Webinar: Simplifying the Complexity of Multi-Carrier Parcel Management | October 8, 2020 Register Now

How a Cloud Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System Benefits Small to Medium-Size Businesses

A multi-carrier parcel management system helps companies streamline their parcel shipping processes to achieve on time delivery at the lowest possible cost. Rather than use one or two carrier-supplied systems to prepare a parcel for shipment, a multi-carrier parcel management system enables a shipper to rate shop across multiple carriers within a single system, automatically identifying the carrier that can provide the best rates to a particular region according to the shipper’s business rules, and ensuring every shipment is in compliance with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations.  This enables companies to quickly onboard new carriers or carrier services in the event of a supply chain disruption and provides them with the agility they need to accommodate increasing shipping volumes, manage new or unexpected shipment origins and destinations, and meet customer delivery expectations.

Cloud Systems Democratize Multi-Carrier Parcel Management Technology

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingMany small and medium-size organizations incorrectly believe multi-carrier parcel management systems are only for large, enterprise organizations. While this notion may have been true when systems were installed on-premise and at great expense, the technology has now moved to the cloud and companies like Logistyx can bring the benefits of a multi-carrier parcel management system to any size company.  Because of the cloud, these systems offer a much lower total cost of ownership, are simpler to implement, and require no internal IT support.  Furthermore, a cloud-based solution easily scales to support a company as shipping volumes and complexity increase, enabling high-growth businesses to seize opportunities and react to threats without navigating manual processes or extracting data from clumsy systems.

Now is the Right Time for Small and Medium-Size Businesses to Invest in a Cloud Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System

Investing in new technology might seem unreasonable given today’s climate, but small- to medium-size companies with a growth mindset are actually moving forward with new technology implementations, and in particular with cloud multi-carrier parcel management systems to ensure that when the economy rebounds, they have the competitive edge.  Rather than plan for a return to “normal,” these businesses are instead using this time to redefine “normal” and prepare their supply chains to withstand increases in e-commerce and execute omnichannel order fulfillment.  They recognize a multi-carrier parcel management system will enable them to succeed in this new “normal” and give them the ability to:

  • Optimize and consolidate parcel shipments
  • Improve on-time delivery rates
  • Decrease parcel shipping spend
  • Reduce parcel shipping errors
  • Access a large carrier pool
  • Monitor shipments in real-time
  • Quickly evaluate carrier performance
  • Communicate shipment status to customers

Small and Medium-Size Shippers Need Data Too

For small and enterprise shippers alike, a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system will provide full oversight of shipping operations and deliver easy access to real-time data, allowing stakeholders to make insight-driven decisions on how and where to make changes that yield incremental increases in profits per parcel that add up to substantial bottom line savings.

For instance, the robust reporting in a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system enables businesses to regularly compare transportation spend by carrier, and across different zones, to identify trends that may impact financial growth.  And aggregating and analyzing data from business-critical applications such as an ERP in conjunction with a multi-carrier shipping system can help identify actionable opportunities, such as improving inventory availability to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

Small and medium-size businesses looking to make a level jump will need the help of a best-of-breed system such as Logistyx TME.  Check out the Logistyx quadrant to learn more about how an organization of any size can benefit from our cloud multi-carrier parcel management system.

 

Guidelines for Purchasing a Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System

For companies shipping parcels, managing every stage of the delivery from the distribution center to the doorstep is complicated.  Even the most sophisticated shippers struggle to overcome distribution challenges and control transportation spend.

As a result, shippers often implement multi-carrier parcel management systems to cost-effectively deliver their products to their customers on time.  And because many solution providers are continuously innovating system features and functionality to support parcel shipping challenges of increasing complexity and scope, these shippers are yielding a quick ROI on the technology and finding a competitive edge.

However, not every multi-carrier parcel management system provider can support highly complex, global scenarios with a complete set of features and functionality and a worldwide network of carrier services integrations.  Therefore, to help shipping stakeholders make the right multi-carrier parcel management system purchase, Logistyx created a shipping quadrant. The quadrant helps companies quickly ascertain how their current shipping operations compare to their long-term product distribution vision and then determine which shipping technology they need to execute their distribution strategy, both today and tomorrow.

The quadrant accounts for functional areas such as:

  • Parcel Contract Management
  • Carrier Compliance
  • Parcel Consolidation
  • Label and Document Creation
  • Parcel Execution
  • Real-Time Parcel Visibility
  • Reporting/Analytics

Logistyx Shipping Quadrant for Blogs

Companies can fall into any of the four quadrants.  One might be in the lower left, only requiring shipping technology with basic labeling and execution functionality to match its business model, and that’s okay.  Others might be on their way to a worldwide omnichannel strategy and need functionality such as a Contol Tower and Business Intelligence – and on a global basis to boot.  Many are likely somewhere in between; possibly on the way to an omnichannel strategy, but currently only shipping domestically, or shipping globally, but volumes are low.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingUsing the Logistyx Quadrant, companies can ensure they’re leveraging the right technology for their unique distribution strategy and goals.  In line with Gartner recommendations,  Logistyx advises companies researching multi-carrier parcel management systems to first identify their most challenging issues and then opt for a solution that can handle the issues at the most sophisticated level.

The Benefits of a Cloud Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System

Digital agility is also a critical factor when selecting a multi-carrier parcel management system. 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.

Cloud multi-carrier parcel management systems improve digital agility by allowing businesses to seamlessly connect people, processes, and third parties to their parcel shipping operations in real time, regardless of location and with minimal upfront costs and IT investment. All users can execute, track, and analyze parcel shipping processes in a single solution – improving reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy when the unexpected occurs. ​Furthermore, using a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system enables businesses to realize a return on investment quickly — without the hit of an initial investment and with the benefit of accelerated implementation and integration processes.

