Your freight forwarder can be a crucial partner for shipping supplies and delivering goods to customers. However, an exceptional freight forwarder should be more than just an intermediary between you and the carriers who move your goods.
Top-Level freight forwarders can leverage their logistical expertise, industry experience, and network of partnerships to provide your business with several advantages. A close working relationship could unlock the potential to simplify your operations, reduce your shipping expenses, and save you significant hassle in your supply chain.
In this article, we’ll walk you through four of the distinct business advantages you’ll see when working with an experienced freight forwarder. If you’re not yet working with one, use this list to evaluate potential partners and their capacities. And if you’re already working with a freight forwarder, you might find this list useful for getting more out of your relationship to give your business the edge it deserves.
Advantage #1: Simplifying Charges and Invoices from Carriers
If you’ve ever looked through an invoice from a steamship line, you might find yourself confused by all the ocean freight charges you’ll see. Drayage, wharfage, fuel surcharges, terminal handling fees (and more!) add up—and yet you still might not precisely understand what you’re paying. Because these charges don’t always feel transparent, you might not understand the driving forces behind them. As a result, you could be missing opportunities for cost savings.
That’s where your freight forwarder will come in.
- Your freight forwarder can simplify the multitude of charges you’d get from a steamship line for you by walking you through each line item, so you understand what you’re paying
- Additionally, they can help you understand these numbers to uncover potential savings. If the cost of your ocean freight increased due to rising fuel prices, that’s mainly out of your control. However, if higher costs resulting from how you packaged your cargo, your forwarder can help you make the changes you need to lower your shipping costs.
Advantage #2: Better Rates on Consolidations and Other Types of Shipments
As a result of the role they play—as well as their logistics expertise—your freight forwarder may be able to help you find lower rates for your shipments.
For example, when you’re shipping less-than-container loads (LCL), your cargo will go in what’s called a “consolidation.” In a consolidation, a freight forwarder will look for the right mix of freight to piece together a full container load. In many ways, it’s a little like a puzzle.
If you happen to be the missing piece of that puzzle, your forwarder may be able to offer you a lower rate for your shipment to complete the load and send it on its way.
Note: When it comes to consolidations, look for a forwarder which does a significant volume of business to your destination. Why? Consolidated shipments don’t move until the load is complete. So if you’re working with a forwarder with low volume to your destination, you may have massive delays waiting for your goods to move. However, if you’re choose a freight forwarder with a specialty in a particular area, it’s much more likely that the consolidation will be completed and shipped faster.
Additionally, your forwarder can also help you save costs across shipping modes. Forwarders work with multiple types of carriers—ocean, truck, rail, and air—and can help you spot when a change of mode might save you some money.
For example, many companies sourcing small shipments from China may be using ocean freight. However, after all of the ocean freight charges on a shipment, air freight and its flat-rate handling fee of $20 might prove the cheaper option. Your forwarder can simplify the math to help you make the right decision.
Advantage #3: Assistance with Paperwork and Customs Clearance on International Shipments
When you’re shipping items internationally—or receiving them from abroad—the import/export requirements and the paperwork can get incredibly tricky. For example, if you try to send chewing gum to Singapore, toothpaste to Algeria or greeting cards that play music to Saudi Arabia, big trouble could ensue from trying to import these prohibited items. Additionally, if you’re missing essential paperwork when your shipment arrives in the U.S., you could be responsible for huge fines—or your shipment could undergo an inspection, which could delay it by weeks.
All this is to say: When it comes to importing and exporting internationally, you need an expert on your side. An experienced freight forwarder can help you understand all the procedures and paperwork you need to make either international clearance or U.S. Customs and Border Patrol clearance quick and easy.
Additionally, if there’s a problem with an import, an experienced freight forwarder will have an existing network of customs brokers who can assist in navigating the system. These brokers have deep expertise in customs regulations and procedures. As a result, they can help expedite clearance as necessary.
In other words, with a top-notch freight forwarder as your partner, you’ll reduce a significant amount of hassle on your part and set yourself up for quick and easy customs clearance.
Advantage #4: Improvements in Your Logistics Flow
When you’re working with a knowledgeable freight forwarder, you should be able to take advantage of their logistics expertise to improve your operations. A qualified freight forwarder can help you:
- Spot inefficiencies in your supply chain. For example, many retail companies in Hawaii ship all their supplies to a central warehouse in Oahu before repacking them and reshipping them to neighbor islands. An experienced freight forwarder may be able to create a more efficient solution that sends stock straight to stores on neighbor islands, saving you money and reducing shipping times.
- Create processes that solve business issues, like returns. Accepting returns, while good for customer service, can add significant expenses to your business. An experienced freight forwarder can help you create an efficient logistical solution that moves returns back to your central warehouse efficiently, keeping those costs to a minimum.
- Establish efficiencies through volume. When you work with a freight forwarder to streamline your entire supply chain, they may also be able to create new efficiencies, like consolidating shipments to reduce overall shipping costs.
Ultimately, these improvements can significantly impact your bottom line by reducing inventory carrying costs, lowering shipping costs, eliminating unneeded warehouse space, and more.
Leveraging the Logistical Expertise of Your Freight Forwarder
Your freight forwarder should be so much more than merely an intermediary between you and the various carriers your business uses to move goods and supplies. A knowledgeable freight forwarder can be a vital business partner to help you streamline your operations, create new efficiencies, and uncover new ways to reduce the costs associated with your supply chain.
Whether you’re looking for a new partner or you have an existing relationship with a freight forwarder, make sure that you use this wealth of logistics expertise to get all these advantages—and more—from your relationship.
Are you looking for a partner with the logistics expertise to streamline your supply chain and logistics operations? We can help! Just get in touch with us for a free consultation with one of our experts. They’d be happy to walk through your current operations to help you create new efficiencies and uncover potential cost savings.