As people playing various roles on various levels, we need to make decisions about everything we do or have to do in order to achieve our goals. The same rule applies within the context of international shipping too. Therefore, as a business owner operating within the shipping industry or an ordinary person seeking to relocate, you need to have at least a basic understanding of your options in order to be efficient on a number of different levels. Inevitably, at some point during your research, you will be faced with a choice between air freight and ocean freight shipping as a solution to your shipping needs. So here is an introduction to the main factors you should base your decision on.
No. 1: The financial factor
Surely, the fact that the financial factor stands out as one of the main factors you should consider when faced with a choice in terms of shipping opportunities will come as no surprise. If making your choice from a business owner’s position, you will be looking to minimise your expenses. If making it from that of an ordinary individual looking to relocate, your objective will be to stick to your pre-established budget. Whichever position you may be in, you will most probably find the ocean freight shipping option to be more affordable than the air freight shipping one. However, that is not a rule.
In order for you to be able to make the best choice, you need to learn how the charging process works with both air freight shipping and ocean freight shipping. In the former case, the charges are usually set depending on the weight of the cargo you need shipped, thus the principle of chargeable weight. This chargeable weight will be determined by the weight and size of your shipment. In the latter case, you costs will vary depending on the number and type of containers you are having your cargo shipped in. The weight of your cargo is rather unlikely to be a determinant factor in the equation of your ocean freight shipping costs. The size of your shipment, on the other hand, will constitute a determinant factor to be used to calculate the margin between rates. Thus, the smaller the size, the smaller the margins as well, which allows the costs of air freight shipping services to be lower than those of ocean freight shipping ones at times. Also, you need to consider the destination charges, more precisely, the customs and destination charges, for they can tilt the balance in favour of one shipping option or the other. You should note, for instance, that while ocean freight shipping tends to be less expensive than air freight shipping, the warehousing charges tend to be higher with the former.
No. 2: The speed factor
As far as the speed factor is concerned, things appear to be quite straightforward in that there is no doubt about air freight shipping being significantly faster than its ocean counterpart. With air freight shipping, the delivery times are unlikely to exceed one or two days. With ocean freight shipping, on the other hand, they can stretch over as long as one month, which leaves room for any number of inconveniences to occur, particularly if you are in the business owner’s position. If you are relocating, such delivery times may actually work in your favour by allowing you to get everything in order by the time the shipment arrives. However, you should note that technology is playing an increasingly important role in the evolution of the shipping industry, providing the means to increase the travelling speed of ships and shorten the routes in order to reduce the delivery times. Therefore, if you are looking to save some time, not just money, then air freight shipping is your best choice.
No. 3: The reliability factor
A third factor to consider when trying to decide which of the two shipping options is more convenient for you is that of reliability, which, once again, is of paramount importance if you are in the business owner’s position. Usually, the debate on reliability starts at the history of the shipping branches. However, this often proves to be irrelevant or confusing, to say the least, in a context where air freight shipping services have been available for much shorter than ocean freight shipping services, yet tend to be considered more reliable by customers worldwide. Despite the weather and all the other factors that tend to interfere with air shipments, airlines tend to manage their flights very effectively and always minimise the inconveniences. Ocean freight shipping companies, on the other hand, often fail to manage their delivery times properly, thus causing various significant inconveniences to their customers. Moreover, most airlines provide daily flights to major shipping destinations, which allows for any last minute inconveniences to be resolved very shortly.
No. 4: The environmental factor
However, in the end, shipping is not all about costs and convenience. The environmental factor often proves to be decisive in customers’ choices of an ideal solution to their shipping needs, and even more so in an age characterised by an increased awareness of the ways in which the environment is impacted by various industrial activities. From this point of view, ocean freight shipping companies are at an advantage over airlines due to the lower levels of CO2 emissions released by ships into the environment as compared to planes. However, the damage caused by oil spills and that caused to water ecosystems worldwide tend to tilt the balance in favour of airlines and their shipping services.
As noted, your choice of an ideal solution to your shipping needs will always be a difficult one and it is bound to be even more difficult if you are not aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both air freight shipping and ocean freight shipping. Therefore, take the time to familiarise yourself with the two options before making your choice in order to achieve maximum effectiveness on all levels.