What is the difference between freight forwarder and a courier? I have been often asked that question. Well, from operational point of view the difference is tremendous but from customers point of view the difference is none. Why?
The customer perception is that both couriers and forwarders offer the same service – delivery of shipments from one point to another. And this is really the case. But the courier does it one way and the forwarder does it in another.
Normally couriers supply door-to-door services and they operate in their own systems or connect to specially organized systems. This networks, are integrated and in-separable as processes. That is why couriers are often called integrators.
Once your shipment gets in this network it is delivered to the address shown on the airwaybill and the customer has no control on it. This appears to be very economic and efficient way for smaller shipments because there is no accumulation of all minimum rates which the forwarder should charge if the same service is offered through forwarder. Actually for small shipments, couriers benefit from the change of fixed cost involved into variable – per kilo or per shipment cost.
This is one of the reasons why couriers have tarrifs which show cost country to country.
From the other side, if your shipment is relatively big the courier networks are not suitable because then the variable costs involved become higher compared to the cost which forwarder calculates for separate shipment. Also if customer’s terms of trade are different from CIF, DDU or EXW than the couriers are unable to separate which at the end in practice changes the delivery terms. If you have sold small commercial shipment on terms of delivery FOB Sofia airport and have moved it with a courier from Sofia to Sao Paolo for example in practice you cannot split the cost from your warehouse to the airport through which the courier operates (it might be not Sofia) and which is more important you cannot split the liabilities caused from the terms of delivery.
Here we have the forwarders involved. The forwarder will consider your specific shipment with its specific parameters – weight, commodity, dimensions, stackability, customs value etc. and will move it in the most appropriate way taking in consideration all of the peculiarities of your freight. Forwarder can build you routing or package of interrelated services which will respond to customer’s terms of sale and if the shipment is bigger forwarder will offer the benefits of moving bigger shipment on specially dedicated routing for this particular shipment.
This way of operations is reflected in the way forwarders provide their rates – per kilo, per weight break per CBM very often quoting the taxes for handling, customs processing etc.
So from one side we have couriers, with their integrated but also encapsulated networks – effective for smaller parcels and expensive for bigger and from the other side we have freight forwarders with their flexible systems – more expensive for smaller shipments but providing flexibility for bigger or special freights (like hazardous material for example)
Whom to choose? Here is a short advise which may assist you when you take decision.
If you have shipments which is considered as general cargo and weights less than 10 kilos – couriers in 90% of cases will provide more effective service. If you do not have special requirements for delivery to the final destination, if your shipments is not valuable, if your shipment is not considered dangerous goods – with few exceptions – yes, take the courier.
However if your have some specifics in the terms of delivery, your shipments is considered hazmat, or it weights more than 20 kilos. If you want some one to make very special delivery outside the operational window of the courier or if you are moving valuables or live animals – than forwarders are your choice.
In order to satisfy this wide range of requirements and specifics we in KG SID have special contracts not only with leading air and ocean carriers but we have good relations with couriers like DHL such being able to satisfy often contradicting requirements of our customers and partners providing the benefits of the two approaches – the courier and the forwarder’s
The Bulgarian freight forwarding company KG SID considers any and each of your requirements for reliable delivery on acceptable cost and tranzit time. If you want to ship a load from Bulgaria or if you want your loads into Bulgaria properly handled please contact us and we will come with a solution to you.
You can also use our special air freight transportation rate request form which is designed in a way to lead you in the process of providing proper information for your intended shipments which results in better prices and more appropriate handling and routing.