As an importer, you know that peak season can be both a blessing and a curse. The increase in orders can be a great opportunity to boost your business, but it can also be a lot of extra work.
One of the most challenging aspects of peak season is global shipping. If you’re not prepared, it can quickly become a nightmare. But with some planning, you can easily navigate the waters and avoid shipping mishaps.
This article will discuss some tips for international shipping during peak season. By following these tips, you’ll be able to keep your international shipments on track and your customers happy.
How Does Peak Season Affect International Shipping?
Peak season is the time of year when retailers are stocking up for the holidays, which means a lot of extra cargo is moving through the supply chain. This can create some severe problems for importers who aren’t prepared for it.
For one thing, there’s usually a backlog at customs. This can cause delays in international shipments and even lost cargo. For another thing, airlines and freight carriers tend to get overloaded during peak season, which can lead to sky-high prices and delivery delays.
Should I Ship Air or Ocean Freight During Holiday Season?
When the holiday season rolls around, you may wonder if you should switch to air or ocean freight. Here are a few tips when choosing between air or ocean:
1. If the items are needed for a project, deadline, or installation: We advise you to Air Freight them to avoid shipping delays. Many shipments into some Container Freight Stations (CFS) are delayed not only on the ocean but at the port, and out of the CFS’ due to the large influx of containers.
2. Shipping a container of “in-stock” items: While moving the majority of your product via Sea Freight, expediting a small portion, 1 or 2 pallets via Air Freight is an efficient blended solution. It is also a great overall option helping to ensure “stock” product availability and customer satisfaction.
3. Potential loss of sales with cargo being on the ocean is not a good option: Shipping cargo by air freight may seem expensive initially, but it is not costly if you analyze all the metrics. The value of a happy, repeat customer is genuinely priceless.
FCL vs LCL Container Shipping: Which is Better for Holiday Shipping?
When thinking about FCL Ship and LCL Shipping, it’s important to remember that neither one is always better than the other. Many factors need to be considered, as the comparisons above show.
As a rule, FCL Shipping is often considered faster and more secure, but LCL Shipping is more flexible and convenient.
LCL is a solid choice for small importers, but it can take a couple of MORE days to deliver. For larger importers, FCL can save money but may not offer the flexibility you need, particularly if your business relies on Amazon FBA.
Try ABL Logistics’ FCL Shipping Services
ABL Logistics offers door-to-door FCL shipments. Click here for:
- Instant FCL freight rates and quotes
- FCL container bookings within minutes
- Verified and trusted shipping carriers
- Round-the-clock dedicated freight experts support
- End-to-end logistics services to faster deliver your shipments
What Importers Should Know About Shipping During Holidays?
As an importer, you should be well-versed in the shipping process. And that means knowing what to expect during peak season.
Peak season is the time of year when demand for your product is highest. And it can also be the time of year when shipping becomes more complicated and expensive because carriers are busier than usual, and they often have trouble meeting demand. So what can you do to make sure your products get to their destination on time? Here are a few tips:
1. Plan Ahead & Book Earlier
Air Freight Shipping: Book your shipment 7 days before the Cargo Ready Date.
Ocean FCL Shipping: Book the container shipment 3-4 weeks before the Cargo Ready Date.
Ocean LCL Shipping: The transit time for LCL shipments will be 7-10 days longer than for FCL shipments.
Expect more time to load/unload at the origin and destination.
Avoid booking multiple containers on a single bill of lading (B/L): If you try to book too many containers under a single B/L, if it gets rolled, the impact would be far more significant than a B/L with 1 or 2 containers getting rolled.
2. Prepare for Extra Fees
The freight rates will be up during holidays for both air and ocean shipments.
Congested ports mean longer wait times for truckers, who will charge trucking wait fees.
Some ports and rail ramps experience chassis shortages, which lead to chassis split charges.
Note: make sure your freight forwarder understands your shipping, receiving, and warehousing challenges. They can make arrangements to help avoid some of these charges if you inform them.
3. Be Flexible for Booking Your Freight
For instance, if your orders from overseas are not urgently needed before Christmas, you can take steps to keep your costs under control.
Ask yourself: Can shipping be delayed until after the holiday period? Does your delivery deadline allow you to consider an alternative mode of forwarding; sea freight, a sea/air combination, or even, for European supplies, road transport?
