A Sound Shipping Strategy and a Dependable Partner Can Set You Up for Success

Posted on Jan 11, 2018 10:03:25 AM

Today’s consumers choose who to buy from based on their overall customer experience. As an eCommerce company, having the lowest price or best product no longer guarantees a sale. Consumers thoroughly research and compare a variety of products, retailers, reviews, shipping services and delivery options before they buy. 

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Many eCommerce store owners either dismiss shipping as unimportant, don’t spend enough time thinking through their strategy, or willfully avoid it altogether due to its complexity. Yet, without a good shipping strategy, you could end up with an unprofitable business. Even once you have a good strategy, choosing the wrong shipping partner could affect you negatively in a number of ways.

According to an eCommerce survey by MetaPack, 96% of shoppers said a positive delivery experience would encourage them to shop with a retailer again. In addition, over half (59%) of consumers have not completed an order because delivery was too expensive, and 86% of the same shoppers want a fast delivery.

Selecting a sound shipping strategy and a dependable partner can improve your business. Incorporating a regional carrier into your existing shipping workflow can save you time and money, which is exactly what consumers are looking at retailers for.

A Third Party Logistics Company, Cerasis, refers to regional carriers in a recent article as “package delivery companies that are usually more personal, flexible, and responsive than national carriers and offer shipping advantages within a targeted geographic area.”

Regional carriers, like OnTrac, can oftentimes offer more flexible and competitive options, which address specific customer needs that the National Carriers might not be able to accommodate. Also, with lower operating costs and the shipping advantages of targeting a specific geographic region, regional carriers can pass that savings on to you.

Additionally Cerasis includes that these savings can add up to as much as 10% to 40% lower than the base rates of the National Carriers. Also, with lower fees and fewer surcharges than National Carriers, OnTrac can boost your bottom line.

For a customized rate quote, click here.

Topics: shipping companies, shipping rates, shipping strategy, partnership, eCommerce, lower rates, fewer fees

10 Ways to Trim Shipping Costs

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 2:37:00 PM

Shipping costs are one of the biggest expenses for many small businesses, but resourceful entrepreneurs are finding ways to reduce the sting.

Fred DuBois, for example, had been trying to cut the shipping costs at his Laptop Battery Express in Cleveland since he founded it in 2007. Free delivery service for about 50 battery orders a day was costing him as much as $500. He had been relying almost exclusively on FedEx Ground, but this summer, he realized that varying his carriers and using the U.S. Postal Service would cut shipping costs in half. Today, he says, he ships about half his orders with FedEx and the other half with the post office, saving about $250 a day.

OnTrac Saves Money

To achieve such savings, consider these 10 ways to trim shipping costs:

1. Negotiate with multiple carriers. All shipping companies have pricing schedules based on volume: The more you ship, the lower your rate. But small businesses often don't realize they also may have negotiating power, says Jack Mitchell, president of PANCGroup, a Boston-based parcel appraisal and negotiations consulting firm. If you ship large numbers of packages, compare prices and try to persuade carriers to offer lower rates. "If Fed Ex knows UPS is vying for your business, you've got something to negotiate," Mitchell says.

2. Get suppliers to use your shipping account number. DuBois receives inventory from 12 suppliers, including eight in China and four in the U.S. While he originally had suppliers shipping products to him and invoicing for the transport costs, he managed to persuade his domestic suppliers to ship products on his company's FedEx account number. This not only increases his business's shipping volume, which can lead to cheaper rates, but it also helps prevent suppliers from padding their shipping costs. Kevin Lathrop, president of Unishippers, a Salt Lake City-based company that buys and resells transportation services, recommends including this shipping requirement in your purchase order.

3. Use packaging provided by your carrier. If you use your own packaging, you could face additional "dimensional fees" if your box exceeds the size regulations set by UPS and FedEx. To avoid those extra charges, consider using the packaging provided by your carrier, which doesn't have dimensional fees. By putting a one-pound box into a FedEx envelope, for example, DuBois cut his shipping cost by 15 percent.

OnTrac Service Area

4. Consider a regional carrier. Such carriers often provide the same services as FedEx or UPS at a reduced cost, Mitchell says. Regional carriers include Spee-Dee Delivery Service in the Midwest, OnTrac in the West and LoneStar Delivery & Process in Texas. But keep in mind their delivery networks are limited. You also might reduce your bargaining power if you spread your business among too many carriers.

