The Value of a Freight Forwarder

Q: How do you define a freight forwarder?

A: A freight forwarder is a full-service provider offering multiple levels of transportation and logistics services. It combines the assets of airlines, steamship lines, and trucking companies around the world to build remarkable service and price solutions for a variety of clients—even for individual customers or shipments.

Q: What valued-added services does a freight forwarder provide?

A: There are many. A freight forwarder can offer EDI billing for seamless data exchange, provide Internet track and trace for easy tracking, unlock extensive global shipping networks to help clients do business wherever and whenever they want, and much more. According to Gerry Post, Freight Forwarding Director at DLS Worldwide (an RR Donnelley company), freight forwarders offering volume-leveraged economies of scale through technology and support are especially desirable because they provide clients with "complete accessibility and visibility from a reliable single source."

Q: What are the trade-offs between time and money when selecting a freight forwarder?

A: The two factors that most often dictate client transportation decisions are time and money. Interestingly, clients may not initially realize their importance when selecting the best way to move their cargo. To help them, we often offer this analogy: think of time and money as a classic X-Y graph.

On the X-axis, we have "time" going from slowest (left) to fastest (right). On the Y-axis, "money" extends from lowest price (bottom) to highest (top). Traveling up and to the right on the chart means that shipping speed increases, but so do costs; moving down and to the left means shipping takes longer, but costs less.

We then place shipment solutions on the X-axis as well, arranged from slowest to fastest: sea freight, ocean-air combinations, consolidators, air freight providers, and integrators.

The real value of the exercise is demonstrating to clients that there are other options available to them. As a freight forwarder, we knit together an astounding combination of some or all of these services, using air, land, and sea options to support their success. As a result, finding the optimal combination of time and money helps every aspect of their supply chain work together in harmony, providing a seamless connected experience that helps clients reach current customers, discover new ones, and expand their vision for what’s possible.

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