As the cornerstone of international trade and development, the shipping industry basically keeps the world economy running. Those who know it will tell you that it’s an exciting industry to be in and also one that involves huge responsibilities. Deciding on who you want to work with and how you want to cooperate in this business are two very important decisions you have to carefully consider right from the get go.
Professional relationships with freight forwarding agents, can be simplified to two basic forms:
Requesting your assistance, rates and services in a particular area, agents become your clients. They are to be treated with utmost professionalism and attention, to have their bookings fulfilled timely, and invoices sent correctly until the next opportunity to assist their needs. From our end, we place the highest emphasis on good service and follow up for more business opportunities with them. But at the end of the day, agents, as clients, are the ones to decide who they prefer to work with.
This is a more integrated and complex form of cooperating. In this case, we regard agents within our professional network not only as possible clients, but also as providers or sub-vendors. Further down the road, a good overseas partner may become our eyes and hands (or better said, sales and operations) in the areas where we don’t have an on-site presence.
In most cases, agents’ cooperation is quite intuitive, depending mainly on external opportunities and personal relationships between companies’ staff members. This way, we find ourselves cooperating with a number of different agents on punctual shipments and mostly short-term agreements.
Logically, one will always look for better conditions, rates and services available and that could mean inconsistent and limited business relationships. But by applying a bit of strategic thinking and stats analysis, we can gain a longstanding cooperation from which both parties can benefit for mutual growth:
Having direct contact with relevant people in charge, we gain a better understanding of the standard procedures and requirements on both ends.
Do you know the maximum authorized weight for inland drayage in the US? Countries and cargo to which the EUR1 certificate is applicable? Best incoterms when shipping from China? All these and many more are useful tips that make part of a reliable expertise and local know-hows that partners share with one another.
This is applicable both ways. The longer one works with a certain customer, the smoother and faster one manages their bookings. Your clients will count on tailor-made services and the most competitive rates at foreign destination/origin, which enhance the overall satisfaction and of course, your company image.
Thinking big and long-term takes us into more integrated cooperation with overseas agents, providing diversified opportunities for a win-win development.
In any business where two companies decide on closer collaboration, overall success will strongly depend on trust and reliability between them. Corporate data protection should never be underestimated. But let us make a clear distinction between the necessary and redundant. Confidentiality on costs and opportunities protects our competitive edge… Or does it?
On average, it takes between 4 and 7 work days to negotiate and close a booking. This includes the time spent on back and forth emails and phone calls re-confirming costs and possible discounts between the direct customer and overseas quoting agent. With iContainers, freight forwarders may access lowest NET NET rates directly online and negotiate with the end customer without further delays and share possible profits post-sale.
Complete and instant information on carriers, transit time and available routes to evaluate the options for better decision making, as well as clear instructions on customs requirements and relevant regulations all create confidence for a professionally-managed shipment.
Instant access to a timely update on the cargo status is a tetchy topic in our sector. Repeated follow up calls and reminder emails to obtain the long-awaited information is a daily routine for too many of us. Now complete information on a latest shipment status is available online directly on your personal dashboard thanks to our Track & Trace tool. You can also take advantage of our automated notifications feature and receive proactive updates.
Sales leads account for a significant percentage of clientele growth, especially when they’re fresh and backed with full details and direct contact info. Instead of discarding an inquiry outside of your interest - share it with your partners. Let them grow along with you and more opportunities will arise for everyone involved further down the road.
Far beyond competition, agents can complement each other with services and opportunities. Thanks to iContainers’ innovative online platform, we now keep track of all global inquiries and rate searches of the web users and share these detailed opportunities with our partnering agents overseas. Do give our post on how agents can benefit from working with iContainers a read.
Strategic thinking and long-term cooperation between freight forwarding agents assume mutual trust and reliability, as well as a certain level of transparency. We now operate in a more integrated and fast-paced world, where timely access to complete information is essential for better decision making and, as a consequence, enhanced productivity. Collaborating with overall transparency will optimize shipping operations and save time on both sides to:
As a practical example, a recent study from Harvard Business School overviewed the concept of transparency in a restaurant setting where the kitchen staff and customers were literally separated by a transparent glass, so that the food preparation and consumption were visible to both sides. The results pointed to an unexpected rise of 17% in customer satisfaction and 13% faster service when clients and staff could see each other. This is merely one of many fascinating powers of transparency in practice.
"The problem with these costs is that they’re often impossible to predict and are thus hardly ever considered when analyzing and comparing ocean freight rates"
Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers