Containers of Stone vs. Pallets of Stone

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Customers sometimes ask, “What is the difference between container deliveries and pallet deliveries?”

Basically, the answer is volume, price and timing. Containers of natural stone tiles, or almost anything else, would ship directly to your job site or warehouse from the oversees factory in which they are made. Container shipping is a flat rate meaning that you want to maximize the amount of product inside the container to obtain the best possible shipping price per square foot. The maximum you can fit in a container will depend on the final destination and the road weight restrictions in your state or province, but is generally between 7,000 and 8,000 sq ft for stone tile products. Because of the volume of container orders, as well as the fact that it never sees the inside of a North American warehouse and has minimal carrying costs, container prices are lower than pallet prices. The biggest drawback to container ordering, if you can meet the minimum orders, is time. A container delivery of travertine, slate or granite tiles, will usually run in the 80-90 day time frame, depending on the complexity of the order. The big advantage, aside from price, is choice. You can get virtually any size in any color imaginable.

But some of you are thinking, wow, that is a LOT of tile, I only need a few hundred square feet. No problem. Smaller quantities are available by the pallet. Minimums for stone products by the pallet range from about 300 sq ft for some higher priced items to 720 sq ft for less expensive items. Obviously, it is very difficult, and expensive to warehouse every possible combination of color and size as is available in the container, so the product selection by the pallet is often much more limited. Also, because pallet products require warehousing that has carrying costs associated with it the prices are higher than in containers. The biggest advantage to pallet quantities is that, because it is warehoused in North America, lead times are usually much shorter than container deliveries. In most cases, delivery of pallet products can be within a week.

Essentially think of it kind of like orange juice. You can get a jug, or you can get a glass. The price by the glass is much higher per ounce than by the jug, but sometimes you just don’t need that whole gallon.

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Marc McPherson