Purchasing Shipping Containers Online in 2024: The E-Commerce Advantage

shipping containers for sale online

Purchasing Shipping Containers Online in 2024: The E-Commerce Advantage

The multifaceted utility of shipping containers has seen a surge in their popularity over recent years. Being transformed into homes, offices, storage units, and even pop-up stores, these robust steel structures have found a place beyond their original transportation purpose. If you’re on the hunt for a used shipping container in the USA, this guide will illuminate the process, underscoring the advantages and practical aspects of purchasing online.

Grasping the Fundamentals

Before plunging into the digital marketplace for used shipping containers, it’s vital to grasp what you’re investing in. A shipping container is essentially a large steel box built as nothing more than packaging to protect and transport goods across vast oceanic expanses. They are available in a variety of sizes, with 20ft and 40ft lengths being the most common and readily available. When procuring a used shipping container, it’s imperative to evaluate its grade, price, size, configuration and intended use.

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The Appeal of Online Purchasing

Acquiring a new or used shipping container online comes with numerous advantages over conventional methods. For starters, customers should realize that visiting a shipping container port or depot isn’t typically feasible. These locations are large storage facilities through which shipping containers for import and export pass. They should not be confused with local yards operated by third-party resellers.
Purchasing online provides you with direct access to the most extensive inventory and the best pricing. It also enables quick price comparisons across multiple sellers. Additionally, you have access to a wider range of configurations, grades, and sizes as you’re not restricted to the stock of local suppliers. Lastly, the ability to read reviews from previous customers when buying online ensures that you’re dealing with a trustworthy seller.


A Step-by-Step Guide to Purchasing a Shipping Container Online

1. Investigate and Compare Sellers


Begin by exploring various online platforms that sell used shipping containers. Websites such as American Conex offer comprehensive buyer’s guides and advice on purchasing. Look for sellers that provide guarantees and have positive customer reviews. Reputable companies inspect shipping containers at the port or depot for signs of damage or wear and tear, ensuring you receive a quality container. Both aforementioned websites offer verifiable reviews, warranties, and company registration information to safeguard buyer protection.
2. Grasp the Cost Structure
As you explore various sellers, it’s vital to scrutinize their pricing closely. Some sellers may lure buyers with an attractive upfront price, only to load on hefty delivery charges, additional depot and port costs, or other concealed fees. Always ensure that the total cost encompasses ground delivery and depot/port charges before finalizing your decision.


3. Comprehending Container Grades
Whether you’re purchasing a new or used shipping container, getting a handle on the grading system is essential. While online purchases don’t permit physical inspection, many sellers compensate by providing detailed images and descriptions of the containers.
20 foot new shipping container delivery‘New’ (One-Trip) Shipping Containers: In North America, shipping containers classified as ‘new’ have actually been utilized once for transportation, more aptly referred to as a “one trip”. Due to the high volume of goods being exported from China, there’s a constant need for empty shipping containers, which essentially serve as a form of packaging. Since these ‘new’ containers have only made one sea journey, they arrive at their destination in virtually pristine condition. The exterior may bear minor marks, scratches, or perhaps slight dents due to loading and transportation. When aesthetics and durability are paramount, opting for a ‘new’ one-trip container could be your best choice. Reliable online sellers of new one-trip containers typically offer a 10-year factory warranty.

Cargo Worthy (CWO) Shipping Containers: If you require a container to transport cargo via ship to any location outside of North America, you’ll need to purchase a New One Trip or Cargo Worthy grade container. Often referred to as “sea worthy”, these used containers are structurally sound and generally 8 to 15 years old. To be approved for shipping, a qualified surveyor must inspect and certify your container before loading. The inspection fee is typically around $149. If you buy a CWO grade (or new one trip) container, it will undoubtedly pass the surveyor’s inspection.

Wind and Water Tight (WWT) Shipping Containers: Termed as “A grade” within the industry, these used containers cater to budget-conscious buyers seeking a container for home storage use. Typically 12 to 15 years old, these containers have been retired by shipping companies after years of international cargo transportation. Their condition could be described as “well-used”, with numerous exterior scratches, dents, and possibly some surface rust. The container floor exhibits normal wear and tear, and some may have had wall section repairs. These containers have been inspected at shipping depots to ensure they’re still wind and water tight. Essentially, this means there are no holes in the walls or roof, and the doors properly seal to prevent water entry. Although these shipping containers can no longer be certified for cargo ship transport, they’re perfect for repurposing as home storage, local transport, or construction use. WWT containers must have passed an inspection verifying them as structurally sound. Be mindful that you may need to conduct some initial maintenance on these WWT shipping containers for sale WWTcontainers to prepare them for your specific use.

4. Proceed with Your Purchase
After identifying a container that aligns with your requirements and financial plan, you’re ready to proceed with your purchase. The majority of online platforms provide secure payment options for buyer safety and convenience. Don’t forget to obtain a written agreement detailing the terms of your purchase, including the cost, delivery specifics, and any warranties or guarantees.


5. Get Ready for Delivery
Being adequately prepared for the arrival of your shipping container is crucial. This preparation might encompass clearing adequate space, scrutinizing access routes, and ensuring you’re available on the scheduled delivery day. A crucial aspect to remember is that the site where your container will be positioned should be level. The four corners of the container should rest on pavers or railroad ties to raise it 2-3 inches off the ground. This elevation allows for air circulation beneath the container, preventing moisture accumulation and subsequent rotting of the wooden floor. Spare some time to go through the shipping container delivery guidelines provided on the seller’s website to ensure a smooth delivery process.

Points to Consider When Purchasing a Shipping Container Online

While online purchasing presents numerous benefits, it’s essential to bear in mind certain considerations. For instance, the lack of a physical inspection can potentially lead to undetected damages. As a result, it’s crucial to buy from a reliable seller with positive customer feedback. Additionally, consider that delivery can be complex if your site is inaccessible or doesn’t have sufficient space for a large vehicle. You can mitigate these issues by communicating with a sales representative and providing pictures of your location in advance.


In conclusion, acquiring a used shipping container online can be a cost-effective and time-saving solution. Nevertheless, diligent research, comprehension of pricing structures, and adequate preparation for delivery are vital components for a successful transaction.
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