5 top tips when using a freight forwarder for the first time
If you have decided to outsource your shipping to a freight forwarder, you want to get the very best return on that investment. Here are five top tips to ensure that your partnership with your freight forwarder offers maximum benefit for your business, from day one.
1) Communicate your priorities
The point of hiring a freight forwarder is to make the shipping process easier, so it’s important that you communicate your priorities so that your shipping solution can be tailored to best suit your business. For example, shipping by sea is usually the cheapest option, but if you need to receive your goods quickly, shipping by air might be a more appropriate choice. Alternatively, you might have environmental concerns or targets to adhere to. An experienced freight forwarder should be able to advise you on every aspect of shipping, from which type of container to use to your distribution options in port, but they need to know your business priorities first.
2) Confirm what’s included
It’s essential that you have a clear idea of who is responsible for what, when outsourcing your shipping to a freight forwarder. For example, is insurance included in the upfront cost? Will your forwarder complete all the necessary import and export documentation? Who is responsible for the payment of the required taxes, charges and duties? If you’ve been tempted by a freight forwarding quote that seems very low, then it’s especially important to clarify exactly what you get for your money.
3) Utilise the online tools
One of the benefits of using a good freight forwarder is that you should have access to multiple online tools to make using the service as easy and convenient as possible. Cargo tracking tools are particularly useful as they allow you to communicate with your own customers and plan your business activity around the expected receipt of goods.
John Good Shipping offers the option to set up a tracking function, which is then easy to maintain and control. After a simple account setup, other online tools can also be accessed to place orders, request quotations, view documents, read shipping reports and pay invoices. Getting all the relevant online tools set up the first time you use a shipping service will make the process even quicker and simpler, going forward.
4) Look for accreditations
Freight forwarding is an unregulated industry in the UK, which means that pretty much anyone can set up as a freight forwarder, without any specific qualifications or experience. Accreditations can be an indicator of the quality of a freight forwarder, so look for these before you sign on the dotted line.
John Good partners with the British International Freight Association (BIFA), the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) and the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA). It also holds an International Air Transport Association (IATA) cargo agent licence and Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accreditation, which has the additional benefit of simplifying and speeding up the customs process for your shipments.
5) Consider its add-on services
Some freight forwarders offer more services than others. Ask your freight forwarder what add-on services it provides, and consider what might be of use to your business. For example, John Good offers a full spectrum of wrap-around services, to take care of your shipping from end-to-end, including product sourcing, warehousing and distribution. John Good also operates a warehouse at Felixstowe, for ultra-efficient port-centric logistics that could save you time, money and reduce your carbon footprint.
Get your partnership with a freight forwarder off to the best start with these five tips and ensure the most benefit to your business.