Complete Guide: 9 Ways to Save Alibaba Shipping Costs

You may have imported different products from China and noticed that many Alibaba sellers charge high shipping prices.

For example, some quotes we received: 

I am writing to you on behalf of ABC company, a dedicated HVAC service provider located in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. Our commitment to excellence in HVAC solutions has positioned us as a leader in our region.

We are currently in the process of expanding our supply chain and are looking towards sourcing a variety of HVAC materials from China. Our list of needs includes refrigerant gas, copper ducting, pipe insulation, fittings, tools, duct boards, and similar items. One of the challenges we are facing is that our individual orders do not amount to the quantity required to fill a full shipping container.

Usually, you can save the Alibaba shipping cost in 4 ways:

  • Bulk Orders

  • Compare Shipping Methods

  • The product itself (Optimize Packaging)

  • Looking for a shipping agent (Consolidate Shipments): Freight forwarders can help find the most cost-effective shipping routes and methods. They can also assist with customs clearance and other logistics challenges.

Supply Chain

Logistics Solutions to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of your supply chain.

The right forwarding broker should be experienced enough to balance your company’s operations, speed, and shipping cost, and improve the supply chain management.

Looking to save on Alibaba shipping costs? You’re on the right track, but there’s more to it!”

While cutting down expenses is key, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The real game-changer lies in mastering the art of shipping your goods not only cost-effectively but also with speed, safety, and efficiency.”

Imagine seamlessly sending your Alibaba purchases to their destination without stressing over high costs, delays, or safety concerns. That’s the smart shipping strategy we all strive for!”

Join us as we delve into the secrets of optimizing your Alibaba shipping experience. Learn how to balance cost-saving with swift and secure delivery, ensuring your goods arrive just as you intend – perfectly on time and budget

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Pick up and delivery

We will pick up your goods in any city in China.


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Honourocean provides international freight forwarding services with the import and export of all kinds of cargo. 

On-Time: We provide reliable, cost-effective logistics services to companies with unique shipping needs. 

If you’re looking for a reliable freight forwarding company in China, Honourocean Shipping is a great option. We are superior shipping agents in china and our cargo usually arrives in three days or less. We’re also capable of handling urgent requests with transit times of just two hours.

Why Honourocean As experienced experts in the international logistics industry, we incorporate your needs, requirements, budget, and goals into determining the best shipping service route and transshipment point.

if you need freight forwarder from china to USA: freight forwarder china to usa


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Basic Shipping from Alibaba overview

Basic Shipping from Alibaba overview

How to Shipping Goods from Alibaba for the First Time?

How to save Alibaba shipping costs for the first time(less than 100kg)?

The best way to place a first-time order from Alibaba is by trade assurance order. ask the supplier to send a packing list and invoice, ask one professional agent to check transport costs, which documents need, packing rules, and so on, and then place an order. if can use Alibaba to cooperate with logistics companies, and also make trade assurance orders, this is perfect. Honour ocean shipping has Alibaba golden logistics supplier for over 10 years, anything you can contact the professional team.


Best Way to Ship Samples from Alibaba?

As a general rule, items that weigh less than or equal to 2kg. should be shipped via air,like EMS, EU. For that, the average Alibaba shipping costs can be somewhere between $6-$15 per kgs.

Why is Alibaba Shipping So Expensive? 

There are several reasons why shipping from Alibaba can be expensive:

The Journey from Afar: Alibaba’s heartbeat is in China, and this is where most products begin their global journey. When your order takes off from China, it embarks on a long-distance travel to reach you. This extensive journey is a primary factor that adds up in your shipping bill.

The Bulk Buy Dilemma: Often, Alibaba sellers set a minimum order quantity. It’s like buying in bulk – the more you buy, the more it weighs, and as a result, the shipping cost per item can escalate.

Speed Comes at a Price: Need your order quickly? Sellers frequently opt for air shipping to expedite delivery. But speed comes at a premium, making air freight more costly compared to the slower, yet more economical ocean shipping.

