What Is Freight Shipping?

By Team TranZact | Published on Feb 21, 2023

Freight shipping is an important aspect of transportation if you manufacture goods because bulk transportation is critical for you. When consumers order goods online, those goods are initially part of freight when a wholesaler orders them and stores them in his inventory.

This blog will help you to understand what is freight shipping in-depth, various freight shipping modes, factors affecting the freight shipping rates, how to ship freight, and more.

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What Is Freight?

Freight refers to bulk high-volume shipments or cargo that are quite heavy and can't be sent through courier services that deal in small parcels and packages. These are usually shipped on pallets i.e. strong wooden platforms, or by a carrier, such as a trucking company, shipping line, or airline.

Freight goods can include raw materials, finished products, machinery, and equipment, among others.

The terms cargo and freight are synonymous because both refer to goods or shipments. However, goods are usually linked to ground transportation, notably railways, whereas cargo is often connected with sea or air transportation. Despite this distinction, cargo and freight are frequently used synonymously these days to refer to products transported by any means of transportation.

The transportation of freight is an essential component of the supply chain, allowing companies to move their goods from one location to another to meet customer demand.

What Is Freight Shipping?

Moving bulk goods or cargo through different forms of transportation, such as land, ocean, or air is known as freight shipping. Freight shipping involves several steps, including packing and labeling the goods, choosing a carrier, arranging the pickup and delivery, and tracking the shipment until it reaches its destination.

Truckload, less than truckload (LTL), and intermodal transport are common types of freight shipping via road. Regardless of the method of transportation, the term freight refers to the goods meant to be transported in bulk.

Trucks, railway cars, and gigantic ships carrying containers are some forms of transportation most frequently associated with freight shipping. These transportation methods are favored because they are swift and efficient at moving massive cargo loads. While railroads and ships are commonly utilized for long-distance freight transportation, particularly for oversized or heavy commodities, trucks are beneficial for last-mile deliveries.

Effective freight shipping requires careful planning and coordination to ensure that the goods are delivered safely and on time. Companies often partner with third-party logistics providers or freight brokers to manage their freight shipping needs and optimize their supply chain operations.

Freight Shipping Modes

Let's take a look at various freight shipping modes.

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

If your firm is on the target of cutting down transportation costs at the moment, then relying on Less Than Truckload might be an amazing option. As the name suggests, the less-than-truckload is the best option for transporting a small volume of freight without booking the entire truck. All you need to do is share truck space for freight shipping with other firms and pay only for selected slots.

Full Truckload

If you have a huge supply of freight that needs to be delivered from one location to another then a Full Truckload will suit the best where you would need to pay for an entire truck. If there are some special transportation conditions for delicate shipments, large-size goods, or faster deadlines, again this freight mode will be the best.

Partial Truckload

Yet another important mode of freight shipping is none other than partial truckload. Most people mistake this mode for LTL. However, both are not at all similar because, in partial truckload mode, your firm would only have to collab with a selected few companies which would mean no extra stoppages, lesser time for delivery, better protection, and shipping space worth holding over 5000 pounds of freight.


Intermodal service utilizes a combination of road, rail, and air freight. It not only makes the entire shipping process more convenient but also helps in saving a lot of time and resources. The best part of choosing this mode of freight shipping is cost-effectiveness even though it is not a speedy option.


The expedited freight shipping mode is one of the best modes for high-speed delivery needs. These shipping services mostly come in use when there is an urgency of shipping packed goods to some specific location. This shipment approach is a bit costlier than the other options available and is generally taken care of by only one specific carrier throughout the journey, relying on planes and trucks.

Air Freight

Air transport is highly fast and not constrained by geographical obstructions that might slow down other means of transportation. Express shipping usually includes air shipping, but it is more expensive as it offers quicker dispatch and delivery. Customers who use air transportation can anticipate receiving their items fast.

Rail Freight

Another popular means of land transportation for moving products is by railway. If your business is close to a train station, you can opt for a train to transport goods. Rail transportation is a cost-efficient way to move commodities across the nation. It can be used for complete transportation journeys or part journeys as per the need. Sometimes when ocean or road freight isn't possible, rail freight is the best option.

Sea Transport

This mode of transport is used for both commercial and military purposes. It involves packing items into containers, which are subsequently loaded onto cargo ships to move more oversized loads of merchandise across the ocean. Almost everything can be shipped over the sea. However, it is only recommended if there are no time constraints.

Benefits of Freight Shipping


There are numerous practical and economical ways to ship goods as discussed above. You need to select the one that best fits your budget and needs. The cost depends on the weight, number of items, and mode of transport you choose for the shipment process.

However, upon selecting road and railways freight shipping services, you can save considerable money. Further, if you choose less than truckload (LTL) where you share the truck space with another company, the costs are lowered further.

Highly safe and secure

When you partner with a known freight shipping provider, you can be rest assured about theft and damage protection of goods in transit, making freight shipment a dependable choice. Also, the shipment tracking facility provides an additional measure of protection and assurance.


In most cases, people often choose land transport. However, one must know that using vehicles for shipping and deliveries can leave behind much carbon footing. Though, if one utilizes the option of rail or sea freight, then it can not only save money but also makes the entire process eco-friendly. Rail transport produces up to 80% lower carbon emissions.


