Shipping is physical process of transporting goods and cargo. Virtually every product ever made, bought, or sold has been affected by shipping. Despite the many variables in shipped products and locations, there are only three basic types of shipments: land, air, and sea.
Land or "ground" shipping can be either by train or by truck. Trucking is easily the most popular form of shipping. Even in Air and Sea shipments, ground transportation is still required to take the product from its origin to the airport or seaport and then to its destination. Ground transportation is typically more affordable than air shipments, but more expensive than shipping by sea. Trucks are also much faster than ships and rail but slower than planes.
Many trucks will take freight directly from the shipper to its destination in what is known as a door to door shipment. Vans and trucks of all sizes make deliveries to sea ports and air ports where freight is moved in bulk also.
Much shipping is done aboard actual ships. An individual nation's fleet and the people that crew it are referred to its "merchant navy" or "merchant marine". Merchant shipping is essential to the world economy, carrying the bulk of international trade. The ships are also extremely expensive constructions themselves, being some of the largest man-made vehicles ever. The term originates with the shipping trade of wind power ships, and has come to refer to the delivery of cargo and parcels of any size above the common mail of letters and postcards.
Ground shipping can be cheaper and less restrictive to size, quantity, weight, and type of freight than by air transport. Air transport is usually reserved for products which must be sent within a shorter time frame. Some carriers offer ground shipping that operates on an exact timeline as air does. This is a recent development becoming mainstream among major carriers since the late 1990s. UPS and FedEx both offer guaranteed day ground shipping.
The most common trading terms used in shipping goods internationally are: