What is LCL Shipping?
LCL (Less Than Container Load) shipping is when you ship goods via sea freight and they’re loaded into a shared container with other people’s goods for transit.
LCL (Less Than Container Load) shipping can be an easy cheaper alternative option to FCL (Full Container Load) shipping. The essential difference is that instead of filling an entire container with your goods, you’re sharing a container with other importers. This mode of transport means that you don’t have to buy enough stock to fill an entire container load – and that, instead of paying for an entire container, you only pay for the space inside of one that you use. This is particularly helpful for smaller businesses, or first time importers who are just testing the waters.
(By the way – we specialise in LCL shipping, so get in contact if you’re interested, or would like to know more information!)
When To Ship LCL
If you’re shipping a small number of goods, or products that don’t take up much space (low volume), chances are you’ll want LCL. A lot of startups won’t be buying enough stock to fill an entire container – especially if you’re shipping low-volume items such as phone cases.
That said, once you reach a certain volume (even if it isn’t enough to completely fill a container), it becomes more cost effective to ship via FCL. This is because FCL is charged as a flat rate that, while more expensive than LCL, is most cost effective per cbm of space within the container.
If you’re unsure about whether you’re going to need an FCL or LCL shipment, don’t worry about it too much – regardless of which one you’re going for, you’ll need a freight forwarder and when they’re helping to quote your shipment, they’ll tell you whether your goods should be LCL or FCL.
How Is LCL Price Calculated?
LCL prices are calculated by the volume of space you need inside the container – however, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. While you’d be correct in assuming that a higher volume would increase the price . . . it actually takes quite a large increase to change the price. You can often double your shipment volume before seeing any real difference!
The reason for this is the same reason that shipments below a certain volume aren’t cost-effective when shipping by sea freight – the minimums. Cargo ships are massive and the average Joe vessel can usually hold as many as 3,500 containers, with many vessels being able to transport more! This means that there’s a lot of space available, so it’s cheaper than other modes of transport . . . but the minimum space that you pay for usage of is 1cbm (100cm x 100cm x 100cm). So if you’re only shipping one small box of iPhone cases (say 20cm x 20cm x 20cm) you’d still be paying for 5x the volume of that.
We recommend shipments bigger than 0.5cbm and heavier than 100kg.
What's In The LCL Shipping Process?
Shippo; Shipping LCL, LCL Container, Shared Container Shipping, LCL Sea Freight, LCL Freight, Less Than Container Load Shipping, trendsBelow, we’ve explained how the entire process of LCL shipping works.
- Our local overseas agent will contact your supplier
- They will decide, based on the readiness of the goods, which container ship they will catch
- The goods will be collected or delivered to a warehouse near/at the port of origin
- The warehouse will load them into a shared container with the cargo from other customers
- The container will be sealed and taken to the port
- It’s loaded onto the container ship which brings it to the UK
- In the UK the container is taken off the ship and moved to a local warehouse
- At the warehouse your goods will be unpacked from the container
- We’ll declare them to UK customs (using the invoice for the goods, your EORI number (we can help if you don’t have one) and the commodity code(s) for your goods.
- We’ll contact you to arrange delivery the goods once cleared and released
- Delivery arrives outside your premises
- You unload your goods from the truck and then use/sell/enjoy them!
The below video shows how easy it is to use sea freight to import your cargo via sea freight from overseas even if you only need part of a shipping container…
How does LCL differ to FCL?
LCL (Less Than Container Load) is when your goods are packed into a shared container with other people’s goods too – whereas FCL (Full Container Load) shipments are when you rent all the space inside the container. While this is the main difference, there are actually a lost of other differences in the process of the two shipments.
If you want a full, detailed comparison of FCL vs LCL, we’ve written a post that you can read.
We would love to help you minimise your costs with LCL shipping, so just get in contact for further help.