If you’re shipping full containers from China to the UK you’ll know that the rates areas stable as a rocking chair. However, there could be a way of taking advantage of this and only paying the lowest rates. This of course comes at a price, but thankfully for SMEs, with a bit of forward planning, that price can be minimal.
Predictably Desperate Shipping Lines
The way to do it is through flexibility and planning. The sea freight rates may not be stable but they are predictable. The shipping lines introduce huge rate increases at the start of each month (for sailings from the 1st) but by the middle of the month they are as good as gone.
Have your supplier ensure that the ready date of your goods is between the 14th and about the 24th of the month that you want to ship your goods. By doing this you should be able to take advantage of the best rates late in the month and pay comfortable less than the average each time. This could save you up to £500 for a 20ft container or £1000 for a 40ft container so we’re not talking inconsiderable amounts.
Plan Ahead to Save a Shed[load]
We’re aware that importing goods from China already takes a long time and this kind of flexibility may not be viable if you’re already jumping up and down waiting for the goods to arrive and your suppliers are making your goods as fast as they can go.
The potential cost to you and your business that you’ll have to take in to account is both money and time based. Firstly, can you afford to wait up to an extra 2 weeks for your goods or get them up to two weeks earlier? Secondly, if you got them earlier than normal could you juggle cash flow and potentially warehousing? If however, you can find a way to get in front with your ordering it may pay dividends.
Play the Market with FCL
If you’re importing less than container loads (LCL) from China to the UK then this will not affect you. With LCL the rates are generally fixed for the entire month which mitigates these constant rate fluctuations. If however you’re thinking about shipping full container loads (FCL) then it’s well worth considering.