As eCommerce continues to grow at a rapid pace, consumers are purchasing an increasingly diverse range of goods online. With this added diversity and volume comes new shipping challenges.

At ShipHawk, it is our goal to make everything that is sellable also shippable, including those large, unwieldy items that you may have avoided in the past. To that end, we’ve assembled a handy guide to assist you with selecting the right shipping option and carrier for every situation.


When most people think of shipping, one or all of the major parcel players likely come to mind: Fedex, USPS, UPS, or DHL Express. These carriers will deliver envelopes or boxes weighing 75 pounds or less to the customer’s door; however they are not suitable for most large or specialized goods.

Many companies have their own negotiated rates with these carriers; even so, it is important to rate shop on each individual shipment. Dimensional rating and surprise surcharges can easily push shipping costs higher than you, or your customer, expected, making it worth the effort to look around for the best deal.


LTL stands for “less-than-truckload”, and is typically associated with the term “freight” (though this can be used to describe any goods or cargo that are transported for pay.) Less-than-truckload indicates a shipment that does not require a full 48 or 53 foot trailer, and it is often utilized by small to mid-sized businesses that do not have enough freight to merit full truckloads (FTL).

While this shipping option can be an affordable choice for those retailers who ship at lower volumes, you will need to look out for a policy enforced by most LTL carriers called the Linear Foot Rule. This rule states that the amount of freight being transported cannot exceed specific space and/or weight parameters. If the weight or volume exceeds the limit, then the cost increases exponentially, sometimes by as much as 300% – 400%, quickly turning a good deal into an expensive mistake.

The LTL market is fairly commoditized, and is made up by a variety of carriers who you may or may not have heard of before, including: Fedex Freight, XPO Logistics, YRC, and Old Dominion.

White Glove

White glove shipments are transported to the room of choice within a home or business, and typically involve some light assembly work and removal of all packaging materials. These deliveries are often handled by a local delivery agent or a blanket wrap carrier.

Blanket wrap especially is great for both unpacked and larger items, as the carrier will pick up the item, wrap it, and then deliver right to the destination, eliminating the need for you to pack or palletize the shipment. You can simply let the carrier take care of it all.  

The white glove industry is highly fragmented, and exists mostly offline. Carriers include: Plycon and Justo Delivery.

First and Final Mile

You’ve probably heard of all of the on-demand services, such as Shyp, that have been popping up. These companies take shipments from a consolidation to the customer, and are sometimes independent from the line-haul process. Ideally, these services would be connected to other carriers in order to provide your customers with full end-to-end service.

Companies such as ShipBob, Pakmail, and Shyp focus on the first mile, or getting an unpacked item packed and into the shipping system. Other companies specialize in final mile, which involves actually getting the item to the residence or final destination. This sometimes means white glove; however there are also final mile providers who will only deliver to the threshold, or nearest entrance of a home or business. Others, such as UberRUSH, specialize in same day, on demand, final mile delivery.

The right selection of shipping options and carriers will largely depend on the size of your business, the type of items being sent, and the manner in which they are being packaged. Whatever your situation though, offering a variety of delivery methods and utilizing a network of appropriate carriers will ultimately save you (and your customers) precious time and money.

Do you have a question about the service options listed above? Struggling with a shipping conundrum not fully covered by any of these categories? Leave us a comment below – we’d be happy to help.