Global enterprises are sending more parcel shipments to more locations than ever before. At a time when transportation costs are rising and capacity is being squeezed, organizations need comprehensive multi carrier shipping software to control costs and meet customer expectations. Here we outline 4 crucial questions to help you choose the best multi carrier shipping software for your needs.

The parcels market is growing — the market was worth around US$350 billion in 2017, up by $40 billion from 2016. This has been largely driven by the growth of e-commerce and increased cross-border shipping. This growth has also brought an influx of global, national, and regional carriers to meet demand. Each of these have different service levels, cost structures and delivery options.

All this has made global parcel shipping a far more complex and challenging task. However, as smaller more regular parcel shipments have become the norm for many enterprises, managing this aspect of logistics is a critical driver of profitability and customer satisfaction.

If your organization is evaluating multi carrier shipping software, here are four critical questions you should be asking.

Do You Need an End-to-End Solution?

How complex are your parcel shipping needs? Do you just need to print labels? Minimize costs? Ensure compliance? Offer faster delivery? All of the above?

Most organizations — but especially high volume shippers — want to control parcel shipping costs. To do so you need to research rates, routes and service levels. For cross-border shipments, you also need to prepare customs documentation, research tariffs and verify that the shipment is in compliance with any applicable regulations.

It is possible to handle each of these steps separately. Some organizations use stand alone applications provided by their carrier; others do so manually. Both of these make parcel shipping a time- and labor-intensive process. If you use different carriers — and different carrier systems — as many organizations do, you have separate data silos. This limits your visibility into your entire logistics operations. It is impossible to improve what you don’t measure.

End-to-end multi carrier shipping software supports carrier selection and document preparation from one system, in the warehouse or from the desktop. It offers visibility into rates, routes and service options. This gives you the ability to seamlessly switch between carriers while maintaining enterprise-wide standards. 

Do You Need a Scalable Solution?

What are your parcel volumes today? How many will  you’ll be handling next year? Three years from now?

Not that long ago, shippers preferred LTL over parcel. That’s changing. The shift towards e-commerce means a higher volume of small shipments being sent to more customers — and in more locations. Furthermore, parcel carriers have expanded the definition of what qualifies as a parcel. They have also improved their package handling to lower risk and changed their pricing structure to compete with LTL carriers. As a result, parcel shipping as a portion of your logistics is likely to grow over the next few years. Your parcel shipping solution needs to be able to scale alongside your needs. It should also be easy extendable to new regions and business units.

Will the Solution Minimize Costs and Optimize Performance?

Is it possible to reduce costs while improving customer satisfaction with each delivery? Better, faster and cheaper is the aim of every global shipper, and yes, this is possible with the right multi carrier shipping software.

When you ship freight, shopping on price and service for each shipment is a common practice. However, many organizations use a single, trusted carrier to handle parcel shipping. This makes sense — at least initially. Nobody wants to spend time researching delivery options for each shipment. But it also means that organizations are missing opportunities to get better rates and faster service.

Another missed opportunity is non-production parcel shipping. In production shipping environments, staff follow established procedures to reduce shipping costs. This is generally not the case for employees based outside warehouse operations. They are less experienced with shipping and less likely to comply with rules about carrier and delivery selection.

Administrative and non-production staff often ship parcels on an ad hoc basis. This adds up — especially for large enterprises, multinationals or organizations working across different sites. Different sites may also have their own procedures. In addition, the parcel shipping data is often fragmented across a number of carrier systems. Furthermore, various departments do not track non-production shipping costs and pay carrier invoices as they arrive. This result in lack of visibility across your transportation operations as well as excessively high charges. Poor management of small package shipments can hike up costs for your enterprise — by at least 20 percent annually.

Your multi carrier shipping software should support both warehouse and desktop shipping. This allows you to set procedures across your entire enterprise, ensuring all staff are empowered to make the best delivery decisions.

Is the Solution Future Proof?

The most important question to ask when evaluating shipping solutions has to do with your business goals. Where is your business headed in the next few years — and how will a shipping solution support those goals?

By choosing a solution you should not only consider your current needs but try to cater for future requirements as much as possible. This could be, for example, expanding into new markets or implementing an omni-channel strategy. New markets require new capabilities. Let’s say your organization only ships across the United States but is looking to expand into Europe in the future. There are 50 countries in Europe, of which 28 are members of the European Union — although this will change after the UK leaves the bloc in 2019 — as well as 24 official languages and 11 currencies. That means your multi carrier solution will need multilingual and multi-currency capabilities.

The complexity does not end there. When it comes to freight rating there is an assortment of rate calculation methods that European carriers can use. There is also no uniform postal code across Europe. Rate-zone definitions differ by carrier, service and country. These rate zones may be based on a combination of country postal codes, cities, regions, countries and so forth.  Your solution therefore must have the flexibility to handle this diverse landscape.

PRECISION Multi Carrier Shipping Software

PRECISION Multi Carrier Shipping software is a complete end-to-end solution for parcel shipping. It supports carrier selection and document preparation in the warehouse or from the desktop. With visibility into rates, routes and service options, you can reduce your dependence on a single carrier. Our Desktop Shipping solution means that  workers outside the warehouse can also access rates, routes, and service options for multiple carriers, and satisfy customer delivery requirements without excess cost. The solution standardizes your logistics operations so you get the best service at the best price, whether you’re shipping from an office in Chicago or a warehouse in Mumbai.

With PRECISION Multi Carrier Shipping, you can scale up to handle higher volumes while streamlining workflow and gathering meaningful data about your shipping operations. PRECISION’s cloud-based solution grows with your business — whether you’re adding employees in a single location or across the globe.

With PRECISION you also have real time access to published guidance and documentation from regulatory and customs agencies across the globe. That means you’re positioned to adapt to political and regulatory change with less disruption to your business.

PRECISION captures shipment status messages for all your shipments with all your carriers. These include real-time updates, alerts and proof of delivery notifications. PRECISION alerts you when there are deviations from the expected shipping plan, such as customs delays, damaged packages and other complications. This allows you to proactively manage problem shipments.

About Precision Software – Trusted Global Trade and Transportation Execution

Precision Software, a division of QAD Inc., provides industry-leading global trade management, transportation execution and multi carrier shipping software solutions from a single, integrated platform. Preeminent industry leaders in every region of the world rely on our global support centers to leverage thousands of carriers and manage millions of shipping transactions every day. The PRECISION solution’s open architecture allows for easy integration with leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and existing legacy solutions. An ISO-certified company, Precision Software assists companies around the world to minimize shipping costs, optimize first mile and last mile deliveries, avoid compliance delays and mitigate the risks associated with dynamic trading environments. Precision Software’s customers span multiple industries including banking and finance, life sciences, high technology, retail, industrial, automotive, higher education and public sector as well as logistics providers. For more information about Precision Software, visit www.precisionsoftware.com or email info@precisionsoftware.com.