If you want to ship internationally to Amazon FBA, you need a freight forwarder to get your product from the factory to the warehouse. But how do you choose the right company? With all the surprise costs and variables, you can make or break your margins with your choice in freight company, so you need to pick the one that works best for you.
If you’re still asking “what is a freight forwarder?” we suggest you follow that link to go back and review it before continuing here. If you’re not sure where to source your product from, you’ll also want to address that first.
Scroll down for Massview Picks, the best freight forwarding companies according to our veteran Amazon sellers. Once you know what you’re looking for, this list will save you the hassle of finding the best freight forwarder for your needs.
We’re also offering you our free Chrome extension to calculate Amazon FBA fees for almost any product. This calculator accounts for everything from initial manufacturing costs to shipping and warehouse storage. Read to the end to learn more about it, or sign up for a free account to jump right in.
How do you find a freight forwarder that’s best for your product and situation? You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the associated costs, as well as the common pitfalls. On the surface, freight forwarders themselves cost a bit more than if you handled it on your own, but with how much could go wrong in the shipment process, you’re better off having one.
There are all types of freight charges, and many might catch you off guard. You should generally consult an expert for this kind of logistics, because costs can change due to any number of conditions. Any good freight forwarding company will be willing and able to guide you through the process if you ask
Some freight forwarders offer extra services to handle the entire end-to-end shipping process – from product sourcing, packaging to unpacking, organizing, warehousing, distributing, and delivering them to the right customers.
When you compare quotes, be sure to understand what is (and isn’t) included in the estimate so you know which offers the best value for your money. To get a sense for what your freight forwarding costs might look like, we highly recommend the Freightos quote calculator. Using the info in the list below, they’ll give you one of the most reliable (and fast) quotes on the web. They also give you the option to estimate costs based on shipping directly to Amazon FBA.
You’ll want to make sure your freight forwarder offers a good tracking system, so you can stay up to date on your shipments and inform your customers about relevant changes. This might include: exception notifications, purchase order management, customized reports, digital copies of paperwork, and proof of delivery (both online and offline).
Tip: if you’re shipping a high-volume load, consider getting 40-foot containers instead of 20. There’s a marginal cost increase for double the storage space.
To get a reliable quote, you’ll need the following info:
We’ve gone over freight shipping costs in more detail in our introduction to freight forwarding, so if you need more info about costs, we suggest reading that.
When choosing a freight forwarder, you’ll want to ask for a complete breakdown for what is included in their quote. Not all companies offer the same combination of services, but any good freight forwarder will provide you the full breakdown, and this makes comparisons easier.
Here are some areas to ask about. Coverage may differ, depending on the plan you want:
Again, learn more about these in our “what is a freight forwarder” post. You’ll want to ask if there are any issues you should know about for your product and packaging, particularly in the following categories:
For lesser-known forwarders in particular, you may want to get a sample package sent first (one that can be physically checked), before you invest too much money.
Now that you know what to ask though, let’s get to the important part: choosing a forwarder.
Watch this New Mogul video to learn more about the best freight forwarders we’ve worked with.
We’ve worked with different freight forwarding companies over the years, and there are plenty of great ones out there. Different freight forwarders provide different levels and types of service, so it’s important to choose the one that works best for your needs.
There are so many options, we decided to make the process easy and narrow it down to our top 5 freight forwarding companies (don’t worry, none of these companies are paying us to be mentioned here):
Our favorite company to work with. Freightos offers much cheaper rates, because they’re not technically a freight forwarder, but a marketplace. They match you up with different shipping providers, and the competition keeps prices down. You’ll have to do a bit of your own research among their options though, as some listings have lower reviews than others. That said, they’re a great option if you’re new to freight forwarding, and make it very easy to compare your options.
Freightos allows for easy and transparent searches, and they let you compare prices for different container sizes for a given port-to-port journey. As another extra, they offer the FBX (Freightos Baltic index), also called the Global Container Index, which tracks container-shipping rates over time, and illustrates current trends.
Shapiro is one of the oldest freight forwarders out there, and used to be one of the only options available. They’ve stood the test of time with great customer service and a hands-on approach. If you’re looking for a more personal touch with a company who can really streamline the process for you, they’re a great way to go.
If you’re tech-oriented, Flexport might be the best choice. They offer a full service setup, as well as an impressive software stack that lets you run the whole thing online with helpful integrations. The downside is that they can cost much more than options like Freightos – in our explainer video above, they quoted about double the Freightos price, a $1000 difference for a shipment.
As the name implies, these guys specialize in Amazon FBA. For any Amazon seller who just wants a straightforward process, FBA Express is made for you. With a wide range of transport options and factory-to-FBA shipment, they’ll make the process easy.
Much like the last company, AMZ Transit (as in, Amazon transit) focuses on serving Amazon sellers. They’re known for taking care of all the extra steps to save you as much hassle as possible – they even do product photography! They’re based in China, so if you still use Chinese suppliers, they could be a good fit for you.
A note on other freight forwarders:
You may be wondering why you don’t see big names like DHL or UPS in this list. While these services can be great for express shipments (by air), particularly for smaller loads, they’re much less cost efficient for sea freight. In a nutshell, they’re not economically sustainable choices.
Okay, we get it: this is a ton of information to wrap your head around, and way too many numbers to deal with. If you’re like us, you’re groaning at the thought of doing the math for each individual freight forwarding option – even with this narrowed-down list.
That’s why we created the Massview FBA calculator for Amazon sellers. This free Chrome extension lets you plug in all these costs and fees (manufacturing cost, shipping sizes, shipping costs, time in storage, FBA storage fees, etc) and runs the numbers to estimate your total costs, revenues, and profits before you even start selling. To begin, sign up for our Free Plan (it’s free forever) and download our Chrome extension.
Sellers who feel overwhelmed or discouraged by the complexities of shipment find that our sales calculator not only simplifies the process, but helps them figure out whether a product they want is even worth pursuing via Amazon FBA.
Let’s boil it down, here’s how to choose freight forwarder that’s right for you:
Remember that as costs go down, it usually means lower levels of service. Bigger freight companies may have low costs, but don’t always offer the most intensive service. If you have a product with special requirements, you may want to pay the extra cost for peace of mind, often with a smaller company.
If you’re a small time seller, you’ll sometimes find larger companies aren’t so enthusiastic about working with you anyway. Smaller local forwarders can be a great alternative because they tend to be more hands on, more reachable, and have more time to take responsibility for your shipment.
International shipping can feel inaccessible to the newcomer. With all the caveats and documents and terminology, it’s like running into a jungle. But don’t lose hope! The jungle isn’t as deep as it looks, and once you’re through the beginning, it gets much easier. Soon enough you’ll find the right combination of product and freight forwarder to dominate the Amazon marketplace.