A simple and effective method for how to choose a freight forwarder

You have cargo to move and you need to work out how to how to choose a freight forwarder. Let’s make sure we know what a freight forwarder is and does.

A cargo owner employs a freight forwarder to manage the movement of goods from one location to another. In general, the movement is from a location in one country to a location in a different country. The freight forwarder manages the:

  • Cargo being picked up from the seller
  • Cargo being delivered to the buyer at the designated location
  • For a competitive shipping price, and
  • Arriving in the same condition it started its movement.

A freight forwarder is responsible for your cargo during the movement, including management of the import and export processes resulting from international shipping. Freight forwarding is a big responsibility.

Why use a suitable freight forwarder evaluation process

To operate an effective and reputable freight forwarder operation takes significant resources and much experience, however the entry level to start a freight forwarder operation is low. This makes for a broad range of freight forwarders with varying levels of experience and capability.

With such a range of freight forwarders available, it is often difficult to work out which freight forwarder fits your needs and you can be confident in.

The final choice should result from a suitable freight forwarder evaluation process.

We have a simple and effective method you can use to help you choose the right freight forwarder for you.

Confirm the freight forwarder has significant experience

The amount of industry experience the freight forwarder has is paramount. While it is easy to start a freight forwarding operation, it is not easy to execute the international shipping of cargo. Our management team at Freight Forwarder Quote Online have over 40 years freight forwarder experience and have seen many forwarders come and go.

The benefit of your freight forwarder having extensive industry experience means they have come across many different situations, such as:

  • Stevedore and dock worker strikes
  • Port shutdowns and disruptions
  • Needing to reroute cargo
  • Resolving customs clearance issues
  • Addressing warehousing problems

An experienced freight forwarder will be better able to help you anticipate and avert routing, warehousing and customs problems. This will ensure your cargo movement will go efficiently and predictably. The more experienced the freight forwarder is, the longer they have been in the industry to develop the important global business relations that benefit their operation.

How to choose a freight forwarder - Confirm the freight forwarder has significant experienceHow to choose a freight forwarder – Confirm the freight forwarder has significant experience

Get freight network details in the countries you are shipping

The ability of your freight forwarder to manage your international shipping using local offices or agents as part of its freight network is an important consideration.

Although it is reassuring for your freight forwarder to have a large global freight network, it is not crucial. It is more important they have part of their freight network in the countries and cities to and from which you will be importing and exporting your cargo. A freight forwarder which has a strong freight network in India is not relevant if you are shipping to Italy from America.

Freight Forwarder Quote Online has a freight network of more than 40,000 locations around the world connected with an effective set of air and sea carriers. We do not, however, claim to cover all possible destinations. As an example, there are freight forwarders who will be better than us at shipping to Lagos, Nigeria, but don’t have the experience and capability to manage your exports from Guangzhou, China.

As part of your evaluation see what details your freight forwarder can provide in terms of local offices or agents it has in the cities and countries to and from which you are shipping.

How to choose a freight forwarder - Verify the freight forwarder has the shipping services you needHow to choose a freight forwarder – Get freight network details in the countries you are shipping

Verify the freight forwarder has the shipping services you need

A capable freight forwarder will be able provide more than air and sea freight when shipping your cargo. There are related freight services you might find beneficial, such as:

  • Customs clearance at ports
  • Local transport from port-to-door via rail, truck or van
  • Track and trace for real time cargo location
  • Warehousing and distribution
  • Marine cargo or freight insurance

Freight forwarders that offer only port-to-port are different from those that offer door-to-door. Although the port-to-port shipping section might cost less, the extra work and costs involved in organising the port-to-door sections may make the full movement more expensive than a door-to-door forwarder.

You should verify the freight forwarder has all the shipping services you need.

How to choose a freight forwarder - Verify the freight forwarder has the shipping services you needHow to choose a freight forwarder – Verify the freight forwarder has the shipping services you need

Check the freight forwarder has good references

Checking references is good practice when selecting a vendor for any service, not just freight forwarding.

It is a major concern if a freight forwarder under evaluation is unable to provide a trade reference stating they do a tremendous job of managing their import and export shipping needs.

Another concern is if a freight forwarder does not have any unsolicited reviews of its services on major online media and websites.

Freight Forwarder Quote Online has trade references that can be supplied upon request. We also have online reviews from customers on Google and Facebook.

How to choose a freight forwarder - Check the freight forwarder has good referencesHow to choose a freight forwarder – Check the freight forwarder has good references

Ensure the freight forwarder has great customer service

Your freight forwarder’s level of customer service is important and easy to determine. Note how fast the freight forwarder returns requests for quotes and check how quickly and thoroughly they answer questions or provide assistance.

If you are a first time importer or exporter, see if the freight forwarder is willing and able to talk you through the process. Check if they explain or point you to information on what you need to know. Ask them what they can do to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible when importing or exporting.

If the freight forwarder is large and there are account managers, they may not be able to respond immediately to all your questions, however if they provide great customer service they will be able to obtain the answers you need from specialised members of their team.

A freight forwarder that is great at taking care of and helping you is likely to provide a high level of attention to the cargo they are moving on your behalf.

How to choose a freight forwarder - Ensure the freight forwarder has great customer serviceHow to choose a freight forwarder – Ensure the freight forwarder has great customer service

Overview of evaluation method on how to choose a freight forwarder

It is important to note that we did not mention freight rates as part of our simple and effective evaluation method.

Freight forwarders whose rates are significantly below market should be avoided, as you will most likely lose any savings with hidden costs, or experience delays and poor customer service.

We believe it is much more important to determine whether your freight forwarder has the experience and capability to execute your international shipping predictably and efficiently.

Our simple and effective evaluation method includes:

  • Confirm the freight forwarder has significant experience
  • Get freight network details in the countries to and from which you are shipping
  • Verify the freight forwarder has the shipping services you need
  • Check the freight forwarder has good references
  • Ensure the freight forwarder provides great customer service

If a freight forwarder does well on each of the criteria in the method then they will have competitive rates.

Include us in your freight forwarder evaluation

We pride ourselves on our experience and capability and are happy to provide testimonials. With over 40,000 locations in our freight network worldwide and a full range of freight services, we are confident we have the services you need. We provide full-costing upfront with no hidden costs. With our low overheads, we are able to give you the best prices. If you are looking for fast, lean, transparent freight forwarding then contact us online and send a message. You can even message us on Facebook.