In today’s interconnected and globalized world, the transportation of goods has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. The commercial freight shipping sector is critical in enabling firms to develop beyond their local markets by making it feasible to move goods from one location to another. However, navigating the freight transportation world can be challenging for those unfamiliar with the sector.

There are many types of commercial freight shipping, each with specific characteristics. In this blog post, we will look through the distinctions between less-than-truckload (LTL), full truckload (FTL), and intermodal transportation to help you decide on your shipping needs by giving you information on the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Understanding these shipping methods is essential for guaranteeing the smooth flow of goods and expanding your business, whether you’re a small business owner or the logistics manager at a huge corporation. Without further ado, let’s continue exploring!


What is commercial freight shipping?

Commercial freight shipping is a business-to-business distribution that often entails the delivery of bulk quantities of goods, whether raw materials or finished products, between suppliers, producers, wholesalers, retailers, and customers. Commercial shipments are delivered to non-residential buildings, including warehouses, stores, hospitals, and other business places.

Let’s take the scenario where a furniture manufacturer has to transport a sizable cargo of chairs from its warehouse to a retail location nationwide. The business would contract with a freight shipping carrier, who would pick up the chairs from the warehouse and transfer them by truck or other means of transportation to the retail store.

The freight carrier would ensure the chairs were correctly handled, moved securely and effectively, and delivered to the retail outlet on schedule throughout shipping. Several stakeholders may be involved in this procedure to effectively transport the chairs, including freight brokers, carriers, shippers, and receivers.



The numerous ways to transport commodities for commercial usage are known as types of commercial freight transportation. Each kind has advantages and disadvantages that make it appropriate for particular shipments. The following are the top three types:

1.   Full truckload freight (FTL)

In a full truckload service, shipment of goods occupies the entire space of a truck. When a package is too large to fit into a shared trailer and the shipper needs exclusive use of the trailer for their freight, this method of transportation is often used.

2.   Less-than-truckload (LTL)

Less-than-truckload is used when a shipment of products is too large for a parcel service but not large enough to warrant a full truckload (FTL). Businesses may send their products using shared vehicles through LTL shipping, which lowers shipping costs while ensuring dependable and safe delivery.

3.   Intermodal shipping

Using more than one method of transport for transporting products from one place to another is referred to as “intermodal shipping.” To reach its destination, freight must be transported using a mix of trucks, trains, and ships.


FTL vs. LTL vs. intermodal: the difference between the three

1. Handling

FTL: For sensitive or high-risk products, FTL transportation is preferred since the shipment stays on the same vehicle, reducing the possibility of loss or damage during transfers.

LTL: LTL shipments may be moved around before delivery, increasing the chance of loss or damage. Reputable LTL carriers, on the other hand, employ cutting-edge technology and handling techniques to reduce this danger and guarantee safe and secure delivery.

Intermodal: Intermodal shipping involves moving cargo between several forms of transportation, such as trains and trucks, which raises the possibility of damage or loss when carrying the load.


2. Size

FTL: Full truckload (FTL) transportation is appropriate for large, bulky goods that need the full trailer, usually weighing more than 20,000 pounds or taking up more than half the capacity of the truck.

LTL: LTL shipping is best for smaller shipments that don’t need a complete trailer and typically weigh between 150 and 5,000 pounds or take up less than half of the space in a trailer.

Intermodal: Intermodal shipping is a suitable choice for shipments that need flexibility in terms of trailer size and method of transportation since it can accommodate a wide variety of shipment sizes, from small to large. The size restriction, however, may differ based on the transportation mode.


3. Speed of delivery

FTL: Since a full truckload (FTL) delivery goes straight from point A to point B without any stops, it’s typically the fastest option, making it perfect for urgent or time-sensitive shipments.

LTL: In LTL, the truck must make several stops to pick up and drop off shipments, which are frequently transferred to different trucks; therefore, the shipping takes longer.

Intermodal: Intermodal shipments can move at various speeds depending on the form of transportation employed. It may be slower than FTL but quicker than LTL if it requires rail transportation. However, the process may take longer because more handling and coordination are required when using multiple modes of transportation.


4. Price

FTL: The cost of a full truckload (FTL) shipment is frequently determined by the distance covered. You pay for the vehicle’s total capacity to drive to your destination because you are renting the truck for sole or nearly exclusive use. When several cargoes are combined to fill the truck’s capacity, FTL shipping might be more affordable.

LTL: Since you only pay for the space your freight takes up in the truck, less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping can be economical for small shipments. It is the most cost-effective choice when shipping a small amount of merchandise.

Intermodal: Intermodal shipping may be more affordable for longer distances than FTL or LTL shipping. When compared to trucking, rail transportation can be less expensive, especially for domestic shipments. Intermodal shipments, meanwhile, could not be as quick as FTL or LTL freight.



Point of Comparison FTL Shipping LTL Shipping Intermodal Shipping
Handling Less handling means less risk of damage or missing items. More handling means a higher risk of damage or missing items. More handling than FTL but less than LTL
Size Best for larger shipments Best for smaller shipments Suitable for both small and large shipments
Speed of delivery Faster than LTL, as there are no intermediate stops. Slower than FTL, as there are intermediate stops for other shipments. Slower than FTL but faster than LTL.


Price The cost is based on the distance traveled. The cost is based on the space used in the truck. Cost is competitive; it depends on the combination of transport modes used.


LTL vs. FTL vs. intermodal: which method is best?

There are several efficient ways to send goods, commodities, or orders. The volume and weight of the products being carried vigorously influence the decision between FTL, LTL, and intermodal. Each method offers advantages in particular circumstances. Therefore, before selecting a specific carrier, it is crucial to consider some aspects carefully.

First, think about whether the carrier offers incentives or discounts based on the amount of cargo you need to transport. Furthermore, some carriers might provide special services like fewer transfers for LTL shipments or cargo insurance. Making decisions can be aided by evaluating these extra options.

If you need more services, consider how much the upcharge would be. Depending on the kind of cargo, you could require extra services like expedited delivery or temperature-controlled shipping. Which shipping method best meets your unique demands may be determined by being aware of the price and accessibility of such services.

Finally, before choosing a particular shipping method, it is always advisable to consider the carrier’s reputation and experience. Think about your prior interactions with the carrier, if you have any. Were they trustworthy, effective, and polite? It can assist in making sure that the selected carrier can deliver your products promptly and safely.



1.   How can I choose between FTL and LTL shipments for my business to someone else?

It depends on the dimensions, weight, price, and timeframe for delivery of your shipment. FTL shipping may be the best choice if a big load needs a whole truck. However, LTL shipping can be more affordable if you have a smaller shipment or don’t need a truck’s exclusive use.

2.   Can I transport goods internationally via intermodal shipping?

Intermodal transportation is a viable solution for global freight, yes. However, due to the various forms of transportation involved, it could require more coordination and longer travel times.

3.   How can I be confident that my cargo is carried and handled correctly?

Working with a reliable, knowledgeable shipping firm with a proven track record of managing and moving freight securely and effectively is crucial. Additionally, properly package and label your shipment following industry standards to reduce the risk of loss or damage during transit.



Any business relying on shipping products must choose the best commercial freight transportation method. Whether it be less-than-truckload (LTL), full truckload (FTL), or intermodal cargo, each shipping method has pros and cons. As a result, it is crucial to assess your unique needs and expectations carefully.

Contact us if you require a dependable and trustworthy partner for your commercial freight shipping needs. With years of experience in the field, All Modes Transport can guide you through the difficulties of freight transportation and ensure your goods get to their destination promptly and securely.