Amazon freight forwarding is one of those topics that may seem complicated at first sight, but, upon a closer look, is, well, still very complicated. We’re not going to lie. The entire business of freight forwarding is difficult to fully grasp.
Luckily, though, those engaged in freight forwarding are the type of players that are more than willing to help those interested in engaging in it. And so are we.
Zonguru is here to help you grow. As such, in this blog, we will not only share with you some essential information about freight forwarding, but we will also try to do so as simply as possible. We will be giving you a short list of which freight forwarding companies you can read about and choose from. By the end, we will be giving you experienced advice and tips on how to choose a good freight forwarder.
A wise man once said that the best way to understand a complicated topic is to strip it down to its most basic level to the point that an average person would understand it when explained to him or her simply.
On its face, freight forwarding may be a difficult topic to get into. But stripping it down is very possible and that will be our goal today.
A bit of a disclaimer here: we will not be discussing with you matters related to charges, costs, fees, duties, and all other such details. These numbers vary depending on several factors, such as your desired product’s classifications, the country of origin, etc., so giving you an estimate here would not even be that helpful.
There are a ton of websites that offer duty or fee estimates when it comes to customs. In the same vein, manufacturers or suppliers and freight forwarders will also be more than willing to give you their own estimates, themselves. And if they don’t, well, that’s a consideration for you to take when you decide which one to engage.
Now, without further ado, let’s go ahead and move forward with it.
Freight forwarding is simply the process of moving goods from one point to another. This process normally begins in a warehouse owned or managed by a manufacturer or supplier of those goods from a certain country of origin and ends in another warehouse in a certain country of destination.
Since we’re on the topic of Amazon freight forwarding and Amazon FBA, this process, in our case, will end up in a certain Amazon fulfillment center or consolidation center.
Since freight forwarding is the process of dealing with the product movement, a freight forwarder is a corporation or person who specializes in the handling and management of the logistics of this entire process.
This includes preparing all necessary documents, scheduling, inland cargo transportation, warehousing, and insurance preparation and claims, among others.
A freight forwarder either specializes on a specific type of freight or all of them at once. These types of freight include the following:
With that basic information in mind, let’s jump right into those 6 freight forwarding companies.
This list is by no means exclusive. What we recommend and consider to be the best may be different from others, but as it stands, these 6 are some of the best freight forwarders operating in the industry right now.
At the outset, Unicargo tells visitors that they are the best Amazon FBA freight forwarder in the market. Among all the sites listed here, including the others that you may check outside of this list, Unicargo may be the only one that makes this statement their mission, since providing Amazon FBA freight services seems to be the main crux of their business model.
And rightfully so. Their site has a dedicated and direct page to Chinese markets (which, arguably, is the primary source of suppliers for Amazon FBA sellers). This page also has its own Chinese team to boot. In addition to a Chinese team, Unicargo also has a team based in Israel and, of course, the United States.
The site also allows you to get a quote for your shipments. A support page provides some useful information about volumetric weight, relevant laws, and other matters. Going into their contact page, however, brings you to a typical e-mail messaging system, which may or may not be helpful.
Unicargo also provides insurance, and this is included in your quotation estimate for when you use it.
Unlike Unicargo, Flexport’s website is comprehensive and easy to use and navigate. Through this site, Flexport provides the usual freight forwarder services, generally, and not just for or about Amazon FBA.
What makes Flexport standout, though, is their Resource page. In this section are market updates, blogs (which are updated as of last month!), a page for webinars, and best of all, a complete and thorough help center.
The webinars deserve special mention, as it is something that you can view and learn from without difficulty. It’s free and not totally restricted (you don’t need to make an account). Be sure to check it out!
If you’re like us, however, then you’d appreciate this more above the rest: Flexport values environmental sustainability. One of their main thrusts is to help organizations attain a hundred percent carbon neutrality. This is worthy to note, because not every service or supply chain company values this. Fortunately, Flexport does!
But if we had to nitpick, it would be their lack of a quote or estimate page or calculator. We’re guessing that they’d only give you your quote or estimate for when you start talking to them. We tried to give that a go by signing up with them, but we have yet to get a confirmation email (it’s been more than an hour). Though, again, this is just us nitpicking, so don’t take this part too seriously!
Freightos is a freight forwarder that goes straight to the point. Unlike the first two freight forwarders, Freightos’ website is simple and direct. There’s no jewelry or make-up involved. They want to go straight to business, and they mean it.
Registering with the site allows you to get quotes, as well as track your shipments. Billing details are also provided to you via a simple dashboard. And best of all? We got their confirmation email within seconds of registering!
They also have a help center for when you need more information, including a customer chat service should you need a more dedicated kind of assistance.
All in all, Freightos is good for those who just want to do business and nothing else. Is it boring? Maybe for some. But for the others, it gives you the chance to just be done with the freight forwarding part so that you can focus more on your shop, your products, and your overall selling strategy.
Noviland is like a mixture of some of the good things from the previous freight forwarders we just discussed.
