If saving money is one of your top priorities, there is a way in one swift move to stem a tide of wasted dollars. Simply extend your shipping system to every corner of your company. By applying sophisticated shipping to all parts of your corporation, from the front office to the sales department, thousands of dollars can be saved.



When we think of parcel shipping, we tend to limit our focus to hardware, business rules and work flow processes in the warehouse. These are essential, but there is also much to be gained by elevating the focus on shipping from the warehouse to the entire corporation. In addition to notable savings through company-wide rate shopping, you can improve visibility and accountability while simplifying the employee work process.


Corporate-wide shipping is accomplished through a unified shipping system, which is a single set of rating, manifesting engines with a small number of software packages interfacing to those engines and applying similar business rules.


Rate Shopping Lowers Costs

Here is an example of the kind of savings that can be generated by a unified shipping system. If a salesperson sending a small package or contract chooses next day early morning service, the cost would be $48.50. Ground would be $4.21, while the USPS Priority Mail is $4.05 at the current rate. Unified shipping provides users with a second chance to think through which service level is the most intelligent option.


As you can see, a strong case can be made for adapting your current shipping system into a unified system that addresses the needs of your office workers as well as your warehouse. A unified system that rate shops for all personnel and employs relevant business rules is just the beginning; you also extend visibility.


Internal Visibility Lowers Costs

Beth Enslow, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Research at Aberdeen Group, says top corporate management has become more aware of what she terms maverick spending. Moreover, she points out, savings are derived from more than lower carrier costs. What companies want now is real-time visibility of shipping costs.


By using a unified shipping system on desktops and in the warehouse, a company can ensure that all parcels shipped have the same high level of visibility. This visibility in addition to helping save brings efficiency, accuracy and accountability.


Integrating the Enterprise Lowers Costs

Efficiency and accuracy of office workers could be enhanced by automatically pulling addresses from the companys CRM or ERP system. And a unified system could automatically double-check ZIP Codes and flag incorrect address protocols such as residential delivery indicators a source of many bill-backs. Avoiding multiple customer address changes in multiple systems is another benefit to having your CRM tied to your office shipping interface.


Setting Business Rules Lowers Costs

Accountability for all shipping costs throughout the enterprise has long been a weakness in companies. The hectic pace of business and the time-sensitive demands of the marketplace have instilled a lets send it overnight mentality. Most often, letters and packages are sent at much greater costs than necessary. Applying business rules across the enterprise discourages overuse of special services, such as next-day deliveries, and can halt the unauthorized use of corporate shipping. In other words, a good corporate-wide unified shipping system helps all employees make better choices.


Visibility benefits extend to tracking and cost allocation as well. The best shipping systems have the ability to generate helpful reports, which now with unified shipping can help with front-office shipping. This means an end to rogue packages. Office managers no longer have to search for shipping details, which are available in report form. In addition to destination, time and cost, the reports can contain a variety of other helpful information, such as package contents, tracking information and additional details on the recipient such as customer number. Importantly, the reports can be set up to provide for cost allocation by department or project. To carry it a step further, the reports can be the foundation for well-defined metrics for front-office mailing and shipping. The shipping systems business rules also could capture customer information and preferences for office correspondence.


Eliminating Manual Intervention Lowers Costs

A unified shipping system with a useful, standard interface would curtail time-consuming document shipping chores, such as typing manifests by hand. The interface can and should be made user-friendly and flexible, especially if it incorporates dynamic screen layout. The system also would allow for timely downloading and updating of carrier rate and routing information.


Routing Pickups Lowers Costs

For larger companies that have personnel gathering mail and parcels, the system can provide information to aid in the routing of the mail center team members directly to locations where mail is ready to be picked up, thus saving time by skipping locations without outgoing mail or parcels.


Enhancing Security Lowers Risk

Furthermore, companies with Sarbanes Oxley or other regulatory requirements can configure business rules to help meet those needs efficiently and accurately. A system can incorporate multiple security and authentication options for operations and protect sensitive data. It can facilitate rigorous compliance with Sarbanes Oxley and HIPAA requirements.


A Quick ROI

Clearly, adoption of unified shipping goes far beyond cost savings from rate shopping. Efficiency, visibility and accountability also provide dramatic savings. Thanks to technological advances, such as increased server capacity, a company can create a unified, multi-location shipping system with greater ease than it could have a few years ago. In addition to hardware savings, the integration costs to extend your shipping system to other parts of the company are relatively modest. Nevertheless, thoughtful planning is, of course, a key component of system success.


Are the potential savings worth it? Lets look at return on investment. Amending an existing warehouse system to handle office needs could cost as little as $2,000 for a modest system and up to a fraction of the initial install price for a larger company. That means that payback can be measured in weeks and months, not years.


Justin Cramer is Executive Vice President of Best Way Technologies, Inc., the developer and marketer of ProShip, a multi-carrier software suite. He can be reached at 866-944-2378, jc@bestwaytech.com or visit www.bestwaytech.com.