The CPS National Carrier Updates are now available for download. These updates are essential for CPS to function properly, and will install automatically when the Daily Entry program is started next week. On or after Monday, January 2nd, 2012, the update will become critical, and users will be prompted to complete it. There is no charge for the update, and downtime is minimal, so we expect that our customers will be back to shipping just minutes after starting this update. The complete update notes can be viewed in the CPS On-Line Support directory inside the CPS for Windows folder—just find the entry for December 27th, 2011. Below we have selected a few of the updated features to display in our blog.
CPS Feature Updates
This update contains several new features that customers will be happy to see. The automatic backup path must now go to a drive other than the C: drive of the shipping computer, insuring our customers a backup separated from the location of the main program. Also, customers will be able to write-back the carrier and service used for the package using the ODBC External Link. Customers will also be able to do package archives into a .zip format in order to save hard drive space for package records. CPS for Mail Order Manager users doing batch processing can now put the M.O.M. company name into the field chosen by the CPS user. Also, if the Address Verification Module standardizes an address longer than the address field length, CPS will display a dialog box with the standardized address so the shipper can override the changes if needed.
The FedEx, SpeeDee, and UPS rates, fuel surcharges, and accessorial charges have been updated to 2012 rates. These changes install automatically when the update is installed, and users who complete the update will have all of the updated published rates.
We now support UPS Return Services, including Returns Flexible Access and Returns Exchange. We also added support for FedEx Ground “Hold At Location” services. SpeeDee customers have new options for their shipping label formats including a signature option. There are a few updates within CPS to the DYMO Endicia interface, which can be viewed within the CPS On-Line Support directory. Please note that Endicia updates its DAZzle software independently of Harvey Software, and users of both services will need to check with Endicia regarding those updates.
Perhaps the biggest change will come to those shippers using USPS Mail Manifesting for international shipments. New federal customs and export control regulations and policies require customs information to be submitted electronically to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection prior to the shipments leaving the country. This change becomes effective January 22nd, 2012, and it impacts shippers who present hard-copy permit imprint mail manifests created in CPS and/or using USPS-produced privately printed customs forms for Express Mail International (EMI) and Priority Mail International (PMI).
This change does NOT affect any shipper using DYMO Endicia Internet postage or any other form of USPS service supported in CPS or provided by any other CPS supported carriers. In fact, we recommend switching to an Internet postage service such as Endicia in order to transition from hard-copy mail manifesting. For more information regarding this transition for mail manifest users, please contact us at email@example.com or at 1-800-231-0296
Effective January 2, 2012 the UPS fuel surcharge for Domestic Air and International will decrease from 14.00% to 12.50%. The fuel surcharge for Ground will decrease from 8.50% to 8.00%. These surcharges will remain in effect through February 5, 2012.
New Years Week Holiday Hours
Harvey Software realizes that many of you have just completed a very busy time of year and you would like a breather but there is just one last task you need to complete - the National Update for 2012.
We will be closed Monday, January 2, 2012 for the holiday. On Monday, January 2, 2012 we will continue to insure our servers will be active 24/7, and our On-Line Support Internet based support will remain available. We will return to our normal hours on Tuesday, January 3, 2012.
Important Notice: Starting Tuesday, December 27, 2011 through Friday, December 30, 2011 support will be for national update issues only. All other issues will be by appointment as time allows. This policy will continue on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 through Friday, January 13, 2012.
The staff of Harvey Software would like to thank you for your continued business and we wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year!
Friday, December 30, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
After the big game, fans file out of the stadium, players retire to the locker room for ice baths and showers, and talking heads find the biggest headlines, flashiest highlights and maybe a conflict or two. But even after the game is over, the coaches’ work continues. After the post-game talks and interviews, coaches have miles of game tape to review. What went well? What did the other team do? Who are my stars, and who needs help? What do we need to fix? What can we do to make things more efficient, to improve communication, to win more?
For many businesses, the holiday shopping season is THE big game. Everyone prepares for months for one big push of sales. The best time to ask the post-game questions is when they are fresh in everyone’s mind, right after the game ends. Even if the necessary changes are not immediately put into place, the notes will be the starting point when planning for next year.
Check everything: from marketing to sales, receiving to shipping, management to first-line employees. Talk to employees—chances are, they know what their biggest headaches were, and they will be quick to tell you. Very likely behind those “headaches” you will find portions of your processes that are inefficient time-hogs. This is where attention needs to be paid, and creative ideas found for the future.
The shipping process is a frequent topic on industry blogs and websites. That’s because the transition point where your product leaves your hands and goes to your customer’s is a crucial, unforgiving part of your business. Everything has to be just right for this process to work smoothly, and what works when sales are slow can suddenly be difficult to sustain when order volume swells. Here are some specific questions to ask about your shipping process
Accuracy: Is the address correct? Are you incurring address correction/returned package charges? Do your labels print correctly? Is the correct and most efficient shipping method being chosen for every package? Is your customer receiving their package in the time promised? Is everything still accurate when volume goes up during the holidays? For most, this topic is the highest priority. When everything is accurate, things run smoothly. Mistakes are expensive and take lots of extra time to figure out.
Speed: How long does each order take, from picking to packing to staging? How many orders are going through per hour? Is there a particular bottleneck to your system? And, how long does it take information to get from shipping to customer service and accounting? Chances are there are just one or two parts of the process that slow everything else down. If you focus your attention there and make improvements, the whole business will notice things running more smoothly.
Cost: Ok, so what’s the bottom line? How much did shipping cost us this year? How much employee time is spent on processing those outbound shipements? And, most importantly, how much did we profit? Are there places we can reduce costs without sacrificing accuracy or speed? Could we save money on the shipping costs from the carriers? Are there other carrier options that I haven’t considered before? CPS shipping software users can ask the question-how much more would I have to spend if I was using only one carrier to ship my packages? Both accuracy and speed can impact cost as well, but check out your shipping reports. Taking a strategic look at your shipping spend can offer a lot of insight into your customers’ behavior as well as give you an idea of what to negotiate with your carrier representatives.
After auditing your business’s operation, did you find any places where your software was the culprit? CPS shipping software from Harvey Software provides an accurate, fast, and cost effective solution for your multi-carrier shipping system needs. The software pays for itself with just moderate monthly volume, and many other benefits makes it a no-brainer. This blog contains many informative posts regarding specific CPS features that can improve your business processes. Of course, you can always find out more about CPS shipping software at http://www.HarveySoft.com, or call us at 1-800-231-0296.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Believe it or not, in just one short week, we will have another successful holiday season behind us. This year is forecast to be the biggest shopping season ever for online retailers. A popular idea this year was offering weekly specials in the two weeks following Thanksgiving, which allowed retailers and shippers alike to spread the volume of orders over a week rather than being focused on a single, Cyber Monday type promotion. This also highlights the flexibility of online shopping, which more and more consumers are flocking to for their holiday gift-giving.
This is the busiest week of the year for a number of our customers which also means the carriers are carrying their peak volumes. This past Monday, FedEx reported its highest volume ever shipped: 17 million packages. UPS workers are working considerable overtime to make sure packages get to their destination at their guaranteed delivery times. USPS expects this coming Monday to be its busiest delivery day this year. At these peak shipping times having a multi-carrier shipping system is incredibly beneficial. You save time, you save money, and you are able to maintain useful records on shipping data that can help you save on shipping next year, too. If you are NOT using multi-carrier shipping software, check out HarveySoft.com for more info.
So it’s about time to start looking forward to next year. Harvey Software releases its National Carrier Updates for its CPS shipping software customers each year between Christmas and New Year’s. The annual CPS shipping software updates assure compliance with each carrier’s rates and services. This compliance is essential for CPS to accurately report shipping rates, and this accuracy ensures that our customers are able to choose the best shipping service for every package, an essential advantage of a multi-carrier shipping system.
