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Shipping Software

With so many choices in the marketplace, how does a company select the right shipping software?

As a company grows, needs typically change.

Carrier Web Sites

For many companies they start off their shipping operations using a carrier’s web site where they login online to process shipments and print a plain paper label that can be affixed to the package with tape or placed in a pouch. Most carrier web site’s offer an address book to store frequently shipped to addresses or even an import feature to import addresses for shipping. This is suitable for companies shipping about 1 – 5 shipments per day.

Carrier-Provided Shipping Software

Companies that outgrow this option will often migrate to the carrier-provided shipping software that can be installed on their own PC. These applications have more features available and can more efficiently ship packages, which include connecting to a scale and label printer. For some companies this type of shipping software is suitable for their needs. It is free and for the most part accomplishes the job. UPS Worldship and FedEx Ship Manager both offer shipping, tracking and billing capabilities and even connectivity to external systems to exchange data. For companies that ship primarily one of these national carriers, it is a great option.

Third-Party Shipping Software

In most cases there is a driving factor for a company to purchase a third-party shipping software solution. Here is a list of common reasons: increase in volume, switching or adding carriers, the expansion to more than one shipping origin point, customer-driven requirements, complex business rules, and/or fully automating all manual processes. There is a cost associated with third-party shipping software and most of these reasons have a justified ROI.

When does it make sense for a company to consider a third-party multi-carrier shipping software?

  • Shipping with more than one carrier (i.e. UPS, FedEx, Spee-Dee Delivery, OnTrac,
  • A single software application to handle all outbound shipping (small parcel, LTL, etc.)
  • Rate shopping capabilities across carriers and services
  • Advanced automation of business rules (i.e. service level optimization, bill third party)
  • Integration to more than one host system (i.e. legacy order entry, warehouse management system)
  • Enterprise-wide solution to manage shipping operations for all shipping locations
  • Flexibility to add more carriers or change carriers when needed and quickly
  • Single API that supports all carriers for integrating into other applications or warehouse systems
  • Work with a “carrier-neutral” company to manage and support the shipping functions of the business