Want to start a shipping container business but not sure where to begin? We’ve got your back. In this blog, we’ll take you through all of the steps, plus important things to look out for. So keep reading for all you need to know about using shipping containers to turn big profits.

Setting up a shipping container business is a wise move for several reasons. Containers are assets with intrinsic value: they’re both functional and have good resale potential.

Of course, investing in containers is not without its risks. Therefore, you’ll need to find a reliable platform to source shipping containers at the best prices. Container xChange, an online marketplace with 100,000 containers available in 2,500 locations, can help you with that. We work with only vetted members, so there’s no worry about fraudulent activities. 

Check out how easy it’s to use xChange to find containers you need in your budget. Simply type in the location, plus the container type you want, and then press ‘search’. You’ll find offers that match your criteria in no time at all.

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Why start a shipping container business?

When it comes to starting a container shipping business, there’s a long list of reasons why it’s a good move. Here are a few of them:

Why start a shipping container business

Tangible assets: Unlike many other kinds of assets, shipping containers are physical objects with a very specific practical function: to ship cargo via road, rail or sea. As long as goods are being moved around the world to meet commercial demands, your containers will be needed.

Long-lasting: If you’re looking for long-term assets, shipping containers are the perfect fit. Granted they’re well-maintained and inspected regularly, they can easily last up to 25 years. So you don’t have to worry about replacing them often. 

Potential for steady income: According to the International Chamber of Shipping, over 11 billion tons of goods are transported in containers each year. So there’s heaps of potential to make a steady income by leasing containers to shippers. Especially when using an online trading and leasing platform like xChange to connect easily with industry players.

Make big profits: Keeping your finger on the pulse and making sure you know exactly where demand is high and supply is low is a sure way of bringing in large profits whether you’re trading or leasing out equipment. We’ll explain exactly how to do this later on in this blog, so keep reading.

How to start a shipping container business

Starting a shipping container business might seem overwhelming, but don’t worry. We’ll break it down into simple steps for you now.

Do your market research 

Before you begin, you’ll need to asses the current demand for containers both locally and internationally. Make sure you have a good handle on the market situation, so you know what you’re heading into. You’ll also need to establish what specific niche you’ll be targeting, such as shippers, freight forwarders, NVOCCs or container traders, for example.

Identify your competitors

It’s extremely important to identify your competitors and figure out what they’re doing well, and where you can top them. Check out similar business online and try to work out how you can solve customer’s pain points and satisfy their needs better than your competitors.

Create your business plan

Creating a business plan is important, especially if you want to get investors on board. Your plan should be a roadmap of how you’re going to get your business off the ground, as well as ensure that it’s successful. Here are some important sections to include:

  • Business description: This section should explain what your business does
  • Competitor analysis: In the competitor analysis, you’ll need to explain who your competitors are and what sets you apart from them
  • Marketing strategy: Here you should detail how you’re going to reach your target audience and convince them that your products or services are better than your competitor’s
  • Products and services: Outline your products or service offerings
  • Operations and management plan: This section should cover exactly how your business is going to run on a continuing basis; how many staff you’ll need, what kinds of processes will be put in place, etc
  • Financial plan and projections: Here you should include your budget plus all financial requirements

Choose a legal structure

There are four main types of business structures: Sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company (LLC). You’ll need to do some research in order to figure out which structure works best for your needs.

Register your business

Register your business and organize all permits and licenses required in your jurisdiction. You’ll also need to register your business with the tax authority in your state. This process varies widely from country to country, so make sure that you do your research and get this done as early as possible to avoid any fines or penalties.

Find a secure online leasing and trading marketplace

It’s crucial that you find a safe and reliable marketplace to source the equipment you require for your shipping container business. Luckily, Container xChange is exactly what you need. Trade and lease out containers safely at the best prices for your budget, and build lasting relationships with partners along the way.

You can also make all payments directly on the platform with the xChange Wallet. What’s more, keep track of your transactions in one place – convenience at its best! Plus, receive a single invoice each month so it’s easy to manage your finances.

