Unlike so much of our digital day-to-day in 2017, shipping goods to consumers remains a distinctly physical process, one in which things can go wrong in various ways.
We surveyed nearly 200 professionals who perform shipping to find out what methods they use, which tasks are most time-consuming and the most common benefits they see using software.
Most Use Vendor Software to Manage Shipping
We first wanted to find out how our audience handles shipping management—a combined 87 percent utilize some kind of shipping software, with 58 percent of them using a third-party system purchased from a vendor.
A significant majority of users realize the value of shipping management. Simply having a centralized list of incoming orders ensures you never forget to fulfill orders on time.
Online cart abandonment stats show that 61 percent, the top answer, don’t complete the transaction because extra costs, like shipping, are too high. Software can help find the best rates in a pool of multiple carriers, and these savings can be passed down to the customer to encourage more purchases.
The 14 percent who use manual shipping methods may be able to get by if their volume of orders is low, but as companies grow, management will want to automate much of this process so they can focus on growth.
Managing Incoming Orders Is the Biggest Shipping Bottleneck
Any business process has aspects that slow the whole thing down. For 35 percent, the highest percent of shippers, managing incoming orders ranks as the most time-consuming part.
Secondly, 19 percent and 12 percent say creating labels and finding the best rates take a lot of time as well.
Stefanie Rosenfield runs DermWarehouse.com and uses shipping software to print labels and manage all her customer and order data.
“Not only do I get discounted rates on shipping, it’s extremely easy, pulls in all the product and customer information from the backend of my website, and even allows me to save default settings for different products,” she says.
Spreadsheets can be used to store and track order information, but you’ll miss the automation that significantly shortens the time to tag, prioritize and queue each order.
As we’ll see below, shipping systems are designed specifically tackle these common pain points.
Software Helps Companies Automate Batching and Shipping
Luckily for shippers, software vendors know the types of tasks that can truly benefit from automation, and our results show the proof.
Users say that their top two most common benefits from shipping software include:
- Setting up rules that automatically tag and prioritize orders (23 percent).
- Batching orders together so that they can be shipped more quickly and efficiently (27 percent).
Reduced shipping costs—another of the top shipping software benefits (20 percent)—come about because software gives you multiple options to mix and match carriers rather than sticking with one carrier for several orders, so you find the most cost-effective method.
Many shipping software vendors also have partnerships with USPS, FedEx, DHL and more to offer discounted rates, and allows users to compare prices and choose the most effective option.
The final two benefits, syncing accounting data (17 percent) and accurate tracking (14 percent), round out the core experience.
Without software’s ability to integrate with your accounting data, it’s difficult to get a sense of whether your practices are truly saving money. And finally, accurate tracking gives you and your customer transparency into where the package is and when it will reach it’s destination.
Tracking can lead to other benefits:
- Fewer customer calls about order status
- Increased opportunities for more transactions when they check on the status
- Increased brand loyalty
Nation and Statewide Shippers Experience Quicker Batching and Rule Automation
Finally, we looked at how software benefits differ based on the common shipping area for each company.
Across the board, quicker batching is the most common benefit for all types of shipping with 25 to 28 percent. In a close second is easier rule automation at 23 to 24 percent.
These two top benefits makes sense: If you were to automate any two processes in shipping, it would be the task of gathering groups of orders together so they can be shipped at maximum efficiency.
One user, Erika Kerekes, has used shipping software to manage orders for her condiment business, Not Ketchup. She says the system saves her a lot of time by automatically importing customer data.
Software users can set up rules for incoming orders so that they’re automatically assigned to a specific batch of similar orders. For example, you may want orders grouped together based on weight or carrier, or based on whether the customer opted for shipping insurance.
Instead of processing each order individually, shipping software users can apply preferred rules to several orders at once, saving significant time.
“I also have shipping profiles set up for my most common order sizes, so I can designate what kind of box/postage/carrier with one click,” Kerekes says.
“Plus all my customer information is in one place!”
Beyond the top two, we see that:
- Finding cheaper rates is a major benefit for non-global shippers.
- Larger companies who ship a high volume of orders globally are better able to sync their vast accounting data to keep a close eye on shipping costs.
Most of these users (a combined 57 percent) are from four states: California, New York, Texas and Florida.
Where Can I Find More Information About Shipping Software?
If you want to experience the same benefits as our survey audience, you can read our Shipping Software Buyers’ Guide to see the common functionality, considerations for different types of buyers and some key integrations with other systems for enhanced capabilities.
If you’re ready, you can check out our reviews for some of the market’s top shipping systems, or give us a call at (844) 680-2046 for a free phone consultation and get a shortlist of your best options.