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How to Choose a Good Sea Freight Forwarder in the UK

For business expansion into global markets, many UK companies engage the services of sea freight forwarders. When working with an international freight forwarder, you outsource the logistics and supply chain management to experts, leaving you to focus on what you do best.

But how do you know whether a sea freight UK forwarding company is worth its salt? Read on to find out how to make the right choice for your business.

What Does a Sea Freight Forwarder Do?

Sea freight forwarders oversee the transportation of goods via carrier ships. It is not just a traditional and efficient method of cargo transportation, but often the most affordable.

How Are the Goods Transported?

Here are some methods used to transport sea freight:

  • By “full container load”. This option allows you to purchase one or more full container(s) for shipment.
  • A “less than container load”. Your products will be added to another container if you don’t have a full container’s worth of goods. The contents will be divided once they arrive at their destination.
  • The “roll-on roll-off” method. Here the products remain in the vehicle used to ship them, and will leave on the same vehicle at the other end.
  • “Dry bulk shipping.” This is for specific items deposited in the ship’s hold instead of travelling in a container.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Sea Freight?

Before choosing a sea freight UK forwarder, here are some of the factors to consider:

  • Compared to other project cargo methods, it is cost-effective.
  • The set-up is designed for easy manoeuvre of large and heavy products.
  • It’s the most carbon-efficient solution, therefore eco-friendly.

And further points to bear in mind:

  • It’s the slowest option for moving load internationally. Therefore, the time taken will need to be factored into your plans.
  • This method is not cost-effective for a smaller amount of goods.

How to Choose a Good UK-Based Sea Freight Company

When looking for the right sea freight company for your business, consider developing a long-term business relationship with them. Thus, select a company that you believe will honour your requirements and do an excellent job delivering your goods internationally from the UK.

Can They Meet Your Requirements?

Research sea freight UK forwarding companies to see which one best meets your requirements. Preferably your choice should be with a company offering cutting-edge services, including real-time visibility of shipment progress. The forwarder should be able to provide access to the information you require at any time. Most modern sea freight companies will have an online tracking system that you can sign in to. This will allow you to access other information, including shipment arrival dates and proof of delivery to clients.

Experience and Credibility

Once you’ve found some freight forwarding companies that look promising, find out how much experience they have working with companies in your industry. Do they operate in countries where you do business? Are they a long-standing and successful forwarding company? Being satisfied with the answers to these questions will help you decide whether you can build a long-term business relationship with them.

Before committing, make sure they’re responsive, clued-up, and look after their customers well. What is their customer service track record like? You’ll need assurances that you’ll receive quick and effective support whenever you have a problem or question regarding a shipment.

How Much Will They Cost?

It might be tempting to go with a sea freight UK-based forwarder offering the lowest rates. But if their service isn’t great, it won’t be the best long-term decision. A saving on upfront costs may seem like a good idea at first. However, you may end up paying for the saving in additional charges, delays to deliveries, unhelpful customer service, etc.

To be on the safe side, find a forwarding company that offers the services you require at rates in line with competitors.

Finding a Sea Freight Forwarder That Fits

When looking for a suitable sea freight UK forwarder, you’ll need to do your due diligence and take your time before committing. Firstly, ensure that they offer the type of sea freight service you require. Secondly, check that they’re an established company with a proven track record and testimonials to back it up.

Finally, be wary of the companies offering the cheapest deals, as you may end up paying in other ways that could jeopardise your reputation.

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