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Chapter 2: Choosing the Right Shipping Method

Welcome back! We are continuing our 10-part series, the "Ultimate Guide to Ocean Shipping: Everything You Need to Know".

When it comes to ocean shipping, one size does not fit all. Selecting the right shipping method is crucial, as it significantly impacts your costs, transit times, and the overall success of your international shipments. In this chapter, we'll explore the various shipping methods available, focusing on Full Container Load (FCL) vs. Less Than Container Load (LCL) options, as well as Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) and Breakbulk shipping.

Airplane flying over ocean containers

FCL (Full Container Load) vs. LCL (Less Than Container Load)

Full Container Load (FCL)

  • What is FCL? FCL shipping involves reserving an entire shipping container for your cargo. This is a great option if you have a substantial volume of goods to transport, as it provides exclusive use of the container.

  • Advantages of FCL:

    • Dedicated Space: Your cargo is not combined with other shipments, ensuring it arrives intact and secure.

    • Faster Transit: FCL shipments are generally faster, as there's no need to wait for consolidation at the departure or arrival ports.

    • Reduced Risk: Lower risk of damage or loss, as your goods remain sealed throughout the journey. Your container can be taken straight from the boat and placed onto a truck or train for it's continued journey.

    • Reduced Cost: The cost per item is cheaper when selecting FCL if you manage to fill the container entirely. This is because there are less additional fees when loading and unloading the container. There is also far less logistical work if a carrier knows they can sell a full container of space to 1 customer as opposed to coordinating multiple customers into one unit.

  • When to Choose FCL: Opt for FCL when you have enough cargo to fill a standard container (20ft or 40ft) or when you need added security and faster transit times. When our customers are manufacturing large quantities, we regularly provide quotes on quantities which match the available space in 20" or 40" containers. This dramatically reduces the cost per piece, therefore creating further cost savings and maximizing their profits.

Less Than Container Load (LCL)

  • What is LCL? LCL shipping involves consolidating multiple small shipments from different shippers into a single container. This is a cost-effective solution for businesses with smaller volumes of cargo.

  • Advantages of LCL:

    • Cost-Efficiency: LCL is economical for smaller shipments, as you share container costs with other shippers.

    • Flexible for Smaller Businesses: Ideal for businesses that do not have enough cargo to fill an entire container.

    • Global Reach: LCL services are widely available, making it suitable for shipping to various destinations.

  • When to Choose LCL: LCL is a smart choice when your cargo volume is less than a container's capacity, and you want to control costs without sacrificing international shipping capabilities. We ship many goods via LCL because it can be extremely cost effective. Our orders are always packed on pallets to avoid damage during transit and these pallets can be stacked onto ocean carrier or into airplanes.

Trucks waiting to be loaded with freight goods

Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) and Breakbulk Shipping

Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro)

  • What is Ro-Ro? Ro-Ro shipping involves the transport of vehicles, machinery, and equipment that can be driven on and off the vessel. It's commonly used for cars, trucks, and heavy machinery.

  • Advantages of Ro-Ro:

    • Efficiency: Loading and unloading are streamlined, reducing time and costs.

    • Specialized for Vehicles: Perfect for transporting automobiles, construction equipment, and more.

    • Minimized Risk: Reduced risk of cargo damage as vehicles are secured during transit.

  • When to Choose Ro-Ro: Consider Ro-Ro when you need to transport vehicles or heavy machinery, as it's specifically designed for these types of cargo.

Breakbulk Shipping

  • What is Breakbulk? Breakbulk shipping involves the transportation of non-containerized, oversized, or heavy cargo. This method requires special handling and can be tailored to unique cargo types.

  • Advantages of Breakbulk:

    • Versatility: Suitable for irregularly shaped or oversized cargo that doesn't fit in standard containers.

    • Customized Solutions: Breakbulk shipments can be customized to accommodate specific cargo requirements.

    • Special Handling: Delicate cargo, such as machinery or oversized goods, can be handled with care.

  • When to Choose Breakbulk: Opt for Breakbulk shipping when your cargo is non-containerizable, oversized, or requires specialized handling.

Choosing the right shipping method is a critical decision in your international shipping journey. It impacts costs, transit times, and the safety of your goods. In the next chapter, we will dive into the world of ocean freight rates and costs, helping you understand the factors that affect pricing and how to manage your shipping expenses effectively.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about what shipping methods you should use for your operation.

Thanks for reading,


Owner of Drop-Ship Packaging

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