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

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.

Ready or Not, New International Shipping Requirements Arrive July 1

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has dictated terms of North American trade for more than 25 years, but it ends when a new agreement takes effect on July 1, 2020. As if that were not enough, significant changes for reporting to the automated export system (AES) take effect at the same time for U.S. shippers sending goods of any value to China, Russia, or Venezuela.

Clients should contact Logistyx right away about any concerns related to these changing requirements, their impact on international shipping, and any workflow automation adjustments still needed.

Avoid North American delays by adding two new data elements

As NAFTA ends, a new agreement takes effect, but its name varies based on location:

  • In Canada: Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)
  • In Mexico: Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC)
  • In the United States: United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

As part of the new requirements, shipments originating in one of these countries and bound for another can claim preferential treatment to avoid costly tariffs and taxes. Shippers can also send more goods before needing to declare and pay duties, and they have more freedom in how they provide required information. Unlike previous requirements tied to NAFTA, as U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported, no specific certificate of origin form is required, but no matter what type of form a shipper uses to declare them, “any claim for preferential treatment under the USMCA should contain nine minimum data elements.”

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingInitially, the vast majority of cross-border North American shippers will manually generate forms to meet these requirements. Most major North American carriers are providing fillable pdf forms to help shippers declare the required nine data elements, and any shippers using brokers have likely received guidance from them about the best way to report these data elements. In fact, broker-dependent shipping operations could change dramatically since reporting these data elements will now be required for each and every package. Previously under NAFTA, shippers could secure blanket certification, and brokers would often be exempt from documenting required data points with each parcel until an annual quota was met.

Logistyx remains ready to help

Any Logistyx customers still unclear about the new data element requirements or what type of documentation to use to include these with shipments should contact the Logistyx support team right away to request assistance. Logistyx is currently working to update its systems, make the new reports available to any customers that need them, and embed new required documentation into shipper workflows.

Getting this wrong will lead to costly delays. There is no grace period, and shipments lacking the new correct documentation will get held up in customs and may also incur additional fees. These new requirements affect even the occasional cross-border shipper, but they have the potential to wreak havoc on unprepared shippers who regularly send goods across North American borders.

New Automated Export System requirements for shipments to China, Russia and Venezuela

U.S. shippers sending packages to China, Russia, or Venezuela must also address significant reporting changes for the automated export system (AES) that take effect July 1. These changes could create a lot of problems for unprepared shippers sending goods to these countries.

Shippers sending frequent parcels to consumers or small, low value freight shipments to business partners or others in these countries should especially be aware of a change to export compliance relating to the value of each shipment. While past requirements for AES filing only applied to shipments worth at least $2,500 (US), they now apply to any shipment going to any of these three countries regardless of the shipment’s value. Merchants shipping low cost consumer goods to these countries may have never had to report to the AES until now, but every shipment needs to be reported going forward.

Like the new North American requirements, the Logistyx support team is here to help clients manage these new AES reporting requirements. Shippers can automate this process to make it part of their ongoing workflow, file their own documentation, or have a carrier file on their behalf, but the new requirements take effect June 30, 2020. Failing to comply with these new requirements will lead to shipments being delayed in customs and could trigger additional fees and fines.

Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology: Part 2

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

In the inaugural post of this series, Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology, we examined some of the modern complexities of parcel shipping and the intricate technologies enabling this supply chain function. In today’s post, the second in the series, we look at two more complexities of parcel shipping technology: Business Rules and Business Intelligence.

The value of parcel shipping technology depends largely on the data input and output. In the input category, business rules empower shippers to direct the technology on specifically how to manage parcel shipments. In the output category, Business intelligence offers valuable and actionable insights to shippers to improve decision-making, problem resolution, profits, customer service, and more.

Business Rules

To align a solution with your business goals, parcel shipping software must be told how to manage the delivery of every customer order, and business rules give shippers the necessary controls to direct the technology in any situation it may encounter.

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingBusiness rules typically follow an if-then format, where one action triggers another. For example, if a customer selects two-day shipping, the system should have a business rule in place to handle this, accounting for the customer’s location, relevant carrier service options, and other factors. In this example, a shipper would likely direct the system to ensure on-time, two-day delivery at the lowest possible cost.

As shippers write business rules to cover a wide range of parcel management situations, they should factor in important variables, including:

  • Flexibility: What business rules can be “broken” and under what circumstances? For example, can an on-time delivery metric fluctuate during peak season or hurricane season?
  • Carrier Service Selection: Are carrier and service selections optimized based on rate, success metric, prior experience in the region, mode of freight, or some combination of these?