4. Volumetric Weight: Shipping companies often charge based on the volumetric weight of a package, which is a measure of the space it takes up in the cargo hold of a plane or ship. This can mean that even a light package can be expensive to ship if it is bulky.

5.Fuel Prices Fuel Costs: Just like filling up your car, the cost of fuel significantly impacts shipping charges. When fuel prices soar, so do the costs of getting your Alibaba order to your doorstep.


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How Long Does Alibaba Shipping Take?

The shipping time for your Alibaba order will depend on the shipping method you choose and your destination country. Here is a general overview of the shipping time for different shipping methods:

Air shipping:

Express: 3-5 business days

  • Standard: 5-10 business days

AIR DDP shipping:

Fast : 2-4 business days 3-5 business days delivery to door

Normal : 6-8 business days 3-5 business days delivery to door


Sea/Sea DDU/DDP shipping:

  • Economy: 20-45 business days

  • Standard: 30-60 business days


air freight to zimbabwe

Dimensional Weight vs Actual Weight

As with most businesses, cost can’t be the only consideration but it is usually a primary and determining factor.

So let’s first start with how to calculate the shipping price. There are two different weight concepts here. One is the actual weight and the other one is the dimensional weight. As shown in this picture here,

shipping from China weight calculate

Actual Weight is exactly what the product weighs including packaging. Dimensional Weight takes into account the volume, including length, width & height of the package that you are shipping…


  • For sea freight, dimensional weight = package volume/6000,

  • while for air freight, dimensional weight = package volume/5000.

The Billable Weight is defined as the greater of the two weights (actual vs. dimensional) and this will be used to calculate the final shipping rate. 

Why Are Weights Important To Be Considered?

save alibaba shipping costs packingBecause of this rule, you can communicate with your supplier and try to package your goods in the best way that has the smallest package volume to save your Alibaba shipping costs. If you are looking at ongoing shipments, discuss packaging options with your supplier. You might be able to seriously cut the Alibaba freight costs.

Who Can Help You Manage to Ship from Alibaba, by Yourself, or by an Agent?

Confused about the best way to handle shipping when you order from Alibaba? You’re not alone. There are several paths you can take, each with its unique pros and cons. Your decision should align with your needs, resources, and experience level.

  1. Letting Your Supplier Handle It: This is a go-to for many newbies in the import game. Here, the supplier manages everything, and you get the goods delivered under CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) or DAP (Delivered at Place) terms. Sounds easy, right? But watch out – suppliers might mark up the shipping costs.

  2. Direct Dealings with a Carrier: If you crave total control over your shipping, you might consider liaising directly with a shipping carrier. This approach, however, requires a hefty time commitment and in-depth knowledge, making it a less viable option for smaller businesses without dedicated logistics teams.

  3. Partnering with a Local Freight Forwarder: For those seeking a balance of control and convenience, a local freight forwarder can be a great ally. They take the reins on shipping, but make sure they have strong connections in China. Otherwise, they might outsource to local agents, which could mean extra fees and delays.

  4. Choosing a Freight Forwarder in China: A favorite among many, a China-based freight forwarder offers numerous benefits. They’re right there on the ground, have direct links with suppliers, and can act as your eyes and ears, keeping you updated and swiftly handling any hiccups.

Choosing the right shipping strategy for your Alibaba orders is crucial. It’s about finding the sweet spot that aligns with your business’s size, needs, and shipping savvy. 


Mastering Alibaba Shipping: 5 Popular Methods Demystified

Confused about the best shipping options on Alibaba? It’s a crucial decision, as different shipping methods greatly affect both your transit time and costs. Let’s break down the four common shipping ways, helping you to pick the one that aligns with your needs and budget.

  1. Regular Post: Slow but Economical
    Opt for China Post or Hong Kong Post for small shipments like samples. It’s the budget-friendliest route, taking 15~35 days. Perfect for non-urgent, small packages. However, tracking updates might lag, and there’s a risk of misplacement.

