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January 25, 2024

Most business owners can relate to the frustrations of managing overseas freight logistics.

But with the right guidance and solutions, it’s possible to ship products internationally without the usual headaches.

In this article, we’ll explore the key pain points in ocean freight and outline strategies to streamline operations for smooth, cost-effective delivery.

Introduction

At Globex, we understand the complexities of international shipping and aim to provide hassle-free ocean freight services to businesses and individuals worldwide. In this article, we provide an overview of ocean freight shipping and explore some of the major pain points our customers commonly face.

We also summarize how our streamlined services and experienced team can help mitigate these frustrations through transparent communication, flexible solutions, and industry expertise nurtured over 27 years. By partnering with Globex for your ocean freight needs, you can avoid numerous headaches and ensure your cargo reaches its destination on time.

Understanding Ocean Freight and Current Challenges

Ocean freight shipping refers to the transportation of goods or cargo by sea, typically in intermodal containers loaded onto container ships. It accounts for over 80% of all international trade by volume.

However, the global shipping industry has faced severe strain recently, leading to widespread delays and disrupted supply chains. Some key factors behind these issues include:

  • Port congestions from surging demand and COVID-19 restrictions
  • Shortages of containers, ships, chassis, warehouse space and truck drivers
  • Ongoing geopolitical tensions like the Russia-Ukraine war

These bottlenecks have resulted in a recent surge of container shipping delays in 2023, frustrating shippers and consignees alike.

At Globex, we leverage our extensive logistics network and relationships with top carriers to navigate through unpredictable shipping delays. We provide complete visibility into your shipment’s status through proactive, personalized updates across every step of its journey.

If delays arise, our logistics experts swiftly conduct in-depth analyses to create contingency plans that mitigate disruptions. We utilize alternative routings, transport modes, carriers and consolidate shipments between destinations to circumvent congested ports and checkpoints.

This agility ensures your time-sensitive cargo continues moving without costly detours or penalties.

Common Headaches with Ocean Freight

Those unfamiliar with the intricacies of ocean freight often encounter frustrating headaches like:

Opaque Rate Quotes: Getting clear rates is vital, yet traditional freight forwarders often provide vague quotes omitting key surcharges. This lack of transparency leads to unexpected charges down the line.

Communication Gaps: Language barriers, unclear documentation requirements and inconsistent updates lead to miscommunications that severely disrupt supply chains.

Unexpected Delays: Hidden fees, port congestions, paperwork issues, carrier mishaps and other unforeseen hurdles routinely delay shipments without prior warning.

Rigid Solutions: Typical freight forwarders offer fixed shipping routes unable to adapt to evolving client needs or dynamic market conditions.

Benefits of Our Ocean Freight Services

At Globex, our ocean freight offerings directly target these pain points through:

  • All-Inclusive Rates – We provide guaranteed, upfront rates inclusive of all origin, destination, security and fuel charges. No surprise fees.
  • Fluent Communication – Our team speaks 12 languages, allowing seamless coordination across global partners. We provide proactive updates through preferred channels.
  • Proactive Monitoring – We track shipments in real-time across thousands of trade lanes, allowing rapid response to any changes.
  • Flexible Solutions – Our network offers versatile transit modes, carriers, routes and consolidation options to guarantee reliability.

By partnering with Globex as your ocean freight provider, you can avoid numerous headaches and ensure your cargo reaches its destination on time through our transparent, resilient and hassle-free services.

Why is ocean freight so high right now?

The past few years have seen significant volatility in ocean freight rates. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, ocean carriers cut capacity to hedge against falling demand. However, consumer spending rebounded faster than expected leading to tight capacity and record rate increases.

In 2023, high ocean freight rates continue to be driven by:

  • Ongoing supply chain disruptions: Port congestion, equipment shortages, and labor shortages continue to constrain capacity. For example, the Port of Los Angeles reported record backlogs in 2022 despite handling over 10 million TEU.
  • High fuel costs: Bunker fuel prices remain well above pre-pandemic levels, pushing up carrier operating costs. Fuel now accounts for about 60% of total voyage costs for container shipping compared to around 50% historically.
  • Peak season surcharges: Carriers have introduced new surcharges such as the "Emergency Revenue Charge" and "Peak Season Surcharge" to capitalize on high demand.

With lingering supply chain issues and growing recession concerns, most analysts expect ocean freight rates to ease but remain elevated compared to early 2020. Effective capacity management and utilizing intermodal transport where possible can help mitigate costs.

What is the difference between sea freight and ocean freight?

