Friday, August 31, 2012

Building Your Sales with Flat Rate and Free Shipping Offers

Building Your Sales with Flat Rate and Free Shipping Offers
Part 2 - (continued from last week)

Forecasts say that online sales will grow by 15% or more this year, even in the current economy. What are the best ways for you to get your share? Reducing cart abandonment as much as possible will definitely help, as will encouraging shoppers to fill their carts. As you plan for your busy season, your shipping system can provide invaluable information to you can make your final price right for your customers. The idea is to make them click "Buy" instead of "Bye".

Shipping cost “sticker shock” is a huge contributor to abandoned shopping carts. For the same order, do you charge different amounts for shipping depending on the package destination? That makes your price different according to where your customer lives. If you visit the local outlet of a national store, they don’t ask for your ZIP code before you get the price - all customers pay the same amount. Maybe that’s a little different situation from a web store, but the point is clear - no one likes to know they are paying more than someone else for the same item. And unexpected, unanticipated shipping costs are a key factor that creates abandoned shopping carts.

“Flat rate” shipping offers, strategically mixed with "free" shipping offers, combat this problem. A number of experts and Internet entrepreneurs have found that it is very important to display shipping charges before “check out” to avoid shopping cart abandonment. So how can this be implemented?

Free shipping is very easy to calculate. Figuring out the right amount for flat-rate shipping takes a little more effort. If you are lucky enough to have your company’s actual carrier rates in your shipping system, this, combined with historical reporting directly from the shipping system, puts you on your way. Some shipping systems go a step further. As an example, the CPS Shipping Software can use actual carrier rates, including contract specific rates that even reflect the fuel surcharge, to provide the most accurate rate shopping and reporting. The CPS Flat Rate Shipping Charge Calculator report shows average shipping cost per package and average shipping cost per pound. These costs are also then reported by next day, 2 day, 3 day, ground and international services. With just a few mouse clicks you can keep tabs on your shipping costs for any period of time, by carrier and service, to accurately manage your flat rate shipping offer. This data also lets you know your costs to provide free shipping offers, too. You could crunch the numbers out of your carrier bills, but who has the time? To just "Click" and see them is so much easier. Monitor your costs at least monthly and make adjustments for changes you see in average charges.

When you look at customer satisfaction and shopping cart abandonment issues, the conclusion might be that free shipping is the only way to go. But this may not be the best approach for a couple of reasons, especially for the bottom line. Using flat rate shipping charges for low volume orders, then using free shipping as an incentive to increase the order amount are effective ways to increase sales, decrease shopping cart abandonment and increase your return customer rate. You can also offer free shipping for special times of the year like the holidays when competition is hot for consumer dollars. When implemented strategically, shipping offers lead to increased sales and profits.

Use a shipping history reporting tool like CPS Flat Rate Shipping Charge Calculator to monitor your average shipping costs and you can successfully implement and maintain flat-rate and/or free shipping offers. Quick, easily available reporting from the CPS multi-carrier shipping system lets you make sure you are accurately consider the shipping cost when using either offer.

For more information about CPS, visit

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Using Your Shipping System to Take Your Sales Message Nationally, Even Internationally

Using Your Shipping System to Take Your Sales Message Nationally, Even Internationally
Is one of your goals to be a national or even international seller? Is this the message you give shoppers at your web site? If you have not yet established flat rate shipping charges for your orders, you could be sending the wrong message. This is an ideal time of year to look at how you are charging for shipping and making sure to deliver the best message to maximize your sales. If you charge for shipping based on the shipping cost for individual orders, your closest customers get your best price, turning your national ambitions into a local or maybe regional business. And everyone wants the biggest possible potential customer base.

It’s well established that unexpectedly high shipping costs are a major contributor to abandoned shopping carts. If you calculate shipping costs per order instead of using flat rate shipping prices (or even free shipping for promotional seasons), you run the risk of causing shipping cost “sticker shock”, and there’s another abandoned cart. So how do you get around this?

Consider developing flat rate shipping cost offers for ground service and do the same for expedited (air) service. With flat rate shipping offers, you tell your shoppers the cost of shipping “up front” so they can fill their carts with confidence, ready to click the “Buy Now” button. Flat rate shipping offers can also simplify the work needed to maintain shipping prices that are displayed on your web site, another welcome benefit. This takes some work and thought to develop, then monitor on a weekly/ monthly basis to determine if adjustments are needed. But there is a great reward - more filled carts and more sales.

A related topic is international sales. International sales can be a business builder, but many see international shipping, with its complexities and regulations, to be a substantial barrier. Commercial invoices, US Postal Service forms and other required international paperwork and regulations (some backed with stiff penalties) mean you need to become an expert in shipping your products overseas.

What do flat rate shipping and international shipping have in common? Each of these can be made easier with the right shipping system. Harvey Software’s CPS Shipping Software helps with each task. The CPS Flat Rate Shipping Charge Calculator provides instantaneous access to the shipping data needed to establish and monitor your pricing for flat rate shipping. And CPS supports international shipping, including customs forms, international rates and shipping labels. The right multi-carrier shipping system can definitely help increase your sales.

Next time, part 2 – more about discovering the right "flat rate" price to charge for your shipping. To find out more about CPS now, visit

Friday, August 17, 2012

What's Next When You Suspect Theft in Your Shipping Department?

What's Next When You Suspect Theft in Your Shipping Department?
How often do you check to see if your packages are delivered to the right address? Of if they even make it onto the carrier trucks. And if this is not happening, what to do next?

