Pick-up, transit, delivery… These are the three basics of every ocean freight quote. On the surface, acquiring an accurate ocean freight quote might seem like a breeze. However, each of these seemingly simple elements contains a subset of questions your provider needs to answer to establish an exact price. The more information you can provide at the beginning will make the process quicker and your final invoice that much closer to your initial quote. No surprises mean accurate budget forecasting for your business.

Whether you’re new to the world of ocean freight or find yourself always trying to reconcile quotes with invoices, we’ll walk you through everything you need for your next quote.

Ocean Freight Basics

Unlike over-the-road freight shipments, ocean freight quote prices use the number of cubic feet your pieces take up in a shipping container. With a finite amount of space on each vessel, each trip taken by a steamship must be maximized for revenue. Therefore, the weight and dimensions of your shipment are the first pieces of information your provider will ask for when quoting.

Tip from our Pricing Manager: Make sure you provide the dimensions of your shipment in inches. For example, if you have a pallet that is 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep, you should provide 72″ x 48″ x 48″ instead of 6 x 4 x 4. This approach will ensure the provider knows precisely how much space your piece will take in a container.

Next, you’ll need to know the weight of your shipment. We understand that not everyone has the equipment to weigh large pallets to the nearest ounce. However, what your provider needs is an educated guess of the total weight. Let’s say you are selling widgets and each widget weighs 3 lbs. On your pallet, there are 30 boxes filled with ten widgets each. Take 30 (boxes on the pallet) x 10 (widgets per box) x 3 (the weight of each widget), and you’ll get around 900 lbs total for your shipment. If you are unsure of the weight of your widgets, try contacting your manufacturer, supplier or vendor and ask. A great provider will be hesitant to give you a price without some idea of the dimensions and weight.

Tip from our Pricing Manager: Don’t forget about your boxes! If possible, include the weight of your packaging in your numbers. While the majority of boxes will have a minuscule impact on the overall weight, some heavy duty boxes might significantly increase the weight of your shipment.

Pick-Up or Dock-Drop? That is the next question…

Now that we have the vitals of your ocean freight quote, it’s time to dig in on the logistics of your shipment. With so much attention paid to the ocean transit, we often see our customers forget about the inland portion. With over-the-road prices in a volatile state of constant flux, it is essential to establish the need for a pick-up early.  Providing this information allows your ocean freight forwarder to leverage their network of partners and secure a tremendous over-the-road rate. If left until the last minute you’ll be at the mercy of the market, and the driver shortage means you’ll probably be paying more.

Once the need for a pick-up is established, you’ll want to have details on the location of origin ready to share. Is this being picked up at your facility or a vendor’s warehouse? Is it a residential or commercial location? Does a driver need an appointment? Will they need a lift gate to load the freight? Give the ocean freight quote team as much information about the location as you can to ensure you receive an accurate price for what you need.

If you are planning on delivering to your provider’s facility make sure you have all of the information you need. Be sure to get the best point of contact and information on hours of operation. Also, ask if there are any procedures which you need to follow. In the world of freight, it’s better to have too much information than not enough.

Tip from our Pricing Manager: Approved Freight doesn’t require an appointment to drop-off freight at our facility. However, our operations team loves it when they know what cargo is coming in and when. It makes off-loading at our gates run more smoothly and lowers the potential for driver wait time (extra cost!)

Factoring in Transit Time

How quickly do you need your shipment to reach its final destination? While freight forwarders don’t have control over how often the steamships leave port for Hawaii, they can control how quickly your shipment gets loaded on to a container for departure. Understanding the shipping schedule to Hawaii and how this might affect your business is crucial to a successful transfer. If you aren’t in a rush, you’ll want to share this with the quotes team up front. Knowing the time table allows them to plan how your shipment will fit into their mix of freight. It will also help them understand the price required to ship. Similarly, if you need to get it there as soon as possible, make it known from the start. The earlier the quotes team understands the requirements of your ocean freight shipment the better.

Remember that depending on your final destination in Hawaii, your shipment will take 5 – 9 days to move from port to port. Add up to 48 hours for off-loading at the port, plus the drayage from its point of origin, and your total transit time could be two weeks door to door. In our experience, this satisfies most shippers’ needs, but there are instances when this isn’t fast enough.

So if this doesn’t fit your schedule, you might want to consider air freight as a possibility to ensure your freight arrives when it is most needed. Additionally, you can work with your freight provider to build an ocean freight solution that fits your needs. A bit more work up front is worth the extra effort. It gives you the benefit of having a supply chain that works for you.

Tip from our Pricing Manager: We’ve worked with companies of every size with commodities of every kind to establish a supply chain solution that works for them. If you are interested in discussing your options for a long term plan, you can contact us here. We love to help companies create new workflows!

Delivery or Will-Call Maybe?

All right, now we’re in the home stretch! You’ve established the point of origin, decided if the ocean freight schedule to Hawaii fits your needs, and now we need to know where it is going. Delivery can be the trickiest part of the process when shipping to Hawaii. With that said, let’s start with something basic like, “on which island is your final destination located?” One of the unique (read as often frustrating) elements of shipping to Hawaii is the lack of commercial space and equipment on-island. If your partner doesn’t have assets on-island, they will need to source an agent to fulfill your shipping needs.

Not your problem right? Well, not quite. Each additional agent is a layer of cost which the quote provider will need to recoup in your price. Finding a Hawaii freight partner with assets on your destination island is paramount to a cost-effective shipping solution. We recommend knowing the street address and zip code of your final destination. Additionally, it would help if you asked whether or not they have equipment on the specific island in question.

Tip from our Pricing Manager: While knowing the city and island is good, knowing the exact location is the best.

Similar to the pick-up, you’ll need to know details about the final destination of your Hawaii freight. The infrastructure on the islands can make uncomplicated deliveries more difficult. For instance, if you are located in a business park or strip mall, what types of vehicles can navigate the parking lot? Will the delivery driver need to bring the freight up to a ramp or into a building? If you are on a busy street, is there a safe place for a driver to park and unload your pallets? Many of the roads in Hawaii are narrow and can create obstacles for drivers. If you’ve had freight delivered to this location before, explain the previous process to your quote provider. He or she will consider this and discuss with the operations team to ensure a reliable handling process.

If you aren’t looking for delivery, just let your provider know the shipment is will-call. Ask if you need an appointment or any special equipment to pick your shipment up at the provider’s facility. You can even make a “dry-run” by scouting your route in advance.

Ocean Freight Quotes to Hawaii Are Actually Easy

We know. This might seem overwhelming but we assure you the process is easy. A great provider will ask you the most important questions. They will ensure your quote is as accurate as possible. So as long as you have the information or are willing to do a little digging up front, your shipment will be on a fast track to Hawaii.


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