The Logistyx Shipping Quadrant: Choosing a TMS for Parcel Shipping Learn More

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.​


Survey Says All Signs Point to Sustained E-Commerce Growth

What will e-commerce growth look like after COVID-19? A recent Digital Commerce 360 article looks beyond the rise of e-commerce due to the pandemic and anticipates shopping trends in a post-COVID-19 world. The findings hail from an Accenture survey of 7,872 consumers in 18 global markets conducted May 5-11, 2020.

Consumers Continue to Embrace E-Commerce

While some consumers turned to e-commerce for the first time because of the pandemic, many plan to continue omnichannel shopping after COVID-19 subsides. Of those surveyed, 51% plan to keep ordering through mobile apps, 42% plan to continue leveraging curbside pickup, and 41% will interact with chatbots after the pandemic.

Many consumers have expressed their hesitance to return to in-person shopping. Only 29% surveyed feel comfortable shopping at non-essential retail locations and shopping centers, and while 40% feel comfortable making trips to the pharmacy or grocery store, the remaining percentage represents the majority of consumers who will appreciate as many online and modified in-person options as possible.

As more consumers embrace online shopping due to the COVID-19 outbreak, developing an omnichannel strategy to include e-commerce and utilizing advanced cloud-based multi-carrier shipping systems positions shippers for success in this changing environment by providing them with greater flexibility to achieve long-term cost savings and improve customer service and fulfillment. Having the technology to execute various shipping scenarios according to consumer preferences, including Buy Online Pick-up In Store (BOPIS), drop ship, and on-demand delivery, will open revenue streams while ensuring service consistency and customer satisfaction.

To learn how you can elevate your omnichannel shipping strategy to effectively take advantage of this unique moment of e-commerce growth, see how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help.

Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology: Part 3

As e-commerce continues to boom, asking more of your parcel shipping software to streamline deliveries, analyze data, and help inform future decisions is non-negotiable. The complexities of building and maintaining fully integrated and comprehensive parcel shipping technology make home-grown solutions less practical than ever.

In the inaugural post of this series, Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology, we examined some of the modern complexities of parcel shipping and the intricate technologies enabling this supply chain function. In today’s post, the third in the series, we look at how parcel shipping technology can positively impact customer service and the complexities involved with making it all work seamlessly.

In the age of online shopping, customers expect only the best and fastest service at the lowest possible cost. In response, shippers are doing all they can to empower their customer service teams to deliver a top-notch customer experience from the moment a customer places an order to the moment it is delivered.

Sharing a tracking number and being ready to answer questions and provide updates is no longer enough. E-commerce businesses and online retailers increasingly seek to communicate more proactively with their customers, and advanced multi-carrier shipping software helps them do this in several ways.

Seeing is Believing: Visibility and Self-Service

Advanced multi-carrier shipping software will go beyond rate shopping and labeling and include a Control Tower that allows customers to track shipments in real-time, any time they want, and without needing to visit carrier websites–but a lot has to happen behind the scenes to make this happen. Achieving full visibility from order placed to delivery completed involves integrating multi-carrier shipping software with systems for e-commerce, warehouse management, carrier tracking, and more.

New call-to-actionWith these integrations successfully in place, multi-carrier shipping software not only empowers customers with real-time, on-demand delivery event updates (parcel has left the warehouse, parcel has arrived at the distribution center, parcel is out for delivery, etc.); the technology also empowers customer service representatives to solve problems and answer questions with ease. In fact, accessible, timely delivery event tracking often helps answer questions before customers even ask, proactively alerting customers to unexpected delivery delays, for example. This added benefit can lower call volumes and wait times and enable customer service representatives to better help those customers who still want to speak with a representative.

The Pitfalls of a Home-Grown Solution

Integrating multi-carrier shipping software with carrier, partner, and enterprise systems is complex, and to make the software useful to customer service teams, these integrations have to be maintained.  Let’s use carrier tracking systems as an example.