  2. Air Express: Fast and Reliable
    Need speed? Companies like DHL, UPS, and FedEx deliver globally in just 3~5 days. Although pricier than postal services, they offer reliable tracking and quick delivery. Ideal for those who prioritize time over cost.

  3. Airfreight: Balancing Cost and Speed
    For heavier loads (think 100kg), airfreight strikes a balance between cost and speed. It’s cheaper than courier services but faster than ocean shipping, usually taking 8~10 days. Note that there’s often a minimum weight requirement.

  4. Sea Freight/Ocean Freight: Slow but Bulk-Friendly
    Transporting a large volume of goods? Sea freight is your best bet, especially if you’re not in a rush. It can take 30~60 days, but the cost per unit is significantly lower. Choose between FCL (Full Container Load) for larger quantities or LCL (Less than Container Load) for smaller orders. FCL is generally more cost-effective, secure, and faster to process than LCL.

  5. Air Sea DDU shipping: Door to door including customs clearance and tax price

LCL vs. FCL:
FCL shipments are easier to track and safer, as they involve less handling and mixing with other cargoes. They’re also quicker to process and more economical per unit. The choice between FCL and LCL depends largely on the volume of your shipment.

Quick Tip:

  • For cargo sizes 1cbm~8cbm, go for LCL.

  • For sizes 8cbm~15cbm, choose based on your specific situation.

  • Over 15cbm? FCL is the way to go.

Navigating Alibaba’s shipping options doesn’t have to be complex. Understanding these methods can help you make informed decisions, saving you both time and money. 

What is the Cheapest Shipping Method in Alibaba?

Sea freight – sea freight is by far the cheapest option for shipping from Alibaba, so if you’re looking for low costs, sea freight will be the one for you!

It is the most expensive shipping from Alibaba way is to ship by express. When you buy from Alibaba, you can ask your suppliers on Alibaba whether they have a special shipping method for you first.

It is more appropriate to use air or sea freight if you are shipping products that weigh hundreds of pounds. Here is complete guide from shipping from Alibaba.

Compare Alibaba Shipping Methods:

Shipping MethodProsConsPort to PortDoor to DoorPrice


  • Fastest 
  • Safety
  • Door to door service


  • High cost
  • Limitation on product category and cbm
 2-5 days$5-$15

Air Freight

  • Fast delivery
  • 20% cheaper than courier
  • Extensive global reach
  • Increased goods safety
  • High cost
  • Limitation on size and weight
  • Weather cause delays
1-5 days4-11 days$4-$8

Sea Freight(LCL)

  • Cheap cost
  • No limit on the size and weight
  • Eco-friendly
  • Time consuming
  • Server delay during peak season
14-42 days19-47 days$2-$2.5

Sea Freight(FCL)

14-42 days22-50 days$3,000-5,000

Rail Shipping

  • Fast than sea shipping
  • Large transport capacity
  • Cost 10-30% higher than sea freight
  • Limited operating lines
  • Less flexibility
15-18 days20-30 days

How to Choose Alibaba's Best Shipping Method?

Once you’ve sealed the deal on Alibaba, it’s time to get your goods ready and pick the shipping method that works best for you. Alibaba offers two main types of delivery: online and offline.

Online Delivery: The Easy Way
Online delivery shines with its user-friendly interface. You can arrange everything directly on the Alibaba platform, enjoying a hassle-free experience. It’s straightforward, quick, and perfect for those who value convenience.

Offline Delivery: The Cost-Effective Choice
If saving money is your goal, offline delivery is your ally. It stands out with its competitive pricing, a wide range of channels, and the ability to ship sensitive or dangerous items affordably.

Shipping Modes: Tailoring to Your Needs
Each shipping mode from Alibaba has its mix of fixed and variable costs. For smaller shipments, modes with lower base costs are your wallet’s friend. Conversely, for larger shipments, options with lower variable weight costs might be more economical, even with a higher initial cost.

To better help you choose the most appropriate shipping method, here is a table that lists the comparison of the shipping cost for different weights for your reference.