Determining the right business rules for every situation provides plenty of complexity without having to then code these business rules into a home-grown system. This is why most shippers avoid this complex, tedious, and time-consuming task by investing in parcel shipping software that meets their needs.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence should provide a 360-degree view of an entire parcel shipping operation. The real-time visibility of each delivery that Logistyx’s parcel technology provides, when analyzed as a whole, provides valuable insights shippers use to cut costs and scale a domestic or global shipping strategy. Business intelligence yields a trove of actionable business insights as it compiles aggregate data on parcel delivery and order fulfillment pricing, on-time delivery rates, and more. Harvesting these insights can lead to substantial bottom-line savings and increased customer satisfaction.

TME Parcel Dashboard Samples

With the right Business Intelligence or even some thorough manual analysis, insights obtained from parcel shipping can be used to:

  • Establish predictive insights for more accurate estimates of new shipping scenarios
  • Adjust carrier services for seasonality and regional or other supply chain disruptions
  • Identify patterns of delivery problems to devalue carrier services that continually underperform and adjust carrier service selection accordingly
  • Determine why oft-returned products fail to satisfy customers: the wrong products may be getting picked at a certain distribution center, size charts could be wrong for a particular product line, etc.

Business Intelligence can even help shippers fine tune the business rules in place to direct parcel management and ensure they serve their intended purpose. For example, if a business rule dictates a particular carrier’s ground service be selected for all two-day shipping orders to customers in the Midwest but Business Intelligence indicates customers in Wisconsin routinely receive late deliveries, business rules need to be adjusted to manage orders shipping to Wisconsin.

Logistyx customers have experienced the benefits of Business Intelligence firsthand and increased profits per parcel with our user-friendly solution:

  • By integrating our parcel shipping technology with enterprise supply chain systems, automating freight invoice reconciliation, and streamlining transportation planning, PL Developments recovered $1.5 million in transportation savings
  • MCT Manufacturer used Business Intelligence to streamline operations and saved 18% overall.
  • RockPoint Logistics chose Logistyx to automate its entire fulfillment process, which led to a 3% reduction in overall transportation spend and an increase in customer satisfaction.

So, Why Buy?

The interconnected complexities of effective parcel management technology simply create too arduous a task. Business rules provide the controls shippers need and Business Intelligence provides game-changing insights for shippers’ businesses, and both require advanced functionality, ongoing updates, and sophisticated integrations with resource planning systems.  Not only can this functionality be found in today’s parcel shipping technology, but it comes with a lower upfront cost, rapid deployment, and turnkey updates and maintenance.

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

Historically, merchants decreased transportation costs and met customers’ order fulfillment expectations with a single exclusive carrier contract and just one API user interface.  Today, however, this is no longer the case. The explosive growth of e-commerce and rapidly changing consumer behavior have raised the bar dramatically for what it takes to profitably meet customers’ delivery expectations, and the associated complexity of parcel fulfillment technology has quickly made the home-grown variety an endangered breed for good reason.

Aside from just a few Amazon-sized behemoths, even the most accomplished e-commerce merchants choose the simplicity of outsourcing their multi-carrier shipping technology initiatives. They acknowledge the complexity of such mission-critical tasks as streamlining carrier compliance, synthesizing data into cost-saving insights, and verifying addresses, all of which make building home-grown solutions impractical for most merchants.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingBusinesses’ current technology resources, available personnel, and scalability are just a few factors that have almost every merchant scrapping plans to build their own multi-carrier shipping technology, instead opting to shop for the right parcel management solution. While the rapid ROI of Logistyx’s parcel shipping technology makes the decision an easy one for many, reflecting on how far parcel shipping has come in recent years can convince even the most ambitious advocate of home-grown technology that it’s time to call off ground-up development and focus instead on a profitable, short-term implementation.

In this series of posts, Why Buy? The Demise of Home-Grown Parcel Shipping Technology, we’ll examine some of the complexities of today’s parcel shipping initiatives, the intricate technologies enabling them, and the competitive advantage many of today’s top merchants realize once they decide not to build their own.

For this inaugural post, consider just two requirements of modern parcel shipping technology:

  • Multi-carrier functionality
  • Infrastructure support

Multi-carrier functionality is critical for almost every merchant in this e-commerce era. To ensure parcels reach customers in a timely and profitable manner, fulfillment must include the ability to rate shop a variety of carrier services and select the best service for each delivery. For some global merchants, this requires tens or even hundreds of carrier-API connections, but even for those that only contract with the biggest carriers, building and maintaining a system that offers rate shopping and ensures carrier compliance typically requires more resources than what they have at their disposal. These automated carrier connections enable merchants to navigate shipping delays, outages, and other hurdles, and the technologies that support them require ongoing monitoring, modifications, and enhancements.

