Logistyx Technologies Again Named #1 Fulfillment Software Provider to Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 Retailers Learn More

“Just Keep It” – Amazon, Other Top Merchants Going Further to Minimize Returns

The COVID-19 pandemic-fueled surge in e-commerce creates a growing challenge related to the age-old issue of returns. As The Wall Street Journal highlights, “That shopping shift is placing more importance on solving a problem that dates to the early days of online shopping. Free shipping and other accommodating return policies have gotten consumers used to ordering multiple sizes and colors and returning what they don’t want.”

The share of online purchases that are returned averages 30% or higher, depending on the category, three times the rate in physical stores, according to industry executives. At that level, managing e-commerce reverse logistics can be expensive. The biggest merchants, including Amazon and Walmart, have taken notice and begun adopting some of the strategies perfected by smaller, innovative merchants. Some are telling customers receiving refunds to keep the product to avoid some returns altogether; others are investing in elaborate interactive online fitting rooms to slow the growth of apparel returns.

As the number of e-commerce package returns continues to rise, it’s critical that businesses evaluate how teams are equipped to handle returns, ensuring they have strategies in place to streamline returns processes and mitigate associated costs. Taking steps now to optimize returns processes and tools with robust technology solutions enables businesses to improve shipping processes and handle spikes in returns with greater flexibility.

In fact, the right multi-carrier shipping system allows businesses to centralize returns shipping execution and decrease transportation spend by optimizing carrier service selection and using data analytics and Business Intelligence to enhance inbound distribution strategies. With growing consumer expectations around free and easy e-commerce returns, advanced multi-carrier shipping technology offers businesses the ability to choose the best-fit approach to returns for greater control on return shipment costs in any scenario.

Download our checklist: 4 Ways Smart Businesses are Revamping Returns Processes in 2021 to learn more about how a cloud multi-carrier shipping system can optimize shipping processes and help take the hassle out of returns.

Logistyx President Ken Fleming Highlights the Shortcomings of Hybrid Mail Services at Forbes

E-commerce exploded in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way consumers shopped for everything from home essentials to holiday gifts. As merchants sought to keep pace with the increased demands and parcel shipping volume, many explored new ways to reduce shipping costs. Some found out the hard way that hybrid mail services relying on order consolidation is problematic.

In his latest article at Forbes, Logistyx President Ken Fleming dives into the shortcomings of this approach:

“Hybrid mail services from alternative carriers using order consolidation, on the other hand, promise cost reductions (according to Logistyx clients, as much as 50%) on traditional USPS services, but often lead to massive delays and lost customers. They cut costs by combining very-low-cost bulk freight services with USPS last-mile delivery, consolidating tens, hundreds or more USPS orders into one or more less-than-truckload (LTL) shipment(s). Later, they directly inject those parcels into the USPS-serviced last mile.

These services work fine for companies sending promotional and marketing materials to customers and prospects. In these cases, recipients have no stake in how long the parcels take to reach them. While e-commerce merchants love the idea of cutting USPS spend by 50%, those who widely roll out these services for e-commerce fulfillment usually abort or scale back these efforts quickly after becoming aware of very serious problems resulting from these slower and sometimes difficult-to-track deliveries.”

Read Ken’s full article, “Hybrid Mail Shipping Services Disappoint E-commerce Customers,” for the nitty-gritty on why these services fail to meet expectations and jeopardize customer relationships.

Ken’s other articles at Forbes are also worthwhile reads.

2020 Proved an Enormous Year for E-Commerce Growth with Lessons for 2021

All signs pointed to 2020 being an unprecedented year of growth for e-commerce and, according to Digital Commerce 360, those signs were very telling. By the outlet’s estimates, consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44% year-over-year (YoY); the highest annual U.S. e-commerce growth in at least two decades and nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019.

Online’s share of total retail sales has steadily risen – with e-commerce penetration hitting 21.3% in 2020, up from 15.8% in 2019, according to estimates from Digital Commerce 360. The more than five-percentage point gain in e-commerce penetration is by far the biggest YoY jump for U.S. retail sales ever recorded.

All the growth in retail came from e-commerce, with online sales accounting for 101% of all gains in retail in 2020. This means sales through all other channels – stores, catalogs, and call centers – declined, marking the first time in history that e-commerce sales accounted for all retail sales gains.

This explosive e-commerce growth – driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic – and an unrivaled peak retail shopping season created visible stresses on the supply chain in 2020, leading to an extraordinary carrier capacity crunch. The significant increase in parcel shipping during peak season put a strain on every part of the shipping chain, all the way down to the last-mile, leaving many businesses to contend with never-before-seen peak delivery surcharges and shipping delays.

