Gone are the days of relying on Excel spreadsheets to track orders and shipments for your retail business. Without a centralized system, shipments get lost, costs creep up, and orders become delayed.
Having the right shipping software is essential. With the right tools, shipments arrive on time, costs are maintained, and customers are happy. In this post, we’ll help you choose shipping software for your retail business, and compare some of the top shipping software providers on the market.
If you’re on the fence about implementing shipping software in your business, here are the key benefits.
Shipping software can automate tasks such as generating shipping labels, calculating shipping rates, and consolidating orders. This automation helps reduce the time and resources you spend doing these tasks manually. The result? Your business can process more orders in less time, with fewer errors.
By integrating your inventory management system with your shipping software, you can automatically update inventory levels as orders are processed and shipped. This helps you avoid overselling, stockouts, and other inventory-related issues that can slow your business growth.
Easily identify trends and patterns to make informed decisions about carrier selection, packaging, and delivery times. This can help you reduce shipping costs and improve delivery times, which means happier customers.
Shipping errors, such as incorrect shipping labels or missing packages, can quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction. With shipping software, you can eliminate human error by automating many of the processes involved in shipping and fulfillment.
Some shipping software can automatically validate shipping addresses to make sure they are accurate and complete. This will prevent packages from being returned to your warehouse or lost in transit. Additionally, shipping software can provide real-time tracking information, so you can quickly identify and address any issues that arise during the shipping process.
Timely and accurate delivery is critical to maintaining happy customers. With shipping software, you can provide real-time tracking updates, generate branded packing slips and ensure on-time delivery. These features can help improve the customer experience and strengthen your brand reputation.
Finally, shipping software can help you offer more flexible delivery options to your customers. Some software can even integrate with carrier services that offer same-day or next-day delivery. This can help you meet the needs of customers who require fast shipping while also providing a competitive advantage over businesses that don't offer these options.
No two businesses are the same, and what you need from shipping software might be very different to similar businesses in your area. Here’s how to choose shipping software that works for your business process.
If your business is growing, you need shipping software that can handle the increased volume of orders, and orders from multiple systems. On the other hand, if you're a small business, you may not need sophisticated shipping software that can handle large volumes of orders.
It's also important to consider the nature of your products. If you sell bulky or heavy items, you'll need shipping software that can handle the weight and size of your products.
Shipping services vary depending on the carrier and the type of products you sell. Some carriers offer standard shipping, while others offer expedited or overnight shipping. Identify the shipping services required by your business and choose a software provider that supports them.
You also need to consider the carriers you use. Some shipping software only supports specific carriers, while others support multiple carriers. Make sure the software you choose supports the carriers you use or plan to use in the future.
Cost is always a significant factor when choosing software for your business. The cost of shipping software varies depending on the features available. Look for software that aligns with your budget while still offering the features your business needs to succeed.
It's important to note that the cheapest option may not always be the best. You need to consider the long-term benefits of investing in more expensive shipping software that can meet your business's unique needs in the future.
Shipping software is only one of several applications your business will use. Investigate how orders flow from your online ecommerce stores and marketplaces into your accounting, ERP/inventory, and shipping application. Watch out for shipping applications that say you can integrate too easily or ones that avoid talking about integrations.
You should ask and get answers to how product returns and change of address requests are managed. These scenarios surface the important questions of which application is the source of truth for customer addresses and which application you will need to learn and use everyday. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t and you shouldn’t settle for an app that does an okay job when there are apps that do shipping really well. Be sure to ask your software consultant to recommend and comment on each of the shipping applications in light of the other software your business uses or plans to use in the future.
No matter what provider you decide to go with, there are a few key features your new shipping software should have.
One of the most important features to look for in shipping software is integration with your ecommerce platform and your core business software systems like your ERP or inventory/order management software. This integration allows the software to update your orders and inventory in real-time and seamlessly transfer data between your store and the software. This feature will save you time and reduce errors, ensuring that your customers receive their orders promptly.
Some popular ecommerce platforms that shipping software can integrate with include Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, and BigCommerce, but check if your platform is included in the integrations list.
If you sell on multiple platforms, like Amazon or Etsy, you’ll also want to consider if the shipping system can accept orders from those platforms, your inventory management system, or ERP.
When selecting shipping software, ensure that it supports multiple carriers, including the most popular ones: USPS, FedEx, UPS, and DHL.
Accurate real-time shipping rates and tracking information are critical components of any shipping software. This feature ensures that you don't pay too much for shipping and can provide customers with up-to-date tracking data.
Printing shipping labels can be a time-consuming and error-prone process. So, your shipping software should be able print shipping labels easily. This feature can save you time and improve accuracy, ensuring that your packages are labeled correctly – even for different platform labeling requirements – and delivered to the right address.
Reporting and analytics can help you measure the performance of your shipping operations. Look for shipping software that provides you with insights into your shipping costs, volume, and other key metrics. This feature can help you identify areas for improvement, optimize your shipping processes, and make data-driven decisions to improve your shipping operations over time