ransportation service is an outstanding hallmark sign of the information age today. High speed is expected in executing tasks. In the same measure, companies have to put up infrastructure systems that aid a fast delivery of products and information. This need for fast delivery brought about the rise of delivery services. Two of the most prominent modes of delivery services are the courier and freight forwarding.
According to the business dictionary, courier service refers to a fast door to door, local or international, pickup or delivery service for high value or urgently required packages or documents. The service is mostly used for last mile delivery. A courier is a person or company doing the delivery task. These companies mainly specialize in specific deliveries and include heightened security and tracking of deliveries.
Courier companies were initially developed to provide better services in mail delivery. With time, clients increasingly demanded variety and versatility. As a result, most courier companies have expanded their operations to include storage, warehousing and delivery of products. Courier companies mostly use trucks, vans, motorcycles and bicycles to make deliveries. Simpler modes of transport are especially necessary to help navigate traffic and for short off-road transport. Courier companies offer the following types delivery services.
Standard Courier service: This is the normal parcel delivery service. It involved the collection of small and medium sized packages for transfer to a delivery point. The service does not include a given delivery date or time. It is the least expensive service.
Same-day express courier service: Here a company collects and delivers a parcel or package within the same day. It is the fastest and most suitable for urgent, and important deliveries. The service is one of the most expensive. It is mostly used within big cities and urban areas.
Overnight Service: The service is mostly used where a package is required the next morning or before a certain time. It is mainly suitable for places that are less than a day from each other. Due to its conditions, the service cost is usually high.
National or International Service: It involved transportation of parcels or packages from one country to another or within a country. Prices are usually determined by the distance between pick-up and delivery. For efficiency, the courier has to pick the fastest and most efficient mode of transport.
Pallet Courier Service: It is a service that helps clients deliver within strict deadlines at affordable rates. The service is characterized by safe and prompt delivery of packages on pallets.
A forwarder company or individual performs freight forwarding services. Freight forwarding is the arrangement, coordination, storage and shipment of a client’s merchandise through single or multiple carriers. The service involves handling of large cargo. Most freight forwarders use in-house processes for efficiency. This includes their bill of lading or airway bills and agents at the destination to consolidate, deliver documents and facilitate collection. Such carriers may include air, railway, marine or road (Highway).
Freight Forwarders tasks involve tracking, preparation of documents, warehousing and ultimate delivery. Different freight forwarders include varied services in their transportation services.
The following are some of the services offered by freight forwarders.
Transshipment: Large shipment companies are usually not able to operate in all shipping ports due to associated high costs. As a result, most goods have to be picked from large ports (Hub ports) where big ships operate. In most cases, freight forwarder coordinates the movement of goods from one shipment vehicle to another. The forwarder ensures booking of space, sorting, loading and distributing cargo to consignees.
Parking, Warehousing and Distribution: Freight Forwarder offers packaging services where cargo is picked from the manufacturer. If the transportation is not ready, the company or individual may also offer storage space. Where cargo has been received, the forwarder might offer ancillary services that include facilitation of distribution to the destination point.
Facilitating Cargo Insurance: Dueto the requirements, most freight forwarders act as agents to facilitate cargo insurance at a fee. This is because they are not cargo underwriters. While this is a common ancillary service from freight forwarders, it is an illegal practice in most EU member states. This follows enactment of EU Insurance Mediation Directive (IMD) 2002/92/EC.
Payment, Documentation and Customs Clearance: It is an important service in freight forwarding service. The freight forwarder provides all necessary documentations during import or export of the cargo. As the consignee’s or shipper agent, the freight forwarder foresees payment of any freight cost and relevant local taxes.
Transportation arrangements: When the client decides on the transport mode, the freight forwarder facilitates booking and dispatching of cargo.
Cargo Consolidation: This is most important where a client has a �less than container load’ package. Cargo consolidation is one of the most important services offered by freight forwarders. Different parcels or packages from different shippers destined to different consignees in a country are consolidated together. This service is also applicable during intermodal transshipments.
The benefits or challenges of a courier or forwarder company are determined by the type of cargo. The distance and modes of transport to be used also affect that choice.
For instance, courier services are mostly suitable for domestic markets where the demand is high. Courier services are better preferred in the delivery of small online purchases. Courier companies who provide a range of services are most suitable for demanding businesses. The choice of a courier should be based on the needs of the client. Courier services involve interaction with clients on a direct or face to face basis. For this reason, the company has to give superior customer service.
On the other hand, freight forwarders are best for large bulky products moving long distances. This service is also suitable if the delivery will be passed through more than one mode of transport. Normally, freight forwarding costs more and does not involve transportation within a short distance. Most freight forwarders or their agents don’t meet the client due to the technology used.
Some of the most renowned courier companies in the world include Federal Express (FedEx), United Parcels Services, Dart Courier Service, Schenker AG, PostNL, TNT and Deutsche Post (DHL).
World Freight Forwarding companies include DHL, Kuehne + Nagel, DB Schenker Logistics, Sinotrans, Panalpina and Nippon Express.