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Freight Forwarding Services: Meaning & Types


Sanjay Negi

Assistant Director @ Shiprocket

May 31, 2022

5 min read

The global economy today is growing more than ever, and so is the shipment of goods. This is not just domestically but also internationally. Do you know? India’s overall exports in April 2022 are estimated to be a massive USD 67.79 Billion, clocking a positive growth of 38.90%.

freight forwarding services

A growth of this kind doesn’t really happen overnight. There’s a lot involved in shipping goods across the border. One can do this in two ways. You may either have your own in-house arrangements or you may take the route of freight forwarding services.

What Are Freight Forwarding Services?

Freight forwarding services are expert logistics services for moving international shipments efficiently from point A to point B. Freight forwarders, the service providers, act as the intermediary between your business and the carriers, handlers, and custom officials. They help in planning, coordinating, documentation and everything else required for moving your products efficiently to your overseas customers.

Specializing in ensuring quality while maintaining low costs, freight forwarders also handle the inland transport, port and customs documentation, the shipping on board ocean vessels, and other related activities.

But before availing freight forwarding services, there’s one question you must ask yourself. Do you want to handle your exports all by yourself or do you want to leave it to the expertise of freight forwarders? It’s for you to decide.

If you choose the former, you must invest in the present-day logistics infrastructure, technology, and skilled manpower to manage the related tasks. It’s important that you put your costs and benefits on your weight scale before making such a move.

Most businesses, on the other hand, like to keep it simple. They simply hire third-party freight forwarding services to look after their export logistics, so they can concentrate better on growing their core business.

This makes a lot of sense also because these agencies have a good rapport with government and other service agencies. This helps them to get things done smoothly, timely and at reasonable rates too.

Types Of Freight Forwarding Services

There are various kinds of freight forwarding services available to meet the needs of different kinds of businesses. Let’s take a look.

freight forwarding services

Rail Freight Forwarding Services

Rail freight forwarding services are considered among the most efficient forms of land transportation. These services not only allow shipments to be transported across long distances but ensure uninterrupted movement.

Railroad networks provide for long operations for multiple hours at a time. Most countries have their own railroad networks. These networks are used by freight forwarders for moving goods across, maintaining an adequate level of safety.

However, rail freight services have limited space, which can be a deal breaker for business shipping large and heavy cargo.

Sea Freight Forwarding Services

This type of freight forwarding services involve the use of really big cargo ships, usually required in large freight operations. Such cargo ships have the capacity to carry millions of tons of shipments every day, across oceans and seas.

Apart from being an affordable method of exporting, sea freight forwarding also lets you transport goods in bulk, across various regions and countries. Sea freight forwarding services are mostly of two types:

Less Than Container Load (LCL)

If you’ve got smaller types of goods to transport, you can go for this one. In this type of freight forwarding, your shipments don’t take up all of the space in the container. You pay only for the amount of space taken by your shipments in a container.

Full Container Load (FCL)

This service is for you if your shipments can fill up the whole space in a single shipping container. Needless to say, this is the best option for heavy bulk shipments as it is much much lighter on your pocket as compared to other freight forwarding options.

Air Freight Forwarding Services

If speed is what you want, air forwarding services are made for you. Air freight forwarding services enable the delivery of goods to relatively longer distances. While it doesn’t save you much money, it does save you quite a lot of time.

You’ll just need to keep in mind that there are weight limits on certain items, as cargo planes can only carry a limited number of shipments. If delivery timelines matter the most for your business, it would be practical enough to take air freight forwarding services.

Road Freight Forwarding Services

This is by far the most commonly used freight method. As the name suggests, road freight forwarding services involve movement of goods through the road network, usually in delivery vans and trucks.

Road freight is generally the final point for many shipments. The time taken for deliveries depends to a large extent on the traffic and road conditions. It could be a great option also in case your goods have arrived in the destination country and you want to further transport them within provinces and cities.

Customs Broker

A customs broker refers to an individual or a firm that makes sure your goods would be provided with the essential documents and clearances. The task is to basically make the operations friction-less, while adhering to the rules and regulations of various countries. Moreover, a customs broker also helps to save your overall turnaround time.

Ready To Choose?

Selecting the right type of freight forwarding services for your business depends largely on the nature of your business, the size of your shipments, your budget, how much delivery speed matters to you, and much more. By choosing the right kind of freight forwarding services, you would be able to find the most efficient way to export your goods.

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