Malaysia’s tech-savvy population of 31.53 million and fairly developed infrastructure have made it a great destination for imports from nations like China, particularly cross-border purchases from marketplaces like Alibaba and Taobao.
If you are engaging in cross-border eCommerce, Klang Valley is of particular interest as this area has among the highest eCommerce adoption rates in the country. The Klang Valley includes major urban areas with well-developed infrastructure like Klang, Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur, while also including major gateways into Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) and Port Klang (MYPKG).
But how do shipments from China, be they direct-to-consumer (B2C) or bulk freight (B2B) reach Malaysia? How do they reach addresses in Sabah and Sarawak, which is separated from West Malaysia by the South China Sea? First, we’ll need to consider the mode of transport.
Choosing Between Air Freight or Sea Freight
If speed is your priority, air freight’s speed is worth paying for. When not looking at other legs of the journey, a flight from Hong Kong or Shenzhen to Malaysia will take around a day at most. Sea freight could take a few more days to a week depending on the schedule.
On the other hand, if you are looking for the most economical way to ship your goods, sea freight is the way to go, as long as your shipment volume is large enough.
There are cases when air freight can be cheaper than sea freight. To understand this, it helps to see how air freight rates are calculated.
For air freight, rates are charged to the order’s volumetric weight (how much space it takes up) or its actual weight depending on which is greater. For less-than-container-load shipments, sea freight is usually charged by volumetric weight, with a minimum chargeable volume being 1 cubic metre (cbm).
Sea freight saves you money if your order is larger than 2 cbm. However, you don’t get those economies of scale for items that aren’t that big like small cartons that take up between 0.5 to 0.9 cbm since you’re paying for unused space. This is where air freight can be more economical than sea freight.
Fortunately, you don’t need to work all of this out on your own. Logistics service providers like Janio can help advise you on whether air freight or sea freight is better suited to your current leg of the supply chain and also offer you both shipping modes for your orders. To find out more, reach out to us below:
When choosing between air freight and sea freight, consider the following:
- The weight and size of your shipment
- The products being shipped
- Shipment Speed
Air freight delivers shipments quickly, but can be limited in terms of what you’re allowed to transport. Bulky or oddly-sized items, or items deemed too dangerous to meet air freight’s restrictions on what can be shipped generally should use sea freight instead.
For instance, these products generally can’t be shipped via air freight: products containing gases, all things flammable, toxic or corrosive items like batteries, magnetic substances like speakers, perishable items and more. If you’re shipping these, it makes more sense to use sea freight.
B2C and B2B Shipping from China to Malaysia in 4 Steps
Your logistics supply chain from China to Malaysia can vary depending on your requirements and addresses but tend to follow some general steps. We’ll be using an example of shipments from Guangdong Province in China to Malaysia.
China: First Mile
The international shipping process begins with first mile delivery. This is where your order leaves the origin address, which can be an address your business owns like an office or warehouse or your supplier’s address.
Prior to delivery, packaging and labelling your orders appropriately can minimise any hiccoughs that could arise during the delivery or at customs. Events like turbulence during flights could jostle your orders, so sufficient padding and securing your parcels with the h-taping method could help. You can learn more about the h-taping method and other packaging methods in our packaging guide.
Additionally, the orders’ shipping labels and the appropriate customs documentation must be accessible for customs officers to inspect the shipment. For more details, you can look at our full parcel labelling guide which you can also find in our resources for B2C shipping to Southeast Asia.
Depending on your arrangements with your shipping partner, they will either come to an address specified by you to pick up the order or collect your item from a drop-off point that you’ll need to deliver your items to first. If you’re shipping with Janio, you’ll be dropping off your shipments at our warehouse in Shenzhen – especially good for shippers operating in Guangdong province.
China and Hong Kong Origin Customs Clearance and Freight
After your shipments have been collected, they need to be cleared for export by China’s and/or Hong Kong Customs at the international port or airport closest to your origin address. For sea freight, this could be one of the ports at Shenzhen or Hong Kong Port.
If you are shipping via air freight, the airport your goods will be shipped from will defer depending on the type of goods you are exporting. If you aren’t shipping dangerous goods, also known as DG, your goods can depart from Shenzhen Airport (SZX). Otherwise, your goods will be shipped from Hong Kong Airport (HKG). The destination airport in Malaysia, if you’re shipping with Janio will be Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL).
To get your goods cleared for export, your shipment usually needs to have the following documents ready:
- Export permit
- Commercial invoice
- Bill of lading
- Packing list
Exporting in bulk from China requires you to have an export permit or exporter of record before you can ship your goods out. Additionally, if you’re shipping any restricted goods, you’ll need to apply for a special export permit for these goods before it can be exported. You can check the Ministry of Commerce Republic of China’s website to find out more on how to apply for the export permit.1 We’ve provided a site with an English translation in our references as well.2
To check if your goods fall under the restricted goods category, you can look up China’s Customs website.3 B2C exports from China don’t need export permits or exporters of record.
If you’re ever unsure about what kind of steps you need to take to export your goods from China, you can always check with our customs clearance experts if you’re unsure of which documents to apply for and how to declare your goods.
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