A guide to global shipping: what to know about your logistics provider

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By James McKinney, freelance writer.

Logistics providers handle all aspects of shipping between suppliers, manufacturers and consumers. They have warehouses, trucks, planes and ships to deliver their clients' products worldwide.

Logistics providers arrange services like ocean freight or trucking at competitive prices that depend on product value, delivery time, origin/destination location and quantity of shipments. Moving your furniture from New York City to Long Beach typically costs less than a shipment from the UK to Japan, even if both are very far away.

Logistics providers are a crucial part of global trade. A global logistics company sends the raw materials and parts that build finished products to countries where they need to be, then transport those finished goods from their ports or warehouses to consumers worldwide.

What characteristics to research before signing with them?

Experience

The most vital aspect to look at in a logistics provider is experience. When choosing what provider is best for your business, don't be too caught up in the price; instead, keep an eye out for companies that can offer flexible rates and options across all of their services.

Logistics providers with several years of experience will:

  • Know how international shipping works like the back of their hands.
  • They will save you money, time and worries by knowing where to ship products based on which location offers the best value.
  • They will use reputable forwarders to manage shipments if needed.
  • They will deliver your products efficiently using their large transportation networks.

Price

While the price you pay for shipping doesn't reflect how much work a logistics provider can do, it can tell you how extensive their fleet of transportation options is and how frequent they make use of them. The more they ship around the world, the more they can practice and learn from what works and what doesn't - which ultimately results in happier clients who get lower prices.

Customer service

In addition to offering flexible pricing based on all of your shipment needs, good logistics providers will also offer excellent 24/7 customer service and online tracking tools.

They understand that shipping is an integral part of your business, and they will want to ensure you are well informed about the shipments they make on your company's behalf.

How do you know you need a logistics provider?

There are various reasons why you have to use the services of a logistics provider. If international clients purchase your products or buy from your website, they will want their items as soon as possible - and it's up to you to make sure this happens smoothly and securely.

Logistics providers offer reliable service at all times of the day, every day of the year (24/7). Because of this, no matter when or where your customers initiate a transaction with you, there will always be someone who can address their concerns and ship their order quickly and efficiently.

If you're selling things like clothing, electronics or equipment that requires installation on-site, you will need to ship everything via a logistics provider once it is complete.

What are the best practices for your logistics provider?

Once you've found an excellent provider that can work with your budget and offers more than enough shipping options, make sure they know how to do their job well by following these tips:

Research your providers thoroughly

It's essential to narrow down what types of transportation services they offer (such as air freight, seaborne transport or trucking) and which ones might be most suitable for your needs.

Use forwarders when appropriate

A forwarder typically represents one company or even an entire group of companies. So just like working with an individual logistics provider, you will want to do your research before signing on with a forwarder. Make sure they have the expertise to provide every service you need and that their rates are competitively priced for all of them.

Keep all documentation organized

Logistics providers can work more efficiently when they know exactly where everything is at any given time. Keep your export licenses, bills of lading, commercial invoices and other paperwork in order. Your provider won't have to spend valuable time looking for what they need - which means they can deliver goods quicker.

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