When shopping overseas, is it better to choose sea shipping or air shipping?

May 23,2024 · Industry News
Tags : dropshipping agent
sea shipping or air shipping
When choosing sea or air shipping for overseas orders from China to other countries, what factors in transportation must be considered

When choosing whether to ship by sea or air for overseas orders from China to other countries, factors such as transportation cost, speed, reliability, and the nature of the goods to be transported must be considered.

Comparison of sea freight and air freight

Choose sea shipping

Shipping by sea is usually much cheaper than shipping by air, especially for large quantities and heavy items. This makes it an economical option for bulk shipping. Ships can carry large amounts of cargo and are ideal for bulk shipping and businesses that need to transport large amounts of inventory. Ocean freight can accommodate a variety of cargo, including hazardous materials, oversized cargo, and heavy machinery that may not be suitable for air transport.

But ocean shipping can take weeks or even months, depending on the destination. This is not suitable for time-sensitive shipments. Ocean shipping involves multiple processing points (loading, unloading, customs clearance), which, coupled with port congestion, increases the risk of delays and damage. Compared to air freight, sea freight is more environmentally friendly and produces lower CO2 emissions per ton of cargo.

sea shipping vs air shipping

Choose air transport

Air freight is the fastest shipping method, usually taking just a few days, making it ideal for urgent and time-sensitive shipments. But air freight is much more expensive than ocean freight, making it less economical for large or heavy cargo. Air cargo has strict weight and size restrictions and may not be suitable for all types of cargo.

Airlines operate on a fixed schedule, providing more predictable and reliable delivery times than ocean freight. Air freight typically requires less handling and shorter transit times, reducing the risk of damage and theft.

Decision considerations when choosing sea or air freight

emergency level

Air freight is much faster than sea freight, with transit times ranging from 1 to 7 days, depending on the destination. Ocean shipping can take weeks or even months, making it unsuitable for time-sensitive shipments. If fast delivery is critical, such as for perishable goods or to meet urgent customer needs, air freight is the better option.

For time-sensitive shipments that need to reach their destination quickly, choose air freight. For shipments that are not urgent and can withstand longer transit times, choose sea shipping.


If cost is the main consideration, ocean shipping is the more economical option, especially for large quantities. For smaller, high-value items, use air freight, where the speed and reliability can justify the cost.

Ocean shipping vessels have a much larger cargo capacity and are suitable for bulk transport or large quantities of cargo. Air freight has weight and size restrictions and may not be suitable for oversized or extremely heavy shipments.

Nature of goods

For heavy, bulky or non-perishable items, sea shipping is often more practical.

For perishable, high-value or time-sensitive items, air freight is a better option.

Environmental and weather considerations

If sustainability is a priority, sea shipping has a lower carbon footprint, making it a greener option. Air freight is more reliable and less susceptible to weather-related delays or disruptions. Ocean shipping may be affected by adverse weather conditions, port congestion, or other unforeseen circumstances, resulting in potential delays.

If speed and reliability are top considerations, air freight from China to other countries is the better option, albeit at a higher cost. However, if cost is a major consideration and shipping is not time-sensitive, ocean shipping can offer significant savings, especially for larger or heavier shipments. Businesses should carefully evaluate their specific needs, weigh the pros and cons of each shipping method, and choose the option that best meets their priorities and budget constraints.

If necessary, you can consult professional procurement and transportation service provider CNstorm, who will provide personalized suggestions and solutions based on your actual situation.