4 Shipping Budget Tips for eCommerce

You may have a reasonable understanding of your shipping processes – but to improve your shipping costs, you need to think differently about how you set your shipping budget.

For aspiring eCommerce businesses budgeting for shipping is especially hard. So how do you manage unexpected fluctuations in shipping rates, carrier performance and even customer demand? Real-time challenges that impact performance. Here are 4 tips to consider when setting your shipping budget.

Single vs Multi-Carrier Management
In the majority of cases, using one carrier to ship your orders has become impractical. Whilst you may have negotiated an exclusive rate with a carrier, you have no control over the carrier’s overall performance and limited flexibility to respond to your customers’ demands.

Furthermore, even if you use more than one carrier, managing individual accounts takes a lot of time, and IT resources to maintain—budget for a system that enables you to access multiple carriers in one place. Shipping software like SmartConsign lets you manage your costs by comparing and selecting the best carriers to ship your orders.

Efficient Order Processing
We are all at the mercy of customers need for speed and convenience; paying closer attention to the time it takes to process order data to meet cut-off times is a crucial element of the process that can often get overlooked. Why? Because legacy systems are doing the job but only marginally better than yesterday.

The reality is that there is more advanced shipping software with sophisticated labelling systems that can support your fulfilment needs much faster. Delivering real impact on your bottom line, and they are more affordable than you think.

Shipping budgets should take into consideration all aspects of the process, not just carrier costs. When budgeting, take account of the time it takes to process orders.

“The automatic eBay dispatch is a COMPLETE GAME CHANGER! SmartConsign has freed up 50% of our dispatchers day meaning we are consistently hitting dispatch targets again and again. Plus, so far, we have ZERO address mix-up’s. I’ll say that again ZERO!” Courier UK

Returns Management
More orders equal more returns. Shipping costs can escalate if returns are not included when you’re setting your budgets. 25% (the average return rate for online sales) is a severe hit on the bottom line. Shipping software that includes returns management helps you to stay in control of your shipments and plan ahead.

Failed Deliveries
Alas, not every order makes it to its destination successfully. In many cases, a failed delivery will cost your company extra to make it up to the customer. Accurate address look-up tools are one solution, but a more considered approach is required for events beyond your control, such as bad weather, strikes, or carrier overcapacity. Shipping software with multiple carriers can help spread your risks and is an effective contingency planning tool.

Maximising your Shipping Budget
Shipping costs fluctuate, but with the correct shipping software, you can gain greater visibility of the critical drivers of shipping performance. As a result, you’ll be able to control your shipping costs without wasting your capital. That said, you’ll want to make sure you work with technology from a company you can trust.

SmartConsign has been in operation since 2008, we know what it means to do shipping right. We’re a multi-carrier management system that offers efficient and reliable cloud services regardless of business size. We also know how to scale with your business, and we’re ready to grow right along with your company’s needs.

Ready to get started? Please look around our site to learn more about what we have to offer, or get in touch. We’re more than prepared to help your company succeed!

Reasons you’re missing out on integrating Shipping Software.

Carrier management shipping software forms the backbone of shipping operations for retailers, resellers and shipping services suppliers alike. But with hundreds of shipping software available – the problem is not the lack of available solutions.
In this post, we explore the reasons why logistics professionals are missing out on the power of cloud-based shipping software.

Operating in Silos
Siloed operations enabled by legacy systems remains a challenge across the industry. When processes are siloed, it delivers a disjointed experience for everyone involved in the process.

For example, whilst integrating a single carrier platform works, it becomes increasingly inefficient when multiple carrier services are required. Why? Because each carrier has to be managed and maintained individually with IT in the middle.

When the team is spending the bulk of their time fixing processes. They do not have the bandwidth to focus on delivering the experiences that drive greatest value for the business.” Robin Seymour CEO SmartConsign

This is where multi-carrier shipping software adds value, which is easy to use and integrates seamlessly into current workflows. All individual carrier upgrades and maintenance are taken care of via the API. Businesses get access to all the carriers and rates they need from one interface – without overburdening the IT team.

Cloud Advantage
Another problem shippers face in siloed operations is the lag between gathering information and taking relevant action. Add the size of the organisation, and the problem is magnified.

