How to Find the Right Freight Forwarding Partner
Mar 01 2019

How to Find the Right Freight Forwarding Partner

When it comes to cargo shipments, there are an incredible amount of options out there. The number of freight forwarding companies in existence can be daunting for someone just getting started with shipping needs. There are likely to be many questions that come to mind when beginning a search for a freight forwarding partner, but chief among them is: Is bigger truly better?

Like anything, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether a large freight forwarding conglomerate or a local, specialized freight forwarder is the right choice. The first step is truly understanding your shipping needs. Are you looking for an all-inclusive partner, that can handle things like packing and storing in addition to shipment? Is cost the most important factor or time? By first pinpointing what is most important, searching for a freight forwarding partner will be simpler.

It’s important to consider the various pros and cons of working with both large, conglomerate freight forwarding companies and smaller, local or specialized organizations. While no two companies are the same – and there are of course exceptions to every rule – seeing how bigger and smaller companies typically stack up in a number of areas is key. Here, we offer factors to consider when deciding on the ideal size of freight forwarding company for your needs.

  • Expansive reach: Typically, larger freight forwarders will have a more extensive reach than smaller shops. If international shipping is high on your priority list, or you regularly ship in multiple markets, or to locations in smaller cities or towns, a large freight forwarding partner may be best due to their larger international web of logistics partners and capabilities. Keep in mind, however, certain smaller companies may have extensive reach in specific countries or markets, just not throughout the entire world.

  • Affordability: Wanting to ship cargo as affordably as possible is a high priority for most people, no matter what they are shipping. Most freight forwarders offer a free quote for shipments. Often, large freight forwarders will present a quote that is more affordable than smaller organizations, but it is important to compare quotes line by line. Sometimes, smaller freight forwarders will include a more all-inclusive look at costs, making them appear more expensive. Remember, it’s not often that an initial quote will exactly match the actual cost in the end.

  • Tailored solutions: Not every professional or personal freight need is the same. Some are looking for very specific assistance from a freight forwarder. In these cases, smaller, specialized businesses may be the best bet, because they are more often willing to customize services to meet very specific needs. Larger conglomerates may not take the time to customize for individual clients. When this happens, third party assistance for certain services or specialties may be required, sometimes further complicating the process.

  • Customer service: There are helpful, dedicated customer service representatives in nearly any organization, big or small. That said, smaller freight forwarding companies have a reputation of being more hands-on with their client accounts. Because they handle fewer clients than large companies, one-to-one customer service happens more frequently and is more top-of-mind for these providers. If exemplary customer service is a top priority, and you expect fast, friendly responses to questions and other inquiries, smaller freight forwarding companies will probably top your list.

  • Variety in freight carrier: Not all freight forwarders have the same kind of freight carriers in their network. The fastest, most affordable or most reliable route may sometimes come from air freight, ocean freight, railway freight, road freight or a combination of these methods. When obtaining quotes, ask for details about which freight carrier methods would be deployed in order to determine if multiple carrier options are available.

  • Multiple relevant services: Freight forwarding companies – big or small – focus on just that: freight forwarding. Still, some companies may offer additional, relevant services that could benefit the customer. Services may include insurance, packing, storage, inventory management and export or import documentation management. Typically, larger freight forwarding companies will offer the most services, and some offer them at a packaged price, which can be cost-effective. But, if a customer is only looking to utilize a few additional services (or none), a smaller shop may be best able to accommodate a customized approach.

After analyzing individual priorities and then comparing those priorities with the considerations listed for both large and small freight forwarders, it becomes easier to visualize what size partner will best meet your needs. The process of freight forwarding can be cumbersome and complicated – especially initially. But the right company can help streamline the process, and most importantly, make sure the cargo reaches its destination in top condition.