International vs. Local Freight Forwarding: What’s the Difference?

Freight forwarding is a business that specializes in coordinating with different shipping companies that have their own cargo transportation. Also known as Non-Vehicle Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs), freight forwarders are often called the travel agents of international trade.

The reason behind this is that they often act as the middlemen between you and the shipping services you will need to have your bulk goods transported safely between significant distances, especially when it comes to shipping across countries.

However, forwarding agencies are much more than middlemen. Not only do they have extensive contacts with many a shipping company and know which ones are immediately available on specific dates, but they also keep in touch with international boundaries, customs, and paperwork.

It could be said that NVOCCs form the backbone of the freight market, and once you know the different freight forwarder agencies well enough, you’ll know how the freight market, more or less, works.

Who are the Freight Forwarders?

To know the freight market, we must first know the people behind the companies, as well as the customers that make up the market: the companies who make the bulk goods, the clients who need the bulk goods, and the shipping agencies and forwarding services that take care of everything else in between.

Freight forwarding agencies go by a lot of names. Some of these are: NVOCC, multimodal transport operator, logistics services company, supply chain manager, and even information broker.

Freight forwarder companies are classified into three groups:

• Local companies – A domestic logistics carrier agent in Singapore caters to local customers and specialize their trade in local logistics services.

• National companies – National freight forwarding services have more than one branch or office in different areas, usually in areas of large cargo transport (i.e. shipyards, docks, and airports). They may or may not be government-owned.

• Multinational company – An international logistics company is the easiest to identify. Because they have overseas branches, they have the widest range of services. They also tend to be quite expensive.

International vs. Local Freight

Local and international logistics company more or less operate within similar boundaries and with similar principles in terms of logistics and policies. But what exactly are the differences between local freight and international freight?

Whether cargo is transported via local freight or international freight, services of forwarding agencies based in Singapore often operate in the following geographical boundaries:

• Within Singapore – Local freight services can operate in bonded warehouses and areas outside the designated free trade zones.

• Free Trade Zones – Designated areas of ports, terminals, and airports designated as “free trade zones” are available areas of operation for freight forwarding companies.

• Outside Singapore – International freight forwarder companies have the capacity (e.g., resources, contacts, transport vessels) to import and export cargo both in and out of Singapore.

There are a few key differences between local and international freight. One of these differences between lies in their coverage area. Local freight may only include sea freight, as transportation is easier, while international freight agencies may have access to companies with air freight services to allow them to cover the distance.

This leads to the second difference between the two types of logistics services, which is the extent of their coordination in terms of the shipping company or companies that they are working with.

The logistics services provided by international freight agencies may also be more varied and complex because of the differences in customs requirements and paperwork among countries. Here are some of the things that the logistics services of freight forwarding are responsible for:

• Mapping the fastest, safest, and cheapest route for any shipment to account for the cargo’s shelf life;

• Negotiating contracts, transportation costs, and obtaining and preparing the proper documentation to meet local and international requirements;

• Utilizing e-commerce and offering specific IT solutions, such as the Internet, GPS, and other types of tracking devices, to track cargo shipping routes in real time; and

• Understanding international trade, geo-political boundaries, and relevant legislations that might affect cargo delivery schedules.

Over the years, freight forwarding companies have become embraced technological advances, such as using the Internet and GPS to track shipments locally, regionally, and internationally in real time. This allows them to become even more efficient in making sure goods are delivered.

Overall, the key difference between local and international freight agencies is their scope – local and national logistics services may simply operate within Singapore and selected areas near Singapore, while international logistics services operate on many different countries.

The Difference between Sea Freight and Air Freight

International freight companies may also avail of air freight as well as sea freight, while local companies may only be limited to the latter. This makes international freight more expensive to hire, especially if you plan to or are currently working with businesses or companies that are across several time zones.

Using ships to move durable goods can be really cheap. This makes sea freight the cheapest option when transporting your goods either around Singapore. However, they can be treated poorly by the handling staff in the shipping company working with the cargo.

The transportation of goods by air is faster and more convenient when shipping goods across countries, but has the drawback of being more expensive. If this cargo is lighter, smaller, and needs to be transported across the country more quickly, air freight is the best way to go.

8 Tips to Ensure Smart Investment on a Trademark

Your brand name is your identification in the world of business. It is what consumers will remember and what they will consider when it comes to deciding whether or not to trust a product or service offered. Maximizing the value that brand names can bring to businesses is important, most especially for start-up companies.

If you are a start-up here in Singapore and choose to register trademark right away, you may be thinking of working on a budget since you generate smaller revenue compared to medium and large companies. In order for you not to waste your time, money and effort on failed trademark registration application, here’s a strategy you would want to develop.

1. Do Your Research

After picking a brand name, do not file your registration just yet, unless you aim for refusal of application for trying to trademark a name that’s too similar to an already registered mark. You need to do major researching on your own and hire a company like brand mark in Singapore who can advise you on trademark laws, state registrations and brand names that your chosen mark may potentially be confused with.

