When you are new to the processes involved in international logistics, it can be hard to plug into international trade. If you are planning to ship cargo in containers for the first time, it is easy to be confuse by the various rules and regulations and shipping terms. While you should invariably consult an experienced logistics partner, it can help a lot to know some of the most important things when shipping the first time:
Nature of the Cargo in the Container
The nature of the commodity can make a critical difference in many aspects of the shipping process. The type of container differs for dry cargo, liquid cargo, perishables, and hazardous materials as does their documentation. You will need to select a refrigerated container if you are shipping frozen meats, dairy products, medicines, fresh agricultural produce, etc. Shipping hazardous cargo is a different ballgame requiring strict compliance with the laws of the originating. And destination countries and extensive documentation and handling procedures.
Cargo Quantity and Dimensions
With the involvement of multiple parties in the supply chain, complications in logistics are inevitable. The most important elements in container shipping are total cargo weight, volume, and the number of pallets or boxes. Heavy and bulky cargo will require extra space, which attracts surcharges over the usual shipping rates. While you should always try to ship on a Full Container Load (FCL) basis as it is cheaper, if you do not have the adequate quantity. You should look for Less than Container Load (LCL) that allows you to share the container space with other shippers.
Shipping Point of Origin and Destination
Another critical aspect of international shipping is deciding the place from where the shipment will originate. And where it will be delivered because the distance is a significant factor in the overall shipping cost. The choice of the route will also dictate if it is entirely over the sea or involves multi-modal transport in case of land-locked origin or destination. The route will also influence the need for insurance and customs services, especially when it involves two or more countries. The responsibility of paying the various shipping costs will depend on the Incoterms specified in the contract. According to the International Trade Administration, Incoterms are internationally recognized rules defining the responsibilities of sellers and buyers.
The Time Plan
Quite often, the time taken to deliver the cargo will dictate things like the shipping mode, the route, and the basis of container hire. You must get a fix on the estimated delivery period and plan for unexpected delays. Taking the time of the year into account is also vital as the holiday season or the Chinese New Year can play havoc with delivery schedules.
The final and often the deciding factor for first-time shippers is the cost of transporting the containers. Limiting the operational cost of transportation is vital. And you need to use the proper Incoterms to identify the responsibility of bearing the various costs. Since getting a grip on all the costs is difficult for first-timers, consulting an experienced freight forwarder can be invaluable.