shipping container


Do you find yourself in hot waters whenever you encounter technical words like FCL vs. LCL in your business?

If yes, then this blog will help you solve the word mysteries most effectively.  

There are two options for shipping your goods by sea freight, i.e., LCL and FCL. LCL is when products are in a shared container (so you can import a modest amount), but FCL is when your goods are in a container of their own. The ideal option to utilize typically relies on the size and volume of the product you are importing.

Which option is best for you when exporting by sea freight? You can either fill a container with your goods (FCL) or opt for a shared container (LCL). When selecting an ocean freight arrangement, a shipper should consider several factors. Factors other than cargo volume must be considered when choosing between FCL and LCL.

This blog provides you with a contrast of these two processes that assist you in deciding which shipping option is best for your needs to comprehend better and compare various possibilities.  

FCL vs. LCL: What do FCL and LCL Mean?


FCL and LCL are two significant modes through which you can ship your products across the oceans to your customers. Before getting your hands on any procedure regarding finalizing the shipping mode, you must know both terms’ basic definitions and aims. This chapter will help you get a basic idea about the words so that you can move forward with mental clarity.

When selecting an ocean freight arrangement, a shipper should take into account several factors. When deciding whether to employ FCL or LCL, factors other than cargo volume must be taken into account.

LCL – Less than Container Load

LCL (less than container load) shipping combines several shipments into a single container. As a result, companies wishing to import smaller quantities of goods can do so by only paying for the space they use within a container instead of having to lease the whole container.  

If you’re only delivering small amounts (over 0.5cbm & 100kg), this may be more cost-effective because you’re only paying for this tiny quantity of space.

FCL – Full Container Load

When you pay for the usage of an entire container rather than just a portion of it, you are referring to a full container load (FCL). If you want to transport more than about 20cbm, FCL is typically the best option. Your supplier is the only person who will handle your goods (aside from Customs if there is an inspection), and you have access to all the capacity within the container.

FCL vs. LCL: What are the Advantages and Disadvantages?

When discussing LCL versus FCL, it’s not as simple as “Advantages and Disadvantages” because neither approach is better. It all relies on which is more appropriate for your needs.

Which one you need to utilize will frequently be determined by the size and amount of your package. Nevertheless, depending on your scenario, each approach has a few benefits and drawbacks that may help you choose which is ideal for you.

Advantages of FCL and LCL

FCL and LCL will offer you different benefits, and you have to choose what you prefer more over the other. You can check for the combination of benefits and mark your favorite features in a checklist to decide which shipping method suits you the most. So, we have mentioned the benefits of using FCL and LCL in detail below.

a. In terms of Cost

Instead of paying for the specific quantity of space that you utilize while shipping with FCL, you pay a flat cost for the usage of the entire container. If you use the space well, the price per cubic meter is less than the price per cbm on LCL.

On the other hand, most LCL shipments begin at 0.5 cbm (out of a container’s 25–28 cbm of space). It is significantly more cost-effective for smaller shipments because you only pay for the volume you use.

b. Stock Management and Ordering for LCL

If you don’t fill the container when you import using FCL, you are essentially paying to transport fresh air. This can be limiting if you genuinely want to send slightly less or slightly more than the container’s capacity. For start-ups or companies who might wish to avoid importing a massive volume of a product, shipping on an LCL basis allows you to import a smaller amount of stock.

c. Stock Management and Ordering for FCL

For FCL to be possible for your company, you must ship a minimum amount of goods; for a small or newly established company, committing to a substantial amount of stock might not be practical.

d. Loading of Goods in FCL

Loading of Goods in FCL

Loading goods with FCL reduces the risk of damage because only you and your supplier will touch the goods. Supplier loads FCL shipments into a container, which is then sealed. If Customs doesn’t decide to halt the cargo, the container is then delivered sealed.  

As a result, the likelihood of items being destroyed in transit is significantly reduced. Therefore, spending a little more money on a complete container is not a big deal if you have many fragile items and are still determining which method to employ.

e. Loading of Goods in LCL

Alternatively, LCL shipments are handled a little more frequently. They are unloaded into a warehouse at the port, loaded into a shared container, then loaded onto a vehicle at the factory. They are taken from the container when they arrive. The shipment is loaded onto a truck before being brought to you to unload.

f. Delivery Options in FCL

Delivery Options in FCL

Your items will be shipped to you by FCL shipping in a container that is secured to the back of a big vehicle. An approximate time of three hours is given to remove your belongings from the container before it drives away because it cannot be dropped to the ground for unloading (unless you spend a lot more for a special vehicle). You will therefore want either several sets of workers or a wheel loader to assist you.

g. Delivery Options in LCL

On the other hand, LCL shipments are transported (typically palletized) on the back of a vehicle. It is much simpler to unload, and you can ask for a smaller vehicle to deliver if your delivery location has limited access. A tail-lift delivery can also be requested if you don’t have a forklift or prefer to unload by hand.  

