What is Freight Forwarding: A Comprehensive Guide

Foreman control loading Containers box from Cargo freight ship for import export, foreman control Industrial Container Cargo freight ship

Is There a Difference Between Freight Forwarding and Logistics?

What Is Freight Forwarding? Freight Forwarder Definition

Freight forwarding companies provide services to help get your shipment to its final destination. They are a “middleman” who works with several different logistics partners to find the right companies to ship your products for each leg of the journey. They may also work with partners who offer other services like storage when needed.

Container loading in a Cargo freight ship with industrial crane. Container ship in import and export business logistic company. Industry and Transportation concept.

Freight forwarders near me also usually are experts in international freight shipping and know how to deal with things like customs clearance, freight charges & transport costs, and bills of lading. So, using these services can sometimes save you time and money when importing and exporting goods internationally.

So, what is freight forwarding in logistics? It’s actually a subset of logistics services. It is one option for making your logistics process smooth, especially when it comes to imports and exports over international borders.

Why Use Freight Forwarding Services?

There are several advantages to using a shipping forwarder, even though you don’t necessarily have to do international shipping. The main reason businesses choose to go with these experts is that they know how to get the job done smoothly. Figuring out the logistics service of international freight is no small job. Freight companies already have the systems and partnerships set up to make it all happen.

Other advantages of using a freight forwarder in the USA include:

  • Shipping routes optimized using a long history of data
  • Using a network of logistics partners can help you get the best price possible
  • Working with multiple partners means they have solutions for many different types of goods including cold storage items and other things that need special consideration
  • They handle all the paperwork

What Is the Difference Between 3PL/4PL Provider and a Freight Forwarding Company?

AmerTrans Logistics is a 3PL/4PL company that can provide freight forwarding services. 3PL stands for 3rd party logistics company. 4PL stands for 4th party logistics. 3PL companies manage all fulfillment processes for a customer including:

  • Transportation
  • Warehousing/storage
  • Packaging products for shipment
  • Picking products for shipment
  • Managing returns (reverse logistics)
  • Shipping items
  • Receiving items
  • Inventory management and tracking
  • Freight shipping
  • Some customer service

3PL companies often work with trusted partners to provide these services.

4PL companies provide more full supply chain management for their clients. They may partner with other companies to provide the same services that a 3PL provides, but also perform more oversight, strategy, and analysis.

3PL/4PL providers can also use freight forwarding as part of their offerings. However, a 3PL or 4PL company is going to be more actively involved in the overall processes of your whole logistics plan than an international freight forwarder. Either type of business is a great option, it just depends on how much involvement you require.

So, What Exactly do Freight Forwarders Do?

What is freight forwarding services? There is a range of services that freight forwarder services offer. It’s much more than a shipping company. These may include:

  • Organizing rail, ocean, road, or air transportation
  • Arranging for appropriate cargo insurance
  • Advice for packaging and labeling items
  • Customized reports
  • Customs advice and management
  • Storage/warehousing

However, like working with a 3pl or 4Pl provider, the freight forwarder meaning varies. Each project is different and is usually customized to the client’s needs with shipping and logistics.

The Future of Freight Forwarding

We have so many technological solutions that transform the area of logistics and freight forwarding. These days, anyone in the logistics industry must be agile and adaptable due to rapidly changing circumstances.

Nowadays, both 3rd partly logistics companies and freight forwarding service providers have powerful customer portals. Through these portals, clients can easily generate reports based on huge amounts of data. These reports allow companies and their logistics partners to get a full picture of what is going on. They can then see any areas that need adjusting in the logistics plan before too much of a loss or delay develops.

Some systems are using artificial intelligence to help map out the best routes, find accurate sailing schedules, and choose routes with the least C02 emissions.

Improved tracking is another benefit to a robust customer portal. For example, our customer portal offers full 24/7 traceability for shipments. This transparency allows us to plan for any disruptions, easily see where something is getting held up, and work on the problem right away.

Many modern systems are available in the cloud, meaning the data is accessible to you no matter where you are. Some even have their own mobile apps for added convenience.

We Are Your Freight Forwarding Partner

Want to know more about how we can help with your freight forwarding needs? Call us for a free consultation.

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