You've successfully subscribed to Heroshe Blog | Shipping from USA, UK & China to Nigeria
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Heroshe Blog | Shipping from USA, UK & China to Nigeria
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.

The Heroshe blog is your go-to resource for staying ahead in the USA, UK & China shipping industry. We provide informative articles, expert tips, and exclusive updates. Sign up today.

Different International Shipping Methods for Businesses in 2024

Different International Shipping Methods for Businesses in 2024

The rise of e-commerce and the interconnectedness of the global marketplace have changed how businesses operate. Today, reaching customers and suppliers across continents is now a necessity. The new reality thus forces you to select the most efficient and cost-effective method for international shipping (either as the customer or supplier).

This article explores the different international shipping methods businesses use in 2024 and how you can choose one for your needs.

Key Considerations for Choosing a Shipping Method

Here are some key considerations for selecting the perfect international shipping method:

Speed of Delivery: 
Determine how quickly your goods need to reach their destination. Air freight is the fastest option, while sea freight tends to be slower but more cost-effective for large volumes.

Evaluate the overall cost of each shipping method, including transportation fees, handling charges, customs duties, and any additional expenses. Choose a method that aligns with your budget and profit margins.

Nature of Goods: 
Consider the type of goods you are shipping, including size, weight, fragility, and perishability. Due to their nature, certain items may be better suited for specific shipping methods.

Destination and Accessibility: 
Determine the location of your destination and assess the accessibility of different shipping methods. Some regions may be better served by certain modes of transportation due to infrastructure limitations or geographic factors.

Reliability and Security: 
Research the reliability and security measures of each shipping method and carrier. Choose a reputable carrier with a track record of on-time deliveries and secure handling of goods.

Air Freight Shipping

Air freight shipping, also known as air cargo, is the transportation of goods by air using airplanes. It's the fastest international shipping method, ideal for time-sensitive cargo or businesses needing rapid delivery across long distances.

Advantages of Air Freight Shipping for Businesses

If you’re looking to  optimise your  supply chain, air freight provides some of these key benefits:

Speed of Delivery:
Air freight is faster than sea or land transportation, making it ideal for time-sensitive, high value or perishable shipments. In a survey conducted by IATA, 66% of businesses cited speed as the primary reason for choosing air freight, emphasizing its crucial role in meeting urgent delivery needs.

Airlines have highly reliable arrival and departure times, with many offering frequent flights to various destinations. Knowing these schedules can help you plan your inventory precisely.

High Level of Security:
Air transport is monitored rigorously, reducing the risk of theft and damage. Tracking abilities also help you always see your goods' whereabouts.

Less Need for Local Warehousing:
Quick transit times allow for direct shipments to the desired destination without the need for extensive warehousing. With this, you can reduce the need for a big warehouse, which also helps reduce warehousing costs.

Challenges and Limitations of Air Freight Shipping

As with its advantages, air freight also has some of the following challenges:

High Cost:
Air freight shipping is often more expensive than other modes of transportation, such as sea or land freight. This can make it less affordable if you’re working with tight budgets.

Limited Capacity:
Airplanes have limited cargo space compared to ships or trains. This can be a challenge when shipping large or bulky items.

Weather Dependency:
Air freight is more open to delays caused by bad weather conditions. Fog, storms, or extreme weather can delay flights and disrupt shipping schedules.

Strict Regulations:
Air cargo must comply with numerous regulations related to safety and security. This can include restrictions on hazardous materials limiting what can be shipped via air.

Limited Access:
Not all destinations are accessible by air. Remote or underdeveloped areas might not have the necessary airport infrastructure, making air freight impractical.

Types of Air Freight Shipping

Here's a breakdown of the main types of air freight shipping, allowing you to choose the best fit for your needs:

Scheduled Passenger Freighters:
This is the most common type of air freight. Scheduled passenger freight uses the cargo space on passenger airplanes. Airlines dedicate a portion of their belly hold capacity to freight transportation alongside passenger luggage.

Dedicated Cargo Freighters:
These are large airplanes specifically designed for cargo transportation, offering significantly more capacity and flexibility than passenger freighters.

