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.
E-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.