While many merchants had to shift supply chain strategies to effectively meet customer demands in the face of these obstacles, the unique challenges of 2020 resulted in valuable lessons learned that retail shippers can leverage now to properly prepare for ongoing supply chain disruptions in 2021.

Logistyx President, Ken Fleming recently spoke with Digital Commerce 360 to discuss the challenges retailers endured during last year’s holiday season and how they can prepare for another unprecedented season in 2021. Read Ken’s full interview with Digital Commerce 360.

To learn how you can improve your omnichannel shipping strategy to take advantage of e-commerce growth and prepare for ongoing supply chain disruptions, contact us today.

 

3 Tips for Getting International Shipping Right

Statista projects e-commerce revenues will increase to $4.88 trillion in 2021, which means if you’re a small to medium-size business, the time may be right to expand your product footprint across borders. But for many companies new to international shipping, there are multiple factors to consider, and ensuring a seamless customer delivery experience while maintaining profitability can be challenging.

Here are three strategies for streamlining cross-border e-commerce fulfillment while actually increasing profits per parcel.

1. Know how your product is regulated internationally.

Here’s a fun fact: it’s illegal to import calendars for commercial purposes into Vietnam. That’s right, folks, we said “calendars.” This means online retailers based in the U.S. may not send quantities of more than 100 calendars to customers in Vietnam. Break the law and prepare to do time (pun intended!).

And this is just one example of hundreds of country-specific regulations complicating international shipping. Talk about overwhelming!  But to simplify the complexity, UPS has an online tool that enables shippers to access a list of regulations. Input the origin and destination countries, and UPS returns information about shipping requirements.

Also, understand the duties and taxes. For example, when a U.S. retailer ships a pair of sneakers from Los Angeles to a customer, store, or warehouse in Chicago, there is a single shipping rate. But if this retailer sends the same pair of shoes to a customer, store, or warehouse in Amsterdam, the shipment is subjected to a whole new set of duties and taxes. The total cost of shipping an order internationally is referred to as the “landed cost,” and it is critical to understand this cost on the front end of the shipping process. Specifically, you want to know:

  • Is the product taxable? At what quantity?  At what value?
  • What customs regulations apply?
  • What is the country’s minimum threshold value for duties?

Keep in mind, duties and tariffs continuously change, and therefore this will be an ongoing exercise.

2. Decrease shipping costs with a cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping.

Shipping parcels individually across borders, especially if they have a low price point, isn’t cost-effective.  Smart shippers are instead using break bulk services, wherein multiple orders are consolidated into one big shipment to cross the border in order to reduce shipping charges and paperwork. Once on the other side, the consolidated shipment is broken down into separate shipments for individual delivery.

A cloud TMS for parcel shipping ensures your labeling and documentation can support this, and Logistyx has seen customers achieve savings of more than 25% on their transportation costs by switching to a break bulk service rather than sending shipments individually. For large shippers sending multiple items, the economics of break bulk are clear. Not only is there a cost saving on the actual shipping charge, due to lower cost/weight rates on higher weight shipments, but there is a corresponding reduction in the quantity and cost of paperwork. If 50 individual shipments are consolidated into one break bulk shipment, there is only one set of paperwork to clear customs, meaning less chance of delays at the border. With carriers charging for each invoice declared at the border, the savings opportunities are clear, and having only one carrier invoice to be checked, also means less work for the finance department.

3. Use a cloud TMS for parcel shipping to rate shop.

Rating and rate shopping isn’t straightforward across the border. In Europe, for example, carriers use myriad rate calculation methods. Unlike the United States, there isn’t a uniform postal code system across Europe, which means rate-zone definitions differ by country, carrier, and service. Some rate zones are even a combination of country postal codes, regions, cities, etc. Furthermore, there are no European-wide tariff structures. Rating is done on a per-carrier basis according to zones, weight, volume, and distance, but also accounting for factors such as pack quantity and load meters. These variables, in conjunction with different currencies, further complicate rating and rate shopping. A cloud TMS for parcel shipping enables you to rate shop across your entire transportation network to identify the optimal carrier service for each shipment based on all of these variables.

Manage Cross-Border Shipping with a Cloud TMS for Parcel Shipping

In summary, shippers moving parcels across borders should consider using a cloud TMS for parcel shipping to ensure they can simplify the complexity of regulations, label and documentation requirements, rating, and rate shopping.

