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What Are the Types of Shipping Services 3PLs Offer?

What Are the Types of Shipping Services 3PLs Offer?

As an eCommerce business, you may be overwhelmed by the number of shipping services, speeds, and options out there. And that’s okay! It can be overwhelming to consider your choices with USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, and other carriers, as well as standard vs expedited shipping services.

If you want to have a better understanding of shipping services and how a 3PL can help find the right options and the right prices, you’re in the right place! Read on to answer the question of what are the types of shipping services 3PLs offer, and what you need to know to pick the right ones.

How Many Types of Freight Are There?

There are four types of freight shipping service options. Each method of shipping provides distinct advantages for retailers and customers:

  1. Shipping by Air 

The fastest form of transportation is air shipping, which transports cargo using aircraft. Due to its speed, it is a practical method for shipping goods and is typically less affected by weather and traffic than other modes. Air freight is dependable, despite being pricy, because it eliminates the possibility of land obstructions. It can be used to transport any kind of goods as long as they aren’t too heavy or too big to fit in a typical freight aircraft.

Delivery times for air freight are typically one to two days. Shipping perishable goods by air is frequently the best option because it is an express shipping option that guarantees the goods will arrive at their destination undamaged or unspoiled. 

The advantages of air freight include speed, reliability, and versatility. If you want to offer express shipping, air will be the best option.

  1. Shipping by Land 

No matter, if you’re moving goods by local shipping methods, nationally, or internationally to neighboring nations (like Canada or Mexico), shipping via land, has advantages. The most common method of land shipping is by truck (we’ll take a look at rail a little bit later). Moving bulky items like construction supplies or vehicles is best done in trucks.

Trucking is generally more affordable than other methods of delivery, but the main drawback is that it takes longer. Short-distance freight is frequently the focus of road transportation. For heavy or oversized items that cannot be shipped by air freight, land shipment is the best option.

The advantages of shipping by land include lower costs, reaching the exact location, and the ability to ship heavy or large items. 

  1. Shipping by Sea 

Cargo ships can transport more goods than airplanes because of their size. When moving by sea, goods typically travel in shipping containers. Despite being one of the slower modes of transportation, this one is also affordable and practical, particularly if you require international transportation. 

The advantages of sea shipments include lower cost, large quantities or cargo capabilities, and safety. 

  1. Shipping by Rail 

Trains are used for rail shipping. Although this is a potentially inexpensive mode of transportation, the majority of businesses will need to transport the goods from the rail yard once they arrive by truck, so you must take the total cost into account.

For quick, efficient delivery, some companies locate themselves strategically near a railroad station or along a rail line. But many businesses will rely on intermodal shipping services, in which the freight is transported from rail to truck or vice versa. Rail transportation is efficient for larger or heavier items. 

The advantages of rail shipping are lower costs, the ability to ship bulky items, and the ability to combine with other shipping methods. 

What Are the 3 Types of Shipping?

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The different categories of shipping can generally fall into these three types: standard, ground, or express shipping. Each of these moves at a different pace:

  1. Standard shipping is considered regular shipping, is cost-effective, and is sometimes even offered to customers for free over a certain order value (with the retailer covering shipping costs).
  2. Ground shipping is often the slowest of them all, with last-mile delivery adding to the delivery timeline but helping to reduce costs overall. 
  3. Express shipping costs more but takes less time. This may even be expedited and overnight shipping.

The main differences between the different types of shipping options can be seen or felt by both the customer and the retailer: 

Delivery Time

The turnaround time between standard and express shipping is one of the key distinctions. While express shipping only takes about a day because the product is sent via air couriers, standard and ground shipping typically takes two to eight days for delivery.

In some cases, the shipment may even reach the recipient on the same day. Express shipping is suitable for last-minute, urgent deliveries. But standard shipping is preferable if you have more time. 


Because the shipment is sent by road using surface couriers, standard shipping is less expensive than express shipping or delivery. Express shipping uses air couriers, so the cost and rates are higher than other forms of transportation because it means urgent and quicker delivery. You and your customer must select the best shipping strategy based on the delivery schedules. 

Dispatch from Warehouse

Standard delivery typically takes 2 to 8 days to leave the warehouse, while express shipping typically takes 1 to 3 days. If you or your customer wants the item to leave faster, choosing express shipping will ensure this happens. 

Shipping Cost

For express delivery, the shipping cost is often incurred by the customer upon checkout. But with standard shipping, many retailers provide free shipping to the customer. Depending on their need for expedited delivery, customers may also be given the choice between express and standard shipping.

Some eCommerce businesses opt to use a third-party logistics provider or order fulfillment center to ensure accurate delivery within a certain timeframe. This will also enable you to ship using a variety of carriers and choose the features that are most necessary for either express or standard shipping your orders.

What To Consider When Choosing Shipping Methods

Most businesses need a combination of shipping services to get their products from the manufacturing site to the warehouse and from the warehouse to the customers. You can more effectively manage your shipping and logistics budget by choosing your transportation methods based on the location, size, and speed requirements of your goods.

