Thinking of becoming an online merchant? It’s an attractive proposal for certain. It may not provide the steady paycheck that a desk job ensures, but more and more people are taking chances at starting home-based businesses in an effort to gain greater control of their lives and how their time is spent.
While it certainly does depend on the nature of your business, a lot of folks that start selling online find themselves learning the hard way about international shipping, air and ocean cargo, and in particular, international shipping from Asia. Dealing with international shipping the first few times can seem brutal, so we put together this short summary of the four most popular modes of transport for goods from China, specifically, to give you an idea of what American cargo shipping options are like.
The Four Most Popular Ways to Import From China:
Regular China Post can take up to six weeks to arrive and no online tracking is provided. It can be used only for parcels that weigh under 2kg. Usually, you will only use this option when you’re able to wait a few weeks for something to arrive. China Post isn’t terribly reliable, so be prepared for lost/stolen packages. If at all possible, try to avoid using China Mail unless you have to since the delivery time is simply too long. If you’re purchasing from a supplier located in Hong Kong, you can try using HK Airmail which is significantly more reliable, comes with a tracking number and usually arrives within 10 days, maybe a little less.
Shipping with a courier company will likely be the most suitable method for people just getting started importing from China, but only when it involves small, lightweight items (which it often does). With courier companies such as TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx you pay a premium price for each kilo BUT you get fast delivery times and an online tracking facility. These days most courier shipments take three to five business days to arrive in any Western country from anywhere else around the globe.
Air Freight Shipping
This lands somewhere between courier shipping and sea freight shipping. Shipping times vary from company to company, but in general range between 5 to 10 days (not bad). Air Freight costs are significantly lower than with courier companies, but extra work is involved when the goods arrive in your destination country. With Air Freight you’ll usually have to handle documentation and customs clearance on your own, which might seem impractical. A freight forwarding company can do it for you, but that’s extra money spent.
Sea Freight Shipping
This is the most popular shipping method used by big companies to import goods from China. The cost per kilo is very low but the delivery time is lengthy: 30 to 40 days in most cases. Just like with Air Freight, you’ll have to take care of the documentation, customs clearance and delivery of goods from the port to your home or office (or hire freight forwarding, as mentioned above)
Also, with sea freight shipping, it’s important to calculate all the extra costs involved once the goods arrive in your country. The price the supplier quotes you doesn’t include:
A freight forwarding company will quote for transport direct door to door delivery which includes all the fees associated with sea freight shipping.
Even with all the additional fees sea freight is still the cheapest shipping method for imports from China. Remember that it’s cost effective only if your order is big enough.
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