Hiring a freight forwarder is a worthwhile step when shipping internationally. Whether you’re involved in international retail, or you need to import and export materials for your business, international trade requires time and expertise. A freight forwarder allows you to concentrate on the core aspects of your business without having to focus on the complexities involved in international shipping.
Many businesses don’t have the means to handle the international transport process. This is the primary reason that certain companies never expand overseas. From the paperwork to the regulations and negotiating freight rates to arranging cargo insurance, a freight forwarder offers expertise to help businesses with international endeavors.
What is an International Freight Forwarder
An international freight forwarder is a specialist individual or organization that handles the international storage and transport of goods on behalf of a business. Freight forwarders are essentially logistics experts that help businesses with overseas trade. They generally have extensive networks of transportation companies, warehouse managers, fulfillment services, and other key international shipping organizations.
What Do Freight Forwarders Do?
Depending on the needs of a business, a freight forwarding company may perform some or all of the roles involved in international shipping. Some of the key responsibilities freight forwarders handle include:
- Negotiating freight shipping rates
- Tracking transportation progress
- Preparing documentation for customs clearance
- Freight booking
- Freight consolidation (if necessary)
- Arranging insurance
- Filing insurance claims (if necessary)
When it comes time to choose a freight forwarder, there are several important considerations.
Choosing the Right Freight Forwarding Company
Certain factors are more important than others when choosing a freight forwarding company, depending on your business type. Some companies want total control over their supply chain, meaning administrative obligations or freight rate negotiations are their priority. Other businesses may want expert help at every step of the process.
Here are some of the most important considerations.
Services They Offer
Some freight forwarders offer more comprehensive services than others. Ensure the forwarder you choose provides the services that you need. Just because one firm provides a greater number of services than another doesn’t make them superior. Determine what exactly you need from them before choosing a company.
Consider Their Network
Having a strong network of international shipping partners at the points of origin and destination is crucial. While a broad network is beneficial, it’s more important that they have connections in the countries you’re importing to and exporting from. If a freight forwarder has the most impressive Asian network among competitors but doesn’t have connections in the European country you’re dealing with, their credentials are irrelevant.
The benefit of having connections or a presence in your destination country is highly advantageous. It helps with customs clearance and opens your business up to more opportunities for storage and transport overseas.
Experience in Your Industry
One of the most crucial aspects when choosing a freight forwarder is experience. As a highly complex service, there are endless possibilities for things to go wrong. While a new freight forwarding firm might be capable of meeting your demands, an experienced company has been through adversity. They’re experienced in dealing with strikes, port closures, customs issues, warehousing complications, and delays, meaning your goods are in safe hands no matter what happens.
Experience in your specific industry is desirable as, in addition to reducing shipping costs, there are often nuance factors associated with transporting niche products internationally.
Excellent Customer Service
If there are ever issues with a shipping company or you have queries regarding your freight, you’ll be glad to have chosen a freight forwarder with excellent customer service. Poor customer service can be very frustrating for shippers, particularly if they encounter any issues.
If freight forwarding quotes sound too good to be true, do some research on the firm’s customer service. Although the prices and rates may be low, if customer service is bad, you’ll receive minimal communication about the progress of your shipment.
It’s often beneficial to hire a freight forwarder that uses tracking software. This allows you to keep an eye on your shipments at all steps of the journey, ensuring delivery times are met.
Modes of Transport
Depending on what mode of transport you want to use, certain freight forwarders may be more suitable. The four main modes of transportation are ocean freight or sea freight, air freight, road freight, and rail freight. Some freight forwarders have better contacts and more experience in certain areas of freight transport.
You must also determine what type of delivery services you need. The two main types of delivery service are:
Door-to-door delivery: this is where the freight forwarder takes responsibility for collecting cargo from the sender’s warehouse and takes care of the freight until it is retrieved at the destination country in the consignee’s warehouse.
Port-to-port delivery involves the mid-section of the shipping process, where the freight forwarder is responsible for the cargo from the port of origin to the port of destination.
Ocean freight is by far the cheapest form of transportation, but it is the slowest. Conversely, air freight is the fastest mode of transport, but it is costly. In international shipping, it’s common for businesses to use several transportation types.
Work With a World-Class Shipping Company
For many businesses, international shipping is a minefield. Partnering with a freight forwarder is an essential step in being successful with international trade. If your company is transitioning into the international marketplace, work with a world-class international shipping company, like Asiana USA, to meet your goals.
For further information or assistance from one of our experienced and skilled staff, visit our website or give us a call today at (855) 500-1808.