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.