Thursday, September 30, 2010
Throughout the year, and especially for the holidays, you do all you can to please your customers. Even a one time order can create word of mouth referrals, so everyone is important. We always look at how the shipping system touches customers. It's obvious that the shipping system is the link in getting the package out the door and on the way. Let's go past the obvious and look at some other ways to put the shipping system to work making customers happy.
Do your customers prefer address verification or address correction? Whenever address correction comes into play, package delivery is probably taking longer that it should and it's likely additional costs are incurred. Here is what one company using the Address Verification Module for our CPS shipping software told us. Their address correction fees dropped from $120 per week to nothing after they started verifying "ship to" addresses in the shipping system. They take orders at their web site and (half) jokingly said "I never knew that so many people don't know where they live." Use the shipping system to verify that actual "ship to" address and you've done everything you can to make delivery as quick as possible (at the least cost to you), and that makes seller and buyer happy.
When your customers place their orders, I bet the next thing on their mind is "When is it on the way and when do I get it?" That's what I always want to know. Do you send customers an email to let them know about their package? Is the email sent by the shipping system? If you use one of the carriers' shipping systems and send the shipment notification from their system, look at the notification sometime. It's not from your company, it's from the carrier. Also, notice how far into the notification you have to go before it's clear the package is from your company. Use your own shipping system and, when it sends your customer their shipment notification, there is no doubt it's from your company and it’s information about their order with your company. That puts a peace-of-mind smile on their face.
Finally, they have to buy from you before you can make them happy. Studies show web site orders are lost when the shipping cost exceeds the customer's expectation. Decrease or eliminate shipping cost "sticker shock" and you decrease your site's abandoned shopping carts and build your market size. How? Used correctly, the data in your shipping system will help. If you analyze your shipping data to discover your average cost to ship a package, then break that down by the services used (Ground, 2 Day, etc.), you are on your way to building sales. With that analysis you can determine "Flat Rate" shipping charges to use on your web site instead of calculating shipping separately for every order. Your customers know their shipping cost right away, which is one way to reduce abandoned shopping carts. If you calculate shipping charges based on the delivery address for every order, people who are farther away pay more. This turns your company into a local or, best case, regional business. You created your web site to sell to a bigger market. Why kill your plan? Flat rate shipping charges establish your company as a national business. The exclusive Flat Rate Shipping Charge Analysis report in Harvey Software's CPS shipping system provides this invaluable shipping cost data. Your customers have a better shopping experience and you retain more sales. This time it's smiles for your customers AND you.
The CPS shipping software can help with each of these. For more information about a shipping system that helps make customers happy, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Posted by Harvey Software, Inc. at 2:13 PM
Friday, September 24, 2010
Let's keep going about the new October 1, 2010 hazardous materials shipping regulations. These regulations are far too complex to cover in a blog, but there is one special case that could affect a number of shippers, especially during the holidays - batteries, specifically lithium batteries. Batteries with lithium seem to be everywhere, from the "button" batteries in countless small electronic devices, to the larger batteries in digital cameras and the rechargeable batteries in portable computers, cell phones, cordless phones and more.
If you ship these, be sure to check how the new regulations apply to your products. There are quantity limits, weight limits, battery power limits, battery label requirements, shipper education requirements, type of transportation restrictions (especially air shipments) and documentation requirements for these, even with small batteries and small quantities. Even when the full hazardous materials process does not have to be observed, there are still some documents and labeling that you'll need to pay attention to.
Defective lithium batteries are a special case. Some of these cannot even be shipped. If you have any of these in your shipping, pay real close attention to the rules. There are fines, penalties, and even criminal penalties when hazardous material shipping rules are not followed.
Remember - the deadline is October 1, 2010 to meet the new hazardous regulations. So if you ship HazMat or batteries, take a look now to be sure your HazMat packages meet the new requirements. After you ship the package is not a great time to discover there is a problem with the new government regulations or with the carrier being able to deliver your package.
To read more about the Federal Regulations concerning lithium batteries click here...
For information at the UPS web site about shipping HazMat with UPS, click here...
For more information about the CPS shipping software, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Posted by Harvey Software, Inc. at 1:13 PM
Friday, September 17, 2010
Hazardous Materials Shippers - This Update is for You.