Like Freightos, their website is simple and user-friendly. After you register with them (very quick, as well), you’re taken to a dashboard where you can monitor your requests and shipments, among others. Also, like Flexport or Unicargo, they have updated blog sections for you to learn from and enjoy.
Yet the most interesting part of Noviland is their Spotlight products page. In it, you get recommendations on what products you can look to source for your business. It also bears stressing that Noviland is also a sourcing agent. This means that if you want to do away with taking the time to do research and look for a supplier, then going with Noviland can give you that “two birds with one shipping container” special.
Overall, though, we can say that Noviland is vastly different from what we have covered thus far. Think of it as a company that wants to help you get into selling, as opposed to you already being into selling and are just looking for a partner.
Boss Continental is a freight forwarder that is based in Spain. They boast a presence in every continent in the world and they provide all kinds of freight forwarding services.
Their pages cater to very specific categories, from consumer goods, to retail, and even to hazardous materials. They also boast a wide network for whatever warehousing needs and customs concerns that you may have. Finally, they also provide shipping insurance for your goods, as well.
Their blog section contains only short write-ups that are, frankly, more like FAQs than actual blogs. But that’s only us being nitpicky. Speaking of nitpicking, here’s one more: their quote estimator calculator is unlike the others we’ve cited earlier. In fact, it’s less of a calculator and more of an e-mail message.
But on a more serious note, Boss Continental is one that we would highly recommend to those looking to sell specific or specialized goods. With a proven track record and a reliable network, business with Boss Continental is guaranteed to be smooth and hassle-free.
Shipkoo is maybe one of the few freight forwarders that specializes in something that others don’t and that is crowdfunding fulfillment.
So, say you have a product on Kickstarter or Indiegogo that was backed by thousands of people when it first appeared. When you get to the point where your product is now ready to be launched, how do you go about giving your backers their backed items? What if your backers are different people from 4 different continents? Shipkoo provides a solution for this dilemma.
Also, it is worth mentioning that one key way to help choose a freight forwarder is by assessing their Amazon FBA freight forwarding knowledge. Well, Shipkoo is also experienced in that endeavor.
Shipkoo also has a tracking feature for your goods. If you’re into programming, you can also get their API docs for your app or software. Shipkoo also easily integrates with most well-known e-commerce channels and marketplaces, too.
Finally, Shipkoo also has an active and up-to-date blog section for you to get lost in.
We do like to point out that we tried signing up with them, but, in our opinion, the sign-up process asked for too much information (they even asked us for a logo of our company), so we didn’t even bother going through with it. But yeah. Nitpicking.
If you want to learn more about these 6 or about freight forwarding and freight forwarder companies, in general, you are always free to do your own research. When doing your research, be sure to use our guide as a checklist, especially when you start your initial communications with these companies.
You can find this guide below. Of course, at the end of the day, your sound business discretion is the one that gets to decide. But using some of the knowledge we presented to you today can’t hurt. So if you’re that interested in learning more, read on.
Depending on your business needs or goals, you may eventually want to source your products directly from the supplier or manufacturer, itself. In today’s highly globalized world, those suppliers or manufacturers will often be from other countries, the most common being the People’s Republic of China or some countries in South or Southeast Asia.
So, when should you resort to freight forwarding? Well, it’s no secret that when it comes to online selling via Amazon, there’s money to be made using freight forwarding as both a service and a part of your supply chain and overall business model. Buying low and selling high is the name of the game and getting your supply for less in another country and then selling them for more in the United States is an opportunity that it’s almost alchemic.
But the simplest answer may be the peace of mind that a good freight forwarder may give you. Sure, you can do this all by yourself. If you take the time, you’ll probably eventually be good at it, too. But in terms of resources--namely time, money, and your sanity--engaging someone else that is already doubly better at it than you is an apt allocation.
It’s simple economics, really. Yes, you can take the time to learn how to bake. Yes, you can take the time to learn plumbing. But simply buying that bread or hiring that plumber is a better allocation of your resources than using it to hone those skills.
So, to answer that question: Now!
In some cases, you and your chosen supplier or manufacturer can come to an agreement concerning the choice of a freight forwarder. Some would even have their own partner that they will surely recommend to you. Alternatively, you can go ahead and choose one for yourself.
But whether you let your partners choose for you or not is a decision that should depend on your sound discretion. Just make sure that when you choose, the business side of things are covered.
To help you decide on this, here are some things to remember:
Do note that in the grand scheme of your business operations, this may be a minor detail, as you are always free to move and choose different freight forwarders and suppliers or manufacturers for each and every purchase.
The information provided below is the result of careful research taken from reliable sources that are either experienced in the business of freight forwarding or are providers or customers themselves.
As we just discussed, freight forwarding is simply moving products between places. This movement can typically be broken down into three stages. These three stages are the following:
Each of these stages have their own sets of requirements, rules, charges and fees, and potential problems to look out for. Learning all these are key to your success. So, let’s discuss these with you one by one.
Every country has a list of goods, products, or items that they do not want to get into their territory. The United States is no different. Before you even begin with your freight forwarding goals, be sure to check if the product you intend to purchase is one that is allowed to enter US soil.
