A Comprehensive Guide to Selecting the Correct Freight Forwarder
Not everyone can use the same freight forwarding company and expect to have an amazing experience.
A comprehensive guide to selecting the correct freight forwarder will tell you that the only thing that matters is having your particular needs met. Hence, you need to know what these logistics companies offer.
Understanding Freight Forwarding Services
Freight forwarders can offer many core services that are vital to the supply chain. Some freight forwarding companies will specialise in key areas, like air freight, ship cargo, or land transportation.
Others might tackle all means of transport and logistics. Picking the right one really depends on you or your company’s requirements. With that in mind, here are some of the freight forwarding services you can expect to find:
- Specialised cargo transportation
- Intermodal transportation
- Trucking container deliveries
- Customs clearance lodgement
- Marine insurance cover
- HS Code classifications
- Compiling export documentation
- Port service handling
International Freight Forwarder Considerations
Shipping domestically is a lot easier to do because many freight forwarders offer this service. But if you need international shipping, dealing with the supply chain requires specific experience in export documentation, the international supply chain, and knowledge of customs clearance procedures.
International freight forwarders can access a much larger logistics network. This means they can connect multiple transport methods, whether they’re by land, sea, or air, and deal with a more complex shipping process. The advantage of working with experienced international freight forwarders is their connections.
Most logistics companies with a background in international shipping have long-standing relationships with port authorities, customs agents, trucking companies, and insurance brokers and they use safe shipping lines.
Not everyone uses international shipping consistently. But every person or company that does should think of choosing a freight forwarder as if choosing a business partner.
You should find freight forwarding companies that can easily handle all the challenges involved in international transport and logistics and someone who can meet your specific shipping requirements.
Picking the right freight forwarder should come down to who has the most experience with import-export operations, who can provide accurate shipping documentation, and who knows the ins and outs of the supply chain.
It’s essential to avoid the mistake of selecting your partner based on the freight forwarder costs. You may be able to get away with this on domestic shipping orders, but it’s a dangerous gamble given the importance of having good shipping documents and international connections.
Topics to Clarify Before Working With Freight Forwarders
It doesn’t matter what you need to ship, whether it’s a luxury car, goods, or personal items. Everything has value and someone has to be responsible for your cargo’s safety.
One of the first things you should determine is not the freight forwarder costs but rather accountability and coverage. All freight forwarding companies are obligated to have insurance.
But that doesn’t mean all freight forwarders have sufficient coverage to reimburse you for lost or damaged cargo. Clarify who is responsible for the safety of your cargo and how you can file an insurance claim if necessary.
Then, you’ll want to discuss shipment tracking and communications. These days you can track your cargo no matter where it’s travelling around the world. But not all freight forwarding services can provide you with real-time cargo location and status information.
Some don’t have the technology to do so while others simply have poor customer service. If you want to make sure you’re working with the best in the business, you should get a sense of how the freight forwarders handle communications with their partners in the supply chain, customers, drivers, customs brokers, etc.
Furthermore, you should be able to access a platform where you can monitor your shipment whenever you want, instead of waiting for the freight forwarder to contact you. Complex tracking abilities are an excellent sign of good business practices and experience in the logistics industry.
Another reason you want active communication channels is to deal with shipping documentation. Passing around shipping documents between multiple partners and operators takes time.
And for international shipping, this is one of the most crucial aspects freight forwarding services have to get right. Documentation is key in the import-export process on the international supply chain. The more parties are involved the harder and longer it is to ship something.
Communication is vital for dealing with the paperwork and reducing the overall transport time. This becomes even more important when working with ocean freight forwarders or air freight forwarders.
Requesting Quotes From Freight Forwarders
Say you already decided on a shipping method to get your cargo from point A to B on the supply chain. You also got plenty of information regarding experience, customer service, and other services that freight forwarders can offer you.
It’s time to talk about freight forwarder costs.
Moving something on the supply chain can vary wildly in terms of price. For example, air freight forwarders are generally more expensive due to the amazing delivery speed and cargo safety.
Shipping something via land on the supply chain can also imply very different costs if you opt for train freight, truck shipments, etc.
Distance, speed, cargo size and weight, destination, and the overall cargo market value are all variables that freight forwarding companies will factor into their quotes.
But once you know exactly what you want, you can request quotes from multiple freight forwarders. The more detail you can provide on your order, the easier it is for freight forwarders to give you an accurate estimate.
In addition, the more detailed your request, the easier it is to suss out incompatible partners, and the lower the chances of running into customs or cost-related surprises on the supply chain.
Work With the Best to Get the Best
Picking the ideal freight forwarders to handle your cargo is a lot easier than you think, once you understand how the logistics industry works and what shippers are supposed to deliver to their customers.
While pricing can be a concern, it’s usually the least important aspect to consider given the complexities of domestic and international supply chains.
Compare service providers on experience, routes, transport methods, and quality of service, to ensure your cargo receives the best treatment.
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