Freight Forwarding 101 - A Beginners Guide
It is no secret that the freight forwarding and logistics industry as a whole can be a bit nuanced and complicated. Intricacies aside, we have decided to break the comprehensive workflow down into simpler components, allowing for a more digestible overview.
A freight forwarder manages the movement and entire shipping process, from beginning to end. A forwarder does not always have physical access to the commodity being shipped, but oversees and comprehensively manages all logistics involved in the transport while simultaneously anticipating any forthcoming issues.
To begin, lets take a look at some of the benefits that are offered by an international freight forwarding company.
Freight forwarding networks are created to mitigate risks, save time and money, and to create a ‘team work’ environment instead of creating disconnect and unhealthy competition. A viable freight forwarding company will come well connected to strong networks spanning the globe. This allows for accessibility and immediate solutions no matter where your shipment originates and ends. An expansive network allows the freight forwarder to easily obtain market rates and global destinations while preserving governing compliance.
Examples of a freight forwarders network can include: ocean carriers, port officials, courier companies, trucking services, and agents (forwarders in other countries). These relationships allow freight forwarders to facilitate the movement of your shipments in a more efficient and timely manner.
With the expansive support of a freight forwarding network, smaller companies are better equipped to compete with larger and more industry renowned companies by offering comparable rates.
Operating on a technology platform that provides customers with real-time information about the status and contents of their shipments is critical to scaling a business. This is freight forwarding customer service at its most basic level. By being a direct point of contact to a customer, either through digital systems or personal contact, allows the customer to have visibility and confidence throughout the entirety of the shipping process.
As we have stated before, logistics is complicated. Attentive and responsive customer service helps take the proverbial ‘edge’ off for the customer.
Choosing an international freight forwarding company that you can trust and who will open the lines of communication are imperative to the success of your business or movement of your shipment – no matter how big or small.
Third-Party Logistic Providers (3PL)
“Third-party logistics in logistics and supply chain management is an organization’s use of third-party businesses to outsource elements of its distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services. Third-partly logistics providers typically specialize in integrated operations of warehousing and transportation services that can be scaled and customized to customers’ needs, based on market conditions, to meet the demands and delivery service requirements for their products.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-party_logistics]
By leveraging alternative warehousing and distribution services, freight forwarders are more adept to properly facilitate ALL components and moving parts of an entire supply chain or a smaller individual shipment.
In some cases, freight forwarding companies may also have acquired 3PL services included in their own business model, giving them a more comprehensive approach and more authoritative oversight.
Shipment Process Overview
Freight forwarding is still very much an industry that is heavily reliant on paperwork. As much as logistics hopes to be progressively moving in a digital direction, there is still a predominance of the process that remains exponentially removed from these technological advancements.
Below you will find an expedited list of all documents required for a shipment:
Bill of Lading
Export Packing List
Certificate of Origin
Shippers Export Declaration Document
Once the documentation process is completed and properly regulated, your shipment can begin to move. There is a common misconception of time in the freight forwarding industry, on the part of the shipper. Having a realistic time frame in mind is ideal in the beginning logistical phases of your shipment.
Comprehensive shipment synopsis: First, the goods must be transported from origin to a local warehouse or storage facility. Next, the shipment must acquire clearance to export from the country of origin. The goods must then be unloaded, properly inspected and then cleared through Customs. Once the shipment makes it to the destination country, it must be transported to a warehouse or hauled directly to final destination.
Freight Forwarding Specialists
Some global freight forwarding companies handle any and all shipments, regardless of complexity, while others will specialize in a certain commodity or good.
Hazardous materials for example.
When extensive regulations are implemented on a particular good, it is crucial that the freight forwarder handling the movement is well versed and capable of executing the correct procedural flow.
Freight forwarders offer service lists and expertise in many different areas. Ensuring that you properly vet and research international forwarders before choosing one will alleviate any unwarranted stresses once the shipment has begun transport.
Let’s Wrap It Up
In short, freight forwarding is an all-encompassing approach to shipping something from point A to point B, no matter where in the world those points are located.
Partnering with an international freight forwarder who can consistently deliver (pun completely intended) on their general services, then go above the call of duty to provide solutions to any issue that may arise is an immediate investment that all businesses should be making.
If you have any questions about importing or exporting your material, and would like a free consultation, contact us HERE today. We would love to connect.
CLN Worldwide is a cross-functional team of logistics experts helping clients navigate areas of transportation, distribution, Customs, and regulatory compliance. Our focus in not on an individual product group or service offering but rather a comprehensive approach to effectively managing and optimizing the supply chain. Our services are customized and tailored to meet specific requirements of our clients. Our Single Source Global Management System provides the structure and support to drive industry leading performance and results from each of our service areas.
Managing complex global supply chains for today’s middle market and emerging growth companies.
CLN Worldwide | 8530-A Steele Creek Place Drive | Charlotte, NC 28273 | 704.357.0474 | clnusa.com