Last-minute freight booking is a common habit among a majority of exporters. Once they complete other export-related tasks, they are suddenly reminded of having not booked a freight forwarding service. While delays in shipping are an apparent consequence of this, there are many other ways in which it can have a negative impact on the overall export management. Let’s highlight some of them to help you understand the importance of booking freight on time.
Unfavourable Vessel Schedules
Needless to say, vessels have their fixed itinerary schedules and transit times. Hence, an exporter must plan accordingly to find which of these schedules matches his or her shipping requirements. However, a last-minute booking attempt might not leave you with many options to choose from. Consequently, the schedule you choose unwillingly might derail the anticipated trade outcomes.
No Time to Compare
When you begin the process of approaching different shipping companies in advance, you may get an ample amount of time to compare the rates they quote. On the other hand, delaying the process may deprive you of this opportunity. At the end, you may have to settle with the rate which doesn’t meet the allocated budget or eat up a big portion of your final profits.
Chances of Rollovers
Another stressful consequence of a last-minute booking is that there remains a chance of the cargo getting rolled over to the next vessel. It happens when a shipping provider accepts many last-moment bookings. Due to this, the vessel space may get overbooked. Ultimately, some of the cargos may need a rollover to some other vessel which may transit on some other date.
Facing Congestion on Special Days
There are many days and occasions in a year when there is a huge demand for vessel spaces. For example, the holiday seasons during Christmas-New Year week may witness a dramatic increase in the amounts of export cargo. Clearly, if you expect to book freight space at the last moment during these periods, you may have to face rejections, delays and rollovers.
You might be fortunate enough to successfully have an entry in the shipper’s waiting list even a few days before the transit date. However, you can’t overlook the chance of unanticipated price hikes later. Many shipping companies reserve the right to impose price hikes in response to increased demand. It should be noted that those on the waiting lists may have to bear the brunt of these policies.
Bookings with Long Route Vessels
In general, many exporters book freight spaces on the vessels following the most optimal routes in advance. In such a case, the shipping companies might offer you space on a vessel that follows a longer route. With no option left, you may have to accept the offer and bear a number of consequences. First, you may have to pay more for the shipment. Second, the shipment might get delayed by days or even weeks. Also, your importer might consider it an unimpressive aspect of your business.
Hassles in Shipping Special Goods
Shipping delays due to delayed freight booking are even more damaging for goods that are perishable in nature. For instance, if your export company deals in fruits and dairy products, the delays may cause damage to these goods. Secondly, you might not get the vessel space with desired temperature settings to store these goods, leading to hampering the goods’ quality. Undoubtedly, the importer might reject the consignment due to compromised quality.
Likewise, you may have goods and containers that demand huge space on the vessel. But, the number of advance bookings might leave inadequate space for your good. Again, it may lead to rollovers, delays as well as consignment cancellation.
So, what is at stake if you fail to book freight in advance? The answer is everything, right from your budget to deadlines and business reputation as well as future business opportunities. At a time, when your export business must survive the competition in the post-pandemic era, you can’t afford to make this mistake.
Are you planning to enter the global marketplace? Do you lack experience in international shipping? If yes, one of the first things you must learn is the art of booking freight. If you book the freight correctly, it’s unlikely that your consignments will not reach the right people at the right time. The section below discusses the things you must remember when booking freight for international shipping.
You cannot export internationally without knowing a particular country’s export and import regulations. Some nations control or prohibit the export/import of certain products and goods. This means such regulations can stop your goods from entering the country of import. For example, Canada follows a quota agreement when it comes to importing items such as lumber and sugar. China prohibits or restricts the import of items like antiques, jewellery, ivory, etc.
So, never forget to read through the import regulations of the country you are shipping to before freight booking.
Customs and Tariffs
You must know that every international shipment needs to clear customs to enter the country of import. You will need to fill out a few forms to allow your shipments to clear customs. Some of the export documents you might need to fill out are:
- Proforma invoice
- Packing list
- Commercial invoice
- Import licenses
- Export licenses
- Dangerous goods certificate (if you are transporting potentially dangerous products)
- Airway bill and more
If you want your products to reach the right place at the right time, make sure that the right documents accompany your products. Proper management of paperwork and detailed documentation prevent delays in customs clearance.
Shipping tariffs and customs duties are fees that the exporters need to pay to the shipping company and the importing country’s customs department, respectively. You must be ready to pay all nation-specific taxes and duties to avoid problems during customs clearance.
The world of online trade is getting bigger with every passing day. Consequently, a new freight shipping firm is starting operations almost every other day. This has made the job of finding a reliable and responsible international freight shipping service provider extremely difficult. Exporters also struggle to find a reasonably priced shipping company.
If you want to make the right pick, consider a few things before taking the final call. Firstly, you should shortlist the most experienced shipping companies. The shipping company you are relying on should have the knowledge and experience in managing the international landscape. This will allow you to navigate the complex steps of international shipping seamlessly. You should also consider factors like:
- The reputation of the shipping company
- Safety record
- Shipping routes
- Customer satisfaction
- Relationship with various carriers
- Tracking ability
- Insurance protection
You must take care of product packaging if you want to ship your products safely. If you use the right kind of materials and techniques to pack the goods you are exporting, the contents of the shipment will remain protected. Additionally, high-quality packaging also helps in enhancing the reputation of a brand. The unboxing experience also becomes better. However, you must remember that certain packaging materials can end up increasing the overall cost of the shipment.
Shippers spend a lot of time to find out whether it would be a good idea to insure or if it will be more profitable to move ahead without insurance. This happens more often when shipping products internationally. You might use the most secure packaging materials and techniques. Still, you must take preventive measures to avoid losses if your goods get stolen, lost, or damaged. This makes buying insurance extremely important. You should purchase insurance cover for all your international shipments even if you are not exporting high-value items.
Like they do in the case of domestic shipments, buyers can also return international shipments. The freight shipping service provider you choose must allow international returns to make things simpler both for you and your customers.
To make booking freight easier, you should consider using online freight shortlisting and booking platforms. This will make knowing the vessel schedules, comparing rates, and selecting and booking containers easier for you. You’ll need very little time to spot the company matching your shipping budget and other requirements.