To learn more about how Logistyx TME can provide the necessary flexibility to successfully execute cross-border parcel shipping, contact an expert today

Logistyx President Ken Fleming Shares 2021 Fulfillment Best Practices with Logistics Viewpoints

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and an unprecedented peak retail shopping season are still creating visible stresses on the supply chain. In his latest Logistics Viewpoints article, “Inoculating 2021 E-Commerce with Fulfillment Best Practices,” Ken shares the many valuable lessons proven out in 2020 that fulfillment professionals can apply in the year ahead to ease these burdens and keep customers happy and operations on track.

From providing distinct tracking and tracing capabilities to auditing fulfillment data with Business Intelligence tools to better serve customers, various supply chain challenges in 2020 prompted many shippers to implement creative solutions that helped improve the way they fulfill e-commerce orders. The explosive e-commerce growth of 2020 also created an extraordinary carrier capacity crunch, leading many savvy shippers to adopt a multi-carrier approach to safeguard against rising carrier rates and reduced capacity. Innovations like localized or on-demand manufacturing via 3D printing, combined with multi-carrier parcel shipping, further reduced dependence on carriers in 2020 and serves as a worthwhile lesson that can pay dividends for other shippers in this new year.

To learn more about how shippers can utilize these and other best practices in 2021 and advance even further to adopt the new innovations available to fulfillment teams, read Ken’s latest article or contact us today for a an assessment of how you can implement these best practices. Check out Ken’s other Logistics Viewpoints contributions for more supply chain insights.

Incoming! How to Manage a Surge in Reverse Logistics Volumes

According to Digital Commerce 360 and Adobe Analytics, “Ecommerce sales crossed a record $5 billion on Thanksgivingsurged 21.6% on Black Friday, and increased 15.1% on Cyber Monday. And though we’re still waiting on the final numbers, should Adobe’s prediction for holiday sales prove accurate and online holiday season spending reach $189 billion, representing 33% growth year-over-year (YoY), 2020 will be permanently cemented into the holiday e-commerce sales record books.

But unfortunately for retailers, what goes out… might just come back. According to CBRE, e-commerce returns this season could total as much as $70.5 billion, a 73% increase from the previous five-year average, which means reverse logistics operations for many retailers will be tested like never before. In fact, the National Retail Federation predicts budgets for global reverse logistics technologies will also increase in 2021 — forecast last year to hit $604 billion by 2025 — as retailers look to streamline the consumer experience and minimize returns costs.

A Multi-Carrier Shipping System Enables Faster, Better Returns Management

Optimizing reverse logistics often comes down to having sophisticated logistics management practices in place, and a cloud-based multi-carrier shipping system will streamline returns shipping execution and reduce returns shipping costs. The most sophisticated solutions offer shippers the ability to determine the best returns policy and carrier services by automatically rate shopping across carriers in the retailer’s transportation network, selecting the most appropriate carrier services based on established business rules, printing necessary paperwork and labels, tracking inbound shipments, and auditing the entire shipping and returns process to identify cost-saving opportunities throughout the fulfillment lifecycle.

Tips to Reducing the Financial Impact of Returns

Dealing with e-commerce reverse logistics can be expensive. Statista projected return costs, including delivery and restocking, would reach $550 billion in 2020 alone, prompting retailers to aggressively work to reduce the cost and volume of returns long before peak season hit.

For some companies, the strategy is to avoid returns altogether. Many luxury brands have opted to go this route, choosing to skip the shipping, handling, and re-stocking expenses and improve customer service in one motion. E-tailers (sellers with no brick-and-mortar stores) are now increasingly following suit, sometimes telling customers to keep incorrect products and avoid the cost of returns, and in a new development, big box retailers such as Walmart and Target are also telling their customers to keep what they don’t want.

Other retailers, however, choose a different path and instead opt to handle returns and re-stock and re-sell their inventory. For these retailers, here are a few tips for streamlining returns processes and mitigating returns costs:

1. Move away from a single carrier strategy

If we have learned anything as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that businesses need multiple carriers contracted and ready to go, and a multi-carrier shipping system to rate and rate shop carrier services across the transportation network. A multi-carrier shipping system will enable you to select the optimal carrier service for each return shipment according to your carrier contracts and business rules, balancing capacity, optimizing spend, and preventing inbound shipping delays so you can re-stock and re-sell inventory quickly.

