When is Expedited shipping better/faster/cheaper?

In April 1973, Federal Express delivered 186 packages from Memphis’ airport to 25 U.S. cities overnight, starting a transport revolution. Now, overnight delivery and Expedited shipping have become standard practice. Some call it the “Amazon-ification of product delivery,” meaning faster is no longer an extra cost – it’s the cost of doing business. But WHEN is that cost justified? When is Expedited required instead of other methods?

With the rise in e-commerce, consumers expect their products to arrive in days, if not overnight. And for manufacturers, just-in-time delivery has been a requirement since the middle of the last century. Expedited delivery has taken its place between truckload and LTL, say the freight experts at CargoBarn. Customers choose Expedited shipping because of some combination of price, speed of delivery, and a higher level of service. How much each of those matters depends on your situation, and the mode of delivery that fits your specific needs for each shipment.

To help understand when Expedited makes sense, CargoBarn has created a comparison of the three main delivery options: Truckload, LTL and Expedited.

When compared to Truckload, Expedited is:

  • FASTER, for a few reasons. Expedited shipping uses smaller trucks that can more easily navigate city streets and traffic. Also, many of these trucks are under 10,000 pounds GVWR, making them exempt from the DOT’s Hours of Service regulations.
  • CHEAPER, because you’re hauling less with smaller trucks.
  • BETTER SERVICE, because of its speed and flexibility. With Expedited, smaller trucks with pallet jacks and lift gates can take your loads places an 18-wheeler can’t reach.
  • NOT BIGGER. Obviously, Truckload certainly can haul more products than Sprinter vans, box trucks or other vehicles used for Expedited deliveries.

When compared to LTL (Less-Than-Truckload), Expedited is:

  • FASTER, again for several reasons: smaller vehicles, yes, but also because products don’t have to get transloaded at multiple LTL terminals. And, trucks under 10,000 pounds GVWR are exempt from the DOT’s Hours of Service regulations.
  • BETTER SERVICE, because of speed and flexibility.
  • NOT CHEAPER (usually). In many cases, Expedited shipping may be more expensive than LTL, simply on a cost basis. However, Expedited may be required based on your “need for speed” and quality of service.

Finally, shippers may choose Expedited because of the lower claims rate than truckload or LTL. Also, shipments are more easily tracked, so they don’t get lost as frequently.

If you’d like to know more about how Expedited can help you tame the supply chain beast, give CargoBarn a call.