Photo of LCL or less than container load freight shipping

FCL vs. LCL Shipping

Understanding the Differences Between LCL Freight and FCL Cargo

When your business is experiencing growth, it can be an exciting time. Who doesn’t want to increase sales and have more customers desiring your product? However, questions about distribution methods and shipping options frequently arise for many new entrepreneurs and manufacturers who are seeing growth through Amazon and online sales. This article tackles the FCL vs. LCL question that inevitably arises and will help you to decide which of these two options is right for your business.

The Pros and Cons of LCL Freight and FCL Cargo

Full Container Load (FCL) and Less Than Container Load (LCL) are two different methods of shipping cargo by sea. FCL cargo involves the transportation of full cargo containers, while LCL freight allows for the transportation of smaller shipments consolidated into a single container.

The choice between FCL and LCL will depend on the needs of distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers. When considering FCL vs. LCL in your decision-making process, it’s important to remember that both container shipping options offer varying degrees of cost savings, flexibility, safety, ease of documentation, reliability, and security. In the following few sections, we’ll compare and contrast the benefits of FCL and LCL to determine which option is best for distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers.

Benefits of FCL vs. LCL

FCL offers many benefits for distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers. Here are the top four reasons to select this method instead of LCL freight.

  • Cost savings: FCL cargo is typically cheaper than LCL in terms of cost per unit of cargo transported. This is because the cost of transportation is spread across a full container, resulting in lower overall costs for the customer. Read our recent article about how to reduce cargo shipping costs to learn more.
  • Flexibility: FCL allows customers to tailor their shipments to their needs. Customers can choose their container size and type to suit their specific requirements.
  • Safety: FCL ensures that cargo is safely placed in a secure container to protect it from damage during transit. This eliminates the need for additional packaging or protection for the cargo.
  • Ease of documentation: One of the most significant benefits of FCL vs. LCL is that it requires less paperwork. With FCL, it is only necessary to provide the documents for one container rather than multiple shipments.
Photo of Amazon seller shipping packages.

Benefits of LCL Freight

LCL also offers many benefits for distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers. When comparing FCL vs. LCL, here are the top four reasons for selecting the LCL shipping option.

  • Cost savings: LCL freight is often more cost-effective for smaller shipments or those with unpredictable volumes, as you only pay for the space used in the container.
  • Flexibility: LCL allows customers to adjust their shipping requirements quickly and easily. Customers can book additional space in an existing shipment if their needs change.
  • Reliability: LCL providers can consolidate multiple shipments into a single container, ensuring that all shipments arrive at their destination on time.
  • Security: LCL provides greater security than FCL cargo, as shipments are monitored throughout transit and can be tracked at any time.

Comparing FCL vs. LCL

When comparing FCL vs. LCL for shipping options, distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers need to understand the amount, frequency, and logistical complexity of what they are shipping. Once that information is fully understood, the choice between LCL freight and FCL cargo should be straightforward.

However, the three most important points to remember are as follows:

  1. FCL is generally cheaper than LCL in terms of cost per unit of cargo transported. However, LCL is usually more cost-effective for smaller shipments or those with unpredictable volumes.
  2. Both FCL and LCL offer customers flexibility when it comes to tailoring their shipments to their needs. However, FCL allows customers to choose their container size and type, while LCL allows customers to book additional space in an existing shipment if needed.
  3. FCL requires less paperwork than LCL as it is only necessary to provide the documents for one container rather than multiple shipments.
Photo of ship yard filled with FCL and LCL shipping containers.

How Can a 3PL Help Navigate Commercial Shipping Options?

A 3PL, or third-party logistics provider, provides integrated supply chain management services to its clients. For example, when determining FCL vs. LCL shipments, a 3PL can help transport goods from point A to point B while managing all aspects of the process. This includes selecting carriers and negotiating freight rates, arranging for customs clearance and documentation processing to countries around the world (including the EU), handling payment transactions between buyers and suppliers, tracking shipments in real-time on digital platforms such as GPS tracking systems, providing warehousing services when needed, coordinating deliveries at final destinations including door-to-door service if required. Additionally, they can provide value-added services such as repackaging/order consolidation, which helps optimize shipping costs. With their expertise and knowledge in transport logistics operations worldwide, they can offer cost savings solutions that may otherwise not be available if undertaken independently.

Photo of FCL or full container load cargo shipping.

Smart Shipping Choices Yield Greater Profits

If your business is experiencing growth for the first time, making an informed choice about FCL vs. LCL shipments will impact your profits and bottom line. For Amazon sellers, distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers, FCL and LCL offer different degrees of cost savings depending on the amount of product you’re shipping. Ultimately, choosing FCL vs. LCL depends on your business’s specific needs.

PartnerTrade: Let Us Be Your Trusted Logistics Partner

PartnerTrade is a US-based logistics consulting firm offering shipping and warehouse solutions and services for Amazon sellers and B2B enterprises. In addition, PartnerTrade is known for working with businesses of all sizes around the globe.

Our worldwide network of agents allows us to ship to any port, including Los Angeles, Toronto, New York, Hamburg, and Shenzhen. Connect with us today to learn more about shipping options and how we can help streamline your business processes.