Popular benefits include:

  • Quickly and seamlessly integrating with other supply chain technology to create a global supply chain ecosystem.
  • Syncing data across all supply chain functions, making it decision-grade and providing a single source of truth for all parties.
  • Easily scaling to support the company as shipping volumes and complexity increase, enabling high-growth businesses to seize opportunities and react to threats without navigating manual processes or extracting data from clumsy systems.

Choose the Right Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System for your Business

You can simplify the complexity of parcel shipping by implementing technology that best meets the needs of your unique shipping environment.  To learn more about the Logistyx quadrant and how to purchase the right multi-carrier parcel management system for your business, contact a Logistyx expert today.

What is a Multi-Carrier Parcel Management Solution?

The term “multi-carrier parcel management solution” has become more widespread as companies digitize their supply chains to successfully execute an omnichannel order fulfillment strategy and ship parcels competitively.  But what is a multi-carrier parcel management solution?

According to Gartner:

“Multicarrier parcel management solutions help companies select the appropriate (best) parcel carrier from among all contracted carriers. This selection is based on order characteristics (such as weight and dimensional properties), delivery rules (such as delivery time and delivery zone) and carrier performance, while considering the cost differentials of various carrier offerings. These tools also enable shippers to manage the creation of labels, create shipper manifests, provide status messages to customers or customer service representatives, and manage carrier rates.”

In addition, multi-carrier parcel management solutions often integrate with a company’s ERP system and/or a warehouse management system (WMS) to create a single, efficient, supply chain ecosystem. Orders flow seamlessly between the technologies in the ecosystem, creating organizational alignment, decreasing the time from order to delivery, and yielding benefits such as:

  • Decreased transportation spend and increased profits per parcel
  • Time savings
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Informed decision-making
  • Simplified collaboration with supply chain stakeholders
  • Cost-effective operational scale

Choosing the Right Multi-Carrier Parcel Management Solution

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingEvery shippers’ parcel shipping operations are unique.  And the truth is, so too are the multi-carrier parcel management solutions on the market.  Some offer basic rating, rate shopping, and labeling, while others offer more advanced functionality such as returns management and Business Intelligence. To reap the benefits listed above and quickly generate an ROI, it’s important to choose the solution that’s the best fit for your business.  The first step is to understand the direct impact of each feature within the technology and then determine whether it can improve your specific shipping environment.

According to Gartner, most multi-carrier parcel management solutions offer basic features that unlock potential for improved operational efficiencies and increased visibility throughout the supply chain.  These may include:

  • Parcel Contract Management
  • Carrier Compliance
  • Parcel Consolidation
  • Label and Document Creation
  • Parcel Execution
  • Real-Time Parcel Visibility
  • Reporting/Analytics

While a shipper’s top priorities are usually cost optimization and the ability to work within a large carrier services network, capabilities outside of the basics listed above can enhance the entire shipping process, deliver better customer service, and utilize data more effectively. These advanced features may include:

  • Parcel Optimization
  • Procurement and Bid Optimization
  • Automated Rate Shopping
  • Parcel Freight Payment
  • Mobile Solutions
  • Last-Mile Delivery
  • Returns and Claims Management

With so many features and functionality available in multi-carrier parcel management solutions, even the most seasoned industry expert can become confused when looking to implement a new solution.  Our best advice is to remember the right solution for your business will be the one that expands and contracts with your business, so you always have the features you need to execute your order fulfillment strategy.

The Difference Between a Cloud and an On-Premise Multi-Carrier Parcel Management Solution

Multi-carrier parcel management solutions can be installed and accessed in different ways. The traditional way, and the one used by many early adopters of transportation technology, was on-premise.

An on-premise multi-carrier parcel management solution delivery model is exactly that – the solution is hosted on your premises (aka your servers). This means the system is reliant on your network and your IT resources. While this can mean faster LAN speed and file access, it also means you need the right infrastructure in place to manage your system’s security, maintenance, IT, upgrades, and support.  Many companies find that as they scale (think e-commerce), they quickly become underwater.

In contrast, a cloud multi-carrier parcel management solution is accessible to users via the internet and is managed by a third-party vendor. Rather than installing and hosting the software locally on your servers, you basically “lease” it on a fee basis.

Gaining in popularity, a cloud delivery model improves scalability, accessibility, and security – seamlessly connecting people, processes, and third parties to your parcel shipping operations in real time, regardless of location and with minimal upfront costs and IT investment. All users can execute, track, and analyze parcel shipping in a single solution – improving reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy.

And since the solution provider hosts and maintains the cloud multi-carrier parcel management solution, the software doesn’t monopolize space on your servers or consume your IT resources. The solution provider is responsible for all upgrades, repairs, and support, which means the solution deploys faster and enables you to realize a return on investment quickly — without the hit of an initial investment and with the benefit of accelerated implementation and integration processes.

Also important to note: an additional benefit of a cloud model is security. A reputable cloud multi-carrier parcel management solution will potentially provide more robust data security than you could yourself – particularly if you lack deep IT resources, staff, controls, or expertise.

How Can a Multi-Carrier Parcel Management Solution Decrease Transportation Spend?

