When it comes to freight forwarding and third party logistics (3PL), selecting the right logistics service provider is no different than choosing the right supplier or your own employees for your company; you are choosing a partner that will help your business succeed. The company that you will choose should be a trusted partner for your logistics needs, and should have good track record in providing the best freight forwarding services. In this fast-changing world which is highly dependent on supply chain optimization, cost efficiency, timeliness, and unvarying service, shippers, importer, exporters and others involved in the supply chain must make an assurance on which freight forwarding company to choose for their logistic needs.
In selecting the right forwarding company for your business, the size of your company should not fix upon the size of your freight forwarder (a combination of volume shipped, revenues and # of employees are how the size of your freight forwarder is defined). There are large companies that chose small freight forwarders for their business as well as small companies that chose to have large freight forwarders. Therefore, there are many other questions that must be answered and other point of comparison that needs to be analyzed to conclude which freight forwarding company is right for you and your company.
Here are some questions that you need to answer for you to know which freight forwarding company to choose:
1. What mode of service do I need? Do I need port to port, port to door, door to port, or door to door services?
2. What is the origin address of the cargo, what is the final destination?
3. When you are having international freight forwarding, ask yourself What are my international commercial terms with my supplier or my buyer? At what point does my responsibility and liability of the cargo begin or end?
4. What is the size/weight/dimensions/value of my cargo? What is the value? Is my shipment considered oversized or out of gauge?
5. Depending on the mode of transport that you will be needing: what size ocean container, what volume of air cargo, or size domestic cargo will I be shipping?
6. How is my cargo packaged? Do I need additional packing or loading services?
7. Is my cargo considered hazardous? If so, do I have the material safety data sheet, which is required by my freight forwarder?
8. Is there any sort of import or export license required for the import or export of my cargo depending on the commodity and ultimate destination of the cargo? If so, do I know how to apply for that license?
9. Will I need any special services such as: documentary services such as document attestation or legalization services, drop and pull of a container (container left overnight at supplier), customs clearance and duties paid, CBP/FDA/USDA exam processing, in-bond entry, commodity classification (HTS codes), fish & wildlife license, prior notice, annual bond for imports, consolidation of cargo, deconsolidation or any other type of additional service?
10. If cargo will go to a fulfillment center such as Amazon.com, will I need additional repacking services, labeling, pick and pack or other service required to deliver to Amazon.com fulfillment centers?
11. Will I ship my cargo in an ocean container, RORO vessel, breakbulk vessel, airplane, truck, barge, rail or other mode of transport? Will I need intermodal services that provide a combination of these services?
For additional insights, in choosing a freight forwarding company, you should also check that the company that your choosing is certified, if you are around the middle east, you should check for NAFL member or a FIATA member.