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/.