August 29, 2019

E-commerce shipping

Does knowledge of e-commerce shipping really make a difference? Find out more on today’s episode with Neil Curran of Regional Express.

Air express vs. Air Freight vs. Ocean freight etc. 

What are the critical numbers/thresholds?

Into Europe, Neil offers a mix of services for e-commerce shipping:

  1. Express courier – a few boxes – up to about 100 kg total Gross Weight
  2. Air Freight -if you’re sending a pallet or two pallets by air freight
  3. Ocean Freight is more cost-effective above that.

Air express

Air express is great for smaller shipments – something you need to send quick items that aren’t big or heavy.

As soon as it gets big or heavy, it’s not cost-effective in e-commerce shipping.

Shipments up to 100-110 kg in weight.

Door-to-door transit times can be 3-5 days. It can be good if looking to test the marketplace or getting in buffer stock to avoid doing OOS.


120 kg plus and maybe palletised, you probably need air freight.

Shipping out of USA into Europe (or anywhere) via Air Freight

The “known/unknown” shipper makes a difference in e-commerce shipping.

If unknown – has to be on a cargo-only aircraft.

TSA database.

This can add 24-48 hours of transit time and extra cost

Amazon will not act as the importer of record!

A Freight forwarder will take care of this on your behalf.

At what level of units/size/weight does ocean freight make more sense?

Advise and educate seller best they can.

3 types of service

You need to be sending at least one cubic metre at least one pallet to avoid the minimum surcharges.

Sea freight is based on minimum 1 CBM “cube” or 1000 kg (99% best on volumetric weight=“chargeable weight”)

Otherwise, you’ll be hit with surcharges on your e-commerce shipping.

If you’re looking to move larger quantities, sea freight is obviously right anyway.


Freight Forwarders can consolidate multiple shipments into one container.

Generally, a freight forwarder will run a weekly consolidation – maybe from China or the UK.

They’ll receive say a couple of pallets in Shanghai in their warehouse and load into a container with up to 12 other customers’ cargo. That would be consolidated by container into the UK.

Once it arrives in the UK, it would be taken by van to the warehouse.

Then de-consolidated and shipped out to the final destination.

It adds to transit time compared to the whole container.

Whole containers

What is the breakpoint for e-commerce shipping?

LCL vs. Container Loads

3 main types of containers:

  • 20 ft standard
  • 40 ft standard
  • 40 ft high cube

The capacity of 20 ft is around 28 CBM at capacity “loose loaded boxes”.

What is the breaking point where Container?

Depending on current ocean rates, the breakpoint between LCL and container is about 12-15 CBM so about 12-15 pallets.

12-15 pallets will fill a 20-foot container. You can get 11 UK standard pallets in a 20-foot container.

If you’re going to use a container, you’re paying the same rate, so you don’t want to palletise before you ship.


Most of the customers sell it as bulk loaded, then palletise it as US, UK.

Pallet built to max Amazon specification = 2.16 CBM, 600kg max weight.

If you’re shipping 10-12 CBM LCL is going to cost same as a full load – so buy more from a supplier because you’ll effectively ship it for free.

Can you ship containers direct to Amazon?

There are FCs that accept it.

But Neil encourages sellers to break it into palletise and forward that to Amazon.

If you ship a full container with goods that have moved, Amazon may refuse.

How often are containers rejected by Amazon?

A very high percentage of them rejected – about 80%!

So they never do it now!

If they reject it what happens?

  • Wasted delivery fee.
  • Pay for the container to go to another location.
  • FC in Midlands, eg: Coventry back to Southampton port – several hundred pounds.
  • Find warehouse locally and then unload, reload on another truck and then ship into Amazon. So £2000 etc. easily.

Can you change this?

You could work with a Chinese manufacturer where loading is acceptable for Amazon to be received.

So it is worth going direct from China with a full container loader to Amazon then.

What about no. of units widely spread among multiple SKUs – from multiple suppliers?

Can consolidate within the same Province in China so you end up with one container rather than multiple LCLs.

Eg 5 suppliers – say 1 Beijing, 4 in Shenzhen would be better off sending the Beijing one separately.

Because most of the traffic comes from Southern China -especially Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai

Neil can assess what the most cost-effective approach is.

How do people explore working with Regional Express?

Please feel free to get in touch with the

Or call via the site +44 1794 516515

If you want to learn more from Neil, click here to listen to Episode 1: Importing From China to UK.


**Special deal for 10K Collective Listeners**

When you email/contact/call Regional Express, if you use the Promo code of “10K” you’ll get these bonuses:

Bonus 1:  VAT registration free of charge;

Bonus 2: discounted rates on VAT filing;

Bonus 3:  any freight bookings 10% discount till the end of 2019 (from Sept 1 -Dec 31 2019)


Other Freight/Importing help from Neil Curran:

Importing from China to UK

FBM for e-commerce


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