What Is Freight Shipping?

What Is Freight Shipping?

What does freight shipping mean? This term is frequently used when shipping large items, but those new to the space may be left wondering the real freight shipping meaning. Thankfully, we’ve got you covered.

Freight shipping is the process of transporting cargo via road, air, rail, or sea to a new location. The term “freight” is used to refer to the goods that are carried in bulk on a train, truck, ship, or plane. Freight transportation of goods is essential to eCommerce businesses, and a service many rely on to transport their goods and run their companies.

To better understand the questions of what freight shipping is, we are sharing more on the definition of freight shipping, how it works, and the benefits.

Freight Shipping Definition

As shared before, freight delivery meaning is defined as materials and goods that are transported by plane, train, truck, or ship. This shipment process is done using trucks, large shipping containers, and railroad cars to get goods from point A to point B safely and efficiently for a well-running business and transfer of goods.

How Does Freight Shipping Work?

So, how does freight shipping work? Since freight shipping often involves larger, heavier, more cumbersome quantities of goods, it’s not as simple as carrying one package by hand from a van to your front step. Instead, the process involves larger infrastructure, like loading and unloading equipment, large transportation vehicles, and docks to make the shipping process run seamlessly.

To help the process, shippers can load their goods into trucks, or pack in pallets for a compact shipping option. Pallets, or wooden platforms used for shipping, are typically 48” x 48” or 48” x 40”, and around 26 can fit in the average trailer, allowing for a more convenient, compact transportation option. With pallets, you can often ship more items while protecting them in the process.

Benefits of Shipping Freight

Freight Shipping Benefits

Now that we know the freight services definition, it’s time to understand the perks of this shipping method. Freight shipping is an essential part of getting your goods to your desired destination on time, in-budget, and safely. No matter the method you choose to ship, whether it’s by sea, air, or land, here are the benefits:

  • Reliable Carriers: When it comes to shipping important freight, freight service providers employ the top contract carriers to ensure that your shipment arrives on schedule and in good condition.
  • Cost Efficiency: Depending on the freight method you choose, you can find a cost-effective method to ship your large quantity of goods. One of the more affordable options is LTL, or “Less Than Truckload.” With this selection, you only pay for the truck space your goods actually use, saving on the space you don’t need.
  • Safety: Unlike smaller packages that are prone to theft and damage, freight shipments, especially those in pallets, are much safer to ship and keep the goods protected. Additionally, freight options provide both tracking and notifications so you know what’s going on with a shipment in real-time.

Freight Shipping Methods

There are quite a few options when it comes to freight shipping, and we are breaking down each below so you have all the information you need to make the right decision.

  • Less Than Truckload: Less than truckload, or LTL, is ideal for shipments that are larger than a parcel but don’t fill a full truck. Typically, LTL is for shipments between 150 and 15,000 pounds and allows shippers to only pay for the amount of truck space they take up.
  • Full Truckload: Full truckload involves the shipment of goods that require a full semi-trailer to transport. This is usually a shipment of about 15,000 pounds, and this method of shipment is quite cost-effective for large shipments.
  • Partial Truckload: Similar to LTL, PTL is used when shippers don’t need a full truck, so instead use just a part and split the cost of a truck with other shippers.
  • Intermodal: Intermodal shipping is when both rail and truck are required to ship goods. Beyond those two shipment options, intermodal shipping can involve ships as well for a more seamless, quick shipping process.
  • Expedited: When it comes to extra-fast shipping, expedited is the answer. This shipment method allows urgent shipments to be delivered quickly, typically by truck or plane.

Freight Shipping Transportation Types

Just as there are different shipping methods, there are also various transportation types that are used when freight shipping. Here are a few of the most commonly used shipping equipment in the freight process:

  • Flatbed: Flatbed is used for bulky, oversized, and different-shaped freight. Ideal for both lumber and machinery, a flatbed is for bulkier goods, and not recommended for fragile shipments.
  • Dry Van: A dry van is likely the most commonly used freight transportation type. This van is between 48 and 53 feet long and can carry up to 15,000 pounds. As the name suggests, dry vans are ideal for transporting dry goods.
  • Temperature Control: For goods that are sensitive to temperature changes, a temperature-controlled shipping method is best. This refrigerated shipping option is best for perishable or climate-sensitive goods, like food and pharmaceuticals.

