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4 Reasons Why Now is the Perfect Time to Invest in Parcel Shipping Technology

Manufacturers, retailers, and 3PLs today are under significant pressure to distribute high volumes of products across significant distances quickly, forcing them to gain deeper insights into their shipping processes.  Many organizations now realize the benefit of capturing shipping data with parcel shipping technology and using Business Intelligence to streamline shipping processes in order to expedite speed and improve cost efficiency. Moreover, senior leadership at these organizations are adopting digital technologies and implementing digital automation to cultivate shipping as a core business capability.

get the checklist: choose the right tms for parcel shippingBut technology isn’t new to shipping. For example, carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL have long used electronic data interchange (EDI) to transmit information to shippers, and some logistics professionals are using Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to execute complex, multi-modal freight shipments across the globe. However, studies have found not everyone is ready to adopt new technology, particularly when it comes to parcel shipping.  According to the Gartner 2019 Market Guide for Multicarrier Parcel Management Solutions, “Most companies today operate in reactive execution mode for parcel and are missing great opportunities to optimize and consolidate their parcel shipping as well as shop for more varied rates and/or services.”

The Time is Ripe for Parcel Shipping Technology

While the reason for slow technology adoption rates in parcel shipping isn’t immediately evident, most industry analysts agree, given the rise in e-commerce and the pressure created by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, companies are reaching the point of no return – where technology is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a “must-have” to successfully – and cost efficiently – meet today’s consumers’ same-day/next-day delivery expectations.  In fact, a recent State of the Industry Report prepared by A. T. Kearney envisions a future with digitally connected, flexible supply chains from end-to-end. Per the report, “Inevitably winners and losers will emerge as companies that make the right technology investments and strategic choices outperform others.”

Fortunately, now is the perfect time to invest in new parcel shipping technology for four key reasons:

  1. Today’s parcel shipping systems are more sophisticated than ever. Featuring easy integrations to business-critical systems such as an ERP or WMS, state-of-the-art Business Intelligence tools for accurate data capture and reporting, and the ability to flag invoice issues – parcel shipping systems allow shippers to finally take the driver’s seat and implement smart strategies that fuel business KPIs.  And if our own development team is any proof: parcel shipping technology is poised for continuous improvement, delivering ongoing, cutting edge functionality and operational platforms that are increasingly intuitive and user friendly.
  2. Today’s parcel shipping systems are more global than ever. For shippers looking to expand their footprint worldwide, some parcel shipping system providers guarantee label and documentation compliance with global carriers as well as enable consolidated shipping to cut costs and increase efficiency by combining shipments headed to the same geographic area.
  3. Today’s parcel shipping systems are SaaS-based. Now that cloud-based systems have gone mainstream, companies of all sizes can enjoy their benefits with minimal upfront costs and IT investment. Using a SaaS-based system will enable companies to realize a return on investment quickly — without the hit of an initial investment and with the benefit of accelerated implementation and integration processes. And an added incentive: security. A reputable parcel shipping system vendor will potentially provide more robust data security than a company could by itself – particularly if there’s a lack of deep IT resources, staff, controls, or expertise in house.
  4. Today’s parcel shipping systems work. Logistyx customers report an average 25% savings on parcel shipping spend while successfully meeting delivery commitments, and time to value on the parcel shipping system itself is often six months or less.  Companies are also leveraging parcel shipping technology to automate manual work, scale their business without adding resources, and enter new markets quickly – yielding further dividends from the initial investment.

Today’s parcel shipping systems aren’t just tactical execution tools – they’re the secret sauce in leading companies’ formulas for decreasing net landed cost of goods. To learn how you can take advantage of the substantial opportunities for cost savings available in parcel shipping, download the e-book: Do Nothing to Create Shipping Efficiencies, and Cost of Delivery Will Automatically Increase.

 

TMS Software: TMS for Freight versus TMS for Parcel

Gaining the control and visibility necessary to ensure cost-effective transportation and on-time delivery: this is the goal of any enterprise shipping goods from point A to point B. TMS software, either for freight or parcel, do just that – and more. The days of manual logistics planning and execution, which made both capabilities virtually impossible, are behind us. The modern logistics landscape now offers state-of-the-art technology that streamlines shipment planning and execution, tracks delivery movements to meet the strenuous demands of customers and saves companies thousands of dollars.

However, before you replace your existing logistics solution and invest in TMS software, it’s important to understand the distinctions in the new solutions available. Once you sort through the details, you’ll have a more complete picture of the technology you need to manage your end-to-end shipping operations – and even scale your shipping volumes in the years to come without adding additional resources.

So, let’s discuss one of the most popular logistics technologies available in the market today: TMS (Transportation Management System) software. This next-gen technology has forever changed how the world’s largest manufacturers, retailers, and logistics providers interact with carriers to improve customer service and increase profits per shipment. But will it make a difference in your business?

What is TMS Software?

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingIn general, TMS software gives shippers visibility and control over shipment processes, from carrier procurement to carrier invoice reconciliation. The AI-powered software offers tools to improve shipment delivery performance while minimizing costs. But the scale, capabilities, and benefits vary from one TMS provider to another. So, what distinctions should you make before diving into further research?

First, understand that not all shipments are the same, and what you’re shipping will make all of the difference in terms of which TMS works best for your company. Are you shipping freight? Or are you shipping parcels? And if you’re shipping both: what percentage of your total shipping volume does each represent? While not all systems specialize in a single type of shipment, you always want to invest in a TMS (or any type of expensive technology!) that caters to your exact business needs – which means it’s time to talk about a TMS for freight shipping versus a TMS for parcel shipping.

TMS for Freight Shipping versus TMS for Parcel Shipping

Freight shipping versus parcel shipping — you might think the difference is obvious: the size and weight of the shipment. And while you’re right, there are underlying considerations that size and weight bring to the surface when choosing TMS software. The system’s access to specific carrier services, for example, will make a major difference in which TMS works for your shipping needs.

Simply put, a TMS for freight shipping is necessary when the shipments:

  • Consist of whole pallets, truckloads, or large shipping containers — essentially any large quantity of goods.
  • Are moved by one or more cargo transportation modes, including trucks, cargo planes, trains, or ships.
  • Arrive in ports, large warehouses, or assembly facilities.