After building native integrations between your home-grown multi-carrier shipping software and UPS, FedEx, DHL, and others, your developers’ work on those integrations isn’t over. The carriers will frequently update their software applications to a new version, which will likely break the integration your developers built in-house. As a result, your dev team will need to sink even more hours back into those particular integrations. (And you’d have to multiply this process by however many internally-built integrations you currently maintain.)

And while maintaining integrations helps with day-to-day operations, it doesn’t directly contribute to your company’s product(s), revenue, or strategy. Analyst firm Gartner reports that 90% of organizations “lack a postmodern application integration strategy and execution ability resulting in integration disorder, complexity, and cost.” In other words, in-house integrations and maintenance, being so low on the strategic totem pole, are often poorly-planned affairs.

Now translate this back to customer service.  The minute your carrier integration(s) is broken, so too is your customer’s ability to track his or her package on your website, not to mention your customer service team’s ability to identify the unwanted delivery event in advance and take remedial action…  So the unwanted delivery event catches all parties by surprise, and even worse: when your customer calls into customer service for support, your customer service rep lacks immediate access to the delivery data, forcing him or her to contact the carrier for information.  Suddenly, there’s inefficiency and a lack of transparency in the one arena where you can’t afford a sub-par performance: customer experience.

Learn More

Logistyx’s multi-carrier shipping software includes a Control Tower and features integrations with more than 8,500 carrier services as well as most leading supply chain and enterprise technologies, alleviating your dev team of the burden of integration maintenance and setting your customer service teams up for success around the clock.  Explore our solution today.

Next: Part 4: Labeling and Carrier Service Auditing
Previous: Part 2: Business Rules and Business Intelligence

Third-Party Logistics Leaders Finding Success in Evolving Shipping Environment

As with many other areas of logistics, the continued growth of e-commerce plays a key role in driving a persistent increase in the global third-party logistics (3PL) market, which is estimated to reach $1.3 trillion by 2024. Evolving e-commerce demands and changing consumer behaviors have led to increases in shipping volumes, carrier services, and parcel destinations, all of which increasingly complicate traditional 3PL operations.

To successfully navigate the challenges of today’s changing shipping environment, many prominent 3PLs have adopted technology to help reduce operational costs and improve efficiencies. Investing in technology empowers 3PLs to take a more advanced approach to end-to-end shipping execution.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingThat’s the case with many of the 3PL vendors in the 2020 Magic Quadrant for Third-Party Logistics Worldwide. Published by leading research and advisory firm, Gartner, this Magic Quadrant is a highly-regarded research report evaluating the capabilities and services of several global 3PL service providers, which supply chain leaders can leverage to inform and support the selection and appointment of global 3PL partners.

Logistyx would like to congratulate the innovative 3PL Leaders included in this year’s Magic Quadrant, many of which we’re proud to partner with, including DB Schenker, DHL, Kuehne + Nagel, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and XPO Logistics. These providers show an exemplary proficiency for understanding the market, trends and customer needs, and translating those into well-executed service offerings further specialized for any number of industries.

Working with Logistyx and utilizing our cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping enables a 3PL provider to successfully solve many shipping challenges, including the ability to:

  • Manage their own carrier contracts as well as their customers’ carrier contracts in one system
  • Increase carrier service choices, including multi-carrier services from FedEx, UPS, and the USPS, in addition to regional parcel carriers and same-day courier services such as Deliv and Shipt
  • Use “zone skipping” to improve customer service and decrease transportation costs
  • Aggregate and normalize shipping data across carriers, so 3PLs know when deliveries moving to a particular region, customer, or via a particular carrier are not meeting service levels

If you’re a 3PL looking to compete with the leaders in your industry and increase your parcel shipping execution capabilities, contact us today.

7 Strategies to Reduce the Cost of Return Shipping

Peak shipping season will be here before we know it.  (Although there’s an argument to be made the current pandemic IS peak shipping season…) And as retailers move towards the end of 2020, returns will predictably increase.  But just because retailers can predict this surge doesn’t mean managing it is easy. Returns management, when left without a strategy, can negatively impact profits.  Consider, shoppers return 15 to 40% of what they buy online, whereas only five to 10% of in-store purchases come back. To further put those statistics in context: in the U.S., Statista reports the cost of returns has increased by approximately 75% in the last four years, and this number doesn’t account for restocking expenses and inventory losses.