Factors that Determine Freight Shipping Rates

Cost is often a top concern for shippers, and there are a lot of factors at play that can impact the freight shipping cost. These include:

  • Transportation Method: The shipping method used to transport goods has one of the biggest impacts on price. For instance, air freight shipping is much more expensive than trucks.
  • Origin and Destination: Another factor is the distance traveled. The further point A is from point B, the higher the costs will rise.
  • Weight and Size: Freight transportation is also heavily impacted by size. The bigger and heavier the package, the more expensive the shipment is.
  • Special Handling: Shipments that require different handling, such as more delicate or refrigerated shipments, will have additional charges that drive up the price.

How to Prepare a Freight Shipment

How to Prepare a Freight Shipment

To best protect your goods and ensure they arrive at the destination safely, it’s important to prepare properly. To help ensure the success of your freight shipment, here are some preparation tips and tricks.

Prepare Appropriately-Sized Pallets

To best optimize space and pack at a proper weight, you need to ensure you use the right pallet size. You don’t want to over-pack goods in a pallet so that they hang over, and it’s important to stack pallets with care. If you must mix goods in a pallet, be sure to put the heavier items at the bottom. Then, finally, wrap the pallet carefully to ensure it’s secure during the transportation process.

For more information you can read Pallet Shipping Best Practices.

Non-Palletized Shipments

In the case that you’re not using pallets to ship your goods, still be sure to pack your cargo carefully. This involves carefully wrapping goods with protection like bubble wrap, foam, or tape to help protect items. All of these items can be placed into containers and boxes instead of pallets, but if you’re using old containers, be sure to remove the old labels to ensure your items go where they are intended to.

Add Labels

Labels are incredibly important in the shipping process. To ensure your shipment goes where it’s supposed to, visibly label all packages and pallets with the address and your phone number. Additionally, put any handling instructions on your labels to ensure your shipment is handled as needed to ensure safe, damage-free delivery. Keep in mind, labels should be on all sides of the cargo you’re shipping.

Follow Freight Carrier Instructions

To ensure you ship your goods correctly, be sure to read the specific instructions from your carrier company. As part of this process, go through your paperwork in advance, as well as the billing, so that you’re on top of what the carrier needs for your freight transportation.


Now that you’re clued in on the freight shipping meaning and all the benefits, is it the right transportation method for your next shipment?

For seamless shipping solutions, our team has the answer. Our DFW trucking company has been providing Freight Shipping & Logistics Services for 30 years. Contact us to get a freight quote and safely ensure the transportation of your goods.

Freight Shipping FAQs

You’ve got questions, and our experts have the answers. Check out the details on all your top freight shipping questions.

What is a bill of lading?

The bill of lading is a legal document used in the shipping process to detail the goods being shipped, as well as the number of goods. This is provided by the carrier to the shipper and often acts as a shipment receipt once the carrier delivers the cargo.

What is freight classification?

Freight classification is a method used to create a more standard pricing classification based on various factors of a shipment. Classes are broken down by attributes such as weight, value, liability, handling, and characteristics.

Do I need a freight delivery service?

When considering if you really need freight shipping to transport your goods, you should consider the size of your shipment. If it’s just a few parcels, you can likely go with a regular delivery method. However, if you have a large shipment with a high quantity of goods, we recommend going with freight transportation. This method is great for shipments above 150 pounds and as high as 15,000 pounds.

What can be shipped via freight?

Freight shipping is ideal for a vast array of goods, including everything from perishable foods, to delicate materials, and lumber or equipment. There’s really no limit to what can be shipped via freight.

What’s the difference between parcel and freight?

Unlike freight shipments, which are typically a collection of goods shipped in one pallet or box, parcels are individually shipped and labeled packages. Parcels are great for smaller, more lightweight shipments, while freight is ideal for any shipment above 150 pounds.