FCL VS LCL: Which Container Shipping Option Is Right for You?
Making the decision to ship your goods via container is a big one. But which option is right for you? FCL or LCL? That all depends on your needs and budget. In this post, we’ll outline the pros and cons of each shipping method so that you can make the best decision for your business.
What Does FCL Shipping Mean?
In FCL (full container load) shipping, a shipper (exporter) hires an entire shipping container for his cargo. This means he’ll need to have enough goods to fill the container, usually 20-40 cubic meters.
If you’re shipping FCL, you’ll also need to pay for the entire container, even if it’s not full. This option is best for companies that are shipping large quantities of goods.
What Does LCL Shipping Mean?
LCL shipping is when your cargo is smaller than a full container load, so the remaining space in the container will be filled with other importers’ or exporters’ merchandise. Because you’re only paying for the space your shipment occupies in the container, LCL shipping is typically less expensive than FCL shipping.
How Big Is A Shipping Container?
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of FCL and LCL, it’s time to answer the question: how big is a shipping container?
What’s important to remember is that the size of the container will dictate the price. So if you’re shipping a lot of goods, it might be worth it to go with a bigger container so you can save money in the long run.
Advantages and Disadvantages of FCL Shipping
Now that you know a bit more about the difference between the two most common types of container shipping, it’s time to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each. Let’s start with FCL shipping.
Advantages of FCL shipping:
– You have sole use of the container, so you can pack it to capacity without worrying about space constraints.
– FCL shipping is a door-to-door service, so you don’t have to deal with multiple transport companies.
– It’s a more secure option because your goods are not unpacked and repacked into different containers.
– FCL shipping is generally faster than LCL shipping because your goods don’t have to be unloaded and reloaded at each stop.
Disadvantages of FCL shipping:
– It’s more expensive than LCL shipping because you’re paying for the entire container, even if you don’t use all the space.
– Not ideal for small shipments unless your margins are high enough to bear the shipping costs
Advantages and Disadvantages of LCL Shipping
Now that you know the pros and cons of FCL shipping, let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of LCL shipping, so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Advantages of LCL Shipping:
– LCL shipping is usually cheaper than FCL shipping.
– You don’t have to worry about having a minimum amount of goods to fill an entire container.
– LCL shipping is a good option if you only need to ship a small amount of goods.
Disadvantages of LCL Shipping:
– Your goods are more likely to be damaged because they’ll be handled more frequently.
– Your goods will take longer to arrive because they’ll be shipped with other people’s goods.
– You might have to pay extra fees for storage and handling.
Which Is Faster: FCL or LCL Shipping?
Generally, sea freight FCL shipping is faster and safest than ocean freight LCL shipping due to less general handling.
However, if you need more flexibility when delivering to your final destination, then LCL shipping is often the better choice.
When Is FCL Shipping Better Than LCL Shipping?
There are certain circumstances when FCL shipping is a better option than LCL shipping. For example, consignments with a volume of 13 cubic meters or more or comprising 12 pallets or more are better shipped by FCL.
If you’re shipping a high-value item, FCL is usually the better option because it offers more protection for your cargo. After all, your cargo won’t be sharing space with other people’s shipments.
Another time when FCL shipping is the better option is when you’re on a tight timeline. With LCL shipping, your goods might get delayed because they must be unloaded and reloaded onto different trucks at various points along the journey.
FCL shipping is also a good choice when shipping perishable goods or items that need to be stored at a certain temperature. With LCL shipping, there’s a greater risk that your goods will be damaged or spoiled because they’ll be stored in a container with other people’s shipments.
Should I Choose FCL or LCL Shipping?
It really depends on what you’re shipping and how much of it you’re shipping. If you have a lot of stuff, or if you’re shipping something big and bulky, then FCL is the way to go. But if you’re just shipping a few goods, or if your stuff is small and light, then LCL might be a better option.
For small importers, LCL shipping is a solid choice. For larger importers, FCL shipping can save money but may offer little flexibility you need, particularly if your business relies on Amazon FBA.
Ways To Stuff & Deliver An FCL Container
CFS Stuffing FCL Cargo: A popular option among international shippers, cargo is transported to a CFS (container freight station) near the port and stuffed into empty containers. Stuffing is preceded by the customs house broker finalizing customs examination and clearance of the cargo.
Live Load FCL Shipping: The shipper has a trucking company drop off an empty container at his warehouse, where he loads and seals it while the driver waits to drive it back to a container yard. Live loads are free if completed within a stipulated time (a couple of hours), after which an hourly surcharge kicks in.
Drop and Pick FCL Shipping: An empty container is dropped off at the shipper’s premises for a few days, after which the driver returns to take it back to the container yard. Drop & Pick FCL shipping costs more than live loading.
Similarly, when the shipping container reaches the destination warehouse, it can be live unloaded. At the same time, the driver waits on site, or the driver can drop off the container for a couple of days and return it after that.
For sea freight FCL shipments, you can choose between port-to-port, port-to-door, door-to-port, and door-to-door services.
China Global Freight offers door-to-door delivery services for imports from China to Europe and North America, door-to-port services for exports out of China to Europe, and port-to-door services for imports from China to Europe.
Try China Global Freight’s FCL/LCL Shipping services
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