The CPS 2012 National Carrier Updates will be available for download beginning on Tuesday, December 27th, 2011. It will be an optional download for one week. On or after January 2nd, 2012, the update will become critical and essential in order for CPS to function. Please make plans accordingly to allow your shipping stations time to be properly updated. Downtime is minimal and your shipping stations will be up and running again in no time. For the latest information about the update and the corresponding notes that go with it, please find the On-Line Support Menu in the CPS for Windows folder. Click on “Notices and Updates”, and you will have access to the most up-to-date information.
Many other 3rd party shipping software developers charge extra for updates, but Harvey Software includes them in our regular service agreement price. Other than running the update there is no other action you need to take.
We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday season and we look forward to serving you in the new year.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Here Are Holiday Shipping Deadlines: Your Multi-Carrier Shipping System Can Help You Profit From the Carriers Competing For Your Business
Holiday shopping is already at the front of everyone’s mind. If you are a last minute brick and mortar shopper, then your deadline is Dec. 24th at 11:59pm (if they’re even open that late!). But with online shopping, you do have to do a little bit of pre-planning to make sure your friends and family get their gifts on time. Below are several deadlines the carriers set for guaranteed delivery. As your business makes final plans for that last push, remember to account for these deadlines in the promises you make to your customer. And also remember, this information is provided automatically in CPS shipping software: CPS RateBots, Smart RateBots, and the Best Way Calculator work together to instantly show this information for every package.
FedEx Ground® Dec. 16th
FedEx Express Saver® Dec. 20th
FedEx 2Day® Dec. 21st (Dec. 22nd with Saturday Surcharge)
FedEx Overnight® Dec. 22nd (Dec. 23rd with Saturday Surcharge)
UPS Ground® Dec. 15-22nd
UPS 3 Day Select® Dec. 20th
UPS 2nd Day Air® Dec. 22nd (must be labeled for Saturday)
UPS Next Day Air® Dec. 23rd (must be labeled for Saturday)
Parcel Post® Dec. 15th
First Class Mail® Dec. 20th
Priority Mail® Dec. 21st
Express Mail® Dec. 22nd
Note that UPS provides an overall window for their ground service deadlines, which varies based on origin and destination. FedEx makes a hard guarantee on the 16th, but would also have delivery guarantees for later dates based on origin and destination.
CPS shipping software tells users the exact arrival date available for every package for both UPS and FedEx. Consider utilizing the full features like Smart RateBots, which automatically chooses the best method based on both delivery time and cost. By taking advantages of these available features, businesses can reduce shipping costs, save time, and add to their profits in this importance time of the year. For more information, please visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, December 2, 2011
How often do you check to see if your packages are delivered to the right address? Of if they even make it onto the carrier trucks. And if this is not happening, what to do next?
Re-labeling packages, shipping packages that don't belong to your company, changing addresses, deleting packages - all of these can happen and have happened. You might have years of trusted service from a key employee, you check references, do background checks, put systems in place, but something doesn't seem right. You seem to have too many orders that need to be reshipped. Or your shipping costs seem high according your shipping budget forecast of shipping X number of boxes that weigh Y pounds. This kind of problem can be hard to pin down, even when you see the "red flags" that you are sure mean you have a problem. Here's where multi-carrier shipping software might help you.
In the CPS(TM) shipping software, you have quick access to your shipping history data so you can search and analyze your shipping information. For example, after recently noticing something wasn't right with their shipping, one CPS shipper extracted their shipping data, looked for patterns that did not match their normal shipping, and discovered there was no order ID information with some of their shipping records. More research into these records zeroed in on the problem and helped find the employee responsible. In another instance, shipments for already processed and labeled packages were voided. The addresses were altered at the time of shipping. Even though the shipments were deleted in the CPS shipping software, the labels with illicit addresses were already printed and the package given to the carriers for delivery. With a special setting, CPS wrote the data for every voided package to a file for monitoring. Following this trail of voided packages then led back to the person who was scamming the company. These are examples of looking at the problem "after the fact".
To stop a problem before it happens, one way is to use a data lookup to read the shipping data into CPS, then prevent the shipping software operator from changing or voiding the address in the shipping system. In CPS, there is a setting so if the shipper tries to edit the shipping address fields, a window pops up requiring a password in order to make any change.
It's hardly ever possible to watch what happens to every package in your shipping department. Tools in your shipping system like these in the CPS shipping software give you the power and information to stop these problems if they occur, or even before they occur.
To find out more about the CPS multi-carrier shipping system, visit our web site at www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Last week we discussed a feature of the CPS multi-carrier shipping software to fully automate a shipping computer in a large scale enterprise application. This week, let’s cover another end of the spectrum—a small online store, perhaps run by one or two people, looking to connect their order system to a shipping system. This business profile can benefit substantially by using advanced shipping benefits such as rate shopping features, customizable tracking emails (sent directly from the store’s email address, not a carrier’s), and integration with other software necessary to run an online business.
Connecting the shipping software to the order management system (OMS) is a basic challenge faced by many store owners. Connecting the two programs speeds up the order workflow significantly and reduces potential errors when entering data between programs. The Cut’N Ship™ option in the CPS shipping software allows connection to many online order management systems. It is easy to do a quick check to see if your OMS can connect to CPS through Cut’N Ship—can you highlight the shipping data, copy it, and paste it into Notepad? If you can, then Cut’N Ship can move your data into CPS. It’s really that simple!
With an instant connection from the OMS to the shipping software, shipping can be accomplished in seconds. Choose CPS as your shipping solution, and you can feel confident that your company is getting the best possible rates for its shipments. As the business grows, CPS can connect to new order management systems, new accounting systems, etc., all without requiring a complete overhaul of the shipping department. For example, we recently helped a customer change their order management system—they kept one CPS shipping station connected to the old program as they made the transition to their new system with their other CPS shipping station. There was no disruption in shipping orders while accomplishing the transition. No other multi-carrier shipping software solution can grow with a business like CPS does.
A small business that wants to grow will need an effective way to ship, and the choice of shipping software is crucial when it comes to efficiency in getting the packages out the door to the customer. CPS shipping software has the tools to make this easier, faster, and more efficient.
Over the last several weeks, these blog posts have presented a variety of features found specifically in CPS that make it the best multi-carrier shipping software solution available. There are features that save money, features that save time, and features that make shipping with multiple carriers easier. If your business ships even a moderate volume of packages each month, the CPS solution pays for itself with the cost savings it offers. One way to think about it—after CPS pays for itself with the savings, every other CPS feature might as well be free. Harvey Software will be happy to provide you with more information on any of these features by phone (1-800-231-0296) or on our website, www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, November 11, 2011
If you've been following along with the posts of the last several weeks, you know how many features of CPS shipping software are available to process shipments faster and more efficiently. This week, we touch on a natural arrival point of all of these automation features—The CPS Automator™. By reading a completed data file, CPS can automatically shop rates, optimize carriers and shipping methods, correct an address, give correct rating for a package, print the shipping label and return completed shipping data back to other business software applications. All of this can happen without an operator required to be at the shipping computer.
When the complete data for shipping a large number of carrier-compliant packages can be provided in a data file, CPS can read and ship the contents of the entire file. Since the required name, address, and weight fields import automatically into CPS, manual entry is never required. Then, with predefined RateBots set up, CPS shipping software automatically chooses the best method for every package according to your business rules. The label prints, and the shipping costs and tracking number write back (optional) into the order management system or an accounting program through an ODBC connection. No employee time is required at the shipping computer for this process—in fact, CPS runs completely in the background with no visual functions. After our multiple carrier shipping software completes the shipping labels, the boxes are ready to be staged for carrier pickup. Combined with a picking, packing and conveyor system in a warehouse, CPS can be the last stop of an automated fulfillment line.
