The three main types of shipping from China to western companies are express shipping, air freight, and sea freight. Western companies should investigate all three shipping methods to transport goods from China to their home country.
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Businesses inevitably face different situations involving inventory levels, and they will require different modes of transport involving decisions impacting delivery time and transportation costs.
Because it’s the fastest shipping method, express shipping is the most expensive. The best-known express shippers are DHL, UPS, TNT, and FedEx. You can expect to receive express-shipped consignments in under five days.
Express shipping offers further higher-cost delivery options taking less than a day.
If you’re running low on a product and need some stock to cover you, express shipping is useful, but the increased cost of express shipping means that you should only use this option if it’s essential.
Most companies find that sending larger-sized products via this method is too expensive; express shipping is better suited to smaller, lighter products.
Air freight is most cost-effective for shipments between 400 and 1200 lbs. Air freight is about 35% cheaper than express shipping. Your options will depend on the goods you’re importing.
Air freight is best for medium-sized shipments; it’s faster and more flexible than sea freight.
For larger-sized heavier products, sea freight is the better option. There are prohibitive restrictions on some products, such as high-powered magnets and aerosols.
China boasts plenty of premier-quality seaports such as Shanghai, Ningbo, and Shenzhen. A supplier, factory, or freight forwarder will advise you on the best choice of port for your business.
Companies should be aware of the price differences is FCLs (full container loads) and LCLs (less than full container loads). It is less cost-effective to share loads with other companies when shipping is via LCL. However, it may not be appropriate for a business to invest in an FCL, so an LCL is often the preferred choice.
Inclement weather often hampers shipments sent by sea freight. A well-chosen logistics company will help you plan for weather risks and possible shipment damage.
Sea freight is inevitably the slowest option. There can be backlogs at ports, and you will require a customs agent to facilitate end-to-end shipping, so you should consider these disadvantages when deciding on your shipping choice.