There’s a saying in the shipping business that anyone could claim to be a freight forwarder. This means that there are a lot of bad forwarders out there that you don’t want to have to deal with. Yet, choosing the right FBA freight forwarder is important to your online business because of all the benefits you get by having such a partner.
Fortunately, there are good forwarders you can take as your partner in growing your enterprise. The trick is finding them so you don’t find yourself taken advantage of by someone who has no idea what he’s doing. Here are seven things you can do to minimize the risk and find the right FBA partner for your venture.
Look for Experience
Remove any freight forwarder that doesn’t have experience. The reason you want a forwarder in the first place is because of their connections, their know-how, and their expertise. Tying up with one that doesn’t have any of these defeats the purpose of one, so be sure to check what experience the forwarding company has under its belt.
Experience is also useful if the freight ever runs into a problem. They would have an idea of what to do, which is crucial because you probably don’t. Their knowledge can get you through the whole thing with minimal hassle or damage, and that is of vital importance.
FBA Experience is Important
A related element is if they have experience with FBA specifically. Not every freight forwarder knows how to handle FBA. While you can still choose one with no FBA experience at all, it’s better to go with the one that has experience. There are a few edge cases in the FBA field that don’t come up in other instances, so the experience gives them an advantage that you could use.
Ask About Other Services
What services do they offer and would they be useful for your business? Some might only provide port-to-port shipping, while others have door-to-door options. Warehousing, distribution, and other services might also be on offer and worth considering.
Check For Insurance Coverage
Look at what insurance options are available. Whether you go by air or by sea, accidents can happen. Cargo can get lost or damaged, and that costs you money. You’ll want to see what insurance they offer and if it covers enough to satisfy your needs. If not, look away because each delivery turns into you risking a significant loss.
You might also want to look at your own items. Solar panels, artwork, glassware, and the like are fragile, so you want the policy to cover such items. Be sure to check if the general liability insurance covers everything you intend to ship out. If not, ask if there are other options available to protect your products and shipments.
Look At Associations and Networks
Check their membership in any trade associations or freight networks. This is important for two reasons. The first is that membership in these requires meeting certain standards and qualifications. The second is it shows they have a network of contacts that can be tapped to help you if it ever comes to it.
Confirm Covered Areas
What areas do they cover? If their services don’t cover the places where you will be sending your deliveries, you’re better off with another partner. A related matter is one of the land arrangements. If they don’t have any partners for the ground delivery, that’s additional costs on your end.
Check Their Network of Contacts
Ask about their network. A good freight forwarder will have contacts in ports, shipping lines, trucking companies, customs officials, and more. These contacts can make the hassle of international shipping go much smoother, easing the hassle and expediting a few steps of the process. The bulk of a freight forwarder’s value comes in the form of access to their network.
The network can help handle things like customs duties, transport fees, arrangements, and other details. Entrusting these details to a partner can give you more time to handle the other aspects of the business. It can also reduce the number of details you need to keep in mind per order fulfilled.
Lines of Communication
Communication is key, as well. You want to be able to contact them and expect a reasonable timeframe for them to respond. This means you want real contact information, whether it’s a dedicated e-mail address or an extension for you to call. It can’t just be an online contact form. Naturally, you want to make sure the communication lines given to you are working.
You also want them to be available at any time you need, rather than just standard office hours. Freight is moved at all hours of the day, across time zones. You never know when a port strike or storm might cause an issue that you can’t resolve yourself. Knowing you can call your freight forwarder any time you need them is essential for peace of mind.
A good FBA freight forwarder is essential to success. There are so many benefits and conveniences that it’s hard to overstate how useful they can become. Finding the right partner can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort and time required.