Freight shipping is typically used by commercial shippers that are operating in the middle of the supply chain and are delivering thousands of shipment components to one distribution facility. Freight shipping also has a more stringent tendering process, where the shippers must consider factors such as point-to-point charges or per-mile cost models early in the carrier selection process.

TMS for parcel shipping, on the other hand, usually takes place within these parameters:

  • Shipments are individual, box-sized parcels up to 150 pounds.
  • Shipments are part of an omnichannel distribution model, where multiple delivery locations and stringent delivery times require different carrier services.
  • Shipment destination and ETA are dictated by the consumer.

Parcel shipping is typically used by retailers or businesses​ that operate toward the end of the supply chain.  These companies often ship to separate geographic locations, and accurate time of delivery is a top priority.​ While the shipment itself might be physically easier to handle, stringent delivery times can make parcel shipping a complex venture.​ A TMS for parcel shipping adds value by providing rigorous control over – and visibility into – each delivery movement from the warehouse to the final destination, ensuring on-time delivery is achieved.

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While advancements such as 3D printing in manufacturing are blurring the lines between freight and parcel shipping​, the transportation modes, delivery service requirements, and pricing are usually different.  Therefore, it’s vital to identify your shipment requirements before selecting a TMS.

Learn more about what differentiates one TMS provider from another and download our checklist: Choose the Right TMS for parcel shipping.

 

A checklist for selecting a multi-carrier shipping solution

The ability to quickly adapt to customer demands, open up new markets, or switch service providers is vital in today’s economy. This also applies to parcel shipping – an area of growing importance across all industries in our e-commerce era.

These needs gave rise to TMS-for-Parcel solutions. These platforms offer enterprises the ability to tap into a wide array of parcel carriers and services, increasing flexibility and greatly reducing costs for shipping and IT-integrations. But how do you select the shipping solution that is right for you?

One platform, touching on many processes

get the checklist: choose the right tms for parcel shippingSelecting a multi-carrier TMS for Parcel solution for your business is a serious undertaking. This platform touches on countless processes in your organization, from customer service and warehouse floor to your financial administration and supply chain planning. So making an informed decision is vital. To help you make the right choice, we created this checklist containing the most important points of attention in your selection process for a multi-carrier TMS-for-Parcel solution.

Carriers, services & procurement

The core of any great TMS for parcel solution is a wide array of carriers and services users can choose from. Note that ‘carrier’ does not always fit the description here. Many local branches of global carriers operate as separate entities, each with their own labeling and IT requirements. So always verify if a vendor supports the specific carrier services in your key geographies.

SaaS-software & Cloud-hosting The ability to ship parcels via an application hosted in the cloud, connected to your existing systems via an API or integration. This SaaS infrastructure offers increased flexibility and improved data safety over typical on-premise installations of shipping software.
 
Front-end integrations with e-commerce software and platforms Availability of an off-the-shelf integration/partnership with your current e-commerce systems and platform partners (e.g. Amazon).
 
Back-end connectivity Availability of an off-the-shelf integration/partnership for your current back-end systems such as your WMS, OMS or ERP.
 
API structure & documentation The ease with which the TMS can be integrated into other systems via an API and the level of support in this process (API documentation, sample code, technical project management)

Operational

Carrier library size and system connectivity are both vitally important for a good TMS-solution. Still, the true value of these systems is created on your warehouse floors. The power to operate at scale whilst upholding systems speed is essential for any enterprise shipper. This is where the true differences between vendors shine through, so be sure to pay close attention to these operational requirements.

Labeling, documentation & EDI The output of shipping documentation by the system; is this is only shipping labels or also e.g. customs forms or end-of-day manifests.
 
Business ruling A business ruling engine that automatically books shipments with ‘best-fit’ carriers based on business rules.
 
Consolidation of cross-border shipments Ability to consolidate cross-border shipments going to the same geographic area. By skipping zones and avoiding accessorial charges this significantly reduces costs for cross-border

processing, brokerage, and insurance.

 
Real time performance analysis and rerouting Ability to compare selected carrier services against actual carrier performance to find routing alternatives with lower cost implications and/or faster delivery times.
 
Automatic address verification Ability to verify addresses upfront to prevent costly missed deliveries.
 
Service speed Response time of the API / service when booking shipments and generating shipping documentation.

Tracking & Dashboarding

From a shipper’s perspective, most of the job seems done when the parcels leave your warehouse. But for your customers, this marks just the beginning. The ability to keep your customers, and your customer care team, updated on all shipments in real-time is therefore essential. A great TMS solution not only standardizes the shipping process across carriers; it will also create a uniform tracking experience. Ideally, the system allows you to include your branding in all communication.

Real-time Track & Trace Notifications Tooling to send uniform, branded shipping Track & Trace updates across all carriers
 
Real-time Track & Trace portal Branded website or portal via which customers can Track and Trace shipments in real-time (instead of visiting individual carriers’ tracking website).
 
Handling of exceptions Pro-active signaling of delivery exceptions (e.g. delays or re-routing) .
 
Customer Service Tools Real-time shipping insight into shipments via all carriers, allowing  customer service teams to proactively take action in the case of ‘exception events’.

Reporting & Finance

To make strong and informed business decisions you want to rely on ‘a single source of truth’, in which data is connected across all systems in real time. A powerful TMS solution breaks down data siloes, allowing instant access to financial or carrier performance reporting.

Delivery & carrier performance analysis Ability to monitor the delivery performance per carrier, warehouse or geography.
 
Invoice matching

 

Automated auditing of invoices to identify and adjust improperly invoiced items based on contracted rates, claims and “not shipped” transactions.

Contact us for a free consultation

Whatever your company size or need, from customized labels to parcel shipping software, we have the solutions to save time, save money and make your business more successful. Contact us today and a Logistyx representative in your global region will be in touch.

Logistyx Helps Businesses Accelerate Parcel Fulfillment and Shipping Operations in an On-Demand World

Dot Foods, the largest food industry redistributor in North America, recently selected Logistyx’s SaaS-based solutions to grow and expand its current parcel shipping capabilities to provide higher levels of service as food industry manufacturers and distributors make smaller and more frequent deliveries to customers. Dot Foods chose Logistyx’s TME to seamlessly integrate with its JDA warehouse management system (WMS) to optimize its fulfillment and shipping operations to better accommodate customer needs as the company ramps up its e-commerce capabilities. The joint product offering connects Dot Foods with more than 8,500 global parcel carrier services, including low-cost regional and local operators.

