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A freight forwarder is an individual or company who can help you navigate logistics’ complexity when it comes to managing your freight shipments, imports and exports. Freight forwarders use their logistics expertise, customs knowledge, and network of shipping partners to help companies ship from A to B while optimising shipments for speed and cost.
Freight forwarders come in different shapes and sizes. Smaller forwarders may specialise in just one type of freight or only a few freight lanes where they have relationships with their local partners. Some are able to offer either sea freight forwarding or air freight forwarding services, or both. Larger forwarders are essentially global freight forwarders.
Some freight forwarders use their own vehicles and warehouses, but there are also forwarders who operate without owning these assets by selecting the best carriers for each part of the shipment.
As a case in point, Janio specialises in international freight forwarding to and throughout Southeast Asia. From international air and sea freight services throughout key markets like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines to helping imports from countries like UK and Australia. Cross-border trucking services between Malaysia and Singapore are available as well.
If you’re starting to expand internationally and aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of international shipping, mistakes could be costly. Having your container stuck at customs will wreak havoc on your operations and are a headache to solve.
Freight forwarders function as intermediaries between the shipper and the shipping partners needed at every step to get their shipment from point A to B. They can be thought of as travel agents for cargo.
In the process of managing your international shipments, freight forwarders essentially manage customs clearance on your behalf and organise and manage your shipments to get you the most economical outcome.
Customs clearance processes can be tricky, particularly in regions like Southeast Asia where each country has its own customs procedures and requirements.
Many international forwarders provide a customs brokerage service where they handle customs documentation and customs procedures in the importing and exporting country on your behalf. Experienced freight forwarders will be familiar with these different countries’ customs processes and help keep your shipments compliant.
They’ll advise you on which documents to get while organising these so that all the required documents are submitted on time. This is important for Southeast Asia where customs can get tricky as each country has its own customs regulations and requirements. Working with forwarders with established regional customs brokerage experience can go a long way in keeping your shipments moving smoothly from point A to point B.
Particularly for new shippers, working with the right freight forwarder can save your company valuable time that could otherwise be spent trying to learn these procedures from scratch. The time savings gained from this is part of the reason why certain more established companies rely on freight forwarders as well.
Whether your chosen forwarder has their own fleet or otherwise, they will advise you on which mode of transport works best for your current shipment’s needs then organise everything needed to carry out the shipment with their network partners. Freight forwarders tend to do the following to help you out (note that this list of activities is not exhaustive):
Large carriers can give you great service to multiple countries, but at high costs. To get great service at reasonable prices, relationships with multiple local specialist carriers are needed. Especially if you are shipping to multiple countries, maintaining relationships with many of these types of carriers could be challenging.
By working with a forwarder, you can tap on their optimisations for cost and speed that come from good relationships with their carriers without needing to build these relationships from the ground up.
If this is the first time you’re working with a freight forwarder, the initial meeting will generally cove the following:
It also helps to come prepared with the following information to make the meetings more efficient and effective:
Looking to start using international freight in Southeast Asia but need the right partner? Whether you’re starting out or need to supplement your existing international freight capabilities, Janio’s flexible end-to-end freight forwarding solutions have got you covered. From customs brokerage to import and export haulage, we’ve got the last pieces to your unique supply chain needs.
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