Here are seven strategies to simplify returns and control costs:

1. Encourage In-Store Returns and Drop-Offs

If you are an omnichannel retailer and your store has re-opened, you can encourage shoppers to drop returns back to your store. By using existing infrastructure as fulfillment and returns centers for online consumers, retailers can reduce shipping costs and increase customer footfall. Buy Online Return In Store (BORIS) not only costs less for retailers, but pre-pandemic, many customers preferred it. Case in point: a 2018 UPS study reported 58% of shoppers in the US prefer returning an item to a store. The same is true for 45% of Europeans and 64% of Canadians.

2. Plan Ahead with Return Labels

Consumers want convenience when it comes to returns, and multi-carrier shipping software enables retailers to meet this need. Multi-carrier shipping software will automatically print the appropriate return shipping labels when the order is fulfilled.  Retailers then place those return labels into the cartons, enabling a simple, fast, and seamless return process regardless of whether the consumer returns the product to the store or ships the product back to the retailer. And while convenient for the consumer, equally beneficial is the retailer’s ability to pre-select the carrier service that makes the most financial sense for return shipping, thereby controlling transportation costs and minimizing return shipping errors.

3. Deliver Parcels On-Time

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingThirty-eight percent of seasonal and holiday purchases are returned, and one factor contributing to this statistic is late delivery. Who needs holiday presents after the holiday? Multi-carrier shipping software with a Control Tower helps retailers ensure goods reach customers as promised, even during peak season.  The Control Tower 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. 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. Track Returns

Returns present retailers with an inventory problem, because any products that are in the hands of the consumer, pending return, or in the process of being returned, is inventory that is unavailable to refurbish or redistribute.   However, as long as retailers are tracking parcels on the outbound shipping leg, they can use the same system to give them visibility over return shipments – and available inventory for resale – from the moment they are collected until the moment they arrive back at the warehouse.

With an accurate picture of expected return volumes, retailers can assign an appropriate level of workers and resources to manage the returns and ensure the goods can be swiftly put back in stores or warehouses for resale.

Moreover, tracking returns protects both the customer and the retailer. For example, some retailers now provide a refund to the customer as soon as the carrier scans the return parcel.  While there is a level of risk to the retailer because the product might not be in good enough condition to put back into stock, customers are more likely to be loyal if they know they will be refunded quickly.  In the UK, for example, an increasing number of retailers are starting to accept Klarna, a service that makes it possible for consumers to avoid paying a retailer altogether for a purchase they subsequently return.

5. Don’t Overlook International Customers

Cross-border retail is becoming the norm. E-commerce platform Shopify reported 57% of shoppers worldwide make international purchases.  While good for revenue, this complicates returns.  Some carrier networks manage returns better than others, and therefore return shipping processes aren’t standardized across the world.

Therefore, it’s important to build a returns process that accounts for cross-border commerce, and multi-carrier shipping software can help.  For example, retailers using a single carrier for outbound shipments may need to consider alternate carrier networks for returns. With multi-carrier shipping software, retailers can rate shop the return delivery options of global carriers in their transportation network and select the services that will satisfy customers at the lowest cost.

6. Take Care of the Environment

Most retailers want to re-sell returned items when they come back in good condition. In some cases, however, warehouse managers lack concrete guidelines for determining when a return can be re-stocked and when it can be destroyed.  Unfortunately, approximately 30% of returns end up in a landfill. Scrapping items that could be re-sold, even in a secondary market, impacts profits and takes a toll on the environment.

7. Avoid the Returns Process Altogether

Some companies are trying to avoid returns altogether, with wrong or lost orders replaced at no cost to the consumer.  For example, in the United States, pet supplier asks customers to donate any incorrect orders to a local animal shelter.  Why would they do this?  They avoid the cost of dealing with the return, which may be higher than the cost of the new delivery. And in the case of prescription medications, seasonal products, or those with a short expiration date, the retailer may be unable to process and resell the products within a suitable timeframe.

