According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, companies that export are 17 percent more profitable than those that don’t. While all customer transactions carry some level of administrative overhead, sales to companies and consumers outside of the United States require additional paperwork including correct labeling to ensure goods arrive at the right place at the right time, and documentation that meets U.S. and foreign governments’ rules and regulations. Fortunately, an experienced freight forwarder can help!
What is a freight forwarder and why should I use one?
An international freight forwarder is a licensed agent that ships goods to an overseas destination. Many freight forwarders provide a full range of services. In addition to advising clients on moving products safely and efficiently from one destination to another, an experienced freight forwarder’s knowledge of U.S. export requirements can be an invaluable resource to help navigate many of the administrative aspects of exporting.
The U.S. Commercial Service Basic Guide to Exporting outlines several value added services provided by freight forwarders including:
- Understand and provide documentation required by foreign countries’ import rules and regulations and U.S. government export regulations
- Advise on freight costs, port charges, consular fees, costs of special documentation, insurance costs and the freight forwarder’s handling fees
- Recommend packing methods to protect goods in transit or packing services for your merchandise
- Reserve space on a vessel, aircraft, train or truck
- Work with Customs brokers at international entry point to ensure that shipments comply with the country’s import regulations
How can I find a freight forwarder?
Freight forwarders are licensed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ship freight by air and the Federal Maritime Commission to handle ocean freight. Many freight forwarders are members of the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America (www.ncbfaa.org).
Freight forwarders coordinate the complexity required to move freight across a diverse network of logistics asset owners. Because no company is big enough to have all the assets required—trucks, container ships, cargo planes, trains, warehouses, and more, in every country on earth—freight forwarders have to use multiple asset owners on any given shipment.
For every piece of international cargo, freight forwarders have to find a truck in both countries, book freight across the ocean, pass through Customs on both sides of the ocean, store goods in warehouses, and then arrange final delivery. On top of that, freight forwarders have to secure competitive rates and clearly communicate that pricing to the end client to make sure it’s acceptable. For a traditional freight forwarder, all of that complex coordination is done using phones, emails, fax machines, and physical pieces of paper.
Trans American is replacing those technologies with cloud technology, not only automating away transaction costs but also improving the user experience for brands moving freight. Structuring data in the supply chain, reinforcing automation and providing clear and concise information in real-time. As a result, an online dashboard gives clients more visibility and control over their supply chain than ever before.
A fully-licensed freight forwarder is where expert team members manage clients’ freight movements. Having dedicated teams that take end-to-end responsibility for the success of every client, including Licensed Customs brokers, logistics managers, and operations coordinators. Logistics is a relationship-driven business, but we think technology helps as well.
Freight forwarding requires a high degree of complex coordination. Our cloud technology plus human added dimension approach lets us take on an industry that impacts every human on the planet, one that’s measured as a double-digit percentage of global GDP. Freight forwarding isn’t something that you can hack together in a weekend. Combining human expertise with cloud technology offers lower costs and creates a better customer experience.
Transporting your finished goods safely to the end customers or retailers is essential for a successful business transaction. Whether it is a small or large consignment, delivering it at the right time and to the right place is critical. As there are a wide range of shipping options available, such as land, sea and air, you can select the one that suits your budget as well as requirements.
No matter which option you choose, here are some ways to ensure that your shipments arrive safely:
- Know Your Freight Forwarder: Before entering into a contract with a freight forwarding company, ensure that you have thoroughly checked its credentials. Verify their contact information, licensing and other important details. Arrange a personal meeting via WebEx, talk to their previous clients and seek out testimonials to evaluate the reputation of the company in the industry.
- Prepare A Clear Contract: Make sure you enter into a legally binding contract clearly stating all the terms and conditions of the agreement. It should include clauses related to the transportation methods, sales conditions, payment mode, product volume and type, quality guarantee etc. Read the contract carefully before signing.
- Stay Connected: When the shipment has left the source, you should keep a constant track of its progress. Freight forwarders have real-time information about the location of each shipment during the transit period, right from the source to destination. Also, ascertain that your goods will be handled efficiently during shipment. The transporters should be familiar with the type of goods, the potential problems that could come up and the viable ways to tackle them.
- Cargo Insurance: In order to protect your goods against unforeseen damages during the transit period, it is advisable that you invest in cargo insurance. This is specifically important if you are shipping large quantities or high value items.
- Hire A Specialist: If you are required to ship specific types of goods, such as valuable antiques, food grade items, chemical substances or potentially dangerous merchandise, you must hire a freight forwarder with specialization in handling such shipment. With this, you can have a dedicated team focused exclusively on the secure delivery of the goods from the start to finish.