Complete Guide: 7 Ways to Save Alibaba Shipping Costs-DFH

Alibaba remains one of the world’s biggest and most popular e-commerce platforms. While we have extensively covered how to shop on this platform, we realize that buyers often find it challenging to ship finished goods after their orders have been completed. When shipping on Alibaba, there are many things to consider, the biggest of which is cost.

In international shipping, there are many cost factors to look out for, and a new buyer might end up paying way more than necessary when trying to ship their goods. 

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Alibaba shipping and how to save costs when shipping your products on Alibaba. Ready? Let’s dive in.

How to Ship from Alibaba for the first time

How to Ship from Alibaba for the first time

When ordering for the first time on Alibaba, the best thing to do is to discuss with your supplier to help with shipping. This way, he simply adds the extra charges to the invoice, and you avoid the stress of going through many details for the first time.

One of the first things to think about when shipping is the mode of shipping- should it be ocean freight, air courier, or air freight? You must consider the type, weight, volume, and destination of the goods before selecting the shipping method.

Generally, any goods you’re shipping that are under 200 pounds or 100kg should preferably be sent by air through logistics or courier services like FedEx, DHL, or UPS. This is faster, more effective, and simpler. All you need to do is tell your supplier where to send your goods. However, you’ll have to pay an average of $10 per pound, which might be a little costly.

Goods weighing more than 200 pounds or 100kg can be shipped using air or ocean freight/sea freight. Both of these freight options usually need the services of a freight forwarder.

Although more expensive, air freight service is best for items weighing 100 kg to 800 kg. Delivery typically takes between 8 and 15 days.

Ocean freight typically transports bulky items and takes about a month to arrive. Compared to air freight, this method is more economical, but it can also be challenging. But as a general rule, air freight is almost always less expensive and much more convenient for shipments under 200 kg.

The most affordable option is typically ocean freight for any shipment weighing more than 200 kg. Ocean freight has high basic costs, but the price reduces the heavier the goods being transported. 

Due to the very lenient de minimis regulations in the US, no duty will be assessed on goods shipped that are valued at less than $800.

Alibaba Shipping methods list

Alibaba Shipping methods list  - DFH global Logistics

These are the various shipping methods that can be used on Alibaba. We’ll try to mention the various shipping costs as we explain them.

Air freight

Air freight

The movement of goods from one airport to another by air is known as air freight. International air freight services is one of the quickest methods for shipping large packages from China to other countries at low shipping costs. This method works well when there are short deadlines or stricter security controls, and the cargo is medium weight, usually greater than 100kg but less than 800kg. There is typically a minimum weight requirement for air freight. It also requires the services of freight forwarding companies or a freight forwarder to help with Alibaba shipping costs.

You should be aware of the following before placing an order to have your goods air freighted from a factory in China to your destination: 

  • Documents needed before shipping
  • Approximate time of delivery
  • How the cost per weight of good and shipping fee was calculated
  • The cost of the total shipment
  • To save the stress involved with Air freight, you can make use of DFH as your freight forwarder.
  • DFH offers a transit time of 1-3 days. In very long distance scenarios, a maximum of 5 days. We also help with all documents needed, including Airway bills, commercial invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, and insurance certificates. DFH also offers free warehousing, low shipping fee, customs clearance, and free pick-up of goods from suppliers.

Ocean freight

Ocean freight

Ocean freight, also known as sea freight, is a mode of transporting goods through ships on the sea. Although shipping by sea can take a very long time, it can carry enormous amounts of diverse cargo, which lowers costs. This is why it is a viral means of goods shipping. Ocean freight services are also provided by a freight forwarder or freight forwarding companies.

Ocean freight from China involves two types of shipping- FCL and LCL. They are differentiated based on the size of the container used.

FCL = Full Container Load

LCL = Less (than) Container Load

Full Container Load or FCL is a term in the ocean shipping industry that refers to purchasing one or more full containers for transportation by ship. In an FCL shipment, one shipper owns all of the goods inside the entire shipping container. The cargo in the container does not have to be fully loaded if one shipper owns a full container load. A full container load is usually 20ft x 40ft.