Expedited Air Freight:
This prioritizes the fastest possible delivery, utilizing express services offered by major courier companies like FedEx, DHL, and UPS.

Charter Flights:
This involves renting an entire cargo aircraft for your exclusive use, offering maximum control over scheduling, routing, and security.

Specialised Air Freight Services:
These are used for transporting perishable goods, live animals or dangerous goods. These items are specially packed, labelled and handled so they are not dangerous to others.

Sea Freight Shipping

Sea freight shipping, or ocean freight, is transporting goods by sea using large cargo ships. It's the most prevalent method for international shipping, responsible for moving over 90% of the world's trade by volume. While not the fastest option, sea freight offers a cost-effective and reliable solution for businesses transporting large quantities of goods over long distances.

Advantages of Sea Freight Shipping for Businesses

Some key benefits of sea freight include:

Sea freight is much cheaper than air freight, especially for large shipments. This makes it a good option if you’re looking to save money on transportation costs.

Transporting Large Goods:
Cargo ships have massive capacity, allowing you to transport huge amounts of goods in a single trip. This is ideal if you regularly ship large quantities of products.

Bulk and Oversized Friendly: 
Sea freight can handle bulky and oversized items like machinery or vehicles, unlike air freight, which has size and weight restrictions.

Global Reach: 
With ports worldwide, sea freight offers access to a vast network for international shipping. No matter where you're sending your goods, there's likely a port that can handle it.

Related: How Ocean Shipping Saves You Moneyits

Challenges and Limitations of Sea Freight Shipping

While sea freight remains the most cost-effective method for transporting large volumes of goods globally, its limitations include:

Sea freight is the slowest form of international shipping. Journeys can take weeks, even months, depending on the origin, destination, and potential delays. This is unsuitable if you have a time-sensitive cargo or your business requires fast turnaround times.

Lack of Flexibility: 
The route and schedule are predetermined once the cargo is loaded onto a container ship. There is limited flexibility for changes or adjustments mid-journey, which can be inconvenient if unforeseen circumstances arise.

Vulnerability to Weather: 
Sea travel is subject to weather disruptions like storms and hurricanes. These can cause significant delays and pose potential risks to cargo.

Tracking and Visibility: 
While tracking systems have improved, real-time visibility into your cargo's exact location and condition can be limited compared to air freight. This can be a concern if you constantly have to monitor the whereabouts of your items.

Port Congestion and Delays: 
Busy ports can experience congestion, leading to delays in loading and unloading cargo. This can disrupt your planned delivery schedule.

Risk of Damage:
While containers offer protection, there's always a risk of damage during handling, loading, or due to rough seas. 

Types of Sea Freight Shipping

Sea freight shipping utilizes various vessel types designed to handle different cargo characteristics.

Container Ships: 
These are the most common types of cargo ships. They carry standardized intermodal containers that can be easily loaded, unloaded, and transferred between different transportation modes (trucks, trains). 

Bulk Carriers: 
These massive ships are designed to transport large quantities of loose cargo like grain, coal, ore, and dry chemicals. They typically have large cargo holds with hatches for loading and unloading with cranes or conveyor belts.

These specialized vessels transport liquids and gases in bulk, such as oil, chemicals, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). They have multiple compartments to segregate different cargo types and ensure safe transport.

Break Bulk Ships: 
Also known as general cargo, these versatile ships handle cargo too large or oddly shaped for containers. 

Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) Ships: 
These ships are designed to allow vehicles to drive on and off the vessel via ramps. They are ideal for transporting wheeled cargo like cars, trucks, trailers, and construction equipment.

Rail Freight Shipping

Rail freight shipping is the movement of cargo from one destination to another using trains and railways. It offers a cost-effective and efficient alternative to air transport. 

Advantages of Rail Freight Shipping for Businesses

Some of the key benefits of rail freight include:

Rail freight is less costly, especially for long distances and large volumes. Trains can move much more goods per trip than trucks, leading to a lower cost-per-ton-mile. Rail fuel costs are often lower and more stable than truck fuel prices.

High Capacity: 
Trains can transport massive quantities of cargo in a single trip. This is ideal if you’re shipping large volumes of bulk goods like grains, raw materials, or finished products.

