Separated from the continental United States by hundreds of miles, many tend to view Alaska and Hawaii as more similar to foreign countries than domestic markets. And it’s easy to understand why. That distance, coupled with longer transit times and a potential lack of expertise, often prevent shippers from doing business in the two states.
The reality, though, is that these two states and their communities depend on domestic freight transport from shippers within the contiguous United States. Companies in the lower 48 states provide everything from essential everyday items and supplies to construction equipment, automobiles and more.
Despite logistical hurdles, the demand for these goods combined with a relative lack of competition make Alaska and Hawaii two markets with significant potential for shippers. Below, we’ll go over the process for shipping goods to the two states, as well as how working with an experienced partner like Ryan Transportation can help shipping companies overcome these hurdles.
Common shipper concerns
Transporting freight longer distances means that companies will have to spend more to ship goods and materials. With possible financial constraints and lingering market unpredictability, shippers may view expansion into these markets as an unnecessary risk. Additionally, shipping to Alaska and Hawaii is a lengthier process that requires more coordination than shipping to the other 48 states.
The additional steps required to transport freight not only add to the cost of doing business, but it also increases the chances of complications during the delivery process. Common concerns shippers have mentioned include longer transit times, increased transit delays and a lack of available white-glove service.
Challenges of freight transport to Alaska and Hawaii
Location is obviously a major factor in the increased coordination required. In order to transport freight to Alaska and Hawaii, most shippers rely on ocean, air and over-the-road transit. The process usually involves working with a broker or freight forwarder, who then works with a carrier to deliver the freight to west coast airports or seaports (usually located in Washington or California) to be consolidated in a shipping container.
Once cargo reaches Alaska or Hawaii, over-the-road freight transport in the two states is an option. However, both states present their own unique challenges:
Alaska is large and sparsely populated with a harsh climate, making it difficult to build and maintain roads. In fact, 82 percent of communities in the state do not have roads or highways connected to them, meaning they rely heavily on air transport.
Hawaii, on the other hand, relies heavily on truck drivers to deliver freight. And the influx of year-round tourists combined with a lack of major highway systems mean that heavy traffic and delays are common.
Benefits of freight transport to Alaska and Hawaii
Despite the challenges of shipping to the two states, Alaska and Hawaii present great opportunities for shippers looking to diversify their supply chain and expand their reach to new markets.
With a combined population of over 2 million permanent residents and millions of visitors each year, both states offer significant potential in terms of reaching new customers. Further, because shipping to the two states is classified as domestic freight transport, shippers won’t need to deal with the customs regulations and documentation requirements that exist with international shipping.
It is important to point out that communities and businesses within the two states demand reliability from those delivering their goods. Making mistakes that lead to transit delays can leave entire areas without the resources they need for everyday living. That’s why it’s important for shippers to find a reliable partner capable of navigating the challenges of domestic freight transport to Alaska and Hawaii.
Ocean and air freight through Ryan Transportation
If you’re a shipping manager looking to expand your reach domestically to Alaska and Hawaii, Ryan Transportation is exactly the partner you need. Backed by over 35 years of experience as a trusted freight broker, we have the relationships and knowledge shippers need to effectively navigate the complexities of shipping freight to and from both states. We also offer an extensive network of carriers capable of delivering both small and large shipments within Alaska and Hawaii through nearly any mode of transportation – LCL, ISO tank, open top containers, flat rack containers, tankers and anything in between.
The Alaska and Hawaii markets offer significant opportunities for domestic freight transport. By working with Ryan Transportation, shippers get the unique advantage of having a trusted partner that will work diligently to ensure their success.