Re-labeling packages, shipping packages that don't belong to your company, changing addresses, deleting packages - all of these can happen and have happened. You might have years of trusted service from a key employee, you check references, do background checks, put systems in place, but something doesn't seem right. You seem to have too many orders that need to be reshipped. Or your shipping costs seem high according your shipping budget forecast of shipping X number of boxes that weigh Y pounds. This kind of problem can be hard to pin down, even when you see the "red flags" that you are sure mean you have a problem. Here's where a shipping system might help you.

In the CPS shipping software, you have quick access to your shipping history data so you can search and analyze your shipping information. For example, after recently noticing something "wasn't right" with their shipping, one CPS shipper extracted their shipping data, looked for patterns that did not match their normal shipping, and discovered there was no order ID information with some of their shipping records. More research into these records zeroed in on the problem and helped find the employee responsible. In another instance, shipments of already processed and labeled packages were voided, then the addresses were altered at the time of shipping. Even though the shipments were deleted in CPS, the labels with illicit addresses were already printed and the package given to the carriers for delivery. With a special setting, CPS wrote the data for every voided package to a file for monitoring. Following this trail of voided packages then led back to the person who was scamming the company. These are examples of looking at the problem "after the fact".

To stop a problem before it happens, one way is to use a data lookup to read the shipping data into CPS, then prevent the shipping system operator from changing or voiding the address in the shipping system. In CPS, there is a setting so if the shipper tries to edit the shipping address fields, a window pops up requiring a password in order to make any change.

It's hardly ever possible to watch what happens to every package in your shipping department. Tools in your shipping system like these in CPS give you the power and information to stop these problems if they occur, or even before they occur.

To find out more about the CPS multi-carrier shipping system, visit our web site at

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back Up Your Shipping System and Cover Your A$$ets

Back Up Your Shipping System and Cover Your A$$ets
Backing up computer data is BOR-ING. Even thinking about backing up computer data is boring. But a good backup for a critical business system such as a multi-carrier shipping system can be a business-saver. That's why I wanted a "get your attention" headline. The worst thing you can hear (or say) at the start of your shipping day is "Uh Oh", followed by "Do we have a backup?" Suddenly the computer backup is not so boring.

Computers can fail without warning and at any time. So what can you do? Buying a good computer, using a capable Uninterruptible Power Supply (with voltage regulation), always using the computer’s "Shut Down" feature when you turn it off and not bumping (or intentionally smacking) the computer are at the top of the list. But, in spite of everything you can do, computers fail. With their mechanical and electronic parts, it's not "IF", it's just "WHEN". So what's the best plan to keep you shipping?

Setting up a reliable backup may be easier than you think. The standard options are to backup your data to another computer at your site (a "local" backup), backup your data to a remote location using your network, or use an online service (you might see ads for and Symantec online backup services). There are programs designed to automate backing up, or you could even use the Windows Explorer to copy files from one computer to another for safekeeping. Whatever you decide, there are solutions out there to help keep your data safe.

For your shipping system, look for a program that helps you safeguard your data. Our CPS shipping software includes a built-in backup utility to save those important shipping system programs and data. This built-in backup works every time a CPS session is ended, providing additional peace of mind.

Since we concentrate on shipping systems and our multi-carrier CPS shipping software in particular, we know there are choices. You could use an Internet-based shipping system that only needs a browser to work, but many of the browser-based systems work too slowly for volume shippers. That's why we're looking at backup basics for a shipping system like CPS that runs on your own computers.

Keep in mind you can lose data directly, like computer failure, as well as indirectly, such as a power failure, files that are deleted accidentally (or otherwise, but that’s another blog), plus other factors. A current backup can save the day. And we strongly suggest using a battery backup for the shipping computer. If you have a problem, have a system in place that can save the day. Use these tips and be ready.

For more information about CPS, visit our web site at

Friday, August 3, 2012

Making the Most of Carrier/USPS Hybrid Services

Making the Most of Carrier/USPS Hybrid Services
This might become the year of the hybrid delivery services. What is a “hybrid” service? No, it’s not a package delivered only by an electric car. The hybrid services are those that involve pickup and billing by the carrier while using the US Postal Service for final delivery. The rates can be attractive, especially for lower weight packages that are being shipped to residential addresses. But how do these services work and how are they different from the other carrier services?

Generally, there is a contract with the carrier for the hybrid services. The contract might include information about when and how the packages will be picked up, what package weights can be shipped, obviously your rates for the hybrid service, plus other aspects of the service as it applies to your business. In addition to the contract terms, be sure to find out where your packages will go after they leave your door. The carrier aggregates packages shipped with the hybrid service then transports them to the post office location that will make the final delivery. How far a package has to travel during the aggregation process can affect the ultimate delivery time. How long it takes for package delivery can definitely affect your customers’ satisfaction with your company. Also, check the carrier’s liability for these packages. It may be a lower coverage limit than their standard delivery services or there might not be any package insurance available at all.

After you are satisfied that the service will be beneficial for your company, the next step is to decide on the shipping system that will work best for the hybrid service. To use the hybrid services to their best advantage, a multiple carrier shipping software system really makes the difference. Here is how this works in the CPS shipping software.

Since CPS provides the ability to ship with multiple carriers, including hybrid services for both FedEx and UPS, you are able to take advantage of the RateBot feature in CPS to ensure that the most efficient and economical choice is made automatically according to business rules you create. CPS also maintains the rates for the carriers and services used for shipping. This means you can use the hybrid service any time you want it, plus you can use “best rate and service” shopping tools so that CPS can make the best selection automatically. You can instantly ship any package with any carrier or service, so you control your shipping process including how much you pay for each package. Adding this aspect to the hybrid services puts you firmly in charge of your shipping, which is important more than ever today where EVERY dollar counts.

Consider all of these aspects when you are investigating the hybrid delivery services and you can come out ahead with every package. For more information about our shipping software solutions, visit