Freight forwarding companies help you to ship goods internationally, reaching a wider audience and tapping into niche markets. They are highly beneficial and take care of many of the legal requirements within this process. Therefore, it is important that you find the right one that aligns with your business goals. A quick Google search is sure to bring up hundreds of different options, but how do you know which ones to trust and who to place this level of responsibility on? That’s where our guide will come in handy.

What is a freight forwarding company?

Also known as a forwarder or a forwarding agent, these companies will help you organize shipments, designed to get goods from the manufacturer through to the end customer. They don’t physically handle your goods but organise the logistics, making sure your cargo is transported safely and securely.

Freight forwarding companies deal with a variety of different freight types, including air, sea and road. This allows them to navigate the most convenient and quickest route for your shipment to minimise delivery costs.

What are their responsibilities?

The main aim of a freight forwarding company is to minimise the stress involved in international shipping. Dealing with the customs, legalities and various regulations that change on a regular basis is a headache for everyday business owners. These businesses make it their job to understand these aspects entirely, staying on top of changing fees and bringing you a final shipping price.

They are involved in:

  • Planning and researching the best route for a specific shipment.
  • Arranging for appropriate packaging to ensure the product arrives in pristine condition.
  • Negotiating contracts, transport and handling fees.
  • Dealing with customs and insurance requirements and other regulations.
  • Ensuring cost-effective and secure solutions for smaller shipments.
  • Organising insurance.
  • Organising payments or charges.
  • Tracking shipments and keeping the client informed of their location.
  • Organising special arrangements.
  • Keeping a clear line of communication open at all times.
  • Staying on top of the legislation, political situations and other factors.

How do I choose a good, reputable freight forwarding company?

There are a number of factors to consider when signing a contract for international shipping. Remember, you’re going to put a significant amount of trust in the company you choose so it is vital that you make an informed decision. Before choosing a company, consider:

1. How much experience the company has

Look at how many years the business has been operating and what backgrounds the owners have. Ask for references or testimonials for past clients – many businesses will have these on their website as proof of their reliability. Take time to ensure the company you choose has experience in your specific cargo. For example, hazardous goods require different legal documents to get them through customs while some countries operate restrictions that can be difficult to decipher. The freight forwarder you choose should be able to advise on all of this with confidence and experience they can draw on.

2. Do they have a large database of agents across the world?

Experienced freight forwarding agents will be able to call upon a number of international agents to help advise and direct shipments into your desired country. If you’re planning to ship to a specific country, ensure they have the agents needed to meet your requirements. Relationships such as these help to keep information clear and ensure your product arrives at its desired location on time.

3. What services do they offer?

Some freight forwarding companies will be a ‘jack of all trades’, meaning you can flex and alter your business model as you grow. Others will specialise in certain fields, such as inbound and outbound movements within certain countries. Identify whether you need someone with a specific specialism or whether you want the freedom to ship a variety of products in different means. It’s also worth asking for a detailed breakdown of what is included with their service. Choices can include:

  • Repackaging your product and storing them.
  • Booking cargo space.
  • Helping with customs clearance in different countries.
  • Negotiating fees.
  • Preparing import and export documents.

4. Check their credentials

Make sure you ask to see their legal certificates and credentials. These will inform you as to whether specialised training has been given to their employees. This information gives you peace of mind.

5. How would you rate their customer service?

Chances are, you’re going to be dealing directly with the customer service department on a regular basis. So, you’ll want to ensure that their dedication to customer service is just as strong as their passion for international shipments. If something goes amiss with a shipment, you’ll need them to give a detailed explanation. If you have any questions, they should respond in a quick and efficient manner.

6. What technology do they have in place?

Some companies have highly accurate tracking technology that can tell you exactly where a parcel is in any country. This will allow you to offer the best customer service on your side, providing every client with the information they need when chasing deliveries. The most experienced companies will use satellite tracking for accuracy, which can be accessed through your computer.

7. Can they customise their offers to meet your needs?

An experienced forwarding agent understands that not every shipment is the same. Therefore, each client needs to be treated individually, with their needs met in a bespoke manner. Check that your chosen company can do just that. Ask them how prices or transportation could change based on different products within your portfolio or if your business decides to branch into different markets. The company you decide on should make your freight requirements the number 1 priority.

Choosing a freight forwarding business is a decision that should be backed by research and confidence. Here at Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services, we specialise in offering exceptional logistic solutions for our international clients. As experts in U.S.A and Far East inbound and outbound movements, we are proud members of the BIFA and offer dedicated services to all of our clients. From air freight, sea freight and road freight services through to eCommerce fulfilment in our warehouse, we’re here to support your business. Learn more about us and how our business has continued to grow and support others for over 20 years.