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Business Planning Process Planning & Strategy

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Freight Forwarding & Shipping

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Are you confused or at a loss about what to do about the shipping logistics for your small business? Logistics are essential to a small business today. Fast and efficient shipping is a service that many customers have grown to expect from businesses. As that small business, you want to make sure that customers get a premium experience at every level, including with shipping. However, figuring out the logistics of shipping can be overwhelming and often one of the most difficult parts of having a small business. It doesn’t have to be! We can help you figure out some of the ins and outs of freight forwarding and shipping so you can learn what will work best for your small business.

What Is Freight Forwarding?

First things first: what is freight forwarding? Freight forwarding is a method of shipping goods from one location to another, which can be done using one or many carriers. Freight shipping can be done via land, sea, or air. It is a very common shipping method for businesses.

What’s a Freight Forwarder?

What’s a freight forwarder and what do they do? A freight forwarder is an intermediary between the shipper (your business) and shipping transportation carriers. They help make sure that your goods get from point A to point B, domestically and internationally.

Freight forwarders can help make the shipping process easier and less overwhelming for you. They’re essentially logistics experts that handle the shipping process for you. In addition to handling the shipping of goods using various carriers, they can help you with a myriad of other aspects of the shipping process. Some services that a freight forwarder could handle for you include packing, storage, insurance, customs declaration/clearance, and shipping documentation.

Types of Shipping

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You want to make sure that you run a successful business. As such, it may be beneficial to know and stay in the loop about different shipping services that you can use for transporting your goods. You might have heard the acronyms LTL and FTL when it comes to freight shipping. What do these terms mean and which is right for the needs of your business?

  • LTL Shipping – LTL refers to shipments that are less-than-truckload. With this method, multiple shipments from different businesses are on the same truck. LTL shipping enables small businesses to transport goods efficiently when they do not have enough to fill a whole truck on their own. It’s a cost-effective, consistent way to ship for small businesses. Using LTL shipping may be beneficial for small businesses because of the price point and the ability to track the shipment’s location using vehicle tracking solutions.
  • FTL Shipping – FTL refers to shipments that are the full truckload. FTL is often used for large shipments that fill the truck. You can also hire the entire truck, even if your goods do not fill the space. FTL shipments means that your goods will be the only freight on the entire truck. They’re typically faster for your customers because they are only dropping off your shipment. Because there are fewer stops, your goods have a higher chance of arriving undamaged. However, this method is less cost effective.

The Freight Forwarder Process

It may also be useful for you to understand the process that a freight forwarding company goes through for the goods that they ship for you, especially if you’re shipping internationally. The first stage is export haulage. During this first stage, goods get transferred from the origin source to the freight forwarder’s warehouse. Next up is the export customs clearance stage, in which the goods get clearance to leave the country of origin. Then the goods get unloaded and inspected before having the customs paperwork checked. Once the goods arrive at their destination and are transferred to the import warehouse, they get hauled from that warehouse to the final destination.

Freight Forwarding Benefits

So what are the best shipping options for your business? Freight forwarders are not required for shipping goods, but they can be quite useful for small businesses like yours. Freight forwarders are there to help you with the shipping logistics for your small business, like figuring out FTL and LTL shipments. They can help you decide what will work best financially for your business when it comes to shipping and ensure that your goods will make it to their destination safely, efficiently, and on time. Freight forwarders are experts in shipping, so they know the most cost-effective ways of shipping. Since they can also handle other aspects of the logistics process like documentation and customs, freight forwarding takes some of the hassle out of shipping for you.

Finding the Solution for You

The solution for your logistical needs is up to you and the needs of your business. Don’t know where to start? Begin by making a plan for business growth and success. Plan out your approach and goals for shipping. Also, make sure that you ensure that your paperwork and records are up-to-date to ensure that everything runs smoothly when it comes to the logistics of shipping.

Shipping is a crucial part of your small business. There’s no need to be intimidated by all of the shipping options that exist for businesses. Planning and executing a logistics strategy can help you build a strong supply chain. Whether you choose to ship directly with carriers or choose to use a freight forwarder to help you with the shipping process, you’re sure to find the right shipping solution for you and your small business.

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