SMEs – Your Guide To Working With Freight Forwarders
As a small to medium-sized enterprise owner, scaling your business is likely a stage you’re moving towards. With more and more people turning to online shopping and the scope for international trade continuing to grow, it’s no surprise that many businesses begin expanding their offerings worldwide. With this comes a number of logistical challenges. Do you need to consider hiring and growing your team? Will an international office be needed to manage customer requests more directly. And, perhaps most important, how do you navigate international shipping smoothly? Our answer is to consider hiring a freight forwarder. In today’s guide, we’ll go through everything you need to know as an SME owner to ensure you make the right decision first time.
What Is Freight Forwarding?
A freight forwarder or a freight forwarding company is an agent who supports both individuals and businesses in organising international shipments. It’s not uncommon for new businesses to focus on these types of plans in-house initially. Managing the odd international shipment is manageable with the support of local courier services. However, the challenges start to arise when orders begin mounting up or your product offering expands to more complex items. At this point, a freight forwarder is there to ensure you get the most competitive rates and can move goods without issue.
They can be used to organise everything from paperwork through to insurance. Many freight forwarders have their own warehouses where goods can be sent before shipping. And, in some instances, there are packaging services that can brand your goods and get them on their way swiftly. Freight forwarders can also act as a customs broker, moving your goods through the required customs regulations and ensuring they reach the end recipient too. All in all, they act as an extension of your team, removing one complicated process from your To-Do List.
When Does My Business Need to Consider a Freight Forwarder?
We mentioned above that many small businesses choose to keep their shipment processes in-house, to begin with. And this can work very well. This sort of setup gives you complete control. You can choose the exact shipments and delivery times you want to offer, as well as having a clear understanding of where your goods are at all times. For some business models, scaling may look like creating a dedicated international shipment team that manages this as orders begin to pick up. But for those small-to-medium sized businesses who are on the cusp of growth, a freight forwarder steps in to offer vital support. With their help, you gain access to a wealth of new contacts. The international trade market is complex and largely relies on the working of agents to gain the best placements on boats/aeroplanes/vehicles and strategic working to get the best deals.
Common signs that it may be time to look for a freight forwarder are:
- Increased shipping prices.
- Increased international shipments.
- Regular errors or delays with paperwork.
- Customer services levels aren’t at the level they used to be.
- Time is becoming more and more restricted.
- You’re looking to become more environmentally friendly and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
- It’s time to work with a specialist with all-around knowledge.
Benefits For SME
Scaling a business at any point can be challenging. And, choosing to invest your money externally may feel like even more of a risk. However, there are a host of benefits for your business, employees and customers when you choose to work with a reliable freight forwarder.
Better Shipping Options
One way to step ahead of the competition is being able to offer a wider range of shipping options to suit your customer’s needs. Freight forwarders build up a large running list of contacts which allows them to negotiate with many shipping carriers. Using this, you’ll be able to offer quicker delivery times and options that fit within your customers budget.
With a clear understanding of international trade, freight forwarders can help you choose the best method of moving specific cargo. Not only could this save you money, but you also reduce the risk of damage and ensure you maintain those high levels of customer service you’ve always worked to.
Support With Documents
To ship successfully to other countries, there is a wealth of paperwork that needs to be available and filled out appropriately. One small error could cause significant delays to shipments and additional fines. Freight forwarders have been there and done it a thousand times. They are experts when it comes to understanding what information is needed and where it can be found. They will also help you navigate more complex shipment documentation, including those needed for hazardous goods.
Heightened Customer Service
Working with a freight forwarder gives you a direct contact. You can make sure they understand how integral exceptional customer service is to your business. Having a professional on hand who understands all the intricacies and requirements of international trade allows your entire logistical process to run smoother. It means that your end customer is likely to be more delighted with the service and increases the chance of them becoming a return client.
We’ve mentioned above how their contacts allow freight forwarders to get you better shipping terms. This also transfers into rates. Working with an agent like this will allow you to negotiate lower terms, especially when working with large volumes of containers. They are able to consolidate goods from numerous clients who are shipping to the same destination, reducing costs and allowing you to pass on better fees to your customers.
Here at Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services, we have been supporting SME owners for many years. With over 25 years of experience, our agents can help you discover the real benefits of international shipping. If you have any questions or would like to request a quote, get in contact here today.