Obviously, there are other things going on here other than shipping software. CPS doesn’t pack boxes nor does it control conveyor belts and pick-to-light systems. It DOES work as part of a fulfillment system to provide the most optimal shipping method with the carriers, and it continues to save a business money on shipping every time it is used. If automation of an entire large scale operation is your challenge, your business might consider contacting one of our solutions partners, who specialize in designing complete systems customized for your needs. CPS shipping software integrates easily with many popular systems, and our partners specialize in customizing that integration to meet your business requirements.
One might think that automation features like this come at a premium. On the contrary, this feature is included in every CPS workstation. The same program that saves a small business money when they ship 5 packages a day saves an enterprise money when they ship 5000 packages a day. No other multi-carrier shipping system grows with a business’s shipping needs the way CPS does. When your business is ready to free up hands for other work, call us about putting “The Automator” to work for you! For more information, please visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, November 4, 2011
When you spend time reading shipping forums, you will see the question come up—how can I tell whether a destination address is residential or commercial? In fact, you will see from many posts that the wrong answer to this simple little question can cost a business thousands a year in unexpected shipping charges if they aren’t careful. On one forum, incorrect address status was listed as the number one reason for discrepancies in a carrier statement as compared to expected costs.
Just ask the customer if their address is residential or commercial, right? Sure, you can ask. Of course, some customers are aware of higher charges for residential delivery and will just mark their suburban, white-picket-fenced house as a business thinking they will pay less for shipping. And they will, but you won’t! Or if they run a business out of their home, they might incorrectly assume this makes their address commercial. But unfortunately for shippers, inaccuracy on the customers’ checkout form does not mean you can go back and charge their credit card later for the difference in shipping costs. Plus, not only is there a higher surcharge for residential delivery to begin with, there are potential penalties when addresses are repeatedly classified incorrectly. The result is money lost in the shipping department, which means money lost from your company’s bottom line.
One way to attack this problem is checking the address right when the package is shipped. The CPS multi-carrier shipping system with its Address Verification Module (AVM™) reports the residential/commercial status for every package as soon as the address is entered. The AVM checks addresses against the USPS master database of all addresses, so not only is the commercial/residential status confirmed, the address is checked to make sure it exists and is accurate. When CPS knows the correct status of an address, the surcharges are included in in the rating.
The true power of a multi-carrier shipping system lies in the combination of features like AVM and Smart RateBots (see last week’s post) that let you make quick, smart shipping choices from the major carriers. You get a true comparison of rates between UPS, FedEx, and USPS as soon as an address is entered with a system which can even select that best rate automatically. For more information on the unparalleled flexibility of CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Spend Minutes Looking Up Rates For Every Package or Let a Multi-Carrier Shipping System Look For You
Imagine running an online costume rental site. As much as you would like them to plan ahead, your customers frequently choose costumes at the last minute. For this year's holiday marketing campaign, you decide to advertise that every order placed by noon Wednesday will be delivered by Friday, in time for weekend parties. “Order by Wednesday, Get It By Friday!” Part of your plan involves using guaranteed two-day express delivery, but does this mean that every order that comes in by noon Wednesday has to be sent using an express service? Of course, you have to deliver to your customers in the time frame promised, but it’s possible you could be using carrier express services when ground service can achieve the same result. In fact, you could be spending as much a three times too much on unnecessary express service depending on where your package is being shipped.
Are there more important, time sensitive packages than costumes for Halloween? Medicines for hospitals and clinics, tax forms in April’s crunch time, contracts, financial forms, and legal documents are critical in their respective sectors. Many people look to the carriers’ express services as being the only option for faster delivery, but the likely reality is that they aren’t even looking at alternatives. The carriers are happy for the extra, more profitable express business, but how much carrier profit would you like your business to contribute?
The carriers’ delivery zones are easily accessed on the web. If you are willing to spend the extra time, you can use each carrier’s website to check transit times and delivery costs for each package, find the lowest rate for the service needed, and you are set. But that’s a lot of work for one package, especially since this extra work is not necessary! If multiple packages need to go out on the same day, it is likely you and your coworkers do not have the time to do this with everything else going on.
One secret is to leverage the two major parcel carriers’ guaranteed delivery commitments for ground services. The better shipping systems can absolutely help with this. Our CPS shipping software has a feature called Smart RateBots™ for shippers to take advantage of guaranteed delivery times. A Smart RateBot automatically chooses the best delivery service based on the required transit time and lowest cost. If you need it there in two days and ground service guarantees that, there is no need to pay for the more expensive two-day express service.
Let’s look at an example of how this feature can save a company money. I need to send a package from Dallas to New Orleans and it needs to be there in two days. Using the carrier websites shows that both major carriers guarantee delivery by ground service on the second day with one carrier’s price at $12.27 and the other’s at $11.03. Shipping using a two-day express service costs more than $30 to get the same package to the same place at the same time by either carrier. Also, what if I searched only one carrier website and found only the higher of the two costs? Even if I selected the ground service, I might have spent 10% more than necessary just because I didn’t check the other carrier’s website. Dallas to New Orleans is only one example—check out a zone table from your area and see what’s in range of two-day ground.
CPS Smart RateBots do all the above work in seconds, choosing the best service to use automatically. It takes longer to read the paragraph about the savings than it does to get them. To see a live video of Smart RateBots in action, click here.
It’s good to save money on shipping. It’s better to get those savings automatically every time you ship. Savings like this can really add up, and CPS shipping software more than pays for itself because of it. To find out more about Smart RateBots and CPS, the best multi-carrier shipping software, please visit us at www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Imagine using a computer without copy and paste. How much time would it add to your daily workload if you had to retype everything each time you switched programs? It’s hard to imagine, but it would certainly be, at the very least, a huge inconvenience. But if your shipping software is not connected to your customer management, fulfillment, and accounting systems, you are doing just that - working without an automatic copy and paste system. Customer data and shipping information should be entered once. After that, what might otherwise be redundant work can often be automated with Open Database Connectivity, or ODBC.
Put simply, ODBC is how our CPS Shipping Software “talks” to order management systems and other software. Data entered into an order management program can be read electronically by CPS without the user taking any extra action. After the box is shipped, the final shipping information can be sent back to the order management program, the accounting software, etc. This is incredibly useful for Internet retailers. Extra data entry and potential mistakes are eliminated, plus the time is reduced between when an order is placed and when it is shipped.
CPS Shipping Software can be integrated with any ODBC compliant software that also has an ODBC driver for its data. Windows supplies many popular ODBC drivers, and others are available from third parties. Take for example the CPS connection to QuickBooks available using the driver from QODBC.com. After an invoice is created in QuickBooks, CPS has immediate access to the necessary shipping data to ship the package. After the shipping method is finalized and the shipping label is printed, the package tracking number and carrier charges write back automatically into QuickBooks. This provides the shipper with final customer invoice information that is available immediately after an order is shipped. Data entry is eliminated in two different parts of the fulfillment cycle, both shipping AND accounting. It’s easy to see how eliminating this extra work saves valuable time for a business at a critical time of day. Plus fewer keystrokes mean fewer mistakes.