Most freight firms can transport your cargo regardless of its shape or size. This implies that you can still use shipping services and save money by bundling your cargo with others, even if you have fewer items. In other words, you can take advantage of economies of scale, which lowers the delivery cost.

Capability check

Transporting bulky items to your chosen location is made more accessible and more effective with the help of freight shipping.

Factors Affecting the Freight Shipping Rates

Freight rates are the cost of moving a specific shipment from one location to another. Let's look at the factors affecting freight shipping rates.

Mode of transportation:

The major factor affecting the rates of different types of freight shipping is the mode of transportation. For instance, air freight is highly expensive than rail freight or road transportation by trucks.

Weight and size

Airlines and other carriers frequently use dimensional weight, which accounts for the cargo's weight and size to calculate the cost of shipping services. The designated freight class, which is based on the shipment's weight and density, has a significant impact on freight charges. Costs rise due to the need for more space and labor to move the cargo.


The parcel shipping costs rise directly as the distance increases between the first pick-up point, which is typically a fulfillment center, and the final destination. This is because transportation cost involves fuel costs, labor costs, and other expenses associated with transporting goods over long distances.

Market demand

When there are a large number of shipments to be transported but logistic companies have limited capacity, shipping rates become higher due to the high demand and low supply principle. In other words, transportation companies charge a higher rate when the demand for logistics is high.

For example, when it's the season for a particular item like certain fruits, shipping rates can become high if transportation companies or freight companies are not available as per demand.


In places and times of the year when the weather is unfriendly, freight costs go higher. During rainfall and snowfall, logistics and freight companies face major issues when transporting goods. There are times when the sea route is unfavorable or highways are closed due to snow. Freight rates go high in such times.

When Should You Consider Multi-Weight Instead of Freight?

If you are new to the shipping industry and need to learn the fundamental difference between freight and multi-weight, you must understand that the latter is the smaller version of the former. In simple words, freight shipping deals with the shipment of orders on a national or an international basis where large boxes come in for deliveries and the shipment costs depend on the net weight of the package.

However, if you opt for a multi-weight shipment, then your large package would be distributed as several small packages to reduce the weight in one heavy package as it is in the case of freight.

Multi-weight shipping works finest for brands or companies who need to ship and deliver many packages to the same place or nearby places. In this process, the shipment rates would reduce to a great extent because the parcels would reach their respective destinations separately and at once without adding much weight to one huge freight package. Thus, if you find your firm in a similar position, you can opt for multi-weight shipping anytime.

Moreover, in case the rates of freight and multi-weight are amounting to the same for your shipment, then choose multi-weight as multiple boxes are easier to deliver in large cities. Multi-weight shipments also don't need to pass through the inconvenience of docks as they are not on pallets.

How to Ship Freight?

To ensure that shipping your freight is a smooth process, choose an experienced service provider. Let's take a glance at the detailed steps mentioned below on freight shipping:

  • Documentation: Make sure all the documents like the commercial invoice, bill of lading (a receipt of cargo issued by a logistics freight company), or any other document required are ready.
  • Choose a transportation mode: Depending on the weight and size of your shipment, you can choose the mode of transportation, such as shipping freight, including truck, rail, air, and ocean. Distance and freight rates should also be considered.
  • Select a shipping method: From various shipping alternatives such as less than truckload, full truckload, air freight, and ocean freight.
  • Package and label properly: Make sure that your goods are packaged and labeled well so that there is no damage caused to your freight during transportation.
  • Choose a freight forwarding company: There are hundreds of freight companies, so choose wisely after careful review. Members of a respected freight network have access to pooled services, customs brokerage, and other vital services
  • Appoint a trustworthy customs broker: Freight forwarders frequently collaborate with customs brokers knowledgeable about international trade and stay up to speed on the most current rules and procedures to hasten the customs clearance process. Shippers can get assistance in assuring the accuracy of their documents and compliance with all the laws and regulations by working with a customs broker or freight carrier. Also, as documentation needs can vary significantly from one place to another, customs brokers can advise on specific requirements that might differ by country.
  • Schedule the pickup and delivery: Talk to your carrier and schedule the pickup of your shipment. If the shipment needs some special care, do instruct the provider with clear instructions about any specific requirements.
  • Track your shipment: Make sure you choose a carrier that has a shipment tracking system. This will help you to know the real-time status of your shipment and know when exactly it will reach the destination.

Partner With An Expert Software for Logistics and Shipping Services

With the advancement of technology, the freight shipping sector is also advancing towards managing its operations in an automated manner. ERP solutions are perfect as they help logistic companies have complete control over their product shipments. TranZact streamlines core business functions across sales, purchases, inventory, and production and integrates with AfterShip for reliable and effective logistics solutions!

FAQs on Freight Shipping

1. What can be shipped via freight shipping?

In most freight shipping cases, companies transport heavy or bulky goods using freight services. Thus, items like heavy furniture, machinery, tools, electronic products, and more can be shipped via freight shipping to their desired locations in the best way possible.

2. What is freight vs. shipping?

Freight is the goods that need to be transported over long distances while shipping means transporting freight or goods via land, air, or sea route from one location to another.

3. What is the difference between cargo and shipment?

The products that need to be transported via air or sea are called cargo. On the other hand, the word shipment is the act of shipping or transporting goods.

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