Whether you are shipping goods or starting an exciting life adventure as an expat, the decision between air and ocean freighting is crucial. Here are three keys to choosing your delivery method when deciding what’s best: an air freight forwarder vs. ocean cargo shipping.
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More likely than not, cost is going to be your deciding factor and determining resource no matter what you read in this article. As an individual moving internationally, you very likely will have a budget you need to stick to, even if your employer is paying for your move. As a business, anything that eats into your profit must be remedied. So naturally, the method you want to choose, all other factors being equal, is cost.
But, that is assumes equality of other factors, which is not always the case in the real world. In order to help you make an educated decision, it is a good idea to study how carriers charge for shipping. Air freight companies charge by weight, since the more a shipment weighs the more fuel is required to get the plane to its destination. Ocean carriers charge by standard shipping container rates. While weight is a factor, volume tends to be the most expensive variable of shipping costs.
In general, the larger and heavier the shipment, the cheaper it is to ship by sea. As shipments get smaller, the margin diminishes and eventually air freight will be the least expensive option.
2. Shipping Cycle Time
If you are looking for the fastest shipment possible, naturally, air freight is the best option. By law of business, time is money. If you are shipping time-sensitive products, the improved time of arrival can potentially justify the added expense of air freight. While air freight can take a day or two, sea freight can take a few weeks or a month to finally reach it’s destination.
However, technology continues to improve and ships are becoming faster. Canals make it easier to create shorter shipping routes. Some ocean freight shipments have crossed oceans and arrived for delivery in as little as eight days time.
Reliability is a characteristic we value highly in business, products, and even other people. There is much to be said for the peace of mind you get from knowing that your products will arrive on time, in mint condition, every time. Despite the relative industry history that ocean cargo has over air freight, air tends to be the champion of the reliability category.
While many of us may have experienced flight delays due to weather, airlines are relatively good about staying on schedule. This kind of rigor is not shared by the ocean cargo industry. Ocean carriers are notorious for their “it gets there when it gets there” mentality. Carriers don’t think twice about being a day or two off schedule. If this could make or break your business, an air freight forwarder is definitely the best way to go.