Freight forwarding occupies a strategic position in production chain as it sees to movement of goods from one place to the other. A freight forwarder ensures that goods are moved from the point of production to its destination – be it the marketplace or the end user. All this is made possible through the well-organized logistics put in place.

Though freight forwarding might look like a simple process of moving physical good from one point to the other, it is much more than that. As mentioned above, it involves the logistics that revolves around contracts with carriers and helping every party involved with necessary details and information for a smooth business operation.

To compare the role of freight forwarder today with those in the past shows no difference. The significant change experienced has to do with the mode of operation, rather than the process. From the pen and paper era we have moved into the use of printed documents, and now digital technology has revolutionized almost every shipping operation.


History of Freight Forwarding

The history of freight forwarding dates centuries back. As of 1800, the earliest freight forwarders were known to be innkeepers who helped hotel guest hold and re-forward their goods. This system progressed and evolved into business to business contracts over the years.

One of the examples of this evolution is the Thomas Meadows and Company Limited in London England. Established in 1836, the company helped in the transportation of items through contracting with a network of local carriers. It also helps its clients with documentation and offers them information as regards customs.

historical freight forwarding industry

A historical shot of one of the first freight forwarding shippers.

With advancement in transport systems as experienced in the availability of reliable trains and steamships in the 1970s, trade between countries received a big boost especially between Europe and North America. This trade increase has now transformed into a dominant industry. According to the United States Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 55 million tons of freight worth $50 billion was transported in the year 2013, and this has progressed lately with no likelihood of slowing down in the future. Freight forwarding plays a major role in this industry.

The Transformation of Freight Forwarding

At inception, freight forwarding has been a tedious business task as companies have been dealing with loads of papers used in various documentation. Time spent on paperwork constituted the bulk of time devoted to making a transaction reality. These were necessary rigors companies faced, and this led to the need for a more efficient way of getting things done.

evolution of freight forwarding

Evolution of the freight forwarding industry has changed the game over the years


Advancement in technology with the computer playing a dominant role brought about ease of transaction processes. Loads of paper files stacked in filing cabinets were replaced with computer hard drives and operations became software based. This expanded the capacity of small forwarding companies to handle a larger workload.

A further advancement came with the rise of broadband internet connectivity. Businesses had a wider reach and were no longer restricted to specific location. Mobile phones made it easy for people to work -on-the-go saving resources and expanding business reach. Transactions became App based documents are stored in the cloud, to be accessed anywhere at any time.

Click here to learn about the Five Digital Tech Trends That Are Impacting The Freight Shipping Industry

This digitalization of freight forwarding has improved business. Rather than making endless calls in choosing a service provider, the web has made sorting information much easier. By just filling out your needs on dedicated platforms, quotations from various service providers’ streams in and the best quotation that fits one’s need can be chosen. It also helps in price comparison.

The evolution of the freight forwarding business has made the transaction in small and large scales easy to understand and to carry out. The fundamental goal of freight forwarding which is to help a client get goods from point A to B has not changed from inception to this day, the means of getting it done has rapidly changed for the better.



The content written on the blog provides general information and discussion about freight forwarding, transport management, and logistic services. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be viewed as facts, but rather what we believe about the topic. If the reader or any other person has a concern related to the contents of this piece, please be sure to contact us here. 


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