LCL, or Less than Container Load, as noted in this article over on Inbound Logistics on Less Than Containerload, More Than Worth It, was, historically, slow, costly, risky, and nothing to get excited about. But that was before we had consolidators, freight forwarders, and 3PLs who had access to advanced route planning and optimization technology that can figure out the best way to consolidate LCL shipments from multiple vendors.
As the article notes, today’s LCL is much improved, with end-to-end pricing; direct routes and frequent sailings; increased visibility and control; streamlined processes; and packaged solutions that provide security, clarity, speed, and certainty. This is true, and has been for quite a while. Logistics, Inventory, Warehousing, and Route Planning solutions have been pretty damn good for almost a decade now, and this is old news.
The only thing that’s not old news is the fact that many a shipper, still operating on the 3 bids and a buy, using the phone, and doing it like they were 20 years ago, still don’t know the realities of the new reality and are not taking advantage of all of the options that are available.
Good visibility and optimization capability allows 3PLs to consolidate LCL shipments to make FCL for most of the shipment, take advantage of empty miles using services like BuyTruckload.com that allow shippers to save as much as 20% as a full truck is better than an empty truck, increase service frequency to meet demand, and take almost direct routes to the destination. So do what’s best for your business, be it LCL, FCL, LTL, or FTL. There are good options for all of them.