Friday, October 30, 2009

Oil Affecting Your Bottom Line - (AGAIN!)

Just a quick note…It looks like the carrier's fuel surcharges may not change much for this season's biggest shipping days. Effective 11/2/09, the surcharge decreases for air/international and stays constant for ground shipping. The ground surcharge has been inching is way up since July, and the air/international has bounced around a little. Although they don't appear to be changing much, you still loose track of 4-6% of your shipping costs if you do not account for them.

Make sure your shipping system can let you know about the total cost to ship a package, including the fuel surcharge. Our CPS shipping software notifies the user when the fuel surcharge changes and provides the option to update it for UPS packages. The fuel surcharge is automatically included for FedEx packages. Currently there is no fuel surcharge for USPS packages…I wonder if that can last?

Oil prices are really bouncing around, so keeping up with the fuel surcharge on a monthly basis is just good business.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Considering a Mail Consolidation Service for Last Minute Shipping Bargains? Questions to Ask...

Each year, especially at holiday time, shippers receive offers for better shipping rates from one of the hybrid services that combine a regular package carrier with final delivery by the US post office. The savings that are promised are often attention getting. From calls we receive, it appears there is strong competition for smaller packages weighing 15 pounds and less.

Are these services the best for you and your customers? Here are some things our CPS multi-carrier shipping software users who use some of these services with CPS suggest considering as you evaluate using these services, especially at this most important time of the year.

Package Delivery Time

Ask how long it takes to deliver a package compared to their normal delivery service. This includes finding out what path the package takes. It's possible for packages to go from your business to a consolidation warehouse, then be held there until there are enough consolidated packages to forward to their destination. If there is a delay like that, is that acceptable to you? This process can vary according to your location, so it's an important question. Finally, how does holiday volume affect delivery times?


If a package cannot be delivered or is refused, how is it handled? Is there an additional cost if a package is returned? Will you know it has not been delivered? You need to know what to expect so you can tell you customers.


We've heard reports of billing for these services not matching the promised rates. Will you receive enough information from the carrier to be able to check your bill? How are unexpected billing issues handled for the hybrid service?


Ask how you and your customers can track packages. Today's customers expect a tracking number and package information with just a "click". If delivery takes longer than the customer expect, being able to track a package without a call to your customer service department is important.

The carriers are also negotiating rates for their regular services that you already depend on. A multiple carrier shipping like our CPS shipping software can automatically rate shop for the best price using your company's rates. You can still get great rates for every package and get the service you (and your customers) expect.

Weigh the answers to these questions above and be sure you choose the best service for your business.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Merchandise Returns, Multi-Carrier Shipping Software and Great Customer Service

Great customer service is an important part of sales. Making returns easy is part of great customer service. It's a fact of online business that some merchandise will be returned. Sometimes to exchange for another size, another color, or perhaps the wrong item was ordered. How well these are handled can define repeat business. Make it easy for your customers and they will be back and sing your praises. If you provide a return label with every order you ship, your customers know you are there to help. So, how can a shipping system help with this?

Many shipping systems handle the different carriers' return services. The trick is to make it easy for you like you are doing for your customers. In some shipping systems you may have to create a separate shipping record for each return. That's an extra, time consuming set of steps. Not easy and not good for you. Mass printing return labels can be done, but then there is nothing identifying the order on the label. There is another way, and your shipping system can help.

The US Postal Service Merchandise Return Service is an established, accepted way to handle returns. In our CPS shipping software, there is a setting to print a USPS return services label automatically for every package shipped. It does not matter which carrier you use to ship the package to the customer. Ship the package and the carrier's label is printed and then the USPS return label. The return label has information about the order so it's easy to match up the incoming merchandise. You don't pay unless the item is returned. Easy again.

This year, make it easy for yourself and your customers to do business with your company. Use your shipping system for fast delivery and to help with returns. That's an effortless sales builder.