Posted On June 5, 2023
When you’re shipping a package, shaving a minute off the process and a dollar off the price isn’t that big of a deal. But when you’re shipping dozens (or hundreds) of packages a day, those minutes and dollars really add up.
The secret to shaving and saving? Multi-carrier shipping software.
Companies that use multi-carrier shipping software often save up to 20% on shipping costs and regain time to focus elsewhere in their business. But before you jump on the trailer bed and invest in a multi-carrier shipping software solution, let’s discuss when it’s actually worth the investment.
Keep reading to learn more about multi-carrier shipping software, the benefits of using it and how to choose the right one for your business. Your sanity (and wallet) will thank you.
What is multi-carrier shipping software?
Companies with multiple and frequent outbound shipments (think e-commerce companies, retailers and wholesalers) can waste a lot of time and money on shipping—especially if they’re small and don’t have access to the right tools.
But the shipping process can be made easier with multi-carrier shipping software, also called a shipping platform or parcel TMS (transportation management system).
Software like Flat World’s Pipeline pulls carrier rates for quick comparison. This eliminates the need for shippers to navigate to a bunch of separate carrier websites where shipping information has to be entered repeatedly. Multi-carrier shipping software allows you to make faster decisions based on the best price or transit time.
Automating the process can reduce manual errors, control costs, and ensure fast and accurate shipping for your valued customers.
But implementing multi-carrier shipping software into a company’s business typically requires an investment of both time and money—so how do you know when your company should take the plunge?
Five signs it’s time for a multi-carrier shipping platform
Volume is the number one reason to invest in a multi-carrier shipping solution.
If you’re a small business with a low volume of parcels, you may be able to get by with a manual shipping process or using a single carrier. But as your business grows and you start shipping 50 to 100+ packages a day, those manual processes become more complex and time-consuming.
Here are some scenarios or signs that indicate why you might need a multi-carrier shipping software:
#1 – You’re fulfilling orders manually
Getting a shipping rate quote can be a hassle if you manually enter the information on each carrier’s website. Not only can it be tedious, but it increases the likelihood of human error. Even a minor mistake in a shipping address can mean major delivery delays and accessorial costs.
#2 – You have complex shipping needs
With a growing business, shipping can quickly become overwhelming. You might need to ship products to different parts of the world with varied sizes, weights and other specific shipping requirements.
Take the example of an e-commerce store that sells clothing and furniture. Shipping a small shirt to a customer in the U.S. is a very different process from sending an oversized couch to a customer in Europe. Using a TMS system will not only help you find the lowest price but will also pre-populate custom documents for international shipping.
#3 – You’re losing money on shipping
The cost of shipping parcels can add up very quickly if you rely on a single carrier, especially when it comes to extra fees. These fees can include fuel surcharges, additional weight or DIM (dimensional weight) charges, or residential delivery costs. Even if a carrier offers a low base rate, you could spend more on fees without even realizing it. That’s why it’s wise to diversify your carrier mix and create a little competition among them.
#4 – Your customers are complaining
As e-commerce purchases grow, customers are becoming more demanding and expect fast delivery. If you only use one carrier, you’re limiting your options and could lose customers turned off by high costs or slow shipping times. Delays or service disruptions can leave your customers waiting for their packages, causing a negative experience with your brand.
#5 – You want to grow your business
If your business expands, you could start getting more international shipping orders. Suddenly, you find that your current carrier isn’t able to offer competitive rates or reliable service to specific destinations. That’s where a multi-carrier platform comes in—the technology can help you easily compare regional carriers and carrier rates to make the best choice for each shipment without all the hassle.
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Benefits of a shipping platform
Using multi-carrier shipping software can increase your efficiency and simplify your process. Here are just a few of its benefits.
Time is money. A shipping platform can reduce the time you spend manually entering orders and tracking shipments —allowing you to focus on other essential aspects of your business.
Save on shipping costs
Many platforms have partnerships with major carriers like FedEx and UPS, which allows them to negotiate better shipping rates, rates you won’t be able to get on your own. Using a shipping platform, you can reduce costs on shipping and pass those savings on to your customers.
Get real-time tracking
Most multi-carrier shipping software options provide real-time shipment tracking services and information in a single place, allowing you to keep tabs on all of your shipments and notify customers with accurate delivery estimates.
Improve the customer experience
To keep your customers happy, you need to give them a seamless experience from start to finish. Access to multiple carriers can provide your customers with more options for shipping, including faster delivery times and better rates.
Let’s say one of your customers wants next-day delivery. With multi-carrier shipping software, you can easily compare delivery times and costs across different carriers to find the most cost-effective option. They get their package when needed, and you get a satisfied customer.
Managing your shipping process can be a daunting task. With a shipping platform, you can automate many aspects to improve your overall efficiency. For instance, you can set up shipping rules that automatically select the best carrier and shipping method based on factors like destination and package weight.
Make informed decisions
A shipping platform can provide valuable data and analytics to help you make informed business decisions. You can track shipments, shipping costs and delivery times to identify areas for improvement. You can also use shipping data to analyze customer behavior, such as order frequency and size, which can help you optimize your marketing and sales strategies. (Read How to Use Supply Chain KPIs to Grow Your Business and discover how better visibility can help you make smarter faster decisions.)
So if you’re looking to simplify your shipping process and improve your overall business operations, a shipping platform is definitely worth considering.
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Choosing the right shipping software for your business
Multi-carrier shipping software can be a game-changer for your business. Not only does it save you time and money, but it also enhances the customer experience. Shopify reported that 76% of shoppers would hesitate to order from a company again if the delivery experience was bad.
With more than 100 shipping platform options available, choosing the right software for your business is key. Here are some factors to consider:
- Ease of Use: Find software that is easy to use and integrates well with your existing e-commerce or order management system. Different software platforms don’t always work well together; some may even be exclusive to specific e-commerce platforms or have a preferred shipping partner—suggesting the platform won’t necessarily have the shipper’s best interests in mind.
- Scalability: Choose software that can scale your business. You don’t want to have to switch software every time your business grows. While most multi-carrier shipping software is strictly for parcel shipments, choosing a system that also offers LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping options is a good idea. As you grow, this will help you manage your shipping needs in one place.
- Carrier Integrations: Ensure the chosen software integrates with the carriers you use. Most multi-carrier shipping software supports major carriers like FedEx, UPS and USPS, but check for any smaller carriers you may be using or might want to use in the future.
- Customization: Look for software that can customize shipping rules and options to fit your business needs.
- Reporting: Good multi-carrier shipping software should provide detailed reporting on your shipping activity, including carrier performance, shipping costs and delivery times. This information can help you make data-driven decisions about your shipping operations.
- Customer Support: Look for a provider that offers quick customer support, including online resources and responsive support staff. Shipping issues can be time-sensitive, so it’s crucial to have access to help when needed.
Optimize your parcel shipping
Shipping can make or break a customer’s experience with your company—and your bottom line.
If you’re still unsure about investing in a software platform, look at your growth goals. If your shipping feels overwhelming, it may be time to consider implementing multi-carrier shipping software.
With the right software in place, you can scale and take your shipping operations and e-commerce store to the next level. Doing so will benefit your business and improve your relationship with customers in the long run. It’s essential to leverage the latest technologies and tools to get a competitive advantage. Contact us to see how our Parcel Optimization services can improve shipping performance across your supply chain.