What is the difference between parcel and freight?

Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for an Echo Show 5. Today we will answer the following question: “what is the difference between parcel and freight?”

The Difference Between Parcel and Freight

There are two basic ways you can ship items: parcel and freight. Even though many companies, such as FedEx, deliver both, the difference between the two is very important.

Parcels are small packages, usually no greater than 150 pounds. Carriers such as USPS, FedEx, and UPS, have regularly scheduled routes that don’t change very often. That is to say, everything about parcel shipping is very routine.

Freight shipping on the other hand, is not routine all. Freight shipping deals with heavy shipments, extremely large shipments, and shipments that come in multiples. That is to say, if you need to ship 20 boxes, that’s better suited for freight than parcel shipping.

Freight shipping can be done by road, rail, ocean, or air. Items can be shipped in boxes or on pallets. You must coordinate freight with a freight brokerage firm, which you can do through online marketplaces such as Freightos.

The Heaviest Package You Can Ship

As we discussed in last week’s post, the routine nature of parcel shipments means there are limits to how big the packages you send can be. These limits are:

USPS will let you ship items up to 70 pounds or 31.75 kg.

FedEx will let you ship items up to 150 pounds or 68 kg.

UPS will let you ship items up to 150 pounds or 68 kg.

DHL will let you ship items up to 154.3 pounds or 70 kg.

Anything beyond that has to be shipped via freight. There’s just no way around it. This is a necessity because carriers have limited space on their trucks, a finite amount of fuel, and they need special equipment to move gigantic packages!

Final Thoughts

This is one of those situations where the answer to the question is very straightforward! Parcels are small shipments that can be delivered through regular delivery. Freight shipments are large and must be coordinated in advance.

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