With so many freight forwarders in the USA available in the market, international shoppers are finding it hard to choose one that they can trust. However, it all boils down to several key factors when it comes to making your decision. And these are the ones you should consider:
QUALITIES OF A GOOD FREIGHT FORWARDER
1. It should offer competitive shipping rates.
With high shipping cost as the number one reason that deters consumers to try cross-border online shopping (according to the findings of a survey published by Paypal in 2018), many freight forwarders use their cheap international shipping fees to lure in new customers. But cheap doesn’t always mean safe.
For comGateway, one of the leading US freight forwarding services, offering premium services is just as important as providing the most affordable shipping rates for shoppers. While it is often regarded as a freight forwarding company by the public, it technically functions as a reshipper shipping customer purchases through partner couriers.
With DHL and FedEx as its logistics partners, the company gives its customers plenty of exclusive benefits, among them the autonomy to choose the delivery date and time for their packages by calling the hotlines of their assigned courier.
See how comGateway’s shipping rates in top markets fare against those of its competitors. In the example below, the customer bought two products from two different U.S. merchants, with a total of 1.5 kg shipping weight when consolidated into one shipment.
Shipping rates above are retrieved from the respective shipping calculators of the US freight forwarders and are based on a 1.5 kg shipping weight.
2. It should provide customers with a solution to online payment restrictions.
In 2017, a study found out that the credit card is the preferred payment method of online shoppers worldwide. But even a payment option as convenient as this has restrictions. In addition to charging expensive international shipping fees, many online stores from the US like Macy’s and Best Buy do not accept credit cards issued from other countries for the payment of their goods, further limiting the choices of consumers and their chances of getting the product they love.
This major problem experienced by many online shoppers is again solved by comGateway through its concierge buying service named as BuyForMe (BFM). The first of its kind to be offered in the industry, BFM allows comGateway to make purchases on behalf of the customer for a small fee. Depending on the customer’s membership status on comGateway and his/her location, the BFM fee ranges from 5% to 10% of the cost of goods purchased.
A screenshot of comGateway’s Buyforme page.
3. It should ease customers’ worries about US sales tax.
Sales tax is another factor that makes the cross-border shopping experience even more burdensome. Some U.S. states charge a sales tax that is a certain percentage of the goods you bought. In addition to this, some local governments even charge a local sales tax for purchases, according to this article by USA Today.
Depending on which US state you ship to, there’s an appropriate sales tax (statewide and local) that is imposed- from as little as 1.8% (Alaska) to as much as 10% (Louisiana) of the total cost of the goods bought. Fortunately for shoppers, there are U.S. states that do not collect sales taxes- Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon. With comGateway’s warehouse set in Portland, Oregon, customers need not pay a sales tax for their purchases.
comGateway’s warehouse in Portland, Oregon.
Upon checkout, we input a Louisiana shipping address. Here’s the total cost:
We then changed the shipping address to that of comGateway’s Portland, Oregon warehouse.
After refreshing the page, here’s the total cost that we need to pay.
No need to pay any sales tax when you’re forwarding your package to comGateway’s Oregon warehouse.
4. It should be able to inform customers of their shipping cost, even before they decide to ship.
Another thing that cross-border shoppers fear when it comes to shipping is that they don’t know how much they’ll pay for international shipping until the item they ordered has reached their US forwarder. As cited in Paypal’s study, the number one concern among cross-border shoppers is the delivery shipping costs, which is why US freight forwarders looking to get more customers are expected to address this problem.
Take comGateway, for example, which devised a Cost Calculator so customers can know the shipping costs of items that they will be shipping.
comGateway’s Cost Calculator on their website.
Not only that, but it also has a Live Estimate feature wherein customers can input the URL of the product that they intend to buy and their staff can send their estimated international shipping cost. Using these two free comGateway features leaves no place for shipping fee surprises for customers.
The Live Estimate feature of comGateway
5. It should create solutions to lower the customer’s shipping costs further.
More often than not, customers receive their packages in a box or packaging that is way too big for the item or items they just purchased. This phenomenon, regardless of its cause, is yet another reason why customers are paying more for shipping fees than they should.
A good freight forwarder should be able to offer more ways for its customers to get lower shipping fees. In the case of comGateway, the company solves this problem by providing consolidation services so customers who bought from multiple U.S. stores can send their packages in one shipment. What’s more, they also have repack services as well as their OneBox service which combines the customer’s items into one packaging to save more on shipping fees.
How comGateway’s OneBox service works.
6. It should have a trustworthy and convenient customer service.
Cross-border shoppers also look into US freight forwarders that offer excellent customer service. For some, even, it might be one of the critical factors that will determine whether they will do a repeat international shipping transaction with the US freight forwarder. It indicates the importance of a positive communications experience with the staff.
For inquiries and assistance, customers can reach comGateway via email or Live Chat, where they can communicate real-time with an agent. They can also look for answers regarding their concerns on comGateway’s FAQs database. comGateway responds to all emails within 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Live Chat can be accessed daily at selected times.
comGateway’s Support page with links to its email address and Live Chat pop-up.
To sum it up, here are the factors you should consider when determining the right US freight forwarder for your needs:
For a convenient and rewarding US online shopping experience, SIGN UP for a free comGateway account now.