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An Introduction to Multi-Carrier Parcel Shipping

It’s no secret that what happens behind the scenes in your supply chain impacts the experience a customer receives with your product. Any flaw — be it a lack of product availability, an incorrect package label, or a carrier delay — affects the quality and consistency of a customer’s experience with your brand. Of course, no organization is perfect (and getting the right supply chain technology stack in place certainly takes some work), but it’s often the organizations that leverage multi-carrier parcel shipping technology that have the advantage.

What is multi-carrier parcel shipping technology?

The elevator pitch: multi-carrier parcel shipping technology is a category of shipping technology that focuses on helping organizations increase transportation cost savings and improve on-time delivery rates.

The deep dive: multi-carrier parcel shipping technology emerged as a solution to address the complexities and operational strain high volume, global parcel shipping places on organizations. The system makes it easy to increase shipping agility by providing shippers with the ability to quickly onboard, leverage, and optimize multiple carrier services, including regional and last-mile providers, while also producing the data and analytics necessary to uncover opportunities to increase savings and on-time delivery performance. It’s a lifeline to logistics professionals seeking to rapidly increase their available shipping options to manage any distribution issues that arise and achieve on-time delivery rates, and it serves as a reliable method to reduce transportation and fulfillment costs. Typical quantitative ROI calculations show the investment payback well within 12 months of implementation.

What is Logistyx TME?

At Logistyx, we recognize that supply chain executives work at their highest potential when instead of staffing data analysts and fulfillment operations experts (and carrying the significant overhead that comes with large personnel budgets), they can instead leverage a data driven, unified software solution to improve the metrics on which they’re measured: ensuring carrier capacity and flexibility in any shipping climate, providing delivery excellence and customer satisfaction, and containing costs – to name a few! Therefore, leading shippers around the world turn to our multi-carrier shipping technology, Logistyx TME, to simplify the complexity of their parcel shipping operations by:

  • Centralizing all shipping functions: The Logistyx multi-carrier parcel shipping system enables shippers to execute shipments throughout an enterprise regardless of multiple shipping origins and/or multiple modes of transportation. With a single database and single-user interface, rating and routing rules can be set for all locations while gaining efficiencies through managing all transactions in one system.
  • Ensuring carrier compliance: Today’s common parcel carriers have stringent requirements for meeting compliance programs for all their service levels (next-day, express, ground, etc.). These compliance programs address all facets of the shipping process from rating, creation of proprietary bar coding, EDI transmission of shipping manifests, and track-and-trace functionality, to name a few. Logistyx’s multi-carrier parcel shipping technology ensures that each shipment, regardless of carrier, follows these requirements.
  • Rate shopping: Logistyx’s multi-carrier parcel shipping technology rates shipments and compares those rates to other contracted carriers for the same weight, destination, and delivery times. Automated rate shopping selects the optimal carrier for the shipment at the time the order is received instead of doing this later in the shipping workflow, thus alleviating constraints that may occur during the actual shipping process. Logistyx also shops between the parcel mode and the LTL freight mode for those loads that could use either mode.
  • Optimizing transportation by using business rules: The Logistyx multi-carrier parcel shipping system “filters” requests through business rules execution. These rules can be turned on or off, thus giving the shipper more control over the automated shipping methods used to control process flow or customer transit preferences and ultimately reduce the cost of the transaction.
  • Improving Customer Service – Using the Logistyx multi-carrier parcel shipping system commonly results in marked improvements in communication and better results in serving the customer. Proactive functions like email notification and immediate track-and-trace enablement of a shipment with the carrier have been shown to result in a significant decrease of calls to customer service. Ultimately, satisfied customers translate to repeat customers and increased business.
  • Leveraging Business Intelligence: Once the Logistyx system has collected all the shipping origins, transportation modes, shipping transactions, and business rules in ONE database, the enterprise shipping information is more readily accessible for business intelligence reporting. In most cases, this will be the first time the shipper is able to compare historical information of multiple-mode shipping transactions occurring across multi-location shipping origins.

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Who needs multi-carrier parcel shipping technology?

Anyone involved in the planning, execution, or optimization of parcel shipping can benefit from the efficiency, savings, and insight a multi-carrier parcel shipping solution brings. With that said, there are several key user types likely to benefit the most. Here are a few:

Fulfillment Executives

The last thing fulfillment executives want are inflexible shipping workflows that put their order fulfillment metrics at risk. Therefore, fulfillment executives rely on multi-carrier parcel shipping systems to enable nimble warehouse operations and inform transportation decisions, empowering them to successfully respond to e-commerce growth and execute timely omnichannel order fulfillment movements such as ship-to-store, ship-from store, and returns.

Procurement Executives

Procurement executives negotiate carrier contracts for their companies. They want to keep costs down without sacrificing quality and maintain relationships with carriers’ sales teams. The depth of data involved in procuring the most valuable contracts is enormous, and the variables are countless, so procurement professionals need immediate, accurate, and easy-to-digest information. With the help of a multi-carrier parcel shipping system, procurement executives gain insight into complex, oft-shifting transportation data points, which improves their projection capabilities and allows them to procure the most valuable shipping contracts.

