1: Shipping bulk items: Possibly they can be shipped ‘knocked-down’ and re-packed to take up less space, which enables you to fit more cargo in a 40’ container.  Additionally, if shipping the same mix of cargo on a regular basis, investigate the packing plan for how the good are packed inside the container and see if a schematic packing plan will enable more goods to be shipped within each container.

2: Match your cargo to the container; one size does not fit all. Weight cargo is best shipped in a 20’ container; measure cargo in a hi-cube 40.’  It’s important to use the container most appropriate to your cargo and note that what’s best for the carrier or NVOCC is not necessarily best for the shipper.

3: Ship a mix of weight and measure products within the same box. Weight cargo takes up far less space; it’s likely the contents of a 20’ box can be spread amongst 3 or 4 40’ boxes along with the already-scheduled measure cargo. Not shipping that 20’ box is the best savings of all.

4: Use your database to see how many 20’ and 40’ containers you ship monthly, quarterly, annually to what destinations, and then talk to your carrier. Sharing this information will enable him to schedule his equipment to best serve you and reduce his price accordingly.

5: Tie any fuel adjustment surcharges to the price of Brent Crude or another oil-indexed exchange; when the price of oil drops, this gives you the ability to get the surcharge removed.

6: Backhaul rates: The major freight lanes are China-N Europe Inbound and China-North America Inbound, with resulting container and freight rate imbalances. A large-volume shipper can use this to his advantage, as can someone interested in increasing market share in China or Asia;  this is an opportune time to approach your carrier about some very favorable out-bound rates; a few years ago rates Long Beach-China were \$ 100 / 20’ for a volume shipper; use the opportunity of reduced outbound rates as a tool to break into new markets – or to spread your margin in your existing ones.

Cutting costs is easy; however real savings come from increased efficiency. A big shipper can always negotiate E 20-25 to be knocked off the price of each container; the goal is to re-think your weight-packing-packaging requirements and ship 15% fewer containers annually – that’s a sure-fire method and permanent method of improving your bottom line.

Thanks to patrikxeneta