Open a business bank account

It’s important to have a separate business bank account from your personal account. This is first and foremost more professional, but it also helps you if you need to apply for loans or credit. Besides this, having a separate bank account for your business makes tax returns quicker and easier. 

Now that we’ve learnt all about the steps to take, let’s dive into the 3 ways to make money with shipping containers.

Containers in shipping terminal

Top 3 shipping container business ideas: How to turn a profit with containers

There are three main ways of turning a profit with shipping containers. You can choose to use one of these methods or all three for your business.

Buy and sell containers

The ‘buy and sell’ method is simple: Buy containers in low-demand (surplus) locations and sell them again in high-demand (deficit) locations.  

The easiest way to do this? Using a safe and secure online trading marketplace like Container xChange. It’s also useful to have access to up-to-date market prices and trends, as this allows you to keep your finger on the pulse and seize opportunities as they arise. 

Luckily, we’ve got xChange Insights for exactly this purpose. On Insights, track container prices in over 180 locations around the globe, plus check out the cheapest and most expensive areas to buy containers in, any time of day or night. 

Let’s go over a quick ‘buy and sell’ scenario now:

First things first, you check Insights and see that a 40ft cargo-worthy container is selling for a low price in Jebel Ali, Dubai at just US $870. Next, you hop onto our trading platform to buy containers at this price in Jebel Ali. 

Once you’ve bought your containers, you notice that 20ft containers are priced at US $1,950 in Houston, US. So you hop back onto the trading platform and sell your 20ft containers in Houston, making a profit of US $1,080 per container. 

Now just imagine you buy and sell 30 containers in these two locations – the profits will be rolling in! Learn more about how to make money using the ‘buy and sell’ method right now. 

Buy, reposition, and sell containers

This second method works in almost the same way as the ‘buy and sell method’, except that you lease your containers out for the one-way move from the surplus to the deficit location, and make money on the pick-up charges as well.

Let’s say that you see that cargo-worthy 20ft containers are selling for US $987 in Nhava Sheva. This is a very low price, so buying in this location is a good move. Next, you find out that the same containers are selling for US $1,162 in Shanghai. 

As you can see, container prices in Shanghai are much higher than in Nhava Sheva, so you’re likely to make a good profit here. Plus, the pick-up charges for this stretch are US $240. So, if you buy containers in Nhava Sheva and sell them again in Shanghai, plus lease them out for the move at US $240, you’re looking at a profit of US $415 per container. 

Be sure to use a safe and secure platform for your one-way moves, like the Container xChange leasing marketplace. Plus, with our Insights platform you’ll be able to find the most profitable locations to buy, reposition and sell in. You can also use the platform to calculate your potential profits, as well as how likely you are to find such a deal on the xChange platform. 

Ready to start using our trading and leasing platforms to make sizable profits for your shipping container business right away? Great! We’re here to help! Get started with a free demo of the Container xChange platform today.

Lease out containers for one-way moves

For the container leasing method, you’ll look for containers in good condition available at the best price. The idea is to build up a fleet which can be leased out for one-way moves to make a steady income. 

For this option to be a success, make sure you’re leasing out your equipment along popular stretches with high pick-up charges.

You can once again use the xChange Insights platform to find the highest pick-up charges. For example, would you rather lease out your containers from Ningbo to Birmingham for US $50 or from Ningbo to Moscow at US $805?

Once you’ve checked out the pick-up charge data, jump onto our leasing platform to lease out your containers for one-way moves.

Interested in using one or more of these methods for your shipping container business? Then you’re in the right place. Click below to get a sneak peek of the Container xChange platform today. Plus learn all about how to make your business successful with our trading and leasing marketplaces.

Make profits with containers

How to make smart trading and leasing decisions for your container business

The shipping container market is volatile, and price transparency is often low. So it can be tricky to keep up with what you should be shelling out or charging for containers. 

On our Insights platform, you can finally get up-to-date pricing data and leasing terms in 180+ locations around the world, any time of day or night, without having to pick up the phone or send a single email. Let’s learn more.