E-Commerce Executives

Behind every online purchase is a team of e-commerce executives who are responsible for keeping customers happy, which includes ensuring each shipment is delivered on time and in full. In their world, multi-carrier parcel shipping software is welcome technology that keeps order fulfillment moving smoothly. They look for carrier-agnostic, global shipping solutions that scale – enabling them to simplify the complexity of high volume, global parcel shipping and service millions.

Learn More about Multi-Carrier Parcel Shipping Technology

The goal of multi-carrier parcel shipping software is to help organizations improve their parcel shipping outcomes. It enables organizations to ship to anywhere from anywhere, while ensuring they can meet customer expectations for faster, transparent delivery. It gives them greater, more proactive control of their parcel shipping networks not only by supporting shipping processes but also by aggregating data that provides better insights into parcel operations.

Interested in learning more about how a multi-carrier parcel shipping solution can help your organization take control of its logistics? See why you’ll love Logistyx TME.

Logistyx President Ken Fleming: Pandemic “opened a lot of eyes to inherent fulfillment challenges”

Healthcare Purchasing News recently published an article exploring ways to future-proof the supply chain as we emerge from the global pandemic. Among the many experts cited is Logistyx President Ken Fleming, who argues the pandemic “opened a lot of eyes to inherent fulfillment challenges and exacerbated them for many.” Ken continues in the piece:

‘“Exploding e-commerce order volumes, increasing carrier capacity crunches, shipping surcharges and price increases, and, of course, heightened customer expectations for rapid and inexpensive shipping have all complicated order fulfillment and logistics for shippers around the world,” he observed.

“To effectively manage these and keep them from destroying both customer satisfaction and the bottom line, companies should implement a cloud-based multi-carrier parcel shipping solution, replete with advanced business intelligence,” Fleming said. “By integrating a multi-carrier shipping solution into a supply chain tech stack, companies no longer have to ship with just one or two carriers. Instead, they can tap into an extensive carrier network that includes dozens of regional carriers, making it easier and faster to add and maintain carriers’ rates and services and enabling them to quickly react to carrier capacity limitations, surcharges and rate increases to better control costs and maintain on-time deliveries.

“The ability to make business decisions based on shipping data has never been more important, especially considering the challenges of the last year,” he continued. “As companies strive to meet the demands of consumers, they must harness and leverage shipping data to identify and gain control of parcel shipping opportunities.”’

Read the full article at Healthcare Purchasing News for further insights from Ken and other experts on how to future-proof the supply chain to more effectively avoid and manage future disruptions.

Logistyx’s Mike Eisner Discusses Predictive Analytics for Parcel Shipping with Parcel and Postal Technology International

Parcel and Postal Technology International published its September issue featuring an article with industry professionals discussing the growing importance and adoption of predictive logistics in parcel shipping. Among the experts featured was Logistyx’s very own Vice President of Business Intelligence, Mike Eisner.

Consumers expect fast and predictable deliveries, while carriers who are under strain to meet delivery commitments counter volume growth with threshold caps during peak times and continue to implement increased peak surcharges. It’s left shippers hungry for reliable data to help them evaluate the options within their planning and decision making to meet customer expectations.

“The use of predictive analytics has risen dramatically over the past five years, but Covid has really forced and expanded its use – especially among the larger shippers,” Eisner says. “Consumers have evolved, and markets have to adapt, as to the carrier options that are available. The need for insights to support the ability for faster, more responsive decision making with supply chain problems has never been more paramount.”

The data sources aren’t unfamiliar, Eisner adds. Carriers typically have shipping execution, status, and invoicing data to work with, and a good understanding of route optimization and the savings it can provide. The added layer is third-party sources, such as traffic and weather information, and creating or refining the algorithms that help users understand the bigger picture and calculate efficient routes in real time, including a plan B when required.

Mike shares numerous key insights throughout the article – read it in full in the September issue of Parcel and Postal Technology International.

Contact Logistyx today to learn more about our industry-leading Business Intelligence solutions and how we can help you navigate the new normal of parcel shipping plagued by carrier surcharges, capacity crunches, and threshold caps.

Watch Now: Find Your True Parcel Shipping Data

USPS Announces Peak Season Surcharges

Following suit with other major carriers like FedEx and UPS, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced peak season surcharges for 2021. According to the announcements:

“The planned peak-season pricing, which was approved by the Governors of the Postal Service on Aug. 5, would affect prices on commercial and retail domestic competitive parcels – Priority Mail Express (PME), Priority Mail (PM), First-Class Package Service (FCPS), Parcel Select, USPS Retail Ground, and Parcel Return Service. International products would be unaffected. Pending favorable review by the PRC, the temporary rates would go into effect at 12:00 a.m., Central Time, on Oct. 3, 2021, and remain in place until 12:00 a.m., Central Time, Dec. 26, 2021.”

Though less common from the USPS, the peak season surcharge isn’t unprecedented; they announced a similar surcharge for commercial customers ahead of a 2020 peak season when parcel volumes and capacity shortages were both anticipated and later came to fruition. The 2021 surcharge extends beyond commercial shippers to individuals shipping even single packages.

