Freight 101 Library

6 Tips On How To Find and Choose The Best Freight Forwarder

Finding and choosing the right freight forwarder for your shipping needs is a vital part of the process. Here 6 tips to get you started.

Dylan Sommer

There are thousands of freight forwarders out there.

How do you choose the best one for your business?

Here are six tips (and a checklist!) to help you select the best freight forwarder for your shipping and logistics needs.

Looking for quotes from vetted freight forwarders?

Pinpoint your shipping requirements

Before you hire a freight forwarder, plan out what you need for your shipment. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Your preferred shipping mode or modes (air, LCL, FCL, or express)
  • The type of goods you are shipping
  • Your origin and destination
  • Any special requirements your goods need (such as FDA approval)
  • Your delivery timeline

Once you know what you need, you’ll be better equipped to look for a freight forwarder that can meet your shipping requirements.

Forwarders can help with many parts of the shipping process. Check with your freight forwarder to see what services they offer for:

  • Transportation (such as trucking, carrier selection, and last-mile delivery options)
  • Freight packaging and labeling
  • Route optimization
  • Insurance coverage
  • Customs compliance

Look for expertise on your shipping route

Forwarders frequently specialize in shipping on specific lanes. Here are some questions to think about in determining if a forwarder meets your geographic needs:

  • Where are your main suppliers, factories, and warehouses? Opt for a forwarder with experience and strong networks in your origin and destination areas.
  • Do you have global operations? If your business is very widespread, look for a forwarder with a broader network of carriers for more shipping options and greater flexibility.
  • Are you new to international shipping? It’s always best to work with forwarders who can customize your service and provide you with the assistance you need. This is especially important for newer importers and exporters.
  • Do you plan to expand to new locations? If you’re looking to expand, find a forwarder with experience in the new lanes you’ll need.

If you use the marketplace, you’ll be able to switch between forwarders easily so you can always meet your freight needs as your business grows.

Get a freight quote – and understand what’s in it

Many factors help determine your freight costs, including:

  • The type of goods you are shipping
  • The weight and volume of your shipment
  • The mode of shipping
  • The container type (when shipping a full container)
  • Fees for services such as storage, packaging, and customs clearance

When you get your freight quote, make sure you understand what all the costs are for, and that you’re getting all the services you need.

READ MORE: Freight Forwarder – Understanding Costs and Fees

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Understand the services the freight forwarder provides

All freight forwarders provide standard services — transportation, carrier management, delivery, and distribution. And most of them can handle all cargo types.

However, if you have special requirements, look for a forwarder with experience handling those needs. You will need specialization for the following items:

  • Perishable goods. Some freight forwarders can provide reefer services and cold warehouses.
  • Fragile or valuable items. You may need specialized packaging and handling to ensure their safe transport through your freight forwarder.
  • Over-dimensional cargo (ODC). Look for forwarders that provide special containers like open-top containers or high-cubes.

Check the freight forwarder’s reputation

Whether you are a first-time shipper or an experienced one, always work with a reputable freight forwarder.

Look for positive reviews from other users, check with your network for feedback, and see what impression you get from conversations with the forwarder. You should book your shipment with the confidence that your needs will be met and any problems will be addressed.

Use a marketplace to find the right forwarder for you

Comparing multiple freight forwarders – requesting quotes, reading reviews, researching services – is a great way to choose the right one for your business.

You can search quotes on the marketplace to compare freight forwarders instantly. You’ll get price quotes in seconds, and you can then book and manage your shipment, including communication with your forwarder, all in one place.

You can even choose different forwarders for different shipments – so you’ll always have the flexibility to adapt to any business changes. Try it for free. 

No matter how you choose your forwarder, use this checklist to make sure you’re getting everything you need:

Find the right forwarder for you

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  • Improved selection across price, mode, vendor, performance metrics on each shipment
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  • Real-time service through automated services, real-time chat, and integrated messaging options
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