Productivity / Outsourcing

How to choose the right freight forwarder for your business

New to import/export and looking for a freight forwarder to ship products overseas? International freight can be complex and confusing so it’s good to know where to start, what to do and who you can trust!


When shipping products overseas, one of the first items you’ll want to tick off your list is finding a reliable freight service provider or freight forwarder.

In simple terms, a freight forwarder is a person or company that organises shipments for importers or exporters to get goods from the manufacturer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.

While the freight forwarder doesn’t actually move the freight itself, they act as an intermediary between the client and various transportation services. Sending products from one international destination to another can be highly complex and can involve a multitude of carriers, requirements and legalities. A freight forwarding service handles the considerable logistics task for you, relieving what would otherwise be a massive burden, particularly for those that are new to the game!

Want more articles like this? Check out the outsourcing section.

Choosing a freight service provider that best suits your needs and budget is crucial to the success of your import or export business. Not only will the correct choice provide increased efficiencies and potential cost savings, but it will also give you piece of mind that your products will arrive to customers safely and on time.

"Comparing the freight market up front will save you a lot of time, money and angst in the long run! "

No one international freight provider can be a specialist on every trade route or freight category, so shop around to find a specialist with competitive pricing. Remember the best ‘headline price’ is not always the most cost effective option and you may want to use several different providers depending on their expertise and pricing.

Questions you should be asking of new service providers include:

  • Do they have experience with your product/commodity type?
  • Do they have experience in shipping to/from your country/region of interest?
  • Can they provide references from companies that have used their services?

Ultimately service providers must understand the trade lane you are shipping and the appropriate solution to move your product safely, timely and in-line with relevant regulations. Spending time up front to research and compare the market to find freight forwarders that fit your requirements and budget will save you a lot of money in the long run!

Do you use a freight forwarding service? Got any tips for people looking to find the best one for their needs?

Ian Smith

Ian Smith is an international trade veteran with expertise in imports, exports, international freight and logistics. He is CEO of Cargo Hound. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


128,885 people use Flying Solo to help them create a business with life. Do you?

Connect with Flying Solo

Explore the benefits of membership