2. Leverage data analytics and Business Intelligence

The right multi-carrier shipping system will also include Business Intelligence. These cost analysis tools will enable you to run contract analysis analytics that highlight carrier performance and cost metrics and compare carrier performance against contract terms. With these analytics in hand, you’ll be better informed during carrier renegotiations and empowered to select the best vendor long term. And if your volume is great enough, you might have the leverage to negotiate “any point to any point” rates for your returns with the big carriers (FedEx, USPS, UPS, DHL).

In addition, Business Intelligence will allow you to answer the question: Are you shipping to the optimal returns center? Sophisticated analytics will allow you to quantify the value of making adjustments to your returns strategy. For example, looking closely at the zip codes served by various returns centers, can you make adjustments for cost? Volume? Better carrier services? Is your network geographically optimal? Maybe you should move returns centers, or analyze outsourcing options for returns processing.

3. Prioritize the customer experience

The right multi-carrier shipping system will be flexible enough to allow you to choose the returns workflow and customer experience that works best for your business. The technology provides you with the ability to control for return shipment costs in any scenario, whether the customer is initiating the return online or working with an in-house customer service rep. Added bonus: the technology also guarantees your customer is using the right shipping label, regardless of whether the customer is dropping the return off at a UPS store or FedEx office or mailing it through the USPS.

In addition, a multi-carrier shipping system with Business Intelligence will allow you to assess your customer behaviors so that you can decide the best-fit approach to returns. For example, based on returns patterns, you may want to establish a relationship with FedEx (FedEx Office) or UPS (UPS Store) so customers can package and drop off returns easily.

4. Reduce the number of avoidable returns

Zero returns cost will always be cheaper than any returns cost. Analytics and Business Intelligence can play a pivotal role in uncovering a variety of cost-saving opportunities beyond criteria for returns carrier service selection. Analytics can identify weak links in fulfillment by tracing wrong product shipments to certain distribution centers, pickers, or procedural problems so staff can correct inventory and warehouse management processes or take other steps to resolve the issues.

When fulfillment errors do not explain patterns of recurring returns, analytics can point to potential merchandising problems and answer questions that include:

  • Which products are most returned and what can be done about it?
  • Are most of the returns originating from the same product or product category?
  • Should a retailer consider discontinuing product lines or only selling certain products in-store?

Identifying routinely-returned or problematic products gives the retailer a chance to take proactive steps to address the issues – whether it’s something as simple as an incorrect size listing in a product description or something more serious, such as a defect in the manufacturing, prompting regular returns.

5. Combat fraudulent returns

Analytics can also play a critical role in identifying the prevalence of fraudulent returns and determining their impact. Combatting fraud helps many organizations reduce the cost and volume of returns, as annual losses from fraudulent returns are estimated at $27 billion, according to Appriss Retail, who also estimates return fraud at 8.8% in 2019, a 76% increase year-over-year.

Luxury brands in particular need processes in place to ensure they never accept counterfeit products as legitimate returns; even infrequent instances of fraudulent luxury product returns can wreak havoc on organizations. Every effort should be made to determine how often this happens and deter future instances.

Select the Right Multi-Carrier Shipping System to Better Manage Reverse Logistics

Reverse logistics will always have a peak season after the holidays, and an inability to maximize efficiency in reverse processes will routinely lead to higher costs. Fortunately, using an advanced multi-carrier shipping system can make a world of difference, and many companies turn to Logistyx technology and expertise to customize and automate their returns processes.

Download our white paper: Managing the Rise (and Cost) of Returns to learn more about how a cloud multi-carrier shipping system can help you save money on your returns.

Twice as Nice: Logistyx Again Named the #1 Fulfillment Software Vendor to Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 Retailers

Digital Commerce 360 Research provides data and information about e-commerce that helps retail companies, investors, and technology providers prosper, and we’re pleased to announce it has again placed Logistyx first on its list of top fulfillment software providers to the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 Retailers. The honor shines a spotlight on Logistyx’s innovation in parcel shipping and on our ability to step up during these uncertain times and provide a reliable solution to our broad customer base of retailers.

Logistyx’s cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping makes it possible for retailers to ship millions of parcels worldwide at the lowest possible cost. Our customers enjoy carrier rating and rate shopping across all carriers within their transportation network, as well as seamless shipment execution and parcel tracking from distribution origin to doorstep. Easy integrations with leading supply chain software providers such as Oracle, BlueYonder, Manhattan, SAP, and more mean retailers have complete visibility into – and control over – their order fulfillment operations. They also benefit from an accurate, real-time data exchange between systems, improving efficiencies across multiple supply chain functions and reducing the risk of human error.

