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A checklist for selecting a multi-carrier shipping solution

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

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

One platform, touching on many processes

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

Carriers, services & procurement

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

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

Operational

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

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

processing, brokerage, and insurance.

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

Tracking & Dashboarding

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

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

Reporting & Finance

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

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

 

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

Contact us for a free consultation

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