For companies shipping hazardous materials with UPS, there are new regulations shippers must meet by October 1, 2010. The Department of Transportation now requires companies shipping Hazardous Materials (HazMat) to provide Emergency Contact and Emergency Telephone information.
What does this mean to shippers? It means that software producing Hazardous Materials documentation must require the entry of the Emergency Contact and Emergency Telephone information. If the existing HazMat document software does not already do this, look for an update to this software. There may also be an update for your shipping software for this, too. Here is how this will work with Harvey Software's Computerized Parcel System (CPS™) shipping software.
CPS works with LabelMaster's Masterform® software for HazMat documentation. Right now, updates are on the way to all current users of the Masterform software. There is also a new version of CPS to support this. Install Masterform, then install the CPS update and that's it. These updates can be installed anytime. After the Masterform and CPS updates are installed, the HazMat shipping process will meet the new regulations. If this change affects your company, contact your HazMat documentation company and/or shipping software company if you have specific questions about this.
If your company needs a HazMat compliant, multiple carrier shipping system, contact Harvey Software for information about the CPS shipping system.
Remember - the deadline is October 1, 2010 to meet the new HazMat regulations. This is definitely important since there are heavy fines and even criminal penalties when HazMat is not shipped correctly. We suggest you do not wait until the possible last day to update so you can be sure your HazMat packages meet the requirements to be delivered properly and without issues with the carrier or government regulations.
Click here for information found at the UPS web site about shipping HazMat with UPS...
For more information about the CPS shipping software, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Posted by Harvey Software, Inc. at 12:20 PM
Friday, September 10, 2010
It's getting to the "home stretch" for this year's business. Many companies look forward to the sales they make in the holiday quarter. For some, the holiday quarter is critical for their yearly business projections. For a few, successful holiday sales mean the company survives for another year. Whatever the situation, it's always important for products to be delivered as the customer expects, but at the best price for the shipper, too. As the final link in holiday success, your shipping system can be your best friend or can cause nightmares. Use these 3 tips to make your shipping system your BFF.
Apply Those Updates
It seems like the carriers are always changing something. Look for a shipping system that supports automatic updates or at least automatic update notifications. As an example, our CPS shipping software lets you choose how to handle updates, including applying them automatically whenever they are available. New routing codes, labels, services, rate classifications and other information that is required - all of these can change anytime and without much notice, if any.
For CPS users, we keep an email list just to let CPS users know whenever an update is available. Using your shipping software vendor's latest program and being up-to-date with the carrier requirements are steps you can take to keep your shipping system working great and help your packages get delivered on time.
Use A Battery Backup to Safeguard the Shipping Station
If you have a power loss and lose that day's shipping data, it's NOT a good thing. Other power line problems, like power spikes or voltage sags, can also damage the shipping computer or corrupt your shipping data and software. Here are some ways to solve this power problem as much as possible before it happens - use a battery backup and protect the network connection.
What to look for? Companies like APC, TrippLite, Belkin and others provide battery backup devices with surge/spike suppression in a variety of sizes. Make sure you get a device with the right capability for your computer's system, but even in the under $100 price range, you will find a battery backup that will at least provide protection from a power loss and the resulting mess it can make of your day. For additional protection, look for a connection to protect your network connection, too. Of course, a direct lightning strike can be devastating, but the idea is to do as much as you can for problems you can prevent.
Backup / Backup / Backup
Actually, just one backup each day should do. What is the wild card in even the best shipping system protection plan? It's a critical computer component (hard drive, motherboard, etc.) that that just stops working. Computer components do wear out and fail - but almost never at a convenient time. Our CPS shipping software can perform an automatic backup to protect your valuable shipping data every time the CPS program is closed. Set up the automatic backup to send your important shipping data to a server, and your shipping system safety net is in place. And if the worst happens, like data corruption or a computer failure, getting back to shipping will be much easier if you have a current backup.
Look for an automatic backup feature in your shipping system and be sure it's setup and working for you. This is smart and could make a key difference at a crucial time if something breaks.
So, keep your shipping system updated, backed up and plugged into a battery backup. That's doing what you can to help create a successful shipping season.
To find out more about CPS, visit our web site at www.HarveySoft.com.
Posted by Harvey Software, Inc. at 11:03 AM