Whether you're a transportation shipping manager or a vice president who oversees shipping at your company, it's important to understand your options when it comes to delivering product to your customers.
Carrier-provided shipping systems, such as the ones provided by FedEx and UPS, and multicarrier shipping solutions, which allow you to use different shipping services for each customer, offer various ways to do business.
But which one is right for you? Here are a few factors to consider when determining which options to use:
First, Consider Your Situation
If your business is a startup, and you're just getting into the details of how you will ship your product, you must consider all available options, before you commit to a solution. Alternatively, if you've already invested in a carrier-provided shipping system but notice limitations or a lack of operational efficiency, it may be time to think about an alternative.
For instance, using various carrier-provided shipping systems can make it necessary to learn multiple procedures to effectively use each system. Moreover, some of these systems come with system integration limitations and might not sync well with your electronic resource planning system or order management system.
Then there is the human factor. In this scenario, warehouse workers are also forced to determine the carrier, as well as use the specific systems required, leaving the door open to operator error and additional customer-related costs.
This is why it's crucial to consider options beyond singular carrier-provided shipping systems.
Multicarrier shipping solutions let you process your shipments through a single, unified solution, regardless of how the product must be shipped. For example, if your business is involved with 3PL fulfillment and caters to business customers such as Walmart or Amazon.com, there are typically specific shipping requirements you'll need to meet for each customer.
These may include shipping with a specific carrier or using a particular shipping method for your customer's online shopper versus its in-store consumer.
This can become a complex process if you use individual carrier-provided shipping systems. However, a multicarrier shipping solution makes it easy to ship from one point rather than having to use different systems to execute different tasks.
Know What to Look For
It's essential you know what to look for in a shipping system before finalizing a contract or making a purchase. Here are a few key questions to ask your shipping software provider the next time you're comparing a multicarrier shipping solution with a carrier-provided shipping system:
- Does the shipping solution support all the carriers you need to use?
- Will the shipping solution integrate into your existing operations, such as your ERP, warehouse management system or order fulfillment system?
- How easy is it to use?
- How does it stay compliant with ever-changing carrier requirements?
- How scalable is the shipping solution? Can it transition to support several warehouses or facilities should you expand operations?
Knowing these common misconceptions will help you avoid making assumptions that can hamper decision-making while you're shopping for the right shipping solution:
- The multicarrier shipping solution supports your system. Don't assume that a multicarrier shipping solution supports all of the carriers you use. Always ask.
- The shipping solution will work with your system. Avoid assuming that a shipping solution will automatically work in your environment.
- The carrier-provided shipping systems are free. It may not cost you anything to install a carrier-provided shipping system. However, real expenses may result from its inefficiencies and limitations.
While exploring different shipping options, consider your return on investment and the expenses you may incur, such as software, procurement and operational costs. Then, consider how the right shipping solution will meet your business needs.