Intermodal vs. Multimodal Shipping

warehousing

April 29, 2019

Shipping: What’s the Difference?


When determining the best method to ship goods, there are many different factors to consider. For solopreneurs or eCommerce business owners who operate very lean, simplicity of contracts may be paramount. Sustainability, cost, and speed are all additional factors that play into the choice in shipping methods.

As it turns out, the best routing and lowest cost don’t always go hand in hand. While some people use the terms interchangeably, intermodal and multimodal are two different ship methods that have distinct advantages.

What is Multimodal Shipping?

Multimodal shipping is the movement of cargo from door to door via different modes (planes, trains, and automobiles) under a single carrier. That means that there is only one contract (and thus a single bill of lading) between the shipper, carrier, and consignee.

Advantages of Multimodal Shipping


  • Tracking efficiency. You can track the shipment from door to door all in one place since the entire journey is under the same carrier.
  • Contract simplicity. With only one contract to negotiate, dealing with only one carrier requires the minimum amount of paperwork, saving time.
  • Delivery time. This method often results in the shortest door-to-door time.

Multimodal shipping is simple and often gets cargo from one place to another in the least amount of time. For an owner-operator of a small eCommerce business with few extra resources, multimodal shipping is often the best solution.

What is Intermodal Shipping?


Intermodal shipping also uses different modes of transport (there are those planes, trains, and automobiles again). However, instead of one contract under a single carrier, multiple carriers are used, each requiring their own individual contract. This method is often used to reduce the costs of shipping, taking advantage of different carriers who each have the lowest price for each leg of the cargo’s journey.


Advantages of Intermodal Shipping

  • Save on freight costs. While intermodal shipping requires more coordination and negotiation, it often allows shippers to take advantage of lower rates for each portion of the trip from door to door.
  • Reduce carbon footprint. The shipper can choose the most environmentally friendly carrier for each portion of the trip.
  • Better control. Negotiating each leg of your cargo’s journey with separate carriers allows you more control over the process, since you can select the carrier and schedule that best fits your delivery time and cost requirements.

But what business owner wants to deal with all of this? Not very many that we’ve met. Here at Materialogic, negotiating with carriers is a big part of what we do. Our relationships with major carriers allow us to access better freight costs. We also handle all of the paperwork and headache so the brands we serve can focus on what they do best: making kickass products and growing their businesses.

Ready to break free from the red tape of carrier contracts? Let’s talk! Give us a call today.