Consider the following when comparing shipping options: 

Cost of Freight

When choosing a shipping method, budgets are frequently the most crucial consideration. The size, weight, and volume of the goods being transported will also affect the cost of freight transportation. Transportation will cost more the heavier or further the goods must travel. You might want to think about rail shipping if you want to successfully manage your costs.

For international shipments, sea shipment is the most effective method of transporting goods to their destination if there are no time restrictions. But if the goods are perishable, paying more for air freight will protect you from losing money because of spoilage. Remember the hidden costs of things like insurance and the risks of loss or damage when estimating your shipping costs. All of these costs can impact the shipment’s final costs. 

Type of Freight

Even if cost is one of the most important factors for you, the type of goods can often determine which mode of transportation you’ll have to use, regardless of the price. For instance, smaller items can be transported in a variety of ways, whereas larger items are best transported by truck or ship.

Transport by land and air is preferable for goods that are more valuable or delicate. The cost of transportation will increase if there is a loss or damage to the goods, so it is sometimes preferable to pay more for transportation. 


Another important consideration for many businesses when choosing transportation modes is speed. Choose carefully because the speed at which you decide to ship the goods will affect your customer relationships and their interaction with you. Consider using air freight for items that need to get there quickly. However, if you have a lot of time, you might be able to manage your spending on sea freight.

You will be able to expand your business and earn a solid reputation in your field by balancing your budget with the need to keep your customers happy. You don’t want your brand to be associated with expensive shipping costs. 


Your choice of freight delivery service will have a direct impact on how safe your goods are while being transported. The most dangerous form of shipping is by sea because there are so many dangers there and because it takes so long to get there, your goods are more likely to get damaged.

Road transportation is safer than rail because most businesses suffer fewer losses when using this mode of transportation. But the safest form of transportation available for shipping goods is transportation via air.

Understanding Shipping Services

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Even though shipping is still a vital service, most eCommerce businesses partner with logistics providers that offer so much more than just shipping. These 3PLs offer a range of services, such as fulfillment, warehousing, and inventory, and they are significant players in the supply chain.

You will be better prepared to find shipping services if you are aware of the various services that a 3PL can provide, so you can find the right 3PL that offers all of the services that you need to grow. 


A 3PL can help you with shipping services. Using the four modes of transportation — air, land, sea, and rail — a shipment company can move goods. As an alternative, the freight company might provide intermodal shipments, which is the practice of moving goods using a variety of modes of transportation.

To provide businesses with the options they require for success, freight companies may specialize in a single type of shipping or provide full-service shipping. 

Warehouse Management System

Once a customer places an order, a warehouse management system makes managing the inventory easier and order fulfillment quicker. These systems provide the following crucial features: inventory management, slotting locations, first in first out (FIFO) controls, efficient picking and packing, etc. To keep track of everything that enters and exits the warehouse, these systems rely on scanners and electronic logging devices.

After scanning a product, you can also scan the bay or slot it is in for later quick identification and picking needs. When it’s time to rotate the items to preserve freshness, clear digital inventory can alert warehouse staff and help to prevent damage or loss to the goods while they’re in storage. 

Real-time data provided by warehouse management systems links everything happening on the shop floor to the retailer. The eCommerce store can determine when it is necessary to make additional inventory stocks and can send more goods to keep the warehouse stocked.

Although warehousing has predetermined policies and practices, the 3PL can modify the services to suit the requirements of each company. This service offers comprehensive inventory reports that can be used to anticipate needs, prevent backorders, and manage returns with ease. 

Inventory Management

Inventory management is done through inbound processes, which provide prompt, precise information. Shippers will notice inaccuracies in inventory without proper inbound processes, and warehousing will be unable to explain why a product is in a specific location. Shipping service providers are experts at warehouse operations, which can be made more effective and efficient by reducing receiving errors.

When done correctly, inventory will correspond to incoming receipts, and significant information, such as manufacturing and expiration dates, serial and lot numbers, purchase order data, and more, will be logged for a complete picture of the product for management ease. 

Order Fulfillment

One major advantage of working with a third party for fulfillment is that you won’t need to hire or train warehouse personnel. Order fulfillment is a time-consuming process that begins when a customer places an order and ends when the customer has received (and approved of) the item.

For many businesses that handle this task internally, it can be a very tedious process that takes too much time and diverts workers’ attention from other crucial tasks. The warehouse has five main roles it can play in the fulfillment process.

These five tasks—which include some of the services listed above and are necessary for a business to succeed—include:

  1. Warehouse Setup
  2. Efficient Intake of Goods
  3. Proper Storage of Inventory
  4. Picking and Packing Inventory
  5. Warehouse Management and Logistics

Find the Right Shipping Services at AMS Fulfillment

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When it comes to eCommerce order fulfillment and shipping services, AMS knows how to deliver! Bringing a superior quality control process and a proven ability to handle orders large and small, we can efficiently and effectively process your orders and get them out the door quickly. We process more than 25,000 orders every day at our warehouses on both sides of the country. 

In all we do, we serve our clients as if their businesses were our own. As a B Corporation, we always do what’s best for you, the community, and the environment. Our teams are ready to discuss shipping services to get your orders to customers in the U.S. or internationally quickly and accurately.

To learn how we can help, Contact Us at AMS Fulfillment today to discuss shipping, order fulfillment, and more.


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