Ultimately software should help remove unnecessary work and ensure the highest level of productivity with minimal human intervention. Cloud-based shipping software offers additional advantages that help break information silos that are typical of on-premises systems. For example, accessing all your parcel delivery data from a single source of truth helps to minimise disruption and improve efficiencies.

Which shipping software is right for your business?
Shipping software enables the process of getting your parcels from A to B (and back). Choosing a shipping software that is right for your business depends on your operations and strategies. However, cloud tech makes it possible for you to test the right option without exhausting your IT teams.

SmartConsign is a multi-carrier management system that securely integrates all your carriers, eCommerce platform and marketplaces into a single interface. Designed and developed in 2008 by a team of SaaS experts with a deep understanding of the shipping logistics sector. To learn how you can advance your shipping operation get in touch by emailing sales@smartconsign.io

Strategies for scaling a subscription box business

Subscription boxes are proving to be the winning formulae for retailers adapting to a digitally mature audience. It is a rapidly growing market, with UK buyers spending an average of £2 billion on subscription box services every year. In a recent GoodFirms global survey, close to 83% of people have 1-3 subscription boxes.

There are several benefits associated with subscription box retailing. The most attractive ones are recurring revenue and the potential to increase customer spend.

With improved technology and automation, subscription retailing is becoming even more accessible and convenient for consumers to get their desired products. The challenge for retailers is to fulfil their customer promise and scale profitably. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Automate Your Shipping
Unlike general online retailing, subscription customers care less about fast delivery and more about convenience. Customers expect their boxes in the promised delivery window, with as little friction as possible. However, processing thousands of orders can be challenging; CSV file transfer errors and data anomalies are common occurrences. Often manual intervention is required to fix the issues, requiring extra people-hours, which squeezes margins.

Brands like the award-winning Craft Gin Club have responded to this problem by using systems that automate bulk batch processing at scale. Legacy systems can take up to 14 hours to process shipping labels. Whereas, more advanced solutions like SmartConsign RapidX can handle 100K+ consignments in just 1 hour.

Craft Gin Club strategy is efficient and effective. By automating label processing, they save on shipping costs and people-hours and hit cut-off times much later.

Multi-Carrier Approach
In the increasingly crowded UK subscription box market, one way to remain ahead is to make deliveries as seamless as possible. Accessing a wider choice of carriers is an effective strategy.
Multi-carrier management software enables bulk label printing and a host of innovative shipping features. You don’t have to worry about printing individual labels for each carrier; most advanced systems offer universal label printing functionality. Furthermore, with all your carriers in one place, you can compare performance, automate shipping rules, and much more.
A multi-carrier management strategy enables subscription businesses to control their shipping whilst protecting margins. The best solutions do not require the carrier to pay a fee for integration. As a result, the carrier data you access is unbiased, enabling better decision making.

Mitigate Churn
Despite all the attractive benefits of subscription retailing, retaining customers is a crucial pain point many retailers face. The latest data shows that only 1 in ten subscribers are retained beyond 12 months or more. Whether it’s beauty subscription boxes, craft beers, or coffee box; ensuring the delivery of a positive end-to-end customer experience is vital to success.

As observed across multiple eCommerce industries. Giving customers the ability to control their transactions such as cancellations, purchasing add-ons or even shipping is crucial.
These are all touch-points that equate to a satisfactory customer experience. Why? Because today’s customers with a smartphone in hand expect to access information about their orders instantly.

Automating your shipping process using carrier management software allows you access to rich data about your shipment. Helping to reduce WISMO’s whilst ensuring your customer service teams have the necessary data to support your customers proactively.

You may not ultimately reduce customer churn. But you can mitigate the risk by paying attention to the delivery experience and perhaps even earn valuable positive reviews.

Take your subscription business to new levels with SmartConsign.
With the retail subscription market continuing to grow there is plenty more room for new entrants. One way to remain ahead of the curve is to make the shipping process an integral part of your operation.

SmartConsign RapidX was designed in collaboration with BirchBox UK and offers the fastest bulk batch processing solution in the market. To talk to our shipping automation experts, email sales@smartconsign.io.

Retailers last-mile delivery pain-points

How do you take advantage of the growing eCommerce market when you have limited visibility of the final leg of your shipping process and your tech stack is below par? These are just some of several last-mile delivery pain points that are hurting retailer’s profitability today. This article examines the critical blockers and suggests how retailers can address the issues immediately.

