A Complete Overview of the Freight Forwarding Process
The operations of the shipping industry can look simple from the outside looking in.
You need something shipped, you find a company or individual that can do it, pay the price, and wait for the delivery.
But the logistics involved in this process are more complex than they appear. That’s why most long-distance and international cargo transportation is handled by experienced freight forwarders.
So, what should you know about the freight forwarding process? To fully understand it, you must know how it works, what parties are involved, and the responsibilities everyone has.
Once you learn the different stages, you’ll find it easier to partner with the right shipping company.
Finding a Reputable Freight Forwarder
The first step of the freight forwarding process involves researching and identifying a list of the best freight forwarders to handle your shipment.
What are freight forwarders?
A freight forwarder, sometimes called a forwarding agent or shipping company, is an individual or business that delivers your goods to the desired destination by land, sea, and air travel.
Freight forwarders are the backbone of the shipping industry and not only deal with cargo handling and transportation but also take care of the logistics on your behalf.
Since different forwarders offer different services and have various specialities, it’s best to make a shortlist of companies with good reviews.
Look for ones that have experience with the type of cargo handling that fits your needs, no issues with inland transportation, etc.
Talk to each freight forwarder about your shipment and any special requirements you may have.
This will help eliminate unsuitable partners.
Get a Freight Quote
You’ll be able to learn even more once a company gives you a freight quote.
For example, freight forwarders that aren’t transparent about the process of warehousing, their freight forwarding strategy, shipping schedules, and other relevant information might be untrustworthy.
A quote should be just a reference point when choosing a freight forwarder.
Of course, you might need at-cost insurance and freight price points that fit your budget. But the cheapest quote won’t always come with the best service.
After getting quotes from multiple shipping companies, ask about the cost breakdown to understand what you’re getting and how shipment prices are calculated.
And you should know that low-cost insurance and freight price might not always be beneficial when shipping valuable cargo either. It could be a sign of cutting corners.
Solve the Distribution Warehouse Issues
The next step in the freight forwarding process is the process of warehousing.
This is where the needs of businesses, organizations, and individuals may differ. It all depends on where you need to ship your cargo or from where you’re receiving it.
The shipping industry can have complex logistics between manufacturers, processors, distributors, and consumers.
Access to a reliable distribution warehouse and assistance in logistics is very important. It’s also not a bad idea to receive a freight quote from the warehousing service to help facilitate your search.
Other factors to consider in this step are your cargo’s proximity to the warehouse and how long your cargo might stay there before it can be shipped.
Clearing the Goods
Whether you’re an importer or exporter, customs is a complex part of the shipping industry. Navigating this aspect is best left to someone experienced in the freight forwarding sector.
So, what are freight forwarders assigned to do in regards to this?
Freight forwarders take inventory and check your cargo. They can evaluate it and look for damage before shipping.
Sometimes your freight quote will be higher because the freight forwarder can take care of customs clearance for you.
But that’s something you should determine before talking about shipping schedules and cargo handling.
Of course, if you only require inland transportation, customs clearance might not be a service you need.
Still, at this stage in the freight forwarding process, clearance issues are generally resolved, so you won’t need to be as involved in this part of the process moving forward.
The Merchandise Arrives
Have you ever wondered what happens after your cargo arrives at its destination? The logistics are different depending on the service you choose.
In a door-to-door shipping request, this stage of the freight forwarding process is simple.
But say your cargo arrives at a distribution warehouse. Depending on its final destination, new cargo handling procedures may be used to move it forward, and you may have to settle some bills.
Delays can happen with both local and international shipments. The contract you sign with your freight forwarder after agreeing to the freight quote should indicate how the handling process works and what support you can get from the shipping company.
Inland Transportation Arrangements and Execution
This is a step more commonly found in the freight forwarding process for long-distance shipping or international transportation.
For example, your cargo may arrive at a warehouse, airport terminal, or port.
From there, the freight forwarder should take charge and make arrangements for inland transportation to its final destination. Depending on the cargo, this will usually happen via land, in trucks, or in special trailers.
This step isn’t necessary if you arrange for personal pickup. In that case, the freight forwarder might simply offer storage, usually for a price, until you or someone you designate arrives to take ownership and pick up the cargo.
Use This Blueprint to Find Your Ideal Freight Forwarder
Why is the freight forwarding strategy or process essential to know?
It can help you successfully navigate the shipping industry and understand the logistics involved. Once you learn how everything is supposed to happen, you can identify the best shipping companies to partner with or hire.
The process offers insight into what you should expect from shipping companies based on your unique demands, helping you build a list of potential shipping partners.
If one company or individual operating in the freight forwarding sector doesn’t adhere to the standards of good business practices, you can simply move on to the next contender on your list.
Make no mistake. It can still be slightly confusing when you’re new to shipping cargo. But freight forwarders should help clarify any issue you might have, whether it has to do with cargo processing, transportation, the freight quote, insurance, customs, etc.
And if you need additional help figuring out how to ship your cargo efficiently and safely, don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance or a direct quote.
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