LCL refers to Less Container Load. It is used when a shipper does not have enough product to fill an entire container, so he books his cargo to allow him to load alongside other shipments. Since your items share containers with those of other customers when shipping LCL, cargo from various buyers arrives in a single container; when the shipment reaches the final destination, each shipment will be separated and distributed to the owners. Usually, this helps to save shipping cost and is widely used in sea freight.

The most essential documents for ocean freight shipments include a Bill of lading, commercial Invoice, packing list, customs declaration forms, and transport insurance.

Ocean freight is the cheapest form of good transport, and very bulky orders can be transported through these means. Ocean freight is also the most environmental shipping method, and containers are sealed tight to ensure security during transit. However, the long transit time is often discouraging.

Even though it takes a longer time to arrive, sea freight is still the best option if you can wait and plan ahead. Goods are generally expected to arrive between 30 and 60 days, depending on the destination address.

Usually, there are several sizes available for shipping containers, and buyers can choose depending on their needs. If you need help with choosing the right container, then contact us at DFH. We will advise on the best container type, moderate the supply chain, and help you arrange for it at a very competitive price.

FCL OR LCL? Which to choose?

FCL OR LCL Which to choose  - DFH global Logistics

It is safer to transport goods with FCL because they can easily be tracked directly through the shipping company. There will be a lesser risk of cargo getting lost or damaged because there wouldn’t be as many people handling your cargo. Safety of cargo is a very important consideration in international trade, whether air or sea freight. Freight forwarding companies consider this a lot, as with air shipping.

It is also easier to process FCL cargoes, unlike with LCL, where there’s the need to consolidate the cargo with those of others first. 

LCL goods also take about 2 weeks additional transit time than FCL due to consolidation and deconsolidation of goods. 

Given these advantages, it is sometimes more economical to choose a half-full FCL container than LCL. To save costs on Alibaba, we advise that you choose LCL for cargo size less than 8cbm and FCL when greater than 15cbm.

Rail freight (for European countries)

Rail freight (for European countries)  - DFH global Logistics

Rail freight is a mode of transportation that ships goods by train from China to European countries. Nowadays, shipping goods between China and Europe via rail is becoming more and more appealing, and it has become a popular transportation means.

Rail freight shipping offers better rates than air freight, and a much shorter transit time than ocean freight, with delivery times ranging between 20-25 days. These advantages have made rail freight a very attractive transport proposition for several companies all over the world. 

Documents needed for rail shipping include a commercial invoice, railway bill of lading, certificate of origin, and packing list.

DFH loads about 10-15 containers every day from China to Europe by Rail freights. This high capacity helps to ensure we can attend to many clients. We also offer full container load railway freight service and Less container load rail freight service, which helps cover buyers’ different needs.

Express Alibaba shipping

Express Freight - DFH global Logistics

Express freight is the fastest and most efficient means of good delivery from China without compromising quality. Express freight is a term that describes time-sensitive shipments that must be delivered quickly, often within 24 hours or less. This type of shipping typically has higher costs than standard shipping methods. It is a very effective shipping method to ship goods by air because it is quick, dependable, and affordable. If you’re short on shipment delivery time, express freight is the right choice. Express Freight shipping methods from China include DHL/UPS/FEDEX/TNT and SF Express.


When working with DFH, we can provide different methods of express freight for your Alibaba shipments, including DHL/UPS/FEDEX and SF Express.

Express freight is a door-to-door shipping method and is a good choice if you don’t want to travel to pick up goods at the port. The carrier sends the goods directly to your door when you use express freight. 

Shipping from China to the USA and some Asia countries by SF express is also a good choice.

The following documents are required for express freight to ensure that shipments proceed smoothly and without delay: Commercial invoice, proforma invoice, certificate of origin, packing list, and transport insurance.

Other variations of Express freight include:

Express Freight combined with Air freight.