As consumer behavior continues to shift with an increasing demand for smaller, more-frequent shipments to convenient delivery/pickup locations, a wide range of industries are adopting what had been primarily a retail strategy. Many businesses have turned to automated and scalable multi-carrier shipping solutions to better serve customers and generate cost savings. Whether shipping time-sensitive goods for food suppliers or restaurants or determining cross-border tax calculations and cost adjustments on ecommerce orders in light of Brexit’s potential impact on shipping across Europe, businesses around the world can successfully navigate these new market dynamics with the right technology.

A TMS for parcel shipping accelerates and synchronizes the shipping process with greater precision and certainty, making it possible to see what’s happening across the entire shipping ecosystem in real-time and more efficiently meet customer needs in this on-demand world.

Read the full customer announcement to see how Dot Foods is leveraging Logistyx’s TMS for parcels to optimize fulfillment.

8 Reasons Modern Manufacturing Companies Cannot do Without a TMS for Parcel

The current shift from operational efficiency to customer experience is changing the way manufacturers look at the IT-infrastructure of their supply chains. One of the applications spearheading these changes is a Transportation Management System (TMS) for Parcel. Discover the 8 reasons every modern manufacturers cannot do without such a multi-carrier shipping solution.

In our recent white paper, we cover the 7 logistics trends that will change the manufacturing industry in 2020. The common thread in these trends is the increased complexity and volatility of supply chains, caused by the consumerization of sales. Manufacturers open direct sales channels to end customers and the expectations of business buyers now mimic those of consumers.

More sales channels, more carriers

Powered by the consumerization of sales, the manufacturing industry is shipping out more parcels, via more logistics partners and more delivery services. Everything to ensure they meet the demands of modern business buyers.

“As to be expected given the growth of e-commerce, full-pallet only [shipping] profiles are rare. Considering that 40% of the respondents were manufacturers, [the] level of split-case shipping is significant.”

The 2018 Warehouse / Distribution Center Survey on the shift from full-pallet to split-case shipping

Managing carriers – the traditional way

The increase of carrier partners is at odds with traditional views on shipping. For several reasons manufacturers are used to working with one, or at most a select number of delivery partners.

First, bundling parcel volumes into a single carrier contract traditionally produced the lowest shipping costs. This paradigm has since shifted. Today, smart rate shopping with multiple carriers results in even lower shipping costs. Also, no single carrier can meet all modern customer demands. A second major reason manufacturers stuck to a single-carrier strategy is the time-consuming IT process of connecting EPR and WMS systems to the API interface of a carrier.

Those who do ship via multiple, custom integrated, carriers often run into challenges when trying to keep an overview. Pain points include logging into multiple systems to track shipments or needing to combine multiple data sets to generate the correct (financial) reports.

The future of shipping is a TMS for parcel

This contributed to the conception of Transportation Management Systems for Parcel. These systems, sometimes referred to as multi-carrier shipping software, take away the major challenges surrounding carrier management. By making shipping via multiple carriers more efficient and accessible, these systems are at the base of a future-proof supply chain. Discover the 8 reasons why modern manufacturing companies cannot do without a TMS for parcels:

1. Instant access to new carriers and delivery services

The first advantage of a multi-carrier shipping solution is instant access to a large library of carriers and associated delivery services. This translates into huge savings on IT. With these solutions API connections with individual carriers are a thing of the past, drastically shortening the time-to-market for new carriers.

2. Constant up-to-date carrier connections

Many companies also struggle to keep their existing carrier connections up-to-date. for example because delivery services or shipping label specifications change. With a TMS for Parcel solution, you ensure all carrier connections are always up-to-date, again saving valuable IT resources and time.

3. Better negotiation, lower shipping costs

A smart TMS for Parcel solution compares shipping costs between multiple providers. Based on the unique characteristics of shipments (destinations, formats, weights) and desired service levels (delivery speed, insurance) the system instantly selects the right mix of carriers. This is fundamental for better contract negotiations and direct savings on shipping costs.

4. Easily open new shipping locations

Because a TMS for Parcel solution is hosted in the cloud, opening up new shipping locations is simpler than ever. You no longer need on-premise installations or local updates allowing you to scale up (internationally) at an unprecedented speed.

“The Cloud just naturally lends itself toward TMS. After all, most TMS-related data is outside of the four walls of the company anyway, so why constrain your system to just being inside the four walls? ”

Amit Sethi, senior manager of logistics and supply chain at Capgemini

5. Increase in operational productivity

By standardizing and streamlining the shipping process through all carriers a TMS significantly increases operational productivity. The system slots right into existing operational workflows, allowing users to generate all shipping documentation with a single touch. From shipping labels to End of Day manifest and CMRs, regardless of the chosen carrier.

6. Increased transparency for all parties

Successful e-commerce organizations recognize that the customer experience does not stop after a click on the order button. Customers are treated to Track & Trace notifications via SMS or proactive updates in the event of a delay. With a TMS for Parcel solution you also can tap into this trend of maximum transparency. The system not only standardizes the Track & Trace communication across all carriers. It also recognizes when exceptions occur and immediately takes subsequent action.

“People are used to going over Amazon to track shipments, and that capability is now being carried over to B2B transactions.”

Bart de Muynck, research director Gartner

7. Central insight into the performance of carriers

Track & Trace information is not only helpful for the receiving party or a customer care team. The data also contains valuable information about the lead times of shipments. A TMS for Parcel solution uncovers this information via smart algorithms providing a unique insight into the performance of carriers (compared to SLA’s). Valuable information for every logistics manager.

8. Automated auditing of invoices

By comparing source data about shipments and insights from tracking data with carrier invoices, a TMS for Parcel system uncovers differences that translate into great cost-saving opportunities. Especially for high-volume senders who still perform limited or manual audits on invoices.

Conclusion

A TMS for Parcel is about flexibility. With instant access to multiple carriers users can respond to new developments much quicker. Examples include new customer segments or product lines requiring specific carrier services or competing carriers offering reduced shipping rates.