2. Meet the Qualifications

Avoid wasting your resources trying to secure a name that does not qualify for trademark registration. For example, a brand that is named after a functional feature of your product does qualify for registration. Uniqueness is another requirement as well: you simply cannot register a common phrase or word that people need to use on a daily basis.

3. Protect Your Trademark Internationally

If your goal is to expand outside Singapore, you will also need to protect your brand abroad. Otherwise, you could risk infringers and fake local distributors. Overseas protection of intellectual property does not have to be expensive. Consider registering an agreement only between Singapore and your target country to get the most value from register TM. To identify the jurisdiction(s), think about where potential customers, partners, producers, manufacturers and possible infringers are located and the difficulty to enforce trademarks in this place. Then, come up with a strategy on how to protect your brand name accordingly.

4. Choose a Mark Realistically

Avoid investing on a bad mark. When you enter the registration process with in Singapore think about your hard-earned money, not just what your heart desires. Although it is important to pick a name, logo or mark that you like, you should also try to choose a mark that’s likely to be approved. Similarly, avoid setting your heart onto a logo or brand name that you have not researched on thoroughly.

5. Go for a Trademark That You Can Protect

As mentioned, common words that people need to use every day may not be qualified for registration. The following are the types of marks and the levels of protection they can get:

• Generic terms – not qualified for trademark registration
• Descriptive terms (describes the services/products as opposed to simply stating what they are; e.g. Toys R Us, YouSendIt, Holiday Inn, etc.) – can be protected only after acquiring the ‘second meaning’ recognition in its market
• Suggestive terms (slightly more unique than descriptive terms; e.g. Pinterest, Travelocity, Facebook, etc.) – protectable
• Arbitrary (real words that are irrelevant to the chosen market; e.g. Apple, Blackberry, Shell, etc.) – protectable and subject from wider scope of protection than the previous types
• Fanciful (completely made up words; e.g. Xerox, Verizon, Kodak, etc.) – protectable and has the widest scope of protection.

6. Be Proactive in Protecting Your Rights

Create a basis and a method for the protection of your brand. While it is important to protect your registered mark against infringers, tackling every single threat can be costly and even damaging to your trademark rights. Choose your battle wisely and defend your name practically.

7. Respect Others’ Rights

Just like how you do not want to be infringed, avoid infringing someone else’s rights, too. Infringement occurs when there is a high risk of confusion of brand names. It also happens when using a logo or name in a way that lessens the uniqueness of the ‘famous name.’ Disputes on trademarking are often prolonged and costly, and you probably do not want to get involved in such processes especially if you are just starting up with your business.

8. Consult a Lawyer

Nobody wants to invest time and money on a trademark only to receive a ‘cease and desist’ letter from another company months or years later, or to find out that the logo or name can’t be protected. However, this happens more often than you expected.

Usually, when you have thought of a catchy tagline or a marketable name, you are likely not the first person to think of it. In other cases, the tagline may just be too descriptive to be valued. A consultation with a trademark lawyer at the early stage of registration process can prevent these problems. Assuming that your chosen mark has the potential to be a good trademark, your lawyer will perform a search and analysis to ensure that the brand and/or logo is available and can be registered to all target markets.

Putting an extra effort to register trademark will pay you back much more in the future. A registered trademark is a key asset of your company that needs to be preserved and protected in order to position your business to the path of success. Failure to obtain exclusive rights will greatly reduce the value of your trademark investment. Give your business a competitive edge among your competitors and generate better revenue by establishing a name that consumers can trust and that you can use exclusively for a lifetime.

The 10 Benefits of VoIP for Your Business

The use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in offices and businesses in Singapore has opened a lot of opportunities for growth and expansion that were not possible with traditional telephony alone. Not only is VoIP a cheap alternative to making phone calls and video calls, but it also includes various features that have revolutionized the way companies interact with employees, clients, vendors, and customers.

And why not? After all, the goal of using Internet Protocol (IP) telephony is to create a more productive digital phone system that utilizes the accessibility and power of the Internet.

However, if you are hesitant to replace your traditional private branch exchange or PBX phone system with a hosted PBX for a small to medium-scale company or to hire a provider for a cloud VoIP, the following benefits of VoIP in business should change your mind.

1. User Friendly. There is no need to train your office personnel to use VoIP because it is easy to set up, install, and use. If you choose a hosted VoIP system for example, there is no need to buy new equipment to deploy and use the software in your office; instead, a third-party service provider is responsible for setting up, troubleshooting, and upgrading the system. Not only large companies, but even small-scale businesses can benefit from the easy-to-use VoIP features, such as voicemail to email transcription, follow me or find me call routing, efficient bandwidth use, outbound and inbound call reporting, music on hold, call screening, auto attendant, and online conferencing.