Ocean freight, also called sea freight, refers to the international transportation of goods by cargo ships sailing across oceans and seas. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences:

  • Sea freight is a broader term that encompasses all types of cargo transportation by sea between ports, including inland waterways like rivers and lakes in addition to oceans.
  • Ocean freight refers specifically to transoceanic shipping between seaports across oceans. It represents the majority of international sea freight.

Both utilize massive container, bulk carrier, refrigerated, tanker, and roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessels to transport goods globally. Most consumer products are carried in standardized shipping containers stacked on container ships.

The main advantage of sea and ocean freight is the ability to transport large volumes of goods efficiently across long distances, making it significantly cheaper than air freight. However, transit times range from several days to weeks depending on route, port handling times, etc.

Companies dealing with high volumes of goods and less time-sensitive deliveries frequently use ocean freight services. It offers huge economies of scale, forming the backbone of global trade and supply chains. Understanding the nuances between these terms can help shippers evaluate solutions for their international shipping needs.

How much is ocean freight per 40 container?

The cost of ocean freight varies greatly depending on factors like route, destination port, type of goods, and more. However, according to industry data, the average rate for a 40 ft. container is around $1,700 in 2023.

This rate is significantly lower than the inflated prices seen over 2020-2022 during pandemic-related delays and bottlenecks. Rates have come down from those exceptional highs but remain volatile due to ongoing issues like:

  • Port congestion
  • Equipment shortages
  • Rising fuel costs
  • Labor disputes

For context, the 10-year historical average rate prior to 2020 was about $2,700 per 40ft container. So current pricing represents nearly a 40% discount from that benchmark.

Specific route costs can deviate from the global average. As an example, freight rates from Shanghai to Rotterdam recently increased 7% ($99 per container) to $1,442. Despite some isolated rate hikes, the overall trend is still downwards.

In summary, base ocean freight costs have eased from pandemic highs but remain dynamic. Expect average rates around $1,700/container, with fluctuations depending on factors like destination, goods type, contract terms, and seasonal demand shifts. Reaching out to a logistics provider like Globex can provide up-to-date route-specific quotes. Their global network spans 220+ countries, providing the insights required to ship smarter.

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How much cheaper is sea freight?

Sea freight tends to be the most cost-effective option for exporting and importing cargo internationally.

The main reason for the significant cost difference between sea freight and air freight is that ships can carry much larger volumes at a lower operating cost per container. Whereas air cargo capacity is quite limited.

For example, one mid-size container ship may carry over 14,000 standard containers. The economies of scale make ocean freight incredibly affordable relative to air.

Cost comparison

A rule of thumb is that sending cargo via ocean can be around 10 to 20 times cheaper than air freight for comparable routes. Although the exact difference depends on many factors like:

  • Shipping route
  • Type of goods
  • Delivery timeframe

To give an idea, a standard 40 ft container from Asia to Europe may cost ~$2,000 by sea and upwards of $20,000 by air.

So for most non-urgent, high volume cargo – utilizing ocean freight leads to major cost reductions that aid international trade and businesses’ bottom lines.

Proactive Solutions to Ocean Freight Challenges

We understand the frustrations of ocean freight shipping delays in 2023. Between port congestions, equipment shortages, and evolving regulations, it can feel like the odds are stacked against smooth international logistics. However, through proactive solutions, strong carrier relationships, and smart technologies, we empower businesses to overcome these obstacles.

Instant Online Quotes

Our instant quote engine provides up-to-date ocean freight rates across major global trade lanes. By connecting directly with our trusted carriers, we can offer dynamic pricing adjusted to current market conditions. This self-service tool allows you to easily compare routes and services to find the best match for your cargo ready for online booking.

Intuitive Booking Platform

We designed our booking platform to simplify the documentation process. Step-by-step data entry fields ensure correct information is captured for customs clearance and sailing. Real-time validation checks help avoid costly delays due to errors. Automatic notifications on status changes provide visibility. With a few clicks, your ocean freight shipment is confirmed and ready to sail.

Flexible Payment Options

Managing international shipments requires financial flexibility. We provide diverse secure payment options including wire transfers, credit cards, PayPal, and integrated billing. This empowers you to select the most suitable method for your business. We also allow account customers to set up monthly invoicing to align with their cash flow. With financial processes streamlined, you can focus purely on your cargo.

By leveraging scalable technologies and collaborating closely with our logistics partners, we have developed resilience against prevalent shipping challenges. This enables us to provide predictability in ocean freight, ensuring your cargo sails smoothly from port to port.

Seamless Tracking and Communication

We enable customers to monitor shipment status and progress through user-friendly online tracking tools and proactive updates.

Real-Time Tracking to Address Shipping Delays

Our portal allows monitoring of up-to-date container locations and estimated arrival times throughout the journey, providing transparency during shipping delays. We understand the frustration that comes with delays and aim to ease worries through ongoing communication. By tracking your shipment in real-time via our online portal, you can stay informed if issues arise.

