CAI Transportation Blog

Why Cheap International Shipping Isn’t Worth It

cheap international shipping

If your company ships items internationally, you know how expensive and complicated it can be to get your goods to their destination safely and on time. There are many reasons for this, including variations in customs and regulations, fluctuating fuel and labor costs, and the challenges of maintaining visibility during the shipping process.

When choosing a carrier to ship your items, it may be tempting to cut through the clutter by singling out the shipper with the lowest price point. With pressure to focus on your bottom line and to maximize profits, it’s understandable that you’d look for low cost international shipping to save money. However, focusing exclusively on a low price without taking other crucial factors into consideration can be a costly mistake.

The bottom line is that international shipping can be expensive if you want to get it right. When shopping around for a good price, you’ll likely find that most established carriers charge about the same amount, with small variations. So, when you see a carrier offering a much lower price than their competitors, it should raise a red flag.

Here are a few reasons why cheap international shipping isn't always worth it:


The cheapest option is often less reliable

In order for a carrier to provide discounted international shipping, they have to cut corners internally. That can come in the form of reduced concern for the safety of the goods they’re moving, or a lax approach to timetables or regulations. If you’re shipping fragile or perishable products, this may be concerning as the last thing you want is to have your goods damaged along the route.


The cheapest option may offer less visibility

Dependable carriers should be able to provide clear visibility and answer questions about where your goods are at any given time. When you’re on a tight timeline with manufacturers, distributors, or customers, it’s not ideal to be left wondering where your products are. But for carriers who offer bargain-basement rates to move your goods, communication and visibility are often among the first services to be cut.


The cheapest option usually provides inadequate customer service

One way that lower-priced carriers bring down their internal cost is to work with a reduced staff. This means there may not be anyone standing by to answer your questions or address any roadblocks that arise in the process. Should anything unexpected come up and your original plans need to be adjusted, it’s important to have someone responsive on the carrier side who can help formulate an alternate plan or accommodate the new circumstances.

Even if you’ve had relatively uneventful experiences with low-cost carriers in the past, the odds are not in your favor as problems are likely to arise on future trips. Your reputation and the safety of your products depends on you choosing to use reliable and responsible carriers. Cheap international shipping is not worth the risk of loss, liability, and damaged relationships with your supply chain partners.

Working with an experienced third party logistics (3PL) partner is a great way to save yourself time and frustration. Instead of trying to sort through your many options to get your items where they need to go, you can rely on your 3PL to find the right fit and capacity for you. They can ensure that the carriers responsible for your goods are reliable, cost-effective, and communicative. Isn’t your company’s profitability and reputation worth it?