But a strong TMS for Parcel solution offers much more. By analyzing the enormous amount of logistics data, the system discovers unique cost-saving opportunities. Take the real-time selection of the most economical shipping option or the auditing of carrier invoices for example. This layer of data intelligence makes a TMS for Parcel more than just “a collection of carriers”. The system opens new avenues for cost-saving that remain closed if you opt for the traditional in-house integration of carriers.

Are you ready to discover more? Contact us for a free consultation. As a leading TMS for Parcel solution Logistyx Technologies helps enterprise shippers tackle their logistical challenges and discover opportunities to save costs and enhance customer service.

Ready to discover the logistics trends in manufacturing for 2020?

Download the white paper The 7 logistics trends that will radically change the manufacturing industry in 2020today. In this white paper, we cover the logistical trends that every manufacturer must acknowledge to remain competitive in today’s dynamic market.

3 Signs You’ve Outgrown your Shipping Practices

One of the biggest challenges in an organization’s growth is when it becomes evident your shipping environment is no longer working… and yet you’re unsure of what to do next. After all, the processes you’ve painstakingly cobbled together over the years, piece by piece, has brought you to where you are today.

It’s Worked Fine So Far…

Your veteran team members are at ease with the shipping environment you’ve built together. The special amalgamation of spreadsheets, training documents, and carrier workstations feels comfortable. They remember when each piece was added to the puzzle and why. They’re proud of their ability to successfully navigate your shipping “labyrinth”—it’s like a badge of honor to be someone who “gets it.”  Heck – it just might be job security.

But… things are starting to slip. You may notice some team members are overwhelmed and suddenly voicing worry they’re falling “behind,” despite the fact their personal productivity hasn’t changed.  For the first time you might find yourself wondering whether you need to increase staff and looking for month-to-month shipment projections to support your decision – only to come up empty handed. And whenever you train a new employee on the ins and outs of your shipping environment, you’re reminded of just how complex it is.

How do you know when it’s time to abandon your formerly tried-and true shipping practices and embrace the tools of the future—and how do you tell the differences between them? Read on for three telltale signs you’ve outgrown your shipping environment and the time is right to build something new.

1. You’re Embarrassed When You Teach New Hires Your “System”

When you’re showing a new hire the ropes, do you find yourself over-explaining or justifying why you do things a certain way—and facing a perplexed reaction? Are you repeatedly answering the same questions about where to go for a piece of data or how to locate a particular shipping record? Have you ever said, “Yeah, it’s confusing now, but it will make more sense over time?” These are all signs your existing shipping environment is stuck in the past, and if you’re in a growth phase, it’s only going to get more challenging from here.

But when you implement a shipping system that’s intuitive and centralized – not cobbled together from multiple, disconnected solutions and processes – it’s much easier to not only onboard new employees but also to increase the productivity of your current team.

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shipping

For example, Service Lighting and their online superstore, LightBulbs.com, realizes 80% of their sales through e-commerce. Sales are busiest during the holiday season, when order volume triples and shipping operations handle more than a 200% increase in packages a day.  Originally, LightBulbs.com had six shipping workstations, all with standalone, carrier-provided shipping software. The shipping process was cumbersome because the staff had to enter orders in multiple carrier systems, type in the dimensions of every package, and then manually compare and choose the best carrier rate and service.  “Shipping was our biggest bottleneck,” President Paul McLellan said, “We needed to find a way to automate our process and increase productivity.”

LightBulbs.com implemented a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping, gaining the ability to load all carriers onto one platform and automate carrier rate shopping and shipment processing.  As a result, Service Lighting streamlined and improved shipment processing speed and is now handling the same volume of work on two shipping stations instead of six. “We were able to reallocate employees to other areas in the warehouse that needed help,” McLellan said.

2.   You Miss Your Shipping KPIs

Even the best shipping teams will miss a delivery deadline or select the wrong carrier service.  However, if these lapses suddenly occur with greater frequency, it could be a sign your existing shipping environment lacks the bandwidth to accommodate growing order volumes.

For example, Faes Group, the leading manufacturer of custom packing solutions in Europe, employed a small team to manually plan its transportation: physically creating each transport order, calling a large number of carriers to verify pricing and schedule transport, and tracking transport movements through phone calls and email exchanges with carriers’ customer service teams.  When Faes Group began to sell its products through e-commerce sites including Amazon, orders increased, delivery service faltered, and pressure mounted.  Said Johan Faes, the founder and director of Faes Group, “Amazon speeds up the process, and if you do something wrong, you get hit hard. If you don’t get your house in order, you can’t sell to a customer like Amazon.”

Faes Group ultimately chose a TMS for parcel shipping to integrate with their large carrier network and automate their end-to-end shipping processes –  gaining the ability to meet increasing order demands without adding staff by automating and optimizing transportation management. Immediate benefits included lower labor costs and improved customer service, and with automated carrier booking and compliance as well as track and trace functionality in the platform, the team directed their attention away from carrier communications and exception management and focused on other value-added activities in the warehouse.

Video: The Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping 

3. You Can’t Easily Provide Customers with Delivery Information

Think about the steps it takes to tell a customer when their package will be delivered. Do you tell the customer to call the carrier’s customer service number for an update?  Provide the customer with a tracking number and send them a link to the carrier’s website? Fill out a ticket in the carrier’s system and ask the carrier to contact you with an update?  If the process is at all manual or takes hours (heaven forbid days), even for a fairly standard request, then you have your first clue it may be time to consider updating your shipping environment.

For example, as one of the most highly respected and well-known healthcare brands in the world, Bausch + Lomb needs to ensure their product distribution is seamless to maintain their integrity in the industry and keep their customers happy. However, a complex in house system combined with huge growth within the organization was making this difficult to achieve.  Bausch + Lomb was using 25 different carriers, each with their own different services and each with a specific type of bar code that wasn’t always compatible with Bausch + Lomb’s software.  The Bausch + Lomb team had to track thousands of items every week on different carrier sites, which was time consuming, and ultimately the team couldn’t confidently inform customers of exact delivery times.

Bausch + Lomb chose a TMS for parcel shipping to support all carrier services in one complete system, eliminating the need to work on different carrier sites and in different languages.  As a result, they have full visibility – saving at least half a day in labor costs every week and importantly: improving customer satisfaction by providing customers with up-to-date shipping statuses.