Reliability and Schedule Consistency: 
Rail transportation operates on fixed schedules with minimal disruptions from traffic congestion or weather. This predictability allows you to plan deliveries and maintain consistent inventory management.

Reduced Road Congestion: 
By taking a significant amount of freight off the roads, rail transportation helps reduce traffic congestion.

Challenges and Limitations of Rail Freight Shipping

While rail freight offers advantages in cost and capacity for bulk goods, it has limitations that businesses need to consider:

Limited Flexibility and Reach: 
Rail networks follow fixed routes, making them unable to reach remote locations without rail lines. This will then require additional transportation by truck for final delivery, which will add extra costs.

Scheduling and Inflexibility: 
Trains operate on fixed schedules with limited flexibility for last-minute changes or urgent deliveries. Delays due to infrastructure issues or maintenance can affect delivery times. 

Limited Service in Certain Areas:
Rail freight availability can be limited in certain regions or countries, especially in developing economies with less extensive rail networks.

Intermodal Transfer Challenges: 
Moving cargo between rail and other transportation modes (trucks) can introduce additional handling and potential delays at transfer points.

Road Freight Shipping

Road freight shipping, also known as road haulage or truck transport, involves using trucks and vans of various sizes to move goods over land.

Advantages of Road Freight Shipping

Advantages of road freight include:

Speed and Reliability: 
Road freight offers faster delivery times, especially for shorter distances. Established road networks and predictable travel times ensure reliable delivery schedules.

Flexibility and Reach: 
Trucks can navigate a wider range of routes than trains or airplanes, reaching more destinations, including remote locations.

Cost-Effective for Short and Medium Distances:
Road freight can be a more cost-effective option for regional or domestic shipping. This makes it ideal if you transport high volumes of goods over shorter distances.

Door-to-Door Delivery: 
Unlike sea or air freight, which often require additional transportation legs, road freight can offer true door-to-door delivery, streamlining the logistics process and reducing handling costs.

Real-Time Tracking and Visibility: 
Advanced GPS tracking systems provide real-time visibility into the location and status of your cargo, offering greater control and peace of mind.

Challenges and Limitations of Road Freight Shipping

While road freight offers a reliable and versatile shipping option, it comes with its challenges and limitations:

Traffic Congestion: 
Urban areas are likely to have traffic congestion, which delays delivery times.

Driver Shortages: 
The trucking industry faces a global shortage of qualified drivers. This can impact capacity, lead to increased freight costs, and potentially limit the availability of trucks for certain routes.

Fuel Price Fluctuations: 
Road freight relies heavily on diesel fuel, and price fluctuations can increase transportation costs.

Limited Long-Distance Efficiency:
Road freight becomes less cost-effective for very long distances than sea freight. 

Security Concerns:
Cargo theft is a potential risk in road freight transportation. When shipping valuable goods with trucks, you need to consider additional security measures like GPS tracking and high-security seals.

Types of Road Freight Shipping

Full Truckload (FTL): 
This involves utilizing the entire truck's capacity for a single shipment. It is ideal for transporting large volumes of goods, offering maximum efficiency and cost savings per unit.

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL): 
This involves consolidating smaller shipments from multiple customers into a single truck. This is a cost-effective option if you’re shipping smaller goods, as you get to pay for the space you use.

Expedited Services: 
Time-sensitive deliveries can be expedited through services like overnight or priority shipping, ensuring faster delivery times at a premium cost.

Multimodal Shipping

Multimodal shipping refers to the movement of goods using a combination of two or more transportation modes, typically under a single contract. This can involve various methods, such as trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes.

Imagine you need to ship furniture from China to a customer in Nigeria.  Here's how multimodal shipping might work:

  1. You contract with a multimodal transport provider.
  2. The provider picks up the furniture from your factory in China by truck.
  3. The furniture is then loaded onto a container ship for the ocean voyage to Nigeria.
  4. Upon arrival at the Nigerian port, the container is transported by train or truck to a final distribution centre.
  5. Finally, the furniture is delivered to your customer by local truck delivery.

