Monday, March 24, 2014

How can using multi-carrier shipping software improve my business and save me money?

How can using multi-carrier shipping software improve my business and save me money?
For over 30 years, Harvey Software has provided industry-leading multi-carrier shipping software to shippers to help them optimize their UPS, FedEx and USPS shipping.  With over 35,000 installations that have shipped billions of packages and growing, coupled with new money-saving options, every business should be using Harvey Software’s CPS™ (Computerized Parcel System) multi-carrier shipping software solution to streamline business processes, improve shipment visibility to customers and improve the bottom line.

A high volume shipping software system is the last stop for your parcels before they earn their shipping label and leave your business bound for your customer.  Of course your shipping system affects the shipping department.  Keep in mind it also significantly impacts accounting, customer service, sales and management.

Shortly after using one of our shipping software solutions Powered by CPS, many business owners tell us that they don’t know why they were using the carrier-supplied shipping systems in the first place.  They suddenly realize that much of what took so long in their old shipping process was never necessary in the first place.  Besides the obvious savings using CPS rate shopping features, company employees will be saving time due to the simplicity of a multi-carrier shipping system.  Other functions in your business will gain visibility into the order lifecycle and your customers will reap the rewards of a more efficient fulfillment process.  It is a win all around!

There are so many good reasons to use a multi-carrier system versus the “free” carrier supplied system.   A carrier certified, multi-carrier system Powered by CPS is designed to meet the needs of the shipper.  With carrier supplied systems, the carriers needs always come first.  Carriers develop their “free” systems to capture specific data from each package and produce carrier compliant labels.  These needs are what drive the carriers to provide these ‘free” systems to their customers, who number in the hundreds of thousands.  These “give away” shipping systems are not designed for specific industries or for specific types of shippers.  They are designed to provide specific data and carrier compliant labels, to make the carrier more profitable!

Shipping Software Solutions Powered by CPS
A true carrier-neutral multi-carrier system is designed with you, the shipper, in mind. That’s why we bundle the carriers into one single solution with one user interface and one source for your shipping data. That’s why a multi-carrier system provides tools that help you to better manage your customers and help you to increase sales and satisfy customers. That’s why a multi-carrier system Powered by CPS shipping software provides tools that help you connect to a variety of systems like your order entry, accounting, website or warehouse management system, providing important shipping data to the shipping software and getting valuable shipment tracking information in return.  In short, multi-carrier shipping was designed for YOU, the one who depends on shipping products to YOUR customers in the fastest way possible and at the best possible shipping cost.

For more information about why it makes sense to use shipping software solutions Powered by CPS in your business visit http://www.HarveySoft.com and take a look at our free whitepapers located at http://www.harveysoft.com/whitepapers/.   To start the savings today, visit http://www.harveysoft.com/products/ and click on Start Shipping to order.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What USPS Barcode Should Be Used for Packages to Insure Holiday Delivery?

Are You Using the Right USPS Labels?
Barcode technology for USPS packages has changed a lot over the last few years and if your shipping software has not changed along with it, your packages may not be able to be tracked this holiday season, or they may even be delayed!  On the other hand, if your shipping software has been kept up-to-date with all the changes, then you are well-positioned to receive all the discounts and greatly upgraded tracking capabilities USPS provides.


How do you know if your shipping software has been kept up-to-date with these new USPS requirements?


This article will provide you with some direction and lets you know if your shipping software is doing it right to ensure that your packages reach their destination on time, with tracking and at the best possible price.

First, let’s talk about the USPS barcodes of the past.  Before implementing Intelligent Mail barcodes, USPS had POSTNET and Planet Code barcodes.  For example POSTNET barcodes would have looked something like this:


Old USPS POSTNET Barcode Example


As described above, POSTNET has been replaced by the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) (also known as OneCode Solution or 4-State Customer Barcode).  IMb combines all previous Postal Service barcodes and puts them into a single barcode for letters and flats.   The IMb looks similar to the POSTNET barcode at a glance, but is very different in content.  The new IMb barcodes look like this:


New USPS IMb Example



What is the right Intelligent Mail barcode for packages?



For letters and flats, IMb technology is used but this type of barcode is not used for packages.  For packages there are specially formatted labels with Intelligent Mail package barcodes (IMpb) that look like this:


New USPS Package Labels and IMpb Examples


The Intelligent Mail barcodes for letters and flats were originally required beginning May 2011, however, the USPS postponed the requirement date, allowing mailers to continue receiving automation discount rates using the POSTNET barcode after the May 2011 deadline.  We have been told that the extension has expired and the POSTNET barcodes are no longer used by USPS.

