2022 Shipping Challenges: 3 Common Problems Shippers Face Today

No matter the growth rate of the shipping sector, the immediate challenges of inflationary pressures are hard to ignore. And while it’s clear that the pandemic and war in Ukraine have profoundly affected the global supply chain, the shipping industry continues to face a multitude of challenges not related to these events. 

This article discusses the three most significant shipping challenges facing eCommerce businesses everywhere and how to overcome them.

1. Rising Shipping Costs

Of course, all customers want low shipping costs. But, the shipping cost continues to rise for big and small businesses. So, instead of passing these costs on to the customers, they subtract them from their total profits. Big companies can afford to do this, but this is not sustainable for smaller enterprises.

Fortunately, there are some strategies businesses can implement to lower shipping costs. They include:

· Bulk shipping

· Consolidating shipping

· Comparing costs between carriers 

· Negotiating and asking about discounts

· Packing items in smaller boxes 

· Pre-paying

· Using carrier-provider packaging

Most importantly, businesses can factor shipping fees into product pricing. If more companies implement this practice, customers will understand their need to contribute to rising shipping costs.

2. Returns

Returns for any business are inevitable. Although companies can take steps to limit returns, they will never eliminate all customers who are dissatisfied with their purchases. Yet, if businesses track returns, they can manage them more effectively in the future. 

First, your business needs to have a clear return policy.

Unfortunately, many new companies forget to create a channel for customers to send back defective items or items with damage to the packages.

A well-communicated return policy alone can reduce returns. Some other tips for managing returns include:

· Collect reasons for returns 

· Inspect items upon return

· Implement a restocking system

· Refund customers properly and promptly

· Integrate multi-carrier management systems with built-in returns management

You’ll see your e-commerce business growth soar faster by following these tips and lessening the number of returns.

3. Customs

For businesses shipping internationally, customs is another problem. Each country has rules and regulations for goods entering and exiting the country. Likewise, items in transit also have rules to follow.

Shipping internationally isn’t going to get easier soon as more companies expand their operations overseas and ship globally. Thus, it’s vital to have a shipping partner who understands the necessary international shipping forms. This includes:

· Bill of Landing (BOL)

· Certificate of Origin 

· Commercial Invoice

· Duties Declarations

· Packing List

· Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI)

When all the documentation is in order, your business works toward preventing lost shipments and tracking packages and deliveries more easily.

Beat These Shipping Challenges With SmartConsign

Businesses’ three most pressing shipping challenges are rising shipping costs, customer returns, and customs regulations. However, there are many more not discussed here.

If you’re ready to overcome your shipping woes, contact us at SmartConsign. Our software is proven to support the delivery of parcels faster at a lower cost. So why not learn about our shipping integrations?

Simply request a free demo from one of our team members. 

Courier Spotlight: YODEL

Each year billions of items are purchased online via marketplaces, eCommerce and social platforms, serviced by a growing list of courier service providers.

But not all couriers are created equal and with rapid change in the market, keeping up with individual courier developments is not easy. In this article, we spotlight Yodel, a UK courier pioneering full integration of their services via Shipping API.

Courier Providers UK Market Share 2022 – Source: Statista 2022

Who is Yodel Parcel Deliveries?

Yodel is an independent courier service with over ten years of experience in B2B and B2C deliveries. It’s one of the UK’s most well-known courier brands, delivering 190m parcels yearly.

Yodel transports parcels via three delivery networks:

  • Local delivery operations to towns and regional areas
  • Door-to-door (D2D) collection of goods
  • Petrol station delivery and pick-up services

With CollectPlus, parcels can be collected or distributed by Yodel at local petrol stations and various parcel points operating within partnering stores.

Who Are Yodel’s Customers?

Yodel’s primary customers are small to medium-sized businesses, including those operating online through e-commerce stores. However, they aren’t limited in their distribution services to retailers only. Yodel’s customer base also extends to online marketplace buyers and sellers, for example, users of Amazon or eBay.

What’s more, Yodel have a significant presence in the ‘subscription box’ sector delivering items such as pet food, flowers, wine and meal boxes.

How SmartConsign API Works

SmartConsign is a multi-carrier management system that offers an all-in-one platform for managing shipments.

