International trade: choosing the right shipping solution

After sourcing your products from a trusted supplier, it’s time to sort out delivery to your destination. But remember: logistics is about more than just moving goods from A to B. Here’s our advice on the things you need to consider…

DHL Transportation

So you’ve decided international trade is right for your business and you’ve sourced products from a supplier you can trust. The question is: what next? Well, there’s more to arranging transportation than you’d think – there’s that initially daunting array of rules, regulations and paperwork to think about for a start.

Above all else, you’ll want to select a logistics supplier you can trust. Our advice? Choose well.  Opting for the wrong provider can cause delays, anxiety and unnecessary additional costs. In short, you need to research your carriers and agents carefully. The trick is to pick one that gives you value for money – not necessarily the same thing as giving you the cheapest price.

For example, transportation costs are inevitably associated with delivery speeds. But if you’re a new importer, it’s also important to go for a logistics supplier you know will provide easy-to-use services.

The transportation option you go for will depend on factors like urgency, and the size and weight of the stuff you’re shipping. There are lots of transport companies out there– from well-known international brands like DHL to much smaller forwarding companies. Here are our tips on picking the option that’s right for you.

Air Freight

There are lots of agents in this category for you to choose from, but be sure to take the time to do some thorough research. Air freight agents may be specialists in specific trade routes, or have a reputation associated with a particular market.

The way it works is that air freight agents sell space purchased from airlines, with the best deals available for heavier weights and consolidated shipments.

Be careful when working out costs though: there may be additional charges on top of the price per kilo that you haven’t taken into account. For example, extra charges are often associated with pick-up and delivery, customs clearance and additional handling charges.

Sea Freight

Sea freight may represent the slowest service, but it’s also the cheapest. The principle is the same as for air freight – companies are basically re-selling space. Again, great deals can be had through consolidation (your goods share a container with other shipments).

You may encounter additional charges for things like delivery to and from the port, and storage and customs – so calculate charges with care.

It’s worth remembering that air freight companies sometimes offer a sea freight alternative. This can offer a real advantage when it comes to price, so it’s important to explore your options.

Express and Courier Companies

It’s all about speed. Big global brands like DHL Express lead the international market, with services that ensure speedy delivery. You’ll also have access to a reliable delivery network that reaches across every corner of the world, bringing choice and flexibility, and making the export/import process a whole lot easier.

Most importantly, companies in this category help with customs clearance. The cost you pay guarantees ease-of-use, timely delivery, and reliability.

DHL is here to support all your international export needs. Find out more by visiting

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