Ready for a Shipping System Fit for an Enterprise?

Your shipping practices have served you well. You can be grateful for them without allowing them to hold you back, and if any of these three signs felt familiar, it’s probably time to consider a TMS for parcel shipping. It will create an end-to-end shipping ecosystem – automating processes and centralizing all data so it can be analyzed, reported, and optimized.  It’s an absolute must for dynamic shipping teams in the e-commerce age, and it’s just a click away.

4 Benefits of Integrating your TMS for Parcel Shipping System with your Enterprise Solutions

Modern organizations often rely on multiple specialized systems, each acting as the single source of truth for that aspect of the business. There may be a financial system of record, such as SAP. There could be an inventory system of record, like Oracle. And for the lucky ones (!) there might be a parcel shipping system of record, like Logistyx TME. However, while each of these solutions introduces myriad benefits into an organization, the truth is that they can also create silos of their own.

Enter: system integrations. When solution providers partner in a thoughtful way to integrate their systems, organizations can create an ecosystem – connecting and uniting technology and teams across the organization and optimizing performance, no matter the department or role.

Sync your Parcel Shipping Technology with your Enterprise Tools and Systems

Integrating a transportation management system for parcel shipping with other business systems of record can yield four key benefits:

1. Change Readiness

Responsiveness is a critical ingredient in the recipe for business success.  As industries change, organizations must be able to rapidly pivot – whether it’s a new product on the market or changes in customer behavior.  And let’s face it: when it comes to parcel shipping, changes in customer behavior are occurring daily.  Suddenly, customers want their products next day.  Or same day.  Or delivered to a local retailer.  Or delivered to a local parcel locker.  When your parcel shipping technology is integrated to other systems of record, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Order Management System (OMS), you enhance the flow of products both within and without your facilities, turning operations toward omnichannel success and future proofing your organization against additional changes to come.

Integrating systems can also help an organization respond to internal changes. When all business functions take a holistic view of data, decision-makers can identify trends and areas for improvement. These can then be addressed proactively, rather than when problems occur.

2. Data Accuracy

get the checklist: choose the right tms for parcel shippingDuplicating data in several systems or relying on manual data sharing will decrease data accuracy and consistency and increase the amount of time and effort your teams are spending on reconciling datasets.  Ultimately, disconnected data negatively impacts strategic decisions and often causes cross-departmental confusion.  For example, if your parcel shipping system isn’t integrated with your financial system, does your Finance team know whether a carrier invoice is accurate?  And how long does it take them to track down payment approval from the parcel shipping team?  Or do they simply pay the invoice, in which case: how much money are they losing in doing so?

By integrating systems, organizational processes become transparent.  Cross-departmental teams suddenly have the flexibility to use the same data in whatever system, which in turn gives them the opportunity to better understand the information and make more thoughtful decisions.

Integrated systems also make it easy to keep information up to date. One input can propagate across all solutions, keeping your data current. In fact, your data can even be real-time if a cloud solution is part of the integration strategy.

3. Increased Sales

Integrated systems can have a huge impact on overall sales, especially for the retail industry. Data connectivity across multiple departments is a great way to boost results for:

  • Customers – running an online store requires retailers to give customers constant access to most data. It enables them to see whether the product they want is available to purchase and from where, how soon they can receive it, and how much it will cost to ship.
  • Employees – A regular data flow between carrier “subsystems” and a parcel shipping system, for example, enables customer service employees to immediately address all customer inquiries regarding shipment status without manually searching for data in every carrier “subsystem.” Not only does this increase the employees’ job satisfaction, but it also limits the need for new hires.  Organizations can finally work on the quality of the customer service team and not on its size. They can also free their customer service teams to focus on more important and challenging tasks that help the organization grow and evolve.

4. IT Cost Reduction

Companies with siloed systems may incur duplicate costs, including capital costs for software and hardware, IT management and maintenance for multiple applications, and upgrade costs. Translation: IT spends the majority of their budget and their time maintaining existing legacy systems rather than increasing the business’s productivity.  However, when companies leverage a parcel shipping system that is a certified partner with preferred carriers, for example, IT no longer has to implement and maintain multiple system integrations – significantly reducing operational costs and maintenance efforts. Suddenly, IT has the bandwidth and budget to improve business operations and help the company grow.

Continually Make Progress

Integrating systems is a great way for businesses to make progress and remain competitive.

  • Organizations can swiftly react to a dynamic business climate, thereby improving customer satisfaction and gaining a competitive advantage.
  • Organizations can capture accurate data in real time, analyze performance, and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Systems integration can meet customers’ needs and handle business processes better.
  • By reducing IT costs, organizations can devote more of their scarce IT resources to delivering greater business value.

To learn more about why systems integration is a “must have” feature of your Transportation Management System for parcel shipping, download the e-book: Quick Guide: Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

How to Measure with Meaning: Identify Parcel Performance Indicators

As parcel shipping evolves, so too are the metrics and indicators we use to measure its performance.  A job well done is no longer defined as simply moving products from point A to point B.  It’s also about delivering on time and under budget.  And as the industry continues to shift, the future of how we manage parcel shipping will demand more data – which means you’ll need to identify and track more parcel performance indicators.

A need for new and relevant parcel shipping metrics.

From the number of steps we take in a day to the number of users who clicked on an online ad, technology allows us to measure both our personal and professional worlds.  We’re in a measurement craze right now, which can make it hard to know how to intelligently sift through the plethora of available data analytics and Business Intelligence.

So, when it comes to measuring parcel shipping performance, knowing where to start can be a daunting task. It’s best to look at your own parcel shipping ecosystem first, and ask yourself the following questions to start to understand what metrics are available – and important:

  • Which carrier services are we using?
  • How do we know whether our carriers are performing the services under contract?
  • How do we know we’ve selected the most efficient shipping option based on delivery deadlines, package destination, carrier rates, performance and other mission-critical factors?
  • What is my net landed cost of goods per parcel?
  • What percentage of my net landed cost of goods is comprised of accessorial charges?
  • Which accessorial charges occur most often? Is there a trend?
    • Residential surcharge?
    • Fuel surcharge?
    • Bad-address penalty?
    • Extended area surcharge?
    • Third-party account number penalty?
    • Large package surcharge?
    • Other?
    • What is my average parcel size?
    • What are my most frequent shipping lanes?
    • How often are my parcels late, lost, or damaged?