But prohibited goods are not your only concern here. Some goods also come within the coverage of certain restrictions or import limits. Some goods are even covered by anti-dumping laws. Make sure that you check your chosen product, first, before you even look for a supplier of that product.
Other potential problems involve intellectual property violations and safety or packaging requirements. Save yourself the hassle and do your homework on these for some extra peace of mind. All else, contact an experienced lawyer and seek legal advice on these matters.
With that out of the way, let’s go ahead and learn about suppliers.
You probably started with an idea for a product or maybe you saw a good that you believe will absolutely sell in the US. Whichever the case, looking for and contacting a supplier for that product or product will not be a problem for you. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of suppliers that manufacture that product around the world.
No, the problem is looking for a good supplier. In the freight forwarding business, having a reliable and competent supplier can mean the difference between a stressful situation and a successful delivery.
For your first step in engaging in freight forwarding, start with your supplier. This means doing your initial research and then, once you finalize a list of suppliers, contacting them for a potential business partnership.
Starting with your supplier can very much dictate the rest of the freight forwarding stages, so choose wisely and carefully.
A little due diligence about your intended supplier will always go a long way. Looking for a supplier for your freight forwarding goals is no different than looking for a local supplier for a local business in the US in that there is an element of trust in the center of it all.
Will the goods be packed and packaged well? Are all the necessary papers in order? Am I getting the best deal for my money?
Aside from these questions, here are some things that you need to know before partnering with a supplier for your freight forwarding needs:
At this point, we’d like to clarify that a supplier and a freight forwarder are two separate entities. They can be one and the same, in some cases. But, generally, these two comprise different groups that offer different services.
We’ve covered suppliers already. Now, let’s go with freight forwarders.
At this point, if you already have an agreement with a supplier, then it’s now time for you to prepare your goods for export.
The usual practice, however, is that it will be either the supplier or the freight forwarder, themselves, who will be undertaking this task. This includes packaging, document preparation, inspections, and payment, among others.
In this stage, your task is simple: read and study the papers.
Prior to shipping, your supplier and/or freight forwarder will likely present you with several documents related not only to your specific engagement with them, but also with customs. A good supplier should be there for you to guide you through this entire process. This part should not be solely dependent on you, so do not hesitate to ask for help from either your supplier and/or freight forwarder.
Now, we mention freight forwarders here, but, of course, we have yet to go over some key information as to how you should be choosing one, in the first place. Do not worry! You can go right ahead and jump down to read that information if you want. Our goal now is to explain the stages of the freight forwarding process.
Let’s move along to the next stage.
The only possible problem that you need to worry about at this stage of the process are unfortunate events. These include shipping accidents, acts of God, piracy, or basically any unforeseen event that may result in the total loss or destruction of the goods that you just bought and processed for shipping.
Though these things are less likely to happen nowadays, a little bit of peace of mind helps. One way for you to nudge that peace closer is to make sure that your goods are insured.
Your freight forwarders or suppliers are usually the ones who are responsible for providing you with coverage. But this should not always be the case. As with everything else in the entire freight forwarding process, you can pick and choose your insurance coverage or packages from other providers should you wish to do so.
Do not be afraid to ask your supplier or freight forwarder about any insurance questions or concerns that you may have during your initial meetings. Doing so not only gives you that peace of mind that you need, but it also lessens your exposure to certain risks that could very well cost you and your business severely.
Once your goods arrive in the US, there are still a few more things that need to be done before it finally gets shipped off to an Amazon Fulfillment Center.
First, the goods need to be inspected by customs. To save yourself from some unnecessary stress, make sure that your freight forwarder or supplier has this covered. And by “covered”, we mean like even before your goods left its country of origin. The last thing you would want at this point is to have your goods held by customs for days or weeks before it is released.
Second, once the goods are cleared by customs, it now needs to be moved inland, preferably by road. Depending on your agreement with your supplier, they may help you here, but a safer bet is to rely on your freight forwarder for assistance. Chances are, they would have either their own logistics team ready and waiting for your goods when they arrive or that they have their own network of partners who are ready and willing to help you move.
Assuming that your packaging is up to the standards required by Amazon, then everything should be in order. Congratulations! You are now on your way to effectively making that next sale.
Now that you have a general idea about freight forwarding, it’s time to go ahead and choose your freight forwarder. There are likely hundreds of freight forwarders around the world who offer their service, so choosing yours may be a matter of preference.
But before you do, make sure to first arm yourself with some useful information that must serve as a good basis for your decision.
Below are some things you need to consider when choosing your freight forwarder:
Now you know the basics of freight forwarding and how you can use it to your advantage as an Amazon seller. But be aware that this journey towards having a successful freight forwarding business had only just begun! Admittedly, this blog had only barely scratched that surface. This, of course, is as good a foundation as any.
And the good news is that you can do more!
Zonguru offers weekly live training on everything related to Amazon FBA freight forwarding and Amazon selling, in general. Attending these training sessions can not only arm you with the necessary education to stay ahead, but it will also help you manage your risks, more so in the freight forwarding business. Sign up now for a free 7-day trial! We are here to help.
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