USPS peak season surcharges

Preparing for Peak Season

Capacity issues appear poised to rear their ugly head during the upcoming holiday season, meaning retailers should consider alternative fulfillment options such as buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS), ship-from-store, and incorporating more local last-mile and regional carrier services into the mix. By providing an omnichannel sales and fulfillment approach, retailers can ensure they’re offering customers the greatest flexibility and pricing possible during the critical peak season.

Retailers should also employ a multi-carrier shipping strategy to increase stability and quickly react to carrier surcharges and rate increases to control costs. Logistyx offers an extensive carrier network that includes dozens of regional carriers – including LaserShip, OnTrac and Speedee Delivery – making it easier and faster to add and maintain carriers’ rates and services in a shipper’s carrier network.

With a cloud multi-carrier shipping system, businesses can maintain the levels of service customers are accustomed to despite surging demand, carrier capacity crunches and increased shipping rates by automatically comparing carriers’ rates and service levels to select the optimal carrier for each shipment.

Contact us today to learn more about how a cloud-based multi-carrier shipping system can help your business optimize parcel shipping ahead of peak season to help control costs.

Logistyx’s Ken Fleming Puts the Last Mile First in an Article for Supply & Demand Chain Executive

The last mile of any delivery is the most critical piece, argues Logistyx President Ken Fleming in a new article for Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Getting products off trucks and into customers’ hands is the top priority, and shippers should take a proactive approach and prioritize the last mile to ensure this happens on time.

Ken argues that shippers can reduce costs and meet customer expectations by making a few strategic decisions that keep the last mile first:

  1. Utilize a multicarrier network for shipping
  2. Reconsider inventory and fulfillment capabilities
  3. Trust business intelligence and data

Only once the details of the last mile are in order should shippers examine the rest of the shipping journey.

Read Ken’s full article, “Putting the Last Mile First,” for the details of each strategic decision and see if your last-mile approach will pass muster.

How to Create Resilient Parcel Shipping Workflows

Cloud-based technology to execute parcel shipping workflows is critical to establishing resilience and business agility.

There is no doubt, the way we all shop has been transformed.  This means what was once the status quo in parcel shipping has fundamentally changed, and some retailers have simply not been able to keep up.

While the likes of Walgreens, Belk, and Foot Locker have made headlines, many other retailers lacked the infrastructure (technology, carrier network, systems integrations, etc.) to execute buy-online-pick-up-curbside (BOPIC), ship-from-store, or same-day delivery, and they were threatened with collapse when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. These companies are now under immense pressure to successfully navigate peak season and get back on track.

One thing has become clear: cloud-based technology to execute parcel shipping workflows is critical to establishing resilience and business agility.  As a result, we are seeing an overhaul of parcel shipping practices across retailers, manufacturers, and logistics providers alike. Businesses are no longer just paying lip service to cloud; they have launched head-first into it.

The Definition of “Cloud”

“Cloud” is a term that is often overused and under-delivered. For example, many multi-carrier parcel shipping solution providers state their technology is cloud-based, when really, they are simply managing a server in the cloud.  This is not the same thing as cloud architected multi-carrier parcel shipping technology.  These managed services rely on the same legacy technology and manual processes and resources as on-premise solutions – and there are usually hidden costs.

In contrast, true containerized, cloud multi-carrier parcel shipping technology is built on a .net core; no code is required for system logs, which are built into Azure or similar.  This means there is significantly less effort in customization and implementation.

Why should you care?  That “less effort in customization and implementation” is important.  It means that when a supply chain disruption occurs, you can quickly on-board new carriers, pivot shipping workflows, stand up temporary distribution centers, and more – without relying on in-house teams or incurring costs associated with hardware, maintenance, and training.  With true cloud technology, your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is markedly reduced.

Cloud-Based Multi-Carrier Parcel Shipping Software Increases Agility

By implementing multi-carrier parcel shipping software with a cloud architecture, you can increase the agility of your order fulfillment workflows and reduce the number of manual touches an order receives.  Technology features include automated shipment execution, parcel contract management, rating, rate shopping, parcel consolidation, labeling and document creation, and parcel delivery track-n-trace – and because the technology is in the cloud, upgrades from one version to the next are seamless, reducing effort for in-house QA teams.  Furthermore, scaling of software services is managed by cloud orchestration, which enables you to dynamically manage your growth while maintaining profit margins during unexpected shipping events or surges in volumes.

Cloud-Based Parcel Shipping Technology Provides Better Data & Integrations

In the wake of 2020, building a flexible technology stack is now a top priority among executives. More than ever, companies recognize how important it is to have the power of data and business systems integrations on their side, or in contrast: how difficult it is to navigate supply chain disruptions when on-premise solutions stand-alone (or are clumsily integrated) and data is siloed.

True parcel shipping agility comes from the ability to integrate supply chain technology such as WMS, OMS, and e-commerce systems with parcel shipping software in the cloud.  This enables you to seamlessly share critical information throughout your organization, improving reaction time and collaboration and optimizing distribution costs.  And the right cloud shipping software will not only help you utilize and hone the power of cloud integration to sync your supply chain, but it will also provide Business Intelligence to aggregate and normalize all shipping operations data, empowering key stakeholders in your organization to run rate simulations, compare “what if” to current transportation strategies, and set and measure parcel shipping KPIs.

