Understand the difference between air courier vs air freight. Choose the right air shipping mode for your Amazon FBA shipment.
Hello, beautiful Sourcing Warrior friend. How is your day? I hope your day is going well. It’s very nice to be here with you.
Q4, the last quarter of the year, it’s almost here, the busiest season for most retailers. It could be for you, too, if you’re selling your product on Amazon. It is very exciting if this is your first time launching the product.
But if you have not placed your purchase order with your Chinese supplier yet a month from now in October, you will be facing a dilemma. Should I use air shipping to move my shipment from China to the warehouse? Either it’s an Amazon warehouse or to my own shop. Air shipping, in general, you know it is more expensive than ocean shipping.
But within air shipping, there are two ways. One is air courier, other is air freight. So in this video, we’re going to compare the two when you are facing the choice of using air shipping, you are super clear knowing exactly which one you should use, which one is cheaper for you.
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Now, let’s talk about the differences between air couriers and air freight. First of all, what is air courier service? Air courier service is basically a door-to-door service provided by the companies, such as DHL, FedEx or UPS, who has the equipment and people to do so. They own their truck, they own their people, they own their airplane to pick up your product from your supplier site to your door. They can provide one all-inclusive service to you. That’s air courier service.
What about the air freight then? What is air freight? Airfreight is to use a passenger airline’s cargo space for luggage to transport your product.
This lead to the first difference. Who can make the booking? With air couriers, such as DHL, either you or your supplier can go to DHL online, and make a booking directly. With air freight, if you have to use a passenger airplane, you’ll have to use a freight forwarder. When you book with the air courier directly, such as DHL, you will get a tracking number you can track within DHL to see your shipment delivery status. If you book for air freight through a freight forwarder, they normally gave you a flight number for that plane. Makes sense?
So let’s move on to the different number two. The second difference is door-to-door versus port-to-port. A courier service, such as DHL company, their local employees wearing DHL uniform can show up at your supplier’s factory, pick up your product. DHL’s custom broker can clear your shipment. DHL’s employee at the destination, wearing the same uniform, can deliver the product to your door. This is all-inclusive door-to-door service and, therefore, their quote and that the actual bill won’t have many surprises.
Now let’s compare air freight. Have you ever heard a United Airlines employee goes to a factory to pick up the product for you? No, right? Because their service starts from an airport and ends at the airport. In order to give you a door-to-door quote, your freight forwarder has to make a separate quote with a local trucking company to pick up your product, deliver to the airport. The freight forwarder has to use a customs broker to clear your shipment and use a different trucking company to deliver the product to you. You see, there are so many hands in this quote. Because of that, a lot of times, the actual bill often comes in with a lot of surprises.
Now you understand the air courier versus air freight, the door-to-door versus the port-to-port difference, let’s understand the cost difference.
In order to know the cost difference, we must first understand to ship anything by air, we will be charged by product weight, either is the actual weight or dimensional weight, whichever is bigger. Because of this, we know we were charged by weight.
In general, shipping through air freight is half of the price of shipping by air courier, but here is the catch. Your freight forwarder’s quote may look like half of the price of the courier service. For example, if you’re sending a box of products from China to the United States, a freight forwarder may quote you $4 per kilo, DHL may quote you $8 per kilo. You’re like, what? Courier service is twice more expensive. That’s not true because your freight forwarder has to add on a lot of fees from origin to the destination. Remember, they do port-to-port service. In order to pick up your product and deliver it to your door, they have to add on additional fees.
But the good news is a lot of these fees are fixed costs so there is a place for air freight. The heavier is your load, the cheaper is your air freight. If you’re sending a small box of chocolate, definitely using an air courier, a DHL service, will be perfect. But if you’re sending three big pallets of chocolates with a thousand kilos, you’re doing wholesale, you should use air freight.
So what is too little versus too much? How do I know when to use air courier versus air freight? Is there any threshold to go by? The threshold is 200 kilo. Anything above 200 kilos, I try to use air freight. Anything below, I’ll try to use an air courier. But this is not a definite answer. You have to go by your product type and go with seasonality. Always compare quotes. After several times, you will get a feel for your product. Air courier by this weight is cheaper, and air freight by this weight is cheaper. So do your homework.
Let’s summarize Q4. If you have to ship your products through the air, you know the differences between air courier versus air freight. Not only you know the difference, you also know the quote difference, door-to-door versus port-to-port, and all the add-on fees.
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