International logistics is confusing the first few times, so it can be a bit intimidating.
This is where the freight forwarders, third-party logistics (3pl), or global supply chain management companies tend to come in. Some of them use scare tactics as their main selling point and then tell you, “But if we’re in charge, everything will go smoothly.”
But here’s the thing about international logistics: Things happen! The bottom line is there are too many companies and often even countries and cultures involved not to have at least some problems.
And here’s the thing about problems: They only go away if someone solves them. Somebody has to take responsibility and find solutions and create ways to prevent the same bad things from happening in the future.
So the question you have to ask yourself is “How motivated are the freight forwarders, third-party logistics (3pl), or global supply chain management companies going to be when it comes to solving any of these problems they promised weren’t going to happen in the first place?”
You’re not going to like the answer.
Global logistics is a big deal to your business but generally not a big deal for anyone else’s along the chain.
International logistics companies and volume
It all started to make sense to me once I broke down the math of the average individual shipment.
For example, it costs $2,000 to ship a container from Asia to the US. That sounds like a lot of money until you consider how many people have to get paid out of that $2,000. There’s the origin and receiving country’s trucking and/or rail, the freight forwarders (both countries), and the shipping line, and those are just the obvious ones.
When that $2,000 pie is divided up, everyone gets just a small taste.
For you, every single shipment is about getting something very specific to the right place at the right time. For most of the companies in logistics, though, it’s a game of volume.
So when preparing your global logistics, learn as much about the process as you can. Ask lots of questions and speak up if you aren’t comfortable with the answers.
What should I ask a global logistics (freight forwarder, 3pl, or global SCM) company?
Ask about their smallest customer or one that is currently has an international logistics similar to what you will. Find out as much as you can, especially about how they helped that customer’s international logistics (or global supply chain management) improve.
Follow that up by asking about some of the problems they experienced and what they did to not only solve them but also prevent them from happening again.
If you use this as a starting point it should open up opportunities to really learn about the company you are trusting with your international logistics and how they will handle your products.
Who is Corey Nelson?
I’m CEO and owner of 4C Global Logistics. My team sources, finances and delivers the products that fit your international supply chain management needs. To show our commitment to your company’s success, we take ownership of the products while they are being shipped, removing the problems and stress of commission-based deals. We pride ourselves on our transparent and responsive process. Questions or problems related to global logistics (third party logistics, 3pl) or SCM? Let us help.
Photo Credit: mikelao26