How to Select a Freight Forwarder for International Shipping

An Amazon FBA freight forwarder can be an invaluable partner in your online retail business. After you’ve done your initial product research, located a manufacturer capable of producing your item, and budgeted accordingly for your initial shipment, you might even think you’re all set to hit the sales grindstone. Then you hit a stumbling block. It’s at this point, when you’ll want to tap into the resources of a freight forwarder to get your freight costs as low as possible.

There are many factors that dictate where and how much you should charge for an item to reach its intended customer. The first thing to consider when gauging potential shipping needs is whether or not your potential customers will accept whatever shipping method you choose. Customs clearance and air freight both carry inherent risks, so it is important to consider whether or not these risks outweigh the benefits of using these methods to ship your items. If they do, then these methods should be your primary shipping options.

A good freight forwarder will be able to help you assess your international shipping needs, particularly given the fact that freight forwarding companies must meet certain guidelines for handling shipments to Canada and Mexico. For instance, they must have sufficient air freight facilities to safely transport products to these two countries. Additionally, a freight forwarder must have adequate facilities to safely transport products to all Canada ports. If there are any weaknesses in these areas that could pose a problem down the line, your freight costs will skyrocket. So it’s important to have a freight forwarding company that is experienced in meeting the demands of your particular international shipping needs.

When choosing a freight forwarder, the most important aspect of your choice is the freight forwarder’s China entry summary. The China entry summary is an itemized list of all of a company’s China-bound deliveries and the associated CIF codes. You want a company with a China entry summary that lists all of the major destinations for all of their shipments and includes all of the relevant CIF codes. A good China entry summary will also include information about the different services included in the delivery, such as the service type (such as air freight, ocean freight or land freight) and the mode of transportation chosen by the supplier.

Once you’ve chosen your freight forwarding services and completed the China customs forms, you’ll need to get your shipment into either a pre-approved or pre-paid shipper account. These accounts come in two forms one with a bank account that can be funded on credit and the other that is pay as you go. The advantage of a credit-based account is that you’ll never be charged a monthly fee, whereas a pay as you go account charges a small fee each month that accrues to a balance. Because these accounts often have higher maximum receipts than their cash flow based counterpart, they are considered safer for couriers to use. However, if your shipments rarely enter or leave China, they might not provide the security and peace of mind that you require.