Considering the infrastructure required to support an initiative like this can produce cold sweats in a hurry. Organizations that build their own parcel shipping technology must account for hosting, security service-level agreements, load balancing, and scalability, but many fail to see past this tip of the iceberg. Carrier integrations alone can quickly overwhelm developers, and the scope of these integrations ties directly to the advanced features merchants increasingly seek to offer customers. One seller of health and wellness products, for example, required nearly 50 carrier integrations and opted to instantly integrate by licensing Logistyx’s TMS for parcel.

Despite the obvious challenges presented by these carrier integrations, they still represent just a fraction of the necessary infrastructure, because parcel shipping technology needs to work with more than just carrier technologies. Integrations also have to be built and maintained to ensure cooperation with order management, ERP, warehouse management, and transportation management systems, as well as hundreds of other third-party software applications.

Organizations must also consider the time and people they’d need for a truly effective home-grown solution. Business analysts, project leaders, implementation engineers, testers, trainers, and support personnel all must work together over time to build something of this magnitude.

No wonder so many organizations opt to outsource this function and rely on Logistyx’s TMS for parcel, the first single engine designed for global parcel shipping.

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 analyze how the growing complexities of parcel shipping technology have led more merchants than ever to choose Logistyx.

Retailers: Is your Transportation Strategy Ready for Peak Season?

Peak season is always stressful for the retail industry, but the COVID-19 pandemic could create more issues than usual.  Retailers can no longer rely on their usual playbooks, with planning cycles completely upended.  For example, there is currently as much as an eight-month lead time for goods from China, and most companies haven’t placed orders, waiting to see the extent to which the pandemic will subside and economies will stabilize. And even if businesses place orders today, can suppliers fulfill these orders given the disruptions in their own supply chains?

2020 will yield a very different peak season, with retailers firing marketing engines to promote whatever goods they can get their hands on and even re-marketing unsold spring and summer merchandise as the new “it” items for fall and winter.  And will consumers even be willing to shop in-store during peak? Safety and social distancing protocols will remain for the foreseeable future, likely with limits on the number of customers allowed in a store at a given time. It’s conceivable brands will forego big in-store sales to avoid overcrowding and retailers will reduce changing room capacity to enforce social distancing. These shifts in the in-store experience, when combined with anxiety about the virus’s spread, could mean stores of all sizes will experience substantial reductions in foot traffic–and sustained surges in e-commerce orders as a result.

Retailers will have to do their utmost to attract shoppers during this peak season and provide them with a satisfactory buying experience. A key ingredient will be on-time e-commerce order fulfillment, and smart retailers will make sure e-commerce fulfillment operations are scalable and flexible enough to cost-effectively support different order fulfillment processes and satisfy the customer from product discovery to delight.

Retail Planning for Peak Season 2020

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingNow is the right time for retailers to review their transportation strategy and consider the lessons they’re learning during the coronavirus pandemic.  For example, is the transportation strategy flexible? Is it scalable?  Has it met the demands of this unusual environment? Or are changes necessary?

Here are six opportunities for retailers to optimize their transportation strategy to meet 2020’s peak season challenges.

1. Move from Single Carrier Shipping to Multi-Carrier Shipping

Shipping delays are something of an unwelcome holiday tradition.  A cross between fruitcake (apologies to all fans) and crowded airports (perhaps not this year).  While the end goal of any retailer is to deliver products to customers on time, without damage, at minimal cost, and in the most efficient manner possible, the recent spike in e-commerce has also increased customers’ ability to customize their shipping options, enabling them to specify when, where, and how they want their parcels delivered.

One strategy to simplify this complexity during peak season is to leverage multiple carrier services, including local and regional carriers.  This means for retailers using a single carrier for deliveries and returns, it may be time to look at a cloud multi-carrier shipping solution to quickly onboard new carriers and experiment with new delivery modes.

Cloud multi-carrier shipping software applications enable the retailer to quickly onboard new carriers and meet the customer’s shipping requirements from within the retailer’s system.  Cloud multi-carrier shipping software applications automatically determine the carrier that can provide the best rates to a particular region and according to the retailer’s business rules, ensuring every shipment is in compliance with each carrier’s labeling and communication standards, as well as with any applicable trade regulations.

