Ocean transportation is the most cost-effective way of shipping goods overseas. Most consumer and industrial goods these days are shipped inside standardized universal or special metal containers via international container shipping lines. The shipping lines offer scheduled (typically weekly) services between major ports worldwide.

There are two ways of shipping your dry goods in containers: as a Full Container Load (FCL)—when you fill at least one container with your goods, or as a Less-Than-Container Load (LCL)—when your shipments are grouped (consolidated) in container shipments alongside other customers. FCL is an obvious choice when a single shipment volume requires multiple containers, and SC Integrators offers competitive rates and dedicated customer service for FCL shippers. But what about smaller shipments? Below, we have summarized some considerations to help you choose between LCL and FCL.

Full Container Load (FCL)

  • Lower cost than LCL for shipments that include at least 16 cubic meters (CBM) of cargo
  • Up to two weeks faster than LCL since the container is shipped directly from the shipper’s facility to the consignee
  • Transit time for transpacific shipments can be as fast as two weeks
  • Greater safety for the cargo because it’s not transloaded or shipped with other cargo that may have different transportation requirements. Typically, the consignee receives the container under the seal attached by the supplier

Less-than-Container Load (LCL)

  • On average, LCL is 3-6 times cheaper than airfreight—typically makes economic sense for shipments as small as 0.5-1 cubic meter (CBM)
  • Smaller volume and more frequent LCL shipments help to reduce inventory, free capital, and be more responsive to demand fluctuations
  • Transpacific transit time for shipments can be as fast as 3-4 weeks
  • If they occur, customs examinations are faster and less expensive