With up-to-the-hour location updates, you’ll know where your freight sits at all times. Whether stuck at port due to congestion or awaiting customs clearance, we provide complete visibility from origin to destination. This allows proactive planning around changing timelines, especially valuable for supply-chain operations.

Seeing a shipment’s progression firsthand also builds confidence in our services during trying industry-wide delays. We aim for that peace of mind by equipping you with the latest data to address problems head-on.

Shipment Status Notifications

We provide automatic alerts on key milestones like departures, arrivals, and customs clearances for complete visibility.

Get ongoing notifications as your freight reaches integral points along its route via email and SMS. Customizable alert triggers let you receive updates when:

  • Cargo gets loaded at origin
  • Vessel departs origin port
  • Shipment berths at destination
  • Containers get dispatched for final delivery
  • Customs releases cargo

By automating status alerts around pivotal moments, you need not wonder about your shipment’s journey. The system proactively reaches out as progress occurs.

Custom notifications give confidence through consistent touchpoints when managing international logistics. Instead of checking manually, let the information come to you.

Responsive Customer Support

Customers can easily contact our team through messaging, email, or phone to get support resolving any issues, including those caused by shipping delays.

Despite best efforts, hiccups happen, especially given volatile supply chain disruptions. We provide responsive support when you face problems via:

Live Chat
Get answers to questions and concerns fast through instant messaging.

Email Send inquiries for in-depth assistance and we’ll respond quickly.

24/7 Call Center
Speak to a logistics pro immediately by calling our helpline anytime.

From offering guidance on documents to advising on delay impacts, our team works hard to deliver excellence when solving issues. We know peace of mind comes from having reliable backup. So whether you have a quick question or severe problem, we’re here to help get things on track.

Strategies for Avoiding and Managing Delays

The ongoing disruptions in global shipping continue to cause delays in 2023. By analyzing the key factors, businesses can better understand the trends and anticipate potential issues:

  • Port Congestion – With the surge in demand after COVID-19, ports struggle to efficiently process the high volume of containers. This leads to long wait times before offloading.
  • Labor Shortages – The shipping industry faces a lack of qualified truck drivers, warehouse workers, etc. to handle operations. This slows down the supply chain.
  • COVID Outbreaks – Occasional COVID outbreaks in China and beyond lead to temporary factory/port shutdowns. This reduces output and causes backlogs.
  • Geopolitical Events – Issues like the war in Ukraine indirectly disrupt shipping lanes and access to certain materials.

By tracking new developments in these areas, companies can forecast periods of likely delays in 2023 and issue advanced warnings to stakeholders.

Implementing Contingency Plans

With the above insights, businesses can implement robust contingency plans to minimize supply chain disruptions:

  • Diversify Sources – Source from different ports, countries, and suppliers to avoid over-dependency. If one experiences delays, switch to alternatives.
  • Increase Safety Stock – Keep extra raw material and finished product inventory as a buffer against short-term delays.
  • Use Alternative Routes – Explore backup shipping routes even if more expensive, ensuring goods movement.
  • Communicate with Partners – Frequently update customers/suppliers on supply chain conditions so all can plan inventories accordingly.
  • Review Contracts – Include contingency terms with partners to sharing risk in case global events cause delays.

Leveraging Technology for Predictive Planning

Emerging technologies can provide enhanced forecasting to avoid container shipping delays:

  • AI Pattern Recognition – Advanced AI algorithms can detect early signals correlated with potential delays by analyzing millions of global shipping data points.
  • Simulation Modeling – Software models can simulate different delay scenarios and recommend optimal solutions like directing shipments to less congested ports.
  • Control Towers – Centralized data hubs integrate information from across the supply chain, providing end-to-end visibility to anticipate delays.

As part of digital transformation initiatives, maritime companies should invest in platforms providing predictive planning capabilities using technologies like AI and advanced analytics. This arms them with greater supply chain resilience.

Conclusion

At Globex, our goal is to provide a smooth and efficient ocean freight shipping experience for our customers. By leveraging technology and emphasizing communication and support, we aim to eliminate common headaches associated with ocean freight logistics.

Key Takeaways

Globex offers the following benefits to simplify ocean freight:

  • User-friendly online platform for quotes, booking, tracking – Reducing paperwork headaches
  • Proactive shipment status updates – Preventing communication issues
  • Dedicated account managers – Personalized support for any questions
  • Competitive pricing – Cost savings without sacrificing service
  • Years of global shipping expertise – Trusted guidance navigating regulations

With these core advantages, Globex streamlines ocean freight shipping so you can focus on your business, not logistical obstacles. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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