Note: This table is for illustrative purposes only. And the Figures are roughly correlated with current China freight cost.

 Regular PostAir ExpressAir FreightLCL FreightFCL Freight
Shipping Time20-50 days3-5 business days5-10 business days20-60 days15-40 days
Base Cost$5$20$200$150$2,500
Variable Cost$15$5$3$2N/A
0.5 kg$5$20N/AN/A$1500-3000
2 kg$20 $25 N/AN/A$1500-3000
100 kgN/A$300-500$300-500$50-300$1500-3000
500 kgN/A$2,000 $1,700$900$1500-3000
1500 kgN/A$7,520$4,700$2000-2500$1500-3000
3000 kgN/A$15,020$9,200$4,650$2,500

As you can see, if you have a larger shipping weight, like over 100kg, sea freight LCL can save you some money, and FCL is the most economical way for a really large shipping weight. This is just a pure comparison of the Alibaba shipping costs assuming you didn’t consider the shipping time.

How to Save Alibaba Shipping Costs?

Navigating Alibaba’s shipping options doesn’t have to drain your budget. Here’s how you can tighten the purse strings without cutting corners:

  1. Packaging Perfection: Every square inch counts. Streamline your packaging to fit your product like a glove, avoiding excess space that could hike up your shipping volume — and your costs.

  2. Consolidate with Care: Merging smaller shipments into a more substantial one can lead to significant savings. Use a service like Supplyia’s China warehouse to centralize and combine your purchases, particularly handy when you’re sourcing from multiple suppliers.

  3. Selecting the Right Shipping Agent: Choose a freight forwarder wisely — larger players may offer benefits for bulkier shipments, but smaller firms could provide the personal touch your cargo needs. Avoid the pitfalls of cheap shipping agents, from hidden fees to poor service, by doing your research thoroughly. 

Alibaba Cheap Shipping Agent Risks

There are a number of dangers associated with using cheap China shipping agents. Here are some of the most common:

Poor service: Cheap China shipping agents often provide poor service, which can lead to delays, lost shipments, and other problems. They may also be unresponsive to your inquiries and slow to resolve any issues that arise.
Hidden fees: Cheap China shipping agents often charge hidden fees, which can add up quickly and surprise you when you receive your invoice. These fees may not be disclosed upfront, so it is important to read the fine print carefully before you sign any contracts.
Inexperienced staff: Cheap China shipping agents often employ inexperienced staff who may not be properly trained to handle the complexities of international shipping. This can lead to mistakes, which can delay your shipments or even result in them being lost or damaged.
Fraud: Unfortunately, there are also a number of fraudulent China shipping agents who prey on unsuspecting importers. These agents may steal your money or your goods, or they may provide you with fake shipping documents. It is important to do your research and only use reputable China shipping agents.

4. Route Planning and Optimization

It is important to recognize that freight forwarders may not be experts in every product type or shipping route to every country. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct thorough research and collaborate with a reliable freight forwarder to ensure you are selecting the most suitable shipping method for your specific needs.

5.Cost Comparisons:

Don’t let a seemingly good deal blind you. Some forwarders may lowball the first shipment only to hike up later costs. Look out for hidden fees and compare the full service to ensure you’re getting the best value.

6.Negotiate with Suppliers:

Sometimes, the best savings are a conversation away. Talk to your Alibaba suppliers about shipping options — they may have discounts or alternatives you hadn’t considered. And remember, shopping around on Alibaba could uncover more cost-effective choices. 


7. Pick Up Your Own Shipment at Port

Here are some tips for picking up your own shipments at the port:

  • Check with your supplier to confirm that they allow self-pickup.

  • Arrange for a vehicle and driver to transport your shipment from the port to your destination.

  • Be prepared to pay port fees and taxes.

  • Be aware of the shipping schedule and be prepared to wait for your shipment to arrive.

8.Time Your Purchase: Avoid peak seasons when freight costs soar. Timing your purchase during off-peak seasons can lead to better rates.