Express Freight combined with Air freight.

This refers to the transportation of goods with a courier company. DFH combines express and air freight with companies like DHL, FedEx, TNT, and UPS. You can track packages online and receive quick deliveries using our courier service. A tracking number is attached to each package that can assist in resolving issues when they arise. Most courier shipments arrive anywhere in the world in just 3–5 business days. This might be your most straightforward method if you start on Alibaba shipping.

Express Freight combined with Ocean freight

Express Freight combined with Ocean freight - DFH global Logistics

This excellent door-to-door transportation method involves transporting the goods through the sea to a popular port and then using express freight for inland transportation or to a country not too far away. 

Express freight combined with Rail freight.

Express freight combined with Rail freight. - DFH global Logistics

DFH can also help transport your goods through rail freight to any European country, then airlift it to your destination address to ensure an extremely quick delivery. Then after the goods arrive at the port, Use Express Freight to transport them to your door in any European country.

Truck freight combined with Air/Ocean/Rail freight.

Truck freight is mainly an inland form of transportation. After containers or packages must have arrived by the ocean, rail, or air, they are transported using large trucks to the delivery address.

The truck driver may have to make multiple trips to complete the delivery. This is in contrast to rail or air transportation, which involves a single trip from the originating point to the destination.

Truck freight is generally less expensive than air freight, but it takes longer for products to arrive when they are shipped by truck. This is because trucks can only travel on certain roads and highways and have speed limits in most countries.

What is the cheapest method of shipping on Alibaba?

What is the cheapest method of shipping on Alibaba - DFH global Logistics

The cheapest method of Alibaba shipping is Ocean freight. This is the way to go if you need low costs for large goods. Even large and bulky goods can be transported at affordable freight costs using ocean freight. It helps to improve your market price. While the time is longer, if that can’t meet your requirements. This is is the cheapest method of Alibaba shipping but not means the best Solution.

It is also evident that the most expensive mode of shipping is express freight.

However, all options have perks, advantages, and disadvantages that revolve around transit time, cost, and the size of goods transported.

As mentioned earlier, once the products exceed 200 pounds from the Chinese supplier, you should start considering air, rail, or ocean freight. 

When purchasing from Alibaba, you can always check to see if your suppliers have a particular shipping method they could use for you. When trying to save costs on Alibaba, you should consider using a freight forwarder like DFH. They will negotiate every aspect of the excellent transportation for you and offer the best rates and time for delivery.

What is the average Alibaba shipping time?

What is the average Alibaba shipping time - DFH global Logistics

Before shipping on Alibaba, buyers must have negotiated with the suppliers on the production and order preparation duration. To reduce risks such as poor quality of goods, buyers must carefully choose their suppliers.

After the order has been completed, the next is shipping. We are the right freight forwarder who provides Alibaba shipping services.

Depending on the order, the logistics shipment process can take anywhere between 5 days and 2.5 months. Larger orders require more production and shipping time.

If your order can be shipped via air express, it should arrive in 3 to 10 business days.

Alibaba shipping times range from 5 to 10 days if using air freight and 20 to 45 days if using rail freight. For Ocean freight, it might take over 1-2 months or more than 30 days at the very least. depends on the delivery address, export time, and shipping address in China.

Why is Alibaba shipping so expensive?

Why is Alibaba shipping so expensive

Because of the distance, shipping goods from China can be very expensive. Other reasons include the following:

