What is LCL Shipping: Everything You Need to Know

15 May, 2023

For smaller companies and individuals shipping items in lesser quantities, international shipping can be a daunting undertaking. Where LCL shipping comes in is at this point. Less than Container Load (LCL) shipping is a common option since it allows individuals and companies to send less than a full container’s worth of products at a more affordable rate.

However, for those unfamiliar with the process, LCL shipping can be overwhelming and perplexing

Everything from what LCL shipping is and why it’s useful, to how it works, and what you can do to ensure a smooth shipment, will be discussed in this blog. If you’re a retailer with a small inventory or just an individual who needs to ship some goods, read on to find out everything you need to know about LCL shipping.

What is LCL Shipping?

Full Container Load means that your shipment will take up the entire space allotted for it in a shipping container. If your shipment does not fill an entire container, it will be marked as LCL. To make better use of the container’s storage space, you can combine your consignment with others if that option is available. 

For companies who don’t need to send an entire container’s worth of goods, LCL shipping is a cost-effective solution. LCL shipping allows shippers to share the cost of a container with other companies transporting smaller loads. 

Less-than-Container-Load (LCL) shipping is beneficial in many situations, particularly when transporting small quantities of cargo. LCL shipping is a cost-effective way to transport smaller shipments that do not fill an entire container.

LCL Shipping vs. FCL Shipping

Distinctions LCL Shipping FCL Shipping
Full form Less than Container Load Shipping Full Container Load Shipping
Cost  Charged for volume of space goods take up in container Cost-effective if quantity shipped is sufficient to fill container
Transit Time Longer time as it is combined with other customers’ shipments Shorter time as only one shipment in the container


May vary depending on shipment’s origin, destination, amount of goods and extra services Volume discounts available but rates may increase due to container demurrage and detention fees
Consolidation Fees Charged for LCL shipments Not applicable if FCL shipment fills container
Optimal Strategy Evaluate shipping needs and work with a reputable logistics agency Determine optimal strategy with logistics agency based on shipment quantity, cost, and other factors


Benefits of LCL Shipping

When using LCL shipping, a number of smaller shipments are combined into one larger one. The benefits of LCL shipping include lower overall costs, greater market access, and less uncertainty. 

Decide about your shipment’s dimensions and weight, as well as the transit duration and local customs laws, before settling on LCL shipping. 

However, LCL shipping does have some drawbacks, such as longer transit times and the possibility of damaged or lost shipments.

Following are some of the LCL shipping benefits that make it an attractive option for shippers:


Smaller and medium-sized firms who don’t need to ship an entire container can save money by opting for less-than-container-load (LCL) shipping. Sharing a container with other shippers allows them to save money by not having to pay for a complete container themselves. Businesses can cut their transportation expenditures and shipping prices thanks to this.


Shippers don’t have to wait till they have enough products to fill a container because of LCL shipping. Smaller purchases can be shipped more often, allowing businesses to quickly adjust to changes in the market.

Reduced Risk

There is less potential for loss or damage with LCL shipping. Goods are safer in transit when numerous smaller shipments are combined into one container. Shipping firms that focus on LCL transport also tend to be more adept at handling and securing packages of a more modest size.


With low-cost LCL shipping options, even the smallest companies and sole proprietors may compete in global marketplaces. This has the potential to boost revenue and profitability for businesses.

Reduced inventory costs

Using LCL shipping, companies can save money on storage fees and increase profits. LCL shipping allows companies to send smaller quantities more frequently, reducing the need for stockpiling. In addition to lowering the possibility of overstocking, this can help firms save money on storage expenses.

Better carbon footprint

When compared to shipping with full containers, LCL can have a smaller environmental impact. This is due to the fact that LCL shipping companies make better use of empty container capacity and send fewer containers back unopened. As a result, less energy and fuel will be needed to transport the items, lowering the environmental impact.

Disadvantages of LCL Shipping:

Delay in delivery – LCL shipping can lead to delays as multiple shipments need to be consolidated, and customs clearance can be more time-consuming.

Handling risks – The consolidation of multiple shipments into a single container can increase the risk of mishandling and damage during loading and unloading.

Limited space – Space in the container is shared by multiple shippers, which can result in space constraints and limited cargo capacity.

Inefficient packaging – LCL shipping requires careful packaging to ensure that individual shipments are protected during transportation.

Higher cost per unit – Although LCL shipping can be more cost-effective for smaller shipments, the cost per unit may be higher compared to full container shipments.

Is LCL Shipping Right for Your Business?

For companies with fewer or smaller shipments, LCL shipping is the most cost-effective alternative. You may sell to a wider customer base, cut down on storage fees, and protect your inventory from harm. 

However, there are some drawbacks to LCL shipping, such as longer transit times and the possibility of damage or loss of goods. Think about your shipment’s dimensions and weight, as well as the transit duration and local customs laws, before settling on LCL shipping.


For companies with fewer shipments, LCL shipping is the most cost-effective alternative. You may sell to a wider customer base, cut down on storage fees, and protect your inventory from harm. 

Think about your shipment’s dimensions and weight, as well as the transit duration and local customs laws, before settling on LCL shipping. You may avoid the pitfalls of LCL shipping and guarantee on-time delivery by working with a reputable goods forwarder.


What is LCL shipping full form?

LCL stands for less than a container load.

What is the difference between LCL and FCL shipping?

LCL shipping means that your shipment does not fill an entire container and will be consolidated with other shipments to fill the container. FCL shipping means that your shipment fills an entire container

How is LCL cargo charged?

LCL shipping is charged based on the space your shipment takes up in the container. The more space your shipment takes up, the more you will pay.

What are some tips for using LCL shipping?

Some tips for using LCL shipping include planning ahead, packing your goods properly, choosing a reliable freight forwarder, and understanding customs regulations.

Is LCL shipping right for my business?

LCL shipping is a cost-effective option for businesses that have smaller shipments. However, before deciding on LCL shipping, consider the volume and weight of your shipment, the transit time, and the customs regulations in the destination country.

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