July 2013 | How-To | Ten Tips

Choosing the Right Airfreight Forwarder

Tags: Air Cargo

In a global supply chain, timing and visibility are critical. So is selecting the best freight forwarder. Vito Losurdo, vice president of global airfreight services at UPS, offers the following advice for picking the best airfreight forwarder for your business.

1. Look for a broad portfolio. Partner with an established forwarder that provides a comprehensive portfolio of multiple transportation modes globally. This better positions you to react to any unexpected changes; offers increased speed and security; and reduces cargo hand-offs between networks.

2. Find a forwarder and customs broker in one. Working with an airfreight forwarder with in-house regulatory knowledge minimizes the risk of shipping delays stemming from customs compliance issues. The combined forwarder/broker approach provides streamlined movement of your goods, and complete visibility of transportation and brokerage milestones.

3. Evaluate industry expertise, responsiveness, and quick turnarounds. Businesses face a number of scenarios that require unplanned or last-minute airfreight shipments triggered by product line changes, surges in demand, or even natural disasters. In these instances, an airfreight forwarder with a knowledgeable sales force and local intelligence will be highly responsive, with the capability to develop and execute solutions quickly.

4. Search for competitive transit times. When evaluating whether a forwarder can offer competitive transit times for airfreight shipments, look for a global footprint with dedicated capacity to ensure on-time delivery. A combination of deferred and express transportation services offers options to meet your needs.

5. Make sure the forwarder adds value to your bottom line. With pressing austerity programs, a forwarder offering reliability at competitive rates is valuable. Global forwarders provide economies of scale with commercial options and established relationships. The best forwarders offer innovative technology solutions, and provide flexibility and customized transportation options to best meet your needs.

6. Look for streamlined manifesting and invoicing. Forwarders using technology to streamline shipment processing, invoicing, and billing offer time savings and billing accuracy. Look for solutions such as paperless invoicing for customs clearance, electronic data interchange, and electronic billing.

7. Ensure you'll have full shipment visibility. In the age of technology and speed required across multiple business units and geographies, a forwarder must be able to provide timely and accurate information on your shipments—around the clock.

8. Pursue proactive shipment monitoring. The best forwarders provide shipment monitoring systems with built-in notifications and/or a dedicated team to monitor cargo and contact you about irregularities. This capability ensures you can react quickly and proactively for your customer or organization.

9. Evaluate product integrity. While speed, visibility, and security are important, consistent on-time delivery without damages is the ultimate goal. Forwarders should demonstrate facility and in-transit security, and offer processes for reporting damages and managing claims.

10. Size up people skills. The forwarder should have local relationships to provide timely, reliable, and professional services at every point of contact with you and your customers.