A Freight Forwarder, courier, or shipping agent, is someone or company who organizes shipments for corporations or individuals to have goods shipped to the final destination, the client, or point of sale. Freight forwarders contract with multiple carriers or often just a single carrier to move the goods to the ultimate destination. This allows businesses to handle multiple shipping needs in a single provider. Instead of hiring and working with multiple employees, a business can pay one fee to have the work done instead.
A freight forwarder works closely with all US federal agencies including the Department of Transportation’s National Cargo Administration as well as the Department of Commerce, United States Postal Service, and the Transportation Security Administration. They are often called upon by international companies to act as a go between for them and the shipper. The shipper sends paperwork, such as invoices and purchase orders, for goods to be shipped. The paperwork is then presented to the freight forwarder for their review and approval to proceed. Approval is typically instantaneous and depends largely on whether there are no holdups along the way to get the paperwork through customs and into the country.
If an international carrier needs to use more than one port to deliver goods, the paperwork can become even longer. For example, if a manufacturer needs to ship to Canada, they will need to have their paperwork presented to the Canadian Border Services Agency. The same goes for a manufacturer in Europe needing to ship to the Asian countries. A freight forwarder can make the entire supply chain flow smoothly by handling the paperwork needed at every stage of the logistics supply chain.
Another benefit is that freight forwarders provide their customers with a service that directly improves their business relationship with other shippers. Freight agents can easily locate and contact international carriers and other parties involved in shipping shipments. They also can locate potential shippers for a client’s shipments and refer them to those carriers that meet a given set of criteria. Because they are connected directly with carriers, travel agents often can act as a connection between those carriers and the final destination of the shipments.
Travel agents also help shippers establish a clear logistics picture for their clients. When a shipper has a single contact that they can go to for logistics needs, they may not be as organized or knowledgeable about the inner workings of the shipping industry. A freight forwarder works directly with the carriers and logistics providers to ensure that a customer gets the best service available. Travel agents can help a client find the most cost-effective carrier on the market and point the client to the provider that offers the best combination of quality services and rates. Clients can contact a freight forwarder when they need to make changes to their shipment details, determine the status of their shipment, or request new services.
The ability to have an individual directly contact the carrier through their agent makes logistics work flow much easier for shippers. The logistics manager can simply direct the shipper to the appropriate carrier and contact details. A freight forwarder can provide the contacts to a number of shippers and find them the carrier best matched to transport their goods. If a shipper uses their own contacts to contact the carrier, they will need to spend some time researching each carrier and finding the one that best meets their needs.
When a customer uses a freight-forwarding companies, they have a single point of contact to go to for any questions or problems with their shipments. These forwarding companies can offer valuable advice and information regarding the best carrier and the best options available for their particular needs. Freight forwarders can even connect their customers to the carriers they recommend. Once the customer locates the carrier, they will usually be able to see photos of the products in transit, videos of the trucks, and online tracking capabilities. If the shipper has trouble with their shipment a freight forwarder may be able to offer advice on what to do.
Using a freight forwarder can make logistics simpler and save time for both shippers and carriers. Using logistics services is also helpful in helping to keep track of a shipment’s progress. Using a forwarder can make logistics easier and more effective.