Laypeople often view the movement of goods as simply going from point A to point B in one smooth process. In reality, the movement of freight frequently involves multiple complex steps, especially when international shipments are involved.
No matter your industrial sector, working with a good road, air, or ocean freight forwarding service is an essential and integral part of your business model. Freight forwarders take on the responsibility of organizing and planning your transportation routes and modes as well as offering ideal logistics solutions for other aspects such as storage of your goods at any stage of the chain.
Helping Your Business Grow
The role of a freight forwarder is to organize shipments for individuals and companies and ensure your goods get to their intended destination, from the factory to the delivery port.
Experienced companies offering freight forwarding services have built extensive and reliable networks over time. From those networks, they can gather information from different players in the industry, such as shipping companies, a suitable land transportation company, and warehousing partners, so they can provide you with the most optimal routes and services.
Modern freight forwarders take advantage of freight tracking technology and location-based solutions to provide real-time freight information to their customers, allowing you to know where your cargo is at all times.
Having a freight forwarder plan and carrying out all the different parts of the shipping process saves you time and money. You do not need to devote staff to these tasks, nor are you starting from square one with the planning process.
Freight forwarders have the experience you need to deal with supply chain challenges that might arise. This enables you to concentrate on the production of your goods and focus on growing your business.
As freight forwarding companies have extensive experience, they can customize the freight service to the various shipping modes and options available. Are your deliveries time-sensitive? Do your goods require a cold chain? What types of shipping will best suit your needs and goods? Do you need to make a single shipment or send freight regularly? What ocean freight solutions are available if there is inclement weather or political unrest on your current route?
Depending on your answers, they may determine which modes of transport (road, sea, or air freight) best suit your needs. They can also provide you with advice on documentation and planning, helping you make the best decisions.
Each method has its own range of delivery speeds and associated costs and limitations.
- Air freight is the fastest but comes with the most cargo and container size restrictions.
- Ocean freight is the slowest but is also the cheapest and comes with the least restrictive transportation policies.
- Road transport (also called land transportation) includes road freight, rail freight, and other land-based transportation solutions. Road transport is somewhere in between air and sea in terms of speed, but cannot reach everywhere in the world due to geographical limitations.
A freight forwarder can also provide you with a broad range of warehousing and distribution solutions before and after handling an international shipment. Examples include container offloading and destuffing, consignment splitting, relabeling, picking and packing, stock inventory management, and pallet storage services.
Shipping and transportation costs can be a major part of a business’ expenses, but they are also necessary. Investment in your own logistics network is impractical and cost-prohibitive for all but the biggest companies, so freight forwarders are a vital cog in the machine. Besides advice on documentation, they provide worry-free shipping and supply chain solutions, letting you focus on your business.
Competent freight forwarders can also offer container consolidation options, helpful in negotiating lower fees and getting the more cost-efficient rates of a Full Container Load (FCL) instead of a Less-than-container Load (LCL).
For example, a freight forwarder can consolidate multiple small shipments from multiple customers into a single container if they are headed to the same port and country of destination, reducing the associated ocean freight charges. Once delivered, the container is sent to a warehouse, where the shipments are separated and distributed to their appropriate locations.
- Example: If multiple clients in a given city of origin (e.g., Hong Kong) need to send their goods to the same destination city (e.g., Los Angeles), a freight forwarder may consolidate the shipments into the same container.
Handling Freight Charges
Another service commonly provided by international freight forwarders is helping you negotiate freight charges and freight fees with the carrier on your behalf. For example, an international ocean freight forwarder can help you negotiate ocean freight charges and carrier costs.
Besides services related to the movement of freight, competent freight forwarders can also offer packing, palletization, and containerization service options for additional fees, ensuring effective transportation and the safe arrival of your cargo to its intended destination.
The Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier: An Alternative for Small Businesses
If you are operating a smaller business, you can contact a special type of business known as a Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC).
Although an NVOCC isn’t the same as a freight forwarder, they offer similar cargo handling and inventory management services, despite not operating ocean vessels. Instead, they act as an intermediary between your company and ocean freight solutions, such as shipping lines and vessel owners.
NVOCCs typically offer favorable rates and personalized services, making them a reliable partner for small businesses and individual logistics.
Paperwork and Contract Logistics Services
Bureaucracy and paperwork can be the bane of any business, but even more so when dealing with international shipments. The complexities can confuse anyone unfamiliar with terminology such as customs bonds.
Here are a few examples of the important documents you’ll need when preparing freight for transport:
- Relevant transportation documents, e.g., Bill of lading (in ocean freight), Airway bill (air freight), CMR waybill (road freight and ground transportation)
- Customs documentation relevant to the country of origin and the country of destination (e.g., when exporting freight in Japan, you’ll need a Customs Form C-5010)
- Commercial invoices
- Certificate of origin statement
- Inspection certificate
- Export packing list
- Export license
- Other aspects of contract logistics
This is another area where the services of a competent freight forwarding service is invaluable. Modern freight forwarders not only have experience with the different types and levels of clearing and forwarding services, but they understand the jargon and terminology used throughout the freight forwarding industry.
Without experience navigating these rules and regulations, goods can end up in port or airport warehouses waiting for customs clearance. With that experience and knowledge, an international freight forwarding service can ensure that goods are unladen from the transport mode, undergo any necessary checks and processes, deal with any documentation fees, and move to the next stage of the transportation chain.
Whether you are considering short- or long-term shipping contracts, your freight forwarding service will continue to be a vital part of how you do business, helping ensure the safe and secure delivery of your goods from the factory to the delivery port. Without the services of a modern freight forwarder, you would have to recruit – or train – specialist staff and handle the documentation fees yourself, something that costs more time and money.
Different regions may have varying rules for paperwork and importation or exportation of goods. For example, the United States has the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, enforced by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).
When operating in the United States, a freight forwarder often has to work with a customs broker, an individual, or a company licensed and regulated by the Customs and Border Protection to help prepare international shipments for entry onto the American territory.
However, the system most commonly employed by international freight forwarders is the Incoterms rules, defined and managed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Asiana USA, Your International Logistics Management Partner
Whether you are transporting goods internationally or within North America, the likelihood is that you will need a freight forwarding company to take on some of your logistics burden. These companies bring together the multiple services required to get your goods from production or distribution to end-users.
Asiana USA has the experience and in-depth supply chain management knowledge to send shipments anywhere globally. With our extensive global network, logistics management services menu, and expertise in paperwork and customs clearance, you can confidently choose us to handle a variety of goods from perishables to electronics.
To benefit from our customs and freight forwarding knowledge and skill as well as our relationships with shipping companies and other parties in the logistics network carriers in North America and internationally, contact us today for more information about our logistics services or to request a quote.