The three Rs of choosing an airfreight forwarder

You pay a premium to ship cargo via airfreight, so shouldn’t you have a premium airfreight forwarder? To choose the best airfreight forwarder for your shipping needs, use these three R’s as a guide: responsiveness, reach and reputation.
1.      Responsiveness
Shipping via air is all about speed. You choose airfreight if you need to get your product somewhere fast. But that speed requires a certain amount of attention for your shipment: You’ll have less time to get your documentation in order, and any issues that come up have to be dealt with immediately to prevent delays. That’s why you want an airfreight forwarder that is all about responsiveness.
A responsive airfreight forwarder should proactively monitor your shipment, so they can resolve issues as soon as possible. They should also work to lessen the risk of delays by ensuring all the documentation you need is ready to go, so your cargo doesn’t get stuck in customs or held up by another government agency. If there are any errors or omissions in your documentation, your airfreight forwarder should help spot problems and get them fixed.
They should also have responsive customer service. When you have questions or concerns, it’s important to be able to communicate quickly and effectively with your airfreight forwarder’s support team.  Whether over-the-phone or online, you need a real-life person to action your requests ASAP. 
2.      Reach
When you’re searching for the best airfreight forwarder, consider their reach. That means looking at their network, and how long they have been in business. An international freight forwarder with years of experience likely has a more extensive network than one with less experience.
They’ll have built relationships with various airlines over the years too, which can be critical, especially during peak shipping seasons when space is limited. An airfreight forwarder with a good relationship with the airline can more easily secure space for your shipments when demand is high.
In addition to their extensive network, an airfreight forwarder that has been in business for many years has the knowledge to handle any situation. They’ll have extensive experience with different types of commodities and know which government regulations and restrictions may affect your shipments. This knowledge and experience means the airfreight forwarder streamlines the shipping process for you.
3.      Reputation
You want an airfreight forwarder that has a successful track record.
Firstly, ask for references.  Talk to their customers about their experience with the airfreight forwarder.  Ask specific questions that are relevant to your needs and expectations.
Next, find out about the prospective airfreight forwarder’s involvement in their industry. Start with the basics, are they accredited by the International Air Transport Association (IATA)?  Find out more about their security credentials by checking if they participate in Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) through U.S. Customs. This is especially important if your company is a C-TPAT participant. 

Another fact to consider is the size of the airfreight forwarder. If you are a small to medium-sized business, you may prefer an international freight forwarder that works with companies like yours. These forwarders often have a reputation of being nimble and can make crucial decisions much faster, which is especially important in air freight.
Their customer service is often more responsive than larger freight companies too, since an airfreight forwarder that works with larger-sized businesses may prioritize a large client’s needs over yours. Considering the speed of airfreight, you don’t want to be an after-thought, not able to reach them at a crucial time.
When you’re looking for an airfreight forwarder, remember your three Rs to choose the right air freight forwarder for your needs.
About the Author: Eric Jochim is Director of Marketing at Dedola Global Logistics, a global freight forwarder and supply chain management partner.

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