Freight Forwarding Shipping 101: 5 Tips to Get Started on Your First International Shipment

To achieve international success, every e-commerce business must have a firm grasp of freight shipping basics. But if this is your first foray into the international market as an e-commerce business, you may not know much about freight forwarding services yet.

If you’re new to international shipping and logistics, you may be surprised at how complex the process is.

This article will help you become more familiar with the basics of freight shipping. Below, we will cover everything from choosing the right small business shipping options, the type of shipping documents required, customs procedures, and much more.

What is freight forwarding shipping?

Before we go any deeper into managing your first international shipment, it’s important to understand what exactly freight forwarding shipping is.

Freight shipping is the process of transporting goods, cargo, and commodities in bulk from one destination to another. Freight forwarding shipping can be categorized into two: international freight forwarding and domestic freight shipping.

For this article, we will only look at international freight forwarding. Let’s dive into the five essential tips to make your first international shipment a resounding success.

1. Choosing the right transport method for your shipping needs

One of the first steps in making a successful first international shipment is understanding the various transport methods available.

In domestic freight shipping, e-commerce businesses ship via rail and road. Because international freight forwarding must traverse borders, goods and cargo can be shipped by ocean freight, air freight, or land freight.

There are several factors that will determine the right transport method for your international shipping needs. These factors include:

  • Value of goods
  • Geographical location of the destination
  • The distance of the destination from point of origin
  • Deadlines or schedule
  • Budget
  • Environmental and sustainability factors

Each transport method has unique advantages and disadvantages.

For example, while air freight may expedite your international shipment, air transport can be up to 16 times more expensive than ocean freight. It also carries a bigger carbon footprint than other transport methods.

Coordinate with your logistics partner as they can advise on you the right transport method(s) for your international shipment.

2. Determining freight shipping rates

Much like transport methods, a variety of factors will impact shipping rates. Factors to consider that would determine international freight rates are:

  • Packaging
  • Postage
  • Distance traveled
  • Mode of transportation

The most effective way to calculate shipping costs for your international route is by using an online freight quote. By using a quick quote tool and inputting a few simple details, you’ll instantly get a quote for your international shipment.

Don’t forget that international shipments are also levied with custom duties and taxes. These duties and taxes will vary by destination; for example, the duties and taxes associated with sending packages to China may differ significantly from the duties and taxes when shipping freight to Italy.

3. Packaging your goods for export

There’s a lot you must consider when packaging goods for export. The demands of packing goods vary according to destination and materials being transported. Each destination country will have import restrictions and quarantine requirements.

Goods transported internationally must also be able to withstand the journey so that they reach the destination intact and undamaged. Packaging must be strong to protect against any risk during transport while being lightweight to manage shipping costs.

The best way to protect and preserve your products’ good condition during transport is by working with your international freight forwarding partner. Your freight partner can help you choose the right packaging for your shipping needs.

4. Completing the required documentation for export

All forms of shipping will require documentation. While the documentation for domestic shipping is straightforward, international shipping varies from country to country.

Common examples of documentation used in international trading include a commercial invoice and transportation paperwork. Work with your freight forwarder who can advise on additional documents according to the country of export and goods being transported.

5. Finding a reliable partner

The success of your first international shipment heavily depends on your international freight shipping partner. Make sure you work with a company that has the expertise, experience, and the right network in your country of export.

It’s vital that you do your research. Failure to perform due diligence can lead to costly mistakes.

When researching prospective partners, check the firm’s reputation and prior experience. You should also confirm that your prospective partner is properly registered in your relevant country. Likewise, conduct a credit check to ensure that they’re in good financial standing.

Pulling it all together

Your first international shipment signifies that your company is ready to venture into foreign waters. The best way to find success, in the long run, is to work with the right international freight forwarding partner. Their knowledge can help you navigate uncharted waters with ease and confidence.

Toby Edwards is the CEO of Shipa Freight and is based in Dubai. Shipa Freight is a new online platform powered by Agility that makes it easy to get air and ocean freight quotes, book, pay and track shipments online. Shipa Freight empowers small and medium-size businesses, taking the complexity out of International Freight Forwarding, making it easy to manage legal, regulatory and compliance issues, and offering convenient ways to pay to move their goods.

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