Consumer behavior is constantly changing – and retailers need to change with it in order meet demands and please customers. This adaptation is never easy but it can be achieved with a strategically designed supply chain. To achieve this flexible supply chain, freight forwarders and other logistics companies provide many value-added services above and beyond just moving goods from point A to point B.
Value added services in shipping are the logistical services which forwarders provide beyond the most basic service: shipping. Any additional activity – such as customs clearance, door delivery, or repackaging – is considered a value added service. You may have ordered an item in bulk but rely on your freight forward to add finishing touches that make your cargo ready for retail.
Freight forwarders are capable of creating any type of service through partnerships with other logistics providers. Therefore, you can expect freight forwarders to provide the following value added services:
- Freight related services: cargo insurance, customs bonds, customs clearance, document printing, special deliveries including lift gates, residential services
- Warehousing: storage of your products in bulk or as finished goods, inventory management, order management, IT tools
- Assembly, kitting, and packaging services: assembly of products, picking and packing, changing packaging, labeling, material purchasing. This type of service may be helpful for FBA sellers, who always have to follow Amazon's strict requirements on packaging if the goods are shipped to Amazon warehouses.
- Pre-retail services: reworks or customization of the products to suit local markets, repacking and relabeling, application of tags and price stickers, garment processing (steam pressing, hanging, folding, etc)
- Reverse logistics: bringing goods back when they are not needed
- Bonded warehousing: warehousing with tax efficient supply chain for importers/exporters
These value added services are another source of profit for forwarders. They will most likely always be able to provide an immediate offer for the requested service, or they will be willing to build up the service based on demand. Feel free to talk with your forwarder about the exact value added service you need, and the possibility of providing custom services to meet your goals.
Remember, there will always be certain trade-offs among convenience, cost, and control. Asking freight forwarders for these value added services may cost more than if you work directly with a packaging company or warehouse. You probably will not have direct communication with the actual service provider – instead going through your freight forwarder. Because of this two-step communication, it may take more time for things to get done. But in return you don’t have to spend time sourcing and figuring out whether those suppliers are reliable, especially when you are not familiar with foreign markets.