In today’s competitive world, companies are looking for affordable and efficient ways to ship and transport goods. Having an efficient and cost-effective supply chain system is key to a business’ success.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how important flexibility is in the logistics business. Many companies lost revenue and profits during the past year because they couldn’t find new ways to route sea freight at affordable prices.
Air freight and ocean freight are the two primary methods for transporting cargo internationally. In general, ocean freight is cheaper because it takes fewer resources to move goods across the water than through the air. If you are sending goods from the United States to other countries in the Middle East or Asia-Pacific region, finding the best shipping option can improve your healthy bottom line.
An ocean freight forwarder offers shipping services and can help you find the best way to ship your goods internationally. They can help you find the best shipping deals, so your containers reach their final destination without problems and at a fair price.
What is Freight Forwarding?
Essentially, freight forwarders are intermediaries between shipping customers and companies that provide transportation services. Some forwarders work with land transportation, ocean freight, or air freight. An ocean freight forwarder mostly works as an intermediary between shipping customers and ocean carriers. They can also offer a wide variety of services, such as warehousing services.
Therefore, in most cases, freight forwarders do not own ships, airplanes, or trucks. They work with companies that provide transportation services, and their role is to find the best deals and fastest routes for shipping customers. They might own a network of warehouses and distribution centers used to store and ship their customer’s goods.
The value offered by ocean freight forwarders is that they have contact with all the common carriers and can negotiate good deals for their clients. They use their expertise and global network to find the lowest price and the most effective route. However, the cheapest shipping isn’t always the best option. The best freight forwarders look for a balance between reliability, delivery speed, and cost.
Shipping companies give discounts to customers who ship large quantities of goods frequently. If you aren’t shipping regularly or with full container loads, it can be hard to find affordable options and routes by speaking directly with a carrier. A freight forwarder can do the work for you and find a great shipping deal on the market.
What Does a Freight Forwarder Do?
A freight forwarder oversees the transportation of goods for clients from beginning to end and arranges the shipment details with carriers. If there is any problem during the process, the forwarder assumes responsibility and tries to solve it.
Freight Forwarders vs. Freight Brokers
A freight broker also serves as a middleman connecting customers and shippers. However, they are much less involved with the process. They don’t take any responsibility for the shipment of goods and do not partake in the transportation process.
Freight forwarders don’t ship goods themselves either, but they usually have storage facilities where they hold goods for clients before or after shipping. A freight forwarding service also monitors your international shipments.
Pros and Cons of Freight Forwarding
If you are looking for freight forwarding services, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of freight forwarding.
Pros of Freight Forwarding
Freight forwarding services offer competitive rates. They also arrange shipments and find ways to lower costs. For example, they can consolidate cargo from various customers by putting their goods in the same container.
They also provide crucial knowledge and experience regarding imports and exports. Freight forwarders have the most up-to-date information on customs regulations and the clearance processes. They usually offer additional services to manage paperwork and pay tariffs for their customers.
As a business, an advantage of using a freight forwarder is knowing that all aspects of your shipment are carefully handled by a professional. Sending expensive equipment or goods overseas can be stressful, especially if you’re just starting out. Working with a freight forwarder provides peace of mind and allows you to focus on other areas in your business.
Cons of Freight Forwarding
A disadvantage of freight forwarding services is that they aren’t the ones who are moving the cargo. Therefore, they don’t have complete control of what happens to your cargo during shipping. Working with a freight forwarder with a great reputation is key because they will work with carriers with up-to-date, modern technology systems that track your shipment door-to-door.
Do I Need a Freight Forwarder?
The world of international freight is complicated and can be risky for non-specialists. With international ocean freight, your cargo may go through many countries and ports before it reaches its final destination. Many times, the systems of foreign ports aren’t up-to-date or well-maintained. Miscommunication can also occur due to language barriers and translation of information.
Any of these obstacles can cause a loss of goods during the shipping process. It’s important to have an experienced ocean transportation intermediary. An ocean forwarder understands the ins and outs of the logistics industry, and they can help you save money and deliver your products fast and efficiently.
Consider Whether Your Shipments Need Specialized Support
If you are looking for a freight forwarder, it’s important to consider whether your shipment has any specialized needs. There are some commodities that forwarders don’t deal with, such as motorized vehicles or bulk goods like wheat. The size of the shipment also matters since not all forwarders deal with oversized items. If you are shipping heavy machinery, for example, you might need to contact a forwarder specializing in that area of transport.
Another type of cargo that many small forwarders won’t deal with is dangerous goods. There are many products listed in this category, including some children’s toys and batteries.
Something else you should consider when working with an international freight forwarder is geographical coverage. If you are importing from or exporting to locations within Asia, Europe, or Latin America, you need a forwarder with a network of local contacts in those areas that can pick up and deliver your goods. Some forwarders have a limited network outside of your home country.
Need an Instant Freight Quote?
Asiana USA is one of the most trusted international freight forwarders on the market. Our team plays an integral role in the global supply chain, helping businesses of all sizes with logistic solutions.
We have relationships with some of the most experienced carriers and forwarders around the world. If you are looking for a freight forwarder, get in touch with us, and we’ll provide a free quote based on your shipping needs.