Find the Right Technology Partner to Optimize Returns

In times like these, retailers need a partner in the logistics space on whom they can count – one who can help streamline the returns process and reduce transportation and operational costs.  Ready to find that partner? Talk to a Logistyx expert today.

EPSNews: COVID-19 Pandemic Creates Persistent Uptick in E-Commerce

With COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting brick-and-mortar retail, online shopping is experiencing significant growth and could be poised to exceed the typical 20 percent annual worldwide growth figure e-commerce experienced over the last 10 years.

For instance, COVID-19 inflated electronics prices for the first time in years, with sales up 58 percent online, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index (DEI). With many consumers sheltering-in-place and setting up home offices and classrooms, electronics like computers, webcams and audio equipment have been in high demand.

In a recent article for EPSNews, Logistyx Technologies President Ken Fleming discusses the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled e-commerce and how adopting cloud shipping technology can provide retailers the flexibility to adjust to subsequent changes and help them minimize order fulfillment costs. For example, growing customer expectations, rising competition in the marketplace, and the increased prevalence of supply chain disruptions compelled many retailers to embrace digitization and pivot to an omnichannel model that includes a strong e-commerce strategy.

With e-commerce surging amid the pandemic, Ken also shares various shipping scenarios retailers can implement – such as Buy Online, Pickup in Store (BOPIS) – to adhere to social distancing recommendations, while offering customers cheaper delivery options to keep costs in check.

Even as COVID-19 outbreak restrictions gradually ease, many consumers may be reluctant to return to shopping in stores, likely leading to a sustained uptick in e-commerce through the remainder of 2020 and beyond. Retailers can find long-term success by viewing e-commerce as a key sales channel and identifying how they can make omnichannel order fulfillment better.

Read Ken’s full article on EPSNews: “How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Driving E-Commerce.”

CustomerThink: 5 Simple Tactics for Saving on E-Commerce Shipping

As e-commerce increases and choice in retailers continues to grow, keeping costs in check while striving to meet customers’ exacting expectations can be difficult. Retailers generally want to keep shipping and packaging costs as low as possible to save money, while customers want safe packaging of goods and fast delivery times.

In a recent article for CustomerThink, Logistyx Technologies Vice President of Marketing & Communications Lisa Henthorn shares five fundamental shipping tactics e-commerce businesses can implement to reduce costs and satisfy customers’ demands. Lisa explores key shipping methods like selecting cost-efficient packaging, identifying a logical shipping method, consolidating orders, using predictive analytics data, and planning for returns.

Laying the groundwork with these simple, yet effective tactics helps businesses ensure their e-commerce shipping strategy connects seamlessly to maximize cost savings and better serve customers.

Read Lisa’s full article on CustomerThink: “How to Save on E-Commerce Shipping.”

How the COVID-19 Outbreak is Driving E-Commerce

For the last ten years, e-commerce worldwide has been increasing by approximately twenty percent each year. While it’s too early to tell what e-commerce growth for 2020 will be, with COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting brick-and-mortar retail, online shopping is experiencing significant growth and we may be poised to exceed the twenty percent figure.  In fact, retail platforms globally experienced a six percent increase in traffic between January and March alone.

Furthermore, history suggests a sustained uptick in e-commerce is likely. In the early 2000s, the SARS outbreak made e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba and household names–and neither platform has since forfeited their winning positions.

Omnichannel Models Build Resiliency

Many traditional retailers were struggling before the Covid-19 outbreak. The confluence of competition from online retailers, changing shopping behavior, and unpalatable operating costs such as rent and insurance, created a formidable marketplace.  Throw an unforeseen pandemic into the equation, when retailers that rely on in-store sales can no longer sell their goods, and suddenly it seems inevitable that some retailers will disappear.

