June 17, 2024
Freight Forwarding

Freight Forwarding: An Essential Link in the Global Supply Chain

What is Freight Forwarding?

Freight forwarding is the coordination of transportation, often by an independent third party. Freight forwarders arrange cargo to be transported from one place to another via all modes of transportation like rail, road, ocean and air. Freight forwarders facilitate international shipments on behalf of importers and exporters by preparing and processing documentation and performing customs clearance activities.

Documentation and Compliance

One of the core responsibilities of freight forwarders is to ensure full compliance with documentation requirements. They handle all the paperwork related to international shipments like commercial invoices, packing lists, bills of lading, certificates of origin and import/export declarations. Freight forwarders also understand tariff codes and classification systems to ensure goods are shipped under the correct codes. They work to minimize demurrage and detention charges by timely filing of shipment documents.

Customs Clearance

International shipments require customs clearance at the port/border of origin and destination countries. Freight forwarders are experts in customs regulations and processes. They work with customs brokers to efficiently clear shipments through customs. This involves preparing accurate shipment contents and valuation for duty/tax assessment. Freight forwarders resolve any queries or deficiencies raised during customs inspections to minimize clearance delays.

Warehousing and Distribution

Many freight forwarders maintain their own warehouse network globally. This offers value-added services like temporary storage, order fulfillment, packaging, labelling and inventory management. Warehouses equipped with tracking and security systems provide a reliable distribution hub. Companies gain single-point access to transport and distribution enabling just-in-time inventory management.

Transportation Coordination

 Freight forwarders have relationships with various carriers to arrange appropriate transportation based on shipment needs. They negotiate favorable rates, arrange pick ups, book space on vessels/planes, track shipments and address transit issues. Consolidating cargo from multiple clients leads to cost savings through volume discounts. They also provide reliable ETAs through coordination across different transportation modes.

Value-Added Services

Apart from core freight forwarding functions, many players offer additional value-added services. This includes project cargo handling, perishable goods shipping, vehicle transportation, cargo insurance facilitation, packing and labelling. Certification services related to origin, health, quality, halal and others are frequently provided. Trade finance and payment services have also emerged as another avenue to fulfill logistics and supply chain financing needs.

Rise of Technology

Technology has enabled greater efficiency and transparency in freight forwarding operations. Digital freight matching platforms connect shippers with available transportation capacity online. Automated systems track shipments, manage documentation, provide shipment status updates to clients. Adoption of blockchain, IoT, AI and predictive analytics is enhancing predictability, visibility and security in global supply chains. Freight forwarders are leveraging digital innovations to enrich service offerings and accelerate processes.

Outsourcing Trend

Given complex global trade regulations and infrastructure requirements, freight forwarding emerges as a logical outsourcing proposition for shippers. Most companies find it difficult and costly to maintain in-house expertise and resources for international logistics activities. This has boosted the growth of specialized freight forwarders worldwide. They provide customized, compliant and cost-effective logistics solutions on both transactional and contractual basis depending upon clients’ needs.

Economic Impact

The global freight forwarding industry size was valued at over $150 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow further at around 5-7% annually. The industry employs millions worldwide and contributes significantly to the GDP of many nations. It facilitates two-way trade flows that benefit both exporting and importing countries. International commerce and just-in-time manufacturing depend heavily on efficient freight mobility orchestrated by forwarders. Their role has become increasingly strategic for bolstering trade competitiveness and supply chain resilience.

freight forwarding plays a vital intermediary role in connecting global production and consumption centres. As international trade proliferates amid advancing digitization and supply chain integration, this logistics function will remain pivotal. Freight forwarders add indispensable value through seamless coordination of multi-modal cargo transportation under evolving trade regulations and service expectations. Their expertise remains indispensable for companies seeking hassle-free access to global markets.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public Source, Desk Research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it