As you know, there are many ways to ship goods around the world. One is via our global waterways and oceans. The freight forwarding business is alive and well for overseas container shipping. Purchasing container space or full containers are cheaper ways to ship your client’s goods overseas.
If you plan to expand your business into overseas container forwarding, keep reading to learn how to make it profitable. We’ll share some expert tips and advice to help your freight forwarding business stand out and how networking with other freight forwarding industry players is essential to your growth and success.
How overseeing container forwarders are like travel agents
Freight forwarders are like travel agents. Travel agents help clients travel to their destinations by booking flights, trains, and cars. You help your client (the shipper) find the best way to get their goods from point A to point B. You don’t usually own any transportation routes (just like travel agents don’t own the airlines or train routes), but you buy space for your client products on these transportation routes.
Are you new to overseas container forwarding?
If you’re a new freight forwarding company, you may be curious about the process. You’re responsible for managing the logistics and details of transporting your client’s packages and products. This usually includes:
- Determining your client’s credit
- Establishing the mode(s) of transportation (air, train, boat, truck)
- Determining how much space and weight is needed
- Preparing necessary documentation
- Scheduling container space or room on chosen transportation
- Monitoring shipments to ensure they’re on time
- Communicating progress to your client
- Invoicing the client.
When shipping overseas in cargo containers, you can send a full container for your client (Full Container Load, FCL) or combine their shipment with other clients in the same container (Less than Container Load, LCL). These can either be your other clients or shipments from other forwarders.
Tips to operate a successful, profitable overseas container forwarding business
As with many niches, there is likely much competition for your new overseas container forwarding business. Here are some ways to get a competitive advantage:
Maximize container space
Shipping containers are usually priced based on the container, not the weight. If you purchase a container, it generally doesn’t matter if you fill it 50% or 100%. You’ll still be charged the same rate (Unless you specifically purchase LCL). You can maximize your profits by combining several LCL shipments into one container.
You can also save space in your shipping containers by removing pallets. Pallets are wasted space, and you can save more money by stacking boxes or crates when possible.
Buy larger containers…only if you can fill them
Be mindful of the dimensions of your client’s cargo. You can save money per square foot by purchasing shipping space in larger containers, but it may not be cost-effective if you can’t fill the container.
Niche your services
Consider niching your freight forwarding services or specialties. For example, if you could niche to offer refrigerated shipping. Then, you can often combine LCL shipments in the same container rather than trying to mix refrigerated goods with goods that could be damaged with the increased humidity of a refrigerated container.
Create Relationships with shipping and transportation companies
If you can create trusted relationships with shipping companies, you can often negotiate for a better rate. For example, if you were to choose different shippers for every shipment, you haven’t built up enough reputation for them to offer you discount passage or services. If you regularly use the same shipping companies, they see your patronage as an asset and are more likely to provide you with cheaper rates.
It can also be helpful to guarantee how many containers you’ll buy space on every month. Find clients with consistent and regular shipping needs and buy container space regularly for the opportunity for more significant discounts. You can pocket these discounts as profit or pass the savings to your customers to earn their loyalty and satisfaction.
Join a freight forwarding business network
You can also expand your global reach and learn more about building a profitable overseas container forwarding business by joining a business network specializing in freight forwarding, like RW Solutions networks.
Since 2002, RW Solutions has created safe, reliable partnership networking for freight forwarders worldwide. Today, over 1000 forwarding companies are members of our networks and work together to grow the industry and each other’s companies. Members get access to people and resources to help them build a profitable business. Member benefits include:
- Global network coverage
- International promotion
- Trusted members
- Payment security
- Networking opportunities
- An online resource centre.
Our extensive and regular member networking and educational events help you stay current on market trends, find business partners and alliances, and work together to solidify robust global shipping and logistics chains.
Members also get discounted access to TraversEd courses to learn more about freight forwarding as a business.
Are you curious about membership for you and your overseas container forwarding company? Learn more about membership in an RW Solutions network today.