The Ins and Outs of Expedited Freight Shipping

Jun 14, 2023

You’d be hard-pressed to find any business that doesn’t occassionally need cargo delivered in what feels like record time. Expedited shipping is often the go-to solution for companies needing to move freight fast, particularly as promotions like two-day shipping and next-day air become increasingly common.

But if carriers are already moving freight as efficiently as possible, what exactly is expedited shipping — and what can it do for your business?

What Is Expedited Freight Shipping?

Expedited shipping refers to any accelerated delivery of time-sensitive freight. Many of today’s e-commerce businesses offer delivery in as little as two days, raising the pressure on both shippers and carriers to squeeze every available drop of efficiency from their shipping processes.

For example, a shipper that typically utilizes less-than-truckload (LTL) freight delivery saves on shipping costs by allowing carriers flexibility to make multiple stops on a pretermined route. When an expedite load needs immediate attention, the shipper may instead opt to deliver freight via full truckload (even if the freight itself is relatively small) for a more direct route to its destination.

Since expedited shipping is frequently tasked with completing delivery in as little as two days, shippers will often warehouse products in strategic locations. However, even smartly-distributed facilities across the country may need a third-party logistics company (3PL) to partner with local carriers for speedy final-mile delivery. This is especially true today, given 97.4% of trucking companies operate fewer than 20 trucks.

Many industries have already found ways to capitalize on the benefits of expedited shipping. E-commerce businesses offer quick delivery to keep up with competitors like Amazon. Medical and pharmaceutical companies can ship devices and medications across the country at a moment’s notice. Manufacturers can overnight replacement parts to keep a factory up and running.

While some industries tend to use expedited shipping more regularly than others, a business can utilize expedited shipping any time it needs freight delivered within a narrow time frame. Businesses and organizations may also elect to use expedited shipping to mitigate risk in unpredictable situations, or to deploy much-needed aid and supplies to sites of natural disasters.

What Are the Types of Expedited Freight Shipping?

Expedited shipping can be used to move freight down the street or around the world. Consequently, many different types of transport are necessary. There are three main types of expedited shipping.

Ground Expedited Services

For domestic shipments, in particular, shippers may find ground-expedited services useful. Over-the-road options tend to be significantly less expensive than air services. Cargo vans and sprint vans can carry several thousands of pounds whereas straight trucks and tractor trailers can carry upwards of 12,000 pounds. Over long distances, teams of drivers can work together to drive around the clock.

Air Freight Services

Freight moved by air can be shipped via cargo services or commercial services. Cargo services involve moving freight in an aircraft designed for carrying cargo freight. Commercial services refer to expedited shipping with the use of commercial airplanes.

Air freight services are commonly used for international expedited shipping. The regulations for cargo carriers and commercial airliners differ, though. Working with a third-party logistics company (3PL) can help you make sure your freight meets all relevant standards.

Air Charter Services

Air charter services make up the most expensive option for expedited shipping. By chartering a plane, a company rents its services solely for that freight. It ends up costing the most per pound of the three types of expedited services.

Common Questions about Expedited Freight Shipping

Expedited shipping involves a few different considerations than standard shipping. These are a few of the most commonly asked questions about expedited shipping.

How Does Expedited Shipping Work?

A 3PL can help shippers navigate expedited shipping. It may require finding a freight service provider that operates around the clock. Shippers also will want to consider rates and freight visibility among other factors in making their decision. Carriers ought to have transportation management systems (TMS) in place so that urgently-needed freight can be located throughout transit.

How Fast is Expedited Shipping?

Usually, expedited shipping takes two or three days; however, times can differ depending on the carrier. It is significantly faster than standard shipping, which often takes up to 10 business days. A 3PL can help shippers figure out what their best option is given their circumstances.

Is Expedited Shipping Worth the Cost?

It’s true that expedited shipping costs more. Recent news stories can make it seem like an intimidating, and possibly untenable, solution for some shippers. In 2021, Peloton invested $100 million in expedited ocean and air freight. There are times when expedited shipping is not only ideal but necessary. If your product is perishable or needed immediately, expedited shipping may be the only way to make sure your freight reaches customers on time. Another advantage of expedited shipping is that freight is handled less, minimizing the risk of damage.

Expedited Freight Shipping with First Call

As specialists in expedited freight services, First Call Logistics makes logistics and supply chain management easy. Contact us today to learn how our best-in-class shipment tracking and trusted carrier network can provide your organization with supply chain efficiencies and cost savings year-round.

Simplify your Next Shipment with First Call Logistics

Building and managing cost-efficient supply chains is a full-time job. First Call’s rare combination of in-house assets, expert problem-solving and track record of stellar customer service makes us the 3PL of choice for business partners with a wide range of shipping needs.

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