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When it comes to freight forwarding, there are countless nuances that can affect a shipment, but are all of them worth your time? We’re busting some of the most common misconceptions about moving cargo.

Myth: All cargo should be palletized.

Truth: There are many considerations that go into deciding whether or not to palletize goods for a given shipment. Among the top is the type of shipment: FCL or LCL.

For full container load (FCL) shipments, you have the entire container to fill. So, palletizing goods means less space for cartons/boxes, as the pallets themselves take up space. However, it’s faster and much easier to unload palletized cargo with machinery at a warehouse. If you floor load an FCL shipment, you’ll be able to fit more cargo, but it will take longer for the warehouse to unload the shipment. Some warehouses don’t accept floor-loaded shipments, so check with your destination prior to making a decision.

Amazon has strict guidelines for palletized goods, and incorrect palletization will result in further costs. For less-than-container load (LCL) shipments, palletization is only recommended for fragile and high-value goods. Palletization at origin will increase your freight costs because the pallets will add to your total weight, so floor-loading is recommended if you’re looking for lower shipping costs. If you don’t palletize at origin, your goods will likely be palletized by the CFS at destination.   

Flexport warehouses offer palletizing for general and FBA shippers, making it easy to ensure your cargo is correctly packaged per destination requirements. For Amazon shippers, we currently accept FCL, LCL, and air shipments destined for Amazon that meet our business requirements surrounding labeling, notifications, and changes. We have standards in place to ensure our clients’ cargo arrives to Amazon accurately and on time to minimize the risks of penalties added to your Amazon account.

Myth: Cargo insurance isn’t worth the extra cost

Truth: When it comes to freight, insurance is always “worth it” – and highly recommended. This is especially true in the event that a “General Average” is declared.

At Flexport, we offer cargo insurance for every shipment at a very low cost. Why? Because international shipping can be unpredictable. This ensures our customers will have peace of mind knowing their companies are protected from things outside of their control. Also, we view it as our responsibility if something goes wrong with a client’s shipment. Cargo insurance enables us to truly go to bat for our customers.

Myth: All shipping costs are anticipated at the time of quoting.

Truth: There are many approaches to developing freight quotes. There are forwarders who prefer to show lower rates that don’t include all fees; some forwarders build in charges to cover the costs of anything unanticipated. Often, the latter type of forwarder won’t reimburse you if the shipment goes according to plan.

Myth: Customs exams are avoidable.

Truth: Customs exams are an important part of the shipping process that are often unavoidable; however, there are some easy steps you can take to ensure this process is as smooth as possible.

There are customs officers at every port who will check a shipment’s corresponding documents and potentially inspect goods. This process and the depth to which an officer inspects goods is out of the forwarder’s control. The best control a shipper has is preparation. That’s one of the areas where Flexport helps the most.

When we onboard new clients we take our time in getting all product information. This includes each product’s Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code, which helps us to estimate the customs duties that will be paid upon importing into the U.S. Having our dedicated operations team and customs experts track down that information on up front leads to a better experience throughout the shipment.

Myth: “Cargo ready” shipments can go straight from the supplier to the ocean vessel.

Truth: FCL shipments must “gate-in” to the port two to three days before the vessel departs; LCL shipments must go to the container freight station (CFS) before gating-in to the port.

The process of loading cargo onto a vessel is kind of like flying. If you want to jump on a commercial flight, you know you’ll have to go through security. Then, you’ll have to find the right gate, go through boarding, etc.

As far as planning goes, a full container is advantageous because you only take about two to three days to get on a vessel. With air shipments, it usually takes about a day less. LCL shipments are slightly more complicated. If you’re not shipping a full container, you’re buying space in a specific container, which takes about seven to nine days. It takes longer than shipping FCL because you have other companies that are also going through the same process.

In need of a freight forwarder? Get $200 off your first shipment with Flexport as a Sourcify customer.

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