Isn’t globalization awesome? You can buy products from basically anywhere and sell them to customers all over the world. The effort and regulations associated with international trade, however, can discourage many Amazon sellers and other online merchants from purchasing their products from other countries. But if you have a good freight forwarding company, logistics becomes child’s play. These companies ensure that your products safely reach you or your fulfillment center.
But how can you make sure that you hire a reliable, trustworthy freight forwarder? What tasks should the freight forwarder perform? We’ll show you in our comprehensive guide what to look out for when choosing your freight company for your Amazon FBA Business.
What is a Freight Forwarder?
The term “freight forwarder” is often used as a synonym for “shipping company”, but those two terms don’t mean the same. The freight forwarding company does not move your products, but is a person or company that organizes the shipment of your products to you or your fulfillment center. In general, freight forwarders do not have their own ships, aircrafts and trucks.
Instead, they have a network of carriers that they use to have your goods shipped. After they’ve received your shipping requirements, they will find the right cargo companies and route for you. They have dozens of carriers in their network and usually get cheaper rates and faster routes than if you booked directly with one of the freight companies. In addition, the freight forwarder monitors your shipment 24/7 and ensures that everything runs smoothly.
A freight forwarder organizes the import and export of your products but usually doesn’t own its own means of transportation, like ships or planes.
Why should I hire a Freight Forwarder?
For Amazon FBA seller like you, fast shipping is crucial because it’s important that you never run out of stuck. Freight forwarders use their network to ensure fast and smooth shipping. That way, you don’t have to send enquiries to many different companies and wait days and days for their offers. Also, without a freight forwarder, you wouldn’t be able to see all routes available and therefore couldn’t tell which route would be the fastest and cheapest.
In addition, the coordination of the air, sea and land routes – sometimes with different transportation companies – requires exact planning. Handling these huge logistical challenges is basically a full-time job. In the world of Amazon FBA, freight forwarders are therefore a big help and prevent you from being distracted from your core business.
The last but not less important reason for hiring a freight forwarder is that there are some hurdles involved in importing goods, especially in terms of bureaucracy. A freight forwarder has experience with common documentation requirements and regulations and will handle all the red tape for you.
Freight forwarders relieve you of the stress and hassle associated with shipping goods. They have extensive experience in all areas of the supply chain and can help at all levels - warehousing, filing documents and the actual shipment of your cargo.
What Services does a Freight Forwarder provide?
A good freight forwarder advises you on how to keep the costs related to your shipping at a minimum and provides information on what unexpected costs could arise due to strikes, political decisions or other factors, so that you know what costs to expect in the worst case.
Way of Transport
What is the best way to ship your product – air, sea or land? The answer is that there is no right answer. Which way of transportation is most suitable for you highly depends on the nature, size, weight and other characteristics of your goods. Your freight forwarder will analyze the attributes of your cargo and will then give you advice on the most suitable way to transport your goods.
Packaging, Labeling & Paperwork
Despite the many tasks a freight forwarder takes on for you, you still have to prepare a few things yourself, such as certain documents. Your freight forwarder can tell you exactly what papers you need to provide and why they are important.
Organization of Transport
There are many regulations that affect the international movement of goods and they vary from country to country, sometimes even from region to region. Inspection requirements, special licences, taxes and the political (and sometimes geographical) climate all influence how fast, easy and expensive it is to transport goods. Your forwarding agent will guide you through that regulation jungle and provide you with a number of documents. Which documents you will need depends on the country of origin, the country of destination and the means of transportation used to ship your cargo. Some of the most common documents are:
- Commercial Invoice
- Bill of Lading
- Packing List
- Insurance Certificate
- Inspection Certificate
It is important that you receive all required documents from your freight forwarder so that you are prepared for any problems that may arise.
Booking Carriers & Warehouse Space
The most important and central task of the freight forwarder is to organize the actual transport. For this purpose, he negotiates favorable rates and fast routes with carriers from his network. He plans how the different carriers will work together to ensure a smooth process.
If your goods need to be temporarily stored on the way from the manufacturer to the destination, your freight forwarder will also take care of safe storage.
You won’t need to worry about suffering losses from damaged or lost goods. Your freight forwarder will take care of insuring your cargo and, if anything goes wrong during transport, will help you file a complaint.
How do I choose a Freight Forwarder?
It’s important that you build a good relationship with your freight forwarder. Your freight forwarder is responsible for getting your freight safely to its destination, so you should emphasize on having a good, long-lasting and equally beneficial business relationship. Now you’re probably wondering how to tell whether a freight forwarder is a good one or not. You should pay attention to five main factors: Network, Experience, Specialization, Transparency and Service Portfolio.
In any case, the freight forwarder must have a strong network. By hiring an internationally well-connected freight forwarder, you can get the best shipping rates for your goods and ensure that your products reach their destination on time.
Experienced forwarders probably have encountered a number of problems over the years, so they are able to quickly and professionally resolve any problems and difficulties with your shipment.
Area of Specialization
There are freight forwarders who specialize in handling the shipping for one or only a few types of goods. So if you sell a particular type of product that requires a specific form of transportation, you can use a forwarder who has experience with that and employs a team of specialists who are used to handling a cargo similar to yours.
You should definitely work with a company that will keep you updated on your goods throughout the shipping process. That way, you will always be able to quickly react in case your shipping is delayed or freight gets damaged. One big advantage of our time is that internet technology and satellite systems allow real-time tracking of the transport of your goods.
In addition, the freight forwarder should be transparent about the costs and be able to show exactly how much money was paid and for what.
Before you start searching, think about what requirements you have and what tasks the freight forwarder should definitely take on. Plus, be sure to find out what extra services your freight forwarder has to offer. Even if you don’t have to use them yet, it is always good to know which additional services you could use in the future.
How can Sermondo help me find a Freight Forwarder?
On Sermondo you can find and compare freight forwarders from all over the world and easily request them via the contact form. On the Sermondo Map you can see exactly which freight agents are located at which locations. That way you can easily find one in the area where you purchase your goods.
You can also create a job listing with your shipping requirements. Freight forwarders who can meet the requirements and organize the shipment of your goods will then contact you shortly.
Easy as pie. Free of charge. Transparent.