Can you believe global eCommerce sales are expected to blast past $6 trillion by the end of the year? For online businesses, it’s an incredibly exciting time of growth and opportunity. But with great sales comes great logistical headaches. As any eCommerce owner knows, managing worldwide shipping and regulations quickly becomes a migraine-inducing mess.
Enter the freight forwarder – the logistical superheroes ready to save the day. These import and export specialists can swoop in to handle those pesky customs forms and import regulations that vary across every market. Even better, they leverage their networks to tap into serious volume shipping discounts you can’t get alone.
For brands looking to scale globally, digital freight forwarding platforms are quickly becoming an essential tool for managing logistics sustainably. The key is finding the right partner who understands your eCommerce business and its goals. Read on to see why teaming up with a freight forwarder can help take your business to the next level.
What Exactly is a Freight Forwarder?
In simple terms, a freight forwarder acts as an intermediary between you and various shipping carriers. They consolidate and book cargo space with air carriers and ocean freight providers. This gives freight forwarders the buying power to secure favorable rates and capacity on your behalf.
Freight forwarders also arrange customs clearance and manage the plethora of complex documentation required for global shipping. Unlike postal services or carriers, freight forwarders don’t actually transport the goods themselves. Instead, they plan and coordinate the best end-to-end shipping solutions using their relationships and contracts with carriers worldwide.
A helpful analogy is to think of a freight forwarder as a travel agent for your eCommerce shipments. Just like a travel agent books flights, hotels, and activities to plan your dream vacation, a freight forwarder books space with shipping carriers, handles customs documentation, and coordinates the entire shipping journey.
Exploring the Benefits of Freight Forwarders
Freight forwarders provide a myriad of advantages that enable eCommerce businesses to grow and scale successfully. Let’s explore some of the key benefits that freight forwarders bring to the table.
Save Big Bucks with Volume Shipping Discounts
Freight forwarders can pool together shipments from multiple clients to qualify for bulk discounts from carriers. This negotiating power provides significant cost savings that individual businesses couldn’t achieve alone. For example, a freight forwarder could consolidate shipments from multiple small shop owners to negotiate a significant percentage discount from an express shipping provider. Those add up to major savings!
Lightning Fast Transit Times by Leveraging Established Routes
Freight forwarders use their expertise to plan the most efficient delivery routes, leveraging established airline and shipping lanes. This avoids ad hoc routing and cuts transit times substantially. Let’s say an eCommerce company sees 3-day reductions in delivery times to Europe by using optimized routing from its freight forwarder. Those faster shipping times keep customers happy and coming back for more.
Avoid Logistics Headaches with Customs Experts
Navigating customs documentation and regulations in each country is complex, but freight forwarders handle it all. Their expertise speeds shipments through customs and prevents hang-ups. For example, a freight forwarder could enable an eCommerce business to expand into China much more easily by handling all import regulations and paperwork.
Access Global Shipping Options Like a Pro
Forwarders provide access to a network of carriers across air, ocean, rail, and trucking. This menu of shipping options across the globe enables flexibility and cost optimization. A freight forwarder might consolidate rail and trucking for an eCommerce firm to reduce standard 4-day domestic shipping to 2 days for a holiday promotion.
Focus on Growth While Freight Experts Handle Logistics
Leaning on freight experts allows online businesses to devote their time to core priorities such as marketing, product development, and customer service. As the business scales, the forwarder also scales up the shipping operation. Freight forwarding can alleviate operational hassles and bottlenecks as companies expand.
How to Choose the Right Freight Forwarder
Selecting the ideal freight forwarder is crucial for online retailers looking to optimize global logistics. But with so many options, how do you choose? Here are some key criteria for evaluating partners:
- Experience and Expertise
Look for extensive experience in eCommerce and your target regions specifically. Ask about years in business, number of clients, and geographic scope. Their expertise should align with your needs.
Tips: Vet multiple regional/niche specialists if expanding worldwide to get optimal expertise by market.
- Breadth of Carrier Networks
Examine the range of shipping modes and carrier partnerships they provide access to. Can they serve all your needs? The best have vast global networks and contracts.
Tips: Ask for their full detailed list of carrier partners across air, ocean, rail, and road to validate global coverage.
- Proven Track Record
Research reviews and get references from current eCommerce clients. Ask about satisfaction, capabilities, and pain points. A proven track record can replicate success.
Tips: Search online reviews and join Forwarder review forums to find unbiased customer testimonials.
- Transparent Tracking and Communication
Validate that they offer real-time visibility into shipments, milestones, costs, and issues. Tracking portals and responsive account reps are standard today.
Tips: Rigorously test their tracking portal and communication responsiveness yourself to ensure live visibility.
In today’s global eCommerce landscape, seamless worldwide shipping is essential for reaching new markets and sustaining growth. However, the logistical complexities of international expansion can throttle emerging brands if not managed strategically. Freight forwarding is vital for mitigating these risks.
The expertise of freight forwarders saves considerable time and resources compared to handling in-house. Perhaps most crucially, freight forwarders stay current on the ever-evolving regulations and trade policies that impact international eCommerce. Keeping supply chains compliant helps avoid detrimental shipping disruptions.
As such, businesses that are serious about competing globally should align with a freight forwarder. The time is now to scale worldwide.
Featured image provided by Albin Berlin; Pexels; Thanks!