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

Today’s shippers face many challenges, including the need to keep up with the growth of retail e-commerce sales and consumer expectations. In order to stay competitive, enterprise shippers must offer consumers a choice of carriers, delivery options and shipping rates while keeping up with increasing package volumes and soaring shipping costs.

Many companies are rightfully concerned about the overhead and disruption that adding software from multiple carriers to their workflow could cause. There are a lot of moving pieces trying to work together. That’s when you need a software like ShipWorks, designed specifically for multi-carrier workflows. ShipWorks seamlessly integrates all your carriers, order management systems and data sources into a single User Interface (UI) and automates your shipping workflow.

The key words here are integration and automation. Let’s look at why they are so important.

Why implement an integrated multi-carrier workflow like ShipWorks?

An integrated multi-carrier workflow allows shippers to use a single UI to manage all of their shipping across multiple workstations and facilities. This makes it easier and more efficient for businesses to…

  • Meet customer expectations – with multiple carriers, businesses can make choices based on an individual customer’s need for a particular service option (i.e.: same day, overnight delivery, insurance, special handing, etc.).
  • Avoid delivery delays due to carrier issues – shippers can easily move packages from one carrier to another if a certain carrier is experiencing delays or service disruptions.
  • Negotiate better rates – Knowing exactly how many packages are sent via each carrier, and exactly how much was spent on each is powerful information to have at-hand when it comes time to negotiate new rates.
  • Reduce delivery costs through rate shopping
  • Quickly determine the most cost-effective option for each shipment across all carriers on any given day
  • Know final costs, including residential and fuel surcharges
  • Easily compare dimensional weight to the actual weight pricing of each package
  • Access the most up-to-date rates for each carrier.

In addition to providing a single UI for shipping, enterprise-level shippers also need access to automation tools that can help reduce staffing overhead, customize the shipping process and enhance marketing efforts.

Why is automation important for multi-carrier shipping?

Simply put, automation allows shipping managers or business owners to customize their workflow to meet their specific needs. Automation reduces staff training needs, all but eliminates human error and saves money by allowing shipping managers to program the software to automatically choose the least expensive shipping carrier depending on the needs of each type of parcel.

Here are some examples of powerful automation rules in use today by ShipWorks customers:

  • Easily program a pre-defined carrier or mail class based on package weight, size, content, or delivery requirements.
  • Pre-program software to make decisions for workstation staff, resulting in less training, fewer mistakes, and more control.
  • Automatically add parcel insurance to orders that exceed pre-determined dollar values.
  • Automatically including coupons or promotional materials in customer orders based on past purchases.
  • Handle exceptions by routing packages that meet pre-determined criteria to specific warehouse staff members trained to handle specific exceptions.
  • Automatically generate a packing slip as each order is closed.
  • Ensure compliance with current carrier-mandated rules and rates.

As e-commerce continues to grow, shipping is an increasingly important area of focus. E-commerce businesses need to think seriously about the tools they use to access their carriers and how those tools can help them gather and analyze shipping and customer data so they can continuously identify efficiencies and areas for cost-cutting.

Wes Clayton is General Manager and Co-Founder, ShipWorks. He can be reached at 800.952.7784 or