 

5. Use online shipping. One way to save on U.S. Postal Service costs is to pay for your shipping online. You can save up to 16 percent on priority mail orders and up to 60 percent on express mail, says Beth Fluto, manager of digital media for USPS. You also get free pick-up service, priority mail delivery confirmation and shipping supplies when you pay online with the post office.

6. Invest in prepaid shipping. To help cut FedEx and UPS costs, consider prepaid shipping, which offers a discount rate of up to 20 percent. This means you buy a quantity of shipping labels upfront and affix them to packages as needed rather than pay for each package when you send it out. Prepaid shipping works best when you know you'll be sending out the same weight packages repeatedly and can determine the shipping cost in advance.

7. Buy insurance from a third party. While carriers charge about 80 cents for every $100 of insurance, third-party companies like Parcel Insurance Plan and U-PIC Shipping Insurance charge about 45 cents. The savings can add up, Mitchell notes, if you frequently ship expensive items.

8. Factor in all shipping fees before billing customers. Carriers have more than 75 special charges, including fuel surcharges, fees when requiring a signature from the recipient, or Saturday delivery fees, Mitchell says. If your customers pay for shipping, be sure to include all these extra costs in their bills so you don't end up absorbing them yourself.

9. Consider hybrid services. While they have certain volume, weight and size restrictions, hybrid services like SurePost by UPS and SmartPost by FedEx can cost half as much as standard UPS and FedEx delivery options, Mitchell says. These services pick up packages at your business and ship them by UPS or FedEx to the post office closest to the destination. The local mailman then makes the final delivery. While the cost is less, this extra step can slow delivery time.

10. Ask about association discounts. Find out if your industry's professional association has a partnership with a carrier that offers member discounts. Depending on the size of the association, you could be eligible for discounted rates of up to 50 percent on certain services with carriers like FedEx and UPS.

By: Jane Porter, Entrepreneur

For more information on this article, click here.

Topics: postal consolidators, regional carriers, online shopping, fees, shipping companies, Service Area, OnTrac

Sneak Peek at 2012 Shippers' Survey on Regional Parcel Carrier Usage

Posted on Oct 4, 2012 1:25:00 PM

The 2012 PARCEL Forum will shine the spotlight on regional parcel carriers with multiple themed tracks and educational sessions. The regional carriers advertise many benefits over the national carriers including cost savings, greater service options including same day delivery, and custom/specialized solutions. Is your business a candidate for regional carrier services?

To better understand the regional carrier market, its advantages and potential disadvantages as well as shipper’s experiences using regional carriers, the PARCEL team once again partnered with the parcel industry experts at Shipware. PARCEL will publish the results of the “2012 Shipper’s Survey on Regional Parcel Carrier Usage” in the October edition, and Shipware will unveil survey results at the Parcel Forum.

Here’s a teaser, but look for the full results at the PARCEL Forum and in the September/October issue of PARCEL.

Parcel Magazine Digital Issue

Like the name implies, regional carriers serve a specific region within the U.S. offering reliable package delivery services similar to FedEx and UPS. Regional carriers such as Eastern Connection, Lone Star Overnight, OnTrac, Spee-Dee Delivery and Pitt-Ohio cover more than 80% of the U.S. population and specialize in short-haul delivery (typically up to 500 miles). (To view the OnTrac Service Area, click here.)

Regional carriers can offer cost savings of 10% to 40% over UPS and FedEx pricing. As an example, Spee-Dee Delivery’s pricing starts at $3.79 for next-day delivery of a 1-pound package within Zone 2. Compared with UPS and FedEx’s minimum charge of $5.49, shippers would save 31%.

Since regionals concentrate operations in a well-defined geographic market, service to that market is often better than what the national carriers provide. For example, Eastern Connection handles East Coast deliveries from Maine to Virginia, all included as “next day” delivery points. Using FedEx and UPS Ground service, the same coverage area extends to five zones for 1-4 day delivery.

OnTrac Sprinter Van
Survey respondents listed the following responses as “benefits realized to regional carrier usage”: Larger next day delivery footprint; Better service than nationals; Cost savings; Fewer surcharges; Better billing terms; Better sales rep; Improved reporting; Better dimensional divisor; Better or no minimum charge; Improved customer service; Specialized/Custom solutions; and Same day options.

