Why is Alibaba Shipping so Expensive?

Alibaba is one of the biggest marketplaces in the world, where millions of buyers can connect with suppliers in China to get goods at very affordable costs.

However, many importers have wondered why the cost of shipping from Alibaba to their country is high. If you’re one of such importers, you’re in the right place.

This article will give the biggest reasons for high shipping costs on Alibaba and teach you how to reduce Alibaba shipping costs for your goods. Read more to find out.

Alibaba shipping costs components

Alibaba shipping costs components

Before answering why is Alibaba shipping so expensive, let us have an overview of Alibaba’s shipping costs list and the important components of Alibaba shipping costs. Let’s keep reading below.

1. China’s Domestic transportation costs.

While the majority of China’s industries can help you to ship your goods to any shipping port, importers should be aware that not all manufacturing facilities are close to ports, necessitating the use of an inland transport company to move your goods to the destination port. 

Alibaba Suppliers’ factory to the export airport or seaport transportation costs is the first component of Alibaba shipping costs, and there needs to be someone to handle it for you. Your suppliers or freight forwarders/shipping agents can do it. No matter which part, this part of transportation costs is important and will be charged as part of your total shipping costs.

You may also be interested in How to reduce transportation and logistics costs.

It would help if you planned for the costs of transporting goods from the factory to the Chinese loading port. Additionally, you are responsible for paying for shipping the item from the port of destination to your actual address.

Using a freight forwarder is your best bet for managing domestic transportation costs. Freight forwarding companies like DFH are experts at moving cargo affordably and cautiously to avoid loss and damage.

2. Customs clearance costs.

In every international shipping, Customs clearance must be done in both countries.

It is necessary to account for specific customs clearance procedures and processes when importing goods to ensure that any duties, tariffs, and taxes incurred can be easily paid.

Usually, this cost depends on the Declare value of your goods, which includes the cost value, insurance, and transport cost of your goods.

In most countries, a harmonized system called the HS code is used to determine the tariff type of products. The HS code of a given product greatly influences the customs import declaration, and you should check with your freight forwarder to get accurate estimates for your product.

The process of customs clearance costs can become hectic and tiring. Therefore, you should check with your freight forwarder to get precise costs for your product, as the HS code of a given product greatly influences the customs import declaration. Better still, let your reliable freight forwarder handle all your customs cost obligations.

DFH ‘s Door to door delivery is the service that help all the customers do the customs clearance and pay taxes.

Local Port Charges ( Export charges)

When shipping from Alibaba, your goods must first pass through the Chinese customs authority. They will inspect and verify the goods at the port before clearing them for shipping. This also involves certain charges. If you are shipping the goods yourself, you might need to pay in the region of $100-$300. If the supplier is shipping on your behalf, they handle these charges for you.

Local port charges are unavoidable before shipping can proceed.

Terminal Handling Fee (Destination port)

Your goods are also subject to charges when they arrive at the destination port. These charges are sometimes high, with local authorities charging close to $1000 per container.

The price often depends on the volume of your goods. It is important to settle this fee quickly to have access to your products on time.

Insurance costs

When transporting goods by air and sea, insurance is a logistics expense that should not be disregarded, especially when shipping high-value or delicate goods.

Shipping insurance gives you peace of mind and guarantees you can recover damage costs in the event of a catastrophe. It provides a safety net against any loss or damage to your shipment. Insurance is available at incredibly low prices. Suppose you choose DFH helps to buy the cargo insurance for you. The fees are much cheaper than if you buy it yourself. Typically range from 0.04% to 0.05% of the total commercial invoice value.

International Shipping freight costs

International freight charges are the most costly for transporting goods from country to country. These costs include express freight, air freight, or ocean freight from China to the destination country airport or seaport costs. 

Shipping freight costs vary with size and type of goods, distance, the shipping method used, and shipping providers used.

Warehousing costs

Suppose you don’t pick up the goods on time after customs clearance. The goods will need to be stored at a warehouse (This part cost is only for LCL or air freight shipments. As for the express freight, it will be delivered on time by the DHL/UPS/FEDEX carrier once the import country’s customs clearance is done)

Warehousing costs are the Alibaba shipping cost that can be 100% avoided. The only requirement is that your freight forwarder or shipping agent pick up from the port warehouse when the goods are finished with customs cleaning. Big freight forwarding companies like DFH have their warehouses and offer free-of-charge warehousing for your goods.

Delivery costs

After the goods have finished import customs clearance and you’ve paid all the import taxes, you can pick up the goods from the seaport or airport and deliver them to your final address. Costs associated with this are called delivery costs, and it is usually the last phase of the importation. The mode of transportation, whether trucks or trains, the size of goods, and their fragility, determine the delivery costs.

Why are Alibaba shipping costs so expensive?

