What’s the difference between floor loaded and pallet loaded containers?

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
May 31, 2022
3 min read
What’s the difference between floor loaded and pallet loaded containers?

More and more merchants are becoming interested in what goes on behind the scenes of the ecommerce industry. Fulfillment, delivery, and manufacturing are no longer considered aspects of the business that are too boring to care about, but rather parts of a holistic gestalt that all come together to affect the health of your company and the integrity of your bottom line. We here at P2Pseller couldn’t be more excited about more people getting into the overlooked aspects of getting a product from manufacturing to final delivery, because we’re actually pretty nerdy about it. Today’s topic might be considered niche, but is of maximum importance when it comes to ensuring the safety of your goods.

Just about any piece of freight larger than a sizable Amazon package is managed using floor pallet loading. This means that the items are put onto shipping pallets resting on the ground, which can be engaged with forklifts or pallet jacks to prevent injury on behalf of human workers. (We define pallets as structures made of wood or plastic that help cushion and move the items during shipment.) The drawback, however, is nothing to sneeze at. This method of loading and unloading not only requires a pallet loading system or some other form of heavy machinery to make sure that everything is done correctly, but the pallets themselves are quite heavy and cost extra to ship alongside the cargo. Floor container loading, while presenting its own problems which will be discussed later in this post, solves these issues.

What does the term floor load mean?

Managing a floor loaded container is less common and a bit trickier than traditional methods. Lacking the traditional pallet container to shield them from the typical bumps and bruises they might experience over the course of any given journey, breakable or easily damaged items are highly liable to… well, break, during container loading or if you’re stacking shipping containers. If you’re moving anything made out of glass, or delicate types of wood, or any forms of highly sensitive equipment, it’s probably not the right method to use. Shippers ought to check the National Motor Freight Classification to confirm their shipments’ freight classes and make sure they’re eligible for floor loaded delivery or determine whether other container unloading methods might be safer.

What kind of things can be floor loaded?

Items with a bit of give or cushioning such as tires, rolled carpets, paper, and cardboard boxes are excellent candidates. Intermodal and sea shipments are also typically loaded in this way, especially if they’re from China. This means that when they’re deposited on the shipping container floor, they’ll be unloaded the same way the items were put into the loading container. Receivers should be notified beforehand and prepared to deal with this, but experienced shipping partners will doubtlessly be equipped to handle these types of shipments without too much hassle.

Are there any shipping container loading best practices?

Absolutely. First, bear in mind that since the pieces of freight aren’t bound together, they’re susceptible to shifting. Distribute container load as evenly as possible to avoid disaster in the form of load shift or excessive fees due to an overweight container. Large companies such as Amazon will typically utilize specialized software to virtually create an evenly-distributed and profitable shipment. This software, often referred to as vehicle sizing software, essentially lets the company play Tetris with the limited amount of space available, making sure that no square inch goes to waste. Occasionally a choice has to be made- to either sacrifice efficiency by leaving some space bare, or to incur extra shipping costs. At that point, the seller has to weigh the pros and cons and take a close look at other parts of their budget to make sure their choice is in line with the best interests of their business.

In conclusion

Sometimes pallets are simply more trouble than they’re worth, even if they’re a respected and entrenched part of the overseas shipping industry. There are certain goods that just don’t need them. Luckily, shippers have other options available so that they can remain as flexible and efficient as possible. You always have the possibility to deep dive into this part of the industry, but if you’re just looking to build an awesome ecommerce business, it’s natural to find this kind of thing intimidating. Not to worry. P2Pseller has your back, arranging everything for you on the backend and facilitating relationships with warehousing partners to make sure that you can grow your business to become the best it can be. Register a free account with us today in order to browse our offerings with absolutely no commitment required. Join us and bring about the ecommerce revolution. We’re ecstatic to have you on board.


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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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