Picking the Right Freight Forwarder
Everyone ships, regardless of industry, and your profitability is influenced by the shipping prices you get, which is why it’s incredibly important to find someone reliable that fits your company’s freight needs. But there are thousands of freight forwarding companies out there, so how do you know which one to use?
First, it’s important to look at yourself, as a company.
Do they fit our needs?
What type of company are you? What is the cargo you’re going to ship? Is it always the same?
Packaged the same? Might it be hazardous? There are many types of shipping, and determining which ones your company needs is vital to creating a mutually beneficial partnership between you and your forwarder.
An experienced freight forwarder could help you figure out exactly the services you need, and an honest one would tell you if they can offer you that service or not, but once you figure out the specificities of your forwarding needs, it will be easier for you to decide on who to use.
Research is key, don’t shy away from a company who might have Nike as their client or even a startup offering a new type of service, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, you just need to be well informed and trust your gut.
Some things to consider:
Is the forwarder big enough to handle your business?
In most cases, a multinational retail giant like Walmart, wouldn’t use a tiny, start-up forwarder because they’re not equipped or don’t have the contacts to handle the business, so they might look to a larger, more established handler. But you never know, every load and shipment is different.
Generally, it’s best to NOT let cheap freight rates be the sole determinate for which forwarder you choose. Freight forwarding is a service and things can go wrong very quickly, so you want someone you can trust, who can help guide you from pick up to delivery.
Do they have service contracts to your destinations?
Shipping dates and transit times might be essential to your business. If so, you want to work with someone, who has the right carrier contracts to get your goods on the vessels and off to their destinations, when you need to. This is especially important for retailers and distributors in peak season (holidays and whatnot), when space on container vessels is more scarce and when strikes usually happen. If a forwarder has more than one carrier option or multiple contracts in place, then the chance of your cargo getting on board and shipped, will be greater. Sometimes unforeseen delays occur, and a good forwarder will always find an alternate option, before or during the course of your shipment, through their various connections and carrier contracts.
Does the forwarder specialize in certain commodities?
It’s not rocket science. If you ship chemicals, you probably want someone who is knowledgeable and experienced shipping the same or similar chemicals. They’ll know exactly how to pack and crate it, what documents need to be processed, what mode of service you need, and so forth.