The Art of Importing Your Cargo: FCL vs. LCL

sea-freight importing
The Art of Importing Your Cargo: FCL vs. LCL

Do you know whether you should be importing via Full-Container Load (FCL) or Less-Than-Container Load  (LCL)?

Often supply-chain logistics can be confusing - especially for new businesses looking to import goods from the other side of the world.

Importing your precious goods, and ensuring this cargo arrives safely is the number one priority. 

For this reason, it is important to understand your shipping options and what will work best for your situation.

Ultimately, this will depend on your business needs and inventory requirements. Factors like cost, commodity type, and time restrictions will all determine what import service will suit you.

What is FCL?

FCL refers to Full-Container Load. This service is particularly good for businesses looking to import a large number of goods. 

Many larger organisations will use FCL services to import their goods due to security and urgent time restrictions. An FCL tends to be more secure for larger shipments because importers will have exclusive rights to the entire container, rather than sharing this space. This also makes it unlikely that your product will come in contact with other cargo, which may be important for specialised goods that need to avoid risking contamination.

Moreover, for time-sensitive importations, this could also be an important factor that would affect an organisations decision to ship via FCL options. As there is only one party that has exclusive rights to an entire container, it is easier to manage arrival dates. Most FCL options will have a fixed arrival date. This could be crucial for shipments that need to arrive for a particular occasion or if you need this cargo during a peak-season where they may be high-congestion across supply-chains.

What is LCL?

LCL refers to Less-than Container Load. It is a highly flexible service that tailors your shipping requirements to the amount of cargo you are looking to import. 

For instance, if you are looking to import a specific amount of goods that would not fill an entire container, this would be a great solution for you.

By consolidating multiple shipments of different weights and volumes from various shippers, we are able to fill a single shipping container. Doing so means you will only pay for the space that you use.

This is a great option for new businesses looking to import goods as it means it won’t be necessary to overbuy stock in order to fill a container. You will be able to match your flow of product with customer demand. 

Additionally, you won’t need to hold inventory for long-periods and can avoid paying premiums, keeping your freight costs to the absolute minimum. For smaller importers, the option of shipping via LCL could be the cost-saving solution your supply chain needs.

What will work for me?

For some clients, LCL might not be the best option for their import shipments. Reservations toward LCL shipments typically range from the variability of trade lanes, lack of visibility to track shipments progress, the inconsistency of multiple touchpoints, and risky nature of moving your shipments along with other loads. 

Likewise, some clients may have smaller shipments and are looking for a cost-saving approach that is flexible. They may also be looking for an option that will assist in managing customer demand. For these reasons, FCL may not be the best choice for importing their goods.

LCL allows you to maintain a smaller, more adaptable product inventory, while FCL is ideal for bulk items and large-volume products.

Shipping with WTA will ensure regardless of the way you choose to import your goods, either option will provide the highest quality service and support. We will also work to provide a personalised plan for your imports, assigning a personal account manager that is highly proficient in dealing with both FCL and LCL shipments. We work tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of your shipments. Our services make importing your goods seamless.


To discover more about how WTA can help you and your business, click here for a free consultation.