Top 1000 Retailers are Future-Proofing Supply Chains

Facing the challenges posed by an unusual online shopping landscape, with tight carrier capacity and high shipping costs, fulfillment teams face significant obstacles this peak season. Retailers and eTailers will be on the order fulfillment end of record levels of online orders, and to manage these volumes successfully and offer cost-effective ways to meet rapidly evolving customer demands, necessary operations and fulfillment strategy implementations are well underway.

Many retailers are digitizing their supply chain management and moving as much of their technology stack as possible to the cloud – improving the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of their supply chains. A digitized supply chain improves a retailer’s ability to:

  • Anticipate risk
  • Improve transparency and coordination across the supply chain
  • Manage issues that arise from increasing complexity

For example, knowing how quickly cloud-based supply chain operations can shift in response to a crisis or disruption, more retailers have come to realize the benefits of a cloud TMS for parcel shipping to improve the flexibility of their order fulfillment operations, and are therefore turning to Logistyx to quickly build and optimize flexible distribution models leveraging multiple carrier services. But the digital transformations don’t stop there. Retailers are also prioritizing improvements in tracking and transparency across all carriers by utilizing Logistyx’s Control Tower technology, which helps shippers gain greater visibility into a product’s journey to track potential delivery disruptions and easily share information to improve customer service and real-time communication.

And when shippers pair our cloud-based Control Tower with our Business Intelligence technology, they normalize shipping data and execute quick, real-time analyses. Instead of scrambling at the last minute, retailers have loads of information at their fingertips within minutes of a potential disruption. These analyses help them look at their transportation costs in a deeper way, identifying problems, zeroing in on their root causes, and uncovering opportunities to improve. With better information, retailers gain the necessary flexibility to continuously optimize their fulfillment and shipping strategies in any shipping scenario and transform fulfillment processes while slashing costs over the long term.

Join the Ranks

The Digital Commerce 360 ranking of top solution providers offers a roadmap for retailers searching for the e-commerce technologies and services most preferred by the Top 1000 merchants. Vendor rankings are based on the number of clients in the 2020 edition of Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000.

To learn more about how the Logistyx TMS for parcel shipping can improve your parcel shipping operations, watch our video: The Logistyx Shipping Quadrant.

3 Tips for Getting E-Commerce Delivery Right

This year has upended e-commerce in ways that are almost unthinkable. Since March, e-commerce volumes have grown exponentially, reaching peak-like levels, and with this unexpected growth came delivery delays.  Looking ahead to the “real” peak season, volumes are predicted to hit unprecedented levels and carriers are already anticipating capacity crunches, meaning delays could continue.

Here are three tips to get e-commerce delivery right and keep customers satisfied in the days ahead:

1. Accurately Set Delivery Expectations

The good news is that most e-commerce shoppers understand the pandemic has slowed delivery times. The one- or two-day delivery turnarounds shoppers previously enjoyed simply aren’t possible in a shipping landscape where volumes are high, and capacity is tight.  But where many retailers have gone wrong, is in their communication to customers about delivery events and delays.  One recent report found that 42 percent of online shoppers want to receive real-time updates on their packages.  To underscore the importance of this statistic: this is roughly the same percentage of shoppers who want free shipping.

ebook logistyx future-proofing-supply-chainTherefore, as we head into peak season, retailers should make sure they have a clear communication strategy to accurately set delivery expectations – and the right technology to execute.  Retailers who have implemented a cloud TMS for parcel shipping benefit from Control Tower functionality, which means they can provide shoppers with the transparency they value. The system will send early warning signs when there are parcel delivery issues or “exception events,” empowering customer service teams to proactively trouble-shoot the exception event and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker.

With a cloud TMS for parcel shipping, customers can even track and trace shipments on a retailer’s website without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing customers’ browsing behavior on the retailer’s website – which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases. Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables retailers to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier selection from the onset.

2. Have an Omnichannel Distribution Strategy

If we’ve learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that retailers that take advantage of their physical presence are the ones to gain a competitive edge.  Having the ability to pull multiple e-commerce order fulfillment levers such as deliver from store, buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), and delivery drop-offs in lockers is a critical differentiator over retailers that execute e-commerce fulfillment from warehouses and distribution centers only.

A recent study reported deliver from store is the most popular e-commerce order fulfillment method because it’s the optimal way for retailers to meet consumer demand and stay on par with Amazon’s one-day delivery.  Studies also report that by delivering orders from store, retailers enjoy six times more order volume and a 169% increase in conversion rates, offsetting order fulfillment costs and increasing consumer satisfaction. Furthermore, 61% of shoppers prefer a one- to three-hour delivery window, which is usually only achievable by delivering from the store closest to the customer.

