As you are gearing up for the summer months and taking some time off, it is always great to let your mind wander and come up with new and better ideas to enhance your parcel shipping program. It is a very non-threatening environment, and anything goes; just have a pen and paper nearby or your phone to take notes. Some of the most innovative ideas come from a very relaxed state of mind. Here are some of my thoughts that you may want to ponder during this time: Partnerships, Technology, and Consultants. Let me address each one of these:
1. Partnerships: Many large shippers have the volume to negotiate fairly decent agreements (but I would still encourage the use of parcel consultants; see below). For many small shippers, this is a key element in maximizing the discounts that you can get. As many of you know, UPS has two primary resellers (Uni-Shippers and Worldwide Express). FedEx has not embraced the reseller concept, and DHL Express has 20 resellers. The USPS has a multitude of Business Alliance Partners that can help reduce your B2C shipping cost. There are also many regional carriers and/or local couriers that can provide equal or better service than the big carriers.
2. Technology: There are three different areas that you should think through while you are enjoying your time at the pool or beach: multi-carrier shipping systems, dimensional equipment, and scales. There are many providers of multi-carriers shipping platforms on the market. Some are designed for high-volume shippers, and some are designed for the SMB customer. No matter what, this is a no-brainer to have as it requires minimal cost and can help in selecting the best cost for the service (at your fingertips). As for grabbing the DIM weight of all your packages, it is essential that this type of equipment is part of your operation. Again, not a problem for big shippers, but it is really needed for small shippers. There are low-cost solutions on the market; you just need to do a little research. As for scales, most shippers have them, but for those that do not have them, this lack can cause a lot of hidden cost in the post shipment billing process. For many e-commerce shippers, this can be a drag on your margin. If you can integrate your DIM equipment and scales with your multi-carrier system, then you are on the right track.
3. Parcel Consultants: I am a strong advocate for the use of parcel consultants. The carriers have made their agreements and invoicing so complicated, everyone needs the assistance of an industry expert. The challenge is when any shipper that spends less than one million in parcel shipping, it is difficult for the consultants to bring value to the relationship. Many of the parcel consultants have partnerships with other organizations to help them with these smaller clients… you just need to ask them.
As you are relaxing, please think of the areas above and put your creative juices to work to come up with some of your own summer thoughts!
Michael J. Ryan is the Executive Vice President – Parcel Solutions at Pro Star Logistics and has over 25 years of experience in the parcel industry. He can be reached at 708.224.1498 or Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.