Are you in need of a good freight service? New blogger David Thatcher takes us through the ins and outs of freight forwarding.As an exporter, your main concern is selling your products at a profit and ensuring the goods are delivered on time and in good condition. When negotiating with potential international customers you need to be aware of the purchase terms used for international shipping. These terms are known as Incoterms - a series of predefined commercial terms widely used in international commercial transactions. Incoterms determine who is responsible to pay for each leg of the journey in shipping your goods to customers. With a good freight forwarder, you can expect to have a clear understanding of the international shipping costs you are responsible for, along with clear guidelines and definitions of the Incoterms, helping you save time, money and headache in the process. Here are some of the things you can expect from a good export freight forwarder:
- Provide appropriate pricing. Whether you are shipping goods from your door to a sea port or airport or all the way through to your customer’s door, a freight forwarder helps with the relevant pricing of your shipment which is then used in completing your proforma invoicing for the intended shipment.
- Negotiate competitive freight rates. Most freight forwarders have contracts with a variety of shipping lines and airlines and can help choose the right route and the right rates for your shipment. Some services are indirect and have a longer transit but cost less, while others are quicker and direct but naturally cost more.
- Determine the best equipment for your cargo. If your cargo is oversized or heavy, it might require special equipment such as a flatrack or a heavy-rated container. If it needs temperature control, a refrigerated container is needed. Similarly, if your goods are perishable, hazardous or of a certain length, a freight forwarder helps you determine the best equipment or mode of transport to ensure they are delivered safely and in good condition.
- Choose the right container load shipment. If you want to ship less-than-container-load (LCL) shipment, a freight forwarder helps you find operators providing LCL services to the right ports and calculate the "breakeven" costs of shipping LCL versus full container load (FCL).
- Organise correct cargo classification, customs declaration and Letter of Credit. When goods are ready to ship, a freight forwarder organises the pickup and delivery of your goods to the appropriate terminal or wharf where the goods are appropriately classified and a declaration made to Australian Customs through the "Integrated Cargo Systems" (ICS) portal to obtain the "Export Documentation Number" EDN - requirement for all exports from Australia. Once the cargo is moved, the freight forwarder organises the necessary export documents to comply with a Letter of Credit.
- Security clearance. This is required in the handling of air freight bookings and a good freight forwarder is well-versed on all relevant security regulations in regards to air freight export.
A freight forwarder is an exporter’s best friend who ensures cargo reaches its international market safely, efficiently and in mint condition. Therefore it is worth taking the time to consider who you choose (and trust) to look after your goods.