But customers’ demands don’t stop there.  Eighty-six percent have requested products be sent to a store or locker and approximately 50% factor in the availability of BOPIS when making a purchasing decision. This is actually good news for retailers, as BOPIS is a win-win. With BOPIS, retailers reduce the cost of delivery and increase in-store sales, and consumers get their products faster and avoid a shipping charge.

Therefore, smart retailers are ensuring their e-commerce platform includes information about product availability and allows customers to choose from a variety of delivery options.  And just as before, retailers need a cloud TMS for parcel shipping on the back end, which seamlessly integrates with a retailer’s system of record to automate high volume, multi-carrier, omnichannel shipping.  Regardless of which delivery option the customer chooses, the system automatically selects the right carrier service for each order according to parcel origin, parcel destination, carrier contracts, and business rules; and creates or acquires the tracking, labels, and documents.  Retailers can thus satisfy customers’ delivery requirements and drive down the cost of shipping–transforming logistics into a profit center within the business.

A cloud TMS for parcel also ensures retailers have the right mix of carrier services in their transportation strategy to achieve omnichannel fulfillment.  The software will include a Business Intelligence platform to help retailers understand how factors such as distance, speed to delivery, package size, and density affect spend within their transportation carrier landscape.  For instance, if a retailer is implementing changes in fulfillment to increase ship-from-store or locate a new DC, understanding how these changes impact zone and carrier service-level downgrade options is critical.

3. Prioritize the Last Mile

Although retailers understand the importance of e-commerce, they often fail to prioritize the last mile, treating it as the carrier’s problem, not theirs. But this is a mistake. Last mile delivery is expensive – the most expensive portion of the end-to-end delivery equation. According to BI Intelligence, the total cost of shipping for the last mile is 53% of the total delivery cost.  And with the ubiquity of “free shipping,” customers are unwilling to pay a delivery fee, forcing retailers to absorb the cost.

To overcome challenges in the last mile, retailers should utilize an omnichannel inventory approach, maximizing their number of inventory sources, including distribution centers, warehouses, and stores, so they are closer to the customer.  And a key component to this approach will again be – you guessed it – a cloud TMS for parcel shipping.

A cloud TMS for parcel shipping will allow retailers to access and rate shop within an extensive network of carriers, including last mile carriers such as OnTrac, LaserShip, and Speedy Delivery, which usually offer next-day ground delivery within 400 miles of a shipment’s origin and without the surcharges national carriers assess.  Gaining in popularity among retailers of all sizes, last mile carriers can be the key to avoiding the national carriers’ holiday surcharges this year and to achieving faster, cheaper delivery in the last mile.

Start Today to Get E-Commerce Delivery Right

This year’s peak season will be different, and to get e-commerce delivery right you’ll need the help of a best-of-breed system such as Logistyx TME. To learn more, contact an expert today.

E-Commerce Shipping Solutions: 5 Benefits to Expect

In e-commerce, the customer experience doesn’t end after someone clicks ‘place order’ on your site. Customers demand visibility, control, and communication during the entire shopping experience, beyond the website UX and the shopping cart; they also want visibility into parcel tracking, from the distribution center to their front door. And to make matters more difficult, customers want delivery to occur as fast as possible for free, turning to other retailers if these boxes aren’t checked.

Thus, e-commerce providers have to compete with expedited shipping — the likes of the two-day Amazon promise — to meet customer demands. And, somehow, they must do so for free while maintaining competitive pricing on their products.

The solution? Advanced e-commerce shipping software. Once retailers find the ideal fit for their operations, parcel shipping tools can assist with meeting customer expectations, boosting revenue growth, and staying competitive in the rapidly evolving e-commerce market.

Here are five benefits of implementing the right e-commerce shipping solution:

1. Finding the Right Carrier Service at the Lowest Cost

When it comes to carrier services, there are thousands of options. Especially with high-volume international distribution, shippers need to access an extensive carrier services network to meet their customers’ delivery expectations. But what if retailers could get the best of every carrier service?

E-commerce shipping solutions place all carrier options at the retailers’ fingertips. Advanced platforms allow users to instantly compare carriers and services to locate the best service for each shipment according to the retailer’s business rules. And by integrating these solutions into their supply chain ecosystem, retailers can meet their delivery objectives at the lowest cost for every shipment.

2. Streamline Shipping Processes

While the end goal of any shipper is to deliver products to customers on time, without damage, at minimal cost, and in the most efficient manner possible, the recent spike in e-commerce has also increased customers’ ability to customize their shipping options, and businesses must be able to accommodate this delivery personalization.