New call-to-actionThe pandemic has really highlighted the importance of digital transformation. Retailers with a strong e-commerce strategy have had more flexibility than their brick-and-mortar counterparts and are therefore more likely to survive a supply chain disruption–and many retailers are not only surviving but thriving in the current environment. For example, reports suggest consumers are now spending approximately $11,000 per second on Amazon. And Amazon isn’t an outlier. Retailers such as Wayfair and Bed, Bath & Beyond are also thriving. In fact, Wayfair more than doubled online sales in March.

As the COVID-19 outbreak restrictions ease, forward-thinking retailers will learn from these examples and embrace digitization, moving to an omnichannel model that includes e-commerce channels. Growing customer expectations, rising competition in the marketplace, and the increase in the prevalence of supply chain disruptions leave them no other choice.  But to successfully pivot to an omnichannel model, retailers will need to look beyond website and marketing technologies in their digital transformation and also make investments in the right supply chain technology.

Cloud Multi-Carrier Shipping Technology Builds Agility

Any retailer pivoting to an omnichannel model that includes e-commerce will need to minimize order fulfillment costs. Shipping products to consumers is expensive, particularly in the last mile, and post-pandemic, decreasing net landed cost of goods will be critical. This means retailers will have to examine their parcel shipping operations and implementing and optimizing a multi-carrier parcel shipping strategy will be a key ingredient in cost control.

In a multi-carrier parcel shipping strategy, retailers contract with multiple carriers and then “rate shop” carrier services so they use the most cost-effective shipping option according to their business rules, shipment delivery location, package size, and shipment delivery window. To do so, the retailer utilizes a cloud multi-carrier shipping system, which goes beyond anything a single carrier-supplied parcel shipping system can accomplish.

For example, cloud multi-carrier shipping software enables retailers to easily use “zone skipping” 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, multi-carrier shipping software also ensures 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, and they can consolidate carriers to ensure they get the best possible price.

Finally, integration between a multi-carrier shipping system and other supply chain systems, including an ERP, WMS, and OMS, increases responsiveness.  This means when supply chain disruptions occur or customer preferences change, retailers have the flexibility to execute­ any number of parcel shipping scenarios:

  • Buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS)
  • Buy online, drop ship
  • In-store purchase, home delivery
  • Ship from store
  • Drop ship
  • Buy online, return in store
  • Same-day/on-demand delivery

When parcel shipping technology is integrated to other systems of record, retailers enhance the flow of products both within and without facilities, turning operations toward omnichannel success and future proofing the organization against additional changes to come.

E-Commerce Play During COVID-19: Buy Online, Pick Up in Store (BOPIS)

The costs associated with both final mile delivery as well as returns can have a substantial impact on retail margins. Therefore, as e-commerce has increased, many retailers have encouraged customers to consider cheaper delivery options such as “Buy Online, Pick Up in Store” (BOPIS) to keep these costs in check. Under normal conditions, BOPIS increases store traffic, creates an opportunity for additional purchases, and allows customers to return the item while in-store.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowes and Michaels have leaned heavily on BOPIS, offering curbside pick-up to adhere to social distancing recommendations. In addition, a large number of retailers have partnered with carriers to widen their pick-up location footprint. For example, Walmart customers can retrieve their online orders from a FedEx location, and retailer Michaels has a partnership in place with UPS.  As BOPIS is increasingly adopted by more retail chains, it could easily become a fulfillment staple once the coronavirus curve flattens.

Pandemics Like COVID-19 May Fade, but E-Commerce Will Remain

Our current situation will have lasting effects, one of which could be a greater-than-anticipated increase in e-commerce. Retailers that are currently looking at e-commerce as a key sales channel and identifying how they can make omnichannel order fulfillment better are going to win in the long-term.  To learn more about how a multi-carrier shipping system can meet your e-commerce shipping needs, watch our expert video.

Logistics Viewpoints: Omnichannel Retailers Skillfully Adapt in a Crisis

As early as February, omnichannel retailers were responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, initiating contingency plans for redirecting inventory to retail stores in other regions to diminish fallout. Large scale changes of this nature don’t come easily for most retailers, but those with truly integrated omnichannel systems can see, project demand for and shift inventory with relative ease, just one of the many ways omnichannel retailers can respond to a global pandemic or any number of disruptions that global supply chains may encounter.

