Thursday, August 26, 2010

Check Your Carrier Bill...Boost Your Sales!

Check Your Carrier Bill...Boost Your Sales!
When you check shipping invoices from the carriers, how do you know they are right? Do the reports from your shipping system let you easily check your carrier invoice? And is that all you need to do? You negotiated a good contract with your package carrier(s), then you got the first bill. Surprise! The bill doesn't seem to match what you were expecting. You tallied up your shipping system's daily shipping reports, but they show the carrier's published rates, not your contract rates. No help there. Next you try to apply your contract discounts to the published rates on your shipping reports, but since the discount percentage changes according to the service you use and how much the box weighs, this is not straightforward. This is hard… Your shipping system gets your boxes out the door quickly and it sends the carriers the data they need to bill you. So far, happy customer and happy carrier. Now, how about happy shipper?

Today, shippers want their shipping system to be fast, but accurate shipping cost information is needed to check carrier bills and to be sure enough is collected to cover shipping costs. When your shipping system has accurate shipping costs, your shipping system can help with checking the bills. Even more, it can even help make sales, too. With holiday promotions, ads with "Free Shipping" and "Flat Rate Shipping" offers are prominent. These offers encourage sales, combat abandoned shopping carts and expand your market.

This is where your shipping system can really help. Ask your shipping system provider to help you get your company's contracted rates into your shipping system. If you use a multiple carrier shipping system like Harvey Software's Computerized Parcel System (CPS™), when the shipping system uses your company's rates, you benefit with accurate rate shopping and accurate cost reporting, too. That's the foundation to really put the shipping system to work for you.

Now for the best part - when your shipping system helps you make sales. Find a report in your shipping system that summarizes your company's shipping history for shipping cost by service (Ground, Next Day, etc.), a date range and by carrier. A sample of this is the Flat Rate Shipping Charge Analysis report in CPS. This report displays a break down and average cost for each carrier service. Your company's actual shipping history and charges are used, so you know you have the best information for your company. You can run the report for a range of dates, for all carriers or just the carrier(s) you choose. This is the information you need to develop a strategy of how and how much to charge for shipping, including the "Flat Rate" and "Free Shipping" offers that drive more sales. That's a clear winner.

There is a lot of power in a multiple carrier shipping system that uses your company's rates. Look for these tools in your shipping system, or visit if you would like to know more about CPS.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Time To Get Ready for the Busy Shipping Season

We are seeing more and more companies getting ready for the upcoming busy shipping season. This is smart planning since now is the perfect time to get your shipping system and shipping procedures ready for the holidays. But, preparing your shipping department to do its best this holiday season is much more than making sure the shipping software and hardware work.

It's more than just getting the boxes out the door. It also includes checking out shipping systems advancements and how they can help your company. These advancements include: using "best rate" shopping or getting the best price for delivery by a certain date; implementing a strategy so that what you charge for shipping increases your sales; using address verification to eliminate non-delivery and address correction fees; telling your customers their order is on the way; and providing the data you need to make smart decisions about how you use your carriers.

Here are some areas to check:

Does your shipping system use your company's actual contracted rates with the carriers when you rate shop?

Does you rate shopping include the residential or commercial address status so you rate shop the right prices?

Does your shipping system provide reports to analyze your average "break even" shipping costs for Ground, 2Day, etc., so you can intelligently determine the correct flat-rate shipping charge or what you need to do to offer free shipping?

Use these ideas to help you get ready for a profitable shipping season.

The right shipping system, including our own CPS shipping software, will help with all of these. Your customers and your bottom line will both appreciate the effort.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Making the Smart Choice for Declared Value Coverage and Parcel Insurance

Using Parcel Insurance with CPS
Let's say you've decided to insure the packages you ship, and you ship enough packages with value so that you want the best price for package insurance. First the basics - the major carriers include $100 of coverage for each package you ship. There are some limitations on this coverage, which the carrier can tell you about. You can also purchase additional coverage directly from the carrier. The Post Office does not include any coverage for your packages unless you purchase insurance for a specific package, plus there is a form that must be filled out.