  1. Shopping and shipping from different sellers on Alibaba. To solve this, If you have multiple Alibaba dealers, you should ask them to send all the goods to the DFH warehouse. Then we will consolidate the goods for you for free and deliver them all to you.
  2. Using the wrong shipping Incoterms. Buyers must understand the shipping incoterms and the right ones to use so they avoid wasting money unnecessarily. You can check out shipping incoterms here to understand better. DFH can help you arrange shipping easily to avoid going through this stress.
  3. Long distances: The heavier the goods and the farther the distance from the destination, the higher Alibaba will charge for shipping.
  4. Bad discount negotiation skills. Many buyers do not know how to apply for discounts when shipping on Alibaba. Using DFH as your freight forwarder helps to solve this.
  5. Using the wrong mode of transportation. Another reason why shipping from Alibaba might be extra expensive is that buyers use the wrong mode of transport to ship. Sometimes, choosing a half container for FCL might be cheaper than using LCL. But not all buyers know how to calculate this, thereby running into higher shipping costs. Again, using a freight forwarder helps to cater to these problems.
  6. Bad Freight Forwarder cooperation. If you don’t find a suitable China Alibaba shipping freight forwarder, then the un- reasonable shipping price is one of the most important reasons. 

If you’re not ordering a customized product, you can choose to buy on AliExpress, Alibaba’s sister site. You can get huge discounts or even free shipping by using AliExpress.

What is the best shipping method for Alibaba?

What is the best shipping method for Alibaba

Finding the right balance between money and time is very important to know the best shipping method on Alibaba. You must consider the type, weight, volume, and destination of the goods before selecting the shipping method. You can consider three methods accordingly:

1. Choose an air courier such as DHL/UPS/FEDEX. for goods under 100kg. It is very fast and saves costs.

2. Choose Airfreight services for goods between 100kg to 800kg. It is also a fast means of transport on average (5 to 10 days) but more expensive than Ocean freight.

3. Lastly, choose Ocean freight for bulk items. You can also choose Full Container Load (FCL) or Less Container Load (LCL), depending on the size of your goods. This method takes over a month for delivery. A freight forwarder usually offers both LCL and FCL shipping services.

The simplest method to get the best shipping method for your Alibaba shipment is to Contact an experienced expert in the DFH team to make an offer for your reference before shipping.

What is Alibaba Freight Forwarder?

What is Alibaba Freight Forwarder

An Alibaba freight forwarder is a professional company that is an integral part of the global supply chain. They specialize in arranging the transport of goods by land, air, or sea and rail.

They act as an intermediary between the shippers and the final carriers of the goods. They are also responsible for coordinating all aspects of the shipment, from procurement and booking to tracking and delivery.

Alibaba freight forwarders help with international shipping, providing stress-free services and quick delivery. They do not move the goods but help handle logistics and networking to ensure free movement and delivery. One of the most reputable freight forwarders in China is DFH. Click here to contact us or inquire about our services.

Alibaba Shipment Charge weight-Dimensional weight VS Gross weight.

Alibaba Shipment Charge weight-Dimensional weight VS Gross weight.

Weight is one of the biggest factors that influences the cost of goods in a shipment.

When calculating the shipping price, there are two weight concepts to consider. This is the Gross weight (actual weight) and the Dimensional weight.

Gross Weight or Actual weight

This is the exact weight of the product, i.e., the actual weight, including packaging. 

Dimensional Weight or Gross weight

This considers the package’s volume(size of the cartons), considering its length, width, and height.

Dimensional weight for Express freight equals package volume/500000,

Dimensional weight for traditional sea freight equals package volume/1000000, by CBM. and 1:500. that means one CBM should not be more than 500KG.

In contrast, Dimensional weight for door-to-door sea freight equals package volume/6000.

The dimensional weight for air freight is calculated as package volume/6000.

The final shipping cost will be determined using the “billable weight,” which is the greater of the two weights (actual vs. dimensional). 

When gross weight > volumetric weight, the final chargeable weight for that shipment is the gross weight. In contrast, when the volumetric weight > gross weight, the final chargeable weight for that shipment is the volumetric weight.

For cargo in containers, the chargeable volume will depend on the total cubic meter vs. the gross weight in tons. 

It would be best to work with your supplier to package your products as efficiently as possible with the smallest package volume to reduce your Alibaba shipping costs. If you anticipate regular shipments, talk to your supplier about packaging options, and you’ll be able to reduce the freight cost significantly.

7 Tips to save Alibaba shipping costs

7 Tips to save Alibaba shipping costs

Having largely discussed the various factors that influence shipment costs, then how can you save Alibaba Shipping costs? Here we have 7 tips for your reference.