Do you need to send the entire order via air freight? Could you send a small advance with the bulk to follow later? All shipping methods are cheaper alternatives, and all have capacity if you have the flexibility.
4. Smooth Your Customs Clearance Process
Working with an experienced international freight forwarder helps you navigate the frequently complex steps involved in customs clearance. They understand import documentation, which often involves handling the buyer’s order, the supplier’s sales invoice, the bill of entry, and the bill of lading. Your freight forwarder must also deal with the packing list and certificate of origin.
Let ABL Logistics help you handle your international shipping during the Pre-Christmas season to ensure a smooth customs clearance process. Our DDP shipping provides door-to-door delivery, including pick-up from your Chinese suppliers, shipping from China to the globe, and customs clearance.
How Can You Beat Peak Season Prices?
So you’re an importer, and you’re trying to figure out how to beat the prices during peak season. Here are a few tips that can help.
1. Prioritize Your Peak Freight Shipments
The first thing you need to do is prioritize your freight shipments. This means putting the most critical orders at the top of the list and ensuring they’re shipped as quickly as possible.
You’ll also want to ensure that you have enough staff to handle the extra work. And don’t forget to plan ahead and reserve enough shipping space and manpower so you don’t get overwhelmed during peak season.
2. Split Your Shipments
Here’s a pro tip for importers: splitting your shipments might be a good idea if you’re shipping during peak season. It’s a strategy that can save you a lot of headaches, and it’s something that you should consider if you’re importing goods during peak season.
If you’re shipping multiple containers in one shipment, you might want to separate them on multiple bills of lading. Shipping carriers roll containers according to the B/L – not the container. So if you have 5 containers on 1 bill of lading, and your bill is rolled, then all the containers get rolled. But if you separate them into multiple bills, you still be able to get some containers through.
It’s easier to split shipments to multiple final destinations using LCL shipping. During deconsolidation, the cargo can be split up and shipped to various destinations. With FCL shipping, splitting shipments is significantly more difficult.
If you have a 100-box shipment, put 30 on a plane to get them within the week and ship the other via LCL shipping. Yes, air freight costs more, and yes, shipping twice is more of a hassle – 2 invoices, 2 packing lists, 2 handling charges, etc. But consider it safety stock – that inventory can last you through any potential ocean shipping delays.
3. Avoid Trans-shipments
You should also try to avoid trans-shipments, which are when your goods are sent to a third party before they reach their final destination. This can cause many problems, from logistical issues to customs delays.
It’s essential to work with a shipping company that you trust, and that has a good reputation. Make sure you communicate with them frequently and keep them updated on your shipping schedule. That way, they can help you avoid any potential problems.
4. Slower Shipments, Faster Delivery
Consider choosing a slightly longer transit-time freight service, as the fastest transit-time services are more likely to be overbooked.
If you can plan, sailings with slower transit times are less likely to roll your cargo because they’re less popular. Often it’s only a difference of a few days on the sailing schedule – a 15-day transit time VS a 20-day transit time. If your shipment gets rolled on a 15-day transit time, it can get held up for up to 7 days, which means it will arrive after the later transit time.
It’s a little trick that can make a big difference, and it’s something you should consider if you’re importing goods during the holiday season.
5. Get Freight Insurance
You’re an importer, so you know that things can get a little hectic during peak season. But you may not know that there are things you can do to make the shipping process smoother and safer for you and your customers.
For starters, make sure you’re insured. You’ll be glad you have insurance if something goes wrong with your shipment. And speaking of shipments, make sure you only use reputable shipping companies during peak season. The last thing you want is your goods to be lost or damaged in transit.
Finally, keep an eye on the weather. If a severe storm is headed your way, it’s best to delay your shipment until it passes. That way, you won’t have to worry about your goods being damaged in transit.
6. Work with Trusted Freight Forwarders
Through all the decisions you’re making about your peak season international shipments–what days to choose, how to prioritize your international shipments, even how to acquire cargo insurance–you need a logistics partner you can trust.
It’s important to stick with a freight forwarder you can trust. They’ll know how to navigate the busy shipping lanes and get your international shipments to their destination on time.
Are You Prepared for Peak Season Shipping?
At ABL Logistics, we offer a full range of innovative logistics solutions to make your shipping easier and more efficient. We can put you on the air (or the sea!) to succeed even during the most challenging season 2022 has to offer. Contact us today if you’d like to know more about how our freight services can help grow your business.