Importantly, cloud multi-carrier shipping software also ensures retailers have the right mix of carrier services in their transportation strategy from the onset.  The software aggregates and normalizes shipping data across carriers, so retailers know when deliveries moving to a particular region, customer, or via a particular carrier are not meeting service levels. Retailers can hold carriers accountable for failing to meet expectations and wield hard data to back up rate negotiations, and they can consolidate carriers to ensure they get the best possible price.

2. Optimize Returns

How are returns managed? Is the returns process flexible enough to satisfy customers? How much does return shipping cost? Are protocols in place to discourage returns?

The unfortunate reality is online shoppers return up to forty percent of purchases.  But top retailers no longer accept returns as a simple cost of doing business. Instead, the world’s biggest retailers critically examine their returns processes and unlock myriad insights, including:

  • Cost reduction opportunities: Is carrier service selection for returns following the same careful processes put in place for outbound shipments?
  • Identifying weak links in fulfillment: Are the wrong products being shipped? Can these be traced to certain distribution centers, pickers, or procedural problems?
  • Determining and attaching the cost of returns to outbound shipping costs: Many e-commerce businesses expect every e-commerce delivery to be returned, and they build the cost right into their products and services.
  • Identifying which products are most returned: What can be done about this?  When the lion’s share of a brand’s returns originate from the same product or product category, difficult decisions may be warranted.
  • Assessing the impact of fraudulent returns: Luxury brands in particular need processes in place to ensure they never accept counterfeit products as legitimate returns. Even infrequent instances of fraudulent luxury product returns can wreak havoc on organizations, and every effort should be made to determine how often this happens and deter future instances.

3. Increase Visibility

How many customers are lost due to delivery delays?  And what’s the lifetime value of those customers?

A cloud multi-carrier shipping system with Control Tower functionality will sync and normalize all shipment data across carriers and delivery destinations, allowing retailers to manage by exception. Staff are alert to deliveries at risk of delay and as a result, they can proactively resolve issues and communicate with customers if and when a delivery window slips.   If a delay is unavoidable, they can inform the customer and potentially offer to compensate them by dismissing any shipping charges.

Furthermore, with detailed up-to-date visibility into the delivery journey, retailers can also offer customers the flexibility to change their original delivery instructions while the parcel is en route. A customer might be able to delay delivery or re-route the order to a new destination, for example. This flexibility can strengthen the customer relationship and build retailer loyalty.

4. Automate Freight Bill Auditing

Many carrier contracts include a form of financial compensation in case the service level agreement is not met. And yet it’s not uncommon to find discrepancies on carriers’ invoices, especially during the busy holiday season. By closely monitoring the performance of all carriers’ on-time delivery rates and making this data available in one place, a cloud multi-carrier shipping solution with a Control Tower and Business Intelligence allows retailers to easily identify invoice errors and reconcile carrier invoices to control transportation spend.

And the savings don’t stop there.  In addition to the direct cost savings carrier invoice auditing achieves, retailers also benefit from “soft cost” savings, such as the elimination of manual tasks including opening mail, sorting invoices, researching rates, auditing and approving invoices, paying carriers, and assigning a cost accounting code.  By eliminating these soft costs, accounting teams can redirect their resources to more strategic activities.

Furthermore, carrier invoice auditing provides retailers with an overview of invoiced carrier costs versus carrier agreements, enabling them to ensure their carrier procurement is aligned with strategy and verifying they’re receiving the delivery outcomes for which they’ve paid.  The right cloud multi-carrier shipping software will also model and compare selected carrier services against actual carrier performance to find routing alternatives with lower cost implications and/or faster delivery times, and even identify more advanced optimization strategies, such as effective ways to position facilities and inventory around the globe.

5. Consolidate Parcels

Shipping multiple parcels from Chicago to New Orleans? When retailers ship each parcel separately, they incur shipping costs for each. A cloud multi-carrier shipping system will enable “zone skipping” and consolidate parcels, using one carrier to move a consolidated shipment across multiple states, for example, and a local carrier, such as USPS, for the last mile delivery–reducing total shipping spend.  Furthermore, a consolidated cross-border shipment will only require one customs declaration, reducing regulatory hiccups. Final benefit: by using zone skipping, parcels no longer travel to multiple sorting facilities to reach their destination. Instead, shipments to local carriers are faster, which creates quicker deliveries for customers.

