If you’ve only ever served a local market, freight forwarding probably hasn’t really been on your radar up until now. It will most likely have quickly become apparent to you, however, that shipping things overseas is nowhere near as simple as ordering materials or products from overseas. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to freight forwarding which will give you a solid knowledge base to build your business on.
Put simply, freight forwarding is the process of combining multiple shipping methods as needed to get goods from point a to point b. This could involve any combination of air, road, sea and rail carrier services with decisions being based on both economy and efficiency. Unless you are highly skilled within this area, and have a wealth of time to dedicate to managing shipping and associated affairs, we suggest engaging the services of a freight forwarding company.
How Does This Type Of Service Differ To Logistics?
Logistics includes a far wider scope than freight forwarding. For example, your logistics department most likely has access to your website backend in order to process orders and they’re probably integrated with accounts, inventory and many other aspects of your business. Freight forwarding, on the other hand, deals purely with moving your packages where they need to go. This means that logistics will require far higher security clearance (and therefore poses a risk as an outsourced department) whereas freight forwarding accesses minimal data in order to achieve maximum outcomes.
In addition to moving your stock to wherever it needs to go, you can receive additional benefits from the company that you engage for the task. The following inclusions should be fairly standard across the board as they must be done well to ensure timely and cost effective delivery:
The main benefit of engaging a freight forwarding service is that they will most likely deal with customs on your behalf. While you will still have to pay customs fees and charges (these will be included in your bill) you won’t have to deal with any of the paperwork or jumping through hoops that often comes with dealing with border departments.
Likewise, if you’ve only been servicing a local market, you probably won’t have had much exposure to import and export documents when it comes to sending goods. A quality company will be able to handle all of this for you so you can rest assured that everything is above board.
Items that need to cross borders often have different packaging requirements to those that travel locally. Your freight forwarding company will be able to provide advice and assistance on this matter. They will also be able to store your shipments within their own facilities if this is required during your products journey.
International insurance on shipping is quite expensive, but like most things, it can be saved upon when buying in bulk. Because you’re not going to be their only client, your company should be able to save you money in this department, while still ensuring adequate coverage, as they will be purchasing much higher amounts.
So there you have it, some key information on what will be a viral part of your international expansion. Sending things around the world is a whole different ball game compared to sending them locally so it is important that you understand the rules of the game. We suggest that your first port of call be to engage a quality freight forwarding company before continuing your expansion as they can help with everything on this list and possibly provide other value as well – good luck!