5 Success Strategies for Export-Focused Freight Forwarders

by | Industry

The U.S. engages in trade with over 200 countries, territories, and regional associations around the world, and is the second largest exporter of goods, second only to China. So, it’s not hard to see that opportunities abound for export-focused logistics businesses such as freight forwarders.

And, while most freight forwarders are proud to offer a broad array of logistics services that span across imports and exports, in reality, many do end up specializing in one or the other, whether strategically or through organic growth. The core menu of services offered by most freight forwarders are typically similar, such as cargo space booking, cargo consolidation, warehousing, shipping documentation, and customs clearance, however, the focus on exports vs. imports differentiates operations based on several factors.

1. Capitalize on Local Market Expertise and Regulations

Freight forwarders specializing in exports must be well-versed not only in the exporting country’s regulations, including export documentation, local customs procedures, and export-specific regulations, but also know what’s expected in the destination country. 

Look for customs compliance software that streamlines the filing of export-related documents like ACE EEI filings. Having deep knowledge of specific markets and industries that are major exporters is an important competitive differentiator for export-focused freight forwarders. 

2. Foster a Strong Partner Network and Relationships

Fostering a strong network and relationships with carriers and logistics providers in the exporting country is essential for export-focused freight forwarders, giving you a strong foundation to secure competitive shipping rates and ensure space availability for outbound goods. 

With the Magaya Network, you gain instant access to a global community of over 2,300 supply chain companies situated across more than 100 countries, opening a world of business opportunities. Plus, using the Magaya Network, you can instantly exchange documents and data with your partners and agents that already use Magaya, benefitting from a more efficient, secure, and streamlined way to do business.

3. Offer Value-Added Services

Export-focused freight forwarders often offer specialized packaging, labeling, and documentation services tailored to the requirements of goods leaving a country, ensuring compliance with international shipping standards and regulations. 

If your export-focused freight forwarding company operates a warehouse, having a freight forwarding system that includes a full WMS is a key operational advantage. Magaya Supply Chain includes a freight forwarding purpose-built warehouse management system for efficient receiving, consolidation, loading, documentation, shipping, and more. 

Designed to optimize productivity, the solution enables exporters to run a profitable warehouse and export business from a single platform, eliminating the data silos, added complexity, and extra expense of a third-party WMS solution.

Female employee observing the warehouse

4. Cater to Your Geographical Focus and Customer Base

Some forwarders may specialize in certain geographical corridors, for instance, the US-Caribbean, where they have established strong carrier relationships and understand regional market dynamics, catering primarily to exporters targeting those regions.

Export-focused forwarders also tend to tailor their services to the needs of manufacturers, producers, and sellers in their home country looking to expand their markets overseas. These digitally-savvy customers want the convenience, speed, and control of being able to interact with you online to request quotes, review rates, track shipments, and more. The Magaya Digital Freight Portal is a branded digital forwarder portal will set your business apart from the rest with schedules, quotes, bookings, purchase orders, and reporting your customers will love.

5. Set Yourself Up for Success With Technology 

Freight forwarders focused on exports require sophisticated technology platforms that facilitate the efficient management of outbound logistics processes. This includes tools for electronic submission of export documentation, real-time tracking of shipments from point of origin to port of exit, and integration with exporters’ production and inventory systems. 

Advanced forecasting tools to manage carrier capacities and freight rates effectively can also be crucial, enabling exporters to plan their shipments according to production schedules and market demands. For instance, Magaya Rate Management is a digital freight rate management platform that provides a superior degree of control of quotes, freight rate data, and processes. With this solution, users can search and compare rates in an instant, plus manage margins, surcharges, and spot rates, as well as file tariffs, respond to RFQs, and respond to quotes – all from a single control tower.


For both import- and export-focused freight forwarders, the adoption of technology that offers transparency, efficiency, and integration with global trade systems is crucial. However, the specific functionalities required may vary significantly between export and import forwarders, reflecting the distinct challenges and priorities of each direction in the supply chain.


Understanding these differences helps businesses choose the right freight forwarder that aligns with their specific shipping needs, whether they are exporting goods to foreign markets or importing products for domestic use.

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