6. Improve Cross-Border Shipping

Global shipping is on the up-and-up. The 2019 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey reported that while “shop local” is still trending, younger shoppers also buy goods from international sellers, looking to take advantage of price, variety, and the perceived quality of products. Retailers with a domestic-only transportation strategy will have a difficult time quickly expanding their global footprint to take advantage of this market opportunity.

Seamless cross-border shipping starts with the right label.  A cloud multi-carrier shipping solution ensures that every parcel ships with the correct label and documentation, no matter the carrier, destination, or product, making it easier for retailers to expand their global reach.

Find the Right Technology Partner for Retail Peak Season

In times like these, retailers need a partner in the logistics space on whom they can count – one who can help prepare for peak season on a compressed timeframe.  Ready to find that partner? Talk to a Logistyx expert today.

 

How a Cloud TMS for Parcel Shipping Increases Agility

When supply chain disruptions such as the COVID-19 outbreak occur, a cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping is a lifeline to shippers and logistics service providers seeking to rapidly increase their available shipping options. A cloud TMS for parcel shipping provides shippers and logistics service providers with the ability to quickly onboard, leverage, and optimize multiple carrier services–critical functionality when suddenly pivoting to a ship-from-store model, for example, or when pulling local courier services into the transportation mix to maintain on-time delivery rates.  Furthermore, it can provide the data and analytics necessary to understand where logistics performance is sub-par and uncover opportunities to increase performance and savings.  Therefore, it’s paramount supply chain professionals understand the consequences of poor agility in parcel shipping, and the importance of putting the right TMS for parcel shipping in place.

The Costs of Sub-Par Agility in Parcel Shipping

Total supply chain costs are among the most important metrics to track in business. According to Supply & Demand Chain Executive, top supply chains perform at one-fourth of the costs per $1,000 in revenue.  This difference means a bottom performer with $5 billion in annual revenue could incur $403.9 million in extra supply chain costs per year.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel Shipping

One of the contributors to a higher spend may be the cost of extinguishing fires that occur within parcel shipping as a result of inefficient and uninformed processes. For example, organizations may have limited capabilities to plan for unforeseen events, poor responsiveness, lackluster visibility into day-to-day operations, and a finite pool of carriers.  Ironically, bottom performers are more likely to have foregone a cloud TMS for parcel shipping in favor of spending money to address these problems. Top performers, on the other hand, recognize that using a cloud TMS for parcel shipping in advance of a supply chain disruption adds value and can increase profits per parcel, regardless of adverse circumstances.

Best Practices to Maximize Agility and Value in a Cloud TMS for Parcel

A cloud TMS for parcel shipping adds value to a supply chain in several ways.  It automatically selects the right carrier service for each order according to carrier contracts and business rules; creates or acquires the tracking, labels, and documents;  monitors delivery events and automates event exception workflows; manages the manifest and end-of-day processes; and analyzes carrier performance.

Shippers and logistics service providers wishing to maximize the value of their TMS for parcel shipping investment should follow these three best practices:

1. Create a large carrier services network.

Comparing carrier service rates can help shippers and logistics service providers achieve fast, cost-effective shipping. The right TMS for parcel solution will enable the shipper or logistics service provider to meet the customer’s shipping requirements from within the TMS for parcel 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 agility they need to accommodate increasing shipping volumes, manage new or unexpected shipment origins and destinations, and meet customer delivery expectations.

2. Leverage a Control Tower.

A Control Tower will provide full visibility into customer deliveries, including a complete picture of what’s happening with each shipment, so shippers and logistics service providers can monitor carrier performance and respond rapidly to any issue or disruption. The system will send early warning signs when there are parcel delivery issues or “exception events,” giving customer service teams the necessary agility to proactively trouble-shoot the exception event and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time.

3. Collect parcel shipping execution data around the clock and automate reporting, information sharing, and performance visualization.

Shipping data accuracy and timeliness directly impact decision quality. Therefore, thoughtful shippers and logistics service providers prioritize initiatives 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 TMS for parcel 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.

Increase Supply Chain Agility with the Right TMS for Parcel Shipping

A TMS for parcel shipping will enable long-term scalability, profitability, and efficiency. And the use of an advanced TMS for parcel shipping will increase agility and transcend supply chain boundaries during a supply chain disruption, providing an additional return on investment.  To learn more about how a TMS for parcel shipping can meet your shipping needs regardless of your shipping environment, watch our expert video.

