The global commercial shipping industry should surpass a trillion dollars by 2022. A 2020 report estimated that the market will grow 3.28% over the next two years, hitting a total of over $12 trillion.

We know trying to understand this vast and complex industry is a headache. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide. Keep reading for a glossary of the most important logistics and transportation terms you need to know.

Aggregate Shipments

When a single buyer orders multiple items from different sellers, the buyer can request an aggregate shipment. This means that all items are consolidated into one shipment that is then delivered to the buyer.

Bill of Sale

Every shipment requires a bill of sale. Bills of sale are documents that confirm the purchase of a good.


You may think the term cargo only applies to air or ship freight. Cargo is actually considered any good that’s transported by any means. That includes goods transported by ground, air, sea, etc.


In most cases, carriers own the means of transportation for goods. They’re the party that’s responsible for lost or damaged goods.


DOT is the abbreviation for the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is the U.S. government branch that oversees domestic transportation.


This is the transportation of products across a short distance. Some industry experts strictly define drayage as the shipment of goods within a single urban area.

Another term for drayage is cartage.


ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. This term refers to the software systems companies use to process orders and do accounting.


FTL is the abbreviation for a full truckload. FTL carriers are capable of contracting out a full truck to a single customer.

This can help lower costs for shippers. To find out more ways to reduce your logistics costs, read this article about how much does a used shipping container cost.


You may also see “multimodal” in place of intermodal, but both mean the same thing. Intermodal or multimodal transportations occur across multiple types of transportation including, air, rail, sea, and truck.


Less-than-truckload and less-than-load (abbreviated LTL) are two terms for medium-sized shipments. These shipments typically weigh between 150 pounds and 20,000 pounds.

Less-than-container (LTC) is another term for LTL.

Packing List

Every shipment contains a packing list, which shows the products included in the shipment. Packing lists may also include packaging information, but they don’t typically show prices paid for the goods.

Packing lists are also called packing slips.


“Parcel” is the term for a very small shipment. Parcels usually weigh less than 150 pounds.

A parcel may also be referred to as a package, small parcel, or small package.


3PL stands for third-party logistics. 3PL companies provide transportation services to other companies. These services can include warehousing, transport, and more.

Stay up to Speed With Commercial Shipping Lingo

If you take part in commercial shipping, you’ve got to stay up to date with more than just these need-to-know terms.

Wondering where to get the latest news from the logistics industry? You’ve found it. Keep scrolling for more articles like this one!

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