Should I ship by LCL or FCL?


Prime Freight Is a common question: should I ship my freight to FCL (full container load) or LCL (less than container load)? Here are a few factors to consider: LCL lets you keep inventory low If you don’t have the money or space to store a full container in your warehouse, it makes sense to use LCL. LCL lets you move in smaller volumes to keep your stock lean. Instead of purchasing large quantities from suppliers, LCL can be used to maintain a steady flow of inventory in smaller quantities.

FCL may be cheaper than LCL LCL costs more than FCL per freight unit. That’s because freight agents prefer a full container load—-it’s easier for them to figure out how to bundle a lot of LCL shipments in a full container.

There is a break-even point at which the price of a large LCL load is equal to the price of a 20′ FCL container; this will vary depending on where you are shipping and the current state of the ocean freight industry. This will be taken into account by your Prime Freight team when advising you whether to ship FCL or LCL.

LCL makes delivery appointments simpler Most final destinations (including Amazon FBA centres) need delivery appointments. This can be tricky with the FCL delivery, where you have to get the container picked up, shipped, and returned to the port within about 8 days (before you start racking up demurrage and/or per diem fee)—you may not be able to get an appointment within that “safe” time frame.

With an LCL shipment, you have more “free” time— usually around 5 days at the port, and then 7 or so days at the deconsolidation warehouse. It makes it more likely that you will be granted a delivery appointment before the fees begin to accrue.

FCL is shipped faster than LCL When the FCL shipment arrives at the port, it is removed from the vessel and delivered to the buyer.

It is more complicated for LCL, which requires additional steps: to consolidate different shipments, to process multiple documents per container, and then to sort goods for each customer. There is a potential for delay at each phase.

LCL makes it easier to split shipments When you deliver to several Amazon FBA facilities or multiple 3PLs, LCL service would allow you to split the shipment instead of sending multiple complete containers.

Prime Freight LCL Service Consistent low price Prime Freight has its own weekly console box on hundreds of lanes. It helps us to lock in low rates with the carriers at regularly below-market rates that are secure from market fluctuations.

Carefully inspected cargo We are very careful about what items are consolidated into LCL shipments— no hazardous materials, no liquids, no perishables— which means that if you ship with Prime Freight LCL, you will see a significantly lower chance of inspection and delay than with a conventional LCL provider.

Labeling and palletizing services If you are selling on Amazon or distributing through 3PL, they have specific requirements: labelling, palletizing, delivery appointments, etc. With Prime Freight’s LCL service, we can take care of these for you once your cargo reaches the U.S.— our warehouses are equipped and trained to meet Amazon’s FBA standards, as well as most (if not all) of the major 3PLs in the U.S.

Speak to your Prime Freight team When in doubt, ask your dedicated account management team—we’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons of LCL vs. FCL in the sense of a particular shipment.