Real-Time Visibility

With multiple touch-points in the process. Real-time visibility has become a key differentiator in the battle to overcome last-mile delivery challenges. Data blind spots impede decision making and are the single most frustrating aspect of the process.

Accessing all your carriers from a single system is the most effective way to unlock blind spots in the last leg of the parcel’s journey. Retailers can take control and make better decisions by integrating all their carriers into a multi-carrier management system.

“Spotting issues before the customer is aware can help elevate your delivery promise. However, this relies on getting access to real-time data”, cites Robin Seymour, SmartConsign CEO.

Post-purchase expectations

Collaboration and communication are further critical challenges for retailers. Failure to anticipate and respond fast when issues arise can add costs to the business. Retailers can empower their customer service teams by giving them access to customer data from one place.

“All too often we see customer service teams having to run multiple applications (both internal OMS and external parcel carrier tracking portals) in order to be able to respond to incoming WISMO calls and messages from disappointed customers” observes Robin Seymour

A system that enables multiple carrier management can help retailers align customers’ delivery expectations with their carrier’s performance.

Legacy Technology

Few retailers can handle growing parcel volumes by using just one carrier. However, adapting a multi-carrier strategy poses some unique challenges. Technology is the solution; however, large enterprises are often plagued with legacy tech that is costly to maintain and upgrade. In comparison, smaller rivals are held back by manual operations.

Shipping Automation

Automation is vital, especially for smaller retailers. Switching from manual processes to a multi-carrier management system allows retailers to scale efficiently. A single dashboard delivers all the functionality, data and services necessary to boost last-mile delivery performance.

Shipping Integration

As for larger retailers and shipping logistics services pained by legacy tech. Integration with an advanced multi-carrier delivery management system is the best solution. By integrating with such platforms, retailers and logistics services can use the systems tech stack without compromising their resources.

Boost Last-Mile Performance

If your package delivery operation relies on more than one carrier get in touch. A multi-carrier management platform is a route to lowering costs, improving visibility and ultimately driving positive customer experiences. 

Shipping Tips for eBay Sellers

Did you know that there are 200,000 professional eBay sellers registered in the United Kingdom? With such fierce competition, you’ll need more than great products to level up your eBay operations. As a seller, you’ll no doubt always be on the lookout for tips to improve your profit margins. 

As you know, eBay selling and shipping are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, it stands to reason that one of the most significant areas for improvement is with your eBay shipping techniques. So, how can you improve your shipping?  

This article discusses a few ways you can improve your business with some practical eBay shipping tips. 

Adopt a More Flexible Approach to Shipping

In the past, companies would negotiate an exclusive contract with a primary carrier like FedEx or UPS. The carrier would then handle all of the parcel shipping to their customers. 

This may have provided several advantages, including predictable costs, which made forecasting easier. If you are using a similar model today for your eBay shipping, have you considered this process’s overall efficiency? 

A single carrier strategy in today’s booming eCommerce environment is a risky approach and could leave you with unfulfilled orders. A single-carrier option for your eBay business limits the chances of your finding a better shipping solution. 

Shipping costs, carrier performance, delivery availability are all crucial data points. Getting access to this data in real-time is a vital part of the consumer-led parcel shipping process. 

Expand Your Carrier Mix 

By expanding your carrier mix, you’ll be able to meet the demands of a growing market better than ever. You’ll also find it easier to scale up your shipping when it comes to peak seasons such as Christmas. 

The more carriers you can leverage, the better you’ll be able to meet demand. That also means mitigating disruptions in the supply chain. What’s more, when automating your parcel delivery, make sure the system is independent of the carriers. 

SmartConsign does not charge a fee for carriers to integrate into their system. All the information about performance and pricing available on the system are unbiased.

Helping eBay Sellers Maximize Their Potential

SmartConsign is fully integrated with eBay and helps power sellers make the best of their potential. By leveraging a more comprehensive range of carriers, you’ll be able to save money and offer more excellent choices for your customers. 

To learn more about the services we offer, get in touch today.

Three signs you need to upgrade your shipping processes

Shipping API’s are, in 2021, more accessible to a broader range of retailers and carriers. However, many remain faithful to manual systems and processes. Whilst those considering automation are concerned about the perceived risk of making the switch towards full automation.