In addition, cloud-based shipping software can leverage cloud native technologies such as Spark Analytics, Data Bricks, Azure Synapse, and more, which provide faster analytics and easier integration to IoT input.  It can take raw data and apply Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to predict the impact of IoT events on the supply chain.  For example:

  • You can analyze omnichannel capabilities to better understand whether stores can ship based on space and inventory
  • You can determine which types of orders can be shipped versus picked up
  • You can analyze the impact of carrier capacity limitations and order demand, providing your managers with the ability to pivot carriers and transportation budgets to match customer expectations

In other words, by integrating data sources in the cloud, you can make cost-savvy supply chain decisions that align with business strategy.

The Time is Now

As we continue to sustain carrier capacity limitations, surcharges, and supply chain disruptions, the need for resilience has never been greater, and cloud-based technology is one of the most valuable weapons you can have today. It dictates your ability to grow and survive in a changing environment, and by implementing true cloud-based multi-carrier parcel shipping software, you have the magic combination of shipment volume scalability, distribution flexibility, and data-informed strategies.

Make sure your business is one that comes out of this year’s peak season stronger than before.  Download our e-book: How to Leverage Cloud Technology to Revolutionize Parcel Shipping.

 

Logistyx’s Lisa Henthorn Teaches Returns Lessons from Hi-Fi to EPS News Readers

COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way people shop, shifting more toward e-commerce. For electronics retailers, this shift brings with it more returns as shoppers forego in-store trials before making purchases. Ahead of the curve, many Hi-Fi audio manufacturers and retailers adopted 30-day return policies to enable in-home trials, an approach that keeps customers happy while also enabling them to manage returns.

In an article for EPS News, Lisa Henthorn, VP, Marketing Communications for Logistyx, takes a close look at the lessons the rest of the electronics industry can learn from Hi-Fi brands about their returns processes …

“With this model, PS Audio provides a few key lessons:

  • Offering a trial period shows confidence in product quality.
  • Prioritizing customer support ensures customers have the best quality experience.
  • Offering easy returns eliminates both the risk and burden for the customer.

Hi-Fi audio manufacturers and retailers understand the importance of prioritizing the customer experience, knowing their best customers are likely to make returns. They also know those returns are an opportunity to sell to an engaged customer who’s already seeking to make a purchase that matches their needs.”

… and how to apply them to their own returns process with a two-phase approach of reducing both the number and the cost of returns. Lisa also examines the role of technology in the returns process and helps electronics retailers understand the differences and benefits of customer-driven and proactively prepared returns.

Read Lisa’s full article, “What Hi-Fi can Teach the Electronics Industry About Returns,” to see if the lessons taught by Hi-Fi brands can help you better manage your own returns.

4 Strategies to Create Shipping Offers that Make Customers Happy

Based on Baymard Institute’s 2019 research, the average e-commerce cart abandonment rate is approximately 70 percent, and one of the key drivers behind cart abandonment is the “sticker shock” that occurs when extra charges associated with shipping are presented at checkout. A December 2020 survey by RetailMeNot reinforces these findings, reporting 82 percent of survey respondents prefer free shipping to paying a fee to have their shipments expedited, and 70 percent prefer a lower price than waiting longer to receive their order.

Though Amazon has clearly normalized free same-day and next-day delivery, e-commerce retailers are often unable to absorb shipping costs, which typically account for up to 5% of the total cost, without significantly sacrificing their margins. RetailMeNot’s research also found that 63% of merchants have trouble matching or beating shipping deals offered by their rivals.

Minimize Parcel Shipping Costs

The key to offering free shipping is to find the sweet spot between costs and increased sales. How? Many companies are embracing free or expedited shipping to gain a competitive advantage, but also using the following four strategies to increase the profit per item shipped:

1. Implement Cloud Parcel Shipping Software

With consumer expectations mounting, many retailers turn to cloud parcel shipping software to keep shipping costs palatable while improving delivery speeds. Long used by retailers such as Belk and Men’s Wearhouse, cloud parcel shipping software can yield a number of benefits for companies hoping to compete by enabling them to automatically compare carrier rates, print carrier compliant shipping labels and documentation, track delivery, and simplify the complexity of returns.

2. Find the Pricing Model that Works Best

Retailers should be sure to choose the right pricing model. While any merchant can benefit from Cost of Distribution (CoD) reductions, cost savings will vary depending on the answer to one question: does my CoD represent a significant portion of my net landed cost of goods? In general, free shipping offers are better suited to high-margin items and/or low-shipping-cost items. Possible strategies to balance costs with profits include:

  • Requiring a minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping
  • Offering flat rate shipping for commodity items of a similar size and shape
  • Integrating cloud parcel shipping software with e-commerce technology to present real-time shipping quotes to customers for oversized or heavy orders

3. Leverage Less than Truckload (LTL) Rates for Bulk and Oversized Shipments

For buyers with large orders and longer delivery windows, retailers can save upwards of 50 percent by choosing to ship using LTL services instead of parcel.

