Many small businesses (or those who have just started) find it extremely hard to go through the frustrating procedures of documentation, legalities and clearance, that unfortunately, is a must in all types of international trade. There are quite a number of fronts to handle, and more often than not you find yourself trapped in these time-consuming tasks, when you should be working on the more important ones like marketing, communicating with clients and finalizing new business deals. As a small business, you are left with two options, either hire more staff for these jobs or outsource everything to a freight forwarding agency.
Professional freight forwarders have a clear advantage over your newly hired staff, first they are far more experienced, second they have good working relations with many parties involved in transaction and third, they know many cheap alternatives for transportation. A good freight forward agent will be able to assist you from the word go if you have no real knowledge of international trade. Best way is to engage agent even before you finalize the prices, as he/she can give you an exact idea on how much documentation, insurance or shipment can cost.
While choosing the freight forwarding (or clearing) agent, you must consider following guidelines.
The prime reason for you going to the agent is his/her experience for carrying out those tasks. No matter how qualified your agent seems to be, don’t close your eyes to the past experience he/she has in the field. An experienced freight forwarder can prove to be a lot more helpful because he/she will be having working relations with relevant parties. Being an “old hand” also reflects that the freight forwarding agency is a long-standing business.
Choose the one with extensive knowledge of the market, policies, rules and procedures, and more importantly the best modes of shipment. The agent should be capable enough to go through complete process with ease and in a timely manner. An ideal agent will have the knowledge, skills and technology to provide, you and your customers with top-notch services.
Freight forwarding agent substitutes you for a good number of tasks, plus he/she will provide you with valuable counseling and guidance as well. So, the fees are supposed to be considerably high. Decide all the services you expect to receive and settle on prices in complete details, make sure there will be no additional charges in the future. If you are dealing with a freight forwarding agent from another country, bear in mind the communication problems (because of foreign language involved) that can arise in the future.
William King is the director of Wholesale Trade UK Suppliers Directory and Wholesale Dropshippers & Suppliers Directory. He has 18 years of experience in the marketing and trading industries and has been helping retailers and startups with their product sourcing, promotion, marketing and supply chain requirements.
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