According to PARCEL Magazines most recent survey, 40% of low-volume shippers rely on carrier-supplied shipping systems. Are these shippers missing an opportunity to grow their businesses and save money? If these companies ship between 100 and 1,000 packages a day, the answer is yes, and they should consider adopting multi-carrier shipping. By doing so, they will:
Create a larger, more attractive base of potential customers
Large companies often have a sizeable discount with a preferred carrier. These customers insist that their vendors utilize that discount. This requires the vendor to usually ship with that carrier and be able to apply business rules that capture the discount, usually in the form of third party billing. A less sophisticated shipper, therefore, is immediately out of the running for that large companys business.
Save money with the ability to shop between carrier services
Some people believe that the ability to shop between carriers will save money. Not necessarily. The carriers are good at meeting the competition. The real benefit to multi-carrier shipping is the ability to rate shop between all of the service levels offered by the carriers. Matching the needs of the customer with the various ways the carriers can ship to that customer can result in substantial savings. The system also can pit small parcel against LTL/TL carriers.
Greater employee flexibility with a unified interface
Multi-carrier shipping provides a single interface. Therefore a company does not have to train its employees to use different interfaces for each carrier. This means that a company can train more people to use the system, providing greater flexibility and lower labor costs. You also save on maintenance costs. And it is very helpful to have a fully integrated interface to and from your firms databases and host systems.
Back up carriers in case of a natural disaster, strikes or unfavorable contract terms
Sure, strikes often are an overstated scare factor. But that does not mean that there isnt any comfort in having an alternative to a single carrier. Putting all your eggs in one basket is seldom a good idea, especially with the apparent increase in uncertain weather.
Prepare a company for growth
Multi-carrier shipping provides a true multi-tier application so that additional workstations that use the same database and carrier manifests can be added. It also allows custom interfaces for the easy addition of fully automatic conveyor systems, in-motion equipment and/or a customer service, web-based pre-rating service.
Allow the company to apply business rules to operations
Business rules allow customization of each event during shipping. This enables the shipping system to create different procedures for specific categories such as destinations, weight, products, profiles and users. Multi-carrier systems also allow customized actions such as the addition of your logo, put-away barcodes, compliance sections and custom return addresses.
Multi-carrier shipping is invaluable for non-traditional shipping
Companies that ship hazardous, government-regulated or insured goods, or a substantial volume of packages via international shipping require business rules to ship effectively. If you are installing business rules, you might just as well take advantage of multi-carrier shipping.
Debunking the myth of free equipment
There is no such thing as a free lunch. The cost of the equipment is almost always made up in carrier rates, despite the discounts applied.
What does a multi-carrier system cost?
The short answer is approximately $10,000 for a three-carrier system with basic business rules, and that includes installation. An alternative that is growing in popularity is a monthly usage fee.
Justin Cramer is Executive Vice President of