Avoid the Hassles of Importing and Exporting Goods
International trade requires a lot of paperwork, meeting regulations, and complying with strict processes. If your company wants to conduct international business, a freight forwarder can save you from a lot of the hassles associated with shipping goods to or from other countries.
Freight forwarders facilitate the importing and exporting of goods on your behalf by ensuring your business is in full compliance, as well as ensuring your cargo makes it to its proper destination on time. Plus, they help ensure your cargo is protected and your international payment transactions are successful.
What is a Freight Forwarder?
Freight forwarding companies make all of the necessary arrangements for the storage and shipping of goods. With the exception of businesses that have years of experience in international shipping and an in-house team dedicated to these tasks, the majority of businesses hire a freight forwarder to avoid making any costly mistakes. Plus, freight forwarders provide peace-of-mind because they are on location to verify the accuracy of your shipments in person.
For example, if you ordered a container of lamps from a manufacturer in China, your freight forwarder would verify that your entire shipment made it to the port and got shipped to your country successfully. Then they would have another person at the receiving port to verify that everything made it securely and that your cargo was on its way to the warehouse.
What Services Does a Freight Forwarder Provide?
Freight forwarders offer a variety of services and typically work with a wide selection of industries. A good freight forwarder can get your shipments from the international dock to your business’s front door.
Freight forwarding services may include:
- Inland transportation tracking
- Shipping and export document preparation
- Cargo space reservation
- Freight charge negotiation
- Freight consolidation
- Cargo insurance
- Insurance claims filing
Freight forwarders use their own bills of lading for shipping, and they usually have a team of agents on standby at all times. Their agents represent your business on both ends of the shipment and provide all of the necessary document deliveries, deconsolidation, and freight collection services required.
For most small and medium-sized businesses, a freight forwarder can take care of nearly all the logistics required for importing and exporting goods.
What to Look For in a Freight Forwarding Company
There are many types of freight forwarders to choose from, so the challenge is not only finding a quality service but also finding the right solution for your needs.
Here are five questions to ask when searching for a freight forwarder:
- What is the origin address and final destination of the shipment?
- Which mode of transport and size of containers are required?
- Do I only need a port-to-port service, door-to-door, or something else?
- Does the packaging require packing and loading services?
- Do I have the necessary licenses to import or export my merchandise?
Beyond the specific needs of your business, the most important thing to look for in a freight forwarder is experience. Although freight forwarders are usually affordable, the real value they provide comes from their experience with all of the technical requirements and their relationships with the folks at customs and on the docks.
Not only do these relationships help ensure your cargo makes it through customs smoothly, but your freight forwarder also has access to shipping discounts and other perks. This is another reason businesses use freight forwarders, even when they have the resources to handle the paperwork and regulatory tasks on their own.
Reputable freight forwarders are helpful and always happy to provide references. In general, it’s best to hire a freight forwarder that comes recommended because this truly is a relationship-driven business. If your business already has a third-party logistics company you work with, they might be able to refer you to a freight forwarder they like.
Last, but not least, customer service starts from the moment you request a freight rate. The best freight forwarders provide impeccable customer service and are more than happy to answer questions and help you out.
If you contact a company and they are slow to respond or simply rude, move on. You have too much on the line with your cargo shipments to deal with a freight forwarder who doesn’t communicate well or that you can’t fully trust.
Once you’ve found a freight forwarder you’re happy with, you can start improving your entire supply chain with our cloud-based EDI solution. EDI provides you and your other supply chain partners to get automatic updates as your shipments progress – allowing your business to optimize your warehouse inventory levels and make necessary adjustments in real-time.