Did you know that maritime transport accounts for over 90% of the world’s trade? Yes,
and it is by far the most cost-effective way to move en masse goods and raw materials
around the world. Freight forwarders are an integral part of the supply chain and global
Who is a freight forwarder?
A freight forwarder is responsible for the transportation of goods
between two or
destinations. Freight forwarding companies specialise in arranging the whole process
for their shippers, from storage to shipping of their merchandise. Global freight
forwarding companies coordinate the shipment of goods from one destination to another
using a range of carriers, including air freight, ocean freight, road fright and, in some
cases, railway freight. But remember, the freight forwarder is only taking responsibility
for the arrangement of the international movement of your cargo; he is not taking any
ownership of the cargo.
What to look for when choosing a freight forwarder?
- Begin by analysing your internal requirements. Know what you will specifically
need before you even begin looking for a forwarder. Determine what mode of
transport and what specific services you will need and what volume you plan to
ship before contacting a forwarder.
- A good way to choose a reputable freight forwarder is to go through top
affiliations and associations, such as the International Air Transport Association
(IATA) and the World Cargo Association (WCA). Joining reputable freight
forwarding associations such as WCA requires financial strength, operational
efficiency, integrity and many other requirements.
- Experience speaks volumes. There are many modes of transport, commodities
(e.g. garments, machinery, cars, food, garments, chemicals, perishables,
hazardous, etc), regulations (OFAC, BIS, ITAR) and origin/destinations. All
freight forwarders cannot handle all of these combinations.
- Cost is a critical parameter when it comes to freight services. As competition
among the logistics companies intensifies, you are likely to find a freight
forwarder that offers quality services at an affordable price.
- Technology is the game changer. Amid increased competition in the global
marketplace, you need quick access to information about your area of
transportation. Experienced shipping companies often work with the latest
technology such as ERP and satellite tracking. You want to make your shipment
information is no further than a computer click away. That helps keep track of
your products information.
- Growth Potential. Besides its expertise, technology, and experience, your freight
forwarder should help you reduce the cost of transportation. Reduction of
transportation cost accelerates your company’s growth. Also, a freight forwarder
can help your business penetrate new markets.
Questions you must ask a prospective freight forwarder
- Can you handle my business?
If they are a smaller business, you’ll want to be sure of the necessary
resources and competitive rates available to successfully take on your
contract. If they are a larger company, find out if their size will impact the level
of customer service that you will be expecting.
- How will you manage my operations/shipment?
This relates to who will be your point of contact for submitting documents,
coordinating the shipment and who to ask for when there is a problem.
- Do you have cargo insurance?
This is important as they should be able to issue insurance policies for your
shipments in case of theft, damage, or loss.
- Do you provide extra services?
Many global freight forwarders offer extra services for your shipment, so
always ask them when receiving a quote. These extra services include
warehouse storage, cargo insurance, cargo tracking and dangerous goods
handling. Even if you don’t require them, it’s always worth bearing these
additional services in mind for future reference when using a freight
- Can I Check Your References?
You should definitely ask the freight forwarder for references! Successful
global logistics companies offer testimonial pages or comments from real
clients so potential clients like yourself can see reviews made by real
businesses similar to your own.
Freight Forwarders can handle a great deal more than just shipping your products but
there isn’t a “one solution” fits all. Choosing the right freight forwarder is extremely
important in the success of a company’s exporting endeavours.