What to Do When You Are Shipping Small Amounts

What to Do When You Are Shipping Small Amounts

At Whale Logistics, we cater to many types of customers. Although we are strictly a commercial freight forwarder, meaning we deal with business to business contracts, we often get asked about what to do when you are starting out or only have a small shipment to make.

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Individuals vs. Businesses

If you are a business and are just starting out on your importing/exporting journey, read through our Freight Forwarding Beginners series & download our pdf file. There is a wealth of information that will help you with understanding what freight forwarding is, how it works, and the process from A-Z.

However, not all businesses are suited to freight forwarding. You may be shipping less than 2 pallets per month. In this case, approaching a courier and setting up an account to get discounted rates will be your best option. Couriers have the experience to handle small amount of freight very frequently. Alternatively, speak to freight forwarders that specialize in small cargo movements.

For individuals, you may be limited with the ability to book shipments, etc. without an ABN, and therefore will benefit from having an agent to help you with your shipment. If your shipment is below 2 pallets, and contains personal goods, again courier options such as TNT, FedEx, Australia Post will be your best option. Put simply, the minimum kg and space required for loose cargo on shipping lines and airlines is too high to ship via these options. If your shipment is valued above $1000, you will need to seek help from a customs broker, who will be able to lodge the right documents to get your shipment delivered effectively.

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Is it a regular or once-off shipment?

Whether or not your shipment is once-off or regular can determine your freight cost. Put simply, the more regular you ship, the higher the discounts you may be eligible to receive, regardless of whether you ship with a courier or a freight forwarder. A once-off shipment, like normal parcels, will more often have to pay more per cubic meter or per kg as no volume discounts are taken into account.

Speed or cost savings?

One factor that determines the speed of delivery and cost of your freight is the Incoterms of your shipment. If you don't know what Incoterms are, it's worth reading our blog run-down and our list of Incoterms. These terms depict the agreement between your supplier, you, and your freight forwarder/transport agent in the responsibility of the goods (e.g. door to door, port to door, etc.)

Of course, cost also determines the speed of delivery. Sending your package via ePacket from China, for example, will save you a lot of money. However, often this is the slowest delivery option. Using an express courier option, such as FedEx, can speed up the process, but will end up costing a little more.

When approaching freight forwarders to request a quote on small freight amounts, be sure to make it clear how much you are shipping (actual weight and volumetric weight), where to and from, and whether it is a once-off or regular shipment, so they are able to quote you accurately. Sometimes you may not be able to book a shipment with a freight forwarder, if your freight volume is too low and does not meet the minimum amount requirement from commercial shipping lines and airlines. Your best alternative will be to approach a courier.

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Type of goods

Sometimes the type of goods you are sending will also affect your freight options. For instance, if you are sending lithium batteries, air freight will not be an option for you. Another example is heavy, bulky cargo, such as furniture or personal belongings - these are most likely odd-shaped cargo, which can be costly if shipped by air, so is best to be shipped by sea (cheaper courier options may offer this). If you are shipping personal goods (non-commercial goods), it is best to speak to a personal effects professional. Keep in mind that your volume will also affect whether or not it's worth it to ship your cargo with a personal effects company vs. a courier which may have more experience shipping loose cargo.


Still have more questions? Contact us and we will try our best to answer your queries.

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