Freight Forwarding 101 - When Not To Use A Freight Forwarder

Freight Forwarding 101 - When Not To Use A Freight Forwarder

In this series, we unravel all things freight forwarding - from whether or not you need a freight forwarder, to what size freight forwarder to choose from and cautionary tales when working with a freight forwarder.

Our first post in the series hones in on something very basic that most beginner international traders puzzle over. That is, whether or not you actually need a freight forwarding partner for your business.


1. When your freight is too small

More often than not, we receive inquiries about personal freight or small, loose cargo for sea shipping. In these cases, our customers want to transport a box of goods from point A to B but don't know where to start. Many approach freight forwarders (who specialize in imports and exports between country A and B) to negotiate rates for these one-off freight shipments. Most of the time, however, the documentation and work required with importing/exporting a small consignment when dealing with a freight forwarder may outweigh the costs of just sending the consignment through courier. Your best bet, is to send these small types of cargo through a reputable international (or domestic) courier, and save the hassle on getting a quote and doing onboarding as a client in a freight forwarding company.

However, the sizing of your goods may also be too difficult to send by courier, or too cost prohibitive, and the extra effort dealing with a freight forwarder may actually save you a couple extra bucks. In this case, do your research on loose cargo (LCL) freight forwarders that are the most suitable for you and approach them with your personal cargo details ready to go, so the admin costs can be reduced significantly. Generally speaking, if your cargo is under a cubic meter, consider speaking to your local couriers first before reaching out to a LCL freight forwarder.

2. When you don't know enough about the freight process

Although self-explanatory, many clients fail to do the adequate amount of research before approaching a freight forwarder. As a result, they do not know what to expect out of the service, and therefore cannot evaluate based on the quotes given. Additionally, it also creates much difficulty for your freight forwarder, when you lack common understanding of the freight process, such as standard terms, to make decisions related to your freight, which will then affect your quote.

Before approaching a freight forwarder for a quote, think about what you are trying to transport, how big it is, how heavy it is (read our descriptions of volumetric and actual weight), what postcodes are you transporting from and to, and what time frames you have in mind. Beyond these basics, also think about the country regulations, such as packaging requirements, duties and taxes, and so on.

You can download a copy of our free basic guide to freight forwarding here.

3. When you haven't done enough research on the industry

Although it sounds similar to the previous point, this is probably the most important factor to your readiness to work with a freight forwarder. Besides knowing your own freight and what exactly you need, due your research before approaching any freight forwarder. Beyond the basics, such as LCL, FCL, customs clearance, do they communicate to customers regularly? Are they diligent in their reports? Will they fall off the earth when you ask for an update on your freight? Do they actually have the expertise to drive freight in and out of the region/country you are looking at?

So many factors come into choosing the freight forwarder. If you haven't already, read our blog post on how to choose the right freight forwarder. Besides this, one important thing to note is current industry regulations and trends. For example, packing regulations for each airline or shipping line is different, and may prohibit you from transporting certain goods. Knowing your restrictions will also help with communicating with your freight forwarder smoothly and effectively.

4. When you are moving goods strictly domestically

Of course, this is more likely applicable to customers who are moving goods at a lower rate, and with smaller amounts. There are specific couriers who also specialize in freight forwarding, but within the domestic market. Some of these will offer a complete solution for your domestic trade, however, typically freight forwarders have more holistic knowledge and they will be able to help you more on a global level.

If you found this blog post helpful, stay tuned as we will be introducing more posts in this series (Freight Forwarding 101). Subscribe to our blog in the mean time to get weekly updates!

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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