If you are new to the international logistics business and looking to start as an importer or exporter it is very important that you find a strong freight forwarder as a logistics partner.
Freight forwarders are professionally trained agents that work to organize shipments for individuals and companies looking to ship internationally.
Freight forwarders can help you decide if air freight or ocean freight is better for your product and they can help you through the red tape of paperwork involved. But how do you find one that is right for you?
Like many business decisions it is good to network. If you have a college or friend that can recommend a freight forwarder then the process may be easier for you but even then you should ask questions to make sure they are the right logistic partner for your company.
Here is a list of questions you should consider:
- Size: Is the freight forwarder’s company big enough to handle your global business?
- Contacts: How many service contracts do they have? If your goods need to be shipped with the first sailing vessel then you should work with forwarders who have various carrier contracts. Also keep in mind peak season when space becomes a problem.
- Specialty: Many freight forwarders specialize in certain commodities. Make sure you find a freight forwarder that has the strengths in handling your product.
- Global Network: Does the freight forwarder have a good network of global agents at origin/destination ports? A strong network of overseas agents can mean better flow for your product from start to finish.
- Financial Stability: With all the upset in the financial world over the past several years compounded by a weak economy asking about financial stability is more important than ever before.
- Ease of doing business with: Is the freight forward easy to get a hold of? Do they have technology to keep you up to date on your shipment? Do you get a real person when you call? Can the person who answers answer your question without having to pass your from person to person?
- Documents: What is the document turnaround time? Do they have the information you need when you need it?
- References: Ask for references. Research them online and see what is being said about them.
- Insurance: make sure they have cargo insurance.
As a partner in your logistics plan make sure you are comfortable with your choice of freight forwarder as you export, import, ship ocean or air freight you have the peace of mind to know your company’s product is being taken care of.