2. Easy Scaling. If your business is still expanding, it can be hassle trying to figure out how many phones you will need in the future. With a hosted PBX phone system, however, you can install additional lines or remove and reassign phone lines anytime you want. You can also easily reconfigure the system, especially if you have several employees who need to travel outside the country. This means that there is no need to change numbers even when they’re outside Singapore, because calls can be diverted anywhere as long as the communication device has an Internet connection.

3. Convenient System. With an excellent VoIP phone system from Singapore, there is no need to worry about missing important calls or video calls again, since employees can pick up calls and answer messages on any mobile device connected to the system. The company can also sort through a full voicemail system and pick out important messages that need immediate replies. As long as the device is connected to the Internet, the employee can access all the VoIP features, such as voicemail, email, call features, logs, and others anytime, anywhere.

4. Various Features. VoIP will not only improve communication within and outside the office, but the company will also have access to a rich media service such as instant messages, video calls, video conferencing, file sharing, social networking, web browser, fax, email, and so much more, regardless of the device used. Traditional call features such as call transfer, call hold, call hunt, and others are still used, too, but it can also be easily integrated with other existing applications to make a much more efficient system accessible to clients and customers. Plus, there are bonus features you can add, such as improved security, data backup and storage, personalized ringtones, and many more.

5. Cost-Saving. Even small-scale companies can benefit from VoIP by choosing a hosted PBX system, in which the service is hosted by a third-party provider so that there is no need to upgrade the existing hardware and software. A hosted VoIP system will reduce the overall per-call costs of the company unlike a traditional telephony setup. Cloud VoIP is also a viable option if the company does not wish to spend money on expensive equipment. If repairs are needed, the burden will fall on the service provider and not the company itself.

6. Easy Integration. The primary tool of VoIP is the Internet to make communication easier, that is why it will also be a lot easier for the company to integrate other existing communication tools to make the business more accessible to clients and customers. Customer management within the office will considerably improve with an IP PBX telephone system for example, because the company can easily switch from local lines and external phone lines.

7. Quality Communication. With a VoIP system, the company’s communication lines will greatly improve. Voice calls are clearer, conference calls are easier, sharing and storage of data are more convenient, and multiple tasks are swiftly handled. Not only that, your company will not be paying extra for the various services that come with a hosted VoIP system.

8. Portability. Any device that can connect to the Internet can be used to send and receive messages to and from employees and clients. No matter where the employee goes, he/she can still log in to the system using the same number.

9. Flexibility. For businesses that are hesitant to spend money on new equipment, a VoIP system can still use traditional phones as long as a VoIP adapter is installed. This adapter will convert the analog signals to digital signals that can be used in the VoIP system.

10. No Boundaries. Various businesses in Singapore have employees that need to travel, but with an IP PBX telephone system, communicating is no longer a problem. VoIP will open doors to global business opportunities that used to be limited by fixed phone lines and numbers that some employees find difficult to use when not within the office vicinity.

Steps To Learn Investing In the Real Estate Industry

Some people that are looking to buy an apartment with the help of a managing agent are sometimes charmed by the beauty of a certain apartment, so they would want to buy it in any case. However, several other aspects must be considered before you would buy the propriety, and those aspects can only be clarified by the property management Singapore.

Make sure you have a pre-contract approved with the bank for the condo you are about to buy. The papers and the files of a condo are not secret to the managing agent, but no condo management company would allow you to see them if you are not a future buyer of a mcst propriety.

Calculate the total cost of obtaining the strata title contract, not only the cost of the real estate itself. Some other costs are associated with any transaction, such as the paperwork needed, the authorities involved, the notary and the commissions to the bank and managing agent. The property management Singapore advices you to increase the cost of the condo with 10 % to assess the real price of the propriety. Be careful with this aspect!

The bank will be unmerciful with you if you can’t pay all those taxes, and they are entitled to cancel your contract and to keep the advance money if you are not able to bring all the necessary Singapore property management paperwork to the managing agent within the required time. However, you must not worry. Just ask the condo management property if there are no legal issues over the mcst propriety, and ask them about an estimation of time needed to provide you with all the acts.

Choose the property management Singapore carefully, as the majority of companies with superb managing agent now have a few clients, therefore the time allocated for you will be enough. Think at your condo as a necessity not like an investment. In times like these, it is not good to make plans considering the four children you will have in 10 years. The budget is important for the moment, and the condo management managing agent will be able to find you a place to live for a decent price and with some great living conditions.

While looking for propriety, you must be patient and perseverant. Therefore, find one hour each morning to browse the sites of mcst companies in Singapore to find new real estates that are for sale. Start with the forums of the strata title owners and see if somebody wants to sell and then look for a managing agent. In this case, you might be able to contact the seller or condo management directly, avoiding the costly commissions of the real estate agent.

Some strata title owners place fake announcements just to assess the true value of their real estate. They have a rich imagination, so you might sometimes see a great propriety at a bargain price. This is surely a trap, and the owner or managing agent will never sell for that money.

All the property management Singapore companies pay a subscription to the search engines, so you could subscribe to their newsletter. This way, any new condo appeared on the market will be delivered directly in your inbox.