So what is a freight forwarder and why is important? “Essentially, a freight forwarder is a broker who books space on boats and containers. They have trucking partners domestically and in China. Their job is to get your product, get it on the boat, and make sure it sails,” elaborates Hansen. This is probably the one instance where a reference to a “middle man” isn't a bad thing. Freight forwarders handle tasks related to customs, coordinating trucks, and coordinating port landings. There is an overwhelming amount of execution that needs to take place but a freight forwarder allows a team to “not worry about those things and take it off of our shoulders” according to Fabian Reynoso, our QMx Warehouse Lead. With a good freight forwarder on your side, you are freed up to take care of other pertinent matters in your business.
With so many companies available, how does one find a good freight forwarder? One definitely needs to be choosy. “One week, a forwarder will be a thousand dollars cheaper. Then it flips the next week,” explains Hansen. It takes vigilance when acquiring fresh rates as costs can change rapidly. But don’t take this as a sign that cheaper is better. When it comes to a freight forwarder, you get what you pay for! “A lot of customers tend to go with the cheapest options. Often, this will get you bottom barrel customer service. Your products get damaged, lost, and end up costing you more money in the long run,” adds Reynoso. Customer service can be erratic with cheaper companies too. “Sometimes you will get updates or none at all for days. Make sure you find a freight forwarder who is on your side. If you need to pay an extra 200-300 dollars to ship out a product, it will be worth the extra cost with a company that offers better service.” We know many of us love to save as much money as possible, but skimping on a good freight forwarding will cost you dearly in the end.
Even the most seasoned veterans of the shipping world can still find challenges with freight forwarders. For Peter and Fabian, there were challenges they learned along the way that will hopefully help others navigate this complex world. “In our experience, customers think they know the terms used on a contract such as Ex Works or FOB. However, they often don’t know the exact meaning and run into issues determining who is responsible for paying what. This creates more paperwork to fill out down the line, so always make sure you know exactly what terms are being used and what they mean,” advises Hansen. “All the paperwork really keeps you on your toes. It has to be formatted a certain way. Even missing a little bit of information can cause a hold up in customs,” chimes Reynoso.
Your business simply can’t move forward without a reliable freight forwarder in tow. They are a company’s number one resource in moving stock from point A to point B. By wisely choosing a freight forwarder, you are helping ensure the success of your company. At QMx, our Operations team strives to guarantee our customers receive top notch service from us, and that we also choose forwarders who can ensure all products arrive safely and in a timely manner. We simply would not be able to receive our wonderful Q-Figs without them!