Logistics 101: What are the Most Common Shipping Terms?

Bryanis MartinGeneral, Shipping Guide6 Comments

Most common shipping terms blog photo

Anyone involved in the shipping industry, and especially ocean freight shipping, is going to face a long list of Industry terms. There are a handful that you will see time and time again and that is why it’s important to go over the most common freight shipping terms so that you know exactly what it is you are asked for or exactly what to ask for yourself.

What is a shipper?

A shipper is the person who is shipping the goods which can apply to any number of individuals given the type of freight shipping method used.

What is full truckload (FTL)?

Full truckload shipping is designed for shippers who are shipping enough cargo to fill one full trailer. Having a full truckload to ship is going to be much faster compared to less-than-truckload shipping, a term reviewed below, because with a truck full of one type of cargo the freight goes from its origin to its destination immediately.

What is Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) freight?

LTL stands for less-than-truckload and it’s a form of freight shipping and refers to any shipment that falls short of the space required to fill a full truckload shipment. If you have this type of freight it will likely be moved by a common carrier. This type of shipment can take longer compared to a full truckload because if you only fill part of a cargo container, another shipper might use the same trailer and fill the remaining space which means the carrier has to make multiple stops instead of heading to one destination.

What is inbound freight?

Inbound freight is used to describe a shipment that is currently on its way from a vendor heading to a facility or business, usually heading to a warehouse. If you have cargo that is coming from a point of origin and making its way to a business or warehouse to be stored it is considered inbound freight while it’s on the way to its destination.

What is outbound freight?

On the other side of things, outbound freight refers to any freight that is leaving a warehouse, business, or facility and heading elsewhere. So, if you have freight that was inbound freight, dropped off at a warehouse, and now it is being picked up and moved elsewhere leaving the warehouse, it becomes outbound freight.

What is intermodal shipping?

Intermodal transportation is a freight delivery method that involves two or more modes of transportation. Effectively if you have freight you are trying to deliver but you cannot get it from the first point to the second point using one mode of transport, you would need intermodal transportation. This typically refers to the use of truck shipping, ocean shipping, rail shipping, or air shipping. From the point of pick up to the point of delivery if you need, for example, something to be shipped via train and then picked up by a truck, you would use intermodal shipping.

What is flatbed hauling?

Flatbed hauling is a form of shipping for uniquely shaped items or heavy freight that are too big either in weight or size for a conventional truck. This type of shipping applies to any freight that needs open sides in order to access it when loading or unloading.

What does BOL mean?

The term BOL stands for bill of lading. This bill is a document and that document is a contract between the carrier and the shipper. The BOL will contain just about everything you need to know about the items being shipped. It will cover every aspect of the shipment, carefully describing things like what is within the shipment, where it’s going, and more.

What is a PRO number?

Your PRO number is a number that is assigned by a shipper as soon as the shipment is picked up by the carrier. These numbers help the shippers to track where the freight is at any given time. It is effectively the same as a tracking number which you would get with any item you order online or any item you send to a friend but it applies in this instance specifically to the freight shipping industry.

What is a carrier?

A carrier is an individual or a company responsible for transporting freight for a fee. This can be any number of experienced carriers responsible for transporting cargo safely. While the shipper might be the person or business shipping freight, the carrier is the business responsible for the legitimate transportation or logistics of moving that freight.

What is a blind load?

A blind load refers to a shipment where the receiver and the shipper are both anonymous to one another so the shipper doesn’t know who the receiver is and conversely the receiver doesn’t know who the shipper is. It also applies to situations where the actual origin of the shipment or the destination of the shipment remains concealed.

What is a backhaul?

A backhaul is a shipment that is returning. This is effectively the return trip for any truck that is currently transporting freight. So, when a truck delivers cargo and is on its way back to the point of origin where the freight was originally held, that is called a backhaul. In some situations carriers might be willing to offer discounts during the backhaul in order to make sure they have freight for their return trip.

What is cartage?

Cartage refers to freight that you are shipping from one location to another within the same city or within the same area.

Wrapping Up

While there are any number of additional terms involved in the freight shipping industry, knowing these most important terms will help you when you are deciding upon which method of shipment to use, when you are questioned about the type of shipping you are doing, or asked for specific information pertaining to your shipment.

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Bryanis Martin
Bryanis is our Customer Relationship Manager here at ShipLilly, she loves to build strong partnerships and help people succeed. In the past few years, She's had the opportunity to work with many clients, helping them achieve better results through the improvement of their supply chain strategy.

6 Comments on “Logistics 101: What are the Most Common Shipping Terms?”

  1. Leonard Knox

    Thank you for this helpful tip sheet on shipping definitions. I’m with a growing start up company. I lead the shipping dept.This is a simple yet very useful tool.

  2. shohan

    To be honest your article is informative . I search many site to know about cracked tooth but I didn’t get the information I needed.
    I saw your site and I read it. I got some new information from here. It is beneficial for many more like me.
    my question:Who is the shipper in logistics?

    Thanks for share your kind information.

    1. LILLY + Associates

      Hi Shohan,
      We are glad you found our article useful.
      A shipper (also known as a consignor) is a person or a company responsible for organizing and transporting the goods from point A to point B. Generally, the shipper is the one who bears the cost of freight.

      We hope this helps.

    1. LILLY + Associates

      Hello Joji,
      The term is Dunnage: This is the durable padding material used to protect goods during shipping, and it can be anything from bubble wrap and packing peanuts, to industrial solid plastics that provide cushioning so items stay put.

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