In a recent article for Logistics Viewpoints, Logistyx Technologies President Ken Fleming shares how omnichannel organizations had many more options available to them to initially react to the pandemic and look ahead to recovery and preparation modes.

With an eye on how quickly the world in which we operate can change, more retailers have come to realize the benefits of a dynamic, multi-carrier approach to order fulfillment and parcel shipping, along with using fulfillment analytics to improve the process for critical decision making.

Learning from the examples of others, many retailers are laying the omnichannel groundwork to lessen the impact of this pandemic and better prepare for possible disruptions going forward.

Read Ken’s full article on Logistics Viewpoints: “Powerful Reactions: Omnichannel Responds Well in a Crisis” and drop us a line for assistance in preparing for the next supply chain disruption.

Are you Confident in your Omnichannel Retail Strategy?

Retailers, even those with mature omnichannel strategies, can have doubts. A successful omnichannel approach — the model of ordering, shipping, receiving, and returning products in absolutely any channel — requires an optimal balance of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retail, and fulfillment and distribution capabilities.  For example:

  • Buy online, pick-up in store
  • Buy online, drop ship
  • In-store purchase, home delivery
  • Ship from store
  • Drop ship
  • Buy online, return in store
  • Same-day/on-demand delivery

It’s a difficult balance to reach.

And as consumer demands for lightning-quick delivery times continue to grow, tackling an omnichannel strategy is critical to remain competitive. However, as retailers refine their strategy, they often miss one factor that will make the model more successful and allow for rapid scale of business operations.

Want to learn what it is? We’ve got the answer.

What are Retailers Missing in their Omnichannel Strategy?

Many retailers already have most of the necessary components to execute an omnichannel strategy: premium websites, advanced order management systems, and optimal customer service processes, to name a few; yet, even some of the top retail giants are still running their warehouse operations through carrier-supplied parcel systems.

If you haven’t updated your parcel shipping capabilities in the last ten years, then you could be in their company.

What benefits are retailers missing without a modern parcel shipping system? Two big ones: excellent customer service and a high profit margin. Parcel shipping is arguably one of the most important pieces of the omnichannel puzzle — and it affects both customer service and profit margin outcomes alike. And too many businesses continue to overlook its significance.

How Carrier-Supplied Parcel Shipping Systems Stall Your Business Operations

Successful order fulfillment goes beyond order management and warehouse management. A parcel shipping system is actually responsible for a big piece of the puzzle: how, and how quickly, the order gets to the consumer. However, older, carrier-supplied parcel shipping systems aren’t conducive to exponential growth in multiple sales channels, nor do they empower the shipper to easily leverage a multi-carrier shipping strategy–leaving opportunities to rate shop for low-cost, efficient delivery methods untapped and introducing unwanted costs into the distribution model.

The impact? Slower delivery times and higher costs getting your product to the consumer. And as shipping volumes increase, these costs add up and the consequences can seriously affect your bottom line.

A Cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) is the Modern Alternative to Carrier-Supplied Parcel Shipping Systems

If you’re striving to scale your business, while optimizing customer service and increasing profit margins, it’s time to revisit parcel shipping. An effective omnichannel strategy must include a cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping, which goes beyond anything a carrier-supplied parcel shipping system can accomplish.

A cloud TMS for parcel seamlessly integrates with a retailer’s system of record to automate high volume, multi-carrier, omnichannel shipping.  It automatically selects the right carrier service for each order according to carrier contracts and business rules; creates or acquires the tracking, labels, and documents;  monitors delivery events and automates event exception workflows; manages the manifest and end-of-day processes; and analyzes carrier performance.  Retailers can satisfy customers’ delivery requirements and drive down the cost of shipping–transforming logistics into a profit center within the business.

Furthermore, a cloud TMS for parcel also ensures 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, and they can consolidate carriers to ensure they get the best possible price.