4. Consider Hybrid Mail Shipping

When delivery speed isn’t a priority, hybrid mail services such as UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost can cost substantially less than standard UPS and FedEx services, assuming package dimensions and size requirements are met.  In hybrid mail shipping, packages originate with UPS or FedEx, but go to a United States Postal Service (USPS) sorting facility for final mile delivery. It’s important to note: hybrid mail shipping often leads to delays and parcel tracking may be unavailable, which means merchants who offer this carrier service for customer orders must position the option clearly as a niche choice for those who don’t care when their order arrives. Some merchants retain this as a delivery option primarily to give customers an alternative to premium charges for faster, traceable deliveries. In this context, merchants give a sense of control to customers, who decide if they want to spend extra to receive it faster.

Logistyx Can Help

Logistyx helps e-commerce and omnichannel retailers keep customers happy and costs in line. To learn more about how Logistyx streamlines and simplifies parcel shipping, download this Insider Q&A with our President, Ken Fleming.

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Parcel Shipping Solution

Parcel shipping is growing at an exponential rate. The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index predicts global parcel volume is likely to more than double by 2026, driven by the quickening pace of e-commerce offerings from retailers and adoption from consumers worldwide.

And the growth rates in e-commerce don’t apply to retailers alone. Businesses too are migrating to e-commerce sales strategies. According to a 2018 study by technology and research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., 75% of all business procurement will take place via online marketplaces and sales platforms by 2023.

What’s interesting to note is that regardless of whether the purchase journey takes place in a B2C or B2B landscape, the end point is the same. In B2C, many purchasing channels work in harmony, allowing consumers to meander from product search… to investigation… to check-out… and the journey ends in fulfillment. Though the journey has different meanderings and different inventory characteristics in B2B manufacturing and wholesale distribution, it too always ends in fulfillment – which means parcel shipping, parcel tracking, and meeting “Amazon-like” shipping demands are the name of the game regardless of whether you’re a B2C or B2B shipper.

The good news is that there are a number of different parcel shipping solutions that can help retailers and businesses simplify and streamline their parcel shipping operations. The bad news is that not every solution is the right fit for every shipper’s landscape, so retailers and businesses on the hunt for new parcel shipping technology will have to do some homework.

How complex is your parcel shipping landscape?

To get started, you first need to assess the complexity of your parcel shipping landscape. While the average consumer may think parcel shipping is simply printing shipping labels, affixing those labels to boxes, and sending the boxes out the warehouse door, logistics managers know parcel shipping is significantly more complicated than this.

In order to optimize parcel shipping processes, companies must rate and rate shop each shipment to ensure they are shipping the parcel at the lowest possible cost given origin, destination, delivery timeframe, and any applicable business rules. Then, they need real-time data to track shipments and alerts to identify packages likely to miss a delivery deadline.

While it’s possible to use manual processes or carrier-provided systems to handle rating, rate shopping, and carrier selection, manual processes are time-consuming and labor-intensive. And as parcel volumes grow and marketplaces extend across borders, shipment execution can quickly become unmanageable.

In order to evaluate the complexity of your shipping landscape and choose the right parcel shipping solution for your business, ask the following six questions:

1. What is the breadth of your carrier network?

Will you need shipping options such as specialist or regional carriers? If so, you need a solution provider that can accommodate these needs. A parcel shipping solution that guarantees compliance with an extensive number of national, regional, and local carrier services can empower you to land an integrated transportation strategy worldwide – improving on-time delivery rates and saving money with each parcel journey. Think about it this way: the more carrier services you have in your network, the more choices you have to optimize your parcel delivery and transportation spend.

2. Do you need parcel consolidation?

Are you shipping multiple orders to the same region? Are you shipping across borders? Shippers often waste time and money shipping parcels to the same place at individual rates – and they may not even be aware they’re doing it. Be sure your parcel shipping solution can identify opportunities to consolidate parcel shipments heading to the same geographic area – both domestic and international – and compare carriers and services to find the best rate. The right solution will help you optimize volume discounts and zone skipping and avoid accessorial charges – cutting your costs and increasing resource efficiency almost immediately.

3. Do you need to track delivery milestones and receive delivery alerts in the case of an unexpected event?

How do you prioritize customer service and how important is it to you that staff have the ability to take proactive measures to communicate with customers and resolve delivery delays? If the answer is “very,” then you need to have your eye on all shipments at all times. Seems impossible? With the ad hoc and real-time reporting tools available in some parcel shipping solutions, that’s precisely the level of visibility you gain. The right solution will track your parcel shipments as they move through your carriers’ global supply chains, and you’ll receive instant warning alerts if a parcel is off track or behind schedule. These alerts will enable you to proactively address delivery events such as late or damaged shipments to meet your customers’ expectations and maintain your delivery KPIs. Even better: sophisticated solutions will ​have a Control Tower with Business Intelligence that collects and analyzes data and generates reports across all shipment attributes including spend, geography, carriers, and clients – empowering you to continuously streamline your transportation activity, increase efficiency, improve delivery performance, and save money.

4. What are your plans for tomorrow?

You could purchase a solution that suits your needs today, but how will those needs change in three, five, or ten years? Will your parcel volumes scale? And what about expansion into new markets?  Are you prepared for unexpected supply chain disruptions such as a weather event or (not another) pandemic?