Shipping should be an integrated process within the fulfillment cycle. The most complicated part of fulfillment should be finding the item on a shelf and putting it in a box. Your shipping software should do the rest—importing the customer data, selecting the best service, printing the label, and exporting the completed data back to an accounting program. Reduce their manual workload and you make employees more efficient and productive, so they are available for additional tasks beyond shipping. Better yet, there are just more orders for your business and they are shipping more packages. To get more information about how ODBC connections to your shipping software can improve your business’s productivity, please visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, October 14, 2011
How a Multi-Carrier Shipping System Will Help You Make Smart “FREE” and “FLAT RATE” Shipping Offers That Increase Sales
FREE! It certainly has a ring to it—especially to your customers. And when it comes to shipping, people really like FREE! They feel privileged to have something free, plus the product price they see on your website is the final cost they pay – no surprises. It is easier to shop this way, and people appreciate up-front pricing to allow easy comparison. Research shows that “no surprises” translates to more sales.
Are your customers really getting the shipping free? Of course, the cost of shipping must be recovered somehow. To begin with, most online retailers require a minimum order amount to qualify for free shipping. Studies show that consumers actually add to their original purchases to qualify for a free shipping offer. In order to do this, a business needs to know what its average shipping costs are. Having this information allows those costs to be factored into determining the minimum order level necessary for a successful and profitable free shipping promotion.
If you’ve got a few extra hours, you could calculate these averages yourself. You would start off by taking each carrier’s invoice and dividing the total by the number of packages shipped. However, as you calculate this, you realize that you need to break out the average overnight shipping cost separate from the average ground shipping cost. So, more calculations…and more time. As you continue to analyze the carrier’s invoice, you realize that what you REALLY need to know is the average cost for overnight, two day, three day and ground services separately. If you had to go through this process every month, calculating these numbers by hand from each carrier’s invoice, you would eat up a lot of your valuable time just trying to figure out the right price to charge or the cost to cover in a “Free Shipping” promotion. Not a very good use of your time is it?
Here’s how Harvey Software can help. Harvey Software’s CPS Shipping Software includes a unique and valuable feature called the Flat Rate Shipping Charge Calculator that provides a carrier and service specific analysis of your shipping records. This report shows you separate lines for overnight, 2 Day, 3 Day, Ground, and International services, per carrier, so you can easily find the exact data to help your business plan. The report displays high, low, and average costs, so your business can plan for future shipping expenses based on up-to-date calculations using YOUR actual shipping. Because the cost per pound shipped is provided in addition to the cost per package, a business can even see the cost impact of shipping large but lightweight parcels.
Armed with accurate shipping analysis, a company can calculate the “right” price to use to include shipping fees as part of the base cost of its products. We have detailed information about how a multi-carrier shipping system can help a business calculate and plan in our whitepaper, “Internet Retailer’s Guide to Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment.” Some companies tell us they consider including some of the shipping costs as marketing costs since “free shipping” is such a powerful marketing tool. A significant additional benefit is that free and “flat rate” shipping offers allow online retailers to avoid charging larger shipping fees to customers who are further away, which can turn a business striving to be a national seller into more of a local or regional business. Offering all customers the same shipping deal is an important step to becoming a truly national Internet retailer. Combine a little business savvy with the Flat Rate Shipping Charge Calculator and take your online business to the national or even international marketplace. For more information, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, October 7, 2011
This week, we take a closer look at a powerful time-saving feature of the CPS™ multi-carrier shipping software: CPS RateBots™. At their core, RateBots take decisions made on carrier services and rapidly apply those decisions to every package you choose. You can create as many RateBots as needed, each customizable for which carrier(s) and service(s) to use, then apply the shipping savings with only a few keystrokes for each package.
Each RateBot is a customizable set of rules that the CPS shipping software follows to select the best carrier and rates. Instead of the shipping system operator being offered many shipping choices for every package, a RateBot automatically shops from a list of carriers and services defined by you. If a shipper wants to use ONLY overnight services, a RateBot can be created for that. Or maybe, if overnight shipping is never needed, just set up a RateBot to exclude those options.
RateBots provide value to a business by reducing the user input necessary for each package, which reduces the time spent on the computer for each package. Let’s look at an example of how a retailer could utilize RateBots:
An online retailer decides to offer its customers three levels of shipping services: overnight, two-day, and ground. The manager sets up three RateBots corresponding with those choices. Since this is a multi-carrier shipping system, in the overnight RateBot, he uses the standard overnight service from each of the two major US package carriers. Similarly, in the two-day RateBot, he selects the standard two-day service from those same carriers. For the ground service, he selects the standard ground service for those two carriers plus the First-Class and Priority Mail from the USPS. The shipping system operator then enters the appropriate RateBot for each package according to their order management program and the RateBot does the rest, choosing the best service for each package. Add address verification to determine if a shipping address has a commercial or residential status (special post on this topic coming soon!) and up-to-date accurate rating is shown for every package. Plus, when CPS and the order management system are set up to exchange data, it is even possible to have RateBots’ shipping codes imported into CPS directly from the order management system.
By setting up RateBots appropriate for a business’s wishes, CPS automatically chooses the service with the lowest cost without any selection or decision needed by the shipping system operator. RateBots reduce the number of dialogue window decisions that open for each package, which reduces employees' time needed per shipment. The savings achieved from selecting the best carrier service are added to the shipping employees’ increased productivity for a double return. In an increasingly competitive retail climate, the increased productivity available with CPS and RateBots can give your business an edge. For more information on RateBots and CPS shipping software, visit www.HarveySoft.com today.
Friday, September 30, 2011
If you do a lot of shopping online, perhaps you’ve run into this before: you place several orders in a short period of time, and you receive confirmation and tracking emails for all of the orders within a day or two. I browsed through my own inbox and found email addresses like “orders”, “service” and “customerservice” from last year’s holiday orders. In order to see who I ordered from, I have to open the email and sift through all the text to see who it’s actually from. It would be so much easier if the company’s name was shown in the “FROM” address. Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software includes the SHIP eLERT® feature, a customizable email notification sent from your company’s email address that increases visibility for your customer so they see your brand every time you ship.
What about the subject line? Do you want it to say “RE: Your order”? That’s pretty generic, and doesn’t set your business apart from others. In a global marketplace, your brand needs some identification. If you sell electronics, maybe you want the subject line to say something about electronics. When your customer searches their inbox for “electronics”, your tracking email shows up, inviting them back for more shopping.
The CPS shipping software SHIP eLERT email is simple, straightforward, and to the point. Your customer sees origin and destination information, carrier and service used, and package info like weight and size. The tracking number is presented along with a link to track the package in real time—no need to copy and paste tracking numbers into carrier websites. There are few tracking emails set up in a more logical fashion.
I will confess that after my packages arrive, I rarely go back and look at those tracking emails—except when I need to order a related item months or even years later. Although I may use standard search methods to find the initial product, to order again I search my own email, find the tracking confirmation, and then find the same website. If I was pleased with my first purchase, I become a repeat customer by using that company’s tracking email as a reference for my future purchases. Visibility on your tracking emails encourages repeat business through brand recognition to help your customers recall your website.
Features like the SHIP eLERT set CPS shipping software apart from other multi-carrier shipping systems and your company apart from others. We recognize the value of promoting an online brand, and we provide tools to help your business accomplish this goal. For more information, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I’m sure you’ve seen it before. You ship an order only to find it back on your loading dock a few days later with a giant red sticker: bad address. Or the package is delivered but your carrier bill has that costly “Address Correction Fee” added for that package. Not only did you pay to ship the package, you might have paid to have it returned or paid an additional fee for delivery. And you might have even lost a sale in the process. What might have been just an innocent typo turns into a loss for your business. To fix this problem of shipping to a bad address, address validation programs are available to check the address before the shipping label is applied. Let’s look at how Harvey Software’s Address Verification Module (AVM) works within the CPS shipping software to eliminate bad address charges and ensure on-time delivery by checking addresses against the Post Office master database.