New call-to-actionE-commerce shipping solutions enable the retailer to meet the customer’s shipping requirements from within the retailer’s system.  They automatically determine the carrier that can provide the best rates to a particular region and according to the retailer’s business rules, ensuring every shipment is in compliance with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations.

In addition, e-commerce shipping solutions enable retailers to easily use “zone skipping” (also known as “hub induction” or “direct injection”) to improve customer service and decrease transportation costs. Zone skipping occurs when multiple customers’ orders are consolidated for the first leg of the delivery journey and then inserted into a parcel carrier network for the last-mile delivery. This is especially beneficial for cross-border shipping because it significantly simplifies end-to-end logistics and decreases customs clearance costs.  The approach also provides greater flexibility since retailers can select local carriers in different countries and regions that have optimal delivery networks for serving their customers.

Importantly, e-commerce shipping solutions also ensure retailers have the right mix of carrier services in their transportation strategy from the onset.  The software aggregates and normalizes shipping data across carriers, so retailers know when deliveries moving to a particular region, customer, or via a particular carrier are not meeting service levels. Retailers can hold carriers accountable for failing to meet expectations and wield hard data to back up rate negotiations.  They can also consolidate carriers to ensure they get the best possible price.

3. Tracking Shipments & Resolving Problems in Real-Time

The right e-commerce shipping solution will offer end-to-end parcel tracking, which provides two key benefits for retailers:

  • By tracking parcels from the warehouse or distribution center to the customer’s doorstep, retailers can resolve processing or transportation issues in real time.
  • By providing timely delivery updates to customers and options to personalize the delivery method, it improves the customer experience.

By collecting all tracking information and generating delivery event alerts that feed into the CRM system, customer service teams can proactively trouble-shoot delivery exception events and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker. Customers can even track and trace shipments on company websites without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing the customers’ browsing behavior on the retailer’s website – which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases. Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables retailers to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier contract negotiations.​

4. Getting Accurate Invoices & Negotiating Carrier Contracts

Carriers aren’t always perfect, and neither are the numbers on their invoices. While e-commerce providers of all sizes have grown to expect the inaccurate application of carrier surcharges and other fees, they’re nearly impossible to catch through manual invoice auditing. However, retailers can uncover these savings opportunities once they add an e-commerce shipping solution with freight audit and analytics tools to their shipping operations.  Freight audit and analytics tools will streamline the financial management of shipping costs by automating carrier invoice matching to identify invoice discrepancies. Plus, if the system has a deep ERP integration, it will allow for sophisticated account allocation and cost accruals.​

5. Making Data-Driven Decisions

Retailers without the ability to analyze real time shipping data in a Business Intelligence platform fail to understand how factors such as distance, speed to delivery, package size, and density affect spend within their transportation carrier landscape.  They can’t visualize how and where changes are planning to (or should) occur, and this means they’re on their back foot when it comes to carrier negotiations. For instance, if a retailer is implementing changes in fulfillment to increase ship-from-store or locate a new DC, understanding how these changes impact zone and carrier service-level downgrade options are critical.

In addition, retailers without real-time data and the Business Intelligence to put this data to work can’t answer questions, such as:

  • What is the impact of a proposed carrier rate change on spend?
  • What are the available transportation savings with newly proposed carrier options?
  • How will ship-from-store or new DC placement affect spend?

By harnessing this data and using the Business Intelligence tools found in an e-commerce shipping solution, retailers can extrapolate transportation spend impacts across significant data sets and visualize the effects across variables such as weight breaks, zones, regions, service levels, etc.  This visualization will allow retailers to easily identify areas ripe for further negotiation and empower them to make cost-savvy supply chain decisions that align with business strategy.

Finally, leveraging data to perform predictive analytics in logistics can help retailers reduce costs by making real-time procurement a real-life possibility. Identifying the ideal combination of carriers requires simulation analysis. If all carriers delivered to all regions with all services 100% on time, this would be a simpler exercise. But carriers don’t always perform at 100%, and by understanding where carriers perform well (and not) and leveraging this information within procurement simulations, retailers can rapidly evaluate predicted delivery performance and cost impacts, identifying the optimal carrier service combination based on factors such as service, price, capacity, and quality.

The benefits of e-commerce shipping solutions are clear: by rate shopping across a multi-carrier network, streamlining shipping processes, tracking parcel delivery movements, automating carrier invoice matching and reconciliation, and leveraging advanced analytics and reporting tools, retailers can meet customer delivery expectations at a palatable cost.

