Choose Best Online Freight Forwarder
When you expand your business to reach out to international markets, you come across new challenges. One of these will be how to transport your goods across borders and over long distances. This can be complex to organize, which is why you will need the help of a freight forwarding company.
International freight forwarders help you navigate complex customs and legal regulations and ensure you have the correct documentation, as well as organize the transport of your goods.
The benefits of online freight forwarding services
Online freight forwarding businesses are becoming increasingly popular with importers and exporters. They offer easy-to-navigate online portals that allow you to search for quotes, book and pay for your consignment in just a few simple steps.
However, not all online freight forwarders are created equally. Some only offer very basic services, whereas others offer much more comprehensive services to match longer-established consultive freight forwarding companies.
Not everyone may need these higher levels of service, but either way, it’s important you have the right online freight forwarder for both your needs and your budget.
How to choose an online freight forwarder
It makes sense to get your choice of freight forwarder right the first time. It can be costly time-wise and very inconvenient if you need to switch freight forwarding companies. It will also bring you immediate peace of mind to find the right shipping company that you can trust to deliver all your future shipments.
Here’s how to manage your search:
1. Search online
The place to find online freight forwarding platforms is, of course, online. To find suitable contenders from your initial Google search, you’ll need to complete basic information on their site such as where you are shipping from and to, and what you are shipping. This will mean that you can…
2. Eliminate those unable to offer the service you need
This may sound obvious but don’t make the mistake of assuming that every freight forwarder will be able to help you transport your goods. You can save time on your search by ruling out those that can’t provide the right service immediately. So, you should check that:
- They offer the right trade lane options to transport your goods promptly.
- They can handle any requirements specific to your shipments, such as particular storage or handling needs.
If you have very complex needs like shipping to very remote places or through unfavorable conditions, you may need to rule out all freight forwarding services that do not offer anything less than a full consultation service. It will be more difficult to find these services from a more basic online provider.
3. Consider specialist carriers
Using a specialist carrier can help you secure good rates in the long term and build trust quickly in the short term. For example, if you intend to mostly ship by air, it may make sense to opt for a shipping company that only offers air freight.
4. Understand how their business model works
Few freight forwarding companies own all the assets necessary to transport your goods from your door to the consignee. It is far more likely that either they are a division of a large logistics company with access to the same global network of offices and assets, or that they own a few assets and buy-in warehouse or transportation services from third parties to sell on as a full service to you, or a combination of both.
In theory, a freight forwarding company could operate as one person with a cell phone and no assets at all. This is why you should check out how a freight forwarding company operates and be sure you are comfortable with how they operate.
5. Check out their customer service credentials Different
companies handle custom relations in different ways but good customer support is essential in such a time-critical business. Some freight forwarding companies will welcome customer calls during office hours only, whereas some prefer to offer 24/7 online chat support.
You may have specific preferences for how a freight forwarding company handles customer inquiries or the frequency of feedback you are likely to get on the progress of your shipment. Be sure to click on the ‘contact us’ page to get an idea of how you will get help when you need it.
6. Read customer reviews
A potential downside to searching online for a freight forwarder is a lack of information on customer satisfaction. It’s very easy in any online search to get pulled in by a glossy website for a company that’s all style and no substance.
So, don’t miss the important step of researching the company’s reputation. A good freight-forwarding company will proudly display their customer satisfaction data, a sample of reviews or industry awards on their homepage.
7. Reach out to your network
Still unsure? Then consult your trusted network of fellow business owners for recommendations and any freight-forwarding companies to stay away from.
Never too much to ask
The right freight forwarding company for you will offer the speed and convenience you require and good customer service, all within your budget. This may sound elusive, but services like those offered by Shipa Freight offer an online shipping platform that is both customer-orientated and well-suited to the vast majority of business needs.
As Chief Product Officer for Shipa Freight, Paul Rehmet is responsible for translating the vision of Shipa Freight into an easy-to-use online freight platform for our customers.
Formerly Vice President of Digital Marketing for Agility, Paul managed Agility’s website, mobile apps, content marketing and online advertising campaigns.
In his 25-year career, Paul has held various technology leadership positions with early-stage startups and Fortune 500 companies including Unisys, Destiny Web Solutions, and US Airways.
Paul has a Masters in Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Computer Science from Brown University. Paul is based in Philadelphia.