Whether your parcel shipments are crossing borders or arriving next day, a multi-carrier parcel management solution lowers shipping costs by:

  • Comparing Carrier Rates:Multi-carrier parcel management solutions enable shippers to automatically access all of their negotiated carrier rates in one system, choosing the optimal rate for each shipment according to the shipper’s business rules and ensuring every shipment is in compliance with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations.
  • Paying Carrier Invoices Correctly:Carrier invoice auditing is another way to save on total transportation spend.  For shippers shipping large parcel volumes, auditing carrier invoices is crucial. Mistakes can, and do, happen. For example, a carrier may bill for a service level promised, but not received, or a carrier may add an unexpected accessorial. These errors can add up quickly and can have a surprising impact on the bottom line.By leveraging a multi-carrier parcel management solution, shippers can automate carrier invoice auditing.  All transportation data, from carrier contracts… to delivery events… to carrier invoices, is captured and normalized in the multi-carrier parcel management solution, which then flags any discrepancies between expected costs and carrier invoices – giving shippers greater control over their transportation spend.And the savings don’t stop there.  In addition to the direct cost savings carrier invoice auditing achieves, shippers also benefit from “soft cost” savings by eliminating resource intensive tasks such as opening mail, sorting invoices, verifying rates, auditing and approving invoices, paying carriers, and performing cost accounting.  By removing these soft costs, accounting teams can focus their efforts on more strategic initiatives.Furthermore, carrier invoice auditing provides shippers with an overview of invoiced carrier costs versus carrier agreements, enabling them to ensure their carrier procurement is aligned with strategy and to verify they’re receiving the delivery outcomes for which they’ve paid.  A sophisticated multi-carrier parcel management solution will model and compare selected carrier services against actual carrier performance to find routing alternatives with lower cost implications and/or faster delivery times. The solution can also reveal even more advanced optimization strategies, such as effective ways to position facilities and inventory around the globe.
  • Improving Visibility:Shippers leveraging a multi-carrier parcel management solution improve visibility into their supply chain operations.  All stakeholders use a single platform to see delivery status updates, receive alerts to delivery events, and make real-time adjustments to keep the supply chain running smoothly and customers happy.  For example, in the event of a delivery disruption, the shipper can take steps to send the product from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or the shipper can communicate with the customer: is he or she willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker to receive the product on time? Customers can even track and trace shipments on company websites without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing the customers’ browsing behavior on the shipper’s website – which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases. Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables shippers to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier contract negotiations.

Capitalize on Supply Chain Opportunities

Multi-carrier parcel management solutions like Logistyx TME help companies capitalize on supply chain opportunities by increasing end-to-end supply chain visibility, controlling transportation spend, and leveraging analytics to optimize order fulfillment strategies.  And since Logistyx TME is built on the latest cloud technology, it can be implemented quickly to yield a rapid ROI.

Contact one of our experts to learn more about Logistyx TME today.

10 Reasons to Implement a Cloud Multi-Carrier Parcel Management System

Not too long ago, if you were implementing a Transportation Management System for parcel shipping, also known as a multi-carrier parcel management system, you had to buy the software and install it on premise. Today, this has changed.  Sophisticated multi-carrier parcel management systems are in the cloud, and adoption rates are increasing not only within large, global enterprises, but within small to mid-sized organizations as well.

Why the sudden increase in popularity?

Here are 10 reasons:

  1. Low Barriers to Entry: A cloud system eliminates expensive, upfront installation-related expenditures associated with hardware and software, enabling any size organization to utilize the technology. Instead, with a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system, shippers pay subscription or usage fees.
  2. Easy Enhancements: The cloud multi-carrier parcel management software provider is responsible for solution upgrades and enhancements, including application maintenance, and most application upgrades can be deployed automatically, eliminating the need for internal IT resources.
  3. Connectivity: These systems connect the shipper to carriers and supply chain software providers The right  system will enable the shipper or logistics service provider to meet the customer’s shipping requirements from within the multi-carrier parcel management system, and there should be no limit to how many carrier service integrations the system can manage.  The system will automatically determine the carrier that can provide the best rates to a particular region and according to the shipper’s business rules, ensuring every shipment is in compliance with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations. This provides shippers and logistics service providers with the agility to quickly onboard new carriers or carrier services in the event of a supply chain disruption and provide them with the flexibility they need to accommodate increasing shipping volumes, manage new or unexpected shipment origins and destinations, and meet customer delivery expectations.
  4. Scalability: Businesses with a growth mindset need shipping technology that can support the company as shipping volumes and complexity increase, and a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system enables a high-growth business to quickly seize opportunities and react to threats without navigating manual processes or extracting data from clumsy systems. Cloud multi-carrier parcel management systems offer scalability, agility, and low total cost of ownership, rescuing companies from large IT overheads and empowering them to handle growth on their own terms by leveraging flexible technology that will scale with them.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingFurthermore, by implementing cloud technology that can operate globally and automate manual, time-consuming processes such as cross-border documentation or parcel delivery track-n-trace, major obstacles to international market expansion can be eliminated.

  1. Accessibility: Deploying a cloud-based system levels the playing field, as any size organization can access a variety of carrier services. Furthermore, a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system only requires internet access.  There’s no need for users to use a VPN or to be on the office network. This kind of flexibility enables everyone from shipping teams to customer service representatives worldwide to have 24/7 access to shipping operations. And in a dynamic shipping environment, access results in on-time deliveries.
  2. Reliability: Unfortunately, our world is fragile.  Whether the fault lies with Mother Nature or the damage is self-inflicted, the unthinkable can – and frequently does – happen.  Cloud multi-carrier parcel management system vendors deploy their solutions across multiple data centers to guarantee 100% up-time. In the event of a widespread power outage or weather-related disruption, shippers can still access the multi-carrier parcel management system and its data, ensuring on-time delivery KPIs are still within sight.
  3. Quick Implementation: A cloud-based multi-carrier parcel management system enjoys a significantly faster implementation time than that of a hosted or hybrid solution.  Essentially, it’s ready from the moment the contract is signed.  SaaS solutions can be deployed in as little as a few weeks, whereas a hosted or hybrid solution can take months. And a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system is more time-efficient when it comes to sharing and managing shipping data on an ongoing basis.  This means shippers receive a double benefit: time savings upfront and time savings over the long-term.
  4. Quick ROI: Cloud systems yield a quick Return on Investment (ROI) due to the low upfront costs and quick implementation. In fact, one of the main advantages of cloud is the financial savings.  And for many organizations, a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) is the primary and most attractive benefit of a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system, since companies save on human resources to service the application and on overall operating expenses (OPEX).
  5. Improved Decision-Making: Operations teams can improve transportation decisions by leveraging actionable reports and dashboards available within a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system. The right system will include Business Intelligence tools and technology that reduce time to information, create a single source of truth, and empower business operations with high-quality data that increases agility and drives toward KPIs.  Specifically, a Business Intelligence platform in a cloud multi-carrier parcel management system will understand how components such as distance, speed to delivery, density, and package size 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 the shipper or logistics service provider to negotiate with carriers. For instance, if a shipper is implementing changes in fulfillment to increase ship-from-store, or as many retailers have done during the COVID-19 outbreak, locate a new temporary DC, understanding how these changes impact zone and carrier service-level downgrade options are critical.
  6. Low Transportation Spend: A cloud multi-carrier parcel management system will lower transportation spend by as much as 10 – 20% on average.

