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Jun 25, 2018

The Ocean Shipping Process: An Overview

Get a high-level overview of the ocean shipping process, from start to finish. Because managing a supply chain is about more than just freight forwarding.


overviewing the ocean shipping process


What Is A Supply Chain?

A supply chain is an ecosystem of people, companies, and activities that work together to move a product or service.  Supply chains are about more than freight forwarding. In fact, freight forwarding is just one component in transporting your product from supplier to warehouse. 

What is a supply chain? Our overview

Supply chains involve many moving parts. Check out an overview of the ocean supply chain below. Or, head to our comprehensive guide on ocean shipping. Our guide covers the involved parties, the types of ocean shipping services, how to navigate customs, and more.


What Does the Ocean Shipping Process Look Like?

Every business approaches shipping differently. And there are a lot of variables to choose from as you build your supply chain: the containers, shipping method, vendor manuals, and timelines can all shift based on your business’s priorities.

But we’ve seen that supply chains operate best when generally following the below process from start to finish.

  • Place purchase order
  • Communicate shipment details to freight forwarder
  • Freight forwarder picks up containers
  • U.S. Customs entry is filed in order to secure customs clearance
  • Container arrives at port
  • Container is loaded onto ship
  • Containers set off for destination port
  • Shipper provides documentation to consignee
  • Consignee reviews documentation, provides info to U.S. Customs
  • U.S. Customs reviews containers and documents
  • Containers arrive at port
  • Containers may undergo some form of customs exams
  • Once cleared by customs, container is attached to truck
  • Containers are trucked to distribution center
  • Consignee at the distribution center accepts containers

Phew! Supply chains have a lot of moving parts. This timeline is general, and just covers ocean shipping containers moving internationally from point A to point B. Your supply chain may be longer, shorter, more complicated, or less so.

Regardless, when all these components can work together efficiently, your business can improve your inventory turn — improving your ability to plan for the future as a result.

And you can download our A-to-Z overview of the supply chain here.


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