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How Universities and Public Institutions Can Control Parcel Shipping Costs

Universities and public institutions ship high volumes of parcels, and need to contain and control transportation costs. In the latest QAD Precision Report we look at how universities and public sector bodies can leverage desktop shipping solutions to track and and manage parcel spend.

As the old business cliché puts it: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. That’s not always true — but it certainly is when it comes to your shipping costs.

Universities and public bodies spend a huge amount on parcel shipping. Despite this, many institutions have no way of measuring — let alone managing — this. As a result, they have a poor understanding of their shipping costs.

There are a number of reasons for this. When your organization has different schools, departments, administrative units and so forth, it can be difficult to ensure that all staff follow the same shipping rules. Different schools and administrative units may have their own procedures. Parcel shipping data is generally fragmented across a number of carrier systems. Furthermore, many institutions do not track inter-campus or inter-office shipping costs. They simply pay invoices as they arrive.

The Importance of Controlling Maverick Spending

Academics and admin staff generally ship on an ad hoc basis as needed. Known as “non-production” or “desktop” shipping, the costs of this ad hoc shipping mount up. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that desktop shipping is the biggest source of “maverick spend” associated with an organization’s transportation activities.

Maverick spend refers to the cost for goods or services that is not managed or controlled. That’s unsurprising — academics and admin staff are not professional shippers. They are unlikely to take dimensional pricing and surcharges into account. Nor may they be aware of alternate services — even from the same carrier — that will ensure on-time delivery, but at a lower cost. Furthermore, if every campus, school or office location has their own relationship with a carrier, there is no opportunity to negotiate for volume discounts.

Controlling Costs with Desktop Shipping Software

One way universities and public sector bodies can control costs is with Desktop Shipping software. With Desktop Shipping software, organizations can put standardized procedures in place to ensure all staff follow the same shipping rules. It automates internal procedures, such as carrier and service level selection. Desktop Shipping software takes the user through a number of easy-to-follow steps before a parcel can be shipped. It also gives the institution access to a multi carrier network of parcel shippers, domestically and globally. Best of all, it does this seamlessly.

Manually switching between carriers looking for the best rates, transit times and service levels is a time-consuming drain on resources. In addition, you must ensure that each parcel is compliant with that carrier’s specific requirements. Not doing so leads to delays and lost packages. This is distinct worry for universities — their parcels are often time-sensitive, require special handling or contain hazardous materials. Carriers also penalize you with additional costs for non-compliant packages or labels.

Furthermore, with Desktop Shipping software staff will be able to allocate shipments to the correct cost center, grant, research group or college as needed. Instead of staff shipping on an ad hoc basis, Desktop Shipping ensure all parcels are shipped using the institution’s rules for rates, transit times and service levels. In this way, the university or public body can minimize shipping spend and avoid unnecessary charges.

Five (More) Benefits of Desktop Shipping Software

Desktop Shipping software is not only about controlling costs — as important as that is! Universities and public sector institutions leveraging Desktop Shipping software are also able to standardize procedures and gain efficiencies across departments, administrative units, laboratories and so forth. Here are five further benefits of Desktop Shipping software.


Research samples — and even research papers — may be subject to export controls or require special documentation. When you ship on an ad hoc basis, it is easy to miss a crucial compliance check. A comprehensive Desktop Shipping solution gives you the tools to maintain an effective compliance program for any type of shipment. This includes domestic, international, import or export. Universities and public institutions are able to automate and audit processes and business rules. This ensure due diligence with in-country regulatory programs and cross-border customs requirements.


Universities who send international shipments must comply with a variety of ever changing shipping requirements. This means you need knowledge of import tariffs, packaging specifications, customs rules and compliance regulations. Desktop Shipping software with standardized procedures help universities mitigate these risks. This allows you to seamlessly switch between carriers, automating carrier compliant labeling, generating the appropriate shipping documents for global destinations and managing denied party screening — all while adhering to your specific shipping rules.


It is not enough to set standardized procedures. Simplifying the individual user experience is also crucial. A comprehensive Desktop Shipping solution will provide an intuitive “walk-up” user interface. This ensures department- and campus-wide adoption and allows you to successfully implement controls across your institution. As a result, users become self-sufficient in carrier rate and service selection, generating carrier compliant labeling, managing denied party screening and compliance checks and generating appropriate shipping documents.


Universities, like life sciences companies, move an array of highly diverse contents such as living cells, common or experimental drugs and solvents, test specimens and data. As global trade becomes more and more controlled and restricted, universities must constantly improve their shipping processes and have greater visibility into the movements of goods across their research chains. This allows them to ensure compliance against an ocean of changing regulations.


When you send or receive biologics, hazardous goods or high value research materials, shipment visibility and tracking is crucial. Desktop Shipping software with delivery exception management allows you to harmonizing shipping statuses and provides visibility as your packages travel across the carrier network. It also alerts you to exceptions so that you can proactively resolve delays.

Further Reading: UC Davis Case Study

Learn how UC Davis leverages QAD Precision to centralize hundreds of department carrier accounts, control shipping costs, increase visibility and simplify ongoing compliance. To download the case study, please click here.

About QAD Precision – Trusted Global Trade and Transportation Execution

QAD Precision, a division of QAD Inc., provides industry-leading global trade compliance, and multi carrier transportation execution solutions from a single, integrated platform. An ISO-certified company, QAD Precision assists companies to streamline their import, export and transportation operations, optimize deliveries, and increase logistics ROI. QAD Precision’s scalable and extensible solution easily integrates with existing ERP and WMS solutions. Industry leaders in every region of the world rely on QAD Precision’s global support centers to leverage thousands of carrier services and manage millions of global trade and shipping transactions every day. For more information about QAD Precision, visit www.qadprecision.com.


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