A cloud multi-carrier parcel management system can provide myriad benefits for shippers. To learn more, download this Quick Guide: Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology: Part 6

At a time when e-commerce is growing and changing as rapidly as the expectations of the consumers using it, leveraging advanced technology to support parcel shipping is a given. The ability to navigate carrier changes, track orders from the initial order placement to the final order delivery, and analyze parcel shipping data and develop a forecast to support future success are just a few of the benefits of parcel shipping technology. But, with budgets as tight as consumer expectations for product delivery, shippers still sometimes ask, “Is buying parcel shipping software worth it, or should we invest in developing our own solution?”

ebook logistyx future-proofing-supply-chainAs the title of our Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology series suggests, most shippers choose to purchase software because the intricate complexities of building a solution from the ground up make the initiative impractical. In our previous five blog posts, we covered everything from the importance of multi-carrier integration, to the predictive insights offered by Business Intelligence, to the considerations that come into play for international and HAZMAT shipments, and much more. These complexities make building a homegrown solution too daunting for most, involving far more effort, time, and money than would be required to integrate an existing, more advanced solution.

As the series concludes, parcel shipping has perhaps never been more complex than it is at this moment. The importance of adaptable, agile parcel shipping technology can’t be overstated, and we invite you to review the topics we explored in this series:

If you want to streamline your parcel shipping strategy by harnessing the advantages of automation to improve customer service while saving your business time and money, tap into Logistyx’s best-in-class parcel shipping solutions to boost your supply chain resilience today


Previous: Part 5: International and HAZMAT Shipping

Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology: Part 5

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

In the inaugural post of this series, Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology, we examined some of the modern complexities of parcel shipping and the intricate technologies enabling this supply chain function. We continued with:

In today’s post, the fifth in the series, we look at two more complexities of parcel shipping technology: international and HAZMAT shipping.

Even considering the many multifaceted challenges modern parcel shipping technology must overcome, the complexities only increase for those shipping internationally or sending HAZMAT goods. Fortunately, parcel shipping technology like Logistyx’s TME manages the details of cross-border shipping and all of the necessary labels and procedures to ensure compliance of HAZMAT parcels wherever they are shipped.

Global Shipping

From the changes caused by Brexit to the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the impact of COVID-19 on the global supply chain, the ever-evolving task of international shipping has perhaps never been more complex.

As parcels cross borders, flawless, cost-effective fulfillment requires significantly more diligence than domestic. When Brexit was announced, for example, shippers had to ensure their software included updated country codes, which meant they needed to correct any issues during the grace period or incur delays, lost parcels, and the spoilage of time-sensitive goods. Having the right country codes properly documented helps ensure on-time, on-budget delivery, but this too requires diligence to ensure the right integrations and information are in place.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingThe requirements of international shipping vary by country, making software that automates compliance with each destination’s regulations vital for avoiding unnecessary delays, fees, and fines, especially for high-volume shippers. Even if a shipper can handle shipping to one country manually, recreating the process every time a regulatory change takes effect is a tedious and time-consuming task. Plus, while the importance of data is not exclusive to international shipping, it becomes more important than ever to have a central shipping system due to the scale and complexity of shipping parcels cross-border. Shipping internationally without the software to standardize and centralize data could mean data is spread out across systems and, as a result, insights go missed.

For Logistyx customer Gyrus Olympus, leveraging Logistyx TME reduced export document preparation time by a whopping 80%. Another global Logistyx customer, Card Security, saw a return on investment on their software in just six months.

HAZMAT Shipping

To the general population, HAZMAT implies a niche category of freight including contagions, waste, or nuclear materials. While these categories certainly fall under the HAZMAT umbrella, the most common HAZMAT shipments include phones, laptops, e-cigarettes, and other items containing lithium ion batteries; pressurized canisters, or cosmetics with certain ingredients. While these products are not generally considered dangerous in single-consumer quantities, dangers mount when not handled properly or in too large a quantity.

HAZMAT parcel shipping requires keen attention to detail to comply with safety regulations. Correct labeling and thoughtful packaging are key, but nothing is more crucial than carrier compliance given the increased training and safety requirements carriers need to move HAZMAT freight. Risking error by not automating the compliance process is both costly and dangerous. Multi-carrier parcel shipping software such as Logistyx TME ensures a HAZMAT load doesn’t exceed limits. When a load does exceed limits, it is spread across multiple carrier services and those selected are always optimized to prioritize speed, savings, and service.

As with any other product category, customers sometimes need to return HAZMAT goods. Instead of leaving compliance and carrier service selection to chance, parcel shipping software can be automated to include return labels and instructions for customers. Considering the same regulations apply, carrier service selection for the return trip should never be left to the customer.

So, Why Buy?

Moving parcels across international borders and navigating safe HAZMAT shipping are two of the most demanding processes in the fulfillment process, with little room for error. At Logistyx, the team behind our software ensures regulatory changes are reflected so customers don’t have to navigate this complex and evolving supply chain function alone. Not only does leveraging a parcel shipping software solution built to handle these complexities like Logistyx TME streamline and simplify the entire process for shippers; it can lead to consistent cost savings and better service.

