International freight forwarding companies can be an invaluable source that can save you both time and money. They can, however, create serious problems with a shipping order if a freight forwarder fails to follow procedure or does not have the means to meet your shipping requirements.
Determining the freight forwarder you require necessitates an understanding of both what a freight forwarder is and how to choose one that can fulfill your shipping needs.
First, a freight forwarder is different than a shipping company. A freight forwarder is a company that works with shipping companies to consolidate shipping orders. This allows shipping companies to fill their containers to capacity. Likewise, by combining shipping orders, freight forwarders allow customers to pay for a portion of a container as opposed to the entire unit.
Consolidating shipping orders cuts costs for both shipping companies and the people/companies who require a shipping company’s services.
Choosing the right international freight forwarding company, however, requires due diligence. There are several questions that need to be answered before you can choose a freight forwarding company.
Freight forwarder software cuts down dramatically on both the time and paperwork required to ship goods overseas. However, not all freight software is the same nor equal. Companies that use unstandardized, outdated, or unproven software for freight forwarders can prevent your shipment from passing through international customs.
Above all else, you need to know if an international freight forwarder you are considering has the network required to ship what you need to be delivered. While the term “international freight forwarders” seems to imply that a company will have the capability to ship whatever it is you require shipped, that is not the case.
The first question you should likely ask is whether their company has the freight forwarding system necessary to handle the shipping load. If the freight forwarder is connected with a company that has the capacity to ship what you need to be delivered, they are of no value to you.
In addition to the capacity of a freight forwarder’s contacts, you need to inquire about the company’s experience. Inexperienced freight forwarding companies can hold up an international shipment by days, weeks, or even months. Shipping products in bulk overseas is not a simple proposition. Without the proper contacts and without a proper understanding of a country’s import rules and regulations, a freight forwarding company can delay the delivery of your international shipment.
A broker is the person or agency responsible for getting your shipment through international customs. Every company with a freight forwarder system should have a brokering agency contact in the country to which you are shipping. Without one, any issues with the paperwork of your shipment will become a serious hurdle. A broker is an integral part of the freight forwarding system and can be the difference between you shipment making it into the country and not.
Hiring an international freight forwarder is an effective means of ensuring your shipment makes it overseas and into a country efficiently. It is also a means of saving money, but, having the right freight forwarder is essential.