China Logistics 101 – What are my options?

Posted on 12/06/2012 by Chadanuch Pomankul

So you worked hard. And after designing, engineering, prototyping your product it’s finally being manufactured. If you haven’t already made plans it is time to think of how to get it to your place – logistics here we come!

During the product design process, shipping and logistics is not a big issue. The prototype is normally sent via an express courier such as UPS, FedEx or DHL. These deliveries are easy to arrange and you can receive your prototype within a few days. This avoids any delays in the development timeline. But as soon as you kick off production you need to put some thoughts into logistics.

When your product is packaged and ready to transport you have lots of thinking to do on logistics. This time you are not talking about one product but about thousands of units of your newly designed product. And of course you have to be much more cautious while choosing your reliable logistic partner. We at DETEKT are glad to help you ship your goods from Asia and provide some advice along the way.

For shipment, there are generally two choices available for you: air-freight and sea-freight. Both of these choices have their advantages and disadvantages.

Air-freight is the fastest option both in terms of time and process of custom documents to get your products to your required place. It normally takes seven to ten days to deliver your products from start to finish, sometimes even just five days. This option can also be considered for products, which are small in volume and or lightweight. It will also be the best option for those products that are perishable and expensive. Thus, air-freight is recommended for high price, small and lightweight products.

Sea-freight is another option when it comes to transportation and logistics of your product. This service is recommended for relatively inexpensive products, large volumes and heavy products. Delivery takes a lot longer compared to air-freight however the costs work out much cheaper. A shipment from Asia to Europe takes around 30 days. From Asia to the West Coast or Australia, it’s faster and takes around 18 days.

But if you have a small production run and you are under time pressure to deliver the goods it might make sense to airship. While the actual sea shipment is inexpensive, the harbor fees in the destination country tend to be quite steep. If you are shipping thousands of goods that’s not a problem, but for a smaller production run the cost difference between sea and air shipment might turn out to be very little.

The choice of shipping method fully depends on you and your requirements. Our clients at DETEKT often prefer to mix air and sea shipments when delivering products. If they have early market demand for their products then they will use air-freight for a few hundred units, the remaining balance will be sea-shipped.

DETEKT has a long working relationship with a range of freight forwarding organizations in China and we are happy to provide recommendations for your needs.  Logistics is an important, however sometimes overlooked, aspect of developing a product and bringing it to market.  Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions from reading this article.


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