Road freight carrier vs freight forwarder - which one to choose? - Girteka - Responsible Logistics

Road freight carrier vs freight forwarder – which one to choose?


When it comes to shipping goods via road transport, businesses have two primary options: working with a road freight carrier or hiring a freight forwarder. While freight forwarders can be a useful and attractive middleman in some cases, there are several crucial reasons why it is better to work directly with a road freight company.

Road freight carrier vs freight forwarder – what is the difference?

Road freight carrier

Road freight carriers and freight forwarders, while often working together, have different roles in the logistics industry. Road freight companies are responsible for physically transporting goods from one location to another via a road network utilizing their own fleet of trucks or contracted vehicles. Since carriers specialize in transport, they can offer different types of trucks depending on the size and type of cargo that needs to be transported. Some can also provide customized logistics solutions, such as refrigerated transport.

Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarding companies, on the other hand, are only responsible for coordinating and managing the shipment of goods. They organize the entire shipping process, including transport, documentation, warehousing, and consolidation of goods from various clients. This is increasingly done through digital platforms such as marketplaces, websites, or applications. Freight forwarding companies do not own their own trucks but instead work with a network of carriers to transport goods on behalf of their clients.

Can a road freight carrier also be a freight forwarder?

Road freight transport companies can sometimes act as both a carrier and freight forwarder. With advances in digital logistics platforms, carriers have been able to expand their services to include cargo tracking, customs clearance, document processing, and warehousing, much of what is done by freight forwarders. Many large road freight carriers are now also acting as freight forwarders so that they can provide comprehensive logistics solutions with added-value services to their clients.

The advantages of working with a road freight company vs a freight forwarding company

Ultimately, whether you choose to work with a road freight transport company or a freight forwarding company will depend on your specific needs and preferences. When making your decision, it is important to consider factors such as cost, communication, reliability, and control over the transportation process.

Cost savings

Freight forwarders have become a popular choice among businesses with a complicated supply chain that extends through multiple countries or even continents and requires various modes of transportation (by air, sea, and land). Unsurprisingly, such freight forwarding services can get quite expensive, since every participant in the shipping process must earn as well.

Working directly with a road freight company can be more cost-effective, as there are no additional administrative or brokerage fees applied. This way, businesses can cut out the middleman and save money that would otherwise go to paying the freight forwarder for their services. Hence, if your shipping needs are not as complex as mentioned above, working directly with a road freight carrier is the better choice.

Better control

Hiring a freight forwarder means giving up some control over the shipping process. This may be appealing to those who have little know-how of the logistics processes and are looking for a hassle-free experience, but not so much for those, who prefer greater command and visibility into the shipping process every step of the way.

By working directly with a road freight company, businesses have more control over the whole transportation process, including the timing, route, truck and trailer options, and handling of their shipments. A greater command and predictability of their supply chain can be especially important for businesses with high-value, perishable, or fragile goods. Security of cargo is enhanced if a fully owned fleet is being utilized to transport the goods.

Improved communication

Since freight forwarders act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers, there is an extra layer of communication involved, which can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes. However, when working with a road freight company, businesses can communicate directly with the people responsible for the transportation of their goods.

Over time, the carrier can optimize with its clients, learning the processes and specifications of their supply chain and understanding their paint points. In addition, advanced road transportation companies provide digital solutions and integrations with clients’ internal systems via Application Programming Interface (API) or Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). All of this ensures that any issues or concerns are addressed promptly, accurately, and transparently.

More personalized service

Freight forwarders work with multiple clients and a vast network of carriers at the same time. As a result, they may not have the time or resources to provide personalized service or “a human touch” to the shipping process.

In contrast, road freight companies often work with fewer clients and can focus more on customer experience, learning and meeting each client’s specific needs and requirements. Such approach allows road freight companies to provide more tailored solutions and ensure that each shipment is handled with care and attention to detail.

Increased reliability

Freight forwarders work with multiple, sometimes several thousand carriers that they select themselves. When you entrust a freight forwarding company with your shipments, you also put trust in their ability to choose reliable carriers to work with, which is not a guarantee in every case.

However, when you work directly with a trusted transport provider, you can rely on the company’s processes of quality assurance, planning, and problem resolution. This provides the shipper with greater stability, improved performance and communication, and peace of mind, to put it simply.

Greater sustainability

Road freight carriers transport multiple shipments at once, which means fewer journeys and less emissions. Moreover, when giving your cargo to a freight forwarder, you cannot be sure that their chosen transport providers can move goods in a sustainable way. Whereas when deciding to work directly with a road freight carrier, businesses can choose a transport provider that best meets their needs regarding improved sustainability and emissions reduction.

When partnering with a carrier you will have full knowledge of what type of fuel is used while transporting your goods and what sustainable transportation options are available. More and more, carriers are investing in sustainable solutions and alternative fuels and can even provide a specific client with a report on emissions saved while transporting that client’s goods in a certain way.

freight forwarder vs road freight carrier

Differences between the services of a road freight carrier and a freight forwarder

Reasons to choose Girteka as your road freight transport provider

The European transportation industry is massive, with over 6.2 million trucks circulating throughout the EU. The majority of these trucks belong to small fleets of no more than 20 trucks. With such a large number of smaller-sized fleets, shippers and freight forwarders must work with numerous carriers to secure enough capacity.

Girteka is the largest asset-based company in Europe, which fully owns its entire fleet of 9,200 trucks and 9,800 trailers, guaranteeing capacity and flexibility whole year round, including during peak season demand. And if you are still considering a freight forwarding company, here are some of the benefits that Girteka can offer:

  • Extensive network across Europe with flexible loading options
  • Expertise in cold chain logistics with annually calibrated refrigerated trailers
  • Full peak season coverage with 780,000 full truck loads (FTL) annually
  • Real-time visibility (RTV) and 24/7 cargo monitoring powered by Artificial Intelligence
  • Trailers equipped with TAPA Level 1 approved locks for high-value cargo
  • GPD certified fleet and team for deliveries of pharmaceutical products
  • Express deliveries with a two-driver crew
  • Intermodal rail and ferry transport options
  • Sustainable solutions such as HVO fuel and 600 electric trucks
  • Dedicated partner and client integrations, such as API and EDI
  • Dedicated account manager and proactive customer care staff
  • Customs carrier status

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We deal with everything from single to multiple shipments with large quotes

SPOT quote

Get a quote for your one-time shipment load

Quote regular loads

Get a quote for your multiple or frequent shipments

Get a quote