For packages, effective January 27, 2013, barcode requirements changed.  At that time, package shippers receiving discounts had to switch to the Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) along with other special labeling requirements.  The IMpb and the new labeling requirements are now mandatory for all tracking and Extra Services barcodes, and includes all First-Class Package Services, Parcel Select, Parcel Select Light Weight, Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail, and Library Mail parcels in order to receive special presort and destination entry pricing.  


Without using properly formatted labels and IMpb technology, packages could be delayed as they may need to have special handling to be processed!



The new package labels have several important changes to help your packages get delivered on time.  When a USPS package moves from your business to your customer’s location, it passes through many hands and is processed by several different types of equipment.  The new labels standards developed by USPS are to insure that this happens as efficiently as possible.  Therefore, it is very important that all of your USPS labels contain all the new components and are done correctly on each and every label if you plan to get the service you expect.  

Some of the new USPS changes include things like new Service Icons so all USPS services used for packages will be easily recognized by handlers and new Service Banners, with all the correct service names, that also further reinforces handling accuracy.  Also included is the all-important new Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) that should be on each and every package label so it is properly sorted and tracked.  Click here for information on the new USPS package labeling requirements using IMpb.

The new tracking capabilities alone make using the new IMpb barcodes invaluable when it comes to making sure your customers receive their holiday orders on time and they provide you with the ability to track your package if there are any delivery issues.  Click here to learn more information about IMpb barcodes for USPS packages.

For this holiday season, the IMpb barcodes and new label formats should be used for every package shipped using USPS. That is, if you want your packages to be delivered on time, at the best price and with the ability to be tracked…and who doesn’t want that?

If your current shipping software does not support the new barcode and label format requirements, we highly recommend you find a shipping system that does so as soon as possible before the holiday crunch.  

All of Harvey Software’s current shipping software that is Powered by CPS and supports USPS package services also supports the new IMpb barcodes and is fully carrier certified along with being quick and easy to install.  Our USPS shipping software solutions have options for both IMpb compliant on-line Internet postage and USPS eVS package processing for high volume package shippers.  So, if your current shipping software solution cannot be upgraded to take advantage of the new IMpb label requirements, let us help.  Click here to see our current products for options.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Do I Offer Free Shipping?

Is Free Shipping Right for Your Company?
Now more than ever, all on-line stores should be looking at the marketing value of offering the right shipping choices, including free shipping, to maximize sales, market size and return on investment.  The days are over when you can just pass on the costs to the customer and expect to close the sale.  Try that with today’s savvy Internet shopper and you will lose them to your competitors!

A recent study by Forrester Research, Inc says low prices and low delivery costs are the top two reasons visitors revisit an e-tailing site, according to an article titled “Free shipping, more than fast shipping, draws consumers back” at InternetRetailer.com.   For this reason, you cannot afford to not consider using free shipping, or at the very minimum, flat rate shipping for your company.  Click here to see the Internet Retailer article.

So, the first questions should really be…

Should I offer free shipping?  Will my sales increase by offering free shipping?  How do I evaluate if free shipping is right for my company?

That is more than we can get into for this post, but a great article is titled “How to Offer Free Shipping without Going Broke”, found at WebMarketingToday.com, explores these questions with a very good discussion about deciding if free shipping is right for your company.  Click here to see the Web Marketing Today article.

We have published our own whitepaper discussing free shipping titled “Offer Free Shipping and Increase Sales” that you should download.  This whitepaper discusses many additional topics that help you decide if free shipping will help you increase sales.  Click here to download this free whitepaper on free shipping.

Knowing free shipping is not for everyone the next questions should be…

Should I offer flat rate shipping?  Will flat rate shipping increase my sales and my market size when I cannot make free shipping work?


Stop Abandoned Shopping Carts with Solutions Powered by CPS
To explore questions covering how flat rate shipping can change everything from increasing your sales to increasing the market size you service, we have also published a whitepaper on this subject, titled “Internet Retailer’s Guide to Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment”.  Even though the title does not say it can help you with this, this is one of our most popular downloaded whitepapers and has received many comments about how a business can change just by changing how shipping costs are handled!  Click here to download this free whitepaper on flat rate shipping.

If you decide that flat rate shipping is right for your company, Shopify has a handy article titled “Shipping Rate Strategies for Your Online Store”, explaining how to effectively offer flat rate shipping at your web site to maximize its sales closing appeal.  Click here to read this article on shipping rate strategies.


Ship More for Less with CPS Smart RateBots
Once you have made the right choice concerning what is right for your company, it is time to look at the tools you will need to get the job done efficiently.  Tools like those found in all our Powered by CPS products are a great place to start.  Click here for some ideas of features you should be looking for to lower your shipping costs so you can offer the right type of shipping for your company.