The Benefits of Moving to a Multi-Carrier Shipping Strategy

E-commerce is enjoying its moment in the sales channel spotlight as a result of COVID-19 and shippers are seeking solutions that enable them to meet customer demand for both essential and non-essential goods. Unfortunately, with Amazon delaying shipments of non-essential goods and limiting the quantity of goods shippers can ship, the task of meeting e-commerce demand and getting products to end-users has never seemed more difficult.

As a result, shippers are looking into new fulfillment methods which can provide flexible and cost-effective solutions to the issue at hand.  One of their key considerations: moving to a multi-carrier distribution strategy to reduce transportation costs, provide a consistent level of service to customers, and meet customer-mandated shipping requirements.

Moving Away from Carrier-Supplied Platforms

In order to begin a multi-carrier strategy, shippers need to move away from carrier-supplied platforms.  There’s no question single-carrier systems are well designed for the carrier they represent.  For example, each carrier insists on applying rigorous, and unique, labeling and electronic communication requirements which make it possible for the carrier to move parcels through its network. Shippers who prefer to ship their parcels with a specific carrier have to meet the carrier’s requirements or suffer the consequences of delivery delays, lost packages, or unexpected surcharges and fees–and the carrier-supplied platform makes this compliance possible.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingBut carrier-supplied platforms make switching between carriers difficult or prohibitive— either because of the contracted volumes to which they’re tied or because of the unwieldiness of managing separate systems for different carriers.  For example, at the employee level, employees have to have the insight to make the best choice about how to get an order to a customer and use the appropriate carrier platform.  Comparing rates and routes is labor-intensive and time-consuming, and shippers using carrier-supplied platforms are likely missing out on the pricing and delivery advantages available with multiple national, regional, and local carrier services, as well as with the USPS.  Furthermore, when dealing with different sets of requirements and multiple staff members using separate terminals, it’s easy for keystroke and human errors to occur, resulting in delivery delays, lost packages, extra costs, or the inability to use particular services.

Multi-Carrier Shipping Software Streamlines Shipping Processes

While the end goal of any shipper is to deliver products to customers on time, without damage, at minimal cost, and in the most efficient manner possible, the recent spike in e-commerce has also increased customers’ ability to customize their shipping options, and businesses must be able to accommodate this delivery personalization.

Multi-carrier shipping software applications like Logistyx enable the shipper to meet the customer’s shipping requirements from within the shipper’s system.  They 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.

In addition, multi-carrier shipping software enables shippers to easily use “zone skipping” (also known as “hub induction” or “direct injection”) to improve customer service and decrease transportation costs. Zone skipping occurs when multiple customers’ orders are consolidated for the first leg of the delivery journey and then inserted into a parcel carrier network for the last-mile delivery. This is especially beneficial for cross-border shipping because it significantly simplifies end-to-end logistics and decreases customs clearance costs.  The approach also provides greater flexibility since shippers can select local carriers in different countries and regions that have optimal delivery networks for serving their customers.

Importantly, multi-carrier shipping software also ensures shippers have the right mix of carrier services in their transportation strategy from the onset.  The software aggregates and normalizes shipping data across carriers, so shippers know when deliveries moving to a particular region, customer, or via a particular carrier are not meeting service levels. Shippers can hold carriers accountable for failing to meet expectations and wield hard data to back up rate negotiations,  and they can consolidate carriers to ensure they get the best possible price.

On Time Delivery at the Lowest Cost

Multi-carrier shipping solutions simplify the complexity of logistics from product purchase to carrier payment. Shippers can leverage multiple carriers from a single system, securing the best rate, route, service level, and transit time for each shipment. In addition, the right solution will allow shippers to track any package with any carrier, anywhere. It will also ensure compliance with carrier rules and shipping requirements.

Does this describe your current shipping environment?  Contact a Logistyx expert to learn more.

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

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

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

Flexibility is Key

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

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

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

Defining Fast Shipping

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

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

Carrier Considerations

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

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

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

Stay Agile to Serve Customer Needs

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

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

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

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

Precious Parcels: Smarter Shipping Preserves Health and Safety Around the Globe

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on people and businesses worldwide, Logistyx remains committed to serving as a trusted advisor to our customers as they adjust their parcel shipping strategies to sustain the health and safety of the global populations they serve. In awe of what’s being done, we think this great work deserves some recognition.

Investigational Coronavirus Treatment Reaches Patients Faster

Leading biopharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, has been contributing towards the global effort to fight the pandemic with its investigational drug which is currently being trialed against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingWhat better way to ship a medicine quickly than using Logistyx’s technology? To more promptly move shipments of this investigational medicine past holding at points of entry, Gilead called on Logistyx to add a new medically approved carrier service to its network to fast track the process. After reconfiguring codes within the Logistyx system to print carrier-compliant service labels, Gilead was able to quickly test print and integrate the labels to rapidly increase delivery speed of this medicine from its manufacturing location to medical facilities in need around the globe.