New call-to-actionIf your parcel shipping capabilities don’t align with your omnichannel retail strategy, you’re likely missing out on potential benefits and impeding the scalability of your businesses. And even if you think your omnichannel strategy is mature, it may be time to revisit the latest tools and technology to further advance your approach.

Consumers’ Shipping Preferences – Whether Free or Fast, Retailers Must Remain Flexible

As e-commerce grows, consumers’ preferences continue to expand and evolve. The prevalence of online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba have raised the bar on shipping options, with many consumers increasingly expecting free shipping and faster shipping.

In the wake of the COVID-19 global health crisis and subsequent stay-at-home mandates, many consumers have turned to online shopping to buy necessities, creating even greater demand. This unprecedented uptick in online orders even impacted e-commerce giant Amazon, with many deliveries delayed as long as a month on some items.

Flexibility is Key

New call-to-actionWhether during a pandemic or when assessing everyday e-commerce shipping strategies, to help effectively address these challenges, retailers need to offer flexible shipping options to cater to a wide array of online shopping preferences.

Consumers are often willing to compromise on delivery time in exchange for free shipping, for example. According to a global consumer insights study from Radial, only 24% of U.S. shoppers would be willing to pay up to $10 for delivery, while 64% expect free delivery for all their online purchases. Deloitte also found that 85% of shoppers prefer free shipping over fast shipping and, among those consumers, 80% are willing to wait three days or more.

Ultimately, offering fast and flexible shipping services will help retailers maximize the customer experience, foster brand loyalty, and remain competitive.

Defining Fast Shipping

Fast shipping doesn’t always mean deliveries need to arrive next day. Undoubtedly, Amazon has changed the game and shaped consumers’ higher expectations by offering two-day, then next day, and sometimes even same-day shipping. In the last year, big box retailers like Target and Walmart upped the ante by matching one-day shipping capabilities. Still, Radial found that only 35% percent of Americans expect their goods to arrive in two days or less.

While customers want fast deliveries, their expectations are more reasonable when certain orders may take longer than others if they’re offered alternative shipping choices. Considering the general needs of their own customers and catering to the unique needs, location, and preferences of each customer can help retailers ensure success by offering customers the right shipping rates and options.

Carrier Considerations

One of the most effective ways to meet customers’ shipping needs is to explore various carrier service options to determine the best value for each parcel shipment. Comparing carrier rates and services can help retailers provide fast and cost-effective shipping.

In some regions, local delivery companies and couriers may deliver more quickly to customers than the big carriers at very competitive rates. In many cases, the best delivery option is the United States Postal Service (USPS), and retailers should be sure to consider it. USPS is, after all, often the least expensive service for last-mile delivery. Its Priority Mail service delivers most domestic packages in under two days with no hidden fees or surcharges and includes tracking capabilities.

Yet, just when USPS has proven itself essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, its future seems especially tenuous. As Intelligent Audit states, USPS remains an important partner for many e-commerce businesses; if it were to fold, the effects would mean greater strain on other carriers like UPS and FedEx.

Stay Agile to Serve Customer Needs

A Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping empowers retailers to remain flexible to adjust to consumers’ unique shipping preferences while achieving on-time delivery at the optimal cost. Logistyx optimizes carrier service selection – whether shipping domestically using one carrier or shipping worldwide using 100, the right parcel shipping strategy can help retailers excel at providing customers with a quality delivery experience.

Retailers can utilize Logistyx to better understand customers’ delivery preferences by leveraging data to analyze, optimize, and inform shipping strategies. They can also tap into an unmatched multi-carrier network and automatically select carriers to provide fast and affordable deliveries.

As e-commerce continues its rapid growth and platforms like Amazon keep raising shipping expectations, a TMS for parcel shipping can equip retailers with the advanced tools required to compete and effectively fulfill consumers’ evolving shipping preferences.

Learn more about how the Logistyx Parcel TMS can help you achieve efficiencies in e-commerce shipping.

