Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Domestic Logistics or International Freight Forwarding Job - Choose Your Professional Carefully

The Difference Between Good and Bad Can be Frustrating, Time Consuming and Expensive
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – Logistics professionals reading this really need go no further, any industry stakeholder worth his or her salt knows that the wrong choice of freight forwarder can be costly in every way. Here we get a few insights from Kasra Ferasat, Marketing Director at American Export Lines (AEL) who puts the case for independent freight forwarding operations in an industry when big is not necessarily beautiful and which can apply whether the movement is domestic or international.

We should add that these are obviously the views of one who has a vested interest in the matter but Kasra puts his case well, particularly when viewed by SME’s who may find they are shunted around departments when dealing with the bigger players and would prefer the personal touch which some of the monolithic outfits often reserve only for their biggest customers.

Firstly the definition here of an ‘independent’ is one that is not part of what we know as a ‘multinational’ or ‘global’ outfit which have their own branded offices around the world. Rather, the independent operators do not own their international offices (but may own in multiple countries), but rather use agents/partners around the globe for various services depending on their customer’s requirements. The AEL Director sees several benefits to selecting an independent freight forwarder as your agent of choice, namely:

1) Agility: smaller freight forwarders are quick to adjust their operations to better suit your needs and also offer flexibility in how to handle your shipments. Multinational freight forwarders are stuck with using their own overseas office to handle your shipment which sometimes is not the best option because their destination office may not have the expertise you require in handling your shipment. This means they do not have the ability to switch service providers or improve their level of service, if there is a problem. Independent freight forwarders have a worldwide network of agents with expertise in countless areas of freight forwarding and logistics and will select the right agent overseas depending on the scope of the shipment and the customer’s requirements.

2) Monitored and Vetted: independent freight forwarders such as American Export Lines which are part of prestigious freight forwarding networks such as the World Cargo Alliance (WCA) are vetted by their networks and must maintain certain ethical, financial, and operational standards to maintain their membership in these networks. The multinational forwarders do not have this vetting process nor are they allowed in such networks, which are reserved for independent freight forwarders.

3) Personalised Service and Customer Attention: because you are dealing with one or two individuals in an office of an independent that will manage your entire logistics operation, independent freight forwarders offer a more intimate, one-to-one relationship that can help improve your operations as they become more familiar with your operations and needs. They can also empathise with your daily stresses as you are not just a number for them and can pay more attention to your problems and come up with a solution quickly. Customer Service is a top priority for smaller freight forwarders.

4) Price Competitiveness: they can offer lower freight rates because of their lower overhead, expenses and carrier options. They typically have more aggressive pricing and can be more competitive service and communication as well. Their network of agents allows them to work out the best pricing based on your requirements.

5) Operational Efficiency and Flexibility: the multinational freight forwarders have connections with a select few carriers for ocean, air, and land freight. The independent freight forwarders have many more choices on selecting the best routing, carrier, price combination. They also can more easily adapt and change their operations and IT solutions to cater directly towards you, the importer or exporter.

One final point is that a small mistake can result in a punishing financial loss, perhaps for both client and agent, which means the more personal interest that the independent has to take in a customer’s affairs results in the likelihood that they do everything in their power to resolve any issues which do arise, failure to do so can result in much more serious consequences than it would for a larger multinational which tends to see things as statistics, or a number on a sales report, rather than a partner.