Top Shipping Methods for Export Businesses: A Comprehensive Guide

Shipping in export import business

You have set up an import-export business and taken care of all its aspects. The next important step is to figure out the mode of shipping to get your product/service delivered. The blog below discusses the different types of shipping options available for transporting goods to another country.

Land, water, and air are the three modes of shipping in global trade. Water is one of the best methods to transport high-volume goods. While land being the most fuel-efficient method of transport through trains and conventional trucks. Simultaneously, Air is the suitable mode of transportation to deliver fast shipments.

Different Modes of Shipping for Export Businesses:


Shipping by Air is best when the shipment needs to be delivered quickly and efficiently. Air freight uses aircraft to transport goods, the fastest and most expensive shipping mode. This reduces the transit time and is mainly used for shipping items that are perishables, high-value, pharmaceutical, and fragile goods.


  • Best for small shipments 
  • Time efficient 
  • High safety standard
  • Delivered in 6-7 days
  • Delivery across the globe


  • Expensive
  • Limited cargo space
  • Susceptible to adverse weather
  • High Carbon footprint emission


Shipping through the land is one of the oldest forms of transport and is mainly used to deliver goods within a country or neighbouring borders.

Land Freight mainly uses trains or conventional trucks as they have substantial storage spaces for shipping goods like construction materials and sometimes even big vehicles. Land freight is a comparatively cheaper means of shipping than other means. However, delivering the goods to the final destination takes a slightly longer time. Furthermore, India has the largest network of railways in the world, so one can use it to its advantage and ship goods across the country.


  • Cost-effective
  • Suitable for short-distance deliveries
  • Flexible and door-to-door deliveries
  • Easy loading and unloading


  • Expensive for high-volume packages
  • Not suitable for palletized freight
  • Risk of theft
  • Different road rules and regulations for each country
  • Toll charges can vary


Sea freight is the most cost-efficient mode of transportation. It can transport large and heavy products across long distances, and it primarily uses a ship, boat, sailboat, or barge to transport the goods across a lake, river, sea, or ocean.

Sea freight is used for cross-border shipping for military and commercial purposes. The goods are packed in containers, which are further loaded into a vessel and shipped through the sea. However, it is not recommended when you want the goods delivered quickly.


  • Ideal for shipping heavy goods/ goods in bulk
  • Unlimited cargo storage capacity
  • Environment friendly
  • Safe mode of transportation
  • Product diversity and materials to transport


  • The slowest mode of shipping takes up to 8 weeks
  • Increased exposure to loss or damage
  • Chances of delayed arrival at port or even missed altogether
  • Onerous in terms of documentation

How do Businesses Choose the Right Shipping Partner?

Multiple aspects must be considered while choosing the right freight to transport goods to the final destination in order to reduce shipping and other logistics costs. Let us look at the factors one must consider while choosing a shipping partner.

Freight Cost

Cost is a critical factor to consider if you plan to transport your goods to another country. Pricing can vary based on the type and amount of goods transported. Sea transport is the most likely means of transport as it is cheaper and suitable for heavier items with no time constraints to reach the final destination.  Perishable items are best suited to be transported through air, as it is an expensive mode of transportation.

Pro Tip: Importers and exporters should check the “hidden cost,” which is an insurance charge added to the overall transportation cost.

Type of Goods

The type of goods you transport plays a vital role in deciding the mode of transportation. Land and air transportation caters to smaller items, and the rail and sea can be used to transport heavier goods from one place to another. 

The shipping mode can vary depending on how fragile or high-value your product is. If you are planning to deliver high-value and fragile products, you should consider transporting or shipping the goods by land and air.

Time of Delivery

More than 55% of businesses opt for shipping services that offer faster delivery. Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, and despite being expensive, businesses mostly opt for air freight to provide efficient and faster delivery to their customers and ensure high customer satisfaction.

Safety and Security

The safety standard varies from one shipping company to another, but it is essential to choose a trustworthy logistic service provider to avoid risk and maintain the integrity of the supply chain. 

The safest form of shipping is via air. The sea is the riskiest means of transportation, as it’s often exposed to typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, floods, and more. Land can be considered safer than water.

Some other Factors to Consider while Choosing the Right Shipping Partner include:

  • Weight limits
  • Delivery experience
  • Insurance
  • Pricing
  • International shipping

Final Thoughts

All modes of transportation, whether land, air, or sea, play a vital role in the country’s economy. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so making an informed decision when choosing a shipping method for your export business is essential.

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