But what is a Shipping API? And how do you know you need one.

At the core of a Shipping API is the capability to integrate all shipping functionality in one place. The API is the bridge that connects businesses with shippers and customer’s: a process that requires inbound and outbound logistics management in equal measures. This article highlights the three signs that might indicate it is time to level up your shipping processes.

  1. Batch Syncing

Frequently missing cut-off times can take its toll on the bottom-line. Some of the most common challenges businesses face are typically related to real-time syncing of orders and efficient data processing.

In most cases, orders that require fulfilment within a shorter delivery window are impeded by manual processes such as CSV file transfers.  These files rely on dropping off and picking up data on servers, which takes time and cannot be synced instantly to process orders. Furthermore, anomalies in batch files have to be fixed manually, and with large amounts of data to review, these actions carry an additional risk of human error. 

Shipping API’s allow for instant syncing of orders for batch processing, they are more reliable, more secure and faster. The most advanced, like SmartConsign, accurately identify and filter anomalies in the data for immediate correction.

  1. Shipment Tracking

Escalating customer service queries relating to shipping is another sign of inefficiencies in order fulfilment.

Customers expect to know where their packages are instantly and limited visibility of shipment status frustrates the process. Sophisticated eCommerce and logistics businesses understand the value of live package tracking post-purchase. They keep customers connected whilst using the data to anticipate and address delivery issues in real-time.

A Shipment API allows you access to live parcel tracking as well as an entire suite of carrier management functions. Which include bulk batch processing, label production, access to unbiased carrier rates, returns management and more.

  1. Address Validation

Consistently failing delivery times disrupt the business and negatively impacts the customer experience with customers generally placing the blame for delays squarely on the retailer, not the carrier.

Poor address validation is one of the main undetected causes. Issues like invalid addresses result in address surcharges which reflects poorly on the shipper.

Customers expect to receive their package the first time, and an accurate address look-up enables this process.

Shipping API’s are integrated with the PAF database, ensuring accurate address look-up, thereby mitigating the risk of delivery failures. What’s more, the most advanced systems like SmartConsign are fully updated with BREXIT guidelines.  

Of course, many other signs could indicate a need to level up your current shipping processes. These three signs are the most common reasons cited by shippers and retailers to date.

SmartConsign is the fastest carrier management system in the market; it’s fully integrated with all carriers and top marketplaces. Instead of integrating individual carriers, the Shipping API only needs to be integrated once to access all the carriers. Once integrated, it’s easier to access carrier rates and compare and track performance in real-time. Furthermore, the system offers an advanced support ticket management system that allows users to resolve issues quickly.

To learn more about how to simplify your shipping processes, including tracking and fulfilling orders, book a demo.

Wardrobing Plus Other Indisputable Facts About Returns Management

Wardrobing is an intriguing phenomenon disrupting the eCommerce industry in unexpected ways. Wear it and return it – is the simplest way to describe what wardrobing means adding to the ever-increasing challenges of returns management.

No wonder returns management is often cited as the poor relation of the eCommerce economy – but it doesn’t have to be this way. And with UK online returns estimated to reach £5.6bn by 2023 – it’s time to pay attention and take action. 

Wardrobing and other facts

Here are some bite-size facts to help you take control of the process and focus on what matters.

  1. Brand Reputation
    15% of customers who give a retailer a one-star TrustPilot review do so due to a negative returns process experience.
  2. Margin Erosion
    Manufacturers spend up to 15% of their total revenue on returns management.
  3. Revenue Loss
    Research estimate that 52% of items returned are not fit for reselling at full price.
  4. Serial Returners
    30% of shoppers deliberately over-order with the intent to return; digital natives are the worst offenders (48%).
  5. Free Returns
    Shoppers expect free returns as standard, 18% cite this as a critical factor for choosing a retailer.
  6. Operational Inefficiencies
    57% of retailers cite returns as hurting their daily operations.
  7. Returns Policies
    68% of shoppers review a retailer’s returns policy before making a purchase.
  8. Self Service
    79% of shoppers who have shipped a return went online to process the return and print a label.
  9. Sustainability
    Returned products contribute close to 4 billion pounds of waste annually in the US. Not to mention the carbon footprint of items that are fit for reselling, as they move through a system of intermediaries and reselling networks.
  10. Wardrobing
    20% of UK shoppers admit to buying items to wear once and return.