Package Optimization

Alibaba bases its shipping fees on the volume or weight of the purchased goods, 

Therefore, you can save money by maximizing the packaging to decrease the package volume. If there is extra space on your package, you will have to pay for it. Ensure you discuss this with your supplier. DFH helps in repacking clients’ goods for free to ensure cost-effectiveness during shipping.

Shipment Consolidation 

You can consolidate your goods by combining smaller quantities of goods to create a larger quantity. This method is another great strategy to reduce Alibaba’s shipping costs.

Request your suppliers to deliver the goods directly to the DFH warehouse, and we will help store and consolidate your shipments till you’re ready for shipping, even if they’re from different suppliers.

Find the Right shipping route.

Several routes may be available to transport your goods to their destination, but you must select the most affordable to save money and time.

The freight forwarder will help you analyze the most effective and efficient routes for your goods transit.

Avoid shipping during busy seasons or before China Holidays.

Shipping in and around Chinese holidays causes unnecessary delays and increases costs. This is because only a few shipping companies would be willing to work during this period, and regular shipping prices skyrocket. Popular holidays include the Chinese new year, labor day, and the mid-autumn festival.

Ship out from Sea Ports or Airports near your China Suppliers.

You can easily save some cost of transporting to ports by shipping close to where the products were manufactured. DFH can help you pick up your goods for free from the suppliers. This is a viable option because we inspect product quality before taking your goods to the warehouse. This way, you’ll reduce the inland transportation cost.

Compare prices with different freight forwarders.

Select the very best freight forwarders for your products. It is good to compare different freight forwarders to know your best price. You should, however, avoid outrageously low prices because they may be fraught with future hidden charges or may come with some loss of your goods in any form. Choose DFH as your China freight forwarder.

Cooperate with an Experienced China freight forwarder.

When importing from China, you should hire freight brokers like DFH to handle the shipping and customs clearance. There are lots of other benefits to hiring us as your freight forwarders. We have a strong network of forwarders across the globe to ensure your goods can be delivered quickly to any part of the world without the stress of import duties and customs clearance.

How to ship from Alibaba using freight forwarders?

How to ship from Alibaba using freight forwarders?

When shipping with freight forwarders, you should be familiar with shipping incoterms- which are international trade terms used to specify how, where and when cargo can be transferred.

After contacting the freight forwarder, you should give them some information about your products. You can easily get this from your suppliers. This information includes:

  • Freight shipping method- Rail, air, or ocean
  • Total volume of cargo(cbm) and weight(kg)T
  • Dimensions of packaging
  • Incoterm to be used.
  • Port destination address and final delivery address.
  • Availability of Insurance- We can provide this for your goods at very cheap rates.

We will still confirm this information, but giving us earlier helps us to provide an approximate quotation.

Once the products are in our hands, you can sit back and relax. DFH will handle every aspect of your logistics till it is delivered to your hands.

Documents for Alibaba shipments you need to provide

Shipping from Alibaba documents you need to provide

Commercial invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, customs declaration forms, and bill of lading are regular documents required for shipping and customs clearance. These documents are needed for easy passage at the destination country’s border. If you’re using air freight, you provide an Airway bill instead of a bill of lading.

Do I need Insurance when shipping from Alibaba?

Do I need Insurance when shipping from Alibaba?

Yes, you do! All importers are strongly encouraged to buy the proper insurance when bringing goods from China into their country. While cargo insurance is a popular insurance policy, damages to cargo during shipping are assessed by weight, not their commercial value. Buyers may not get the full amount to cover their loss from the carrier.

We, therefore, recommend getting shipping insurance from us, which comes at much lower costs and covers all risks incurred during transit.

Typically, we calculate insurance based on the value of the goods, the type of cargo, and the route of transportation to be used. When you become our clients, we can also offer product insurance that covers lost products or sales right after goods have been manufactured.

How Can You Review Your Alibaba Shipment to Avoid Future Problems?

