China has witnessed dramatic growth over the last three decades or so, something that has seen it emerge as an epicenter for global trade. Most of the production in the world happens in the Asian nation before it finds its way to the rest of the world through the vast network of shipping routes involving road, sea, rail and air transport.
That makes the freight industry big business in China, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
Good in the sense that the availability of multiple options is always a good thing, and bad in that it can make it extremely difficult to choose a shipping provider with so many alternatives, more so if you’re not very much acquainted with the industry.
When you want to ship items from China, the last thing you want is to be caught up by unnecessary delays, steep delivery charges, and/or unreliable suppliers. Which is not uncommon at all.
That can be catastrophic especially if your shipment is commercial-related as opposed to intended for personal use, whether you run a small drop-shipping business or large commercial operation that regularly imports from China.
For this reason, just like when choosing a moving company for local, cross-country or international moving, you want to do your due diligence to avoid the frustration (and significant losses) that come with choosing an unreliable provider.
In fact, choosing a road freight and trucking service isn’t much different from choosing a moving company, barring a few differences.
Below, we share tips to help you in this regard.
Shop for multiple quotations from different carriers
Don’t go with the first carrier you come across who promises you the best rates. The carrier is responsible for the overall shipping procedure from China to your destination, and you want to entrust your consignment with the best hands.
To evaluate the cost of shipping, carriers will base their cost on factors like:
- Packaging mode
- Container levies
- Terminal management fees
- Broker fees
There may be other factors depending on the carrier, but these are the main ones that should help you in predicting the cost of shipping your cargo.
Choose the right packaging
Packaging does not only matter when it comes to air freight. You need to protect your consignment from potential damage that could be caused by poor handling or when the cargo is in transit such as when transporting from the warehouse to the port of shipment.
If your items are being shipped to the customer directly, what packaging also does is create a good first impression.
When selecting your packaging, you have the choice of different options, including:
- Utility-oriented packaging
- Standard packaging
- Branded packaging
When it comes to standard packaging, the most common alternatives include the following:
- Wooden crates
- Insulated shipping boxes
- Corrugated pads
- Multi-depth boxes
- Bulk cargo boxes
- Side loaders
- Easy fold covers etc.
The choice of container differs, obviously, and typically most carriers opt for the option that will not eat a lot into their profit margin. In the case of LCL (less than a container load) or FCL (full container load) shipments, make sure your consignment adheres to the CTU code.
Opt for a logistics provider with systems capabilities
Unlike years gone by, tracing where your freight is in the supply chain is very important these days. Ditto knowing inventory levels by location and what is expected to move from your suppliers.
That’s because you need to plan for arrivals or delays, and without proper tracking of shipments, entire shipments can be disrupted.
Therefore, when choosing your freight options, you want to make sure the provider you’re considering going with is able and willing to create a deeper level of partnership before signing up with them.
Consider hiring a freight forwarder or opt for a provider that can handle the logistics for you
As you probably know by now, there are many processes involved in shipping that need to be worked out before the shipment can begin its journey to your preferred destination.
To avoid sweating the small stuff yourself and ensure everything is sorted out successfully, you could opt to work with a freight forwarder with the necessary experience of shipping goods from China. That is, assuming your trucking service provider does not render this service.
A freight forwarder or some trucking service providers will take care of all the documentation and logistical details so you don’t have to.
Some local-based freight forwarders – or the trucking service providers themselves – are happy to organize the movement of your goods from the source to the port for shipping, as well as organizing the delivery of the consignment to the receiver’s warehouse when it reaches the destination country.
If it comes down to hiring a freight forwarder, choose someone reputable and with a good track record of ensuring the operation runs smoothly. In the event of an emergency, you want someone who can duly bring it to your attention and help in resolving the issue in a timely fashion without having you losing sleep from halfway across the world.
Ensure your goods are insured
A lot can happen from the time your goods leave the manufacturer or warehouse. Getting the proper cargo insurance helps you sleep better at night knowing your consignment is protected against potential loss or damage.
There are plenty of third-parties that can provide insurance cover for your shipments. As the cargo owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your shipment is insured.
If you’re working with a freight forwarder, make sure you two are on the same page as far as ensuring the consignment is insured for its particular worth. Never assume that the forwarders are privy to the exact worth of your cargo.
Consider consolidating your shipment
Consolidating is all about bundling the various consignments from multiple manufacturers or suppliers into a single fully loaded container (FCL) which is then shipped to the destination country as is.
When the FCL arrives at its destination, it can then be deconsolidated by the receiving agent into the original individual cargo components upon which the consignees (if the shipment is destined for multiple recipients) can pick up their cargo.
Consolidating your cargo comes with a host of benefits, including the ability to cut shipping costs, reducing the risk of damage to the merchandise, and improving supervision and standard quality control.
Choose off-peak shipping season if you can
Lastly, another thing you might want to keep in mind when choosing your trucking service and road freight shipping options is the time of shipping.
Barring the disruption that was brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, shipping season usually falls under certain peak seasons which affect not just sea cargo, but the entire supply chain.
Peak season falls twice a year:
- January to February Chinese New Year
- Mid-August to mid-October
During this time, the demand will be high as the supply correspondingly declines, and there’s a scarcity of containers – all of which contribute to soaring costs. So, that’s something you might want to keep in mind.