And if you’re shipping internationally, there are additional considerations:

  • Which surcharges and fees occur most often with cross-border shipping? Is there a trend?
    • Cross-border processing fees?
    • Brokerage fees?
    • Additional insurance fees?

A Clearer View of Your Logistics

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingEvery logistics leader wants to know that carrier procurement is aligned with strategy and that they’re receiving the delivery outcomes for which they’ve paid. Questions like these provide insight into your current parcel shipping environment: what your company ships, how your company ships, how much your parcels weigh, where your parcels go, how long it takes, and how much it costs – to name a few!  They’ll also give you a clearer view of what’s happening inside of your organization: what you need to fix and where you’re winning already.  You may find you have to adjust course if you want to position your operations to seamlessly scale during the next peak season, or you may discover that if you just stay on path, you’ll continue to optimize your transportation spend and deliver on your customer promise.

Simplify the Complexity of your Parcel Shipping Data Capture

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of indicators we’ve listed, start small and just pick two to begin.  As stated by our V.P. of Business Intelligence, Mike Eisner, “When businesses begin to connect the data from shipping… complex decisions and tasks get simpler.”

If, however, you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t have immediate access to this kind of data, then you need to consider whether it’s time for a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping – complete with Business Intelligence – to give you the insight you’re seeking.  A TMS for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence will connect your data from carrier selection… to parcel shipping execution… to carrier invoice payment, and then synchronize it for reporting.  Suddenly, you’ll have a 360-degree view of your shipment operation and you can ask sophisticated questions of your data to drill down into those performance indicators to get insights that make sense.  Even better: you’ll create a data-driven culture in your shipping environment, where everyone can answer their own questions and make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Don’t Get Left Behind

According to Salesforce, approximately 89% of all American businesses are investing in data and data analytics processes. With so much data being captured, it stands to reason there will soon be a very definite segregation between those businesses leveraging the benefits of business intelligence, and those that do not.

To learn more about how you can leverage a TMS for parcel shipping in your organization, download our e-book, Quick Guide: Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

 

The Power of Transportation Management in E-Commerce Parcel Shipping

Companies racing to leverage e-commerce opportunities may suddenly find themselves shipping internationally – and at high volumes.  To do so successfully means simultaneously:

This is no easy feat – although e-commerce creates seemingly infinite sales opportunities, it also introduces new pressures that many organizations aren’t equipped to handle.

Speed is the New Currency

Customers have been conditioned by popular e-tailers such as Amazon and Alibaba to expect same-day/next day delivery.  And it doesn’t seem likely these expectations will lessen any time soon.  On the contrary, they may actually increase.  In its 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey, PwC asked approximately 22,000 shoppers worldwide to weigh in on their shipping preferences – from deliveries to returns. Survey results revealed for one-third of those Amazon customers who use the company’s Prime service, the most important benefit cited was unlimited free delivery (mentioned by 72% of Prime users), and one-quarter of Prime users say they prize Prime’s free two-hour delivery option as well.

Shipping Parcels Globally Creates a Complex Logistics Ecosystem

While geographic boundaries may have shrunk, crossing these boundaries requires shippers to navigate a labyrinth of local couriers, paperwork, tariffs, and customs – and if a shipment includes a high value or hazardous item, the process is even more elaborate.  Add consumer expectations for same-day/next day delivery to the mix, and organizations are suddenly under tremendous pressure to flawlessly navigate cross-border shipping while eliminating any chance of a shipment being held up at customs.

Customer Expectations

Customer expectations are high and evolving, created and re-created daily as they encounter highly satisfying experiences from product discovery to product delivery.  According to a new report from project44, 85% of marketers now say delivery is moderately to very important to their brand and customer experience. “Whether it is ordering dinner via Grubhub, curbside pick-up for household items at Walmart, or Amazon Fresh’s store-to-door grocery delivery, companies are increasingly expanding their offerings to include services that bring products directly to consumers.”  This means that for retail shippers, working on the customer experience post-checkout is essential for repeat purchases.

Omnichannel Complications

Omnichannel order fulfillment complicates parcel shipping workstreams, as companies move inventory from distribution center (DC) to store, from store to store, from store to consumer, from

DC to consumer, and more – all in parallel.  While omnichannel distribution can improve sales, customer service, merchandising initiatives, and more if implemented effectively, there are disadvantages.  For example, using retail stores as fulfillment centers can create major challenges for in-store productivity/profitability, customer service, and staff retention, and as retailers decentralize shipping operations and access inventory in stores, this creates “order fragmentation” and increases costs.

Video: Omnichannel Retail | 1:20

Siloed Operations

Transportation teams often operate in a silo, and decision making becomes flawed.  While larger organizations may be disciplined with data strategies and use of business intelligence, small organizations may be so focused on buzz words like ‘big data’ that they have overlooked the importance of ‘right data.’ Management may not fully realize the value of business intelligence, or they may feel overwhelmed when they understand they lack key informational insights or have data trapped in silos.

With all of these pressures, it’s no wonder organizations struggle to seamlessly execute end-to-end e-commerce shipping. And as long as shipping processes remain manual and disconnected from larger enterprise systems, shipping data will continue to be siloed and leadership will be left flying blind—with no way to plan, execute, and measure their parcel shipping operations at a strategic level.

While it may feel like a daunting task, getting up to speed – and continuing to maintain pace –  with the e-commerce market is no longer optional.  Fueled by mobile, which saw sales increase 55% in a year, eCommerce in North America grew by 16% in 2018 to over $500 billion.  The urgency and the opportunity to work differently has arrived.

What Not to Do

Many organizations are acutely aware of the pressures that come with e-commerce parcel shipping, but their attempts to address it continue to be tactical, rather than strategic. They roll out various productivity initiatives in the warehouse, they increase the number of carrier workstations on the warehouse floor, or they retrofit existing platforms – all the while thinking, “Well, this has worked for us before.” These initiatives inevitably fail because the tools and technology weren’t built for the demands of e-commerce order fulfillment and the reality of how people and companies must work in today’s shipping environment. In the world of modern shipping, surviving and thriving requires bold, new steps.

