Monday, May 30, 2011

This Week, Let’s Look at the Number 1 Reason to Use a Multi-Carrier Shipping System

This Week, Let’s Look at the Number 1 Reason to Use a Multi-Carrier Shipping System
There are many good reasons to use a multi-carrier system versus one that you can obtain from a carrier for ‘free.’ A multi-carrier system is designed to meet the needs of its customers and not the needs of the carriers. Carriers developed these systems to enable them to capture specific data on each package and produce carrier compliant labels. These needs are what drive the carriers to provide these ‘free’ systems to their customers which number in the hundreds of thousands; so what they give away is not designed for specific industries or for specific types of customers. They are designed to provide specific data and carrier compliant labels.

A multi-carrier system is designed with the customer in mind. That’s why they bundle the carriers into one system with one user interface with one repository for your shipping data. That’s why a multi-carrier system provides tools that help you to better manage your customers and help you to increase sales and satisfy customers. That’s why a multi-carrier system like the CPS shipping software provides tools that help you connect to a variety of systems like your order entry system, providing important shipping data. In short, multi-carrier shipping was designed for YOU, the one that depends on shipping products to YOUR customers.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at lots of ways that multi-carrier shipping systems can bring benefits to your shipping, accounting, customer service, sales and carrier relationship processes. Right now, visit if you would like to know more about CPS.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Verifying Your Carrier Invoice Should Be Easier Than a Root Canal

Verifying Your Carrier Invoice Should Be Easier Than a Root Canal
Root canal? Check. Clean the cat box? Check. Verify the shipping invoice(s) from your carrier(s)? Check. Now THAT’S a day to look forward to, right? OK, maybe looking at your carrier bill isn’t quite like a root canal or dealing with the cat, but who actually looks forward to carefully verifying their shipping bill? There can be hundreds or thousands of individual package shipments to check. That’s a big job. Let’s look at making this an easier process.

The right shipping system can really help here. We often hear “I’m looking at my invoice and it looks too high.” The unasked question seems to be “Where are those great rates that were negotiated?” So how to go about checking the bills? If your shipping system's daily shipping reports show the carrier's published rates, you might try applying your carrier contract’s discounts to the published rates on your shipping reports. Since the discount percentage varies according to the service you use and the weight of each box, this is not really straightforward. But if your shipping system shows your company's specific rates, one immediate benefit is accurate cost reporting. So how do you get your company’s specific rates into your multiple carrier shipping system?

First, ask your shipping system provider to help you get your company's contracted rates with the carriers into your shipping system. This is a key step in making this an easier process and is a common request for shippers using our CPS shipping software. We help our users with this all the time. Next, be sure that your shipping system accounts for the fuel surcharges that are prevalent with some carriers. When your shipping system reports reflect accurate shipping costs, you can create a better, faster, much more accurate invoice checking process that works for your company.

There is a lot of power in a multiple carrier shipping system that uses your company's rates. And we’ll talk about another key benefit to this next time. Until then, visit if you would like to know more about CPS.

Friday, May 13, 2011

ADDRESS CHECKING 101 PART 2 – Getting it right to get it delivered

ADDRESS CHECKING 101 PART 2 – Getting it right to get it delivered
Address problems come in two categories. Last time, we talked about when the address is wrong, incurring address correction fees or worse, non-delivered, returned or even lost orders. No one is a fan of any of these. This time we look at another terrific benefit of address checking on your shipping system – determining whether an address is a residential or commercial delivery. Address checking at the shipping station checks the real, final shipping address, including the commercial or residential status. This is definitely important when you are checking for the best carrier and service to ship a package. In some cases, there is an additional cost for residential delivery service that could make a difference in the carrier you choose for a package.

Of course, you could use the post office (no residential surcharge) for every package or you could always ship with the carrier’s residential service regardless of destination. But you already know neither of these may be ideal for every package. Solving this problem by using address verification that also checks the commercial or residential address classification puts you ahead of the game. Another clear benefit is that, when you check the address at the shipping station, you are sure to catch possible mistakes for the exact address that you are shipping to. After all, who wants pages of unexpected residential delivery fees on their carrier bill?

What effect does this have on the shipping process? Here is how this works in our CPS shipping software. The Address Verification Module (AVM) for CPS uses a US Postal Service CASS certified database and: 1) checks if the residential/commercial choice is correct; 2) enables correct price rating between residential and commercial services; 3) makes sure the address exists; 4) checks if the address exists but is missing some key information such as suite number, apartment number, etc.; and 5) standardizes the address to match the USPS CASS certified database.

When the shipping system operator ships a package, the AVM first verifies the address data. Next, according to the way the AVM is setup, it notifies the shipper about any problems. Notification choices range from the AVM showing everything it’s doing to the fully automatic method in which it never interrupts the shipping process, making all of its changes automatically. These choices make address checking flexible enough for every shipping operation. Some address correction programs cost thousands. For CPS, it's just $199.99 to add this great capability.

Look for features to help with these situations in your shipping system. Our CPS shipping software has great tools to determine the best way to ship in all of these situations. Put these features to work for you in 2011 and your shipping system will put the savings on your bottom line. For more information about CPS and the AVM, visit

Friday, May 6, 2011

ADDRESS CHECKING 101 – Getting it right to get it delivered

ADDRESS CHECKING 101 – Getting it right to get it delivered
A CPS shipping software user told me about her frustration with the number of her customers who do not appear to know where they live. I asked for details and she explained that, on a regular basis, her company pays address correction charges or even has packages returned for bad addresses even though the address exactly matches the address the customer gave. Address correction charges are bad for profits, returned packages are bad for customer service, and she wanted to avoid both if at all possible. She researched the address checking option for her order system but considered it too costly. Then she called to ask if her CPS™ shipping system could help. We discussed her issues for a while and we determined how CPS could help.

For CPS, there is an Address Verification Module (AVM) designed to solve several address issues. As each package is shipped, the AVM checks each address against the US Postal Service CASS-certified database. The AVM tells you when an address doesn't exist, lets you know that the address exists but is missing some key information such as suite number apt #, etc. and standardizes the address format.

Undelivered packages cause unhappy customers. Use the AVM to check the address when a package is shipped and reduce (or even eliminate) address correction charges and packages that cannot be delivered due to a bad address. At just $199.99 she considered the AVM very affordable and chose it for her CPS shipping system. Did it catch any errors? In a follow up call, she told me their address correction fees dropped from $120 per week to “nothing” after they started verifying ship-to addresses with the AVM. Returned packages were virtually eliminated, too. That type of improvement to their shipping business process is significant.

The AVM can be set to provide various levels of messages about what it’s doing, from notifications every step of the way to virtually invisible operation. She ended up setting the AVM so that it notifies the shipper only when it needs to make a change. She also described one more way the AVM made a significant difference in her shipping and I’ll talk about that next time.

It's obvious that the shipping system is the link in getting the package out the door and on the way. Use the shipping system to verify that actual "ship to" address and you've done everything you can to make delivery as quick and efficient as possible (at the least cost to you), and that makes seller and buyer happy.

CPS is not the only shipping system that has this available, although the CPS AVM is definitely one of the least costly. Address checking in your shipping system is another way a good shipping system helps your company add money to the bottom line and solves the shipping problem of bad addresses. For more information about CPS and the AVM, visit