When it comes to managing carrier compliance, it’s easy to understand why some companies are reluctant to get too many
solution providers involved. In some cases, using more than one or two providers involves greater vendor management and
additional costs to maintain multiple solutions. In the case of shipping solutions, if you partner with a solution
provider that outsources carrier compliance to a shipping software vendor, your solution provider will manage the
relationship with the shipping vendor. However, it is important that your solution provider be partnered with a
component-based shipping software vendor so that necessary changes can be made to specific shipping components without
requiring an overhaul to the entire system.
By forming a relationship with a shipping software vendor who offers component-based
architecture, the solution provider can integrate a system that is flexible and scalable. The ideal
shipping software vendor provides technical support, in-depth training, and carrier rate and service
feature updates as part of the initial license so that the shipper isn’t nickel-and-dimed. Rate and
service updates should be made available electronically. With this type of partnership, the shipper
is getting the best of both worlds – their solution provider is the first tier for problem resolution
and is backed by the software vendor’s technical support.
The advantage of component-based architecture for shipping is the ability to make
carrier rate and feature changes to individual shipping components. Utilizing component-based architecture
means the shipper experiences less down time and lower costs. They can also concentrate on their core
manufacturing and distribution functions rather than worry about carrier compliance.
Industry analysts also point to the advantage of component-based architecture.
According to Steve Banker, Director of Supply Chain Management, ARC Advisory, one question to consider
about a warehouse management system is whether it is componentized; is the code tied to the larger ERP
solution or has the WMS component been segregated from the other ERP components? This question is an
important one to ask because, “…often only the shipping and picking components need to be upgraded, as
this is where process changes more often occur, making for quicker upgrade cycles.” To access the article,
search on “Why Architecture Matters in a Warehouse Management Solution,” in the March 2009 Archive at
Choosing a provider that supports U.S. and international origin carriers opens doors
to new global markets. In a global marketplace, integration of multi-carrier shipping software decreases the
risks and costs associated with non-compliance. A shipping solution can help avoid penalties and reduce the
hassle of shipments held up at customs. From a cash flow standpoint, a shipping solution with the flexibility
to make changes to custom rates makes it possible to fully recover costs when invoicing customers.
The greatest gains to be realized are in the area of customer service. High quality shipping
software provides customers with a choice of carriers and services, such as next-day or 2-day. It also gives the
customer an easy, traceable method to initiate and track returns. By leveraging shipping components that can be
integrated with their ERP’s order management process, shippers can manage customers’ delivery expectations
at the time orders are placed.
An API-based shipping solution is designed to be integrated with enterprise-wide management systems
and offers many advantages. Customized user access to the rating and shipping functionality can be designed by a
solution provider or come as part of the ERP application. The primary function of the solution is to easily enable
shipping rate comparisons using the most up-to-date published or negotiated carrier rates. Speed and package throughput
are dramatically increased using an application specifically designed for rating and shipping packages. Finally,
multi-carrier shipping software providers maintain relationships with multiple carriers, perform testing on all shipping
documents to assure smooth operations, and offer compatibility with the latest devices such as thermal printers, scales,
scanners and RFID readers.
Shipping software is an investment for the current and future business climate. For example, a company
that is keeping tight control of inventory can benefit from incorporating a shipping technology that facilitates just-in-time
distribution by comparing delivery commitment times. That same scalable, flexible platform can be easily modified to manage
logistics when demand increases. Flexible software allows shippers to rapidly respond to new business needs with additional
distribution centers or service to new suppliers that may have carrier-specific order and delivery requirements.
Shipping software companies invest heavily in talent and technology to provide their customers with
accurate carrier rates, service features, and compliance documentation. For example, the carrier compliance and
software engineering leadership at ConnectShip encompasses more than 120 years of shipping and technology experience.
At ConnectShip, the role of the software engineers is to collaborate with the requirements and quality assurance teams
to implement carrier-compliant shipping automation.
Compliance with each carrier involves months of formal and informal discussions throughout the certification process.
The senior management of ConnectShip and their teams have earned the trust and respect of the carriers, and they continue
to work together to meet shippers needs.
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