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What's the difference between Carriers, Freight Agents and Shippers?

June 06, 2024 | Written by Anthony Sieber | freight broker freight agent

What's the difference between Carriers, Freight Agents and Shippers?

In the expansive world of Logistics, understanding the roles of Carriers, Freight Brokers and Shippers is crucial. Each group plays a distinct role vital to the smooth operation of transporting goods from location to location. Let's go through each category to talk about what they do and their importance to the supply chain. 

Shippers - consider Shippers the originators of the freight. They are usually businesses that need to transport goods from one location to another. Shippers can range from large corporations with extensive supply chains to small businesses or individuals with occasional orders. Their primary responsibility us to prepare the goods for transport, ensuring they are properly packaged and labeled across the regulatory and safety standards.  

Carriers - Carriers are entities that are responsible for transporting the goods from the shipper's location to the destination. Carriers can be trucking companies, airlines, railways or ocean freight, depending on what method of transport is chosen for each specified load. Carriers and Shippers agree on specific schedules and routes to deliver the goods intact and on time to the designated location. Carriers must comply with their own regulations and safety standards specific to their own mode of transport. 

Freight Brokers/Agents - are the intermediaries between both Shippers and Carriers. They play a crucial role in facilitating the process by helping shippers find reliable carriers to transport their goods. Freight Agents are experts in negotiating rates, arranging the logistics of shipments and coordinating everything from pick up to delivery. They typically have extensive networks of carriers and knowledge of shipping routes, regulations and specific industries to help them optimize the shipping process for their clients. They can consolidate shipments, tracking cargo in transit and managing the backend paperwork to ensure easy passage to their endpoint. 

Understanding how each group contributes is essential for achieving seamless transportation of goods across, local, national and international borders. Global trade continues to be vital in each country's success and will continue to expand expand. In 2022 alone, the global logistics industry generated an impressive $9.83 trillion dollars in revenue. The global logistics market is set to hit $16 trillion by 2032 (via Sobel Network Shipping Co.).  

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