No Limits - Why You Should Go Multi-carrier For Smarter Shipping
This post was written by SmartFreight, a trusted partner of OnBuy.
“One size doesn’t fit all” or “don’t put your eggs all in one basket” are well-used metaphors, and they could well apply to retailers figuring out how to take the stress out of shipping goods to the four corners of the globe. But there’s an easy way to beat the stress and smooth the way for parcel deliveries. Here we look at what you should weigh up when it comes to shipping.
There’s been an explosion of eCommerce, even before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the retail landscape, and it’s a no-brainer to look at ways of streamlining your shipping strategy. After all, you want to take advantage of the best features of your chosen carrier partner or partners, right?
In this day and age of endless tick boxes, many businesses still rely on single-carrier systems for parcel deliveries, probably using the premise that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This may have been fine 20 years ago when the wonder of online shopping was still relatively shiny and new – two of the major marketplaces launched in 1995 and Alibaba's sites Taobao and Tmall in the noughties. At first the majority of consumers were so delighted to actually have the option of online shopping and a home delivery that they didn’t much care how - and how quickly - their parcel arrived.
Ah, but the times they are a-changing and now, when social channels reign supreme and there are multiple online shopping platforms, every last shopper has vastly increased expectations.
Carriers are all vying for their share of the billions of parcels being generated each year. With the competition this stiff you’d think it pays not to be tied to one transport provider. But why not go solo if a good deal is on offer for the volume of parcels you send out? Let’s look at the options.
What’s the downside of flying solo?
It might be tempting to stay loyal to the same carrier you’ve used for years – maybe they supported you when you started out in online shopping, and you feel they deserve to keep your business. Knowing your supplier can bring certain benefits such as familiarity with processes and personnel.
Locking into a carrier-specific contract could well offer volume discounts but by default must also bring limitations. It’s a very rare carrier that could offer every possible permutation of delivery options and size/weight of parcel – not to mention locations. A single carrier is also unlikely to have the influence to get the best deals on onward shipping to worldwide destinations.
Can you be sure you’ll always get the best prices for your customers? Some want instant gratification, even same day delivery where it’s available; others are happy to wait if they can get it for free or dirt-cheap. You can’t possibly predict what every single shopper might want and, let’s be honest, with all those options out there they’ll go somewhere else if they can’t get it from you.
With the ongoing growth of parcel traffic carrier capacity is likely to be tight and having a single transport provider could be a massive risk if you’re shipping large volumes, especially during peak season, with a potential scramble to ensure fulfilment of orders. And if your carrier repeatedly fails to deliver – excuse the pun – you could be faced with the stressful task of finding another option from scratch at the last minute. Not where you want to be to run a successful retail business. Ultimately, being handcuffed to a single carrier means less choice, more risk and a lot less wriggle room.
Okay. What’s the upside to multi-carrier shipping software?
There is a smarter way of delivering customer satisfaction, giving retailers the flexibility to pick and choose from a variety of carriers, including the big hitters, that can then be passed on to your own customers – such as cost and speed of delivery. A Carrier Management Solution (CMS) will optimise a delivery service in a few clicks, all from one software platform.
A CMS will optimise your shipment to ensure you are selecting the best service based on your business logic and rules, be it price, speed or even selecting the shipping option with the lowest carbon footprint. On top of this, integrating all existing carriers and offering automatic consignment entry and label printing removes the need for manual interaction. You can even get your invoices reconciled too – all that paperwork gone in a click of the fingers!
With a wealth of information at your fingertips, automated multi-carrier shipping software allows you to seamlessly switch between a variety of carriers which is also of benefit for those working from different sites. The same rules will apply – those that you set as a retailer - no matter what carriers are being used. The system has no loyalty and doesn’t care which carrier sent you a Christmas card last year – it will always choose the best options for you and your customers.
So why future-proof your delivery strategy with SmartFreight?
1. Using SmartFreight’s CMS can boost customer experience. Consumers are more likely to purchase at a store that has multiple delivery options and may even pay extra for an expedited service. Having access to multiple transport providers on one platform gives far greater control than putting all your eggs in one basket. Building in a level of customer confidence effectively stamps a retailer’s or supplier’s brand with high quality service delivery.
2. SmartFreight gives you the ability to send out automatic shipping notifications and tracking via a tracking portal that can be branded to give your customer a consistent experience regardless of the carrier being used.
3. SmartFreight recognises that no two carriers are the same - it all depends on the different types of freight and customers’ whims. However, it’s worth repeating that having a choice from multiple carriers means you can offer the best service by moving goods faster and more efficiently and having a solution no matter how large or urgent the shipment may be. SmartFreight will even ensure the paperwork is up to date – including those new trading rules with the EU.
4. Multi-carrier shipping software like SmartFreight will also monitor a carrier’s performance using a range of diagnostic values, so that action can be taken if standards slip. With review sites for service levels from retailers and social media channels all over the place, it’s not worth risking brand damage from complaints – which of course travel much faster and wider than praise!
5. SmartFreight’s shipping solution can help online retailers forge a relationship with customers through promotional incentives such as free shipping and personalised tracking of shipments to reinforce branding. More than that, it can help retailers to keep their promises and meet expectations on the delivery speed and costs.
6. You don’t need a crystal ball to see that there has been a seismic shift in consumer spending habits, meaning eCommerce operations need to be even more flexible to cope with the fluctuations that this brings. The benefits of implementing smart shipping software that can empower the consumer and support ongoing retailer-shopper relationships is without question invaluable. So, what are you waiting for?
SmartFreight® is the easier way to manage your shipping needs. Our suite of shipping solutions puts hundreds of possible transport providers and routes at your fingertips, offering total flexibility, and access to the information you need, every step of the way. All SmartFreight® solutions come with shipment optimisation. So whether you’re focused on price, service or environmental impact, you can find the most effective shipping method. All solutions are designed to be flexible, so when your needs change, we evolve with you.