The life sciences industry is predicted to grow to more than $8.7 trillion dollars by 2020, driven in large part by growth in emerging markets. It’s also becoming more complex from a shipping perspective, due to increased regulatory and handling requirements. If you’re an IT or logistics manager who handles life sciences shipping, you’re facing a number of challenges that impact where and how you’re sending products.

These challenges include:

  • Regulatory demands. Increased regulation is having two effects on life sciences shipping. First is the need for compliance with track and trace requirements, cold-chain storage of certain types of materials and the ability to provide documentation of contents, trading partners and the like. These factors drive up costs. The second effect of regulation is that in some cases, it limits pricing structures in certain markets. All of these challenges combine to squeeze margins for life sciences companies.
  • Emerging markets and globalization. Demand is shifting from mature “Tier 1” markets like the US, Europe and Japan to emerging markets in the BRIC countries, Mexico, Turkey and others. This led to strong growth during the last recession as emerging markets increased their healthcare spending as a percentage of their overall economy. Although growth in these countries is likely to slow, it’s still outpacing established markets—which means more shipping to these countries.
  • Temperature requirements. Historically, life sciences shipping meant cold-chain storage mainly for vaccines, blood, tissue samples and the like. Today, as the industry shifts toward specialties like biotechnology, cold-chain refrigeration is required for more finished products: everything from biologically based medicines to research and clinical trial materials, drug coated implants and more.
  • Cost pressure. Uneven economic growth and higher insurance premiums along with lower deductibles mean that patients have less money to spend, but are having to pay more out of pocket for their medicines. This places increased pressure on life sciences shipping firms to contain costs while retaining margins.
  • Direct to patient. Home health care is a growing market for life sciences products due to an aging population in Tier 1 markets, where there is growing emphasis on aging in place due to escalating health care costs. This means many shipments are now going directly to price- and time-sensitive patients, rather than through traditional distribution channels.

All of this means higher volumes of smaller shipments, going to more places than ever before, along with increased need for accurate documentation and better visibility into specialized handling. Traditional logistics and ERP applications weren’t designed to deal with these types of challenges. If your systems are struggling to keep up, it’s time to ask some tough questions of your global parcel shipping software provider.

What should you be asking?

Today, life sciences logistics organizations are sending smaller shipments to emerging markets where the ability to handle these requirements cost-effectively isn’t a given. Parcels are beginning to replace pallets, as life sciences shipping begins to move away from traditional distribution methods. This means life sciences firms need more information than ever about the companies they choose and the parcel shipping software they use to manage the shipping process.

Here are eight key questions you need to be asking your global parcel shipping software provider:

  • Does your parcel shipping software offer access to a global carrier network? PRECISION Multi-Carrier and Enterprise Shipping offers access to a global carrier network of more than 500 carriers around the globe.
  • Does your software provide visibility into handling capabilities of carriers? PRECISION Multi-Carrier and Enterprise Shipping allows you to search for carriers by geography or capability, so that you can compare every carrier that services the region based on whether they offer cold-chain or other specialized handling.
  • Can your software handle the documentation and other requirements related to handling of hazardous, dangerous or infectious substances? Not all carriers can handle these types of shipments, so additional labeling and documentation is critical to ensure proper handling all the way to the shipment’s destination. Can your logistics software handle these requirements? PRECISION Global Trade and Export Management can.
  • Does your global parcel shipping software offer access to specialist carriers? The life sciences industry depends on a complex network of carriers who can provide specialized service, such as same day delivery and specialist hospital delivery services. A true multi-carrier shipping software solution offers access to these carriers and the ability to compare cost, routing options and other criteria so you can make better decisions.
  • Does your global parcel shipping software enable compliance screening? As the life sciences field becomes more global, the ability to ensure that your trading partners are authorized to receive shipments is critical. PRECISION Trade Compliance ensures that you can run compliance checks any time you need to on an ad-hoc, batch or transaction basis.  
  • Can your software perform controlled partner screenings? Certain types of materials can only be sent to a controlled list of partners. PRECISION Trade Compliance allows you to run a Product/Partner check as well as Named Partner screenings.
  • Does your software handle controlled substance checks? When your product contains controlled substances or chemical compounds, special care must be taken to ensure that these shipments aren’t sent to unauthorized locations. PRECISION global parcel shipping software can handle the compliance checks required for shipping sensitive items.
  • Does your parcel shipping software allow arrival tracking? With more sensitive parcel shipments headed directly to patients and others, you need to know what’s happening with your shipments. PRECISION Package Exception Management delivers the ability to ensure that your shipments are shipped quickly, handled properly and delivered on-time.

Shipping has become more challenging for life sciences companies. You need a global parcel shipping software provider that can help you meet the needs of this rapidly evolving industry. You need life sciences shipping solutions from Precision Software.


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