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Commercial Freight Forwarding vs Shipping Lines

Why a Commercial Freight Forwarder is an Important Part of Your Supply Chain

Whether operating an existing business or starting a new venture, if it involves the import or export of goods you are going to need international shipping. This is where a good commercial freight forwarder is extremely useful.

There are two ways you can go about arranging international freight shipping:

  • Deal with a shipping company directly.
  • Speak with a freight forwarding company (such as ourselves).

Whilst there are merits to both options, you might wonder why businesses don’t always approach the shipping companies directly? There are many good reasons.

Just like arranging a mortgage, you might approach a bank directly or go through a broker. The bank will only ever offer you its own products; the broker offers the freedom to choose the best products for your circumstances. So it is with freight forwarding.

Reasons to use a freight forwarder instead of a shipping line.

All shipping, of course, goes through the shipping lines eventually. There are many good reasons, however, to use a freight forwarding service as an intermediary.

Knowledge of many shipping routes and companies

A good freight forwarding company will know the sea shipping routes and shipping lines. They are able to select the most suitable or best shipping companies for the specific job at hand. If you go directly with a single shipping company, you are locked into what they offer only.

Understands the shipping industry

A freight forwarding agent understands the industry – they have to, as that is literally their job. When dealing directly with shipping lines, this may not necessarily be the case. You may be dealing with a junior or someone with limited knowledge. Your shipping forwarder will have spent years building their knowledge and experience of the shipping industry and can bring all this to your project.

Industry contacts

The top freight forwarders will have a diverse range of industry contacts throughout the world and within different shipping providers. This provides a number of benefits;

  • The freight forwarder is not typically dealing with the consumer level or junior level staff of a shipping company.
  • Queries can be dealt with more quickly by asking the people who are best qualified to answer.
  • The freight forwarder can negotiate deals on your behalf with the most appropriate people.
  • They know who to contact if things happen to go wrong. In these circumstances, time can be of the essence.

Global shipping rules and regulations

A forwarding agent understands variations in shipping rules and regulations across many different countries and regions. Additionally, experienced forwarding agents will usually have knowledge of on-the-ground processes and procedures, and be prepared to handle issues if they arise.

The ability to foresee potential difficulties, in many circumstances, is an effective method for avoiding extra cost and delay.

A specialist in your corner

Most importantly, a good sea freight forwarder is someone who is going to be on your side if unavoidable problems occur. Shipping delays can occur for many and varied reasons, including;

  • Extreme weather events. These can be anything from hurricanes through to serious snowfalls which prevent normal working conditions.
  • For example; there are some South American locations that are only accessible via river transport. During serious drought, there is not enough water flowing to allow shipping.
  • Port closures due to industrial action or other reasons. Any port closures will require that alternative routes be found.
  • Pandemics. Need more be said?
  • Wars or other conflicts. Border closures or conflict danger can prevent cargo from being delivered in a timely manner, or at all.
  • Piracy.
  • Shipping accidents. A recent serious case was the blockage of the Suez Canal by the ship, Evergreen. This caused extreme delays for a wide range of international shipping.

Help you understand the requirements for international shipping

Importantly, a dedicated freight forwarding service can help you understand the risks and responsibilities of international cargo shipping. They can act as a freight consultant to assist you through the process with the least amount of stress and anxiety. They’ll help you get your cargo where it needs to be. Even better, they can develop long-term freight shipping plans, minimising uncertainty and helping you grow your business.

If you would like to speak with an experienced commercial freight forwarding service, give us a call on 02 9706 5996 or contact us through our online form.