The current logistics industry is worth more than $7 trillion globally. Shipping physical goods around the world, or around your city, requires a complex supply chain with many hands involved at every step.
If you manufacture your own goods or act as a wholesale or retailer, one of the most important decisions you can make as a business owner is how you plan to send shipments out.
Choosing a cargo forwarder isn’t an easy task, but it can make or break your ability to serve your customer base and get your goods to their destination on time.
Wondering what to consider when selecting your primary freight forwarder? Keep reading below to learn all the freight logistics for your company.
How Does a Forwarding Company Work?
Global forwarding is the process of moving goods from the origin to a destination, however far, using multiple carriers. The forwarder organizes the transportation by coordinating with various shipping companies to get your cargo from your door to your customer’s door in the designated timeframe.
Why can’t you work with just one shipping company? If you have complex shipping needs, it’s usually too much for an individual shipping company to handle.
You’ll often utilize larger companies to handle moves between major airports or harbors, while local operators will be the ones to pick up the freight at the port and bring it to their final destination.
Shipping companies rely on third-party forwarding companies to handle these specialized shipments.
Choosing a Cargo Forwarder
So how do you choose a global freight forwarder? There are many factors you to consider when making this important decision.
Expertise in Your Industry
All forwarding companies share the same specialty; logistics. But not all freight forwarders specialize in your industry.
Certain companies may prioritize certain industries, be it raw materials or perishable goods. If you work in a niche industry, it can help to choose a cargo forwarder that understands and has experience serving companies with the same needs as you.
Different industries will face different challenges regarding import and export customs, so a specialist in your industry can make that process a lot easier.
Check Their Reputation
Make sure the company that you hire has a positive reputation for ensuring shipments arrive on time. In such a complex industry, there is a lot that can go wrong.
You want to choose a company that knows how to troubleshoot and how to fight for its customers every step of the way.
You can check a directory like the WCA to see if a particular company is a member of reputable organizations that uphold certain standards.
Before hiring a company, you can also ask them for references. Any company that takes its reputation seriously will have no issue providing this information.
It’s important to note that freight forwarders are simply intermediaries. They are not shipping companies, therefore, they aren’t responsible for delays.
Logistics is a series of interconnected industries, companies, and people. They are all connected in some way, shape, or form.
Choose freight forwarders who have an extensive network of partners that will ensure your cargo is always on the move. For a cargo forwarder, nothing is more important than their business relationships and network partners.
A solid network means paperwork can be handled more efficiently as cargo crosses borders. You can always ask a potential forwarder for information regarding their network as well.
Offers Appropriate Services
It’s possible to handle logistics on your own, trying to work with various shipping companies to move your cargo from port to port. But it’s extremely time-consuming and complex, thanks to the number of tasks that need to be completed for each shipment.
When choosing a forwarder, make sure to choose one that will save you time. You want them to handle every task in-house or in-network to keep things moving.
This includes services like notarizing invoices, obtaining appropriate certificates, getting shipments cleared at customs, negotiating the best freight rates, optimizing routes, and much more.
The best freight forwarders will handle all of these aspects by default.
It’s easy for money to disappear in the logistics world. There are countless costs that go into every shipment, from fuel prices to inspections, and much more.
It can be both frustrating and devastating for the final cost of a shipment to be much higher than originally quoted.
Make sure to choose a company that offers transparent pricing upfront. You want to know exactly what you are paying for and why. If a price increase happens, they should be able to explain this clearly so that there isn’t any confusion.
If you ever feel confused about what you’re paying, you’re probably working with the wrong forwarder.
Preserve Business Relationships
Once you’ve found a freight forwarder that you can trust, it’s important that you maintain that relationship to the best of your ability.
As a forwarding company, they rely on trusting relationships with their network of delivery partners. And you’ll come to rely on your cargo forwarder just the same.
To maintain a positive relationship that can last many years, take steps to set yourself apart from other customers. You can do this by booking most of your shipments well in advance.
The earlier you book, the easier the process is. When you book last minute, it causes a great deal of stress on the cargo forwarder and could eventually lead to a lack of trust.
On top of that, maintaining clear records, and organizing your paperwork will make their job a lot easier. Simple things like this can ensure that you are their favorite customer.
Just keep in mind that logistics will always be a complex industry. You can have the best forwarder in the world and still experience issues, as that is the nature of the beast.
A good forwarder is a problem solver, however, and will work with you to get through anything that comes your way.
Find the Right Partner
Choosing a cargo forwarder is like choosing a business partner. It’s a massive decision that impacts the rest of your business.
Take your time to make the right decision. And if you’re ever in doubt with your current forwarder, back out and find a new one right away.
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