Freight Forwarding 101 - The Differences Between Small and Large Freight Forwarders

Freight Forwarding 101 - The Differences Between Small and Large Freight Forwarders

You might be thinking, I've got to select a freight forwarder but do I go with a large global conglomerate freight forwarder or a smaller freight forwarder specialised in my local market and trade lanes? Well, the answer is contained within this blog post.

If you haven't read our previous blog post in this series, When NOT To Use A Freight Forwarder, be sure to read that one before you go on. We also have a post dedicated to the factors you should consider when researching about different freight forwarders, here.

Large freight forwarders


The large global conglomerates have global networks that is crucial to their international presence in multiple markets. As such, if you are also a large company, who has well and truly exhausted your local market, large freight forwarders will be able to expand your reach globally using their own logistics spider webs. Even though the international capabilities of large freight forwarders are unmistakeable, two things you must note as a business when approaching these types of freight forwarders.

Number one is price. Most often they are able to offload some excess container space/slots to secondary businesses at a great price, however, they may not be as cheap as you think. After all, freight forwarding is a secondary business to these global powerhouses. Look elsewhere and find comparable rates to see if you're really getting your money's worth.

Number two, which is the most important concern, is service. Often, large freight forwarders are unable to dedicate much time and effort to your account. They rely largely on automation in order to achieve economies of scale, therefore you may not receive the personalised service that smaller freight forwarders can offer. To regular importers/exporters, freight forwarding is often not a one-off project. It is a relationship, and having one with your freight forwarder is important in making sure your supply chain is well taken care of.

Small freight forwarders


Small freight forwarders are local; they have a good extent of networks, and have specialised knowledge in areas of their own expertise, whether it is procurement, customs brokering, or freight forwarding. Small freight forwarders also have a much smaller team compared to large corporate counterparts, and operate on a needs basis for customers, tailoring solutions for each client.

Small freight forwarders are great if you are just starting out on imports/exports and would like someone to walk you through the process, and help you with expanding your reach. They are also more superior in the extent of customer care and time and effort spent on each client, compared to large freight forwarders. They can also solve problems on the ground quickly, depending on the level of visibility, communication, and network contacts, three factors crucial to the level of service of any freight forwarder.

However, small freight forwarders may or may not be able to handle your volume, if you are shipping tons and tons of goods every day. Freight forwarders have reserved wholesale prices and spaces (from the shipping lines/airlines) for their own clients, so it's best to talk to them when you do have a high volume requirement.

Again, because they are local, smaller freight forwarders, you may see differences in price compared to large freight forwarders. My best advice is, pick what is the most important to you, whether it is price, or service, and choose a freight forwarder that can match these requirements in a professional, relationship-focused manner. Do your research, and compare the pros and cons of each freight forwarder in detail before you decide on one.

Whale Logistics leads the way

While Whale is still a young company, we are a leader in the space of automation, technology-driven freight forwarding and agile supply chain management. We believe in giving customers power to change their supply chain by giving them the power to oversee their operations from A to Z. Our Vision Technologies (mainly Vision Supply Chain Manager) does just this - although this software has not yet been officially released, we encourage you to contact one of our Customer Success Manager and try it out today.


If you enjoyed this blog post (part of the Freight Forwarding Basics series), more can be found here. Read our other blog poststo see what we're up to in the company as well as updates on freight rates, trends, and tips. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get these posts delivered to your mailbox every week.

Whale Logistics are Australia’s leading Freight Forwarder and Logistics company located in Sydney and Melbourne. We deliver digital-focused freight forwarding services such as Australian customs parcel tracking, parcel delivery box, and comprehensive ocean, air and road freight solutions. For cost competitive and innovative freight forwarding solutions, or if you want to get in touch with one of our Customer Success Managers, drop us a line and we will be in touch shortly.

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