With hundreds of different freight forwarders and shipping companies in South Africa, it can be a difficult decision to make when deciding which shipping companies are reliable, trustworthy, and capable of meeting your business’s transport needs. Especially when you consider that your containers may have potentially millions of rands of goods in them, the importance of working with only the top shipping companies becomes even more urgent. Business owners need to make the most educated decision possible, and find a shipping company

that will get their cargo to its destination on time, in good condition, and on budget.

Luckily for first-time importers, or exporters, who are seeking out the top shipping companies, a little research will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not a potential candidate is the right one for the job. Here are some considerations to pay attention to when making your choice.

1 Licensing and registration

This is obviously one of the most important aspects of a shipping company’s
activities, and it is your responsibility to ask a potential shipping partner whether they are compliant with industry regulations and all legal requirements. Don’t forget that they will also have to provide compliance and many other forms of documentation as your cargo moves into international ports and through the various countries, so make sure the shipping company you are considering takes these issues seriously and provides you with evidence of full legal compliance before your shipment is moved.

2 Cargo Loading Services

Most freight forwarders and shipping companies offer a couple of different loading services, so ensure that a candidate company provides the most appropriate one for your needs. For example, some shipping companies may require that you deliver your goods to their warehouse before it is packed into containers, while others will be willing to drop a container off at your business address or other location, and pick it up again once you have loaded the goods.

3 Variety of containers

Depending on what you are transporting, your needs for specialised containers may not be met by some shipping companies, so it is vital to ask about the containers they are able to provide. All shipping companies will have access to the usual 20′ and 40′ containers, but perishable goods will require a refrigerated unit. Precious and delicate items will also require specialised containers that are temperature and humidity controlled, and will offer sufficient protection against rough handling.

4 Safety Record

All freight forwarders work with major international shipping lines, which are generally very reliable and longstanding companies with good safety records to their names. Ask the freight forwarder you are considering working with which shipping lines they use to move their clients’ goods, and whether they have had any safety issues in the past.

5 Insurance

Most shipping companies will take care of the insurance for your goods right from the beginning to the end of the cargo’s journey, but it is important to ask this question. If something should go wrong along the way, you need to have the peace of mind that your goods are insured in full. Ask your shipping company which insurers they partner with and get all the details about the insurance policies your goods will be covered by. It is also a good idea to ask whether additional insurance can be arranged if you feel you might need it at any point.

6 BBBEE Status

With the several certifications needed for any freight forwarder to comply with industry regulations, the most important is certainly to get broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) certification and status. South African Government is looking to increase the effectiveness of it’s black-ownership programme and is keeping an eager eye on the logistics industry. Thus, if your freight forwarder does not comply with BBBEE Code of Conduct, their future business development looks bleak.