We commend Gilead for shipping swiftly to positively contribute to the fight against COVID-19. While this pandemic is grueling for all businesses, those that successfully reorganize to evolve along with the marketplace can help customers persevere, adapt and ultimately thrive.

To see how your company can efficiently modify shipping strategies to manage the impact of COVID-19 and prepare for its future effects, contact us today.

On the Move – Trends and Innovations in TMS: Ken Fleming Speaks to Manufacturing & Logistics IT

Quick, accurate parcel delivery is the lifeblood of modern commerce.  As customers become more demanding about how, when, and where they want to receive their products, shippers and carriers need to quickly adapt to survive, and they often harness technology to do so.  Manufacturing and Logistics IT recently spoke to leading vendors and analysts in the Transportation Management System (TMS) industry, including Ken Fleming, President & Chief Sales Officer of Logistyx Technologies, to examine current trends and possible future innovations in the sector.

In a wide-ranging report, Ken shared insights on topics including:

Read the full article.

Why a TMS for Parcel Shipping Makes Sense for your Business

Whether you’re in retail or B2B e-commerce, if you’re shipping parcels, you may be wondering whether a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping, also known as multi-carrier shipping software, would make sense for your business. But how exactly can a TMS for parcel shipping benefit your business?  Which solutions are right for you? And how easy is it to upgrade from the system you currently have in place?

These are three important questions, and we’ll address each one in turn.

1. How can a TMS for parcel shipping support your transportation management strategy?

When it comes to order fulfillment, most logistics operations have two major objectives: meet the actual delivery promise made to the customer at the time of the order and minimize the delivery costs. Parcel shipping software addresses the common challenges that arise when meeting these objectives in several ways.

First, you need to select the right carrier mix for your business. A TMS for parcel can help you do this by providing an accurate and precise Business Intelligence dataset that allows you to project and assess the financial impact of new carrier pricing conditions.

Next, the right TMS for parcel can help you make on-the-fly decisions about which carrier service is best for a particular shipment based on your business rules, the service level, and the cost, and it guarantees compliance with carrier requirements from an IT and labeling perspective regardless of which carrier service is selected. The software should also support communications with carriers during the booking and manifesting processes.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingOperational visibility can also be enhanced, as an advanced TMS for parcel shipping will feature Control Tower visibility, collecting all tracking information and generating delivery event alerts that feed into the CRM system.  This means customer service teams can proactively trouble-shoot delivery exception events and communicate delivery updates to the customer in real time. For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker. Customers can even track and trace shipments on company websites without the need to visit carrier sites, reducing inbound calls about shipment status to customer service and increasing the customers’ browsing behavior on the 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.

Finally, a TMS for parcel streamlines the financial management of shipping costs by providing carrier invoice matching tools that identify invoice discrepancies and automate payment when appropriate. Plus, if the system has a deep ERP integration, it will allow for sophisticated account allocation and cost accruals.

2. Which solutions are right for your business?

As you’d expect, there are a variety of different TMS for parcel shipping solutions on the market from a range of providers. To help you decide which is best, it’s essential to analyze the context and objectives within your business – what you actually ship, shipment origins, shipment destinations, your carrier contracts, your business rules, and what you need to achieve.

For example, your shipments might be part of an omnichannel distribution model within a retail or ecommerce business, where multiple delivery locations and stringent delivery times require different carrier services to meet the customer’s required ETA. You’ll require a TMS for parcel shipping with rigorous control over – and visibility into – each delivery movement from the warehouse to the final destination to ensure on-time delivery is achieved.

Next, consider the deployment scope. Very few providers of TMS for parcel shipping technology feature a global carrier services network with Professional Services teams located worldwide. These two elements will be showstoppers for shippers that want to ship globally using a single solution company-wide.

Beyond this, there is a list of solution features that might be “nice to have” for some, and a mandatory requirement for others. These include scalability, cross-border shipping compliance, and integration with other supply chain systems such as e-commerce, ERP, WMS, and OMS technology.

