Many people have built successful businesses through selling furniture. Many online-only businesses thrive by shipping furniture internationally even though it is one of the toughest aspects of eCommerce. There is a secret to this, and in this article, you will learn the information you need to be able to ship furniture internationally.

Successful furniture shipping starts with taking into account numerous factors of the furniture that is being shipped. Weight, dimensions, distance of shipment, value of the item, and method of shipping. These all play a factor in how your furniture is handled, how fast it arrives at your destination and how cost-efficient the shipping will be. As you can imagine, these are all important factors when it comes to running a successful ecommerce furniture business.

Shipping Methods

The best method for shipping furniture pieces largely depends on their weight and dimensions.

Through a courier service

FedEx and UPS will accept packages that weigh up to 150 pounds. For both services, the longest side of the box can’t exceed 108 inches (9 feet).

You may be able to ship smaller and lighter items through regular FedEx, and UPS shipping. You can even ship furniture overnight with FedEx and UPS. Smaller furniture items such as lamps and small tables may be shipped via regular carrier services. Some furniture pieces can be shipped unassembled and flat packed. This allows you to package products like bookcases and bed frames more compactly. However, these pieces still need to come in under the weight limit.

If you need to ship larger items or furniture sets, freight shipping may be a more convenient and cheaper option. 

Through ocean freight

Ocean freight is one of the most cost-effective ways to ship not just furniture or large items, but almost everything that is sent in bulk or in large quantities though take in mind that you don’t need to send a whole truckload to one destination to take advantage of freight shipping.

One of the first things to decide when shipping furniture is whether it will be shipped via Less-than Container Load (LCL) shipping or a Full Container Load (FCL) shipping. As its name implies, LCL shipping allows you to ship products without having to fill up a whole container. If your furniture is relatively small in size (between 2m³ and 13m³), it is generally a good idea to go with LCL freight. Otherwise, if you have large furniture to ship (sofas, mattresses, etc.) you should consider going with the FCL option.

LTL freight might also cause your package to arrive slightly later compared to FTL since it has to be consolidated at the origin port and deconsolidated at the destination port. LTL freights are also transferred between trucks, making the shipping time longer. FTL shipments on the other hand usually go point to point with no stops, which makes it faster.

If you’re unfamiliar with these terms feel free to read our blog on LCL and FCL shipping.

How much does it cost to ship furniture

Shipping furniture through a courier depends on each courier’s rate structure and is usually not the most cost-effective option if you’re shipping medium to large furniture but the most time efficient one. There is also the issue of dimension and weight limits when it comes to couriers so you might want to take that into consideration.

If you’re looking for cost-effective shipping and time is not much of an issue, ocean freight might be your best choice. When it comes to ocean freight, LTL Carriers will generally charge for freight based on weight and cube of the items being shipped. Every commodity being shipped falls into one of 18 different freight classes which are represented by numeric numbers ranging from 50 – 500. You can calculate your freight class through a free tool here.

Packing your furniture for shipping

  • Disassemble everything

When shipping furniture to anywhere in the world, it is generally a good practice to dismantle all parts that could be dismantled and arrange them as compactly as possible to reduce the space occupied by the furniture inside a box. Aside from reducing the volume of the shipment, this also allows for easy handling of your furniture, reducing the risk of mishandling throughout the shipment process.

  • Remember to use an airtight wrap

Especially for larger items that couldn’t be dismantled such as sofas, these items should be shrink wrapped to keep them airtight so that dirt and stains on the furniture could be avoided. 

  • Keep sharp edges away

Sharp edges should also be covered in a protective sheet, such as bubble wrap or any protective material that will protect the rest of your furniture from damages. Remember, it is quite common for items to move and shift throughout the shipping process and the last thing you want would be a scratch or dent on your product as it arrives at the destination.

  • Use a heavy cardboard box

For added security, make sure to use a heavy cardboard box. This will add an extra layer of security just in case any mishaps happen during the shipping process. It is also a good idea to use straps to make sure that the box does not suddenly give in when shifts happen throughout the shipping process. 

  • Pack your box with styrofoam

Packing a box with styrofoam adds to its structural integrity and reduces the amount of shift possible that could damage your furniture.

As you can see, there is a plethora of information required when it comes to shipping furniture internationally. It does not have to be this hard to ship furniture. You don’t have to pack everything by yourself. Make sure you work with an experienced freight forwarding company like SFI when shipping furniture. This will ensure that your furniture is compliant to international laws, packaged properly and will arrive at your intended destination without any sort of damage.