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The Importance of Flexible Delivery Options and Multi Carrier Shipping for Retailers

Retailers working across multiple channels and from multiple sites face complex shipping challenges. In this QAD Precision Report we look at how multi carrier shipping software can help retailers standardize shipping procedures, control costs and meet customer expectations. 

For omnichannel and e-commerce retailers standardizing customer delivery operations across different distribution centers, bricks-and-mortar stores and geographic locations, can seem impossible. Retailers ideally aim to offer the same high levels of customer service through all channels, both online and offline. However, when a retailer relies on third parties outside of management control to execute critical services — such as on-time parcel delivery — this can be a challenge.

In order to meet customer expectations, high volume and high value retailers often rely on a few trusted carriers. This trust is important. After all, your customers will blame you, not your carrier, if a delivery is late or if they receive their goods in less than perfect order.

Having said that, retailers who rely on just one or two carrier partners are vulnerable to higher delivery costs. Plus there is the risk of orders going unfulfilled if the preferred carrier is experiencing capacity issues, or is dealing with an unforeseen disaster, such as a fire in a hub. 

How Multi Carrier Shipping Software Benefits Retailers

Whatever else we are in our professional or private lives, we are all somebody’s customer. The brands that gain our loyalty are the ones that make shopping convenient for us, when we visit a retail location and when we shop online. 

That means that fast, and generally free, shipping — along with speed and accuracy — is critical to protect customer loyalty and brand reputation. But quick delivery is not enough of a differentiator. As shoppers, we all want flexible delivery options so that we can choose that best suit us for that day or week. 

Retailers working from a number of distribution centers, stores and warehouses can standardize customer deliveries across all locations with multi carrier shipping software. Multi carrier software makes it possible for retailers to apply the same processes and business rules to all locations, no matter where they are in the world. Here are some of the most important benefits of multi carrier shipping solutions.

GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS FLEXIBLE DELIVERY OPTIONS

From one week to the next, your customers’ delivery needs change. Daytime residential delivery may be perfect for weeks when they are working from home, but on the days when they are onsite for work, or running errands, a store pick-up option or collection point might suit your customer better. Emergency supplies, such as OTC medicine, might require same-day delivery, but a regular cadence generally works best for subscription box deliveries. As a result, retailers benefit from multi carrier shipping solutions that support a flexible omni-channel strategy that shoppers can personalize according to their needs. 

AUTOMATE SHIPPING FROM DISTRIBUTION CENTERS

Multi carrier shipping enables retailers to automate package routing from warehouses and other DCs. Every package is sent via the optimal carrier and at the best service level for that delivery using an automated routing guide along with configurable business rules. This speeds up processing time and operational efficiency, while controlling shipping costs.

TURN STORES INTO FULFILLMENT CENTERS

To meet the demand for one-day and same-day shipping, retailers need to get closer to customers. Omni-channel retailers have an advantage here as they can use their bricks-and-mortar locations as fulfillment centers. 

Unlike warehouse and DC staff, retail staff may not be professional shippers. However, multi carrier desktop shipping makes it easy for retailers to standardize shipping across all locations. Staff will become proficient in carrier service selection, and the solution prepares all the documentation required to complete the shipment.

PROTECT CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

Delays happen. Sometimes they are simply unavoidable even in the most efficient operations. However, if your customer contacts you asking “Where’s my order?” you’re on the back foot. Your customers are more forgiving of delays if you contact them and let them know what is being done to rectify the problem.

Multi carrier shipping software means that you have a central repository for all shipping data. This maximizes visibility and gives logistics managers up to date insights into what is happening across all shipments anywhere in the world from one portal. Logistics managers are no longer in the dark about shipment delays or issues. Instead they will be receive notifications at every step of the delivery journey, resulting in a more proactive strategy if and when delays happen. 

SIMPLIFY CROSS-BORDER AND GLOBAL TRADE

Cross-border and international e-commerce are growing. This presents a great opportunity as well as a challenge for retailers. Firstly, global shipping involves lots of customs documentation and export reporting. Luckily, multi carrier shipping can automate these documentation workflows to streamline the complex international shipping process.

Furthermore, if a retailer is engaged in cross-border or international e-commerce — or plans to expand in this way in the future — leveraging a multi carrier solution will give you a wider variety of delivery routes to fulfill all customer orders, no matter where they are. Certain countries and regions — most notably Europe and Asia — have dozens of carriers. Unsurprisingly, these carriers each have their own set of regulations and protocols. Your multi carrier shipping solution provider takes responsibility for ensuring you remain up to date with carrier standards.

About QAD Precision – Trusted Global Trade and Transportation Execution

QAD Precision (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 QAD Precision’s global support centers to leverage thousands of carriers and manage millions of shipping transactions every day. Our open architecture easily integrates with Enterprise Resource Planning, Warehouse Management Systems and legacy solutions. An ISO-certified company, QAD Precision assists companies to minimize shipping costs, optimize first mile and last mile deliveries, automate free trade agreement compliance, avoid customs delays and mitigate the risks associated with dynamic trading environments to maximize their competitive advantage. QAD Precision’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 QAD Precision, visit www.precisionsoftware.com.

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