9.Select DDP shipping service:

DDP shipping service is door to door including custom clearancea and tax ,we can save your time and cost

In order to save on Alibaba shipping costs, you can consider picking up your own shipments at the port if you are located near one. This can save you a significant amount of money on shipping fees, as you will not be paying for the supplier or freight forwarder to handle the pickup and delivery.

Remember, smart shipping isn’t just about cutting costs — it’s about finding value without compromising on service. By following these seven steps, you’ll be well on your way to smarter, more efficient shipping from Alibaba.


OK, next, after you find a freight forwarder, how to contact them to get a quote for the Alibaba shipping costs?

How to Quote for Alibaba Shipment Costs?

So be sure to have this information prepared when you ask for an Alibaba shipping quote. As such, the final freight cost can only be ‘confirmed’ once the products are manufactured and packed. But you can still get an estimate by providing this information.


“Get a Grip on Shipping Incoterms Before You Import from Alibaba”

Before you dive into the world of importing, there’s a key piece of homework to tackle: mastering shipping incoterms. These are the rules of the game for international trade, defining the who, what, and where of your cargo’s journey.

In the Know with Incoterms:

When you’re ready to get a shipping quote, clarity is king. Make sure you communicate the incoterm you prefer, like ‘FOB Shanghai’, to your supplier or freight forwarder. Otherwise, you might find yourself on the hook for unexpected costs.

In the international shipping playbook, terms like FOB, EXW, CIF, and DDP are the moves you need to master. Check out our video for a deep dive into each incoterm, so you’re not left in the dark.

What You’ll Need for That Alibaba Quote:

Freight forwarders are like detectives; they need clues to crack the case of your cost. Before they can give you a quote, they’ll need to know:

  • Your preferred shipping method: air or ocean?

  • The total volume in cubic meters (cbm) or weight in kilograms (kgs) of your cargo.

  • The weight and dimensions of each carton.

  • Your trade term: EXW Factory or FOB?

  • The pickup address: where’s your factory located, or what’s the port name?

  • Your final delivery address.

  • Do you want insurance coverage? Yes or no?

Remember, a freight quote usually excludes duties and taxes. DDP service including all.


Estimates vs. Final Costs:

While you can snag an estimate early on by providing the details above, the final freight cost is set in stone only after your products are made and measured. So, gather your info and get ready to get a clear picture of your shipping expenses from Alibaba.

Shipping from Alibaba Documents You May Need?

After you get the quotation and you make a decision on a freight forwarder that you want to work with, what you have to do will be only focused on preparing all the shipping documents needed at your country’s border. These may include:

  • Commercial Invoice,

  • Packing List,

  • certification

  • and other optional documents for the Customs(POA…)

  • Bill of Lading for the carrier/ Airway bill


What is the Bill of Lading vs Airway bill?

Bill of Lading (B/L):

  • The Bill of Lading is used in sea freight or ocean freight.

  • It is a legal document issued by the carrier to the shipper that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried.

  • The B/L serves as a shipment receipt when the cargo is delivered at the predetermined destination.

  • It is a negotiable instrument, meaning ownership of the goods can be transferred while they are in transit by transferring the B/L.

  • The B/L also serves as a title of goods, which means it confers ownership. The holder of the B/L has the rights to claim the goods.

Airway Bill (AWB):

  • The Airway Bill, on the other hand, is used in air freight.

  • This document accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier to provide detailed information about the shipment and allows it to be tracked.

  • Unlike the B/L, the AWB is non-negotiable, which means it does not confer ownership of the goods; the shipper remains the owner until the consignee takes delivery.

  • The AWB also acts as a receipt of goods by the carrier but does not serve as a document of title to the goods. Hence, the cargo cannot be claimed with the AWB alone.

Do you Need Shipping Insurance when Shipping from Alibaba?


Why You Should Consider Insurance:

  • Shipping insurance is surprisingly affordable, usually ranging from just $50 to $100.

