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It is without doubt that logistics plays a vital role in the success of any business. India’s logistics sector is worth ₹16.125 trillion in value and is expected to reach ₹24.75 trillion by 2025. However, these figures fail to capture the logistic challenges that small businesses face in India. Finding affordable shipping and transportation services is a key logistics hurdle especially for small businesses with limited budgets and resources. The inability to borne high transportation costs and invest in technology adoption have cost MSMEs severe loss in customer satisfaction and revenue. If MSMEs must be make a mark in its contribution to India’s GDP, low-cost shipping services in India is a must.


Keeping small businesses in mind, the government of India has introduced a slew of measures to address the logistics challenges for MSMEs. The National Logistics Policy was launched in 2022 with the aim to make the logistics transportation industry more efficient and lower its costs. The recently announced Budget 2023 also included policies and subsidies to assist the logistics service providers address the needs of MSMEs.

In this article we will highlight the different types of shipping services available in India and discuss the pros and cons of each for small businesses.

What is shipping?

The term ‘shipping’ refers to the medium through which goods are transported from one place to another using different media as per client’s requirement.

Businesses across the world need shipping services to transport their products. There are several modes of shipping depending on the distance covered, and speed of delivery required. While ground shipping is the most cost effective, it is also the slowest. Businesses use air freight for quicker deliveries, but it is more expensive.  Again, shipping costs tend to decline with larger volumes. Many eCommence companies are able to offer free shipping due to their massive shipping volumes. Same-day delivery and door-to-door pickup and drop services are commonplace, with B2B and B2C sectors investing in it.

Depending on the requirement of businesses, shipping services in India can be divided into three types. A business owner may decide on any of the transport methods depending on factors such as time consumed, types of goods, budget, etc.

Four components of transportation

  • Modes
  • Infrastructure
  • Networks
  • Flows

What are types of shipping services in India?

While there are many methods of transporting goods via shipping, the major three ways through which the cargos are shipped are as follows:

1.Shipping through air:

Airways are the best mode of shipping if you need to transport your cargo quickly. As aircrafts are used for shipping, it is the fastest means of goods transportation. Moreover, it is most convenient and accessible to all regions as there are natural barriers to air traffic. Airfreight can be used to deliver almost all kinds of goods and is especially helpful for perishable goods

Products shipped through air transport comes under express shipping as the shipping speed is faster, delivery is sooner, and the process is more expensive. With air transport, packages are usually delivered in a span of 1 to 2 days.

Benefits of air transport:

  • Faster delivery timelines
  • Ideal for perishable goods
  • Can be used to ship everything
  • Easy to track through AWB numbers for order status updates

2.Shipping through land

Land shipping is the oldest mode of transportation and proves most useful when it comes to delivering goods within the country. Goods are transported mostly through trucks via roads as they have huge spaces to ship bigger items like construction equipment and even vehicles. Road shipping is comparatively cheaper than the other modes of shipping. However, it is more time consuming. The standard shipping process for road transportation services is almost 3 to 5 days.

Another form of land transport is railways. If you want to avail shipping by railways, you have two options. First is to directly load your goods onto the train and get it delivered to its destination. The second option is intermodal service where you need to involve two different forms of freight – trucks and trains to delivery your cargo.

Rail shipping is cost-effective and can carry larger goods across the country. With India having one of the largest railway networks in the world, small businesses can use this form of shipping to your advantage to ship goods across the country.

Benefits of land transport

  • Cost effective
  • Suitable for bulky goods
  • Extensive network
  • Wider choice of vehicles and type of truckload (e.g., partial vs full vs less-than truckload options)

3.Shipping through sea

Shipping through sea is an economical option especially for international deliveries. Sea freight have capacity for all shapes, sizes, and weights of freight. The only disadvantage is that sea freight shipping involves a longer period to transport. Shipping through sea is mostly done for military or commercial purposes where goods are packed in containers and are further loaded into a vessel.


Benefits of sea transport

  • Cheap
  • Secured
  • Suitable for all
  • dimension

What are the things to keep in mind when choosing a shipping mode?

Selecting the right mode of transportation for your business is important as it can help you in reducing your shipping and logistics costs. There are many factors that you need to consider while selecting the most suitable form of shipping for your business. The main factors are listed below:

  • Shipping cost: The budget is the first factor that you need to consider while selecting the mode of shipping. Decide how much you can manage to spend on logistics to deliver your goods in a safe and timely manner. If you are transporting heavy goods to a distant location within the country, shipping through road/rail would be most economical. Similarly, perishable goods are best shipped through air in spite of the cost involved.
  • Type of goods: Another deciding factor in selecting the right mode of transport is the kind of cargo you want to ship. If it is small items like expensive jewelers, air freight makes more sense, while seaways are better for heavy goods that are shipped to international destinations.
  • Speed: Speed is another major factor you should consider while choosing the means of transport. Consumers these days make buying decisions solely based on overall customer experience and a timely delivery plays a significant role here.

Also Read: Goods transport services in Karnataka

To sum up: How to find an affordable mode of shipping service for your business

Shipping is a major challenge for small businesses due to high transportation and logistics cost. While there are three modes of shipping available in India for businesses to avail, each has its pros and cons. It is important for you to make a well-informed decision of choosing the right shipping mode that will benefit your business.

There are several reliable logistics shipping companies in India to help you with your transportation and shipping needs.

Alternatively, you can find affordable shipping solution through nexarc Logistics – a service provided by Tata nexarc, that enables emerging businesses to find reliable logistics partners at the best prices, with coverage across 19000 PIN codes in India.

Pradeep h

Pradeep a SEO professional and passionate content writer who loves writing on various topics with 5 years of experience. At Tata nexarc, it has been 4 years since he is helping MSMEs to know the business challenges deeper and strategies to solve those. While not writing, he loves reading about digital marketing to hone his skills for business growth.