To this last point, for some companies, integration with existing systems may be a priority. And thankfully there are TMS for parcel shipping solutions that have either a public API or pre-configured integrations to leading technology partners such as Manhattan, Blue Yonder, SAP, and Oracle. Having a wide selection of useful integrations can enable shippers to be more responsive to changes in either customer behavior or market requirements, allowing them to rapidly pivot and adopt new partners and technologies as necessary. They future proof the organization, if you will, against additional changes to come.

Another consideration: whether to host the TMS for parcel on premise or in the cloud. And in some scenarios, a hybrid model might be preferred. A word of advice: Businesses with a growth mindset need shipping technology that can support the company as shipping volumes and complexity increase, and a cloud TMS for parcel enables a high-growth business to quickly seize opportunities and react to threats.  Cloud TMS for parcel 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.  Furthermore, by implementing cloud TMS for parcel technology that can operate globally, major obstacles to international market expansion can be eliminated.

3. How do you migrate from a legacy system to an advanced TMS for parcel?

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.

Usually, systems migration will require three key workstreams:

  • Conduct an in-depth analysis of existing, relevant supply workflows and system integrations.
  • Ensure systems integration is implemented and tested, and that carrier contracts are onboarded and commissioned.
  • Build the appropriate business rules in the system.

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, the original design isn’t documented in a reusable way, and upon closer analysis, 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.

The important thing to remember is that TMS for parcel systems don’t require large “master data” migration.  Most of the assets lie in carrier connectivity, compliance, and contract data. So, the migration pain is generally limited.

Finally, it’s important to analyze the compelling reason behind implementing a new TMS for parcel. In our experience, 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. In any of these situations, a redesign is required, and the challenge of migrating systems isn’t critical.

Take the Next Step

To learn more about how a TMS for parcel shipping could make sense for your business, download the e-book: Logistyx Quadrant: Choosing a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

New Parcel Shipping Research: 71% of Shippers Overlook Advantages of TMS

In partnership with Logistics Management, Logistyx recently published “Using TMS to Reimagine Last-Mile Fulfillment,” a research report detailing e-commerce’s significant impact on the supply chain, current parcel shipping trends and how technology is helping companies formulate their last-mile fulfillment strategies.

The online survey of 143 professionals conducted by Peerless Research Group for this report sought to learn more about shippers’ challenges and solutions in relation to their e-commerce strategies. It’s no secret: consumers want their parcels more quickly than ever. As e-commerce continues to grow and parcel shipping expands, our industry is constantly reinventing itself. The research showed that 69% percent of respondents feel e-commerce has had an impact on their organizations and that it’s led to an increase in their parcel shipping.

 

Read on to learn more about the challenges shippers face in the e-commerce era, including some key data points from the report.

Parcel Wins the Race

For shippers seeking a balance between cost and efficiency, parcel shipping by ground is the most popular choice.

 

When shipping priority and expedited parcels, 89% of respondents shipping domestically are using parcel services, while 73% are using air, 75% rely on less-than-truckload (LTL) and 49% utilize truckload (TL).

On-time ≠ Communicative

While 90% of companies rated their on-time delivery rates as excellent, very good or adequate, only 56% of organizations rated their alerts regarding delays or damages for shipments as excellent, very good or adequate. While making deliveries on-time is key, many businesses show room for improvement in tracking and tracing, paperwork practices, end-to-end visibility and more consumer communication initiatives.

Cost Matters

Rising parcel costs continue to pose a significant challenge to shippers. As a result, 52% of respondents are working with fewer carrier partners, 39% are consolidating shipments and 38% are optimizing their internal resources (for example, labor or equipment) or improving their decision-making and planning.

Carrier Reliance High

Of course, it’s key shippers work with carriers on which they rely, but this doesn’t mean they should rely on external data as a substitute for their own tracking system. When managing parcel shipments specifically, 57% of shippers are using their carrier’s solution. This number jumps to 63% for international shippers.

TMS: The Underutilized Secret Weapon

Across both domestic and international shipments, 29% of companies are currently using a transportation management system (TMS). Yet, 60% of companies using a TMS find it to be either

extremely or very effective at helping them streamline their parcel shipping operations.

As the volume of parcel shipments increase and shippers work to meet customer demands, turning to automation and advanced technology like a TMS can help optimize the fulfillment and delivery process while keeping costs in check and providing an enhanced customer experience.

If you’re interested in learning more, download the full report here.

Ready to upgrade your parcel shipping strategy with top-tier technology? Logistyx TME is a cloud-based TMS for global parcel shipping that guarantees carrier compliance, streamlines transportation execution, monitors parcel delivery movements, and identifies ongoing opportunities to increase profits per shipment. Learn more about how TME can help your business here.