How to buy a shipping container
If you are looking to ship a lot of goods overseas to your customers or partners, then it may be more cost-efficient for you to consider buying a shipping container entirely. However, for first-time buyers and shippers, this may seem like an incredibly daunting and overwhelming task. After all, there are so many different factors for you to consider! So, if you are feeling confused about how to buy a shipping container and other things that it entails, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we discuss things you should consider before making a purchase, and how you can pick the right shipping container for your needs. If you are interested in this topic, read below to learn more about it.
Should I buy or lease a shipping container?
First things first – you need to decide whether you actually need to buy or if you could lease a shipping container instead. This decision will depend on your current and financial situation. For example, here are a few things you may want to consider:
- If you only need a few containers for storage
- If you need the containers for an indefinite period of time
- If you use shipping containers frequently
- If you do not need to use too many of them
So, when you buy a container, it is essential that you are sure that you will make use of the container for a long time. After all, you are making a one-time upfront payment that cannot be given back. While you can technically ‘recover’ it by selling the shipping container later in a second-hand container market, you may not be able to recuperate all your costs. That being said, there are no high leasing rates that come with it, and it can be cheaper for a longer period of time.
On the other hand, if you only need a small number of containers or only need them for a short period of time, then you should consider leasing them instead. More specifically, you may consider utilizing a one-way lease. This is because leasing a shipping container is cheaper in the short term in comparison to buying one. You also do not have to pay any maintenance and storage fees. However, it is important to remember that in the long term, the cost of leasing can add up quickly, and become even higher than if you had bought a container in the first place.
Which container do I need?
Now that you have chosen whether you need to buy or lease a container, you are ready for the next step – which is choosing which container type you need. There are plenty of different containers that you can pick from, which can make buying a container a confusing mess. When you start looking for containers, it is important that you need to consider what kind of cargo you are carrying or shipping, how much you are carrying, and whether your cargo has any special requirements. Thinking through these factors will help you land on the container that is best suited to your shipping needs.
Here, we have broken down a few popular shipping container choices and their container specifications that you can pick from:
Standard containers: These include the 20ft, 40ft, and 40ft high cube containers. They are the most commonly used and are geared to carrying dry cargo like pallets, sacks, boxes, and more.
Reefer containers: Short for refrigerated containers, these containers are good for transporting cargo that is temperature sensitive. This can include foodstuffs, medicine, vaccines, chemicals, and more. Because they can maintain a specific temperature internally, these containers are perfect for cold chain logistics.
Double-door containers: These containers have two doors on either end, making them have a ‘tunnel-like’ shape. This makes it easier to load and unload shipments directly into the container. For instance, vehicles and automobiles can simply drive into the container and drive out of it without needing to do a U-turn.
Open-top containers: These are used when cargo is too big to fit into regular containers. As such, they are mainly used for heavy machinery that cannot be stowed sideways.
Palletwide containers: These containers specialize in carrying wooden Euro pallets. They are designed to keep the pallets and cargo tightly packed to lower the risk of any cargo slipping during transit.
Flat-rack containers: These containers have no top and walls on the longer side. As such, they are mainly used to carry heavy loads or cargo that needs to be loaded from the top or sides. This can include machinery, buses, pipes, and more.
Consider the grading and condition of the container
Once you have chosen the container type that is suited for your needs, you need to pick the grading and condition of it. These grades will tell you what the quality of the container is, and whether they are suitable to carry your cargo. Below are the gradings of the containers:
Grade F: This container specifically refers to those that can carry and ship foodstuff. It also means that the container has never carried toxic chemicals or products before.
Grade A: These refer to new refurbished or used containers. Overall, these containers only have minimal dents and rust. They are also wind and water-tight (WWT). As such, these containers are well suited to lasting for a long time and are great at transporting goods.
Grade B: These shipping containers are considered suitable for transporting cargo. Used containers also fall into this category.
Grade C: These containers are wind and water-tight (WWT), which is exactly what it sounds like – no wind and water can penetrate the box. These containers most likely would have undergone several repairs, so they are often used as storage instead.
As-is: These containers are too damaged and are taken out of commission. As such, you should avoid these containers at all costs.
Transport the container
Once you have made your purchase, you then need to figure out the logistics of moving your container to your location. So, you have to think about how to transport it – whether it be by trucks, ships, or rails. You may also want to consider using your container as a one-way container. This means that a container user will only lease the shipping container for one journey, rather than both ways. The container user will get to move their cargo, and you can get your container to where you need it to be. So, you don’t have to pay anything to get your container to the place you want it to go.