With the world becoming more and more interconnected, most businesses consider expanding overseas to be a lucrative business opportunity. This is especially true for e-commerce businesses, that do not have a brick and motor retail shop and rely solely on shipping their products or services. As such, a vast majority of businesses are in need of shipping services. They can either choose between less than container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL). Much like its name suggests, LCL loads multiple shipments into one shared container. Vice versa, FCL necessitates the user to pay for the entire container for their shipment. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why companies need to consider which one is best for their needs before committing to it.
In this article, we specifically look at how one can pick an FCL logistics provider, and what considerations you should keep in mind.
Consider their services
Before you commit to an FCL logistics provider, you have to consider what services they offer first. You also have to understand exactly what they offer and what value you can get from them. As such, it is heavily recommended that you do your best to research how the shipping process works, what shipping containers there are, the advantage and disadvantages between different shipping options, and what shipping fees you may have to pay. This may seem like a lot of work, but as people say, it pays to know more about a topic than know too little. You should also be doing research on other aspects of the shipping process, such as packing and unpacking services, storage and warehousing options, and more.
If you are worried that your shipment may be lost or damaged during transportation, then it is best you start thinking about buying insurance to protect yourself from any liabilities. While it is possible to buy insurance on the side, it may be more straightforward if you find freight forwarders that already provide this service as part of their package. It is also more convenient too!
Another important factor you need to keep in mind is whether your FCL provider is licensed to work in the area you will be shipping through. After all, if it turns out they are not allowed to operate in that particular region, then that would not be much help, would it? If you are still worried about whether a provider is reputable or safe to work with, you should check out whether they have any accreditations or certifications. This can include special licenses, government affiliations, and more. Most of these certifications should be available on their website.
Another thing that can affect what FCL provider a business may pick is its fees. Before choosing a provider it is best practice to compare their quotes and fees. To do so, you need to look at their overall costs and fuel surcharge, as well as any other additional expenses. Once you know what the broad price range is, you can look more specifically at actual fees charged for certain services or specialized requests regarding your shipment. For example, rates may vary depending on the type of container you use. This is because some containers – like the open-top or pressurized container, help to provide better protection against certain types of damages due to extreme weather conditions or changing temperatures.
Once you have a price range and a budget in mind, it is time to get a little bit more specific. Now, you should focus on the quality of the services themselves. As you will be trusting the FCL provider with your precious cargo, you must ensure that their services are reliable and trustworthy. Generally speaking, you are better off picking a provider that has a reputation for offering efficient, quick, and affordable services that are also reliable.
If the freight forwarder does not provide the information on their website, then your best bet is to contact them directly. You should definitely ask how many years they have been in the business, and what their track record is. Another method to get more information is asking current customers about their experience with working with said provider. This way, you can get a more honest overview of what a freight forwarder is like, and what you can expect working with them.
Look at customer satisfaction
As mentioned above, checking customer testimonials and reviews are a great way to do more research on a particular FCL provider. You can check out online forums where people talk about their experiences with a certain freight forwarder, so you know what to expect. Be sure to look at both positive and negative comments – why did someone like a particular provider and why did someone not? Are their reasons something you should be concerned about? These are the type of questions that should be in your head when you do your research.
Sign a contract
Once you have narrowed down your choices to a particular provider, you need to keep an eye out for their contracts. This is, after all, a legally binding agreement, so you must read the papers very carefully before signing on the dotted line. Some important things to consider include:
- Any costs required in advance, such as when you book their services
- The length of time needed to board your cargo for shipping after you have paid them
- If there are any hidden fees or additional charges once the shipment has begun. For instance, what happens when the delivery is not made on time? Who will take responsibility? Does your provider offer refunds – and if so, how much?
In such a dynamic world, companies need to learn how to be flexible in order to cope with unforeseen changes. This is especially true in the world of shipping, where many factors can affect the supply chain. Therefore, your shipping company should be flexible when it comes to delivering their goods. They should be able to cope with changes happening and provide solutions than may arise in real time. Make sure you understand their policies regarding deliveries and check whether their customer service is professional in dealing with unexpected situations.