How the Right Freight Forwarder Can Maximize Your eCommerce Business
Below are ways the right freight forwarder can add value to your eCommerce business and maximize it, too:
They help you focus on your core competency
Chances are your eCommerce business is a fairly lean operation. You are busy enough as it is and trying to figure out international freight shipping yourself or hiring staff to do it just might not be feasible.
If you’ve got the right freight forwarder, they are a ready-to-go logistics department. Since they are familiar with the rules and regulations of ocean and air freight and already have systems in place to ensure compliance, they can immediately start working with you to get your goods imported. That saves you the time and money associated with building your own logistics department. It also means you can start importing and improve your supply chain that much faster.
They ensure compliance
International shipping can be complicated. There are various rules and regulations in place that you must follow, otherwise you can face hefty fines or delays. Ensuring compliance is crucial to importing goods and includes:
- Making sure your goods are classified correctly under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) so the correct duties are applied by customs.
- Filing the Importer Security Filing (US ocean imports) as well as paperwork for other government agencies (such as FDA, EPA, DOT, etc.) when applicable.
- Making sure you have a sufficient bond in place and have a supply chain built for compliance.
While you can learn all this yourself, staying current on compliance and classification is very time consuming and difficult, any misstep can mean fines and delays. A freight forwarder works with you to ensure your paperwork is submitted on time, you have resources to properly classify your goods, and your bond is in place.
They understand duty rates
If you sell different types of products or want to start bringing in new items, each may be taxed at a different rate under the corresponding HTS code. Certain goods are regulated further and need government approval before they can clear customs. Not to mention, even goods in the same category can have significantly different duties. Say you are importing footwear. Different types of footwear have different classifications, and you can see tariffs of nearly 70%!
By partnering with the right freight forwarder, you have access to a trusted customs broker. One of the most underutilized yet powerful strategies in the international supply chain is to leverage expert knowledge of duty rates to maximize your savings. Whether it’s using your broker to audit existing product lines or bringing them in at an early stage of product development, the savings in duties can be staggering. Design and feature changes to aspects of your product can legally and significantly help lower duty rates. These types of changes aren’t intuitive and require a seasoned partner to advise opportunities to pair with your knowledge of your own products and business.
All too often, classification is looked at as an afterthought. Instead, the right logistics partner can turn your duty rates into a competitive advantage.
They know the terminology
You know how every industry seem to have its own language? Logistics is certainly no different, whether it’s LCL, FCL, FOB, EXW, ISF, TSA, MSDS, or CPSC, some industry acronyms can sound more like computer code to the uninitiated. Learn more about must-know compliance terms.
While you’ll pick up the language over time, it might not be the best use of your resources to become an expert on it. The right freight forwarder already knows this language, and can translate it for you as needed. So, next time you get a message from your supplier with a bunch of jargon you don’t recognize, lean on your partner for help.
They can help you select the best way to ship your goods
Using the previous example, what is the best way to ship your goods? Less than container load? (LCL)? Full container load (FCL)? Is it better to ship out several LCL shipments or wait until you have a full container? Should you ship via air?
What are the best buying terms for you? Free on Board (FOB) or Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF)? How will these buying terms impact your control of your shipments? How does this impact compliance?
Determining how to ship your goods in the best and most cost-effective way is a question your freight forwarder can help you answer, and arrange. They can also help you understand the pros and cons of each type of shipment so you can determine which one is right for your business.
They can give you the tools to track and manage your shipments online
As an eCommerce business, you have the tools and software to track your products and run your online store efficiently. You’ll want a similar system in place to track where your goods are in your importing process and know when products are arriving.
However, not all freight forwarding tracking systems are created equal. To avoid headaches, look for a freight forwarder that has modern tracking tools. A good tracking tool gives you more than an ETA and tracking number — it provides you with purchase order (PO) management, exception notification, customized reports and dashboards as well as digital copies of your paperwork.
They can help you coordinate deliveries to your warehouse
When deliveries come into your warehouse, you may need to hire temporary labor to unload everything. However, coordinating your delivery and staff can be difficult, especially with the wrong freight forwarder. Make sure you have a partner that communicates clearly and understand your needs. You don’t want to be caught with additional unnecessary labor costs because your container arrived hours after its scheduled delivery.
The right freight forwarder can help by handling all aspects of the shipping process, from door-to-door. This can make warehouse deliveries run smoother since you don’t have to hire a separate company to ship internationally and another domestically. A quality freight forwarder that handles every step of the shipping process reduces the chances of delays and confusion that could come from coordinating between two separate transportation companies.
They can help you make informed decisions about your shipments
There are inherent risks with importing goods: events that can disrupt and delay your supply chain, or keep your products from arriving on time.
While some of these risks can’t be prevented, e.g., if bad weather delays your shipments, some are easily managed. Events like Chinese New Year significantly disrupt shipping out of many Asian countries, so it’s important to coordinate with your logistics partner. The traditional peak shipping season also leads to additional lead time and costs. Factoring that into your business can allow you to deliver your products more efficiently to your customers.
Learning how to work around known risks is something the right freight forwarder can help with. They can give you a heads up when shipments might be affected by certain events or seasons and can keep you up-to-date on other delays such as a union strike at the port.
The right freight forwarding partner enables you to grow
With the help of the right freight forwarder, you can focus on growing and improving your eCommerce business without worrying about the logistics of shipping. Dedola Global Logistics does exactly that, by becoming your logistics department and giving you the help and logistics tools that improve your supply chain.
Find out everything Dedola can do for your eCommerce business by contacting us today.