The 3 Ingredients for a Stress-Free Logistics Experience
Updated: May 7, 2020
It’s no secret that trade and globalization are increasing at an extremely fast rate and have been for the past two decades, changing the world’s economy completely. With all these fast-paced changes in an era of digitalization, one would think that imports and exports are a fairly simple deal. However, many entrepreneurs and small businesses have not yet figured it out.
There are over 40,000 forwarding and logistics companies worldwide to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses with their import & export procedures. How do you know which one to choose? How do you compare them?
Even if you do your research, there are so many terms in the logistics industry, terms like FCL, LCL, BAF and many others that can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed and confused. If this isn’t discouraging enough, quotes can be enigmatic.
So how can you choose the best option? How can you be sure the costs fit your budget and the service meets your needs?
By focusing on these three areas below, you'll be able to more clearly decide which option is best for your business and which fits your unique requirements.
Shipping and forwarding companies are strong in specific routes. It’s rare that one company is the leader worldwide. Company A can have great competitive prices from North America to China or vice versa, whereas Company B might be stronger if you quote for a route to Europe. So start by researching which companies are best suited for the market you want to reach and from where you want to ship. Ask them directly which route is their strongest.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how pointless you think they may be. If you’re not sure about something, ask again. You should be able to understand every single item or description that is being quoted to you, so you don’t find surprises later on.
If you’re on the imports side, request a quote with “all local costs”. There are companies that appear much cheaper than the competition, but freight cost is not the only cost you have to consider. Some forwarders earn most of their commission on local costs, which may include break bulk, documentation among others. So at first glance a logistics company charging US$300 less than the others might seem like a great deal, but you may realize why they were so cheap in the first place once your shipment arrives and you’re invoiced for the local fees.
In my experience, finding the best forwarding & logistics provider resembles a cooking recipe: the company has to have a tablespoon of knowledge, a pinch of experience, a cup of competitive price and a pound of customer service. Speaking directly to a human to get questions answered and problems solved makes a huge difference. Many aspects of the logistics process are now being automated, but there’s one aspect that’s still an incredibly valuable piece of the puzzle and that is human relations. The ability to speak to someone who can guide you or simply answer your questions adds so much value to any service experience.
Valerie Pollmann is an International Trade Specialist with expertise in South America. Valerie is passionate about assisting small businesses and entrepreneurs with their international shipping & logistics processes.