improved security and fewer checkpoints. Generally, freight shipments pass through fewer checkpoints on their journey than parcels do. Any shipment that has fewer stops or transfers between vehicles is inherently easier to track and less susceptible to tampering. Plus, the heavier and more secure it is, the less likely it is to be a victim of theft.

Why should I choose parcel shipping?
Here are a few items that should factor into a decision to ship via parcel:

  • Generally better bang for your shipping buck. Pound per pound, parcel shipping is usually more cost-effective than freight due to the higher volume of packages moving through a carrier's network. Freight shipments are usually larger and heavier, which means more space used in a container and an associated higher cost.
  • More options. If you have a shipment that needs to arrive overnight or within two days, you don't have very many choices when it comes to freight. On the other hand, parcel shipping through Worldwide Express's small package partner, UPS®, offers a myriad of choices for your delivery speed. If you're in a hurry and have a shipment less than 150 pounds, parcel is usually the proper pick.
  • Better for smaller and lighter shipments. If you're shipping a few small boxes of small goods, freight usually doesn't make much sense. Parcel shipping is a great choice for packages that don't take up much space, weigh too much or need special handling.

Even with this primer on freight shipping versus parcel shipping, there are many situations where you'll likely need the advice of a trusted third-party shipping logistics provider to determine which solution is best for you. Worldwide Express, and your team of local shipping experts, are standing by to help you make the right decisions on every freight or parcel shipment you make. Contact them for a custom shipping consultation. Finally, an easy choice!

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