Running a product-based business in the UAE isn't just about the sales sheet and the social media. If you are setting up shop, bricks and mortar or web, or are a wholesaler, you'll be navigating the logistical jungle of getting the goods to shore in the first place.
Female Fusion member Paula Bellamy is the Managing Director of Oceanwide Logistics Dubai, which offers clients a single-source experience from beginning to end.
Paula was the only woman named recently in the 2019 Power list for the 25 most powerful CEOs in the Middle East’s logistics industry as a whole.
Here Paula shares her 5 top tips to help you smooth the logistics journey.
Don’t just rely on your product supplier to book your freight!
So you’ve chosen a product and are happy with the supplier, they offer to move the goods for you at what you consider a decent price, and say it will be easier for you if you book everything with them. Sounds good right? Maybe it is.. however maybe it’s not.
Some suppliers make great margins out of the freight and once it's left their country on the plane or vessel, they are not really bothered about the destination arrival or the local costs. This leaves you with zero comeback when you realise the local handling costs are higher than normal competition, or you're chasing the whereabouts of your cargo. I’m not saying don’t book the freight with the supplier, I’m saying check their price, check who their local agent is in the country of destination and check the price of the local handling to your door in your final destination.
As a general rule, get the freight price from your supplier and then ask two separate freight forwarders for a price also.
If your supplier advises his price is 'cost & freight', ask them for a price as 'free on board' also so you can see what the freight price is separately and then you have a starting point to gauge his pricing on.
Ask about the freight forwarders relationship with the agent in the country where your goods are being moved to, or from.
It's important for you to know the rates for your shipment from ‘door to door’ before you move it. Don’t get talked into booking your cargo until you know all the total costs to move it from suppliers door to your door as too many forwarders add ‘hidden costs’ when the cargo arrives as they know they have your cargo and therefore there is nothing you can do to argue the costs.
Make sure your freight forwarder can get the total costs for you, if they cannot then this means they have no relationship with their agent at destination and this could, in turn, result in a costly problem for you once the booking is live.
You can check your freight forwarders website also, to see if they list their agents in countries around the world. This also helps you to understand how small or large your freight forwarder is.
Get references of other clients from your freight forwarder
A referral is best if possible on your freight forwarder of choice, as a happy client means a good booking with good customer service, however, if you are resigned to searching on the internet, be sure to ask for references where you can call a previous client to see how satisfied they were with the service. Remember a freight forwarder is carrying your cargo which in turn is your business. Don’t take this service lightly as not all freight forwarders take care with your business, look for freight forwarders who want to build a relationship with you long term - it's not always the cheap rates that are best!
Think about cargo insurance
On all freight movements you have a 'bill of lading' or an 'airway bill of lading' which has freight terms on the reverse and does mention insurance, however please be aware this will NOT cover the cost of your cargo, if the vessel sinks or the plane crashes then you would receive a compensation for your cargo loss but it is not as per your invoice value. You are advised to get separate insurance to cover your cargo from door to door in case of a total loss.
Make sure the freight forwarders have good customer service
Customer service in freight forwarding is key. You need to have a freight forwarder who works as your logistics partner. A good freight forwarder will get involved at the point where you place your order with your supplier and will introduce themselves as your freight management and chase the order through until it's ready. They will then liaise with the supplier to book on suitable airfreight or seafreight routings as required. They should check all documentation is correct for the country of destination, advise yourselves of the planned leaving date and arrival date, have customs documentation submitted prior to the arrival of the goods, liaise with yourselves advising approx. date for clearance and then finally book with you for acceptable delivery date and location.
If your freight forwarder is NOT doing the above its means they are only interested in your freight booking and not the entire routing of your business. Freight forwarding should flow seamlessly and you should not be too involved unless you want to be.