This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of PARCEL.

    Order fulfillment is critical for retailers. It’s part of the customer experience — and also the cost of doing business. It’s even more critical as order volumes increase and the marketplace becomes more competitive. Many successful retailers are using innovative shipping software to manage order fulfillment activities between inventory sources. Fulfilling orders from the source nearest the customer minimizes delivery time and shipping costs while exceeding customer expectations.

    End to End Fulfillment

    To stay ahead of customer demands and save on costs, retailers use shipping software that can automate rate shopping by reviewing all the negotiated rates from every carrier to give a complete picture of pricing. This capability provides a time-in-transit and rate matrix to give retailers the information they need to select the most cost-effective and time-efficient method of delivery.

    As part of the fulfillment process, retailers need to decide which delivery routes will be best for each order. Various final-mile delivery options are available to customers, like buy online, pick up in-store or parcel lockers. These options allow retailers to choose a variety of routes to get orders to their customers. Whether it is through traditional carriers or using their own trucks, retailers can utilize shipping software to determine the best option for final mile delivery that will not only save on costs, but add customer convenience as well.

    On-time Delivery

    Advanced date shopping allows retailers to optimize the information from their carriers to provide the on-time delivery that is such a critical part of the total e-commerce experience.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. Retailers input the holiday schedules, special conditions, expanded timeframes, rates and other information from each of their carriers into the shipping software.

    2. The software maintains all the information and handles the complexity of the dates and special conditions.

    3. The shipping software automatically selects the best shipping option and generates an accurate delivery date for each shipment.

    In addition to on-time deliveries, another benefit for retailers is the ability to leverage the special conditions of their carriers to save money and create customer promotions that can help drive sales. If a carrier offers two-day shipping at the same cost as three-day shipping, retailers can also offer this special shipping promotion to customers. Other special conditions that carriers offer include shipping deadline extensions. Utilizing advanced date shopping allows retailers to get more orders to a carrier at a lower cost point while using a faster delivery method.

    Optimizing the Customer Experience

    Shipping software can optimize the customer experience and boost business for retailers. From using the lowest negotiated rates with carriers, to final-mile delivery and taking advantage of special conditions, retailers can guarantee orders are delivered to customers in a cost-efficient and convenient manner.

    Tim Casey is President of ProShip Inc., a Neopost company, that is a global provider of logistics software and product solutions, including enterprise-wide, multi-carrier shipping and manifesting software, automated packing solutions and intelligent parcel lockers. Visit for more information.