Blog » Freight vs. Shipping: What’s the Difference

Freight vs. Shipping: What’s the Difference and How to Choose the Best Option for Your Business?

If you run an ecommerce business, you know how important it is to ship your products to your customers quickly, safely, and affordably. But with so many shipping options available, how do you choose the best one for your needs?

In this blog post, we will compare and contrast two common terms that are often used interchangeably: freight and shipping. We will answer the following questions:

  • What is freight and what is shipping?
  • How do they differ in terms of cost, delivery time, weight limits, insurance, and more?
  • Who should use freight or shipping depending on their needs and preferences?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option?

We will also include the prices of FedEx, UPS, and USPS for the same distance, so you can see which carrier offers the best deal.

Let’s get started! 🚀

What is Freight?

Freight is a term that refers to the transportation of large quantities of goods by any means, such as truck, train, ship, or plane. Freight is usually used for commercial purposes, meaning that the goods are intended for sale or trade. Freight can also refer to the physical cargo or the goods that are being transported.

Freight is typically divided into two categories: air freight and freight shipments. Air freight is the shipment of goods by plane, which is faster but more expensive than other modes of transport. Freight shipments are the shipment of goods by land or sea, which are slower but cheaper than air freight.

Freight shipments can be further classified into different types depending on the size, weight, and type of the goods. Some common types are:

  • Express: This is the fastest and most expensive type of freight shipment. It is used for urgent or time-sensitive deliveries that require special handling or security.
  • Household Goods: This is the type of freight shipment that is used for moving personal belongings or furniture from one place to another.
  • Parcel: This is the type of freight shipment that is used for small packages or boxes that weigh less than 150 pounds.
  • Freight Shipments: This is the type of freight shipment that is used for large or heavy items that weigh more than 150 pounds.
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What is Shipping?

Shipping is a term that refers to the process of moving goods from one location to another by any means, such as truck, train, ship, or plane. Shipping can be used for both commercial and personal purposes, meaning that the goods can be either for sale or trade or for personal use. Shipping can also refer to the packages or containers that are used to transport the goods.

Shipping can be done in different ways depending on the size, weight, and type of the goods. Some common ways are:

  • Flat Rate: This is a type of shipping that charges a fixed price for packages with a certain size and weight limit. The price does not change regardless of the distance or destination.
  • Standard: This is a type of shipping that charges a variable price based on the distance, weight, and dimensions of the package. The price may also change depending on the service level or delivery speed.
  • Expedited: This is a type of shipping that offers faster delivery than standard shipping for an extra fee. It is usually used for urgent or time-sensitive deliveries.
  • International: This is a type of shipping that involves crossing borders or oceans to deliver goods to another country. It may require additional documents, fees, or customs clearance.

The difference between Freight and Shipping

 

Aspect Freight Shipping
Cost Cheaper than shipping for large and heavy shipments; lower fuel surcharge and fees; optional insurance; more discounts or surcharges available; more flexibility and control over container size, type, and loading method; lower port charges or customs duties in some destinations. More expensive than freight for small and light shipments; higher fuel surcharge and fees; mandatory insurance; fewer discounts or surcharges available; less flexibility and control over package size and weight; higher port charges or customs duties in some destinations.
Delivery Time Slower than shipping for both short and long distances; longer transit time; more delays due to weather, congestion, or customs issues; less reliable delivery lead time; harder to boost customer loyalty. Faster than freight for both short and long distances; shorter transit time; fewer delays due to weather, congestion, or customs issues; more reliable delivery lead time; easier to boost customer loyalty.
Weight Limits Higher weight limits than shipping for both short and long distances; more cost-effective for transporting large volumes of cargo; more flexibility and control over container size, type, and loading method. Lower weight limits than freight for both short and long distances; less cost-effective for transporting large volumes of cargo; less flexibility and control over package size and weight

What are the Pros and Cons of Each Option?

Freight and shipping services have their own pros and cons that you should weigh before making your decision. Here are some of them:

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Freight Services

Pros:

  • Freight services can handle large, heavy or bulky items that shipping services cannot.
  • Freight services can offer lower rates per pound or per cubic foot than shipping services for large shipments.
  • Freight services can access more destinations than shipping services, especially international ones.
  • Freight services can offer more options for different types of goods, such as temperature-sensitive, perishable or hazardous ones.

Cons:

  • Freight services can take longer than shipping services because of transit time, loading and unloading time, customs clearance and possible delays.
  • Freight services can have higher hidden fees than shipping services, such as fuel surcharges, terminal fees, documentation fees, and customs duties.
  • Freight services can have lower insurance coverage than shipping services, depending on the mode of transportation and the carrier’s liability limit.
  • Freight services can have a higher risk of damage or loss than shipping services because of multiple handling points and possible theft.

Shipping Services

Pros:

  • Shipping services can deliver goods faster than freight services because of direct routes and fewer stops.
  • Shipping services can offer more flexibility than freight services in terms of pickup and delivery times, locations, and services.
  • Shipping services can offer higher insurance coverage than freight services for most packages, depending on the carrier’s liability limit and the value of the goods.
  • Shipping services can offer a lower risk of damage or loss than freight services because of fewer handling points and better tracking.

Cons:

  • Shipping services can have higher rates per pound or per cubic foot than freight services for large shipments.
  • Shipping services can have lower weight limits than freight services for most vehicles and boxes.
  • Shipping services can have limited access to some destinations than freight services, especially international ones.
  • Shipping services can have fewer options for different types of goods than freight

Who should use Freight or Shipping based on their needs and preferences?

 

The choice between freight and shipping depends on your specific needs and preferences as a shipper or a receiver of goods. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as different situations may require different solutions. However, here are some general guidelines that can help you make an informed decision:

  • Use freight if:
    • You are shipping large volumes or heavy weights of goods that are not time-sensitive or perishable.
    • You are looking for a more economical and eco-friendly option that reduces your carbon footprint and fuel consumption.
    • You are not concerned about potential delays due to weather, congestion, or customs issues.
    • You want to have more flexibility and control over your shipment, such as choosing the container size, type, and loading method.
  • Use shipping if:
    • You are shipping small volumes or lightweights of goods that are time-sensitive or perishable.
    • You are looking for a faster and more reliable option that ensures your goods arrive on time and in good condition.
    • You are concerned about potential risks such as theft, damage, or loss of your goods during transit.
    • You want to have less hassle and paperwork involved in your shipment, such as fewer documents, regulations, and inspections.
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Conclusion

Freight and shipping are two of the most common ways to transport goods across the world. They have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, speed, reliability, security, capacity, and environmental impact. Depending on your specific needs and preferences, you may choose one or the other, or a combination of both. The best way to make an informed decision is to compare the prices, transit times, weight limits, and insurance rates of different service providers and destinations. You can also use online tools such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS calculators to get an estimate of your shipping costs and delivery times. By choosing the right shipping option for your business or personal use, you can save money, time, and hassle, and ensure your goods arrive safely and on time. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you found it useful and informative. 😊

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