Get up-to-date trading and leasing prices 

Want to know which are the cheapest locations to buy containers in, or the most lucrative areas to sell them in to make money? On Insights, compare container prices in various locations in just a few clicks, or filter for specific regions. 

Trading prices

Here you can see exactly which locations offer the lowest prices, as well as which areas are currently the most profitable for selling equipment. Use this data to make smart buying and selling decisions every time you trade. 

Want to make money leasing out containers instead? No problem. It’s just as easy to check out the highest and lowest pick-up charges with our Leasing Spot Rates tool. Here you can check the per diem charges, as well as the average number of free days.

Insights leasing

See your potential profits for the buy, reposition and sell method 

If the ‘buy, reposition, sell’ method has caught your eye, great! This is a very effective way of making profits with shipping containers. And with the Global Trader tool, you’ve got all the data you need right at your fingertips.

Check out the stretches with the most profit potential, or select locations to check how much you can make leasing out your equipment along that route. You’ll also be able to see the likelihood of finding the combinations you’re after on Container xChange with the Confidence Level calculator. 

xChange Insights is the ultimate tool for anyone wanting to make smart trading and leasing decisions, every single time. Interested in getting started with this useful tool as soon as possible? Sign up for Insights today for free – no strings attached! 

What to keep in mind when starting a shipping container business

Starting a business always comes with its risks. So what are some of the things you need to keep in mind? Let’s find out now. 

Market volatility: Container prices are always changing, and these fluctuations could affect your return on investment. Especially if you sell your inventory at the wrong time. So be mindful of what’s happening in the industry, as well as the current prices before making any business decisions. 

Container depreciation: Even though containers are an in-demand asset, they still depreciate over time, especially if they get damaged or have undergone multiple repairs. This is something to take into account when buying shipping containers for your business.

Damage and loss: Containers can get damaged and sometimes even fall of ships. This is why it’s important to have container insurance, so that you can recover your money when disasters strike. Luckily, with Container xChange, you can get the best insurance for your equipment. Find out more about the container cover we offer right now. 

Unreliable partners: Sometimes, an untrustworthy lessee or buyer can default on payments, resulting in a loss of income for you and your business. Luckily, we can help you completely avoid this problem: You’ll only work with vetted and pre-approved partners on xChange. 

Vetted container logistics partners

Earn profits by making Container xChange a part of your shipping container business plan 

To run a successful business, you need the right tools. Choosing a platform for trading and leasing that is safe, secure and easy-to-use should be right at the top of your to-to list. This is where Container xChange comes in. So let’s learn more about the benefits of using our container logistics platform now. 

Full transparency on prices

Container xChange offers complete transparency, with all the prices stated upfront. This means you can browse and compare multiple container offers at the same time to find the options that best fit your budget. You’re also able to negotiate directly with the seller if you feel the price is too high. 

0% commission and fees

On xChange, we don’t charge any commission on deals. So the price you agree on with a partner is the amount you’ll shell out or be paid. No unwanted surprises, no added fees. 

Vetted partners

All members on xChange have to undergo a mandatory vetting process and background check, so you can rest assured all partners you work with will be trustworthy and reliable. Plus, check out reviews and ratings before deciding who to work with.

Ready to start getting the containers you need for your container business now? The first step is organizing a demo with one of our helpful experts, who’ll give you a sneak peek of the platform and show you exactly how you can use it to make profits on containers. So click below to start your journey with us today.

Make profits with shipping containers

Are shipping containers profitable for business?

Shipping containers can be used to make huge returns on investment. You can buy them at a low price and sell them again at a higher price, lease out your equipment for one-way moves, or buy in low demand areas, reposition and then sell in high demand areas to make profits.

How do I start my own shipping container business?

There are a number of steps to starting your own shipping container business. These include: Research the shipping container market, creating a comprehensive business plan, and finding a reliable shipping container supplier to buy containers from.

How much does it cost to buy a shipping container?

The cost of a shipping container varies depending on factors like the container type, condition and the current market situation. Location is also a big factor affecting price. For a cargo-worthy 20ft dry container in the US you’re looking at US $1,090 and for a 40ft dry container, US $1,850.