R2 Logistics

How to Avoid 5 Cons of LTL Shipping

How to Avoid 5 Cons of LTL Shipping

Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is a popular choice for businesses looking to transport smaller shipments without the expense of reserving an entire trailer. Despite the advantages of this versatile shipping method, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Check out these five cons of LTL shipping that you need to know about:

1. Longer Transit Times

The best carriers offer reliable drop-offs and fast turnaround times. However, LTL shipping will almost always be slower than full truckload (FTL) for one simple reason: LTL trucks have to make multiple stops, whereas an FTL driver only has to handle your cargo. 

Since LTL shipments consolidate multiple pieces of cargo onto a single truck, it will take longer for your shipment to reach its destination. Depending on how spread out the driver’s stops are, your shipping times may increase by a few days or even a week.

The Solution

You can easily overcome slightly longer transit times by optimizing your delivery and shipping strategies. As soon as a client schedules a delivery, arrange cargo pickup and get to work fulfilling the order. Minimizing order processing delays can easily shave one or two days off of turnaround times, allowing you to take advantage of LTL’s cost-saving benefits while also meeting the needs of your customers.  

2. Risk of Damage or Loss

Carriers try to load LTL shipments as efficiently as possible. However, they base their routes on proximity to minimize backtracking and dead mileage. Unfortunately, carriers can’t always deliver cargo based on its position in the trailer, which means they will have to handle and move freight multiple times during a single trip. 

Extra handling increases the risk of damage or loss compared to FTL shipments. During FTL, your cargo will only be handled twice: once during loading and a second time during delivery. 

The Solution

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. First, make sure you properly package and palletize your goods to protect them from damage. So long as your goods aren’t shifting around during handling, they should make it through the trip damage-free.

Additionally, make sure you choose a reputable carrier. LTL experts use all necessary precautions when loading and handling cargo to mitigate risks and prevent damage. 

Cons of LTL Shipping

3. Increased Chance of Delays

Tracking visibility can be limited when you ship your goods using the less-than-truckload method. As a result, it will be harder to keep customers in the loop about the status of their items. This situation can lead to friction among your client base. 

For that reason, it is important to choose a reputable carrier and ask plenty of questions about its tracking capabilities. Forward-thinking service providers have taken steps to improve their visibility.

The Solution

Modern carriers and logistics partners solve this problem by offering real-time tracking capabilities and up-to-the-minute updates on your shipment. You can enjoy peace of mind knowing your freight is on time, and if a delay arises, you’ll know right away.

4. Increased Chance of Delays

Every time a driver reroutes to their next stop, they face a risk of delay. Since LTL carriers have to make multiple stops to unload a single trailer, the chances of delays are magnified, especially if your shipment is one of the last ones to be delivered. 

If time is of the essence, you may want to consider an alternative shipping method, such as the FTL approach. Before making this decision, weigh the opportunity costs of a major delay against the added expenses of reserving an entire trailer. 

The Solution

Avoiding unnecessary delays comes down to choosing the right carrier. Future-minded teams use robust scheduling and route-planning algorithms to account for delays and provide accurate delivery predictions. They also leverage real-time analytics to adjust routes based on current traffic conditions, construction zones, and other variables.

LTL Shipping Cons

5. Pricing Complexity

Many less-than-truckload carriers impose accessory charges for add-ons such as liftgate delivery or residential pickup. These extra fees can add up fast and drive up your total logistics expenses. 

That’s why it is important to ask plenty of questions when you receive quotes. Be clear about what you’ll need, where your cargo is located, and what steps the driver will have to perform to pick it up (e.g., enter a neighborhood, walk inside a business, etc.). 

The Solution

The best way to avoid the possible pricing cons of LTL shipping is by partnering with an experienced third-party logistics provider (3PL). A good 3PL will shop rates, help protect you from cost overruns, and provide guidance on what shipping option represents the best match for each piece of freight. 

Additionally, a great 3PL will give you access to volume discounts that you wouldn’t qualify for on your own. Remember, they are orchestrating hundreds of LTL shipments with their network of partner carriers, which can help keep costs down.

Is LTL Shipping Right for Your Business?

If you would like to learn more about less-than-truckload shipping and whether it might be a good fit for your business, connect with R2 Logistics. As a leading 3PL, we provide a wide range of logistics services, including LTL shipping.