Shipping from China is a great way to get resalable items at discounted prices. When you are a drop shipper and/or Amazon seller, merchandise from China can be your ticket to significant revenue. But here’s the thing: the process of shipping goods from China isn’t particularly easy to understand, mostly because a lot of strange and unfamiliar terminology is used. It’s like trying to learn a foreign language. This learning curve often disappoints potential importers who assume the process is too difficult to understand.

But once you understand the terminology used, the process isn’t complicated.

In this guide, we’ll take a brief look at sea freight in China. We’ll unpack these terms in plain English so you can navigate the world of shipping with confidence.

Part One: Incoterms

You may or may not use this word often or never in your daily life. However, it is used frequently in shipping environments, so you need to know about it. Incoterms are international standard codes used to indicate the location of goods from supplier to importer. A common incoterm is DAP (“Delivered at Place”). This simply means that your goods will be shipped from a supplier in China to a designated overseas location. If you are in Wisconsin and are shipping blue widgets directly from your supplier to your warehouse, you will use code DAP. Another common code is FOB, which stands for “Free On Board.” This means transportation from supplier to export port. However, it is your responsibility to arrange transportation to your final destination.
For example, you may have issues shipping from your supplier to the port of Hong Kong. From there you need to determine how it gets to the warehouse in Wisconsin. Always be sure to tell your supplier what trade terms you want when getting a shipping quote. Otherwise, you may end up paying more than you expected. Overview: Incoterms are codes that specify how goods are transferred from the supplier to you.

Part 2: FCL and LCL transportation

Now we come to FCL and LCL shipping, both of which are related to the shipping cost and the size of the container used.

FCL = Full Container Load
LCL = less than (less than) container load
Depending on the amount you purchase from the Chinese supplier, you can fill the entire container or just a portion.
When you use the entire container yourself, you are shipping an FCL (Full Container Load). Look, that makes sense, right? More items equal a full container. Generally, it is cheaper to ship FCL volume units and weight units. However, many importers do not purchase enough goods to ship full containers. You can try air freight, but the cost is often too high. In this case, LCL (less than container load) is the ideal solution. When shipping LCL, your items share a container with other items. In other words, goods from multiple buyers end up in the same container. While this will make your overall price cheaper, it will ultimately cost you more per unit of volume. Ultimately, your choice of FCL or LCL will depend on your shipping volume.
You can choose FCL or LCL according to your needs. But you should follow one basic rule.
If 1cbm~8cbm, choose LCL;
If 8cbm~15cbm, choose FCL or LCL according to the actual situation;
If it exceeds 15cbm, please choose FCL without hesitation.

Part Three: Shipping Container Volume

Generally, there are 4 options when shipping containers.

Full box 20 feet
Full box 40 feet
Full box 40ft headquarters
Full box 45ft headquarters

The 20′ is designed to carry heavier weight than a large amount of cargo.
For example – minerals, metals, machinery, etc., all these are heavy goods.

The 40′ is designed to carry large amounts of cargo rather than heavy cargo.
For example – Furniture, Tires, Clothes, etc., all of which are commodities in large quantities.
If you can shape your order based on which units will fit a specific container size, you can save quite a bit of money.

Part 4: Freight Insurance

Freight insurance is exactly what it sounds like: insuring the contents of your shipment. If something goes wrong and your cargo is hijacked by ruthless pirates, freight insurance will cover your losses. Incoterms specify who is responsible for insuring the goods. Insurance is automatically included in Incoterm CIF (Cost Freight and Insurance). If you are using Incoder: DAF or DAT, you must tell the shipping company that you require insurance for your shipment. Thankfully, insurance is generally inexpensive, usually between $50 and $100.

Part 5: Shipping/Lead Time

This is also obvious. Shipping/lead time is how long it takes from the shipping port to the destination port. This is important because the longer the delivery time, the earlier you need to place your order. If you need to receive the goods before May, you need to send them several months in advance.

Some examples of delivery times include:

United States and Canada (Western) – 20 days
United States and Canada (Eastern) – 30 days
Western Europe – 25 days
Northern Europe – 30 days
Southern Europe – 27 days
Australia – 15 days
India – 15 days
Southeast Asia – 9 days
East Africa – 30 days
If you want to calculate shipping time, you can use this rate calculator. Please keep in mind that delivery time includes more than just shipment time. It also includes:

The time before the goods are loaded into the port (up to 1 week).
Administrative delays at both ports
Weather related delays.
The point is simple: ocean shipping is somewhat unpredictable. Leave yourself a large margin of error when placing your order.

Part 6: Export Packaging

The last thing you want to happen is your goods getting damaged in transit. Damaged goods lead to lost sales and plummeting revenue. It is crucial to know how to pack your goods. It’s also important to be clear with suppliers as they may not meet your standards. It is not uncommon for suppliers to use cheap packaging materials, which can lead to breakage. Freight forwarding companies will provide helpful shipping checklists:

Inner carton: 5 layers
Outer carton: 5 layers
Plastic packaging: Yes (on outer carton)
Pallet: Yes (ISPM 15 EU standard)
Shipping fee remarks: Yes (outer packaging printing)
Again, please stay in touch with your supplier. Don’t leave things ambiguous. If possible, please provide instructions on how to pack.
Also, if there are any other regulations to consider (such as the use of lithium batteries), be sure to indicate this separately. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in penalties and delays.

Part 7: Amazon FBA Warehouse

Currently, importers usually ship directly from China to Amazon FBA warehouses. Amazon handles the distribution of all products from these warehouses. So, for example, if you sell essential oils from China on Amazon, you can ship them directly to an FBA warehouse and Amazon will handle all your sales. This saves you time and shipping costs. But here’s the deal: Amazon has pretty strict rules when it comes to receiving packages at their warehouses.

Everything must be labeled according to Amazon’s standards.
Everything has to be on the pallet.
All content must be forwarded to Amazon addresses using DAP and DDP incoterms.
If you don’t meet these specifications, you’re going to have problems.

Part 8: Bill of Lading

The bill of lading serves as a list of sorts. show:

transport company
Export Company (Seller)
buyer
Products being shipped
Product volume
Incoterms used on products
When shipping from China, a bill of lading must be submitted and must be accompanied by the goods.

Part 9: Container Tracking

As mentioned above, there is some unreliability when it comes to overseas shipping. Potential shipping delays throw a monkey wrench into all the best laid plans. Tracking your container is the best way to keep track of your shipment’s arrival. To track the containers you need:

Transportation lines for transporting goods
Container number, booking number or document number
You can find all this information on the bill of lading.

Once you have this information, you should be able to track the progress of your shipment.

in conclusion:
See, it’s not complicated! Yes, the terms can be a little confusing at first, but once you get familiar with them, everything fits together nicely. Don’t be intimidated. With just a little time and effort, you can become proficient in shipping.

Start shipping from China!
logisticsalibaba.com (Shenzhen J sun Logistics Co., Ltd.) helps e-commerce businesses from the United States, Australia, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom and more countries ship products from China to the rest of the world. We store, pick and pack and forward orders for couriers. Our custom API integrates seamlessly with major e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. Whenever a consumer places an order on your website, we automatically receive it, pick and pack your order, and deliver it at the fastest price with the fastest delivery time.

If you have any questions about cross-border transportation of goods, please feel free to contact us at any time:
Company Name: Shenzhen J sun Logistics Co., Ltd
Contacts: Grace
Email:Grace@logisticsalibaba.com

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