Shipping your products in the right way can make or break your business's ability to scale. Your choices will be between express shipping, air freight, and sea freight.
Do you need your products as fast as possible, regardless of cost? Express shipping from China is a solution to get samples, prototypes, and other products in your hands as quickly as possible. It's a great choice to quickly make sure your product is made to your specifications, and that there are no immediate quality control issues with your manufacturer.
Express shipping is delivered by air and can include dedicated flights and trucks specifically for your order. In addition to the premiums included for express shipping, costs will usually be determined by the weight of your order.
Air freight is an excellent choice if your products are small, lightweight, or low volume. Your company will use a traditional shipping partner, like FedEx or DHS, a tracking number will be provided to you, and shipping times will be faster than sea freight. Traditional air freight is slower than express shipping, but it is still a great option for larger, lightweight orders.
Like express shipping, air freight costs are usually determined by the weight of your total product order.
Sea freight is usually the most cost-effective way to ship your products from China to the US. If you plan on large volume orders, regular and long-term orders, or products that are large and bulky, sea freight will be the ideal shipping choice. Shipping costs are determined by the amount of space taken on a container (or volumetric weight) instead of the actual weight of your order.
Using space as effectively as possible can save you thousands on shipping. Kanary specializes in consolidated shipping logistics, including coordinating shipping between factories, temporary storage, and freight partners.
One of the most common things that can go wrong when you are shipping from China to the U.S. is miscalculating your lead times and otherwise preparing poorly before your shipment. There are a couple steps that you can take to minimize these mistakes.
First, it is very important to make sure you are scheduling your shipment as soon as you place the order with your supplier. As soon as you know the packaging details and total quantity of your shipment, you can start figuring out what size container you will need. This is also where you will determine if you can ship your product by air.
Once you figure out the method of shipping that works best, you should start preparing the necessary documentation for importation. These documents can include the Bill of Lading, Commercial Invoice, and Packing List. If you are using sea freight, you will be waiting for dates to open up to book a shipment. These waits were typically a couple days, but because of shipping complications due to the coronavirus pandemic, they have turned into a couple weeks.
Once your shipment is scheduled, it would be smart to give yourself at least one week in advance of the departure date to load your container and get it to the port. This is why it’s important to start scheduling your shipment as soon as you place your order with your supplier. As you can see, if you wait until your order has finished, you can be waiting as long as 2-3+ weeks to finally ship it out. Covid has made all lead times and shipment preparation even more difficult with limited workers and congestion at ports.
Calculating your shipping costs before you begin manufacturing can help you decide if you should even be purchasing from China in the first place. It can also indicate if you need to negotiate further with your supplier to lower your manufacturing costs. You always need to understand your total or landed cost before you decide to order from China. Manufacturing costs, local transportation costs to get products from factory to port, shipping costs, custom clearance costs, duties/taxes, and final delivery costs will give you your total landed cost.
If your packing list is inconsistent with your Bill of Lading, then your shipment will not be able to clear customs. A packing list itemizes the contents of each package (box, pallets, etc.) and the Bill of Lading is a detailed list of a shipment of the goods in the form of a receipt given to the person consigning the goods. If these two do not match up, you will have to amend the Bill of Lading, which will cause delays for your shipment.