While you don’t technically need a freight forwarder to be an Amazon FBA seller, there are a few savvy business owners opting for this resource (as well as partnering with several additional allies in the international import business).
Here, we’ll demystify what freight forwarders do, why it matters, and how you can choose the best partner for your business.
What Is A Freight Forwarder?
A freight forwarder, or forwarding agent, handles a suite of actions related to the storage and shipping of freight.1 For our purposes, the three most important are:
- Communicating between transportation and distribution services like land, air, and sea freight,
- Drawing on preexisting relationships with these agents to negotiate the best possible rates,
- And overseeing and resolving the practical details (and any blunders) that come up with shipping orchestration.
A freight forwarder may operate via land, sea, or air transport. They physically move the packages and take care of all oversight required to get goods from point A to point B.
Why Freight Forwarders Matter
As an Amazon seller, you know that getting your FBA inventory to the Amazon fulfillment center is critical to keeping up with your customer’s demands and standards. Not only does maintaining a smooth operation help support a seller’s Amazon IPI score, it can also help a seller avoid having to search for ways on how to fix stranded inventory on Amazon. Without a good freight forwarder, you may run into expensive oversights like:2
- Submitting the wrong documentation or insurance with your export,
- Overpaying for poorly managed or inefficiently-packed freight,
- Being unprepared for inspections and product regulation trials,
- Or even losing in-transit stock.
If you’re selling your goods overseas, the greater distance leaves even more room for blunders in the international shipping process—which is why working with a freight forwarder can be so critical.
IORs vs Freight Forwarders
In your freight forwarding research, you’ve likely stumbled upon another import-related term: an IOR or Importer Of Record.
The role of an IOR is to act as the recipient of your goods and ensure all imports comply with the local importation laws to avoid stuck shipment, wherever your inventory is headed. An IOR is most often needed to assist with importation into the target country—and Amazon will not act as IOR.
While freight is in transit to an Amazon FBA warehouse, IORs are responsible for:
- Customs clearance,
- The management of levies, duties, and taxes on imported cargo,
- And the completion of any necessary documentation and forms.
The vast majority of freight forwarders don’t serve as an IOR because of the added responsibility and liability they would assume for the successful importation and transportation of the client’s shipment.
Some IORs, however, can also offer freight forwarding partnerships. IOR services like Zee offer the convenience of existing relationships with freight forwarders to offer competitive rates and established, reliable relationships.
How To Choose Your Freight Forwarding Service
Choosing the best freight forwarding service for your company requires some due diligence in the following areas:
Reputation – Testimonials and professional references speak volumes about a company. In addition to looking for positive client feedback, we recommend that Amazon FBA sellers seek out companies that offer research or internal case studies. Case studies will reflect their knowledge of trade rules and demonstrate the consistency of their agency.
Reach – Depending on where your fulfillment centers are located across the globe, you’ll need to look for freight forwarders who are experts in the trade quirks of each particular country.
Comprehensiveness – The best freight forwarding company is one that can anticipate shipping or transport issues before they arise. Your chosen freight forwarder should be prepared for everything from Amazon-standard packaging protocol to the duties or tariffs when your shipment reaches its destination.
Like most things in business, securing the best freight forwarder for your Amazon FBA shipment will probably come down to shipping cost.
However, if you’re shipping internationally, you will need to settle on both a freight forwarder and an IOR who can form an agreeable, nimble partnership devoted to one thing—helping you succeed as an FBA seller.
Discover Your One-Stop International Shipping Partner With Zee
You don’t have to enlist two agencies and bet on their cooperation to get your product to an Amazon fulfillment center.
Instead, you can choose a comprehensive IOR solution that facilitates freight forwarding.
A partnership with Zee saves you the expense of two hires and enables you to boost returns on business investments. With a wealth of knowledge in domains that cut across industry boundaries, Zee can help with everything from garnering low courier rates to navigating Value-Added Tax abroad.
There’s no need to complicate the already intricate process of international FBA shipping and operations. Partner with Zee and you’ll keep your freight form simple, streamlined, and secure—while saving as you take your business global.
- International Trade Administration. Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders. https://www.trade.gov/customs-brokers-and-freight-forwarders
- International Trade Administration. Import Regulations. https://www.trade.gov/foreign-regulations