How are LCL Shipments Handled?

The shipping industry is complex and consists of many different types of shipments. A Less-than-container Load (LCL) is one of the most common types of shipments. Shipping containers are huge, and your shipment may not require an entire container, and if that is the case, it is a good idea to share a container with another company.

An LCL shipment is a good idea if you have slightly over one container worth of goods. If you are looking to save money and have a bit of time for things to get where they are going, an LCL shipment is a great method. It is also a good idea if you are shipping a small amount of seasonal products.

Booking an LCL

When you decide to ship LCL, you will need to provide the dimensions and weight of your cargo to the shipping company or the freight forwarder. It is highly recommended you use a forwarder because they will have other clients who are looking for someone to share a container with. They will have relationships with multiple shippers, and they will be able to find you a space in a container much more easily than if you tried to do it yourself.

Your package will need all the same paperwork it would need if you had a full container and will require forms such as the commercial invoice and the bill of lading. You will need to have a packing list detailing everything you are sending and its weight.

Preparing Merchandise for Shipment

Most shippers will send out LCL shipments on a weekly or fortnightly schedule. The date your shipment goes out will depend upon the kind of product you are sending out. The freight forwarder will give you a date when your shipment should be ready to be picked up.

Going to the Warehouse

Once your package is picked up, it will be taken to a special consolidation warehouse. Your cargo will normally arrive at the warehouse a full week before it gets on a boat, and the consolidation experts at the warehouse will figure out how your shipment should be packed.

Your shipment will be taken to the port three days before it ships out, and the freight forwarder will arrange for storage while it waits for the ship on which it will travel.

Using LCL shipping is a bit like flying on a discount airline; you are unlikely to get a non-stop trip. An LCL shipment may take longer than other kinds of shipments because it will often change boats before it gets to its final destination. It may sit at a port between its departure port and its destination for a while as it waits until there is room for it in another container.

Destination Arrival

The container will proceed to its port of destination, and you or your freight forwarder will arrange for pick up. Your product may need to be warehoused for a day or two before a truck can come to pick it up. This may depend on how far away your shipment’s destination is from the port.

The United States and the rest of the world are experiencing supply chain problems, which means trucking companies have a shortage of drivers, and products are taking longer to reach their destination than before. It is important to use a freight forwarder that has established relationships with trucking companies.

In some cases, your product might have to take several forms of ground transportation before arriving at its destination. It is not unusual if a shipment has to take a truck to a train to another truck to get where it is going.

The Pros of LCL Shipping

The primary benefit of LCL shipping is financial. It is much less expensive to ship this way than it would be if you were to rent an entire container. In addition to the shipment being less expensive, it also allows you to keep a lower volume of product in your warehouse.

Cons of LCL Shipping

Unfortunately, your products will be at a higher risk of damage when you use this kind of shipping. You do not know what kinds of things your product will be shipped with. For example, if you are shipping shirts, they may share a container with a shipment of perfume. If the perfume breaks and spills, your shirts may arrive smelling like they have been soaked in cologne.

The other drawback is the length of time it will take to arrive at its destination. If you have to warehouse your product too many times along the way, it may cost so much that it will defeat the purpose of LCL shipping.

Getting your product where it is going at a price you can afford is important. Getting it there in one piece is even more important. LCL shipping can work for you if you hire a good freight forwarder and plan ahead.

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