What Does Small Parcel Delivery (SPD) Mean?

April 28, 2023 Chase Flashman

As a shipper of goods or as a recipient, small parcel delivery (SPD) is a term you might have come across. Individuals, small businesses, and large corporations use this type of delivery to transport items to customers or partners.

In this blog post, we'll examine what small parcel shipping entails, why it's important, and how it differs from other shipping and delivery methods.

What Qualifies as Small Parcel Delivery?

A shipment to qualify as a 'small parcel' generally has to be a package that weighs not more than 75 pounds (34 Kg), although each carrier has its own guidelines ranging up to 150 lbs. Since different carriers have different weight limits for small parcels, be sure to do your research ahead of time.

Besides weight, carriers also factor in a package's shape and size when determining whether it is a small parcel.

UPS Small Parcel Requirements

UPS states that a small package must have a combined length and girth [(2 x width) + (2 x height)] not exceeding 118 inches (299.72 centimeters). UPS will slap a 'large package surcharge on your shipment when that limit is surpassed.

Other than the surcharge, UPS also charges large packages based on a minimum billable weight of 90 pounds. For instance, if your package weighs 25 pounds and is considered a 'large parcel,' you will pay the shipping price of a 90-pound package.

FedEx Small Parcel Requirements

For FedEx shipments, a small parcel is a package that weighs 75 lbs or less. Parcels that weigh more than 75 pounds have to be wrapped with Fedex's black and yellow safety heavyweight labels.

Regarding size, FedEx does not have defined size limits for small parcels. However, they have general size limits, which we have listed below:

  • · For FedEx Express Domestic services, such as FedEx First Overnight, you can ship packages up to 119" (302cm) in length and 165" (419 cm) in combined length and girth.
  • · With FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery Services, size limits for your parcel are 108" (274cm) in length and 165" (419 cm) in length plus girth.

Other than small and large parcels, other FedEx package classes are 'flat' and 'elongated.'

FedEx qualifies a package as 'flat' if it matches the criteria below:

  • · The shortest dimension is 10 inches or less.
  • · The next shortest dimension is at least four times the length of the shortest dimension.
  • · The volume of the whole package is 400 cubic inches or more.

A FedEx package is considered 'elongated' if it meets the following criteria:

  • · The longest dimension measures 24 inches or more.
  • · The other two dimensions measure 20 percent or less than the longest dimension.

Any package that is not considered a Flat or Elongated package is classified as a Standard package.

USPS Small Parcel Requirements

USPS does not ship packages that weigh more than 70 pounds. So essentially, considering weight only, all USPS parcels can be considered small packages.

However, USPS has size and weight limits that vary depending on your shipping service. For example, if you use the First Class Package Service, the parcel's combined length and girth (2 x width + 2 x height) should not exceed 108 inches (274.32 centimeters), and its weight shouldn't be more than 13 ounces (369 grams).

What Is the Difference Between SPD and LTL?

Small parcel delivery is picking, processing, and delivering small packages from a source address to a destination address. Small parcel delivery services carry packages up to a certain weight. Packages that weigh more than the limit are either surcharged or shipped as freight.

Less Than Truckload is a shipping method whereby parcel shippers share space on a truck since their packages are not big enough to fill a truck on their own. Ideally, LTL shipping is used when a shipment is too big to be deemed a small parcel but too small to fill a full truckload. LTL shipments usually range between 150 and 20,000 pounds.

LTL shipping benefits both the sender and the shipping carrier since the shipper doesn't need to pay for unused space, and the carrier makes fewer trips and therefore spends less on fuel.

Closely related to LTL shipping is Full Truckload (FTL) shipping. FTL shipping is used when a shipment is large enough to occupy the entire space on a truck. In such a case, the whole truck's capacity is dedicated to transporting a single customer's shipment.

One benefit of FTL shipping is greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and routing since the shipment is dedicated to a single customer and can be tailored to their specific needs. This can be particularly beneficial for time-sensitive or high-value shipments, as FTL carriers can often offer expedited or specialized services to ensure that the shipment arrives at its destination as quickly and safely as possible.

Pricing: LTL vs SPD vs FTL

LTL, FTL, and SPD are all priced by weight, size, distance, and speed. However, LTL and FTL shipment pricing include another factor known as freight class.

Your shipment's freight class helps the carrier know how to price and handle your shipment during transit.

The freight class is determined based on several factors, including the shipment's density, value, and handling requirements.

The classes range from Class 50, which includes dense and heavy items, to Class 500, which includes lightweight and high-value items that require special handling. The higher the class, the higher the shipping cost.

What Is the Difference Between Amazon Small Parcel and Amazon LTL?

An example of small parcel delivery and less-than-truckload shipping in action is the Amazon-partnered carrier program. This program allows Amazon sellers to send inventory to Amazon fulfillment centers either using SPD or LTL.

Examples of some Amazon small parcel delivery requirements:

  • · Boxes containing multiple standard-size items should be at most 25 inches on any side.
  • · Boxes containing multiple items weigh 50 lb or less (Single oversize items in boxes may exceed 50 lb).
  • · Boxes containing jewelry or watches weigh 40 lb or less.

Read the Amazon FBA small parcel requirements to get all the information on Amazon small parcels.

Examples of some Amazon LTL (and FTL) shipping requirements:

  • · The pallet should weigh less than or equal to 1500 lbs.
  • · Pallet height should be less than or equal to 72".

For full info on Amazon LTL and FTL shipping, read the Amazon FBA LTL and FTL shipping requirements.

How ShipSigma Can Help

With over 300 years of combined experience and proprietary AI-powered analysis software, ShipSigma combines know-how with high-tech to get you the best shipping contracts and guaranteed savings!

Talk to us today, and let's help you get your shipping accounts in order.

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