Despite the many advantages, shippers are largely unaware these carriers exist. Only 39% of survey respondents reported using regional carriers, and two-thirds of that group ship less than 5% of their overall volume via regionals.

Are there any downsides to shifting parcels away from national carriers in favor of regional carriers? Is service up to par? What about customer service, caliber of the driver, automation, reporting and tracking? And just how much are the reported cost savings?

The complete survey results will reveal opportunities for shippers as well as potential mistakes to avoid. Again, look for the full results in the September/October issue of PARCEL. See you at the PARCEL Forum!

Rob Martinez, DLP is President & CEO of Shipware LLC, a parcel auditing and consulting company based in San Diego, CA. He welcomes questions and comments and can be reached at rob@shipware.com.

Topics: regional parcel carriers, regional carriers, 40% less, shipping companies, OnTrac, parcel shipping, PARCEL Magazine

Five WebOnTrac Features that Improve Customer Service

Posted on Mar 26, 2010 12:16:00 AM

"Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game." -Tony Allesandra, motivational speaker and author 

Tony isn't kidding. A recent 16-country survey found that poor customer service is costing about $338.5 billion per year. Why? Long waits, lack of required skills and needless repetition. Add the current economic mess and that number could get a whole lot bigger.

What does this have to do with package delivery? Shipping companies not only influence customer service with on-time arrivals but also by providing easy-to-use tools and workflows that speed-up package preparation and reduce delivery problems. A faster, more accurate shipping operation keeps customers happy and lowers operational costs.
 
WebOnTrac, the OnTrac(SM) web-based desktop shipping application, delivers just that. Its non-intimidating workspace does a whole lot more than print shipping labels online.  Here are five WebOnTrac gems that streamline parcel shipping and add to your customer's service experience.

Email Notification
Email notification is a great way to keep a customer in the loop about their overnight package. OnTrac separates e-notifications in two ways:  Shipment and Delivery. Check "Shipment" and you'll share the generated tracking number and destination details. Check "Delivery" to share the time your shipment arrived and the P.O.D. (Proof Of Delivery) information, i.e. the signature. Better yet, check both.

WebOnTrac Email Notification

Save Delivery Addresses on the Fly
Repeat business is bliss. And if there's a chance you may ship to a recipient again, use the "Save Address" feature on the bottom of the "New Shipment" screen. Name the code whatever you'd like: company name, customer number, etc. Saving the address speeds up future waybill printing.

WebOnTrac Save Addres

Special Delivery Instructions
GPS devices tremble in the presence of an OnTrac Driver (a.k.a. Service Provider). They know the ins, outs and in-betweens of their entire delivery area. What they don't know is that the recipient's gate code is mom's birthdate or that deliveries need to be placed inside the red wicker basket around the corner. Spend 30 seconds asking for and adding special delivery instructions. It ensures a smooth delivery and eliminates additional phone calls.

WebOnTrac Delivery Instructions

One-Click Return Labels
Sure, no one likes to process returns but it's part of business. Prepare for it by using the one-click return waybill link displayed below the populated waybill. The "To" and "From" get flipped, giving you the return shipping document. Include it inside the delivery for the "just in case" approach or keep a PDF version on file should the customer contact you for a return. There's no extra charge to generate a return waybill, you're only invoiced if it's used.

WebOnTrac Return Waybill

Reference Fields
One back-end perk you may not know about is that OnTrac can sort your invoice by the reference number. Depending on how you handle billing, a reference-sorted invoice could save you time.

But you don't have to get bogged down with numbers. The reference field is limited only by your creativity and can be used for anything: order numbers, promotional codes, your URL, you name it. It's a great way to add to the label.

WebOnTrac Reference Field

Take time to explore WebOnTrac and its features. You’ll be pleasantly surprised (and so will your customers).

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Need WebOnTrac help? Call 877.225.6837 or mailto:softwaresupport@ontrac.com.

Don't have a WebOnTrac login? Getting one is easy and FREE.

Curious about how OnTrac stacks up? View our shipping rate comparison.

Topics: WebOnTrac, package delivery, on-time arrivals, web-based desktop shipping, email notification, save address, OnTrac driver, one-click return label, pdf waybill, sort invoice, shipping companies, OnTrac, parcel shipping, special delivery instruction, Service Proider, reference field, WebOnTrac login, shipping rate comparision