A Bold, New (Necessary) Way

A Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping enables organizations to transform e-commerce shipping processes – optimizing, connecting, and adapting the way transportation teams work so shipping volumes, and success, can quickly scale.  How? By helping teams save money, time, and labor in shipping.  It can also solve many issues within fulfillment ops, procurement, finance, and customer service.

Think of a TMS for parcel shipping as a crucial vertebrae in the supply chain backbone. It connects to all other systems and tools in a boundaryless way, allowing organizations to start small and grow across the enterprise when ready.  It helps supply chains move at a new pace by uniting end-to-end shipping tasks and data, which in turn allows fulfillment, procurement, and customer service teams to focus.  Suddenly, organizations can:

  • Leverage a single system to manage carrier contracts, comply with label and documentation requirements, and see the long-term impact of various carrier service rates – while also increasing capacity to identify new carrier services and on-board them quickly
  • Integrate parcel shipping with other supply chain solutions, such as ERP, WMS, and OMS to create one ecosystem, so to speak, for the entire shipment lifecycle
  • Centralize all parcel shipping data (i.e., shipment volumes, cost variables, delivery events) and run data analytics and reports to gain visibility and improve decision-making on everything from transportation budgets to carrier invoice payments
  • Achieve higher on-time delivery rates, enable proactive customer communications regarding delivery, and automate the returns process

A Mandate for the Modern Age

A TMS for parcel shipping both accelerates and orchestrates e-commerce shipping with greater precision and certainty, making it possible to see what’s happening across the entire shipping ecosystem in real-time. It’s modern transportation management at its finest, where all parcel shipping activities can be planned, aligned, choreographed, and measured. When you consider that according to Gartner, by 2020, same-day delivery will drive up logistics costs as a percentage of revenue by 50%, having a TMS for parcel shipping is no longer a “nice-to-have,” it’s a true necessity in the modern world of e-commerce.

Learn more about Logistyx TME.

What is a Transportation Management System for Parcel Shipping and Why is it Important?

In this article:
1. The two primary functions of a TMS for parcel shipping: planning and execution
2. TMS for parcel shipping: capabilities overview
3. Omnichannel distribution challenges: increasing order volumes, changing customer expectations, disconnected business systems

 

Scaling parcel shipping, whether you’re a retailer, a manufacturer, or a 3PL, has traditionally been an intimidating challenge. Companies contract with one or two domestic carriers, and logistics teams manually enter orders into on-premise carrier workstations to produce carrier-compliant labels and documentation. This means as parcel volumes scale and demand for same-day and next-day delivery surges, companies are left with little ability to rate shop and even less ability to execute.

And there’s no end in sight to this dynamic. As Bloomberg News summarizes in a recent article on the Amazon-FedEx delivery feud, “…the common features for all involved are an ever-increasing flood of packages combined with greater pressure on profits.”

There’s no escaping reality: smart parcel shipping management is critical, and it literally pays for a business to invest in a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping. The proof is in the numbers. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2017, total spending on logistics rose to a record of nearly $1.5 trillion, up 6.2% from the year before, and about $250 billion more than companies spent on logistics in 2008. And on average, here at Logistyx we’ve found it costs companies at least 10% more to manage shipping without a TMS for parcel shipping than with one. That adds up to tremendous savings – in hard dollars as well as in labor and time saved week after week.

With 2019 on track to demonstrate record-breaking growth in the parcel shipping market,
now is the time for companies to invest to keep their parcel shipping spend under control. When at least 60% of a company’s total shipping volumes are parcel, TMS for parcel shipping is essential technology.

Omnichannel Retail | 1:21

What Is a TMS for parcel shipping?

A TMS for parcel shipping has two primary functions: planning and execution. The planning stage begins with overall carrier rate calculations and ends with carrier selection and package consolidations based on factors such as a shipper’s business rules, a customer’s delivery preferences, and the inventory’s location. The execution stage encompasses everything from printing shipping labels and documents to ensuring the execution of the delivery commitment. Basically, if you need to get a parcel from point A to B, or even C to D, a TMS for parcel shipping will handle that, and more.

They’re able to:

  • Streamline order fulfillment ops and set each parcel up for cost-effective, on-time delivery before it leaves the warehouse
  • Integrate with leading business systems to seamlessly execute shipments from any operation, whether it’s automated, manual, or somewhere in between
  • Identify the best carrier service and automatically provide a label that complies with the carrier’s requirements
  • Account for the variables in carrier contract negotiations and eliminate the guesswork in budgeting
  • Calculate the impact of a new carrier contract on the bottom line
  • Identify savings opportunities across attributes such as origin-destination, carrier services, modes, and accessories
  • Automatically compare carrier invoices against expected transportation costs and identify discrepancies
  • Report on transportation spend according to geography, business unit, accruals, and GL Coding
  • Identify opportunities to deploy different multi-carrier parcel delivery strategies that yield greater returns
  • Send instant warning alerts if a parcel is off track or behind schedule

Why is a TMS for Parcel Shipping Important?

Market factors such as an increasing demand for omnichannel distribution. Rapidly growing ecommerce order volumes have changed how companies operate, requiring them to support faster order fulfillment processes, millions of parcel delivery variables, infinite supply chain work streams, and a more global customer profile.

Additionally, demand for same-day/next day delivery is growing and carrier services are expanding. The C-Suite is under growing pressure to reduce net landed cost of goods and manual labor expenses. End-to-end order fulfillment data is trapped in silos. Companies are trying to navigate this new market, and they need a powerful software solution to succeed.

Implementation Cannot Happen Soon Enough

Any efficiencies achieved in the distribution model can help companies successfully navigate these new market dynamics, and shippers who can invest in TMS for parcel shipping systems stand a better chance of keeping overall transportation costs in check and improving customer satisfaction. With the right TMS solution, modern companies are eliminating multiple steps in the order fulfillment process, optimizing carrier service selection, syncing shipping data across business-critical systems, and yielding tremendous gains in on-time delivery in full rates – all of which helps them compete in an ever-changing market.

Learn how a TMS for parcel shipping can benefit your business today.