Think of the Address Verification Module like the Autocorrect features in a word processor. If everything is correct, you may not even notice that AVM is checking the address. However, when an address does not match, the AVM shows additional information about it. Perhaps the ZIP doesn’t match the address, or the state code was entered incorrectly through manual entry. Maybe the address entered does not exist in the database. If the AVM knows the obvious fix to correct the address, it can do so automatically. If it cannot easily determine the correct address, it can warn the user about the address error so that it can be corrected by the necessary personnel. Either way, shipments are not sent out with addresses that are incorrect because the AVM warns the user before it happens.
How much do bad addresses cost shippers? One carrier charges $10 per package per address correction. Luckily, they cap that fee at $35 per shipment for ground services. However, select an Express service, and that cap jumps to $77! But with the CPS Address Verification Module available for less than $20 per month (with even larger discounts for annual licensing), address correction fees can be practically eliminated. If the AVM catches just two mistakes per month, it pays for itself. The carriers will continue to make money from shippers who send to bad addresses. They just won’t make that money from your business. With such savings adding up so quickly, one would expect that all multi-carrier shipping systems offer this important shipping verification feature. A quick survey finds that at least half do not! They can print shipping labels but are incapable of telling you about address mistakes on those labels.
AVM also benefits CPS shipping software customers who ship to both residential and commercial addresses. After AVM verifies the type of address, CPS then reports accurate rating for that destination. When an internet retailer confirms an address is residential, they avoid surprise shipping charges from the carriers when they were billed for commercial delivery. Look for more information about the benefits of residential and commercial address verification in a future post.
Using AVM provides access to a database of well over 140 million valid addresses in the United States, and this data is kept current with automatic updates occurring in CPS on a monthly basis. The AVM’s modest additional cost provides a constant return in dollars as well as satisfied customers who receive their packages on time. When you research multi-carrier shipping systems that best suit your business needs, make sure that address verification is part of your equation. For more information, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, September 16, 2011
If you don't optimize shipping rates between all of the carriers, you might as well tape your boxes shut with the money your business is giving away. We recently began a new series to dive in-depth to specific features of Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software that differentiate it from other multi-carrier shipping systems. Last week we were focused on support, for which our company is second to none in our industry. This week, we’re going to talk dollars and sense. If you are looking into multi-carrier shipping software, your bottom line is likely your highest priority. You are interested in rate shopping between the parcel carriers, and you want to be able to do it quickly. The CPS Best Way Calculator accomplishes both of these goals with rate shopping between the carriers for each package you send. Let’s compare a lighter package, a heavier package, and an overnight package.
The first example is a package going from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Just enter the address, weight, and necessary dimensions into the CPS shipping software. For this five pound, 24x24x18 package, the three major carriers come in close to one another, with one at $14.20, another at $14.28, and another at $13.29. However, to ship the same package from Atlanta to Billings, Montana, there’s more of a separation. One carrier has a rate at $43.92, another at $40.48, but the third comes in at only $14.20 again. Why such a large separation? That cheaper service does not have a guaranteed delivery day, whereas the others guarantee delivery in three days for this package. This allows you, the shipper, the ability to select the service that best meets the needs of your customers.
How about another sample package using ground service, going from Houston to Newark? This one is heavier, at twenty-five pounds. The same carrier that was $14.20 above is now $90.92 for this heavier package and longer distance. The other carriers we are including in the comparison report a cost of $48.88 and $53.09. So even though one carrier charges considerably less in the first example, to use their service for this heavier package would cost almost double compared to the least expensive offering.
Now, for overnight services: for this example, let’s send a ten pound package from Las Vegas to Sacramento. One carrier is $72.68, another $65.80, and the third is $53.81. Again, the cheapest service here was the most expensive in another example. And with the CPS Best Way Calculator, these choices are displayed as soon as the package weight is entered. It takes only seconds to compare rates from the carriers. If you use only one carrier and service without ever looking at the others, it’s very likely you are spending more than necessary on your shipping.
At this point, you might be wondering how your company’s negotiated rates with one of the carriers might come into play. You can use those negotiated rates within CPS or even set the CPS default carrier as your preferred carrier, so your carrier choice is streamlined for even faster processing. With CPS reporting features, which we will address in a later post, you will quickly see how much you’re using each carrier and how often they are truly providing you with the lowest cost option. This is important information that you can use as a tool in your negotiations for upcoming carrier rate contracts.
The CPS Best Way Calculator can save your business money on every package it ships. If you’ve never seen it before, check out our Estimated Savings Calculator on our website. Simply input your shipping volume, your residential vs. commercial percentages, and the CPS tools you might be interested in. You will see that even with a small to moderate volume of packages, using CPS will pay for itself many times over. Start saving immediately with the CPS Best Way Calculator on your side. For more information, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, September 9, 2011
We recently concluded a series about the advantages of multiple carrier shipping systems compared to the “free” systems provided by the carriers. If you are not yet using a multi-carrier shipping system, you might be interested in the posts beginning on May 30th. Over the next several weeks, we are going to shift gears from just the multi-carrier aspects and highlight features of the Computerized Parcel System (CPS) to show how our CPS shipping software improves your shipping operation compared to all other shipping systems.
A primary benefit of CPS is its versatility. CPS modules and features work together to provide considerable shipping power. Finding the lowest shipping rate is made possible on-screen with the BestWay Calculator or automatically by using CPS RateBots or Smart RateBots, each of which can be customized to the exact need of the user. The CPS Address Verification Module helps prevent shipping to bad addresses, which helps cut address correction charges, and finds the correct commercial/residential address status so users get the most accurate rate comparisons. The CPS Automator allows completely hands-free operation. These are just samples, and there is more, which we will detail and describe in upcoming weeks.
Perhaps the best CPS feature isn’t computer code, but the people behind that code. Our highly trained support team makes sure CPS works for its users as intended. We know that shipping is critical for our customers. If an issue arises, our support team works with the CPS user to solve it as quickly as possible so they can get back to shipping packages. The CPS support team also communicates directly with our development team about how CPS is used and what CPS users are asking for. This allows us to design new software products and features that best fit the needs of our customers. We consider our support team critical for our users in day-to-day use of CPS as well as for our product development.
Our support doesn’t stop with our users. CPS communicates with the carriers’ systems, and sometimes even the major carriers have issues with their own software. A few weeks ago, a carrier had server communication errors on their end. Some of our customers called us when they received those errors. We notified that carrier of the issue and helped them diagnose the problem. That quick reaction and communication helped everyone using that carrier get back to shipping their packages on schedule. Our support team had an impact on all customers using that carrier.
Our customers appreciate being able to call and speak with a person right away. Even if the problem lies outside our software, we try to provide suggestions about how users can solve it. Harvey Software's mission is to rapidly deliver high quality multi-carrier compliant tracking and shipping software solutions that provide maximum efficiency, reliability, accountability and long term savings for today's business e-commerce checkout and order processing systems. Our people stand behind that mission and carry it out, and that means our customers are going to have shipping solutions that save money and time, week after week, year after year. Keep an eye on this blog over the next several weeks to discover other ways that Harvey Software's CPS shipping software works to provide you with the most versatile and efficient multi-carrier shipping system available on the market today. For more information, visit www.HarveySoft.com/.
Friday, September 2, 2011
As some of us prepare for a holiday weekend, much of the East Coast is recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Irene. We are reminded too often of the threat of severe weather with our headquarters in southern Florida, and our deepest sympathy goes out to those who lost loved ones in the storm. We also hope that all of those people impacted by the storm can get back to their lives as quickly as possible.
The reality of a large storm brings back to mind how unknown weather factors can disrupt business and shipping. The aftermath of hurricane Irene is typical of what those large storms do to any area: some areas are without electricity for an extended period, roads may still be underwater or closed days later, and flight schedules have to take into account several days’ worth of cancelled or postponed flights. For this particular storm, some airports and mass transit were closed for an entire weekend to ensure the safety of passengers, and we still hear of towns that are completely cut off from transportation networks. There will be similar closures for winter storms as well in the coming months, plus other factors may cause disruptions. An earthquake in Virginia was certainly not on many people’s radar.
