When it comes to shipping goods or a handful of parcels, it can be very overwhelming to decide on the best shipping method. One abbreviation after the other will be thrown your way, and every shipping company has different rates and policies. For instance, is it better to transport goods by air, and enjoy the benefits of a quick delivery, or do you opt for sea shipments which are lower in price?
If you are willing to do some research and compare shipping options, it is important you know about LCL and FCL shipping. You might end up saving money, or come to the conclusion that another shipping method suits your needs better.
First, let’s have a look at these abbreviations. In the shipping industry it is not uncommon to abbreviate terms that use long or many words to describe a term. In the case of LCL, it refers to “Less than a Container Load”. What this means is that one customer is sharing a container with other customers to both ship their goods in the same container. But when is this necessary, and more importantly: when is this shipping method more cost efficient?
Any expert within the shipping business will tell you that shipping is a competitive market, and that every shipping company or other business that regularly ships items is always on the lookout to shave off a few extra costs while maintaining their respective level of quality.
This method of container-sharing combines individual consignments to fill up a whole container. The individual shipping consignments are first collected at the departure point. This can be at a port, a railway station, a distribution center or near an airport. So basically any center of commerce where goods are sent further.
After consolidation, the container is then shipped to its destination port. Once arrived, the container is split back into the individual loads that make up the full container. Each load is then transported further on to its final destination. This method of lcl shipment is perfect for small to medium sized businesses that don’t have enough goods to ship to fill up an entire container.
Some that are in the shipping business refer to LCL as a stopgap or makeshift solution to shipping goods from A to B. One can see where this idea comes from. LCL is easy to organize, it’s quick and very affordable for smaller volumes.
There are surely situations where LCL shipping methods are not ideal. For those instances, businesses could consider FCL shipping instead. However, for many, LCL is a very good shipping method that can even be more economically sound than chartering a full container and only filling it up halfway.
In this way, one would end up paying to ship air from one port to another. Another mistake would be to save up enough goods until a container can be filled. It goes without saying that this approach slows down supply lines, which many businesses simply cannot afford to do when competitors were to offer quicker shipping of their goods!