When exporting or importing goods from an overseas destination, at some point, you will have to choose whether to ship your goods by sea or air. Since both modes of transportation have their benefits, there are several other factors that you should consider before settling on either air or sea freight.
Below is a detailed guide showing how several key factors will be affected by your chosen mode of international freight …
- Freight Duration
If you have a small window of time within which to ship your goods to their destination, it is better to go for air freight services since air transport is quicker than shipping by sea. With air transport, your goods will arrive within a matter of days but if you ship by sea, your goods may take several weeks to arrive at their destination. Air freight tends to be quicker since air cargo operators usually operate on a daily basis while most sea cargo freight services usually operate on a weekly basis. Shipping goods by sea also tends to be slower since you need to plan your shipping schedule ahead of time so as to avoid missing the loading deadlines set by sea operators.
If you ship your goods by sea, they may also take longer to arrive because of “slow steaming” – a technique where most sea freight operators usually slow their fleets in order to cut back on fuel costs. Though the shipping companies usually save money and you are not likely to suffer any other drawbacks except extra warehousing costs if you do not need your goods quickly, slow steaming usually increases the time it takes for goods to arrive at their destination exponentially.
It is worth noting that in the near future, the time it takes to ship goods by sea is set to reduce because of new industry developments such as the expansion of shipping canals, improved technology in cargo ships and the fact that many shipping companies are entering into agreements on how to jointly operate shipping routes.
- Shipping Costs
Like any other business decision, your choice of freight service will also be dictated by the fees you will be charged.
There is a common misconception by people looking to ship goods that air freight services are costlier than sea freight services – but this is not always the case. Before choosing your preferred shipping method, it is important to remember that there are a lot of factors that affect the cost of shipping goods and that the overall charges for shipping by sea and air are done differently.
Generally, if you are looking to transport a large, bulky or awkwardly shaped shipment, it will be cheaper to transport your goods by sea. However, if you are transporting a relatively light shipment – say one that weighs less than 200Kgs, shipping by air may be cheaper depending on the destination where you want the goods delivered. Note that other charges incurred during the shipping process tend to be lower when using air freight services.
Air Freight Vs Sea Freight: Which Is The Better Option?
As you can see from the discussion above, both freight methods have their benefits. Ultimately, your preferred method of shipping should be dictated by the type of goods you are shipping and the duration of time within which you expect your goods to arrive at their final destination. For example, if you are shipping perishable items, it may be better to utilize air freight services. For large and bulky items, it may be best to ship your cargo by sea.
When choosing a shipping method, it is also advisable that you consider the speed and reliability of each shipping method as both of these factors will have an impact on your profit margin.
The best way to identify the most ideal shipping method? Consult an experienced freight forwarder beforehand. A seasoned professional will consider your business model and listen to your expectations and then advise you on the most ideal shipping method. Further, they will also oversee the shipping of your cargo from the point of origin to the final destination.