To learn how Logistyx can help your company satisfy customers and save on transportation spend, contact us today.​

 

E-Commerce Growth a Strong Signal for the Supply Chain and Logistics Job Market

Ongoing e-commerce growth fueled by a variety of factors, from COVID-19 to the increased popularity of online shopping, continues to change the way consumers shop and interact with brands. But what does it mean specifically for the supply chain and logistics industry?

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that, while some brick-and-mortar retail jobs have been eliminated, more jobs in fulfillment, delivery, and related e-commerce roles were created between 2007 and January 2020 than those lost, according to Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute. While the U.S. job market continued to dip after January, the proportional rise of supply chain and logistics industry jobs is predicted to continue, which is welcome news for people across the country looking to break into this high-growth industry.

In a global economy of growing consumer expectations with new brands entering the e-commerce space and well-established brands ramping up their e-commerce offerings, a digitized supply chain backed by an experienced team helps businesses stay competitive. With this continued trajectory towards a need for increased supply chain and logistics talent, digitally transforming the supply chain to increase flexibility, visibility and reduce costs will enable all the players in the market to effectively confront these challenges.

New call-to-actionAs the WSJ points out, automation in the workforce can create anxiety about job loss, while in fact, automation often creates more and better-paying jobs than it eliminates. Companies that adopt automation use it not only to streamline production, but to find new ways to offer valuable goods and help make its workforce more efficient.

Likewise, along with creating more jobs, advancements in automation create greater accessibility to supply chain technology; so organizations of all sizes can opt in to digital transformation and create stronger e-commerce strategies that will help them compete with a growing influx of e-commerce brands across categories.

For companies looking to enhance e-commerce strategies and the way they execute supply chain outcomes, automating processes for sourcing and delivering goods through technology can offer a clearer view into the supply chain and help organizations empower their workforce to drive better business decisions.

To learn more about how a multi-carrier shipping system can meet your e-commerce shipping needs, contact us today.

Boosting Sales with Ecommerce Fulfillment: Ken Fleming Shares Tips with Multichannel Merchant

Heightened customer expectations and growing demand for faster, more convenient delivery have changed the ecommerce fulfillment game for retailers. To better meet these needs, many retailers increasingly put the customer first – not the product – to build loyalty. Leveraging automation in ecommerce fulfillment processes can help retailers provide optimal service and streamline the customer experience without increasing costs.

In a recent article for Multichannel Merchant, Logistyx President Ken Fleming shares multiple creative angles for retailers to best optimize ecommerce fulfillment operations in the age of high consumer expectations and increased competition. While some view these modern changes to the supply chain as a challenge, Ken provides insights on how to turn them into an advantage. The key is establishing a proactive, data-driven strategy built around automated technology to optimize parcel shipping and better serve customers.

Ken’s advice offers retailers a fresh perspective on a variety of tactics they can implement or revise in their organizations to set themselves apart from the competition and stay modern. Read Ken’s full article on Multichannel Merchant: “How to Boost your Sales with Ecommerce Fulfillment.”

Logistics Viewpoints: Going Beyond Execution in E-Commerce Returns

Returns volume continues to increase rapidly alongside the growth of e-commerce and early estimates of the 2019-2020 holiday season reflect this trend. For example, according to Digital Commerce 360, UPS predicted a 26% year-over-year  increase in returns on January 2, which it calls National Returns Day; this would amount to 1.9 million returned packages on this day, via UPS alone.

Many top shippers are challenging the notion of returns as a “cost of doing business” they must passively accept. In fact, a lot can be done to counter the growth of returns from an operational perspective, and many of the world’s biggest retailers have identified game-changing insights by looking at the returns process more critically.

In a recent article for Logistics Viewpoints, Logistyx Technologies President and Chief Sales Officer Ken Fleming shares insights on the importance of incorporating brand values to establish an effective returns execution. Ken also offers guidance for moving beyond execution to get more analytical in examining returns data to unlock key business insights and combat the growth of or even reduce e-commerce returns.

With the right parcel shipping software solutions, sellers can adopt a more proactive approach to returns with the ability to effectively orchestrate e-commerce shipping and returns with greater precision and transparency. Utilizing a transportation management system (TMS) for parcel shipping can help companies proficiently determine the best return policy and automate the returns process while making it possible to see what’s happening across the entire shipping ecosystem in real-time to make more measured business decisions.

Read Ken’s full article on Logistics Viewpoints: “To the Point of No E-Commerce Returns