Air shipping, fast to arrive, expensive to ride.
If you must air ship your products, be prepared to let air shipping costs eat a big portion of your profit.
Air shipping is expensive in general especially from overseas. But to save a desperate situation, you may have to air freight. For example, in the busiest selling season, you are out of stock. You know it is expensive, but you don’t have much choice but to air ship your products.
In this blog, I will share 5 Tips to help you save money when choosing air shipping.
I am Yuping Wang. I have been sourcing for 20 years. The tips I share with you are all from practical experiences. So here we go.
Tip #1: Ship Them Loose
When you have several cartons to ship, you can either palletize your load or ship each carton loose.
Which way is cheaper?
From my experience, shipping loose cartons cost less than shipping the palletized load. It makes sense if you think about it. Loose cartons give airlines more flexibility to stage your cartons within their cargo space.
A palletized load’s weight and dimension are going to be bigger than the total weight and dimension of the cartons because of the added pallet.
In addition to the air shipping cost difference, you might have to pay your supplier for the cost of the pallet. Pallet cost ranges between $10-$30 depending on the type of the pallet your supplier uses.
All in all, you might see $50-$100 difference.
Tip #2: Get Three Quotes
To save money on air shipping, you cannot go with only one quote. You need three quotes to know where you can save money.
- The first quote – get it from your supplier. Ask your Chinese supplier to give you an air freight quote. Your supplier knows their freight forwarder. Just like what you are doing, your supplier has compared freight forwarders’ costs. You need to ask your supplier to get this quote for you.
- The second quote – get it from the express carriers, such as FedEx, DHL, UPS. Why express carriers? When your shipment weight is less than 200kg, express carriers’ all-inclusive, to-door quote could be very competitive comparing to the freight forwarders’ quotes.
- The third quote – get it from your own freight forwarder. If you don’t have a forwarder yet, research online or get recommendations from the group or people you know (click here to learn more on how to find the best freight forwarder).
Bottom line, you need three quotes to compare. Only with 3 quotes on hand you can find out where you can save money.
Tip #3: Ask
When you get a quote from the freight forwarder, never take it AS IS.
Can the freight forward try a different airline? Can they try a different flight schedule? Sometimes, a day or two delay could save you a few hundred dollars.
Just like when you buy yourself an airline ticket to travel, you shop through different airlines to compare.
Your freight forwarder can shop through different airlines for your air shipment too.
But they won’t do anything unless you ASK.
Tip #4: Timing
We all know that during the holiday season, such as Christmas or New Year, airline ticket price is much higher than the regular season price.
If your supplier is in China, you know they have many holidays, Chinese New Year, Chinese Mid-Autumn festivals…if you ship during these holidays, your air shipping rate is going to be high.
If you can wait for a few days, try to get a quote to air after the holiday. It may save you a couple of hundred dollars.
Tip #5: Quantity
In the total air shipping cost, a big part of it are fixed costs, e.g. pick up, delivery, documentation, clearance fees… No matter how much you ship, you need to pay those costs.
We often get shocked to see how much money it costs to air ship such a small box of products.
Don’t panic, if you are shipping 500 units for example, see if shipping 1000 or 1500 units make more sense since you need to pay the fixed costs regardless of the number of units.
With more units to ship, per unit air shipping cost will go down.
You need to balance the total air shipping quantity and total air shipping costs to find a quantity that makes most sense for your margin.
Bonus Tip: Damage Prevention
There is no bigger waste of money than spending a lot of money on air shipping but receiving a bunch of damaged products.
This is especially critical if you’re sending the air shipment directly to Amazon warehouse, in which case, you don’t even get to receive and inspect your products.
Your customers will be one who is telling you that their product is damaged.
The risk of product damage during air transportation is much higher than shipping through ocean.
When choosing air shipping, don’t forget to ask your supplier, double and triple protection on your product packaging. A little extra cushion material and shrink wrap could save you a lot of money.