In this case, the items will be lowered to the ground for you. As long as the driver is satisfied that you are doing everything possible, you usually have as much time as needed to unload the package. The ability to request a smaller truck is beneficial for persons in restricted locations where huge trucks cannot travel.

h. FCL is quicker than LCL

Due to the process that LCL shipments go through, FCL shipments often transit more quickly than LCL shipments by a few days. LCL shipments require additional loading and unloading stages on both sides of the transaction because they combine the goods of several parties.  

Disadvantages of FCL and LCL

FCL and LCL have their drawbacks as well. One thing you get at FCL may be missing at LCL and vice versa. That is why both these terms are different. The following are some of the drawbacks of FCL and LCL.

a. More Shipping Time in the Case of LCL

Due to consolidation and deconsolidation, LCL shipping takes longer than FCL shipping.

b. LCL More Expensive

LCL is more expensive per cubic meter as compared to FCL.

c. More Chances of Damage in LCL

LCL shipments mix the items of many parties, necessitating additional loading and unloading steps on both ends of the transaction, so the chances of damage are greater.

d. Unloading is Labor Intensive in the case of FCL

FCL delivery is less advantageous in terms of the vehicle itself, but it’s also far more labor-intensive to unload. Basically, how it works is that you have a large container on top of a large truck—after that, getting your things down and unpacking them is all up to you.

e. More Stock Volume Import

FCL requires a greater volume of stock to be imported as compared to LCL.

FCL vs. LCL: Which One is Better?

FCL vs. LCL: Which One is Better?

Choosing between LCL and FCL requires a lot of information updates. You can only make a decision when you know what benefits certain things can offer you. FCL and LCL are two competitive ways to get your products or inventory shipped. In this chapter, we will discuss the distinguishing characteristics of both these modes of shipping.

Cost of FCL vs. LCL

Cost of FCL vs. LCL

When shipping with FCL, you pay a flat fee for the use of the entire container rather than paying for the precise amount of space that you need. The cost per cubic meter is less than the cost per cbm on LCL if you utilize the space effectively.

LCL is a more affordable shipping option for modest volumes. Since you only pay for the volume you utilize, it is far more economical for smaller shipments.

Stock Control of FCL vs. LCL

If you import using FCL and don’t fill the container, you are essentially paying more than the requirement. It can be restrictive if you actually wish to send slightly less or slightly more than the container’s capacity. Specific volumes are required for FCL.

Shipping on an LCL basis enables you to import a lesser amount of stock for start-ups or businesses that may not want to import a large volume of a product.

Loading Goods of FCL vs. LCL

The handling of LCL cargo occurs a little more regularly. At the port, they are unloaded into a storage facility, put into a communal container, and then loaded on a vehicle. When the cargo arrives, they are removed from the container and loaded onto a truck. So that’s how before being delivered to you for unloading, they are separated from other cargoes.

In the case of FCL, the danger of damage is lower when loading products because only you and your supplier will handle the cargo. Supplier places FCL goods inside a sealed container. The container is then delivered sealed. As a result, it is much less likely that goods will be lost in transportation.

Delivery of FCL vs. LCL

FCL shipping will deliver your things to you in a fastened container to the rear of a large vehicle. Because the container cannot be dropped to the ground for unloading, you have a limited time to retrieve your items before it drives away (unless you spend a lot more for a special vehicle). Therefore, you will need either multiple teams of laborers or a wheel loader to help you.

On the other hand, LCL shipments are moved (usually palletized) on the back of a vehicle. It is considerably easier to unload, and you can request a smaller delivery vehicle if your delivery location has limited access. You can also ask for a tail-lift delivery if you don’t have a forklift or would instead unload by hand.

Transit Time of FCL vs. LCL

Transit Time of FCL vs. LCL

Due to the process that LCL shipments go through, FCL shipments often transit more quickly than LCL shipments by a few days. There are different phases in the procedure on both ends where the products must be loaded and unloaded since LCL shipments combine the goods of numerous people. If you’re on a strict schedule, this could prolong the process, but if you’re in a hurry.

Amazon Deliveries of FCL vs. LCL

Delivering LCL shipments directly to Amazon is simple, but importing FCL shipments directly to FBA is challenging. Supply through LCL is simple. It only requires setting up shipments to Amazon with a bit of advance planning.  

Delivering to Amazon FBA is more challenging when a container is shipped as a whole (FLC). Since Amazon does not accept packed containers entirely, the container is emptied, marked, palletized, and delivery of the items is arranged to Amazon. The products may be rejected if these requirements are not followed, and redelivery may cost extra charges.