See if Logistyx TME is right for you – your team members, customers, and bottom line will thank you.


Previous: Part 4: Labeling and Carrier Service Auditing
Next: Part 6: Parcel Shipping Complexities

How to Select the Right Shipping System for your Business: Part 3

How can you be sure you’re selecting the right shipping system for your business?  It’s the number one question every manager faces when weighing the costs and benefits of replacing a legacy system.  There is, unfortunately, no easy answer.  Shipping operations – and shipping software requirements – are more complex than ever; and there is usually no “out of the box” solution that meets most shippers’ needs.  

In the inaugural post of this series, How to Select the Right Shipping System for your Business: Part 1, we examined how to improve your odds for success by creating a shipping requirements blueprint.  In today’s post, the third in the series, we take a look at planning sessions.

Request a Planning Session

At this stage, you should have a very short list of potential vendors.  The best way to identify the best partner is to conduct a detailed planning session to review the vendor’s product, project implementation, and support methodologies.  Plan to include your key operational and IT staff in this discussion to ensure all critical areas, as outlined in your requirements document, are covered.  The vendor should be prepared to showcase their project resources during this meeting and provide a demonstration of the system based on real-world scenarios provided by your team.

It’s important to remember throughout this meeting the compelling reason behind implementing a new TMS for parcel. We find it’s very rarely a technology change that triggers an upgrade to our solution, but rather a business reason, such as the need for additional business features, wider carrier integration capabilities, better analytics, improved ability to make strategic decisions, and more. Make sure that as the vendor answers your questions, demonstrates their solution, and discusses their implementation methodology, they’re value propositions align with your compelling reason.

Put Fears to Rest

If you’re already using a shipping management system, whether it’s an older TMS or even a legacy carrier management solution that’s part of your WMS, then you may worry about the difficulty of upgrading.  Good news: this planning session is a great way to either validate or refute those fears.

New call-to-actionIn our experience, TMS for parcel systems don’t require large “master data” migrations.  Most of the assets lie in carrier connectivity, compliance, and contract data. So, the migration pain is generally limited. And remember: the idea is not to complete a data mapping exercise at this meeting, but rather to identify the right team members to create a detailed data map before implementation begins.

The biggest challenge we face when migrating from another TMS technology to a Logistyx solution comes when a shipper expects a like-for-like migration, with a similar level of features. In most cases, however, planning session discussions reveal the shipper doesn’t really need a like-for-like migration, they need to redesign the system to meet current requirements and lay the groundwork to scale.

Bottom Line: It’s a Partnership

Hopefully, you’ll gain great insights into the vendors’ level of expertise based on their responses and ideas generated during this planning session.  And at its conclusion, you should also be in a good position to identify the best vendor for your project–one whose team brings in-depth technical and industry expertise to the table.

To learn more about how Logistyx partners with its global customer base, contact us today.

How to Select the Right Shipping System for your Business: Part 2

How can you be sure you’re selecting the right shipping system for your business?  It’s the number one question every manager faces when weighing the costs and benefits of replacing a legacy system.  There is, unfortunately, no easy answer.  Shipping operations – and shipping software requirements – are more complex than ever; and there is usually no “out of the box” solution that meets most shippers’ needs. 

In the inaugural post of this series, How to Select the Right Shipping System for your Business: Part 1, we examined how to improve your odds for success by creating a shipping requirements blueprint.  In today’s post, the second in the series, we take a look at vendor comparisons and due diligence.

Compare Vendors

Once your requirements document draft is complete, you’re in a great position to consider potential vendors.  The Internet may be helpful in an initial search, but you may also want to:

  • Ask your industry peers; learn what they like and don’t about their system
  • Ask your carrier representatives about multi-carrier shipping systems with which they’ve integrated
  • Ask your enterprise system representatives about multi-carrier systems with which they’ve integrated

Carrier Agnostic or Carrier Provided?

Carriers also offer a range of free systems, which may sound very appealing as a means to get the basic job done with very little upfront investment.  However, it’s wise to carefully scrutinize what “free” means.  Most of these systems may offer some level of automation, such as rating, but they will not offer the same level of rate selection that a carrier-agnostic system provides.  Before you choose a carrier-provided system, consider the following:

  • Will the system allow you to fully compare rates between multiple carriers and modes?
  • Does the carrier require you to commit to a certain shipment volume and a contract in exchange for the free system? Can this commitment or contract be canceled and at what cost?
  • What will be required to integrate the system to exchange real-time data with your host systems? Who will be responsible for the implementation and updates?
  • What is the availability of support after the integration and what are the service level agreements of the supporting party?
  • Is the carrier willing to apply an equivalent monetary investment with a third-party vendor solution that more closely meets your needs in lieu of the carrier provided solution?

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingThese and other aspects are important to consider when calculating your implementation costs and evaluating your ability to respond to rapid business changes once your new system is up and running.  Let’s say, for example, your competitors offer free shipping for all customers and the best way to compete is to add other, lower cost carriers to your mix.  If you’re using a carrier-provided system, you’ve committed to a certain volume of shipments, which means your options are limited.  The best option is to choose a truly carrier-agnostic solution that allows you to shift your volumes dynamically as business partners change.

Vendor Due Diligence

Equally important to evaluating the software, it’s also critical to ensure you choose a vendor with sufficient resources to support your company for the long-term.  Your vendor due diligence process should include:

  • Company history, operations, and financials
  • Technical and industry expertise
  • Company’s product roadmap
  • Product development and support resources
  • Customer base

Once you’ve determined which vendors offer the software solution you require, get to know the company.  Insist on meeting and interviewing the team members who will work on your project.  Ask for customer references, preferably those with a configuration similar to your needs.

Bottom Line: It’s a Partnership

Ready to learn more about selecting the right multi-carrier shipping solution partner?

Contact us today to discuss how our technology can quickly take your parcel shipping initiatives to the next level and stay tuned for more posts in this series that provide recommendations on how to choose the right solution to navigate the growing complexities of parcel shipping.