Any transportation closures stop shipping services as well. The carriers take precautions for their employees who deliver packages and comply with government ordered evacuation plans. We advise all businesses to have contingency plans for any potential disruptions to their operations. Harvey Software has prepared for any weather threats by backing up all necessary data in multiple states as well as having staff located around the country.
While some storms are so large that they affect multi-state regions, others might be powerful, small storms that affect a smaller area. Package carriers have hubs in different locations just like passenger airlines, and increasingly the carriers are consolidating their operations into larger and larger shipping hubs. For example, one carrier has a large distribution center near an airport that covers the size of 80 football fields. This concentration of packages in one facility increases the chance that any weather events that impact the hub could cause delays far past the area of the actual storm. If you are shipping with only one carrier, disruptions at a major hub could delay shipping packages to your customers and definitely impact your business.
The carriers prepare for these contingencies as you would expect them to and do everything in their power to deliver your packages in the time promised. However, there are circumstances outside of their control. As a business that depends on carriers to deliver your products, you deserve some control concerning your own packages too. A multiple-carrier shipping system, such as Harvey Software’s CPS Shipping Software, offers you the flexibility to choose the carrier for each package, regardless of whether the choice is based on simple cost comparisons or a more complex anticipation of potential weather disruptions.
Online sales volume has grown every year since the concept was introduced, and we have every reason to expect this trend to continue. This interconnected, national commerce is less forgiving of regionally disruptive events. Customers on the west coast, who are used to earthquakes, are not going to understand delays due to a 5.8 magnitude quake on the east coast. Likewise, winter storms in the Midwest shouldn’t necessarily delay your package getting to your customer in Arizona.
Protect your business with a multi-carrier shipping solution, and you gain some control over these situations. We can’t predict the weather, but we can give you a choice of carriers for every shipment and the opportunity to save money and time as well. To learn more about how Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software can help you save, visit www.HarveySoft.com/.
Friday, August 26, 2011
This week, we’re going to take a look at the fuel surcharges that are added on to your shipping costs by the package carriers. The carriers changed how they structure the surcharge for ground service in 2011. It is now based on $0.12 increments of the average on-highway diesel fuel prices, with each change of $0.12 corresponding to a 0.5% change in the fuel surcharge. The chart begins at $1.99 (wouldn’t that be nice to see again!) with a 1% surcharge and currently goes up to $4.15 with a 10% surcharge (unfortunately too close for comfort). The fuel surcharge is updated monthly, allowing the carriers to deal with their fluctuating fuel costs by passing them along to you, their customers.
Over the five years since 2006, the shipping fuel surcharge has fluctuated from a low of 2.25% to a high of 10.25%. Many of you will recall in 2008 when the surcharge began at 6.25%, skyrocketed to 10.25% in the summer, and then fell back to 6.75% after oil prices went down with the stock market. In 2009 we saw the lowest prices in this time period—the 12 month period from July 2008 to July 2009 saw eight percentage points shaved off the surcharge to a low of 2.25%. 2010 had a pretty stable fuel market, with the surcharge staying between 5 and 6%. This year, we have seen the price climb again from 5.5% in January up to 9% currently. For September, it drops to 8.5%.
These costs are the great unknown of shipping charges for online retailers. We don’t know what fuel will cost in three months, but that cost definitely impacts how you plan for the busy season. To gauge the impact, you can make sure that your shipping system accurately reports these costs to you. Multi-carrier shipping systems, such as Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software, are updated monthly to reflect the national carriers’ surcharge changes, and CPS users can rest assured knowing they are not surprised by the carriers’ surcharges.
In some ways, this fuel surcharge is similar to an Internet retailer charging for shipping. The cost of getting the product from warehouse to customer is passed along to the customer. This can put the retailer in an awkward place—the carriers are passing their costs along to you, but with new pressure from competitors to provide flat rate and free shipping, the retailer is hard pressed to pass the same costs along to its customers. This is why Harvey Software’s CPS multi-carrier shipping system is so important.
The fact is, not all multi-carrier shipping systems are created equal. Not all are certified and able to provide the rate optimization features found in CPS. Not only does CPS allow you to take advantage of the best rating available for each shipment, you are also able to track your shipping costs over extended periods of time or through fluctuating shipping cycles. Another CPS exclusive is easily accessible reporting, which shows the optimal prices to charge when evaluating flat rate or free shipping promotions. This allows online merchants to flatten out their shipping expenses and offer attractive shipping prices to their customers. In today’s competitive online market, the right flat rate shipping charge strategy can open up new customers and their business to your company.
As you continue to prepare sales and promotions, consider using the CPS shipping system to help you accurately track your shipping costs, including the fuel surcharges. For more information, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, August 19, 2011
If you have school age children, they have either started school already or they will soon. With the new school year comes your family’s busy schedule: sports practice, band practice, after school clubs or maybe even just some extra help on those times tables. Hopefully the summer to-do list is close to finished, because it’s off to the races. Every minute you can spend with your kids is valuable time, and it’s great to have as much as possible.
Have you looked at your shipping process lately? How much of your valuable time are you spending trying to get your orders shipped? Or, if you’ve hired one or more staff dedicated to shipping, have you looked recently at how much time it takes them to ship each package? If they use the computer for more than a few seconds per package, it might be time to look at alternatives for your shipping system.
Your shipping system can be the smooth last step in your order management cycle, or it can be a system that puts up a daily fight when you are trying to get your orders out the door, and who needs that? Ideally, your shipping system connects easily and reliably to your order and shipping data. Then, with just a few keystrokes to complete each shipment, you are able to eliminate errors such as choosing the wrong carrier, shipping to a bad address, or worse yet, picking the wrong service and increasing costs to your organization. Here are some of the ways that Harvey Software’s multi-carrier CPS shipping software helps your shipping department work at peak efficiency for every package, every day, while ensuring that your shipments are routed with the most cost-effective carrier and service available.
It takes only a few minutes to learn the basics of shipping using CPS. Attach a compatible scale and shipping label printer to the shipping computer and you are ready. Using the CPS shipping screen is equally easy for those who prefer to use a mouse or the keyboard. Set up a connection between CPS and your order management system and CPS immediately reads the shipping data, reads the package weight automatically from the scale, and can choose the shipping option you prefer automatically. Carrier approved labels are printed, tracking number and all, and you’re on to your next package. The process is also completely customizable so you can enter dimensional weight, send a tracking email from your company’s address, and even produce necessary international shipping documents. Once you start using CPS shipping software, you will be amazed at how quickly the orders are processed and ready for pickup by the carriers. Your shipping labels will be coming out as fast as your printer can print them. And your shipments will be ready to go practically as soon as you pack the box.
Could this sort of shipping speed help you win back some of your valuable time? Our development team has spent years streamlining the CPS shipping process to an intuitive step by step action. Your shipping system should simplify your shipping workflow and save time and money – a simple interface, streamlined choices, and customizable options to put your shipping process into just a few keystrokes.
If you think you’re spending too much time getting your packages out the door, try Harvey Software’s multi-carrier CPS shipping software today and start enjoying more time with the family. That way, when school’s out, you can be there to help with times tables instead of scrambling to get those orders out. For more information about CPS, visit www.Harveysoft.com.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Are you planning for your 2011 holiday season yet? Have you begun your marketing plan for this year’s new products and offerings? Are you hoping to increase your sales compared to last year? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re well on your way to having a successful holiday season. But could there be a better way to handle your shipping this year?
