Choosing the Right Transport Option for Used Clothing International Trade

Choosing the right transport option for used clothingAlright, so you are preparing to send your used clothing abroad. Brilliant, there is a lot of money to be made there, and, of course, you will be helping out people too. Before you can enjoy any of those benefits, however, you are going to need to work out how you can get your goods from one place to another.

On this page, we are going to take a little look at the various options available for international distribution. This page should, hopefully, allow you to choose the right method for your business, the right method for wherever you are sending the goods to, and the right transport company.

Before you read this information, you should think about the size of the packages you plan on sending. This includes both weight and area that they take up. You will also want to think about how quickly the goods need to arrive. You will, of course, also need to think about where the goods are going to. Hopefully, by putting in this effort, you will be able to determine the most effective method of transport for your budget.

Road Transport

This is, without a doubt, one of the most popular methods for shipping goods throughout the European Union. It is fairly cheap, and, in most cases, pretty painless and quick to get goods from one location to another.

If the goods are being transported a short distance i.e. if you are in the United Kingdom and the goods are heading over to France, road transport is good. Obviously, the effectiveness of road transport will go down significantly if you are sending your goods over long distances. It may take not all that long to get to France, but sending the goods to, say, the north of Sweden, may take a while if they are going to the whole way via road transport.

The problem with road transportation is the fact that you can’t accurately predict when the goods are going to arrive. That being said, you can’t accurately predict that for any method of transport. However, with road transportation it is slightly more difficult e.g. there may be traffic delays, and the vehicle transporting the goods may break down.

As with any method of transportation on this list, there is still an inherent danger that your goods are going to be damaged along the route, even more so when you are using the transport company to ship over the road network as things do get bumped around a lot. You should, always, look into purchasing insurance.

Many businesses, particularly those who are shipping huge quantities of goods, will most likely work with a freight forwarder when they are sending goods via the road network. It makes things fairly easy and ensures that the goods you are shipping are actually sent under the CMR regulations, which, basically, dictates how goods are meant to be sent via the roads. CMR will give you basic coverage, but you should always purchase more wherever possible. Read more about moving goods by road.

Sea Transport

Goods in containers ready to be shippedThis is, perhaps, one of the slowest methods of transport on this list. This method is only suitable if you are sending goods overseas (outside of Europe), and you have no qualms about when the goods are going to arrive, some trips can take weeks, if not months. That being said, using shipping to send goods overseas is highly cost-effective.

The problem is that it is going to be very tough to predict when the goods are going to arrive. It is also going to be difficult to find a route that your goods can travel on (unless you charter a boat, you are going to need to ship to fairly strict timetables). You will also need to pay fairly hefty port duties.

However, shipping is good for those who want to send goods by shipping container. This is because the shipping container can be offloaded from the vessel and loaded straight onto rail transport or road transport. Obviously, shipping can only go to port cities. But, if you plan your sending of second-hand clothes effectively, you can get your goods wherever you want, albeit fairly slowly.

When you send goods via this method, you will need to have either a Sea Waybill or Bill of Lading in place. These documents, basically, highlight the owner of the goods and the terms and conditions of the contract. Bill of Lading is often used for new customers as it will allow you to keep the rights to the goods until you have been paid for them. Sea Waybills are slightly cheaper, but you are not going to get as much protection if the customer decides not to pay for their goods. This is why this method is only generally used for customers that you have worked with before and who have demonstrated that they are actually going to pay for what they have received. Learn more about sea freight.

Rail Transportation

The European rail network is fairly good, and there tends to be fairly regular services that are able to ship goods. Although, if you are shipping your second hand clothing to remote regions, you are going to find that routes are not all that regular and you may find it tough to find a route to ship your goods on. As you may also be aware, rail workers tend to go on strike a fair bit, and this can certainly throw a spanner in the works when it comes to getting goods to arrive on time. That being said, if everything goes smoothly, this is a ‘green’, fast, and cheap method for getting goods from Point A to Point B, no matter where you are located in Europe.