These indisputable facts reveal the consequence of retailer’s success in making the shipping process more convenient and affordable for shoppers. However, this approach is not sustainable without access to the right tools and resources. 

Creating the right returns management strategy

Pivoting from a linear shipping process to a circular strategy is dependent on many factors.  So, whilst you figure out the next steps, the most crucial action you can take right now is to integrate returns management within your entire shipping progress.

Multi-carrier management systems like SmartConsign support both outbound and inbound logistics from a single platform. The system is cloud-based, easy to install and requires no training. It’s the natural next step for ambitious eCommerce businesses of every size.








How to level up your post-purchase CX strategy.

We are all familiar with the impact of parcel delivery failings: increased customer calls or worst still, negative reviews. So, how can you keep customers happy whilst keeping costs low?

It starts with having complete clarity and control of your shipping processes. Why? Because when you’re a high performing business, the effects of an inefficient shipping service are more noticeable. 

To help you improve your services, here’s a guide for why efficient parcel delivery holds the key to customer satisfaction.

People Remember First and Last

It’s well-known that the first and last impressions are the ones customers remember the most. Products that arrive on time and in good condition help create powerful first impressions enhancing the overall unboxing moment. 

A well optimised post-purchase process helps to ensure the delivery of a positive customer experience from the cart to the front door” cites Robin Seymour.

Advanced parcel delivery systems help managers to navigate the complexities in the logistics supply chain effortlessly. These systems enable you to identify weaknesses in your process, as well as optimise your strengths.

A system like SmartConsign, for example, provides real-time data on the performance of carriers. The application allows you to act if performance is below standard or better still exceeding expectations. Not paying attention to the post-purchase experience impacts customer satisfaction and ultimately devalues your brand.

Make Shipping Your USP

More so than ever in today’s health-conscious climate, shipping has never been more critical. Lockdown restrictions across the globe, coupled with Brexit, mean that more and more individuals find limitations an inconvenience.

Central to the issue is the growing importance of shipping to customer satisfaction.  Take extra time and pay extra attention, ensuring that your parcels are delivered quickly, smoothly, and well-packaged. Actions that will instantly leave a positive impression that will keep your customers coming back.

Time to Manage Your Parcel Delivery Systems

A happy customer is a returning customer, and trust is an essential element. Without earning your trust, a customer’s first impression of your brand may well be their last. Ensuring you have the right systems, such as parcel delivery software to power your logistics supply chain can help.

You’ve seen how vital efficient parcel delivery is for maximising customer satisfaction, so check out our parcel delivery system today. Make sure your customers are satisfied!


The Importance of Live Parcel Delivery Tracking in Your Customer Service Strategy

By the end of this year, retail analyst predicts that online shopping will represent a 3rd of total retail spend in the UK. An evitable outcome accelerated 4+ years by the pandemic. Of course, this growth is exciting; however, it can add pressure on other parts of the business.

From the complexity of shipping the products to managing customer expectations, the pressure on customer services is more significant than it has ever been.

Thankfully there are several digital solutions designed to help improve retailers customer service output; however, these plus traditional call centre methods are only as good as the data that supports them. In this article, we’ve prepared five clear reasons why parcel delivery tracking should form part of retailers customer service strategy. These benefits go beyond convenience. They’re necessary to avoid building a reputation as an unreliable business.

  1. Peace-of-Mind

Few things are more frustrating to customers than parcels that don’t arrive on time. With the situation worsened when no one seems to know the location of the package. If the item ever does come, you may have already lost the customer.

And yet, that’s only the worst-case scenario. Even before the package is due, customers still like to know where the parcel is, if it’s left the depot, or if there are any delays. Live tracking information not only keeps the customer informed, but it also helps to limit contact with the customer service team – allowing them to focus on more pressing service issues.

  1. Fewer Complaints

Parcel tracking and notification will not eradicate complaints, but it can help reduce the volume of complaints. By accessing live data, the customer service team can determine the problem and proactively support the customer, which can help minimise frustrations. Modern multi-carrier management systems like SmartConsign offer a range of customer-focused features like order and tracking history across couriers, search functionality and much more.

