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Three main shipping methods for import-export business

Issuing time:2024-03-19 15:59

There are three main modes of transportation for import and export business: express shipping, air freight,and sea freight.


Ininternational import and export business, choosing the right shipping method is crucial to the success of the business.

There are a variety of shipping methods to choose from, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Among the

most commonly used methods are express, air and sea shipping. In this article,we will explore these three main modes of

transportation and discuss their main features, advantages, and considerations for importing and exporting operations.

微信图片_20240318160754.jpg


Express shipping:

Express shipping is a popular option for businesses that require fast and reliable delivery of goods. This method is

characterized by high speed and efficiency, making it ideal for time-sensitive transportation. Express delivery services are

provided by major express companies such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc., known for door-to-door delivery and real-time

tracking capabilities.


About 95% of the product samples andhigh-value goods in small quantities are shipped by express. Besides, if you are

online sellers who are in a hurry to restock, like Amazon sellers, expressis highly suitable to you.


Air shipping

Both air freight and express use planes to ship cargo. If you are wondering about the differences between the two and

when to choose express or air shipping, please read on.


The Differences between Air shipping and Express

Express delivery is quite simple and straight-forward, while air freight is a bit more complex and its import and

export procedures are similar to traditional sea freight. It includes the following three steps:

Local logistics in China and export process.

Air shipping from Chinese airport to American airport.

Local logistics in USA and import process.


So, when choose air freight?

It depends on the weight of your cargo.   The charge weight is calculated by real weight or by volume.


If the charge weight of cargo is more than500kg, air freight is cos-effective. While if the charge weight is below 300kg,

express shipping will be a better choice. When the charge weight is between 300kg and 500kg, you can check the freight

cost and compare, which one is cheaper. The price of both air freight and express are changing in real-time.



Ocean Freight:

Ocean freight, also known as sea freight,is a traditional yet cost-effective mode of transportation that is widely used

to transport goods over long distances. If your goods is more than 2 CBM (CubicMeters), sea freight will be your best choice. Please don't worry about how complex sea freight is, we will make the process simple and clear for you.


Less Than Container Load (LCL) and Full Container Load (FCL)

The cargo shipped by sea freight is carried in containers. There are two types, LCL and FLC.

If the quantity of your goods is small and its volume is less than 15 CBM, the freight forwarder will help you ship your goods

by LCL. It implies you have to share a container with other importers because your cargo load is less than a container size.

LCL uses CBM (Cubic Meter) as the unit to calculate the freight. For example, if your product is 12 CBM, then the shipping fee = the price per CBM * 12CBM.

FCL is when your cargo is enough to fill one or more containers. In this case, the freight is calculated on the quantity of the

whole container. For example, if your goods can fill 2 containers, then the shipping fee = the price of a full container * 2.

Generally, it will be cheaper than LCL.

Furthermore, the container model is mainly divided into three types:

Full container load20GP40GP40HQ
CBM contained28CBM58CBM68CBM



The Cost Breakdown Of Sea Freight

FOB term

Shipping cost=Cost for sea freight from a Chineseport to destination port +destination customs clearance cost + Locallogistics cost in the destination country


EXW term


Shipping cost = Local logistics cost in China + China export cost + Cost for sea freight from a Chinese port to destination port+destination customs clearance cost + Local logistics cost in the destination countries



In conclusion, the choice of transportation method plays a vital role in the import and export business, affecting factors such

as delivery speed, cost and the type of goods that can be transported. Express, air and ocean freight each have unique

advantages and considerations, and businesses need to carefully evaluate their shipping requirements to determine the

method that best suitstheir needs. By understanding the key characteristics of these three major modes of transportation,

import and export companies can make informed decisions that align with their transportation priorities and business goals.


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