Now there are two challenges. Challenge one is to find the best value for package coverage and the next is to be able to implement it easily, quickly and reliably. A shipping system, such as our CPS multi-carrier shipping software, can help with both of these. The carriers have a published charge for their package coverage, plus there is normally a minimum charge per package. Here is a little information on two established alternate package insurance companies that may provide considerable savings for package insurance. And there is still another solution for Post Office shippers.

Let's focus on the money saving insurance choices you can make. Parcel Insurance Plan (PIP) and U-PIC provide discounted package insurance when shipping with UPS, FedEx and the US Post Office. In our CPS shipping software you simply enter the total coverage needed, then at the end of the day choose the alternate insurance processing step. In seconds CPS stores the correct information to report to your insurance company, so this is quick and easy. The process is the same no matter the carrier or the insurance company. If you use Endicia Internet postage when you ship with the Post Office, you can choose package insurance through Endicia. Use Endicia insurance and there are no additional steps to take, so this is very easy.

Next, for each company you might choose, take a look their claims' process. Insurance companies are almost invisible until you have a claim. Does their process look straightforward, are they easy to contact, do they ask for reasonable information (or do they ask for your family's history for two generations - this is a stretch but you know what I mean), and do their claims' rules make sense for your business? Paying premiums and maybe making a claim will likely be your primary contacts with one of the alternate insurance companies. Check out each of these until you are satisfied with the answers.

Finally, PIP, U-PIC, Endicia and the Post Office provide "insurance". Coverage purchased from the carriers may increase their limit of liability, but look at their tariffs to see if that coverage is insurance and, from what you find, consider how or if this affects your company. When you're shipping valuable packages, this information and a little research on your part should get you a great deal with a company you can live with.

Links for more information about parcel insurance:

PIP Insurance

U-PIC Insurance

Monday, August 9, 2010

What Do You Mean...It's Not OK to Ship That?

What Do You Mean...It's Not OK to Ship That?
Almost everyone knows there are some items you are not allowed to ship. A couple of examples: Illegal things (obviously and which will not apply to this group); Gasoline (even in an approved container) or other hazardous items - and, well, you get the idea. For other items it can be much less obvious. For example, the PACT (Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking) Act means cigarettes, including roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco cannot be shipped using the Post Office, FedEx or UPS. Cigars? No problem. Cigarette shipments from authorized companies for testing, health or regulatory purposes? OK.

Let's look at other items. Chickens and snakes in the mail? That's OK. Hamsters? Not so much. Bees? Sure, but only a queen bee can go by air, even though she can be accompanied by up to 8 honeybees. And even though there are no federal restrictions against sending that nice bottle of wine to someone, the carriers do not accept those shipments, except in some situations involving licensed dealers. But there may still be state-to-state restrictions. Get the idea that shipping regulations can be complicated? Yes!

For shipments originating and delivered in the US, there are regulations that most shippers are aware of. If you have items you are not sure about, you should definitely ask about the carriers' rules as well as check federal and state law. Domestic restrictions are interesting enough, but the real adventure starts with international shipping.

Want to use the post office to send a package to someone in the United Kingdom with items in the box to be distributed to others? Not allowed. How about sending playing cards to Germany? Not unless they are brand new in the box, unopened with the wrapper intact. Or sending a feeding bottle to France? Nope. These are samples of items that are completely prohibited.

We would like to say that we made up these examples, but these are real. If you have any doubt about if it's OK to ship a particular item, be sure to check with the proper authorities to stay out of hot water. But playing cards to Germany? Maybe you better check anyway.

Good luck and good shipping!

Related Links

Summary of the US Government PACT Act - S. 1147: PACT Act

UPS Wine Shipping Guidelines

UPS Restricted and Prohibited International Items

USPS Shipping Restrictions

USPS Aviation Mail Security & Hazardous Materials

USPS Military Mailing Restrictions