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Simply put: multi-carrier shipping technology helps retailers, manufacturers, and logistics providers ship millions of parcels worldwide at the lowest possible cost. 

The goal of multi-carrier shipping software is to help organizations ship high volumes of parcels quickly while decreasing transportation costs. It focuses on simplifying the complexities and operational strain global parcel shipping places on organizations by making it easy to quickly onboard, leverage, and optimize multiple carrier services, including regional and last-mile providers, while also producing the data and analytics necessary to uncover opportunities to increase savings and improve on-time delivery performance. Some multi-carrier shipping systems are better than others, but every quality solution will (at a minimum) provide the following features and functionality:

Benefits of Multi-Carrier Shipping Technology

Multi-carrier shipping technology helps retailers, manufacturers, and logistics providers ship millions of parcels worldwide at the lowest possible cost. The right multi-carrier shipping technology can also help organizations:

  • Integrate with leading ERP, WMS, eCOMM, and TMS solutions to seamlessly receive order information and communicate shipment status.
  • Define custom business rules for rapid parcel carrier selection based on a variety of factors, including customer preferences, package weight, contents, carrier contracts, and rates.
  • Quickly on-board new carriers as parcel shipping needs evolve.
  • Scale shipment volumes rapidly at a lower cost and with very little impact on internal IT departments
  • Determine the best return options, automatically print return shipping labels in advance, and factor returns into the cost of shipping.
  • Receive proactive alerts about delivery problems and turn end-to-end delivery event visibility into proactive problem solving based on custom business rules.
  • Swiftly deploy distributed order management and other advanced fulfillment strategies:
    • Ship-from-store to support rising e-commerce sales
    • Ship-to-store from distribution centers or other stores
    • Online order pickup in stores or curbside
  • Leverage Business Intelligence to:
    • Identify game-changing insights to optimize carrier service selections and costs as part of a digital supply chain
    • Forecast various if-then fulfillment scenarios
    • Identify avenues to faster delivery times and cost-efficient omnichannel retail distribution

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Differentiating between Various Solutions

With hundreds of multi-carrier shipping solutions available, it’s no wonder shippers are often confused about which solutions do what, where they overlap, and which acronyms (we mean technologies) deserve a place in their supply chain stack. To help, let’s take a quick look at what makes multi-carrier shipping technology unique from its closest supply chain relative: Transportation Management Systems (TMS).

Multi-Carrier Shipping Technology

We’ve talked a lot about what multi-carrier shipping technology is and what it does. But to truly understand what separates it from other transportation solutions, we need to remember that (at its core) multi-carrier shipping technology is about parcel shipping. It provides shippers with the technology infrastructure necessary to refine parcel shipping workflows and utilize multiple parcel shipping options in widespread areas for faster delivery – while keeping costs low for businesses. This can extend the reach of delivery, connecting shippers to clientele on a global level. It also saves money since shippers can compare the economic and time-related costs of parcel shipping before the items have left their warehouse premises. Shippers can choose the best option for the company, whether this is the cheapest, fastest, or most premium service.

TMS

In contrast, a TMS (at its core) is about freight shipping. TMS solutions were developed for planning freight movements and include functionality such as freight rating, load planning, and inbound shipping, to name a few. Often, shippers believe a TMS is the answer to their shipping problems, but with e-commerce orders rising each year, TMS-only shipping houses may suffer. TMS solutions “over solve” for parcel shipping challenges and can cause shippers to overspend on technology and over complicate the most critical tasks at hand.

Choosing the Right Shipping Technology

Therefore, before a company embarks on a shipping technology implementation of any kind, it’s important to first analyze shipping volumes by modality and then consider whether a traditional TMS,

a multi-carrier shipping system, or both, provide the necessary capabilities. For example, if 20% of a shipper’s volume is FTL, and 60% is parcel, then with both systems in place, the business optimizes 80% of shipments. Of course, some shippers only want to invest in technology that addresses the largest percentage of their shipments, creating instances where a business uses only one or the other.

It’s evident: one size does not fit all. But for those businesses where parcel makes up the largest part of its shipping volume, foregoing a traditional TMS in favor of multi-carrier shipping technology is the obvious choice. The biggest differentiator: carrier compliance for a massive global carrier network. With a traditional TMS, the shipper is responsible for compliance with an ever-expanding field of parcel carriers; a multi-carrier shipping solution takes care of this cumbersome process automatically.

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