When choosing a parcel shipping solution, you should not only consider your current requirements, but also strive for resilience in the face of supply chain disruptions as well as plan for future needs. This means the best parcel shipping solution will offer you flexibility and scalability.

For example, e-commerce growth rates unexpectedly accelerated in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, requiring organizations to fulfill unprecedented order volumes in a variety of distribution scenarios: ship-from-store, BOPIS, and more. As a result, shippers turned to cloud-based parcel shipping solutions to enhance the speed, scalability, connectivity, and flexibility of their supply chains. Cloud parcel shipping solutions empower fulfillment teams to execute shipments, track delivery events, and analyze parcel shipping processes in a single solution regardless of distribution scenario, while also offering them the agility to onboard more carrier services quickly – improving reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy when the unexpected occurs.

And while regulations, tariffs, and documentation, used to make cross-border shipping one of the most intimidating aspects of the supply chain, modern parcel shipping solutions also feature an integrated process for cross-border shipping, alleviating customs anxiety by automatically identifying and providing the appropriate documentation for any shipment. The solutions also allow you to analyze cross-border operations and find opportunities for consolidation, mode shifting, and cost efficiencies as your parcel moves from point A to point B around the world.

5. What are your plans for digitalization?

As stated above, forward thinking companies are moving their supply chain technology stacks to the cloud at a rapid pace. In a BCG study of more than 200 companies, digitally agile businesses achieved 1.8x higher earnings growth than digital laggards—and more than double the growth in total enterprise value. BCG also found that digitally agile companies are best situated to realize a “resiliency dividend,” by leveraging technology and digital capabilities to steer their business in real (or near-real) time to strengthen their position in the midst of a crisis.

Fortunately, cloud parcel shipping solutions enhance an organization’s digital maturity, putting operational agility within easy reach and allowing businesses to seamlessly connect people, processes, and third parties to parcel shipping operations in real time – improving reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy when the unexpected occurs. ​Furthermore, using a cloud parcel shipping solution enables businesses to quickly achieve a return on investment by bypassing the hit of an initial investment and reaping the benefits of rapid implementation and integration processes.

6. Do your parcel shipping operations need to integrate with other business applications?

Integration with existing systems, such as an ERP, WMS, and/or OMS, is a crux capability of any parcel shipping solution. The software should enhance and complement your other supply chain solutions, creating one ecosystem, so to speak, for the entire shipment lifecycle. This will allow you to leverage data analytics using various points of contact and empower you to ship more, faster, further, and cheaper.​

The right software will have an open platform, which expedites data mapping. This will give you flexibility in integrating with other systems, such as an ERP, WMS, and/or OMS. You’ll be able to seamlessly exchange data with these business-critical systems without building custom UIs and ultimately, you’ll improve the time to value of your parcel shipping solution investment and optimize the infrastructure for your business long-term in the cloud, in the data center, and in your tech stack.

Choose the Right Parcel Shipping Solution

While parcel shipping solutions are critical for companies to navigate unpredictable shipping environments, choosing the right parcel shipping solution based on the complexity of your shipping landscape is the real key to success. To learn which shipping technology you need to simplify the complexity of your current – and future – shipping environment, watch this expert video.

How Parcel Shipping Execution Fosters Long-Term Customer Loyalty

Conditioned by large, online providers’ innovative services, modern consumers now have high expectations of their shopping experience.  They expect more than just easy product selection and ultra-fast or same-day delivery; they also want flexibility in both delivery location and delivery time, as well as real-time status shipment updates throughout their parcel’s journey. Smart shippers understand these parcel shipping demands and realize that to gain long-term customer loyalty, they need to put the customer – not the product – first.

When it comes to parcel shipping, perhaps the first opportunity to curate a positive attitude toward the product or brand is during the check-out process.  Research shows that buyers carefully assess the available delivery options and personalize the delivery experience to their liking – receiving the product how, when, and where they want it. In fact, a recent study from BigCommerce indicates that 77% of buyers abandon the purchase process if the shipping costs and services are deemed unsatisfactory, and 87% of digital buyers choose a retailer specifically because free shipping is offered.

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingBut beware: offering Amazon-like delivery services and free shipping isn’t enough to win repeat purchases.  The same study also states that if an order is delivered incorrectly, late, or not at all, 29% of end customers won’t order again from the same retailer.  And the lost sales opportunities don’t stop there.  Consumers today share their negative experiences with the world on various social media channels and review sites, which means a bad experience with parcel delivery can quickly lead to the further loss of potential customers.

The right Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping can help shippers implement new delivery models such as omnichannel and 24-hour delivery while decreasing costs.

Changing consumer behaviors are forcing shippers in myriad industries to embrace digital transformation along the entire supply chain.  For example, with the effective use of data-driven multi-carrier shipping solutions, companies are able to efficiently ship goods worldwide at the lowest possible price and gain a competitive advantage by:

  • Maximizing the customer experience by offering fast and flexible services, increased transparency, and proactive responses to their individual needs
  • Managing carriers to ensure compliance and avoid delivery delays due to incorrect labels and documentation
  • Rate shopping with contractual partners to select the best carrier service for each shipment according to customer preferences and business rules
  • Identifying and quickly on-boarding new carriers to better leverage last mile services and expand into international markets
  • Eliminating labor intensive tasks such as invoice reconciliation
  • Leveraging Business Intelligence (BI) tools to uncover savings opportunities

Keep Customer Loyalty High with Parcel Shipping Execution

Never before has it been so easy for customers to find brands or change suppliers. And with the right TMS for parcel shipping, never before has it been easier for companies to establish and maintain a direct relationship with their customers, reaping trust and retaining their loyalty in the long term.