Throughout this process, you only deal with the multimodal transport provider, who manages all the logistics and ensures the furniture arrives safely and on time at its destination.

Advantages of Multimodal Shipping for Businesses

Multimodal shipping offers the following advantages for businesses:

Cost Optimisation: 
By combining different modes, you can leverage their strengths and potentially achieve lower shipping costs. For instance, ocean freight might be the most economical for long distances, while trucks provide efficient final delivery.

A study by the World Bank found that multimodal transport reduces logistics costs by an average of 30% and improves supply chain reliability by 50%, making it an increasingly preferred choice for businesses seeking efficiency gains.

Increased Flexibility: 
Multimodal shipping allows you to adapt your transportation strategy to specific cargo needs. Time-sensitive items can prioritize air freight for a faster leg, while bulky goods might benefit from ocean and rail transport.

Improved Efficiency: 
Multimodal transport providers manage the entire journey, ensuring smooth handoffs between modes and minimizing delays. This leads to more efficient use of time and resources than managing separate contracts for each leg.

Simplified Documentation: 
A single contract with a multimodal provider reduces paperwork and simplifies the documentation process compared to managing separate contracts for each transport mode.

Enhanced Visibility and Tracking: 
Advanced tracking systems allow you to monitor the progress of your shipment throughout the entire journey, regardless of the mode used. This provides greater transparency and peace of mind.

Reduced Risk: 
Multimodal transport providers often handle insurance and customs clearance, reducing the risk of delays or complications.

Challenges and Considerations of Multimodal Shipping 

While multimodal shipping offers significant advantages, it's not without its challenges. 

Complexity of Coordination: 
Coordinating multiple transportation modes and handoffs requires careful planning and collaboration between different logistics partners. This means you will need to choose reliable multimodal providers with strong networks and experience in managing complex logistics.

Increased Dependency on Third-Party Providers: 
Multimodal shipping relies heavily on the performance of multiple logistics companies. Delays or issues with one provider can affect the entire journey, impacting delivery times.

Potential for Delays at Transfer Points: 
Handoffs between different modes (e.g., ship-to-truck) can introduce delays, especially if there are unforeseen issues at transfer terminals. So, you need to factor in potential delays when planning schedules.

Suitability for Cargo Type: 
Not all cargo is suitable for multimodal shipping. Perishable goods, hazardous materials, or oversized items might require specialized handling and not be well-suited for frequent mode changes.

Heroshe: More than a Shipping Buddy

affordable shipping from US, UK and China to Nigeria

When shopping from stores in the UK, US, and China, you will need a trusted shipping carrier to get your items to Nigeria. This is where  Heroshe comes in. With extensive experience in the international shipping scene, we’ve helped over 30,000 businesses get their shipments to Nigeria.

Why Businesses Choose Heroshe:

Cost-Effective Shipping: 
Our shipping rates are low and competitive. At $8 per pound, you get access to a premium shipping service. We are also very transparent on pricing, as you can calculate your shipping costs upfront using our shipping calculator.

Fast Delivery: 
Why wait for weeks when you can get your packages within 10-14 working days (sometimes less)  with Heroshe? This enables you to plan your deliveries and satisfy your customer’s needs.

No Customs: 
When shipping with Heroshe, you do not need to worry about customs clearance as we handle everything. 

Related: 10 Simple Tips Every Heroshe First-Time Customer Will Benefit From

We offer shipment tracking, allowing you to monitor your goods' progress and ensure peace of mind.

Is Heroshe legit?

Consolidated Shipping: 
When shopping from different suppliers, we combine the packages into a single shipment.

Customer Support:
Sometimes, you might need clarification on certain aspects of our service. You can always contact our customer support team and be assured of a response.

At Heroshe, we prioritise providing our customers with an amazing and efficient shipping experience.  We always aim to ensure our customers receive their packages with love and swift delivery. You can experience the ease  Heroshe brings when you create a free account and ship with us.

Ilaya Teejay

Ilaya Teejay

Ilaya Teejay is the Content Marketing Associate at Heroshe. She believes words can shape user experiences, and she's turning this belief into a career that helps people and businesses succeed.