The global economy relies on shipping containers. Over a billion metric tons of cargo are shipped across the ocean annually. Ocean freight forwarders play a key role in the cargo shipping industry. They ensure the shipment reaches the right destination in the most cost-efficient way. For an overview of ocean freight forwarding, its benefits, and limitations, continue reading.
What is ocean freight forwarding?
An ocean freight forwarder is a company that acts as a mediator in international freight shipments across the ocean. They represent the exporter and importer and play the key role of coordinating with all players. The responsibility of ocean freight forwarders typically includes handling all the required paperwork, such as custom protocols and documentation. They are also responsible for advising the shipper on shipping costs and the most efficient options to move cargo across the ocean. In addition, an ocean freight forwarding company can help manage booking space on the vessel and organize the loading and unloading of the cargo onto the vessel.
Why hire an ocean freight forwarder?
The greatest advantage of hiring an ocean freight forwarder is that you don’t have to deal with all the hassle of shipping freight across the ocean. As an expert intermediary, an ocean freight forwarder specializes in completing all the requirements for moving the cargo across the ocean. They will manage all the communication and paperwork with different players involved in the process.
Another key advantage of hiring an ocean freight forwarder is that they have established relationships with carriers, agents, and ports. They can provide up-to-date information about the shipment, including any changes that could affect it.
Since ocean freight forwarders handle large volumes of cargo, they use this economy of scale to negotiate rates and routes. This makes them a cost-effective option for businesses that move cargo across the ocean.
Limitations of ocean freight forwarding
For smaller shipments that can be shipped through air freight, choosing an ocean freight forwarder can be more time-consuming. As you can expect, cargo shipped over the ocean will take weeks or months, depending on the destination.
A key limitation of using ocean freight forwarders is that you have limited control over the shipment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you need to change the schedule or meet specific delivery timelines, you might not have much control over such factors.
You might also need to purchase insurance coverage when choosing an ocean freight forwarder. While this provides you with financial protection, it does add to the overall costs of shipping.
Choosing the right ocean freight forwarder
You need to consider several factors when picking the right ocean freight forwarder for your business. Ideally, you want them to prove their expertise in handling such shipments. They should have an extensive range of agents that can handle customer clearance and cargo paperwork. It would also help if they could provide a transparent and clear quote breakdown so you know what you are paying for.