How to Successfully Ship LCL Freight: Key Considerations and Steps

July 9, 2024
Ram Radhakrishnan
Founder & CEO


Exploring key considerations and steps to follow for successfully shipping LCL freight in an increasingly interconnected global landscape

How to Successfully Ship LCL Freight: Key Considerations and Steps

Shipping less than container load (LCL) freight may be cheaper than the full container load (FCL) freight, but it is much more complicated. This is primarily because of consolidation and the several handling processes the LCL shipment will most likely be forced to go through. It can make the entire process less than ideal for freight forwarders and the businesses or supply chains that leverage them.

However, certain considerations and steps can be explored for an optimal LCL shipping process. These considerations and steps can and will typically ensure the safety of the cargo and, in some cases, quicker deliveries. This article will explore some of these considerations and steps:

Key Considerations for Shipping LCL Freight

How to Successfully Ship LCL Freight: Key Considerations and Steps

There are several factors to consider before settling for an LCL logistics operation. They play a significant role in getting the goods from point A to B and optimizing the entire transportation process.

Cargo Suitability

The cargo you wish to transport must be suitable for LCL shipping.

This means being under a certain weight (typically less than 10,000 lbs) and size. However, even when smaller, it is important to consider the nature of the cargo. Fragile or perishable cargo does not fare well with LCL service and would typically need the FCL cargo delivery option. Cargo suitability also entails the preference of the supply chain. If the supply chain doesn’t want to expose the product to too much handling and inquiry, then FCL shipping will be a better option.


Consolidation is at the core of LCL shipping, and it is what makes the entire process work.

However, shippers usually have no control over the consolidation process, so they might not be able to ensure proper placement and packing. A major reason why working with a freight forwarding platform is important is because they optimize your shipping operations. When done right, the consolidation process will typically entail goods of the same nature or suitability, and the destination will often determine the place.

For instance, LCL shipments traveling further will be placed at the back, and those with closer destinations will be placed in front. This way, the handling is more streamlined, and cargo, despite the distance, is less exposed.

Packaging and Labeling

Packaging also plays a significant role in determining the success of the LCL freight. It is important for your supply chain to package the LCL cargo properly and securely to withstand the handling involved throughout the LCL shipping operation. Doing this will typically entail considering pallets, boxes, and cushioning materials.

On the other hand, we have labeling, which basically means taking measures to ensure the cargo can be easily identified. This plays a significant role in avoiding missing goods. Labeling can be done with ample information on the boxes, or shippers can use unique markings to tell their cargo apart.

Cost Efficiency

Ideally, LCL freight is cheaper than shipping FCL (full container load) because you do not have to pay for the entire container space. However, additional charges like consolidation fees and handling fees can quickly increase the cost of shipping. Negotiating thoroughly with the freight forwarder and being clear on potential charges your supply chain or business can tolerate is important. On the other hand, if you are willing to pay these charges, always be clear about how they are calculated and billed. This will help you avoid unnecessary expenses that could weaken supply chain management.

Transit Time

Because of the consolidation and handling processes, LCL freight takes longer than the average FCL shipment. It is important to factor this longer transit time into the supply chain planning and logistics process because it will help you make better decisions, better customer promises, and better forecasts.

Steps to Follow To Ship LCL Freight Successfully

Although the shipper is not the primary transporter of the LCL cargo, the shipping process will not be complete without the shipper. Therefore, every shipper must integrate the following steps into their shipping and logistics management process to ensure a successful LCL logistics operation.

Step 1: Choose a Reliable Freight Forwarder

Choosing a reliable freight forwarding business or platform is critical because they can leverage their resources, expertise, and experience to make the entire process as seamless as possible. Before choosing one, consider their reputation in the market, history of service, and the relationships and resources available to them.

Step 2: Get and Compare Quotations

The price plays a significant role, and a fractional change could impact the LCL logistics. It is important to get quotations and compare for the best option, but remember that the lowest cost doesn’t necessarily mean the best option. When getting quotations, ensure that accurate information about the LCL shipment is provided, including size, nature, and weight.

Step 3: Booking and Documentation

When satisfied with the choice of freight forwarder, the next step in getting the LCL logistics process going is booking the shipment with the freight forwarder. Give the freight forwarder an estimated time when the cargo will be ready for shipping, then provide all the necessary documentation that will be needed during shipping. Documentation must include a bill of lading, commercial invoice, customs declaration, and certificate of origin.

Step 4: Packing and Labeling

As mentioned earlier, packing and labeling protect the goods from potential damage and loss. The shipper must ensure proper packaging and labeling before handing it over to the freight forwarder.

Step 5: Cargo Collection and Consolidation

This step is the point of handover and depends on the freight forwarder's agreement. The cargo could be delivered to the freight forwarder’s facility, or the freight forwarder may pick it up. The goods, upon collection, are taken to a warehouse where the consolidation will take place.

Consolidation combines several smaller shipments, usually of the same nature, with destinations on the same shipping route to get a full container load. This way, the shippers only have to pay for the space they occupy in the container.

Step 6: Loading, Shipping, Unloading, and Customs Clearance

After consolidation, the next step of the LCL shipping process is the shipping and customs clearance when the cargo arrives at the container freight station. Between these are the loading and unloading processes from the carrier vessels, which could be time-consuming, depending on the number of containers the carrier is transporting. The customs clearance comes last on this list, and the freight forwarder and documentation will ensure it goes smoothly.

Step 7: Deconsolidation and Final Delivery

Deconsolidation is done after customs clearance at a warehouse or transloading facility. From here, the shipper can arrange to pick it up and deliver it to the final destination.

How PawnIt Leveraged Silq To Become An International Brand

Being an international pawn shop was never ideal, but the owners of PawnIt had a global picture in mind for their business, and nothing was going to stop them. The only problem was mastering how to ship efficiently.

Two things were critical if they were going to succeed: they needed to understand the market and the shipping solutions to make an informed decision. And they needed to partner with a freight forwarder who could help them make sense of the complexity of international shipping.

Luckily, the company and its supply chain could kill two birds with one stone by partnering with Silq. Silq is a freight forwarding platform with experience helping businesses of all sorts make sense of the shipping world. More importantly, it had handled thousands of shipping operations at this point, meaning that the company was well-positioned as the best platform to take PawnIt to the next level.

To start, Silq explained LCL and FCL shipping to the owners of PawnIt, allowing them to decide on the best solution for their supply chain. The result was obvious - LCL shipping solution. The next step was educating the team on what LCL shipping meant, the key considerations, and the steps to ensure that they did their part to ensure seamless operations. These included packaging and labeling, documentation, understanding cargo suitability, consolidation and its limitations, and finally, cost efficiency.

When the team was ready, the next step of the process was to commence shipping operations. PawnIt opened up its business to international clients, and businesses began pouring in because of a strong social media and marketing campaign. Silq was with the supply chain every step of the way, and the first of many shipping operations went off without a hitch. Primarily because Silq was able to work with and educate them on how to leverage LCL freight and ship it successfully.

Shipping LCL Freight With Silq

Silq is a full-service freight forwarding platform leveraging technology, expertise, and experience to ensure your supply chain has a seamless LCL logistics experience. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is through ocean freight or air freight. We are there with you every step of the way. Get started with us today.

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