Less Than Container Load (LCL)

Less Than Container Load (LCL) – Simple Explanation and Examples

What is Less Than Container Load (LCL)?

Less Than Container Load (LCL) is a shipping term used in logistics and transportation to describe a situation where the quantity of cargo is not large enough to fill a standard shipping container. Instead, the cargo shares container space with other shipments. This method of shipping is cost-effective for smaller consignments, as the transportation costs are spread among multiple shippers.

Key Features of LCL

  • Partial Container Usage: Unlike Full Container Load (FCL), where the shipper uses an entire container, LCL shipments are consolidated with other small shipments bound for the same destination.
  • Cost Efficiency: Shippers only pay for the container space they use. This makes LCL an economical option for smaller shipments that do not justify the cost of a full container.
  • Standardized Containers: The cargo is loaded into standardized containers that are moved through the global supply chain efficiently, despite the varied nature of the individual shipments.

Benefits of LCL Shipping

Cost Savings

When shipping smaller quantities of goods, LCL can be significantly more cost-effective than FCL. By sharing container space with other shippers, the cost of shipping is distributed across several parties, reducing the amount each shipper has to pay.


LCL shipping provides flexibility, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not need to ship in bulk. It allows these businesses to meet international demands without the need for large-scale inventory storage and associated costs.


For businesses that are entering new markets or testing new products, LCL provides a low-risk option. Shipping a smaller quantity allows firms to gauge market response without significant financial outlay.

Considerations for LCL Shipping

While LCL shipping offers various benefits, shippers should also be aware of certain potential drawbacks:

Longer Transit Times

LCL shipments may take longer to reach their destination as the cargo needs to be consolidated at the origin and de-consolidated at the destination. This process can add extra days to the overall transit time.

Risk of Damage

Since LCL involves multiple parties sharing container space, there is a higher risk of goods being damaged in transit. Proper packaging and handling, as well as appropriate insurance, can mitigate these risks.

Customs Clearance

LCL shipments require individual Customs declarations for each consignment, which can complicate the clearance process. Working with experienced customs brokers can help streamline this process and avoid delays.

Examples of LCL Shipping in Practice

Example 1: A Startup Exporting Artisan Goods

A small startup producing artisan goods has received an order from an overseas retailer. The total volume of goods is too small to justify a full container load. By opting for LCL shipping, the startup can send its goods alongside other shipments, keeping costs manageable while fulfilling the international order.

Example 2: Seasonal Product Demand

A company that sells seasonal products, such as holiday decorations, needs to ship goods abroad. Since the demand for these products peaks during a specific time of the year, the company decides to use LCL shipping to send smaller quantities well ahead of the peak season to avoid overstocking and high storage costs.

Example 3: Trial Market Entry

A manufacturer wants to test the waters in a new international market. By using LCL to send a small batch of products, the manufacturer can assess market demand without the financial risk of shipping a full container load.

How to Optimize Your LCL Shipments

Choose a Reliable Freight Forwarder

Selecting an experienced and reliable freight forwarder can make a significant difference. They will handle the consolidation, coordination, and communication necessary to ensure your shipment arrives on time and in good condition.

Proper Packaging

Proper packaging is crucial for LCL shipments to minimize the risk of damage due to the shared nature of the container. Ensuring that your goods are packed securely can go a long way in protecting them during transit.

Plan and Schedule

Due to potential longer transit times, planning and scheduling your LCL shipment well in advance can help manage expectations and avoid delays. Factor in extra time for consolidation and de-consolidation.

Understand Customs Requirements

Navigating customs regulations can be complex, especially for LCL shipments. Understanding the documentation and requirements needed for clearance can prevent unnecessary delays and additional costs.


Less Than Container Load (LCL) shipping is a versatile and cost-effective solution for businesses that need to ship smaller quantities of goods internationally. It offers flexibility, cost savings, and accessibility, making it an attractive option for SMEs, startups, and companies wanting to trial new markets. However, shippers should be mindful of potential longer transit times and the importance of proper packaging and customs understanding.

For further assistance and to streamline your customs clearance needs, contact eezyimport, your trusted partner in logistics and transportation.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) – FAQ

What is Less Than Container Load (LCL) shipping?

Less Than Container Load (LCL) shipping refers to transporting cargo that doesn’t fill an entire container. Multiple shippers consolidate their goods into a single container, sharing the space and cost. This method is cost-effective for businesses shipping smaller quantities of goods.

What are the benefits of choosing LCL over FCL?

  • Cost Savings: Pay only for the container space you use.
  • Flexibility: Ideal for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) not shipping in bulk.
  • Accessibility: Low-risk option for entering new markets or testing new products.

Are there any drawbacks to LCL shipping?

  • Longer Transit Times: Additional time needed for consolidation and de-consolidation.
  • Risk of Damage: Higher potential for damage due to shared container space.
  • Customs Clearance Complexity: Requires individual Customs declarations for each consignment.

Reach out to eezyimport for expert guidance on your LCL shipping needs!

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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