How a TMS for Parcel Shipping Helps Grow your Business

Consumer demands push parcel shipping volumes to new heights every year. It’s a global phenomenon, and as a result, both retailers and manufacturers are re-prioritizing the role of parcel shipping in the organization. But good intentions alone won’t get the job done.  To understand the implications of parcel shipping on the supply chain, shippers need to re-think distribution strategies and consider the myriad challenges scaling shipping volumes, expanding marketplaces, and same-day/next-day delivery expectations can present.

Global Omnichannel Distribution

Perhaps you’re looking to implement or revise your omnichannel strategy. Or maybe you want to expand your product offering to another vertical or geographic area. Growing your company doesn’t happen by itself, nor does it happen overnight. And let’s not forget that only so much can be done by your workforce.

The definition of omnichannel is changing, and the reality is that a global, modern omnichannel strategy requires you to ship from anywhere to anywhere at the desired time, making it necessary to work with different carriers in order to deliver as promised. This can be tough on your fulfillment team, who may suddenly need to adhere to parcel shipping regulations in a new country, select the right carrier, and meet the specific documentation requirements – all while handling the usual influx of orders.

Parcel Delivery Transparency

Today, buyers expect to know the exact status, location, and ETA of their package, and the latest research indicates a delivery failure influences the customer experience more than a mediocre website.  This means that for companies looking to establish and maintain customer loyalty, exceptional customer service has to be more than just lip service.

But high levels of service require more than a friendly voice on the end of the line.  They require shipment data.  And sadly, this shipment data can be hard to come by.  Carriers each have their own status messages and formats, making shipment visibility fragmented.  Unfortunately, customer service departments often struggle to create a full overview of a shipment’s status, let alone communicate proactively to a customer regarding delivery time.

Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Scale

Automated, consistent parcel shipping processes backed by the right tools can overcome obstacles and make scaling your business possible.  A TMS for parcel shipping will empower you to fulfill more orders and track their movements anywhere in the world – using the same workforce.  And the benefits don’t stop there.  With the right TMS for parcel shipping, you can also:

  • Optimize carrier selection and ensure cost-effective delivery to customers
  • Monitor every shipment to ensure carriers are performing services as contracted
  • Create both domestic and cross-border carrier compliant documentation and labels to avoid delivery disruption and prevent fines
  • Gain real-time visibility to each parcel and implement smart exception workflows to rapidly react to delivery disruptions and inform customers
  • Seamlessly connect to your business-critical applications, allowing your teams to work across systems without interruption

Want to see how your company can benefit from a TMS for parcel shipping?  Schedule a demo today.

 

When to Choose a Transportation Management System for Parcel Shipping

Every manufacturer, retailer, and 3PL has its own unique capacity for logistics tech investments. In fact, many companies still get by with phone call track-n-trace, paper carrier contracts, and Excel sheets. Whatever works, right? But according to Gartner, by 2020, same-day delivery will drive up logistics costs as a percentage of revenue by 50%, which means we think an investment that solves the many pain points of shipping (and has an impressive ROI) is worth making. And modern technology has transformed the way we can handle parcel shipping — so much so that going without it may be hurting your bottom line. So, how do you know when you’re ready to implement a transportation management system for parcel shipping?

Know What You Want to Accomplish

First, it’s vital to explore exactly what you need your transportation management system (TMS) for parcel shipping to do. Are you struggling to understand various carrier contracts and quickly onboard new ones? Are you looking to find the best rates for fluctuating shipping volumes and lanes? Are you missing your delivery commitments to your customers, and if so, how is the problem impacting the bottom line? Start by calculating how much money you’re losing by not using a smart, streamlined, and accurate parcel shipping management platform.

While a TMS for parcel shipping ultimately allows you to save money, time, and labor in shipping, it can also solve many issues within fulfillment ops, procurement, finance, and customer service. Discover everything you can accomplish with new TMS for parcel shipping technology:

  • Manage carrier contracts, comply with label and documentation requirements, and see the long-term impact of various carrier service rates – while also increasing your capacity to identify new carrier services and on-board them more quickly.
  • Centralize all parcel shipping data (i.e., shipment volumes, cost variables, delivery events) in a single, accessible platform and integrate it with other enterprise systems.
  • Get real-time updates on all shipping and delivery details.
  • Run data analytics and generate reports for better decision making.
  • Achieve higher on-time delivery rates, be proactive about customer delivery updates, and automate the returns process.

If your current logistics environment is struggling with budgeting, data management, and on-time delivery tracking, to name a few, it may be time to invest in TMS for parcel shipping technology.

Video: The Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping

Define the Scope of your Transportation Management System for Parcel Shipping

Ensure the success of your investment by digging into the details. To truly understand whether a TMS for parcel shipping is worthwhile, it’s crucial to identify which features of the system will be meaningful for your specific business needs. Answer the following questions before taking the leap.

Which carrier services am I using? Whether it’s UPS Ground or FedEx Priority Overnight, the label requirements change with each carrier service you use, and the more carrier services you utilize, the more you should consider adopting a TMS for parcel shipping. Keep in mind, different TMS for parcel shipping systems may integrate with specific carrier services, so confirm you’re investing in one that caters to your company’s specific needs.

Do I have the capacity to handle my current parcel shipping volumes? Same-day and next-day delivery expectations, combined with increasing parcel volumes, may be the pivotal factors that push you toward a TMS for parcel shipping investment. And if you’re not feeling the pinch now, consider that with healthy growth, your business could reach capacity. Don’t hesitate to think in the long-term here. Make sure your TMS for parcel shipping selection can handle not only your current needs, but also be capable of taking on more.

How is my procurement and carrier service selection process? If you’re drowning in carrier contracts, lack proper insight into your contract history, or struggle with rate simulation and budgeting, then a TMS for parcel shipping can be a life-changing tool for your business. As long as the TMS for parcel shipping of your choosing specializes in procurement ops, you’ll be on the right track.

In the past, TMS for parcel shipping technology was often difficult to integrate, required an on-premise installation, lacked cross-border functionality, and cost a fortune to operate. Luckily, the past decade has been monumental for the technology. Companies are now seeing almost immediate ROIs when implementing a TMS for parcel shipping while simultaneously expanding their geographic footprints, implementing omni-channel distribution, and even innovating with 3D print-and-ship strategies. Because, let’s face it: parcel shipping can’t just be about delivering parcels. It also has to be about delivering bottom line performance.