When you hear of "freight forwarder" for the first time, what would come to your mind? There may be endless doubts. Is a freight forwarder in charge of freight shipping? Would a freight forwarder help to navigate all the importing and exporting procedures? What is the relationship among carriers, shippers, and freight forwarders?
If you look up "freight forwarder" in a dictionary, you will find that it is defined as "a person or a company that receives and ships goods on behalf of other companies." This definition may not be sufficient to clear up your doubts. So here we offer you this guide to cover some basics about freight forwarders and show you how they benefit your business exactly.
In words, a freight forwarder will get shipments from suppliers and move them to the agreed destination country for their customers.
The role of a freight forwarder can be put across in a better way if you use "travel agent" as an analogy, who helps you make travel arrangements from booking flights or trains, arranging hotels,determining the best transportation method, to planning meals, thus ensuring no error would creep into your trip.
Likewise, the freight forwarder takes responsibility for organizing shipments, transporting goods from the manufacturing factory to the customer's warehouse or the final point of distribution. They will take care of almost everything in the end-to-end freight shipping. In the next part, we will further explain what they do.
Before you book a shipment with a freight forwarder, you may wonder what exact services they can provide. Here we will show you in detail.
● A freight forwarder serves as the intermediary, linking the carrier with the shipper. The freight forwarder will book shipments on behalf of the shipper and contract with one single carrier or multiple carriers to move the cargo. Additionally, it falls upon the freight forwarder to track shipments and manage shipping documents.
● Freight forwarders have up-to-date and extensive knowledge of freight shipping situations, so they can recommend the most suited transportation mode, shipping route, and carrier for you. A professionlist often excels in multiple tranport modes: sea, air, and rail. They will offer multimodal shipping options when there is a need to ensure effiencicy, cost-effectiveness, or even both.
Is an intermodal strategy conducive to your freight? Which shipping route can minimize the costs? Which shipping company/airline company/railway company can provide tailored services? You will get fitting answers from your freight forwarder.
● Providing basic logistics services is an integral part of the freight forwarder's responsibilities, including:
Sea freight/air freight/railway/international express services
Issuing their own approved Bill of Lading
Picking up the cargo
Loading and unloading
Assisting in preparation of documentation
Warehousing and storage services
Freight consolidation and de-consolidation
Even when the shipments arrive at the Port of Destination, services won't end there. Normally, freight forwarders will work with overseas agents, who assume the responsibility for delivering the documentation, de-consolidating the cargo, collecting freight rates, and delivering the goods to the final stop.
Almost every detail of your shipment during the transportation will be carefully handled if you work with a professional freight forwarder. The whole journey can be free of worries.
● To facilitate the whole logistics network and the supply chain, freight forwarders also provide value-added freight services. In most cases, these services are tailored to the needs of customers, including:
Packaging and re-packaging
● Handling customs represents a big challenge. Myriad factors can be involved in customs issues, adding to uncertainties of importing and exporting: varying duties and taxes, complicated requirements in different target markets, and the continually evolving regulatory systems.
Freight forwarders know how to prepare the documentation completely to the specifications of the target country and navigate customs clearance. Hence, the complexity is reduced, and better compliance is ensured.
● Anyone engaging in the shipping industry is surely aware of the importance of the Bill of Lading. It can serve as a receipt of goods and a document of title. If you ship with a freight forwarder, they will get a Bill of Lading or Air Waybill from the carrier promptly and send it to you.
● Human beings cannot completely hold accidents and natural hazards at bay. Unpredictable events may conjure up from time to time. That is why you should insure your cargo during transit. Freight forwarders will handle cargo insurance for you. When cargo loss and damage do occur, they will file an insurance claim on your behalf, minimizing the financial impacts.
Shipping globally is no easy feat. There would be lots of devils in the details. A freight forwarder is here to help you avoid the worst of the pitfalls. Now let us specify the reasons that you need a freight forwarder.
● A good command of importing, exporting, shipping industry, and forwarding situation is all the more crucial for this job. That is why freight forwarders are viewed as "designers" in the logistics network. They are equipped with the most up-to-date information.
Of course, the Internet allows you more convenient access to relevant news, knowledge, and experts, but you may face information overload and decision fatigue in the meantime. What's more, if you are unfamiliar with relevant regulations and rules, trouble is looming.
● In the shipping industry, extra fees are like landmines, lurking in front of you. You really need a professional to help you navigate. Based on your cargo type, origin, destination, and pickup and delivery times, your freight forwarder will inform you of all kinds of charges (common and non-standard) along the transportation.
As for transport costs, freight forwarders have the ability to offer relatively favorable or even the lowest possible prices, including freight charges, documentation fees, import duties and taxes, customs clearance expenses, and more.
Freight forwarders are more than willing to help you rein in the shipping costs. When going with LCL, you are likely to obtain freight rate discounts. Also, when there is high enough shipment volume, freight forwarders can negotiate with carriers to get discounts for you.
● In addition to costs, shipping with a freight forwarder can free up your time. You don't want your valuable attention to be misdirected by tons of disinformation. Nor do you want to dive into the sea of Internet for one single effective solution. Your time and energy can definitely be saved if you reach out to credible and experienced freight forwarders.
For SMEs owners, in particular, finding a freight forwarder allows them to focus on their main businesses and maintain work efficiency. Trivial matters such as loading, unloading, labeling, packaging, and warehousing should not be a headache for them.
● Freight forwarders are proficient in communication, too. Normally, there will be three parties involved in the transit of cargo: carriers, shippers, and freight forwarders as the intermediary. Without a freight forwarder, keeping everyone on the same page may mentally exhaust you. And you cannot rule out the possibility of miscommunication. So Let a freight forwarder step in to do the heavy lifting for you. You only have to inform your freight forwarder of your demands, requirements, and shipment details at the quoting stage. They know how to meet your expectations.
● Connections play a big role in the freight shipping industry. Generally, well-versed freight forwarders have established a network of contacts with trucking companies, shipping lines, airlines, customs brokers, and warehouse operators. They know when to consult who if problems arise.
All the pros aside, you should be aware that freight forwarders have almost no participation in what exactly happens on board. As a result, they have almost no control over what happens during transit. Errors may occur. But a reliable freight forwarder knows how to contain the losses.
We would like to guarantee you that whether you are time-sensitive or cost-sensitive, your freight forwarder will find a balanced approach for you. Whether you have particular demands, they can work out a tailored shipping plan.
With enough expertise and experience, Seabay Logistics is here to provide a wide array of international logistics services across ocean, air, and rail. We assume the responsibility to simplify the whole process and deliver your shipments in time with the lowest possible costs. Also, we excel in freight transport from China to the US. If you are looking for a logistics service provider managing international shipments towards the US, Look no further. We are here waiting for you. We handle the most difficult part in transportation of your goods, so you are able to make your business grow and thrive.
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