How Can You Review Your Alibaba Shipment to Avoid Future Problems

Here are a few things to look for when your package arrives that could be discussion points for upcoming orders:

Quality of delivery 

In the end, this is the most important detail to look out for. Are you satisfied with the product’s quality? How much did the supplier get your prescriptions, details, or customizations in creating the product? 

Check how long the product holds up when used. First orders are usually the best, and a low-quality delivery for the first order doesn’t speak well for future orders. 

Product Packaging

You should also check out the packaging your products were delivered with. Is the packaging or boxes strong and many enough to sell in retail to your customers? If it isn’t, then you have to discuss it with your supplier to request it in your next order.

Instructions for use

If your products would require instructions to operate, then you should check if the supplier sent the instructions along with the delivery. If not, you should ask if your suppliers have them, or you can study the product and create a set of instructions to include when selling.

Made in China badge

The “Made in China” badge is legally required to be marked somewhere on the product box. If it is not, then discuss this with your supplier for the next order.

After receiving your order, inform your supplier about it and tell them you’ll get back to them upon reviewing the goods. If you’re satisfied with the quality and other details, you might begin to negotiate with them for a new order.

FAQs about shipping from Alibaba

Can Alibaba ship to the USA?

Yes, you can ship to the USA from Alibaba. USA buyers are some of the most frequent users of the Alibaba platform. You should go on the platform and start ordering today.

How long does Alibaba sea freight take?

Shipping goods using sea/Ocean freight on Alibaba takes a minimum of 30 days and may sometimes last up to 3 months, depending on the distance.

Does Alibaba ship by sea?

Yes, Alibaba ships by sea. It is done using sea freight, also called ocean freight. Contact DFH to handle all logistics involved with shipping so you enjoy a stress-free experience.

Does Alibaba have free shipping?

Yes! Alibaba offers free shipping on certain of its products. If the items you want are included on the suppliers’ list of items eligible for free shipping, you can receive free shipping. Generally, customized products are not eligible for free shipping.

If you want more shipping discounts, you can check out Alibaba’s sister site, AliExpress.

How long does Alibaba sea freight take from china to the USA

Generally, products from china would get to the USA in under 40 days using Alibaba sea freight. Depending on where in America the delivery is to be made, this time may be extended to 2 months. Express freight to the USA takes an average of 3-5 days.

How do I ship from Alibaba to the UK?

Contact DFH to help you arrange shipping from China to the UK by Carrier, AIR, Ocean, and Truck.

Drop Shipping from Alibaba shipping costs

There are not so many dropshipping suppliers on Alibaba; they are mostly on AliExpress. For the few suppliers willing to accept dropshipping, their costs tend to be way higher. 

Why is Alibaba dropshipping so high

The majority of suppliers on Alibaba are set up to sell large quantities of goods to wholesalers and retailers; many are unable or unwilling to sell and ship individual items to customers abroad. Also, they are unable to use different modes of transportation, such as dropshipping-specific special line logistics, to categorize the packages sent to each country. 

How to save Alibaba dropshipping costs

To save costs when dropshipping on Alibaba, Don’t purchase the item at the price that is displayed on the product page. As long as you place a sufficient number of orders daily, you can always contact the suppliers to negotiate a better price than you would on AliExpress.

Conclusion about shipping from Alibaba

Finally, the easiest way to negotiate to ship on Alibaba is by using a freight forwarder. Apart from the stress and risks it saves you, freight forwarders also help to bargain for better shipping costs which can save you money in the long run.

DFH is one of the most reputable freight forwarders in China. Our vast experience and networking ensure we can get your goods delivered to you in any destination country. We also offer lots of additional perks like free warehousing, free quality control inspection, free repacking and consolidation, cheap shipping insurance, and much more. 

Whether air, rail, or ocean freight, we promise to use the most efficient and reliable methods to reduce your Alibaba shipping costs. Contact us today to inquire about our services and receive your quotation.

DFH Global Logistics - China

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