Discover how a TMS for parcel shipping can help you manage your customer experience. Contact us today.

 

3 Ingredients for a Successful Parcel Shipping Solution

Parcel shipping is hard.  There’s a lot of “stuff” standing between your customers and their purchases, and the roller coaster of events that can take place between a carrier pick-up and delivery is enough to make the most seasoned customer service professional consider running for the door.

Even harder: at the exact moment your parcel shipping is growing more complex, your competition is getting fierce. Today, there are zillions of buying channels your customers can access to purchase products just like yours, some of which offer myriad shipping options – often free of charge.

This means there’s no time to wait.  You have to work now to minimize the “stuff” between your customers and their purchases, and shape positive and consistent buyer experiences. Plus, you have to communicate really well, telling your customers where their product is at each and every stage in the delivery journey. It’s no easy feat, especially if your internal teams lack the necessary tools and technology to align with your carriers.

But with the right parcel shipping strategy and technology in place, you can establish the foundation you need to deliver superior customer experiences – at a palatable cost to you. You can create a parcel shipping ecosystem that promotes productivity and empowers your internal teams and your carriers to work together — better, cheaper, and faster.

The Right Resource

get the checklist: choose the right tms for parcel shippingTo achieve cost-effective parcel shipping, you need to provide your shipping teams with the resources they need to efficiently increase profits per shipment. First on this list is parcel shipping technology, which will drive strategic carrier service selection, help you secure advantageous carrier contracts, and enable you to support your customers throughout their buying journey.

More specifically, parcel shipping technology removes traditional barriers between your internal procurement, logistics, finance, and customer service teams and your external software and carrier partners. For example, parcel shipping technology can alleviate inefficient carrier invoice reconciliation processes or enable your customer service team to proactively send a customer a delivery alert.  It’s about empowerment, automation, and orchestration, which lay the groundwork to help you ship more products across farther distances – cheaper and faster.

3 Ingredients for a Successful Parcel Shipping Solution

On the surface, parcel shipping technology is relatively straightforward.  Implement parcel shipping technology that automatically selects the best carrier service for each parcel shipment according to your business rules and print the label. But, as we know all too well, to squeeze the most profit out of every shipment, you have to go beyond printing the label – integrating your technology with your business-critical systems to leverage business intelligence cross-functionally, measure performance, and react quickly.  And this is more challenging.

With that said, there are three ingredients — integrations and Professional Services, technology, and Business Intelligence  — that are foundational to any successful parcel shipping solution implementation. Here’s what goes into this winning trifecta:

1. Integrations and Professional Services

Despite the impressive functionality in most parcel shipping technology solutions, critical to your success will be how well the technology integrates with both your carriers’ systems as well as your ERP, WMS, OMS and/or e-commerce systems. You need a solution provider with significant integration experience across a broad network of global carriers and world-leading enterprise, e-commerce, and supply chain software providers – in either a blackbox or attended environment.

You also need a Professional Services team capable of evolving your technology instance as your shipping strategy becomes more complex, that’s willing to coach and train your people. You need folks who have your back and on whom you can rely to spearhead the conversation that moves your shipping strategy forward. And you need people that know how to leverage and inform the implementation and integration processes and technologies that streamline your shipping workflows and make distributing and managing your shipping data easier. The list goes on and on, but you get the gist — Professional Services are key.

2. Technology

As your organization matures, your distribution scenarios will likely become more complex. This means there will be more shipments, more carrier services, more warehouses, and more information to manage. Technology can help streamline every stage from carrier services procurement to carrier invoice reconciliation and reporting.  For example, the right parcel shipping technology automates carrier selection, produces all necessary labels and documentation, and helps organizations scale and improve their shipping efforts – even across borders. It gives Customer Service teams 24/7, on-demand access to critical delivery event details, and its dashboards display KPIs such as Total Shipments, Exceptions, Packages In-Transit, Delivered, Late, and Lost.  It automatically compares carrier invoices against expected transportation costs and reports on spend according to geography, business unit, accruals, and GL Coding, to name a few. 

3. Business Intelligence

A huge part of achieving cost-effective parcel shipping has to do with the creation, distribution, and management of information. While it’s a somewhat vague term, “information” includes everything from delivery event alerts and carrier service scorecards to rate simulations, cost accounting, and more. Without accurate information and the proper management of it, your organization will have a harder time securing favorable contracts with carriers. Parcel shipping technology with a Business Intelligence platform will understand how factors such as distance, speed to delivery, density, and package size affect spend within the transportation carrier landscape, and analyze your shipping data in real-time to visualize how and where changes should occur for you to yield greater returns.