  1. Save Time and Money

Of course, fewer complaints save time and money. In addition to customer-facing features and benefits, SmartConsign offers an advanced support ticket management system that allows users to quickly and efficiently resolve issues such as lost or damaged shipments.

  1. Enhance Brand Reputation

A satisfactory customer experience helps to enhance brand reputation; the more positive experiences delivered, the more likely the chance of winning repeat purchase. Meeting customer expectations by providing live tracking information during the post-purchase experience can do wonders for retailers brand reputation. It helps drive positive net promoter score, which in turn can help to motivate the customer service team.

  1. Turn Complaints Into Compliments

Lastly, we give you the best benefit of all. Parcel delivery tracking can turn your least satisfied customers into your most satisfied customers!

Having the ability to identify the location of a delayed or missing package immediately can help to solve customer issues quickly. It’s well known that when you address your customers’ complaints, they tend to be more loyal to your business than they were before.


They’re now aware that if they ever have a problem with you, they can trust you to solve it. Just like that, parcel delivery tracking builds you a good reputation instead of a bad one. Below image is a customised page from SmartConsign carrier management system that helps you protect your brand integrity.

Parcel Notification example

Even better, parcel tracking can solve so many of these scenarios before they happen. That is, customers checking on the status of their deliveries will call to warn you that a package is headed for the wrong address before it’s delivered.

Parcel Delivery Tracking Is Essential to Your Customer Service Strategy

Do you offer live parcel delivery tracking? If not, you now know what you’re missing.

Get all these benefits and more with SmartConsign all-inclusive live parcel tracking system. Contact us here to get started.


What you need to know about parcel delivery companies

Choosing a carrier to ship your parcels is one thing, making sure you consistently get access to the best rates and performance is another. However, when prices are more or less the same, what else matters? If you are using more than one carrier to ship your parcel’s read on.

FedEX, UPS & DHL – Global Giants

With a combined 100+ years in the sector: FedEx, UPS, and DHL take the lion share of the addressable carrier market.

FedEx was the early pioneers of overnight shipping, tracking systems, and real-time location data. With the strongest air fleet in the sector, they offer extensive coverage to over 200 countries.

Whereas UPS is noted for its ground fleet and is renowned for championing alternative-powered vehicles. They also service over 200 countries but are notably strongest on the ground.

However, if you are passionate about the environment and wish to work with a carrier who mirrors your values, then DHL stands apart from its peers as one of the most progressive carriers in terms of carbon footprint management.

Yodel, Hermes, Royal Mail – UK Giants

Some of the largest UK couriers are Yodel, Hermes, and Royal Mail they deliver to every postcode across the UK.

Yodel has over 50 sites nationwide, they offer an award-winning customer feedback programme the first of its kind in the sector, and continue to grow (its portfolio also includes CollectPlus a leading click and collect courier).

For depth of experience, the most mature of the three; Royal Mail has been delivering parcels for more than 500 years and has 37 mail centres nationwide.

With 10,000 couriers, over 4,000 ParcelShops, plus hubs and depots nationwide: Hermes is the UK’s largest dedicated parcel delivery brand. The courier works with 80% of the nation’s largest brands and like its peers, Hermes has been at the forefront of the eCommerce revolution.

Choice Matters

But size is not everything, depending on your requirements there are plenty more carriers and courier services available to businesses of every size.

SmartConsign is a leading multi-carrier management system, supporting all carriers and couriers in the UK for local, national, and international delivery. These carriers are not charged a fee to be integrated on the SmartConsign platform, which means that all the performance and rates information delivered are unbiased.

Parcel carriers and couriers on the SmartConsign platform

APC Overnight, Ascendia, CitySprint, Collect+, DHL, DPD, DX, FedEx Express, Hermes, Nightline, Parcel Force, Rico, Royal Mail, TNT, Tuffnells, UKMail, UPS, Whistl, WNDirect, XDP, Yodel and more.

With this cloud-based multi-carrier management system, you get all the critical shipping information in one place. What’s more, with features such as fast consignment production, accurate address lookup, and real-time tracking: you can easily automate manual processes saving time to focus on growing your business. This is what one client had to say about the system.

“Labels are looking good. I followed along as they were being generated and I have to say the speed is very impressive”

If you are sending over 100 parcels per week, find out how SmartConsign can help improve your parcel delivery service.