How FTL and LTL Load Types Affect Shipping for Retailers Around the Holidays

February 14, 2023

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year for retailers. Online sales are booming, and stores are packed with shoppers looking for deals. This increase in activity can put a lot of pressure on shipping companies to ensure packages arrive on time.

There are two main classes of load types retailers use to ship their products: full truckload (FTL) and less than truckload (LTL). Each has its place in the shipping of holiday gifts, from when they leave stores to when they’re in the hands of happy recipients.

FTL Shipping and the Beginning of an Online Order’s Journey

FTL shipping is generally used in the early stages of shipping as a means to get items from warehouses and factories to distribution centers. During the holidays, suppliers may find that they need to move goods quickly between warehouses and retailers in order to keep up with increased demand. FTL shipping is a great option because it allows large amounts of goods to be moved at once.

Usually, before a consumer even orders an item for the holidays, it’s been parceled out in FTL shipments from point of origin to local distribution centers.

LTL Shipping and the Middle of the Journey

Once a shipment has reached a distribution center, the shipper can separate it into smaller loads (LTL) for final delivery to retailers or directly to customers. Generally, whereas an FTL load is delivered to one destination, an LTL shipment is included with other LTLs on a truck and delivered as one of multiple stops to different destinations.

LTL shipping is also generally used for store-to-store transfers, as it allows retailers to quickly and efficiently re-distribute inventory to respond to fluctuations in demand during the holidays and ensure each store has enough of a given product.

There’s a good chance your holiday gift orders were shipped through this method at some point in their journey.

The Final Leg of the Holiday Shipping Journey

Finally, when it’s time for an item to be delivered to a customer, retailers may use parcel shipping, such as via USPS, FedEx or UPS. Shipment sizes can vary widely in this case; retailers’ priority at this stage is the ability to send items quickly and reliably.

For customers in Alaska, there is often an extra step before this final leg, and that’s package forwarding. Since some retailers don’t offer shipping to Alaska, customers in the state must use package-forwarding services, which accept shipments in the Lower 48 and then forward them to Alaska, such as Carlile’s MyConnect.

From FTL and LTL shipments to package-forwarding and parcel services, a different method is used at each stage of the shipping journey.

Carlile Handles Both FTL and LTL Shipping for the Holidays in Alaska

As an industry leader in shipping and logistics, Carlile offers both FTL and LTL freight shipping options for holiday shipping to and from Alaska. We have a wide network of partner carriers and resources to get your shipments where they need to go safely and on time.

To learn more about our shipping options or to get a delivery quote, contact us today. Our team would be happy to help you choose the right shipping option for you or your business.