Toggle menu

The Production Process Guide: Freight forwarding, importing & fulfilment · SupplyCompass

The Production Process Guide: Freight forwarding, importing & fulfilment

2.5 min read

Header Image: Unsplash

by Flora Davidson in Production

If you’re manufacturing goods abroad, it’s important to assess which options are best for your brand after your goods exit the factory. If you’re a little hazy on the precise meanings of these words, then read on for a primer on freight forwarding, importing and fulfilment.

Freight forwarding options: Freight forwarders are agents who act on your behalf to organise shipments of goods from the seller to you.

Sea or air? When you import goods, you need to choose between fast speed or low cost, and this will depend on a number of things: 

  •  The size and weight of the goods 
  •  Whether they are fragile or valuable 
  •  Where they’re coming from 
  •  How quickly you need them 

What you need to get a freight quote:

  •  A packing list 
  •  The carton dimensions 
  •  The weight and volume 
  •  The pickup or FOB point address 
  •  The final delivery address 

FOB vs. CIF: FOB stands for Free/Freight On Board, and CIF stands for Cost Insurance and Freight. FOB means that the factory is responsible for clearing the goods for export and getting to port of departure, after that it is the brand’s responsibility to deliver their goods to the desired end destination.  The benefit of FOB is that the brand has more control and transparency over costs and freight. 

CIF means the manufacturer is responsible for freight, insurance and costs until the port of destination. It can be a more convenient way to import and seamless due to the factory having established freight partners, but is usually more expensive for the brand.

LCL vs. FCL : LCL stands for Less than Container Load, and FCL stands for Full Container Load. LCL means you can share the container (and costs) with other importers and means you can ship smaller amounts from the custom clothing manufacturers overseas. However, the cost of shipping FCL is lower per unit. FCL also makes delivery easier, as there is no sorting of different shipments at the other end. 

Importing: Imports are treated and taxed differently depending on whether they come from within the EU or outside it. Imports from outside the EU mean that you must: 

  • Pay import duty
  • Make a customs declaration
  • Pay VAT 
  • Have an EORI number

Duty tax is due on all imports. This is assessed by the duty rate on your product and the total cost of your order. In order to import from outside the EU, you will need an EORI number. Also, VAT is charged on all imports from outside the EU at the same rate as goods purchased within the UK, and you will have to pay VAT on import duty as well. 

Fulfilment: You can save time and automate fulfilment by working with a third party logistics provider (3PL), who can outsource your distribution and fulfilment services and ship your product to the end user or customer. Unlike a freight forwarder, a 3PL offers additional services that a freight forwarder does not.

Flora Davidson
Co-Founder at SupplyCompass

Share this article

Flora is Co-Founder of SupplyCompass, a product development and production management platform for fashion brands and manufacturers. She started her career working for an innovation and strategy agency working with the likes of Adidas and L’Oréal. She spent 2 formative years living in Mumbai at the start of SupplyCompass, visiting hundreds of factories and suppliers across the country. She remains passionate about harnessing the power of technology to encourage better collaboration, drive efficiency and make sustainable production accessible to fashion brands and supply chains across the globe.

More on our blog

Events In Conversation With Queen of Raw: Webinar Recap

In Conversation With Queen of Raw: Webinar Recap

We recently hosted a webinar with Stephanie Benedetto, Co-Founder of Queen of Raw, an NYC-based technology company with a marketplace solution that matches fashion organizations looking to offload excess fabrics with buyers interested in high quality sustainable and affordable textiles.

by Nayanika Bharadwaj

5 min read

Platform Announcing our Deadstock Fabric Partnership with Queen of Raw

Announcing our Deadstock Fabric Partnership with Queen of Raw

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Queen of Raw, as featured in Vogue Business. By joining forces, SupplyCompass Platform users will be able to access a myriad of deadstock fabric options via the SupplyCompass Deadstock Library to design more sustainable collections, create value from waste, and champion circularity.

by Flora Davidson

5 min read

Perspectives <i>Perspectives</i> from Re:Down”></a>                                       </div>
<p>                   <a class=Perspectives from Re:Down

SupplyCompass speaks to Eric Firmann, Co-Founder of Re: Down, a business recycling post-consumer down and feathers for insulation in the apparel and bedding industries. He walks us through their innovative process, how they have coped through the pandemic, and what his visions for a circular industry are.

by Nayanika Bharadwaj

3 min read

Get started with our platform

Let’s stay
in touch!

Everything you need to know about sustainable supply chains, including industry news and product updates, delivered straight to your inbox.