How much did you spend on shipping last November? Did you feel that was too high? If you’re using a single carrier shipping solution, you may not have a lot of options. Perhaps you already negotiated a special rate with your carrier. That’s a great first step to saving, compared to paying standard published rates. However, if you use the carrier supplied shipping system, your view of shipping rates can be one sided. You will not know if another carrier could deliver your package for less or that you (and your customers!) are paying more than you should. Ok, sure - you could go look up prices on different websites. It would only take a couple of minutes…..for every shipment. Wouldn’t it be nice to get alternate rates instantly?
Users of Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software can tell you instantly what it would cost to ship with another carrier. The CPS BestWay calculator provides a list of choices ranked by amount, time & amount, or carrier & amount. Need the fastest way? Calculate by time & amount and see your best options. Need the least expensive shipping option? Your possible choices are ranked by amount. Do you want to see your preferred carrier’s options at the top? Select carrier & amount.
A great online order experience involves more than great product presentation with prompt, correctly priced shipping. It also involves providing the best in customer service, including easy package tracking. Is it obvious that your current tracking email is from your company? Does your carrier supplied shipping system send an email that your customers sift through to see it’s from you? It is hard to build your company’s brand ID like that! With CPS, the email comes directly from YOUR company using YOUR email address, so there is instant recognition of your company and your brand. CPS can help you build a more personal connection between you and your customer.
So what DID you pay for shipping last November? How easy is it for you to look that up? CPS saves your shipping history, giving you quick access to important shipping data by date, service, and carrier. You will easily know which carrier you use the most and your shipping costs—important information for planning and carrier negotiations. The idea is to make the data easily available so you can focus your energy building your business.
You could be using CPS shipping software this holiday season to save your business money. Even if you ship a moderate volume of packages, CPS pays for itself. Check out the Estimated Savings Calculator at www.HarveySoft.com. The more you ship, the more you save! And when your customers get a great deal on shipping, they buy more. Let Harvey Software’s CPS help you expand your business while saving you money on your shipping costs.
Friday, August 5, 2011
There has been HUGE news coverage about Congress, their budget, and the nation’s debt. Significant issues, to be sure. However, that coverage has overshadowed some news that also affects all of us—major changes proposed within the United States Postal Service. The USPS has formally requested to close many Post Offices, to raise their postage rates, and to eliminate Saturday delivery. Should even one of these actions take place, Post Office shipping services will change, affecting both businesses that use the USPS as well as private individuals. If all three are enacted, USPS users will make adjustments concerning what can be expected from the Post Office and how Post Office services can best be used, especially for business shipping. Online retailers in particular will have many things to think about concerning their future shipping via USPS. Here are some specifics:
The USPS wants to close 3653 post offices across the country as a part of its Retail Access Optimization Initiative. In some states, more than 200 offices are being reviewed. The general public may appeal a Post Office slated for closure: interested parties must submit a notice of intervention to the Postal Regulatory Commission by August 19th. The PRC will hear cases of appeal beginning in September. The offices being closed will receive formal notification in late October through December, and they will remain open for 60 days after notification. When the closures begin in early 2012, postal customers will see some changes. In cities, you might have a longer drive or walk to the nearest branch. However, in rural areas, postal customers are likely to have significantly longer trips to pick up packages shipped to them. Expect to see more post office villages where customers can use a few postal services inside another business.
The USPS wants to raise its rates in January 2012, and they don’t even seem to be asking permission anymore. They told the PRC the rate changes are an emergency. Why are they raising shipping and mailing rates? They justify this particular hike with a $2.34B decrease in their revenue due to the recession and decreased shipping volume. We don’t yet know how the rate hikes are going to be distributed. Right now, the expectation is an across the board increase of 5-6%. As you plan your shipping budget for 2012, you will want to take these rate increases into account.
The post office has requested permission from Congress to switch to a five day delivery cycle, eliminating Saturday delivery completely. They say the change will save $3.1B a year in operating costs and help them cope with the losses caused by greatly reduced overall mail volume.
It looks like these three changes will all hit at the beginning of 2012—the post offices that are left will be delivering less often and for a higher price. Watch for more news of these shipping changes in the coming months, and prepare for your business now.
Remember, Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software stays current with ALL carriers’ rate and service changes. When deciding how to ship your packages to your customers, know that CPS can help you make the best decision. For more information about our multi-carrier shipping system, CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Reason 10 to Use a Multi-Carrier Shipping System – You Have Options If Suddenly a Carrier You Use Cannot Perform Its Services
It’s been a while since the last carrier strike really stopped package pickup and delivery. But if you experienced the strike and your only carrier was on strike, you might remember some panic related to being unable to ship your packages. A strike is the extreme case, but there are other examples when being able to easily use multiple carriers is a smart business strategy. Today, carriers use on-line services extensively. If a carrier’s on-line service goes down or even slows down, it can cripple or even stop your shipping software and package processing. As another example, an event at the carrier’s package facility could occur that puts a carrier out of commission for a while. Fires, storms or even building integrity issues can render their building useless, which can absolutely disrupt your outgoing shipping. It’s bad for the carrier, but you still need to get your orders shipped to your customers.
Maybe it’s the service itself that seems to change. I recently ordered two floor lamps with glass shades, but had to go through six lamps to finally get two whose shades were not shattered during shipping. Just the return shipping cost (that the company paid, not me) on four boxes weighing over 20 pounds each was significant. If a company suddenly sees excess damage or other loss, it might be time for that company to look at its carrier choices. Another change that could send a company shopping for a new carrier is if policies or surcharges change that increases their shipping charges. Unless a multi-carrier shipping system like our CPS shipping software is being used, you can almost be held prisoner by a carrier until you are able to make changes that give you shipping choices that benefit your organization the most.
Using a multiple carrier shipping system is a great way to counteract shipping disruptions like these. Carrier issues can affect the entire economy. While you may not be able to rescue the economy, you can certainly make the right choice to keep your business delivering its goods to your customers no matter the conditions or circumstances. For more information about our CPS shipping software, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Reason 9 To Use A Multiple Carrier Shipping System – One Word - AbandondedShoppingCarts (And How to Stop Them)
Ready for more orders in your online store? Of course you are! Shopping cart abandonment is up to 25% higher than previous years - now estimated as high as 59%. With the year's biggest order season coming, right now is the time to get your strategy in place to keep the most orders possible. Using a multiple carrier shipping system can help. Use a multiple carrier shipping system with your company’s carrier rates and you can make sure every package is shipped by the best choice for carrier and service, plus you have historical shipping data to help you develop shipping charge strategies.
What causes abandoned carts? There are several reasons, but the top reasons always include surprise charges, such as an unexpected handling charge or a shipping charge too high, at the end of the transaction. Studies show these definitely cause buyers to abandon the cart. A number of experts and Internet entrepreneurs find that displaying shipping charges before checking out avoids shopping cart abandonment. A strategic mix of flat rate shipping with "free" shipping offers combats this problem. Now, how to actually implement this?
Free shipping is very easy to calculate. Figuring out the right amount for flat-rate shipping takes a little more effort. Our CPS shipping software includes an easily accessed report showing average shipping cost per package and average shipping cost per pound. With just a few mouse clicks you can keep tabs on your shipping costs for any period of time by carrier and service to accurately manage a flat rate shipping offer.
Monitor your costs monthly and make adjustments as your average charges change. Then use this valuable data for your shipping charge strategy for flat rate or even free shipping offers. You need to be on your best game, especially at special times of the year like holidays when everyone is competing for consumer dollars.
A number of experts and Internet entrepreneurs say it is very important to display shipping charges before checking out. Remember - no surprises! Use Flat Rate shipping offers and your shoppers know the shipping cost before they have to disclose any information about themselves, which combats abandoned carts, simplifies their shopping experience and gives you the best chance at a successful order. Make the process easy and your customers will click "Buy" instead of "Bye". For more information about CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com, and look for the link to our “Free Guide for Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment” report, right on the home page.
