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A Note About This Blog Post

We  understand that time is of the essence. That’s why we’ve structured this post to provide a quick summary of the main points right at the start. If you’re interested in a deeper dive, you can read the detailed sections that follow each point. We hope this format proves beneficial and your feedback will help us continue to refine our content to best serve the importers we’ve been supporting for five decades. Contact us and let us know what you think!


Introduction: Risks of Fixed-Rate Contracts for Importers: Fixed-rate contracts promise stability but can be risky during volatile market conditions.

The Illusion of Stability: Fixed-rate contracts may seem safe but can lead to logistical issues and financial losses when market rates surge.

The True Cost of Delays: Delays caused by fixed-rate contracts can have severe financial impacts, particularly for seasonal, perishable, and just-in-time inventory products.

  • Seasonal Goods: Delays can make seasonal products unsellable, leading to inventory write-offs.
  • Perishable Items: Spoilage and inventory loss can occur, harming revenue and reputation.
  • Production Schedules: Delays in critical components can halt production, disrupting supply chains and increasing costs.

Case Study: The High Cost of Fixed-Rate Contracts. An importer saved on initial costs but faced significant losses due to delays and missed sales windows.

Market Dynamics: Summer 2024: Rising diesel prices and high demand on the West Coast exacerbate challenges for importers with fixed-rate contracts.

Better Business Sense for Importers: Recommendations for a more strategic approach to shipping contracts. Evaluate Risk vs. Reward / Diversify Contract Types / Build Strong Relationships / Monitor Market Conditions.

Partner with a Trusted Freight Forwarder: Dedola Global Logistics offers expertise, robust tracking, and a consultative service approach for reliable transport.

Conclusion: Balancing Cost and Reliability: Fixed-rate contracts may not justify their risks; adopting flexible strategies and partnering with experienced freight forwarders is key.

Why Fixed-Rate Contracts Can Be a Risky Bet for Importers


Introduction: Risks of Fixed-Rate Contracts for Importers

In the ever-evolving international shipping landscape, importers often find themselves tempted by the allure of fixed-rate contracts offered by some freight forwarders. Frequently priced lower than spot rates, these contracts promise stability and predictability. However, during periods of high volatility in freight rates, ocean carrier capacity, and space availability, importers who opt for fixed-rate contracts may find themselves at a significant disadvantage. This blog explores the potential pitfalls of these contracts and why importers should exercise caution and business acumen when considering them.

The Illusion of Stability

At first glance, fixed-rate contracts seem like a prudent choice. They offer a set price for a defined period, shielding importers from the spot market fluctuations. However, these contracts can become a liability when market conditions shift dramatically. Ocean carriers prioritize shipments based on the current market rates during high demand and limited capacity, such as peak seasons or unforeseen disruptions. Importers locked into fixed-rate contracts often find their cargo rolled, meaning their shipments are delayed in favor of higher-paying freight. This situation can lead to severe logistical challenges and financial losses.

The True Cost of Delays

The financial implications of delayed shipments extend far beyond the initial savings on freight rates. Delays can be catastrophic for importers, particularly those dealing with seasonal goods or time-sensitive products. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Seasonal Goods: Products tied to specific seasons, such as back-to-school supplies or holiday merchandise, have a narrow window of opportunity. A delay of even a few weeks can render these goods unsellable, leading to massive inventory write-offs.
  • Perishable Items: Delays can mean spoilage and complete inventory loss for businesses importing perishable goods. This affects revenue and damages the importer’s reputation and relationships with customers.
  • Production Schedules
  • Manufacturers relying on just-in-time inventory systems can face production halts if critical components are delayed. This disrupts entire supply chains, impacting production timelines and increasing operational costs.

Case Study: The High Cost of Fixed-Rate Contracts

Consider an importer who signed a fixed-rate contract to save $1,000 on each container. Their shipments were consistently rolled when market rates surged, resulting in delays of up to four months. The delayed cargo missed critical sales windows, leading to lost revenue and unsold inventory. The initial savings paled compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars lost due to missed market opportunities and increased holding costs.

Market Dynamics: Summer 2024

Several factors are currently exacerbating the challenges for importers:

  • Diesel Prices: Diesel prices typically rise during the summer months, increasing the cost of transportation. This, in turn, affects the overall shipping costs and reduces space availability for lower-rate contracts.
  • High Demand on the West Coast: The West Coast ports, especially those handling shipments from Asia, are experiencing unprecedented demand. This surge strains the already limited capacity, making it even more difficult for fixed-rate contract holders to secure space for their cargo.

Better Business Sense for Importers

Importers must adopt a more strategic approach to their shipping contracts. Here are some recommendations:

  • Evaluate Risk vs. Reward: Consider the potential risks of delays and the financial impact on your business. The savings from a fixed-rate contract may not justify the risk of rolled shipments.
  • Diversify Contract Types: Instead of relying solely on fixed-rate contracts, consider a mix of contract types. This approach can provide more flexibility and ensure that some shipments move even during high-demand periods.
  • Build Strong Relationships: Work with reputable freight forwarders with a proven track record and strong relationships with ocean carriers. These relationships can often secure better rates and priority space during peak times.
  • Monitor Market Conditions: Stay informed about market trends and adjust your shipping strategies accordingly. This proactive approach can help you avoid potential pitfalls and capitalize on opportunities.

Partner with a Trusted Freight Forwarder

For nearly 50 years, Dedola Global Logistics has been a leader in providing air and ocean freight services. Our expertise, robust tracking capabilities, and consultative service approach ensure your cargo reaches its destination efficiently and on time. Visit to learn how we can help your business achieve its goals.

Conclusion: Balancing Cost and Reliability

While fixed-rate contracts may offer cost savings, the potential for delays and the subsequent financial impact can far outweigh the initial benefits. Importers must practice better business sense, evaluating the actual cost of these contracts and adopting a more flexible and strategic approach to their shipping needs. By partnering with experienced freight forwarders like Dedola Global Logistics, businesses can ensure more reliable and efficient transport of their goods, safeguarding their bottom line and maintaining their competitive edge in the market.