Why are Alibaba shipping costs so expensive?

One frequent problem importers have when shipping from Alibaba is the high shipping costs. This is due to several reasons.

  1. Long Distance– China has become a country that exports goods to many countries worldwide. Most of these countries are not close in proximity to China. The distance between them is thousands of kilometers, which directly impacts the shipping costs.

  2. Bulky cargo– The heavier the goods you’re shipping from Alibaba, the more Alibaba will charge for shipping.

  3. Using air freight with small orders– There is no fixed price scale for air freight- the costs reduce the larger the goods. It will be expensive when shipping smaller orders with air freight.

  4. Choosing the wrong shipping method or shipping service provider– This is why you should use a freight forwarder to prevent unnecessary shipping costs.

  5. Wrong shipping incoterm used– Incoterms describe the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international trade. If you choose the wrong incoterm, you might pay higher logistics and shipping costs than necessary. This is why you should know more about incoterms or let your freight forwarding company organize the shipping of your goods.

  6. Shipping in singles instead of bulk– Many importers make this mistake. It is often best to wait till your goods are complete before shipping. You can store them in our warehouse till you’re ready to ship. Otherwise, shipping goods in singles rather than bulk increases Alibaba shipping prices.

  7. Poor packaging of goods– If your packaging isn’t well optimized, you’ll pay higher for the volumetric weight of your goods. DFH offers free packing and repacking of goods to meet optimal standards.

  8. Shipping in peak season or Chinese holidays. The shipping costs during the peak shipping season and Chinese holidays are always higher than on common working days.

What are the shipping methods from Alibaba?

What are the shipping methods from Alibaba?

There are four major methods to ship from Alibaba: Express freight, Air freight, Rail freight, and Ocean freight. So, which of these methods is best for shipping?

First, you should understand that the greatest factors that affect shipping costs are the speed of delivery (efficiency) and the weight of goods. The faster you need your goods, the more expensive the shipping. The heavier your goods, the more expensive the shipping.

Here is a simple formula for shipping time and price.

Time taken for delivery:

Express< Air freight <Rail freight < Sea freight. 

Sea freight takes the longest time, and air express the shortest time.


Sea freight<Rail freight<Air freight <Express.

Air express is the most expensive way to ship goods, e.g., courier companies like DHL/FedEx/TNT/UPS. Sea freight is the cheapest way to ship goods.

Before shipping, ensure your goods are well packaged and find out the total weight of your goods( by calculating the length, width, and height). Chek here to learn about how to calculate the charge weight and what it is Dimensional weight.

Afterward, you can ask your Alibaba suppliers the method they advise, or you leave the entire shipping process to your freight forwarder.

Alibaba Shipping costs calculator

Alibaba Shipping costs calculator

For reference purposes, here are examples of Alibaba’s shipping costs to different countries.

Alibaba Express shipping costs example.

Alibaba Express shipping to the USA costs about $4.5-$10 per kg; to the UK, about $5-$9.5; and to Europe, about $4.9-$9.9 (depending on the destination country). To Africa costs about $8.0-$12 per kg.

Alibaba air freight shipping costs example.

Alibaba air freight to the USA costs about $4-$8.5 per kg; to the UK, about $3.7-$8.9; and to Europe, about $3.5-$9.5 (depending on the destination country). To Africa costs about $7-$12 per kg.

Alibaba Ocean freight shipping costs example.

Alibaba ocean freight to the USA costs about $50-$180 per cbm for LCL and $600-$1200 for a 20ft FCL container. $1200-$2500 for a 40ft FCL container.

Click here to learn more about What is LCL and What is FCL.

To the UK, it costs about $50 – $150 per cbm for LCL, $500-$1000 for a 20ft FCL container, and $1200-$2000 for a 40ft FCL container.

To Europe costs about $50-$160 per cbm for LCL, $600-$950 for a 20ft FCL container, $1000-$2300 for a 40ft FCL container. (depending on the destination country).

To Africa, it costs about $30-$120 per cbm for LCL and $600-$1250 for a 20ft FCL container, $1000-$2800 for a 40ft FCL container.
These prices may not be the actual shipping cost, they are average shipping costs at the moment. Contact a reliable supplier or freight forwarder for a live shipping fee.

Top 9 Tips to save Alibaba shipping costs.

Top 9 Tips to save Alibaba shipping costs.

Here are some tips to minimize Alibaba shipping costs.

Order large qty each time instead.

Buying single items or smaller quantities on Alibaba can be way more expensive than larger quantities. Another benefit to buying in bulk is that the supplier will negotiate with you, so you can strike a better deal.

Before making orders on Alibaba, compare price quotes from different sellers to know the actual cost of the goods. Then bargain accordingly with your chosen supplier.