Goods that you ship via rail will need to conform to the Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail, or COTIF for short. You will also need to have a CIM consignment note which highlights who is responsible for the goods, who is responsible for insurance, and a whole host of other things. The courier that you work with will be able to help you fill out this information. Find out more about moving goods by rail.

Air Transport

This method of transport is absolutely perfect for those who need to ship goods over long distances. The downside, however, is that it is going to be fairly expensive as a transport method. You are also going to be tied to airline schedules, and an aircraft may not be flying to more remote regions for a good while yet. Obviously, not all airports are going to be close to the final destination of the goods, so you will also need to pay out a small amount of cash for further transportation, perhaps via road or via rail.

If you are sending goods via air, you will need to fill in an Air Waybill which will detail everything about your consignment e.g. what is in it and where it is heading to. You will also need to purchase insurance to ensure that you are protected should your goods become damaged or get lose during transport, which is something which is surprisingly rare. Read more about transportation by aircraft.


warehouse for storing the goodsIf you are shipping goods in and out of the UK on a regular basis, you will need warehousing. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • By warehousing goods, you will be able to delay paying some VAT and import duty on goods that you are bringing into the country. This is ideal if your cash flow is in a bit of a pickle.
  • If you are bringing in goods and sending them straight out to a non-EU country. This means you will not have to pay any fees for importing the goods (customs duty, VAT etc.)
  • Having a customs warehouse can ensure that you have all the licenses in place that you need for those imported goods before you bring them into the UK.

Small businesses will most likely opt for a public warehouse. These warehouses will bring your goods in, but they will take no responsibility for their safekeeping. They will need to be approved by HMRC. You can also have your own private warehouse, although, these can be quite expensive to run so you will, obviously, only wish to go down that route if you are shipping a lot of goods to and from the United Kingdom. Companies which are only sending goods on a semi-often basis will probably find that a public warehouse option is the best idea.

Choosing a Freight Forwarder

This is, of course, the most important section that you are going to read on this page. If you are a large business, shipping vast quantities of second-hand clothing each and every day, it is unlikely you will need a freight forwarder. You could deal with absolutely everything yourself. However, the vast majority of people will most likely not wish to deal with the hassle of doing everything. They are going to make things so much easier for you. For example:

  • Freight forwarders will purchase space on a particular method of shipping. The space that they purchase will be split between a number of different companies. This means that you will be able to save time and money as you are 1) not going to have to wait around for you to have enough goods to ship in vast quantities and 2) you are not going to have to purchase a lot of space which you will, most likely, not end up using.
  • They will handle all of the documentation for you, which ensures that it is done properly.
  • If multiple methods of transportation are needed, the freight forwarder will do everything. They will ensure that the transportation methods are planned. This reduces a lot of headache on your part.

When you are selecting a freight forwarder, you need to make sure that you select one who is a member of the British International Freight Association (BIFA). This will give you freight liability insurance as standard. It will also guarantee that the freight forwarder will be dealing with your goods in the best possible manner.

When you are selecting a freight forwarder, make sure you have one who is experienced in shipping goods to the countries that you have in mind. Most freight forwarders should be fine when it comes to shipping throughout Europe. However, there are some who may not have experience shipping to Asia or, even America.

Do not choose your freight forwarder based on cost. Select your freight forwarder based on how well they are likely to do their job. Yes, price is probably going to need to be considered a little. However, do you really want to be paying an incredibly low price for your freight forwarder only to have to deal with a number of issues along the line? It is far better to pay a small amount of money extra now, and be confident that the freight forwarder is going to be doing a good job. Always make sure that you check prices with a number of different freight forwarding companies first. This way you can be sure that you are making the right choice when it comes to the selection of who is going to be transporting your goods from point A to point B.

Remember, international shipping is a fairly difficult process, particularly at the start. However, if you take the time to learn, and this is very much going to be a learning process at the start, you will make things easier for yourself. It will be easier for you to plan your shipments. It will be easier for you to fill in all of the required paperwork. It will be easier overall. But, do work with a freight forwarder as much as possible at the start. The amount that they can reduce stress will be worth so much in the long run.