What Does a Freight Forwarder Do?

3-minute read

Shipping companies are increasingly ”going up and down the supply chain” seeking to take on some of the work that freight forwarders have traditionally carried out.

So, it is important to clarify what freight forwarders do and emphasise the value they bring to New Zealand?

Freight forwarding is an ”invisible profession”, but ”thanks” to COVID and the global logistical challenges of the past two years, more people know about the profession or at least about ”supply chain logistics”.

In brief, freight forwarders provide solutions to move goods from A to B or from A to C or D or from B to C and so on – and can offer multiple solutions to each aspect.

Freight forwarders can arrange the travel of goods from a factory door in China to a shop in Te Awamutu or a consignment of produce from a packing house to a Chinese supermarket.

Freight forwarders move everything from RAT tests to grain hoppers, chemicals to clothing, car parts to heavy machinery.

Freight forwarders achieve that through vast accumulated knowledge, expertise, networks, and relationships.

”Relationships” is the keyword when it comes to defining the value. Freight forwarders maintain relationships with customers and the organisations they deal with through every supply chain link.

Freight forwarders source containers and book space, oversee the loading and discharge of goods, organise Customs and MAF inspections, complete import and export documentation, and much more.

For all of this, New Zealand freight forwarders offer a very personal service. Shipping lines may have individual relationships with the biggest exporters
– but, otherwise, they mainly offer such services from a digital platform with limited options.

New Zealand has a very high number of small to medium businesses, making up most of freight forwarders’ customers.

NZ freight forwarders’ customers have direct personal contact and are offered as many options and solutions as possible.

Most NZ freight forwarders will communicate with customers by phone or email and don’t just send out a “coverall” notice about delays.

Customers are very dependent on the status reports telling them exactly where their container is, the estimated time of departure (ETD), what ship it is on and what is its estimated time of arrival (ETA). It provides them with the ability to plan.

As the challenges continue to mount globally, freight forwarders seek the best solutions for each customer and keep customers updated with the good news and the bad.

As the Chinese authorities continue their elimination policy on COVID, the situation in Shanghai continues to be complex.

The war in Ukraine has seen the cost of Brent crude oil soar, significantly affecting the cost of the bunker to run ships and increasing costs for aviation fuel and trucking.

Until the war is over, that is only going to get worse.

The difficulties in finding containers and booking space continue along with backlogs and labour shortages at ports.

As the challenges continue to mount, New Zealand freight forwarders seek individual solutions to minimise the impact on every customer and get their goods to them or their destination as efficiently as possible.

Source: The New Zealand Shipping Gazette by Hamish Milne, CBAFF member Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation

P.S. Easy Freight Ltd helps New Zealand importers & exporters to save money on international freight and reduce mistakes by guiding how to comply with Customs and biosecurity rules. 

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