When the products or materials needed for a project are not available domestically, they’re sourced overseas. Shipment comes in the form of either sea or air, and each method has its own pros and cons.

How should you choose between them? Here are some things you must keep in mind.

Cost

Aside from the price of the products, you also have to pay for the shipping fee. And you want to go for the more cost-effective option to stay within budget. If you’ve bought anything overseas before, you probably know that shipping by sea costs less than by air. But this is not always the case.

Knowing how carriers charge for international shipping will help you decide which method is better. As it rolls out of an air cargo loading system, the shipment cost is calculated according to its “chargeable weight”.

The chargeable weight is determined by either its actual weight or volumetric weight, which is calculated at 6000 cubic centimetres per kilogramme and is a combination of its size and shape. Whichever is greater between the actual and volumetric weight will be the chargeable weight.

Sea carriers charge according to their rates per container, especially for standard containers that are 6 metres and 12 metres in size. They may also take weight into account, but their charge is based more on the shipment size. The price is determined by cubic metre for those who ship less than a container load, making ocean freight cheaper for high volume shipment. But as the shipment gets smaller, the price gap blurs, and air even costs less sometimes.

Speed

delivery of package, woman signing paper

Time is money, and receiving your order as soon as possible may save you costs. When it comes to speed, air freight is undeniably faster. It can take a month or so for an ocean freight to arrive, while air freight makes the same journey in several days.

If the shipment is for your business, can make up for the higher cost. But if you are moving and are having household goods delivered to your new address, the extra time might be necessary to prepare for its arrival.

Ships are getting faster, as canals make shipping routes shorter. There are ocean freights that can ship across oceans and deliver goods within 8 days.

Reliability

We choose the more reliable option for the services we need, but how do ocean and air freight compare with each other? We have trusted ocean freight shipping long before air freight shipping was an option, but air freight usually wins in this category.

Airlines tend to be on top of their schedules even when flights get delayed, whereas ocean carriers go off schedule often. There are daily flights that go back and forth between major city airports around the globe, so missing one flight does not cause much delay for air cargo shipment. On the other hand, ocean lines usually have weekly schedules, so missing a seaport cutoff leads to a longer delay.

The difference between the usual length of delay for each method is only a couple of days most of the time.

Think of how much money you are willing to spend and how long you can wait for your parcel. Coordinate with the seller and make sure that the forwarder allows you to track the shipment. Whichever you choose, you should be confident about receiving the goods.