Finally, after discussing all crucial aspects of FCL and LCL, we can say that the quantity of your shipment and what will be most effective for you will determine the exact nature of the answer if you want to choose between FCL or LCL. Unless your items are fragile or you have specific delivery needs, we advise using LCL shipment for items that are smaller than about 20cbm.

Why is a Shipping Agent Needed? What Services Does a Shipping Agent Provide?

Shipping Agent Provide

A crucial aspect of international sourcing is logistics. Shipping agents handle the fulfillment process on your behalf.

They choose, package, and deliver your goods to customers. It frees up time and resources to concentrate on your company’s sales and marketing aspects. The use of shipping agencies is advantageous for large businesses that struggle to meet demand independently.

Small businesses that want to concentrate on their core strengths might also use them. It can be challenging to handle everything yourself if you sell various products from numerous providers. A shipping agency is a great way to solve this issue because they can handle fulfillment for any number of products you require.

However, suppose you’re selling delicate or sensitive things like food, cosmetics, or technology products. In that case, it’s crucial to utilize a shipping agent aware of the complexities of your business and experience in e-commerce fulfillment services.

What Services Does a Shipping Agent Provide?

An excellent resource for e-commerce sellers is shipping agencies. You may concentrate on other areas of your business while they take care of the labor-intensive logistics of getting the goods from the producer to your door.

Additionally, they are helpful for small enterprises that need more time or money to handle shipping on their own. International shipments, cargo loading, and customs clearance are just a few of the many transportation-related issues that shipping brokers deal with.

They can also advise you on ensuring your goods pass customs as quickly as possible. The shipping agent works on your behalf to clear your goods through customs, arrange for delivery to your destination, and negotiate with logistics service providers.

Moreover, they’ll keep you updated at every step of the way and send you different reports so you can always know where your stuff is.

How to Avoid Scams while Finding a Shipping Agent?

avoid scam

a. Maintain Extremely Low Prices

Scammers are skilled at dealing with clients. They keep their interest rates low in comparison to the market so that they can be appealing.

Who wouldn’t want to pay less for the same service, after all? Low prices engage corporations and companies, who then choose their services.

b. Not Delivered Through the Specified Channels

Such a scam typically involves offering you a fair price when you choose a rapid shipping option but then sending your items through a slow shipping option instead. They usually claim that their items are under customs clearance when you enquire about them.

c. Requesting More Money

Their other deception is to give inaccurate and insufficient information in their documentation. The products would also be seized at the port. As a result, they were causing numerous issues. After that, they demand extra money to change these forms, and so forth.

d. No Photo of the Container

A few containers have seen a lot of use and abuse. After each flight, there is some physical deterioration because they are reused. The shipping agent’s container may occasionally harm your cargo.

Therefore, asking for photographic evidence of your cargo inside the shipping container is crucial. It is worth considering if China’s shipping agency needs to give it.

e. No Specification of the Sub-name Ports

If you have ever sent something, you know that the port is divided into several smaller ports. Knowing which sub-port the cargo is in is crucial if you want to track and monitor it.

Because there are so many sub-ports and a lot of cargo is shipped every day, you could lose the entire shipment if the sub-ports are not listed.

f. Keeping of Bills

The landing bill may occasionally be delayed, allowing you to pay additional fines and fees. Such con artists can easily trick you once you totally trust them.

Always use caution when dealing with payments; verify what happened to your shipping company; or request formal documentation to support the request.

g. Requiring you to Pay More Money to Bribe Customs Officials

The China shipping agent can call and inform you that the customs agent has yet to give priority to your products or is refusing to clear your goods once they have finished their delay tactics. You are being requested to bribe them in this situation.

h. The Chinese Shipping Agency’s Delay Tactics

Their delaying techniques are a highly prevalent and hard-to-detect trap. You can’t be sure of their exact locations because there are so many processes in operation.

How to Choose the Best China Shipping Agent for Your Business?

shipping container

You must specify your primary selection criteria for choosing the best China Shipping Agent because there are more than 100,000 freight forwarders in the world. The most typical things to think about are listed below.

Make Sure of the Products can be Shipped

Many freight forwarders don’t deal with large products like cars, moving houses, wheat, or oversized shipments. Before asking to certify that they can transport your stuff, each China shipping agent has its own advantages in many industries, such as machinery, dangerous goods, and significant, sensitive commodities.

Know about What Services the Shipping Agent Offered

Your shipment has the potential to expand your company. So you need a reliable, trustworthy person to arrange with air cargo, marine shipping, and particularly customs agents who will not put up with inaccurate, unclear, or late documentation. You might have to spend more than you anticipated if your freight forwarder needs to keep an eye on your package.