Optimize Your Packaging (Dimensional weight shipments)

Alibaba bases its shipping fees on the items’ weight or volume. Optimizing the packaging can help you save money by lowering the volume of the packages.

If there is extra space in your package, you will have to pay for it. This is why you should allow logistics experts like freight forwarders to help pack your goods. This helps to reduce Alibaba’s shipping costs.

Select the best shipping method

As mentioned already, you need to choose the most favorable shipping method based on the urgency of delivery and the weight of your goods. If you choose air freight for goods >500kg, you might have to spend way more than you would be using sea freight. Also, using express freight for goods >200kg is not the best, because air freight is more cost-effective. You can ask your Alibaba freight forwarder to advise on the best shipping method.

Plan your route

While there are many routes to transport your goods to the destination country, you must use the most economical route to save time and money. The shipping fee for different routes varies. Freight forwarders can help analyze the most efficient routes for the shipping of your goods.

Consolidate your shipment

Rather than shipping smaller goods, you can store your goods in a warehouse till you have sufficient quantity to ship. Trusted freight forwarding companies like DFH offer free-of-charge warehouse services. We will help you store your goods and consolidate them till they’re ready to be shipped. This helps to save Alibaba shipping costs for small quantity goods.

Cooperate with professional Alibaba freight forwarders/shipping companies.

Big-name international freight forwarders have the power to negotiate preferential freight rates and treatment with major air and ocean carriers. Your freight forwarder can get shipping rates that you can’t if you approach shipping carriers yourself. 

Most shipping carriers are unwilling to ship goods for small businesses, but freight forwarders can purchase bulk space from them and offer them to you at affordable prices. It is always better to enlist the help of a reputable freight forwarding company when shipping goods from Alibaba.

Combine shipping methods 

This is an interesting way importer can reduce their Alibaba shipping costs. Rather than ship all your goods using express freight, you can choose to ship 20% of your goods and then ship the remaining 80% using air or sea freight. This way, importers have some goods they can sell to their clients while waiting for the remaining shipment to arrive.

Avoid shipping during the peak shipping season.

Certain periods of the year are subject to higher shipping costs because of the huge volume of importers shipping during these times. For example, the December and Black Friday seasons usually have many importers trying to ship at the same time. It is best to avoid shipping during these periods to save shipping costs.

Avoid shipping during holidays.

Chinese and international holidays are a bad time to ship goods because only a few shipping providers work during this period, making the price higher. It is better to wait for the holiday period to pass before shipping.

FAQs about Alibaba shipping costs.

Why are Alibaba shipping costs so high in the USA?

Shipping from Alibaba to the USA is expensive because of the distance between China and USA. As a result, most shipping service providers would charge high to ship goods to the USA.

How can I choose the best shipping method from Alibaba?

Choosing the best shipping method on Alibaba depends on your goods’ time, urgency, and weight. 

Here’s a simple reference to take note of:

For small charge weights and urgent shipments, Express is the best. Charge weights between 100-500KG if urgent, then use Air freight; if you have enough time to writing can choose the Ocean + Express combined shipping method. This is door-to-door delivery and can be customs clean done and prepay taxes before delivery to your door. Ocean freight is the best choice if your shipment is large qty.

In summary, Air express is the most expensive way to ship but it is fast, and sea freight is the cheapest way to ship goods but it is cheap.

We will offer at least 3 shipping methods for your choice once getting your inquiry. It is Free of charge to quote for you.

How to get free shipping on Alibaba?

Many Alibaba suppliers may offer free shipping services when you order well above their MOQs. Most suppliers that offer free shipping services may secretly charge the shipping costs with the production costs. It is, therefore, rare to see completely free shipping on Alibaba.

Why is Aliexpress shipping cheaper than Alibaba shipping?

Aliexpress shipping is cheaper because they charge higher costs for buying the products, so suppliers can afford to reduce shipping costs. Aliexpress is a B2C platform while Alibaba is a B2B platform. Many suppliers on Aliexpress may even offer free shipping services. That shipping time is much longer than the Alibaba shipping methods time.

How much is shipping on Alibaba?

Shipping on Alibaba depends on the weight of your goods, the destination country, and the shipping method chosen. Check the article above to find out more about Alibaba shipping costs. Or send an inquiry to us to get your real-time Alibaba shipping costs.

How much is shipping from China Alibaba to the USA?

Alibaba Express shipping to the USA costs about $4.5-$10 per kg, and Alibaba air freight to the USA costs about $4.0-$9 per kg. Alibaba ocean freight to the USA costs about $50- $150 per cbm for LCL and $600 – $1000 for a 20ft FCL container.

Final Words:

Do you need help shipping from Alibaba to your country at cheap costs? Then contact DFH. We will help organize every aspect of your logistics while ensuring you enjoy a smooth and timely delivery. Contact us to get a quote within 2 minutes.

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