  • It primarily covers the value of your goods in the event they’re damaged during shipping. However, keep in mind it doesn’t cover indirect losses like missed sales or the costs sunk into product development.

Calculating Your Coverage:

  • While you should always get a final quote from your freight forwarder, here’s a simple formula for a ballpark figure: Insurance Cost ≈ Value of Goods x 1.1 x (0.1% to 0.3%).

Remember, this is just a general guideline, not an industry-standard calculation. Your freight forwarder will give you the precise rate.

Pack Smart for Extra Security:

  • Insurance typically covers lost items, but claims for damages can get tricky. It’s crucial to ensure your products are packed securely, especially if they’re delicate. Work closely with your supplier to reinforce your packaging – it’s an investment that pays off in peace of mind.

By taking these proactive steps, you can protect your Alibaba shipments against the unexpected, without breaking the bank.

Final Checklist for Shipping from Alibaba

Save Alibaba shipping costs is your purpose, but it is not only one. How to send the goods to your destination safely, quickly and efficiently is what we want to pursue too.

After determining the final cooperative China freight forwarder, we need to do the final check list to avoid missing some points.

Checklist ItemDescription
PackagingEnsure goods are securely packed to prevent damage and save on costs.
Incoterms UnderstandingClarify shipping terms like FOB and EXW to know when responsibility transfers.
Cargo InsuranceGet comprehensive cargo insurance to cover any in-transit risks.
Essential DocumentsCollect the Commercial Invoice and Packing List from your supplier.
Detailed InformationHave all shipment details ready: origin, destination, size, value, etc.
Freight Forwarder ShortlistChoose which forwarders to request quotes from based on experience or referrals.
Quote RequestsRequest quotes or compare instantly with Alibaba Freight.
Quote ReviewDouble-check the quotes for any missing elements like trucking or customs.
Quote AcceptanceDon’t base your choice on price alone; consider overall value.
Forwarder InstructionsProvide your forwarder with all necessary documentation and instructions.
Monitor ShipmentYour shipment is booked. Keep tabs on it from start to finish.

Save Alibaba Costs Conclusion

The BEST way to save Alibaba shipping costs is to arrange the shipping by yourself, and find a good shipping agent.

A good early indicator of a good freight forwarder‘s level of customer service is how long it takes them to respond to your request for a quote. If it takes a week or more, then regular and transparent communication during the shipment process doesn’t bode well.

Enter Honourocean, your ally in navigating the complexities of global transportation. Our seasoned expertise in air and sea freight, Amazon FBA deliveries, DDP, and consolidation services in China equips us to streamline your shipping process. We’re committed to offering you swift, reliable solutions to curtail your Alibaba shipping expenses.

To help you save Alibaba shipping costs better, we would like to give you a reference price for shipping from China. So, you can make a comparison with your supplier. Just submit the form, and we will reply in one day.

Want a benchmark to measure up your supplier’s rates? We’ve got you covered with a reference price for shipping from China. chat with us now, and we’ll get back to you within 30 minutes to help you make an informed comparison. 

Shipping from Alibaba FAQ

Does Alibaba ship to the USA?

Yes! Visit and take advantage of the professional services of these famous courier companies to provide you with a wide range of shipping to US options to meet your budget. Shipping methods can depend on specific your choices and different routes of business.

honour ocean are 8 years alibaba cooperate logistics company.

shipping from china to usa

What are the average Alibaba shipping costs from China to the U.S?

It is hard to say the average Alibaba ddp shipping costs from China to the U.S because the weight of the goods is different. You need to have this idea that the Alibaba shipping costs are related to the goods’ weight or volume weight, delivery time. The faster the delivery time, the more Alibaba shipping costs. 


Dropshipping from Alibaba Shipping Costs

It is hard to say the average Alibaba ddp shipping costs from China to the U.S because the weight of the goods is different. You need to have this idea that the Alibaba shipping costs are related to the goods’ weight or volume weight, delivery time. The faster the delivery time, the more Alibaba shipping costs. 


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