So, if you think free shipping or flat rate shipping is not right for your company, there is a very good chance this is negatively affecting your sales!  We highly recommend that our readers take a careful look at all the articles and whitepapers listed above.  You will be very pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Low Cost Shipping, Great Delivery Times with USPS


There is no question that considering several carriers’ service options for each package you ship can save money and increase your customers’ satisfaction.  With the right shipping software, this process can be easily automated. 

Likely, you also know that putting all your eggs in one basket with a single carrier can greatly restrict your ability to be competitive in your marketplace and even cause you to lose sales.  For these reasons, USPS should be one of the many carriers you consider in your decision mix.

In the past USPS shipping rates, even though they were price competitive, may have not been considered as reliable as other carriers when it came to package tracking and reliable delivery times, but that is changing rapidly.  USPS tracking is now very competitive and they are working very hard to greatly improve the reliability USPS delivery times.  For these reasons, we feel USPS is becoming a very viable choice to consider for normal daily shipping.

The following are a few reasons you should consider including USPS in your shipping choices to optimize your daily shipping needs.

Excellent Pricing for Residential Delivery and Lighter Packages is One Good Reason

For lighter packages, especially those going a residence, this is a sweet spot for the Post Office.  For the lightest shipments, those under 13 ounces, the prices for USPS First Class with USPS Delivery Confirmation are hard to beat.  Look more at their prices and you'll see that for packages over 13 ounces and up to 5 pounds or so, Priority Mail service with Delivery Confirmation is extremely competitive, especially for residential deliveries.  Plus, when you use Internet postage (or USPS eVS) to ship your packages, Delivery Confirmation for Priority Mail and First-Class is free.  Finally, use a shipping software system like those Powered by CPS and the shipping choice can be selected automatically with rate comparisons you define so you'll always get the best price for the delivery time you have chosen.  Let's face it, that's reason #1.

No Address Correction Fees is Another Good Reason

Sure, you can give the post office a package with an address to which delivery cannot be made.  But, free delivery to a forwarding address is part of their service, with no additional charges incurred.  Sometimes (granted, not every time), they even deliver a package when the address is close but not 100% accurate.  Both of these can put you dollars ahead of the additional charges for address correction you'll see from other carriers when address mistakes happen.  This is another good reason to ship with the Post Office.

This last reason is both good and bad.  No address correction fees are great for the occasional mistake, but why even chance your USPS package getting lost, over charged or mishandled in the first place?  When the right shipping software system like those Powered by CPS, address verification can be added for a very low cost and be used for every package, if you wish.  The correct addresses on your packages saves you time and money, satisfies customers with timely delivery and is best done at the time of shipping, right before the package leaves your business.

Many companies price shop each package to lower shipping costs.  The better address verification programs, like those found in shipping software Powered by CPS, tell you if the destination is a commercial or residential address so the right type of delivery service is used for price comparisons.  If you use the USPS in combination with other carriers, this becomes key to maximizing your savings on several fronts.

So, the next time you ship, make sure you consider all the options.  Do this right, and you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month!  For a good example of the savings you might see by utilizing all the options when you ship with a true multi-carrier software system, visit http://www.HarveySoft.com and check out the Estimated Savings Calculator at the top of the page.  It allows you to enter in how much you ship and give you an idea of how much you can save using more than one carrier and all the right tools.




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Correctly Documenting International Shipments for Successful, Timely Deliveries

Correctly Documenting International Shipments for Successful, Timely Deliveries

With the previously provided info regarding international customs forms in hand, what's next? Well, more information is needed, of course. It is the government, after all!  But without the correct information for customs, your packages can be stuck en route or even returned. That’s expensive and does not make your international customers smile. Our CPS Shipping Software is a multi-carrier shipping system that records this important international shipping data as well as the ability to print shipping labels and customs forms.

To complete your commercial invoice and certificate of origin forms, here are some of the items that may be needed and should always be available when shipping international packages. In addition to the value and description of your products, you should also have information about your federal id number, the country of origin of the goods you are shipping and the terms of sale.

For the commercial package carriers, you will need to provide information details about the products contained in your packages so you can provide the commercial invoice and NAFTA or non-NAFTA certificate of origin. For the USPS, for the 2976A form, you will need to decide how you want non-deliveries treated. The USPS has two customs forms, the 2976/CN22 and the 2976A/CP72. Why two designations for each form? I have never seen an explanation for that, but you may see any of these form numbers referred to by the USPS. The good news is the CPS(TM) shipping software supports both the 2976 and 2976A forms for the USPS and the Commercial Invoice and Certificate of Origin for CPS supported carriers. A good, not too complicated explanation of when each form is needed is at https://www.usps.com/ship/customs-forms.htm.

