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4 Essentials for Freight Forwarding RFQs

Whether you’re contacting freight forwarders to seek cost estimates for an upcoming shipment or to gather preliminary data for calculating your logistics budget, the professionals on the other end of the line will ask you to submit details about your shipment in a document called a Request for Quote (RFQ).

In addition to being tools for expense planning, RFQs act as springboards for your future interactions with freight forwarders. Many freight forwarding entities, large and small, are so eager to win your business that they may fudge the numbers to quickly entice you with a compelling “bait rate.”

To protect yourself and avoid bait rates, inaccurate quotes and inefficient negotiations, take time to supply the freight forwarder with a thorough RFQ, complete with 4 key details.

Freight forwarding RFQ tip #1: Include Incoterm classification

Indicate on the RFQ what Incoterm you would like the shipment to be classified under. Incoterms are internationally recognized trade terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce. In the context of an RFQ, your listed Incoterm defines the extent to which you are responsible for costs associated with moving your shipment.

For example, the two most common incoterms, Ex-Works and Free on Board, produce entirely different quotes:

Ex-Works (EXW): You, as the shipper, are liable and financially responsible for the shipment from the moment it leaves your supplier’s warehouse. As a result, the quote you receive from the freight forwarder will include a line item for the origin fees (warehouse pickup, trucking and delivery to the port of lading) that you will be obligated to pay.

Free on Board (FOB): Your supplier is responsible for all the costs and arrangements associated with getting the shipment to the port where it will be loaded onto the vessel. As a result, these fees are not passed along to you and, thus, not included in the quote.

There are an array of incoterms and each one affects the way your shipment will be quoted. Familiarize yourself with the terms to understand when you’re liable for costs, and ensure your quotes are accurate.

Freight forwarding RFQ tip #2: Provide precise specs

It’s important to provide the freight forwarder with exact specifications of the size of your shipment. If you attempt to estimate your shipment’s specifications in your RFQ, you likely won’t receive an accurate quote.

Since your shipment will be consolidated into one container with other companies’ shipments, your freight forwarder needs to know the characteristics of your cargo — including the number of items, and their weight and dimensions. This allows them to estimate how much space your shipment will occupy in the container and provide you with an accurate quote.

RFQs for LCL shipments

If you’re shipping a less-than-container load of goods (LCL), provide to your freight forwarder your total number of packages and the dimensions and weight of each. The freight forwarder also wants to know what type of packages to expect, so indicate whether your cargo is on pallets, in loose boxes, within crates, etc.

RFQs for FCL shipments

If you’re shipping a full container load (FCL) of goods, determining your specifications is as easy as specifying the container size you’ll need — 20-foot, 40-foot, 40-foot HQ, or 45-foot HQ.

Ask your supplier or freight forwarder for guidance if you’re uncertain about the ideal container size for your FCL shipment. and they can help you determine the right size.

Finally, include details about your shipment’s contents, noting any special considerations for fragile or hazardous products. The more details you provide the freight forwarder upfront, the more accurate your quote will be.

Freight forwarding RFQ tip #3: List additional requirements

Do you have an active customs bond?

Do you need customs clearance in the United States?

Would you like to include insurance coverage for your shipment?

These are common questions freight forwarders ask upon receipt of an RFQ. To avoid unnecessary back-and-forth communication, indicate in the RFQ whether you would like additional services and their associated costs included in your quote.

If insurance coverage is on your list of must-haves, be sure to provide the overall value of the goods being shipped (USD) on your RFQ.

Your instructions don’t need to be complicated. Simply state your need. For example:

  • I need last-mile delivery. (You need the freight forwarder to arrange delivery of the shipment from the U.S. port to a specific address).
  • My delivery location requires a delivery appointment.
  • My delivery location is a business location, a residential location, or an Amazon fulfillment center.
  • I have the necessary resources to unload the container at the delivery location within a 2-hour window (or vice versa).
  • I will need a liftgate or a floor unload at the delivery location (if, for example, you don’t have a loading dock or forklift).

Freight forwarding RFQs: Clearly state your shipping date

It’s a simple detail, but one whose importance sometimes goes overlooked. Indicate clearly on the RFQ the specific date and time when the cargo will be ready to ship from your supplier.

Industry-standard GRIs (General Rate Increases) hit the maritime shipping market on the 1st and 15th of each month, causing shipping rates to fluctuate frequently. Include a “cargo ready date” in the RFQ you submit to freight forwarders so they can provide a quote reflecting accurate timing.

The freight forwarder will also indicate when the quote will become null and void, another critical detail in your planning process. This ensures both parties are on the same page, and alleviates any surprise pricing changes.

RFQ Checklists for FCL and LCL shipments

Use these checklists to build your RFQs for FCL or LCL shipments.

RFQ Checklist for FCL shipments

__ Origin port or address:

__ Destination port or address:

__ Commodity:

__ Container size:

__ Insurance coverage (y/n):

__ Value of goods:

__ Appointment required at delivery (y/n):

__ Drop and Pick required at delivery (y/n):

__ Entry bond (y/n):

__ Single-entry bond

__ Annual bond

__ Entry customs (y/n):

RFQ Checklist for LCL shipments

__ Origin port or address:

__ Destination port or address:

__ Commodity:

__ Package type/description (loose boxes, pallets, crates, etc.):

__ Number of packages:

__ Dimensions of each package (in.):

__ Weight of each package (lbs.):

__ Insurance coverage (y/n):

__ Value of goods:

__ Appointment required at delivery (y/n):

__ Drop and Pick required at delivery (y/n):

__ Entry bond (y/n):

__ Single-entry bond

__ Annual bond

__ Entry customs (y/n):

 

This way you can approach freight forwarders like Fleet Logistics with confidence, avoid unnecessary back and forth, and ensure accurate quotes with the first pass.

 

 

 

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