There’s no doubt that 2020 has taken its toll on businesses around the globe. While certain industries have been hit harder than others, everyone has felt the effect that COVID has had on the economy in one way or another.
Regardless of what your 2020 experience was like, one fact remains true: the businesses who excelled throughout the year are those who were positioned for flexibility and adaptability throughout the pandemic. Difficult times call for strategy creation and execution, and the introduction of new processes and procedures. Unfortunately, creative and effective strategies come from working with experienced vendors, and those who were handling everything in-house were hit especially hard by the pandemic.
Using a Freight Forwarder in the Face of Disruptions
While the gut instinct may be to “cut costs,” there are several benefits to using a freight forwarder in the face of disruptions (such as those caused in 2020.) Working with a freight forwarder gives you an experienced vendor with an extensive network to devise unique and clever solutions that keep your shipping processes streamlined despite myriad unforeseen obstacles.
Here are some of the primary advantages of using a freight forwarder in the face of disruptions:
Access to a Wide Network
Nothing is quite as helpful as connections in the face of business difficulties. Whether you need to change shipping routes, reconsolidate to different containers, rework your transportation processes, or anything else, having connections with vendors and carriers is absolutely essential for executing your plans.
One of the primary benefits of working with a freight forwarder is that you are essentially “adopting” the benefits of their network. If they are handling your logistics, the benefits from their relationships with all steamship lines, air carriers, draymen, intermodal carriers, and final mile truckers are passed on to you.
This can come in the form of cost savings, but also vessel availability (which is always an issue during peak seasons.)
Usually, a business disruption translates to an internal scramble to get things done, and having the task of logistics on your plate can overwhelm operations incredibly fast.
Working with a freight forwarder ensures that all mundane or complex logistics activities are being handled by an experienced team without bogging down your own efficiency. As long as you are clear and timely with your communication, you can trust an experienced forwarder to handle the rest.
“Isn’t hiring an external vendor more expensive than doing it in-house?”
Actually, when it comes to shipping, the answer is usually “no.” Here’s why:
Cost savings come primarily through two means in the logistics industry:
As far as the former is concerned, freight forwarders get significant discounts when working with larger steamship lines and air carriers due to the sheer volume of shipments they do throughout a year. A freight forwarder will guarantee to take up a specific amount of space on a carrier’s vessels throughout the year in exchange for large discounts, of which the savings are passed onto the freight forwarder’s customers. Believe it or not, even after a freight forwarder takes their margin for their portion of the work, the overall freight bill will usually still be much lower than attempting to go directly to a steamship line.
As far as process is concerned, this is where you’ll see the greatest cost savings. If your shipping process is inefficient, chances are you are throwing money down the drain with every shipment you do. The way you consolidate cargo, the carriers you work with, the ports you go to, the frequency of shipments in relation to container and consolidation choices, the routes you ship on – these are a few of many factors that have a direct and significant impact on cost.
The point of working with a freight forwarder is not just to reap the benefits of their contracts – it’s to work with an industry expert who can help devise unique approaches to your shipping process to save you time and money, as well as make room for other business activities that can help grow your business.
Where to Go from Here
Starting a relationship with a vendor always feels like a really big step, but it starts with something as simple as a conversation. Most (good) freight forwarders will be excited to listen to you talk about your logistics processes and share knowledge regarding how you could make things better. Generally speaking, hiring a new freight forwarder should feel natural. If you find the right freight forwarder, an initial phone call should illuminate weak points in your shipping process and offer assurance that bringing them on as a part of your process will be of great aid – not a burden.
If you have any questions about your current shipping process, or are searching for answers regarding issues you’ve encountered due to the various events of 2020, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our team members! Our team is incredibly experienced in domestic and international shipping, and we would love to offer any advice we can that will be of help to you and your team!