And, like most infomercials or TV product commercials, but wait – there’s more! A Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) is another form that may need to be provided.  "May need" because shipment value is part of its requirements. Starting July 2, 2008, the Census Bureau requires mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or through the AESDirect for all shipments where a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) is required. For more information, visit this web site: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www/.

Next time, we'll wrap up this international shipping information, and put a bow on it just in time for holiday shipping! If streamlining your international shipping is on your shipping department “to do” list, then check out our Web site for additional information about CPS.  Visit www.HarveySoft.com.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

International Shipping Tips – Part 2

International Shipping Tips - Part 2

With international shipping comes customs forms creation. Maybe you do this through your shipping software, maybe you create your own forms, or you might use an online system or some other way to do this. Without the correct forms, your packages will not be delivered, so this is important. Customs forms have to meet certain specs and need to contain specific information, since most customs data must also be presented to customs electronically. This information includes a description of the goods in the shipment, their value, its classification (a merchandise sale, gift, documents only, etc.), and accurate customs Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes so that your packages clear customs without delays.

Since “Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes” are unfamiliar terms for some, below is information about the Schedule B codes from the US Census Bureau, plus some information about Harmonized Tariff codes. You can get additional information about these codes at the US Census Bureau website: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/.

Millions of trade transactions occur each year. These transactions are classified under approximately 8,000 categories of products leaving the United States and every exported item is assigned a unique 10-digit identification code. For example, concentrated frozen apple juice is assigned a 10-digit identifier that is in a broader category that is assigned a 6-digit identifier for apple juice. The 6-digit identifier for apple juice is in another broader category assigned a 4-digit identifier for fruit juices, vegetable juices, etc. The 4-digit identifier is in another broader category assigned a 2-digit identifier for Preparations of Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts etc. When you export goods, it may take some studying to learn which of these codes are the right codes for your product(s).

What's the difference between the Schedule B codes (for exports) and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes (for imports)? All of the import and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) - http://www.usitc.gov/tariff_affairs/. The HTS assigns 6-digit codes for general categories. Countries that use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits, but all definitions must be within that 6-digit framework. The U.S. defines products using 10-digit HTS codes, like the example for concentrated frozen apple juice. Export codes (which the U.S. calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).

The USPS uses forms called 2976 or 2976A to record and print this information. UPS and FedEx use a commercial invoice. Regardless of which form or carrier is used, your products must be properly documented or your package will sit at customs until clarification is provided. With the requirements for electronic upload of customs information, customs form creation is being tied more and more to the shipping system. Our CPS Shipping Software creates and prints the necessary customs forms; so as a multi-carrier shipping system, CPS users have one easy system for international shipping and documentation.

We'll get into more about international customs forms in an upcoming post. For more information about CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.

Friday, September 14, 2012

International Shipping Tips for USPS, FedEx and UPS

International Shipping Tips for USPS, FedEx and UPS
If your company is looking across our country’s borders to expand your business, a fundamental question is “How do I get the orders delivered to these international customers?” With the special regulations and additional expense of international shipping compared to domestic, getting this right is key. So understanding the international shipping process is the cornerstone to making this new business profitable and worthwhile.

Let’s look at the additional documents needed when shipping internationally. There are two (2) sets of information needed so your packages are delivered properly. One is for the carrier; the other is for customs. And this is where a multi-carrier shipping system can really help. I’ll use our CPS Shipping Software as an example.

Let's start with the most important items for the carriers. First, and it may sound obvious, but you need to know what country you are shipping to. Actually, you need to know how the carrier refers to the destination country. For example, let's use Ireland. If you are shipping with UPS, the country can be Republic of Ireland or just Ireland. For FedEx, you can only use Republic of Ireland. For USPS using Endicia, you can only use Ireland. Use the wrong one and you will not even get a shipping label. Our CPS shipping software helps with a “pull-down” country listing to assist you.

Next is international paperwork. This includes Commercial Invoices, Certificates of Origin, USPS Customs Forms and SED filings. The carrier needs to know how the international paperwork is being handled or your package can be delayed clearing customs. Each customs form has a specific layout. A shipping system like CPS that really supports international shipping can collect the data and print the correct forms in the approved format.

Using a shipping system that simplifies the shipping, shipping label, and international forms creation processes goes a long way to making international orders easy, freeing you to grow your business outside our borders.

International shipping is definitely not for the uninformed. There will be several more posts on this subject to follow over the next few weeks, including more detailed information about some of the items in the customs forms, such as the Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes and other items. So stay tuned.

To see more about CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.