A shipping industry analyst recently carried out an experiment, to find out how interested shipping lines are in providing a service to small importers. The company asked for quotes for 40 ft containers carrying garden equipment from Asia to Europe. They sent out 33 rate requests by email; only nine companies provided a quotation, and five of them asked for extra information for internal reasons.
The analyst said that – of the nine quotes which were actually received – a novice importer would find it difficult to understand six of them because they included so much jargon and abbreviated surcharges which were not explained. Most shipping lines did not even respond when asked why they did not supply a quotation, but those that did said that they were not interested in such a small shipment.
The ‘importer’ received a wide range of prices from those who did reply – one shipping line even quoted two different rates from two different offices.
The conclusion was that individual small importers would find it very difficult to deal direct with shipping lines, which suggests that there is a substantial role to play to freight forwarders in this sector of the market.