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  • Writer's pictureCherie Avinger

What are the Right Questions to Ask in Shipping?

Updated: Jul 17, 2018

In transportation, asking the right questions can save your client and company a boat load of money. (Yes, that was a pun and it was totally intended!) Sure, avoiding mistakes in the general sense can sometimes retard growth and learning experiences. However, errors and lack of forethought in transportation is almost always costly. Try asking some of the below questions when setting up applicable shipments.

Buyer to Seller and vice versa


What are the terms of the shipment?

INCOTERMS define the point at which the transfer of risk and responsibility is made. In short, who is responsible for what and who’s paying for it

· When does the buyer need the freight cleared and delivered at their door?

Even if the shipper/seller is not the responsible person to make this delivery, being aware of the buyers needs/expectation provides the best guidance for production and the representing freight forwarder to ensure the cutoff dates are met for the right service

Sales to Production/Logistics


What is the realistic date we can expect the product to be ready?

(this means inspections, approvals and any/all documentation required)


What types of risk might you foresee with this order based upon the terms and buyer expectations?

Logistics must have their 2 cents in this conversation as they should be aware of what is happening on the transportation end of things, the options available and the strategies which should be put forth to cover the bases should risk be involved. Let’s face it, there is always going to be risk in manufacturing, production and shipping. However, strategy and communication are the rewards to minimizing the risk. And don’t forget, the risk is not only in missing the boat - but rather in missing the mark and damaging the relationship.

Logistics Provider to Shipper/Consignee


What is the bigger fish to fry? Transit? Price? Routing?

If you know your client can handle the slow boat to China because he/she is not readily prepared to receive the cargo and/or are looking to stretch out the payment terms; then recognize how this information is important for the representing Logistics personnel to know. It allows them to make the booking with the proper carrier(s) who can best meet the client’s needs.

What do you need to educate your consignee about when the terms dictate the shipper is to deliver the product to the port?

Often times, the consignee strikes a good deal in their country with the USA carrier’s counterpart and are not taking into account that the port location may be hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles from where you are manufacturing your product. Be sure to discuss the geographical locations of the product in comparison to the port and even your corporate headquarters should it not be the same as the manufacturing site with everyone involved

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