How to Select the Right Shipping System for your Business: Part 1

How can you be sure you’re selecting the right shipping system for your business?  It’s the number one question every manager faces when weighing the costs and benefits of replacing a legacy system.  There is, unfortunately, no easy answer.  Shipping operations – and shipping software requirements – are more complex than ever; and there is usually no “out of the box” solution that fills most shippers’ needs.  Selecting a solution requires a certain level of trust that the software will actually perform as planned once it is configured for your needs.

In this series of posts, How to Select the Right Shipping System for your Business, we’ll examine how to improve your odds for success.  And for this inaugural post, we’ll consider the first important step:

Create a Shipping Requirements Blueprint

The first step every buyer should take is to create a shipping requirements document or blueprint that defines both “must have” and “preferred but not required” operational requirements.  Ideally, this document should be drafted before you even begin speaking with potential vendors.  The document doesn’t have to be perfect, but it is important to have a general workflow document to guide any dialogue with vendors.  Shippers who do so without it can unwittingly turn the control of the conversation over to the software vendor.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingCreating the requirements document may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  One approach is to take the existing documentation for your current system and use it as a starting point.  Odds are that your system may have changed since the document was created, but this can be noted.

As a next step, invite operational team members to help you map the existing and future shipping workflow on a whiteboard.  As you go through this process, try to avoid thinking solely in terms of replacing the functionality of the current system.  This is the time to identify current and future shipping needs that can deliver significant value to your business.

For example:

  • Are certain shipments processed manually due to billing, labeling, or document tasks your current system can’t handle?
  • Can your order entry department access the shipping system to quote accurate shipping rates on customer orders?
  • Are other departments such as sales, marketing, and purchasing able to access your shipping system to process non-warehouse shipments?
  • Are there other carriers you’d like to add to your portfolio but are prevented by current system limitations?
  • Are you planning to expand your e-commerce operations? Can your current shipping system accommodate this?
  • Are you prepared to handle new international customer orders as your e-commerce business grows?

The goal is to define and prioritize the specific deliverables you expect from the new system and the metrics you need to measure results.  If your mandate is to reduce transportation costs by 10%, what specific functionality is required to arrive at that reduction?  If you want to reduce surcharges due to incorrect addresses, what is required in the new system and how will you measure results?  These are just a few ideas to consider as you develop your requirements document.

Organization-Wide Dialogue is Critical

To ensure the new system delivers all the value it can, invite input from every department needing shipping information to do its job.  Although shipping systems are traditionally located in the warehouse, accurate shipping information is routinely needed by employees in purchasing, sales, order entry, customer service, and finance.

How would these departments like to access shipping information?  What information do they typically use, how do they obtain it, and how could you improve this?  What additional information would they like to have?

Organization-wide dialogue may take time and generate more feedback than planned, but it may also uncover great cost-saving opportunities that would have otherwise been missed.  For example, following are some issues raised by shippers:

  • “We have a shipment request sheet that is manually completed with the ship-to address, etc., then sent with the parcel to the shipping department, where it is manually keyed into the shipping system. This process is error-prone and time-consuming.”
  • “The big box stores require specific data to populate carrier reference fields for transmission to the carrier. We do this today by having the shipping operator read and key-in free form notes on the pick slip.  If there is an error, we are fined by our customer.  We’d like to automate this process.”
  • “Customer routing guides mandate that shipments be processed freight collect and/or third-party billing. Too many times we’ve erroneously shipped these orders “prepaid and add” only to have the customer refuse to pay shipping as specified in the routing guide.  I’d think that this could be done programmatically to eliminate the manual intervention.  Can you help?”
  • “We’d like the system to identify and flag shipment consolidations for us – both on domestic and international shipments. How can we do this?”

These are just a few examples of areas of opportunities that, once discovered, can streamline the workflow and reduce costs in areas that may have been overlooked.

Contact us today to discuss how our technology can quickly take your parcel shipping initiatives to the next level and stay tuned for more posts in this series that provide recommendations on how to choose the right solution to navigate the growing complexities of parcel shipping.

 

3 Practical Tips to Eliminate Hidden Shipping Costs

Many companies have significantly reduced their parcel shipping costs by implementing multi-carrier shipping software that allows them to compare carrier rates and automate labels and document production.  However, you can realize even greater savings by ensuring your multi-carrier shipping software is configured to preempt many common issues that result in hidden shipping costs.

Here are three practical improvements to increase profits per parcel:

1. Correct Shipping Addresses

When is the last time you checked your carrier invoice to review charges related to incorrect shipping addresses?  Address inaccuracies rarely get the attention they deserve, and left unattended, the dollars can quickly add up.

Costs related to incorrect delivery addresses can be huge and accumulate in several ways:

  • Incorrect delivery addresses: Say, for example, a customer accidentally types an incorrect street address for his or her ship-to address. Generally, the carrier will fix the issue with the delivery address, but you’ll pay for this service.
  • Residential delivery erroneously classified as commercial: A common and costly error occurs when residential deliveries are erroneously classified as commercial deliveries. Again, the carrier may fix it, but at a cost per package.
  • Increased customer service costs: Besides carrier surcharges, you as the shipper bear additional internal labor costs every time your customer service and shipping department employees interrupt their daily routine to resolve address-related problems.
  • Unhappy customers and canceled orders: Delivery address problems also lead to frustrated customers, order cancellations, and even the loss of a customer. An interruption or delay makes it too easy for the impulse shopper to decide they don’t really need the product after all.