The time required for a freight forwarder to react to your request for a proposal is a solid early sign of a reputable freight forwarder’s level of customer service. Regular and open communication during the shipment process is advisable if it takes a week or more.

Calculate Shipping Cost Beforehand

Choosing a forwarding agent only based on price can be a bad idea, especially if you’re trying to save $200 on a cargo that costs $20,000 in total. As an illustration, some freight forwarders offer discounts on the initial shipment to close the deal but then reverse them on further shipments.

Furthermore, some freight forwarders bury fees in their terms and conditions in order to make their offers appear more appealing than those from more trustworthy rivals. For instance, if you don’t require those services, this might not be a problem. Therefore, if one offer is significantly less expensive than the others, proceed with caution and try to determine why.

Size of Forwarding Agents

The capacity to negotiate preferred freight rates and treatment from significant air and ocean carriers, as well as a larger worldwide physical footprint, is a strength of name-brand international freight forwarders. It implies that they will draw more serious clients, who will unavoidably receive special consideration.

Consider the most recent annual mystery shopping study. Only seven of the top 20 freight forwarders agreed to provide estimates for small firms, even after being urged to do so. Most likely, stay away from working with any of the more significant freight forwarders.

In comparison, smaller freight forwarders often have more time to spend on smaller orders and work with fewer clients, but they could have a less attractive price if your total transportation costs are between $1 and $800.

Why Equator Supply Chain Can Help You in Better E-commerce Business?

equator shipping

One of the few corporations, Equator Supply Chain, focuses on offering solutions to clients. Our extensive network of suppliers makes lower MOQ and better quality possible.

For Amazon sellers wishing to outsource delivery companies to China to save money and time, Equator provides a complete solution.

We provide a thorough inspection, preparation, and cargo services in China and the US. We provide our services in the following ways:

Cargo by Sea

We collaborate with top shipping companies worldwide to provide the most affordable prices and secure space for all your sea shipment requirements, whether FCL or LCL.

Transportation by Rail

We also provide shipment by rail. When it comes to shipping your goods, rail freight is occasionally the best option. It enables cost and delay reduction, particularly when it comes to oversized objects.

Shipment by Air

We collaborate with an airline company. We will be able to ship it anywhere in the globe while ensuring smooth delivery of your package because of our presence at Chinese international airports.

We can help you with better E-commerce services with other benefits as well. (Discussed below)

Customs Validation

We offer quick and simple services for customs clearance. In a single, smooth transaction, we clear your products, file customs paperwork, and pay duties and taxes.

Selection and Delivery

For our door-to-door services, we have a good name. Call us, send the addresses, and rest. We will handle your shipment and delivery from China to your location.

Product Recommendations

The Equator has been in business for a very long time, even though foreign purchasers find it challenging to join the enormous and competitive China wholesale market. We’ll speak with the supplier, bargain, and come to an agreement that will help you turn a profit.

In short, starting an e-commerce firm requires a lot of work, but Equator can assist you throughout the entire process and save you from stress.

FAQs about FCL vs. LCL

Which should you pick FCL or LCL?

The four criteria for choosing between LCL and FCL are quantity, price, privacy, and immediacy. It pays to consider whether FCL is a better alternative if your shipment is more than 10 CBM. However, LCL is probably your best choice for small-volume shipments.

Which is less expensive, FCL or LCL?

LCL is more expensive per unit of freight than FCL. It is because freight agencies prefer a full container load since it is simpler for them to do so than organizing numerous LCL shipments into a full container.

What makes a shipping agent in China necessary?

International shipments, cargo loading, and customs clearance are just a few of the many transportation-related issues that shipping brokers deal with. They can also offer you guidance on how to make sure your goods pass customs as comfortably as possible.

In China, Do I require a shipping agent?

You will have to depend on the supplier to handle your shipping if you don’t contact a shipping agent in China. The most significant issue is the high price because they will only send your products, which will cost them more money, and they will then transfer the cost onto the buyer, which is reasonable.

What is the price of a sourcing agent?

The following are the most typical types of payment a sourcing agency will get: Fixed commission: This fee is advertised, typically between 1% and 10% of the manufacturing price. When it comes time to pay the supplier, they collect this fee and add it to the invoice they send to the client.


The Chinese freight forwarding industry has reached its full potential. You can get a one-stop shipping solution from them. They can provide you with storage services in addition to transportation services and take control of order delivery for your online purchases.

It would be best if you compared various agents based on their services, fees, English proficiency, response times, and order fulfillment software and hardware to guarantee order fulfillment on time. When looking for a China forwarder, Equator is the one that provides you with the services you require.

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