Posted by Harvey Software Inc. at 3:16 PM
Friday, July 15, 2011
Reason 8 to Use a Multiple Carrier Shipping System - One interface to your ‘backend’ system versus two or three
We touched on this earlier but it’s time to expand on what can be the key link in the chain for the shipping system process to work as efficiently as possible – the interface between the shipping system and the “backend” accounting system.
Using multiple carriers brings great advantages to a company. Some companies use separate shipping systems so they can ship with multiple carriers, such as the two major US carriers and the Post Office. That can work, but it’s quick to see that using multiple shipping systems that all work differently from each other can create complications from the very start, especially when data needs to be exchanged and updated between the accounting and shipping systems.
These issues surface when interfacing to a “backend” system, whether accounting, order management, ERP or some other:
1) At the start, separate research and work are needed to setup each shipping process to integrate with the accounting system, which can double or triple your installation time.
2) Mandatory carrier and/or accounting system updates, with their possible effects on the interface, must be evaluated for every system when they occur, meaning more work to keep the shipping systems current.
3) Since there are two or more separate shipping processes, if errors occur when returning data to the accounting system, tracking down the issue becomes a multi-step process. First, discovery must be made as to which system is not interfacing correctly and only then can correcting steps be completed.
Each of these mean more IT time spent, whether it’s in-house IT resources or an outside company hired to do the work. All of these translate to higher implementation costs, higher on-going expenses, plus the loss of IT resources for other parts of the business. The result is that using different shipping systems for multiple carriers complicates every step between the shipping system and the accounting system as well as affecting other parts of the company.
To take the best advantage of the benefits of using multiple carriers, it’s a given that the shipping system must reliably and easily exchange data with the “backend” system. The elegant, smart solution comes down to using a single, multiple carrier shipping system - not separate shipping systems for each carrier. A multi-carrier shipping system streamlines each process – setup, updates and potential troubleshooting. This adds tremendous efficiency to the entire shipping process from the very start. Our CPS shipping software easily handles shipping with the three major US package carriers, putting all of these multiple carrier shipping system advantages at your fingertips.
When a single system handles all the shipping, it un-complicates every step from initial setup to end of day processing. For more information about CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Posted by Harvey Software Inc. at 10:45 AM
Friday, July 8, 2011
Reason 7 to Use a Multiple Carrier Shipping System - Are You Making Installment Payments on Your Shipping System But Don’t Know It?
Here is an aspect of the ‘free’, carrier provided shipping systems that might not be obvious. When a carrier gives out a shipping system, it’s not out of the goodness of their heart. There is a cost attached to developing and providing the ‘free’ shipping system and this cost must be recouped. The ‘free’ shipping system’s cost is not just written off as a cost of doing business. The carriers expect to make money from your shipping and to make enough additional income to pay for the shipping software being used. Each of these is reasonable, but if you are paying for shipping software, why not buy a shipping system that gives you shipping choices and power when negotiating your rate contract?
Companies that have changed from the ‘free’ carrier software to our CPS shipping software tell us they are better able to negotiate their rate contracts when using CPS. Part of this is due to the carrier knowing they can easily make shipping choices since they are not “locked in” by software to a specific carrier. In addition, the carrier does not need to cover the cost of providing software in the rate contract. Each of these works to the good of the shipper.
This additional savings when using a multiple carrier shipping system may not be immediately obvious, but it’s another way a multi-carrier system can put money on the bottom line. For more information about CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Reason 6 to Use a Multiple Carrier Shipping System – Provide More Accurate Financial Data Back to Your Accounting Systems
A multiple carrier shipping system can help with many operational issues in the shipping department. But what about helping the bean counters? Let’s look at the accounting side of shipping for a minute. Using a multiple carrier shipping system, one system controls all the shipping choices, carriers and processes. If you ship with multiple carriers and use different shipping systems for each, your shipping processes become spread out and the data integration to the accounting system substantially more complicated. The combination of complicating both package processing and data integration means that data returned to accounting may not be completely accurate, causing widespread problems from customer billing to sales forecasts. And who wants accounting data that always needs adjusting?
Here is a “real life” example that just occurred. This company discovered that one of their carriers was the better choice for their entire day’s shipping. Unfortunately, they had already shipped everything (120 packages) with another carrier and they used separate systems for each carrier. To fix this, they had to delete each package in the first system, then ship each package again in the second system. In addition to the delete/re-ship procedure, they also had to back out the now doubled shipping charges from their accounting system. Finally, they also needed to monitor the original carrier’s bill to be sure they were not billed for the packages that were actually shipped with the other carrier. To correct all of this took hours, but made them focus on their entire shipping procedure. They called us the day after this happened, saying they never wanted to be in that situation again. They are solving this by purchasing our multi-carrier CPS shipping software.
It is always easier to work with just one system, especially when integrating data with an accounting or order system. To get the most accurate data possible from your shipping system, using a multiple carrier shipping system simplifies the integration between shipping and accounting, greatly reducing the opportunities for error. For more information about CPS, visit www.HarveySoft.com.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Reason 5 to Use a Multiple Carrier Shipping System - Increase Visibility to Your Customer Service Department
“Where is my package?” That’s something you don’t want to say about a package that you are expecting. And it’s something that you never want to hear from a customer. So let’s look at how you can provide the best package visibility to your customer service department and your customers. If you use multiple carriers with different shipping systems for each, this can become complicated.
Shipping departments report shipping results in different ways. Some will print a package shipping record “document label” and attach it to the paperwork for an order. That works, but it means that finding the answer to “Did the package ship?” means going through paperwork, which can be time consuming even when the paperwork is filed correctly. Maybe the office staff collects the paperwork and then updates each record in the order system. That is better visibility since the shipping status can be found in the order system. But different shipping systems print different labels, and it’s easy to make a mistake when you are looking “here” for the shipping data on this label but “there” for the shipping data from another label. And hand updating tracking numbers? Definitely an area where mistakes can be made. It is so much better if the shipping system sends data directly to the order system. But using different carriers, each with its own shipping system that sends data in different ways, can present substantial challenges when making each system communicate with the order system. There has to be a better way.
This is where a multiple carrier shipping system can really make the entire shipment visibility process smoother and easier for both the company and the customer. Let’s use our CPS shipping software as an example. Whether you ship with FedEx, UPS or the Post Office, CPS provides shipping data in the same way for every carrier. If the shipping system gets data directly from and sends data directly to the order system, it’s a clear advantage when only one shipping system needs to be integrated with the order system - a clear “plus” for a multi-carrier shipping system. Even if you update shipping data manually in your order system, each shipment document label has its data in the same place for each carrier, speeding entry and minimizing mistakes. Another plus for a multi-carrier shipping system. There are other visibility advantages, too. CPS can send an email shipping notification, the CPS SHIP eLERT®, for every package that is shipped. When a company uses different carrier provided shipping systems, each carrier’s shipping email notification looks different from the other’s, and none are clearly from your company. Every CPS SHIP eLERT has the same format, and they are sent from the shipper’s email account, so the customer knows who it’s from. That’s better visibility and customer service.
Finally, with every package you ship in just one system, it’s easy to find and track a package if there is a question. With CPS, you can easily track one package or a group of packages right from the shipping history. You never have to find out which carrier was used, then go to this system or that system to track the package.
Package visibility is a big concern in today’s “I want it NOW!” world. A multiple carrier shipping system offers the smoothest path for the quick, easy shipment visibility that is expected by today’s shippers and customers. For more information about how CPS can help with this and many other aspects of today’s shipping, visit www.HarveySoft.com.