Solution: Ensure your Multi-Carrier Shipping Software Includes Address Verification Functionality

The easiest way to prevent additional charges and lost customers is to leverage the address verification functionality in multi-carrier shipping software.  A shipping system specialist can help you evaluate your current shipping system and determine which multi-carrier shipping software best fits your needs, asking questions such as:

  • Does your current shipping system allow you to designate shipments as residential or commercial?
  • Does your current shipping system validate addresses at the street level, city, and/or zip code level?
  • Does your current shipping system detect multiple or near duplicate address matches?
  • Does your current shipping system allow the user to view and/or choose address details?
  • What is the address validation source used by your current shipping system?
  • Does your current shipping system require Delivery Point Validation (DPV)? DPV enables you to verify an address actually exists.

The bottom line?  This seemingly small problem adds up to huge costs for many companies.  If you are absorbing extra shipping costs due to incorrect delivery addresses, the right multi-carrier shipping software can eliminate the problems.

2. Add the U.S. Postal Service to your Multi-Carrier Shipping System

As many shippers know, postal shipping via the U.S. Postal Service can be an extremely cost-effective solution for small parcel deliveries.  The U.S. Postal Service also offers several cost-cutting benefits for small parcel shippers:

  • Flat-rate products to simplify shipping: Priority Mail Flat Rate service can be a simple, timesaving alternative for both domestic and international shipments. Designed for shipments up to 70 pounds, there’s no weighing, no researching zones, and no calculating postage.  Multiple box sizes are available to accommodate a wide range of products.
  • No fuel surcharges: Given the volatility of fuel charges, business shippers have a strong interest in this USPS advantage.  The USPS does not add fuel surcharges.
  • Saturday and residential delivery at no extra charge: Currently, the USPS delivers packages on Saturday at no additional cost, giving you up to 52 extra surcharge-free delivery days a year.
  • The USPS doesn’t charge extra for residential delivery: Compared to carriers who charge extra per residential delivery, the savings can really add up.
  • Largest delivery network in the U.S.: The USPS has the largest delivery network in the U.S. and is the only carrier that delivers to P.O. Box and APO/FPO military addresses.
  • Comprehensive delivery tracking: The USPS has significantly enhanced its delivery tracking capabilities for postal shipping. Shipments are now scanned more frequently to track package movements, providing a high level of visibility to the shipper and their customer.

Solution: Add the USPS to your Multi-Carrier System

Your shipping system vendor should be able to help you assess the cost savings you may achieve.  The U.S. Postal Service also provides consulting services for shippers.

3. Leverage Regional Carriers to Reduce Parcel Shipping Costs

Consider using regional carriers to handle some of your deliveries.  This can be extremely cost-effective for companies with a concentration of customers in certain geographic areas.

Regional carriers can be categorized in a number of ways.  Some focus on small parcel delivery, while others offer less-than-truckload (LTL) services for heavier shipping.

Certain regional carriers provide multi-state solutions, while others are couriers or “micro-regionals” that cover smaller geographic regions such as cities or a partial state.  There are hundreds of regional carriers operating in the U.S., providing shippers with plenty of opportunities to find those who offer the right rates, services, and technology.  Regional carriers offer numerous benefits:

  • Lower shipping rates: As a result of lower operating costs, regionals can often pass significant savings to customers compared to some of the major carriers’ pricing. How?  Most regional carriers transport packages via truck hubs instead of airlines, and trucking can be as little as 10% of airline costs.
  • Fewer surcharges: Many regional carriers don’t assess the same delivery surcharges that national carriers do.
  • Negotiating power: Adding regional carriers places shippers in a better negotiating position with their national carriers.
  • Responsive service: Regional carriers may be willing to take on special shipping requirements and have more flexibility in terms of the kinds of services they can offer.

Comparing and Choosing Regional Carriers

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingIt’s important to make sure your multi-carrier shipping system will accommodate the addition of regional carriers.  Some vendors already include a wide range of regional carrier integrations.  Perform a carrier cost/service analysis to determine if/where it makes sense to add regionals to your delivery network.  It’s important to assess the carrier’s financial stability, service territory, rate structure, etc.  Your shipping solution vendor should have the expertise to help you with this analysis.

Take Advantage of the Benefits of Multi-Carrier Shipping Software to Address Hidden Shipping Costs

By taking advantage of the benefits of multi-carrier shipping software, you can take advantage of tremendous opportunities to reduce shipping costs.  Of course, you achieve the greatest benefit by 1) ensuring all of the data input into your shipping process is accurately maintained and 2) optimizing your carrier portfolio to include the most cost-effective rates/service to accommodate your customers.

Contact us today to learn more about how multi-carrier shipping software is designed to manage a wide range of shipping scenarios.

Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology: Part 4

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

In the inaugural post of this series, Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology, we examined some of the modern complexities of parcel shipping and the intricate technologies enabling this supply chain function. We continued with:

In today’s post, the fourth in the series, we look at two more complexities of parcel shipping technology: labeling and carrier invoice auditing.

Seamless Shipping Starts with the Right Label

Small changes to carrier rates can have a major impact on which carrier service a shipper should use for any given shipment. Therefore, the right multi-carrier shipping software will feature seamless integrations with multiple carrier systems, enabling it to rate shop across the shipper’s transportation network for each shipment, using the shipper’s current contract rates and accounting for hidden factors like special services or extra carrier service costs (accessorials) to determine the carrier service best suited for each shipment based on origin, destination, service level, and business rules.

But flawless parcel shipping execution doesn’t end with carrier service selection. A successful parcel delivery journey starts with the right label. Every carrier has its own labeling regulations, and the right multi-carrier shipping software will automatically generate and print a carrier compliant label for each shipment, no matter the service.  Proper labeling can help shippers avoid delays, save on carrier costs, and deliver top-notch customer service. And shippers sending parcels internationally or working with HAZMAT or dangerous goods have even more to gain.