Put the Right Resources into Action for a Successful Parcel Shipping Solution

Parcel shipping today is challenging. It’s an on-demand, 24/7, obstacle-ridden environment. And you must keep pace. Parcel shipping technology can provide you with the necessary foundation to bridge the great product discovery-delivery divide and help you move your business forward. Wondering which parcel shipping technology is right for you?  Here’s how to choose the right parcel shipping technology for your organization.

Use Predictive Shipping Analytics to Reduce Parcel Shipping Costs

Predictive analytics has fast become a staple of every industry, and it’s no great surprise. The concept of using data to make better decisions holds water across business types; naturally, it applies to logistics, too. And if done right, your company can use predictive shipping analytics to reduce parcel shipping costs. We’ll examine how, but first, let’s set the stage.

The Necessary Data for Predictive Shipping Analytics in Parcel Shipping

If you are beginning your parcel shipping data journey you should consider leveraging what is most readily available. This would include data from three levels of input: shipment level (what was manifested), event/visibility level (track and trace feeds), and invoicing level. More sophisticated organizations will leverage additional data from internal and external sources.

But the truth is, not all data is equally valuable. Therefore, it’s critical organizations understand and add the proper data points into their data structures in order to maximize predictive capabilities around cost savings.

Parcel costs include four key components or variables:

  • Distance
  • Speed to delivery
  • Density
  • Package size

A Business Intelligence platform will understand how these components affect spend within the transportation carrier landscape, visualize how and where changes are planning to (or should) occur, and retain this information as a “profile” that allows you, the shipper, to negotiate with carriers. For instance, if you are 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. Additionally, planned shifts towards more frequent, smaller-weight shipments would naturally draw negotiations towards lower weight bands and minimum revenue per package.

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingWithout predictive analytics, you’re planning under the assumption the past will repeat itself, instead of building a data vision and creating a model for the future. You’re leveraging the “what was” in planning, even though your profile characteristics may have changed slightly. And those slight changes can have huge impacts on spend…

Bottom line: If you’re not using predictive analytics, you’re placing your company at a competitive disadvantage. Let’s take a look at three key areas where you could be losing — or, with a positive spin, three clear ways in which predictive analytics can help reduce parcel shipping costs.

1. Rate Scenario Analyses

As data availability and data usage increases, so too does demand for simulation analysis.

  • 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?

With proper BI tools and an accurate shipping model (profile), you can extrapolate transportation spend impacts across significant data sets. And when you rate or cost your plan against the available contract options, your negotiations/budgets begin to take shape. To do so successfully, level of detail is critical. Like many things, the devil is in the details. Consideration towards use of accessories, fuel surcharges, and dimensional and core fees from each origin to destination are required; all must be calculated, normalized, and segregated across various carrier options.

Once the rate simulation is complete, you need to visualize the spend impacts across variables such as weight breaks, zones, regions, service levels, etc. This visualization will allow you to easily identify areas ripe for further negotiation. And if your data profile uses predictive analytics, you can meet the negotiation challenge head on — because most carriers will have this information, too — and you don’t want to start on your back foot when it comes to negotiations. Lastly, simulations with proposed future DC placements or ship-from-store deployment impacts can have huge effects on use of carrier services.  A rate scenario analysis paints the picture and empowers you to make cost-savvy supply chain decisions that align with your business strategy.

2. Real-Time Responses

Failures in the delivery process can be expensive to correct. Customers can be lost forever, if mismanaged. Effective exception management (visibility) with predictive analytics in parcel shipping facilitates a better customer experience and aids in overall supply chain health. But there are hundreds of types of status messages available from carriers, and it can be overwhelming. With a proper system to retrieve, store, interpret, and action the data, you can proactively manage your customer’s delivery experience.

Successful systems will normalize all of the different status messages available across carriers and place them into problem categories (exceptions) that require a call to action. You should be able to visualize and assign the right resources for real-time response and speedy resolution, minimizing customer service failures and reducing overall parcel shipment costs.

Today, customers not only expect a shipper to know when a shipment is held at customs, a delivery attempt is missed, a weather delay occurs, or a shipment is damaged or predicted to arrive late, they also assume the shipper will proactively work to resolve these problems. Aside from managing the problems, your ability to measure carrier impacts and predict the future can allow you to better meet your customer expectations (manpower) and make better carrier network decisions (report cards) that impact exception management, ultimately reducing parcel shipping costs. It also helps in procurement to understand ‘real’ service performance across a multitude of slicers such as carrier service, geography, weight break, and accessory type to create accurate carrier report cards to be used in the next step – procurement activities.

3. Real-Time Procurement

Finally, predictive analytics in logistics can help you 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. By aligning your customer commitments and carrier performance and rate simulation tools, you can quickly define the best cost options to meet the service-level commitments of your customers.

By understanding where carriers perform well (and not) and leveraging this information within your procurement simulations, you 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.

Reducing Parcel Shipment Costs with Predictive Analytics: One Simulation at a Time

Predictive analytics isn’t only for the most adept data scientists among us. It’s for every business. But to get to the point where you can capitalize on all of the great data to which you have access, you need a great system, too. If you lack proper insight into your contract history, or struggle with rate simulation and budgeting, then a TMS for parcel shipping with BI and data shipping analytics is right up your supply chain.

Get started with predictive analytics here.