Things may be going so well for your business that you’re now considering the next step: expanding to a clientele abroad and consequently investing in international shipping services. Indeed, there are a lot of great opportunities to be had through international trading and shipping cargo to another country. These include the chance to introduce your products to a fresh new customer base, the chance to show off your assets to potential partners, and the chance to make your business or brand an international name.
However, newcomers to the process must be wary. If shipping locally is often complex and resource-heavy on its own, how much more challenging could international shipping be? Not affording enough attention to these complexities may result in several things going wrong for your company. The consequences can be serious if there’s a bump in your supply chain; if a single step of the shipping process costs more than it needs to; if there’s a chance of the shipment being delayed; or if things aren’t being communicated properly between the shippers, the logistics ops, and the carriers. At worst, you could stand to see your business reputation sour among clients, your prospects to foray into a new market dip drastically, or your coffers drained of a handsome sum of money—possibly all three.
Truly, this is not the kind of investment that every company is ready for. You’re not expected to have an ace on international shipping readily available on your business team. But if you’re willing to see these shipments through, then it’s best that you seek out an international freight forwarder—a group of people to lead on the logistical side of things.
Here’s a guide on what international freight services entail, how to choose a freight forwarder, and how a world-class company like AFI Logistics can help you from end to end.
What are the Responsibilities of an International Freight Forwarder?
The phrase “international freight forwarder” may seem new to some. But in this prosperous new age of global commerce, the international freight services industry has risen to the forefront. To define the designation in simple terms, an international freight forwarder is a business entity that helps a person or a company arrange for the import or export of goods.
International freight forwarders may not have an extensive fleet of shipment vehicles of their own, but they are experts in handling the logistical arrangements that enable cargo to move from place to place—whether it be by land, air, or sea. The typical range of international freight services they provide include, but are not limited to, the following:
Preparing all necessary shipping and export documents
Booking cargo space on the chosen freight vehicle
Negotiating the fairest freight charges
Tracking the movement of the goods
Helping arrange cargo insurance or filing insurance claims.
In this sense, the freight forwarder acts as an intermediary or a middleman between you and those immediately in charge of shipping your goods to individual customers, markets, or end destinations. As a client of a freight forwarder in Melbourne or other Australian locality, you’ll be paying for their expertise in moving goods efficiently, their extensive network of professional contacts in the shipping industry, their ability to negotiate the best prices on your behalf, and their understanding of international customs laws in the locations you’ll want to ship to.
Determining the Best Provider of International Freight Services
Those definitions aside, not all providers are created equal. Some have an edge in international shipping for certain industries, while others may cater to a smaller business sector but will have professional relationships in a big network of countries. In choosing freight forwarders for long relationships as opposed to a one-time deal, you have to be smart about what they can offer you. After all, this is not just an issue of moving one box from Point A to Point B—it’s an issue of finding the right people to clear that long and difficult path for you.
Below are eight tips on how to choose a freight forwarder that’s for keeps!
Available services that align with your needs.
There are four different service modes for international shipping, namely: port-to-port, port-to-door, door-to-port, or door-to-door. First, you need to find a freight forwarder who can arrange for the necessary route through any of these modes; second, you need people who will agree on the size, weight, volume, and dimensions of the cargo you want to ship out. A company like AFI Logistics, whose expertise spans multiple types of cargo, can likely guarantee the fulfilment of your order.
Access to multiple modes of transport for shipment.
Your goods will find their way to your chosen destination either via ocean container, air cargo, or land cargo. If your freight forwarder is something of a one-stop-shop that specialises in shipping through all three modes, then you’re in great luck! That means that you can contract with the same people for a wide variety of shipment types in the future.
Commitment to your timeline
Timeliness is of utmost importance in international shipment; businesses that maintain their calendars suffer the least from losses and interruptions. Partner with an international freight forwarder that can meet your deadlines, as well as offer tips on avoiding these costly delays.
Flexibility in options
In some cases, however—such as natural disaster or dockworkers’ strike—your first plan for shipment may fall through. A seasoned and agile freight forwarder will be able to execute a Plan B with an alternate contractor. As AFI Logistics is not bound to just a few carriers, we can cast a wide enough net in our directory and get the goods out through all means necessary.
Sterling affiliations and good reviews
International freight services is an extremely competitive, demanding, and watchful industry. It will reflect well on your business to work with people who are recognised and respected by their customers, peers, their carriers, local and international trade organisations, and pertinent governing bodies. AFI Logistics has garnered several five-star reviews from customers throughout the country. In addition, we are Licensed Customs Brokers by the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA).
A network of contacts
in your end destination. You will also want your freight forwarders to be savvy on the “international” aspect of international shipping, i.e. the customs laws, shipping regulations, and even the cultural nuances of the countries you are shipping to. That ensures a smooth entry into your new market, and faster adaptation to the needs of your new international customer base.
Offers cargo insurance
It’s not pleasant to think about, but there is a chance that your precious goods may be exposed to the elements, to erratic shipping conditions, or to improper handling. A reputable shipper will do their best to protect you from these situations, and to cushion your business from incurring damages.
Transparent and process-oriented
All throughout, your international freight forwarder must be diligent and truthful with you, especially in tasks such as submitting documents, coordinating shipments, and tracking the movement of goods. One of the best things about AFI’s company culture is that we promise no ambiguity or grey areas; we measure each situation for what it is, analyse the best possible courses of action; and assure each and every customer of the importance of their business goals. We intend to meet these goals together!
AFI Logistics Will Move Your Goods across the Globe
At AFI Logistics, we promise more than checking off on a one-time shipment: we promise a partnership with an international freight forwarder that will help your business sustain itself. Shipping abroad regularly may seem like a lofty ambition, but our knowledge, methods, and business network will net you maximum savings and a maximal profit.
Facilitate a seamless entry into a fresh new market with our international freight forwarding services. Don’t hesitate to contact us for expert advice, or to request our rates for particular goods, volumes, transport methods, and routes. Get in touch with AFI to move your goods to any corner of the world!