Multi-channel versus Omni-channel Retail: What’s the Difference?

When online shopping, customers have the luxury of placing small, frequent orders, and they can demand shipments be delivered with Amazon-like speed directly to their doorsteps, workplaces, or other convenient pickup locations. And as choice in retail continues to grow, customer loyalty is harder to secure. On-time delivery to the customer’s destination of choice can make or break an opportunity for repeat business, and retailers are increasingly dismayed to discover that one delivery delay can lead customers to purchase from another online merchant.

As merchants strive to meet customers’ exacting expectations, endlessly chasing Amazon’s same-day/next-day delivery model, many deploy either a multi-channel or omni-channel distribution strategy to optimize success.  Here we explore how the two models vary when it comes to customer experience, and how they’re vastly different when it comes to back-end operations, from warehouse fulfillment centers to shipping delivery timelines.

What is multi-channel retail?

Multi-channel retail centers around the product, placing it in places of prominence, both physical and online, to create more sales opportunities. The assumption is customers will choose the channel that best meets their needs.

The upside?  The customer has multiple channels by which to discover and purchase their product, and the retailer has many sales channels at their disposal. The downside?  In a multi-channel strategy, all channels may be available, but not all are integrated. Each sales channel is often managed as an independent silo, from order processing to fulfillment and shipping. The customer has separate purchase opportunities, but lacks a seamless purchasing and shipping experience.  For example, buying online and picking up in the store is difficult for a retailer to execute and may not be available to customers.

What is omni-channel retail?

New call-to-actionIn an omni-channel retail model, the customer experience and brand equity are front and center. The goal is to leverage various sales channels to formulate a seamless purchasing and shipping experience for the customer.  In other words, the omni-channel model accounts for the entire purchasing process, from the customer first discovering the product… to ordering the product… to receiving the product, with fluid movement between sales channels. A customer can easily order a product online and pick it up in the store… or purchase the product in the store and deliver it to their home… or order it from one store and pick it up in another. Warehousing, order, and delivery data are synchronized between each channel, providing the retailer with full transparency into inventory and into how the order moves through the retailer’s fulfillment and shipping processes.

The Impact on Order Fulfillment & Shipping

The warehouse process, while not visible to the buyer, plays a major role in the customer experience. Every shipment is a key point for customer engagement, and the fulfillment process can make or break the experience. Failure to fulfill an order accurately and/or deliver it on time where promised, and all bets are off.

Multi-channel Fulfillment

In the multi-channel model, product fulfillment and shipping are carried out separately through each channel. These siloed processes can increase time and costs; in fact, order data in one channel often doesn’t reach other sales channels, causing the retailer to miss cost-saving order consolidation and streamlined shipping opportunities.

Omni-channel Fulfillment

The omni-channel model offers a more flexible fulfillment and shipping experience for both the merchant and the customer. By leaning on a variety of order completion strategies, omni-channel fulfillment allows the retailer to choose the shipping and fulfillment option that makes the most sense for each order.  For example, the merchant can fulfill an order directly from a store… or from a distribution center… or by moving inventory from a distribution center to a store and then fulfilling the order from the store. In doing so, the merchant is better positioned to meet customer expectations for delivery timelines and accuracy.

With the right omni-channel strategy in place, retailers can establish an approach that improves customer service and profitability. Plus, by centralizing all product data in one database, the retailer can offer more flexibility, choice, and accuracy in the shopping experience.  Stock-outs are less likely to occur, and customers can receive real-time information regarding a product’s availability at a designated location.

Omni-channel Strategy is the Key to Streamlined Operations

Today, one of the keys to success for modern retailers is the ability to achieve cost-effective parcel shipping while meeting stringent delivery demands.  Without an omni-channel strategy in place, this becomes difficult and the customer experience can suffer.

It’s time to improve the experience for all of your customers by implementing an omni-channel retail and fulfillment strategy that connects sales channels, payment methods, fulfillment, and shipping.

Need assistance implementing or modernizing your retail omni-channel fulfillment strategy?  Get in touch with a Logistyx expert today.