Shippers can use multi-carrier shipping software to achieve:

  • Sub-second responses for in-motion unattended labeling execution, so even the fastest fulfillment and distribution center systems can operate at max capacity
  • Full integration with conveyor-controlled systems, supporting in-motion unattended weighing and dimensioning and including exception monitoring
  • Direct carrier integrations to ensure labels are compliant and up-to-date when printed, thereby avoiding fees, fines, and delays

Deploy Parcel Delivery Strategies that Yield Greater Returns

If the carrier integrations, rate shopping, and compliant printing and labeling functions of parcel shipping technology empowers shippers to please customers and save money on the front end of a shipment, the same technology should audit carrier services on the backend of a shipment to ensure shippers received the services for which they paid.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingMaintaining accountability through carrier invoice auditing can help shippers recover savings they may have lost during delivery execution. Auditing creates transparency by comparing actual carrier performance and billing with projections, then flagging discrepancies. In other words, the software verifies carriers provided the services for which shippers paid, and the more an organization ships, the greater the savings recovery opportunities.

Parcel shipping software such as Logistyx TME performs a wide range of audit tasks, including:

  • Invoice validation and carrier payment resolution to determine whether the carrier provided the service requested and then billed the service correctly
  • Financial analytics to compare projections and actuals so shippers can identify opportunities to save and improve
  • Carrier performance analysis to identify carrier performance trends and inform carrier negotiations

So how can a shipper put the information gained through an audit into action?  Let’s say, for example, a shipper discovers through automatic invoice auditing a particular carrier’s ground service consistently delivers parcels to certain areas of the Midwest one day later than the shipper had anticipated. With this knowledge, the shipper can now improve planning by selecting a different carrier or service going forward to better meet customers’ needs.

And in addition to these direct cost savings, shippers can also benefit from “soft cost” savings, including the elimination of timely and menial tasks including opening mail, sorting invoices, researching rates, auditing and approving invoices, paying carriers, and assigning cost accounting codes. Plus, the cost and time saved through auditing can be reallocated to other key supply chain tasks, thereby optimizing a shipper’s entire operation.

So, Why Buy?

Spending less time in the weeds by automating parcel labeling and carrier invoice auditing will ensure consistency and compliance in your supply chain. But creating and maintaining the necessary carrier integrations alone is a monumental task, never mind building the labeling and auditing functionality in a solution from the ground up. Fortunately, Logistyx has a team of experts focusing on these complexities (and many more) every day. If you’re interested in simplifying shipping execution, saving time and money, reducing manual monitoring and interventions, and holding carriers accountable for the services they provide, find your supply chain software solution with Logistyx today.


Next: Part 5: International and HAZMAT Shipping
Previous: Part 3: Top-Shelf Customer Service

2 for 1: Get Choice and Visibility in a Multi-Carrier Shipping Solution

When it comes to retail parcel shipping, the near-constant evolution of consumer expectations can present key parcel shipping challenges to even the most sophisticated retailers.  For example, some consumers want free shipping, whereas others prioritize next-day shipping.  And while some consumers want parcels delivered to their homes, others prefer to pick them up curbside.  Complicating matters further: returns.  Some consumers want to return items directly to the store, and others are content to drop parcels off at their local carrier’s storefront.

How can you meet such varied shipping expectations and still maintain profit margins? What does it really take to satisfy a customer?

The Consumer’s Non-Negotiables

In today’s e-commerce market, the biggest players have moved consumer expectations toward a subscription-fee framework that rewards immediate gratification but limits choice. It’s entirely possible the consumers to whom you are shipping are pleased with a longer delivery lead time — but you won’t know unless you give them the option to choose.  Similarly, it’s entirely possible they’d prefer all items in an order ship at the same time, regardless of lead time. But again, you can’t know your consumers desire this option — and you can’t optimize your shipments to account for it — until you give them the choice.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingTo give consumers these choices, many retailers customize their e-commerce platforms to present multiple shipping options at check-out.  And on the backend, they integrate their e-commerce platform with a multi-carrier shipping solution. A sophisticated multi-carrier shipping solution will allow you to build business rules that account for the consumer’s shipment preferences such as origin, destination, lead time, service level, and cost, and then automatically select the lowest cost carrier service in your network to meet the consumer’s needs.

Even better: multi-carrier shipping software will automatically print the appropriate return shipping labels when the order is fulfilled.  You can then place those return labels into the cartons, enabling a simple, fast, and seamless return process regardless of whether the consumer returns the product to the store or ships the product back to your warehouse. And while convenient for the consumer, equally beneficial is your ability to pre-select the carrier service that makes the most financial sense for return shipping, thereby controlling transportation costs and minimizing return shipping errors.

Consumer-Focused Parcel Shipping Goes Beyond the Label

Once your e-commerce platform has given your consumers a say in how they want their parcels shipped, when they want their parcels shipped, and where they want their parcels shipped, and your multi-carrier shipping solution has printed the right label for the box (and the return), you need to give your consumer visibility into their parcel’s delivery journey and the estimated delivery time. In fact, time of delivery is just as important to consumers as lead time these days. This type of visibility gives consumers a sense of control and awareness — the same sense they get when you offer them those when/where/how delivery choices.

Therefore, the right multi-carrier shipping solution will also have a Control Tower that allows you to provide your consumers with visibility into their parcel’s delivery journey, including the estimated delivery time.  The system will send early warning signs when there are parcel delivery issues or “exception events,” empowering customer service teams to proactively trouble-shoot the exception event and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker.

A Control Tower even makes it possible for you to provide customers with the ability to track and trace shipments on your own (not the carrier’s) website – reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing the customers’ browsing behavior while on the website, which (fingers crossed!) could lead to additional purchases.

Consider too that tracking delivery exception events enables you to capture accurate carrier performance data – improving carrier service measurement and better informing carrier contract negotiations.

Find the Right Multi-Carrier Shipping Solution

Your goal as the retailer is to optimize parcel shipping so you can keep your transportation spend low. A great multi-carrier shipping solution with a Control Tower will allow you to remain flexible to adjust to consumers’ unique shipping preferences while achieving on-time delivery at the optimal cost.

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