With SmartConsign, parcel delivery is made easy. Here’s how it works:

  • Connect your carrier services with your e-commerce site
  • Select your shipments
  • Create, print, and attach your shipping label
  • Track your parcel from the moment it’s sent until it reaches the buyer

SmartConsign and Yodel: One Perfect Solution

The simplicity and ease of using SmartConsign shipping API are a perfect fit with Yodel’s services. To date, they are the only courier to fully offer all its services via SmartConsign, helping to make life easier for its customers. One perfect platform enabling complete control of all aspects of the parcel delivery process.

As well as Yodel, here are some of the top couriers SmartConsign provides solutions for:

  • DPD
  • FedEx Express
  • Amazon shipping
  • DHL
  • Hermes

You can use the software if you have an e-commerce store set up with one of many different platforms. These include:

  • Shopify
  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • WooCommerce
  • Veeqo
  • Linnworks

Integrate the two and begin running your business more efficiently while enjoying a smoother parcel delivery process.

SmartConsign Features

The software allows you to benefit from a variety of features. Want to know what some of the best features are? With SmartConsign, you can:

  • Create your labels in less than 30 seconds
  • Send your parcel using the same-day booking feature
  • Bulk dispatch your orders in large batches as and when required
  • Choose from multiple shipping options, including pre-paid delivery
  • Access couriers not provided by your marketplace or eCommerce platform
  • Unbiased access to carrier performance

SmartConsign has a solution for most businesses, whether you are fulfilling 200 to 100K+ orders per month, using a wide selection of carriers, and integrating with some of the UK’s most popular eCommerce platforms.

Sign Up to Improve Your Delivery Service Today

If you are an existing Yodel customer or just starting, sign-up to SmartConsign and make significant savings in costs and time.

Talk to us to find out more! We’ll be happy to tell you how we can give you better control of your deliveries and smoothen your end-to-end shipping right away.

What sets eCommerce platforms and Marketplaces apart?

The eCommerce ecosystem offers many selling channels, but can you tell the difference between eCommerce platforms and marketplaces? Both tracks are crucial to sales success, and understanding the differences, might help ensure you scale your business the right way. Read on to learn more.

What Is an eCommerce Platform?

eCommerce platforms are SaaS solutions that enable businesses to set up their website (or store) for selling and order fulfilment management. They allow access to multiple selling channels, including marketplaces.

Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, Linnworks, Veeqo to name a few, are some of the markets leading eCommerce platforms. You only need to create one product or advert, and the platform will publish it to each marketplace and website. And as the item is sold, it synchronises available stock, so you don’t oversell.

Maximum Efficiency and Control

Efficiency and control are attractive benefits of eCommerce platforms, but they also come with an abundance of tools that can help synchronise many aspects of sales, marketing and distribution functions. These tools include integrations like SmartConsign, an advanced shipping API that help to smooth the parcel delivery process.

SmartConsign integrations consist of market-leading eCommerce platforms with large user bases:  Linnworks, Veeqo, Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento and more. Visit our website to view all.

What Is a Marketplace?

A marketplace allows businesses to list and sell their products to customers directly. There are several eCommerce marketplaces; Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are some of the largest global platforms that sell all products. Other marketplaces specialise in one product category or may sell products with similar characteristics.

These marketplaces allow businesses to win a share of wallets from many potential customers. It is a quick way to sell your products without investing in building brand awareness. The platform’s algorithms help the customer discover your product. Minimal effort is required, provided you invest time in optimising your listings for search.

Expand Your Reach

Amazon is the largest marketplace (85m visitors per month) and has surpassed Google as the number one destination for product searches. Whilst, eBay retains its popularity as a marketplace for unique or hard-to-find products and is suitable for testing international markets.

SmartConsign Shipping API integrates with both Amazon and eBay, allowing merchants to control and manage their shipping processes, helping them save money.

eCommerce vs Marketplace Platforms: An Overview

eCommerce platforms connect and help businesses control multiple marketplaces and websites (online stores). Whereas marketplaces (i.e. Amazon and eBay) are single online stores that allow companies to list their products on their platforms to reach a ready-made audience of prospects.

Now that you know the difference between an eCommerce platform and a marketplace, why restrict your choices to one shop (marketplace) when you can scale your business across multiple channels (eCommerce platform) with the same effort.

Multi-Carrier Management

Furthermore, don’t miss out on the opportunity to truly scale your business by ensuring you have access to all carriers, even the ones not provided by the marketplace or platform.

Here is how you can benefit from SmartConsign integration by using either of these platforms:

  1. Access a library of carriers and related services that are not accessible directly via a marketplace or eCommerce platform
  2. Granular control of shipments (certain shipment features may not be available via either of these platforms)
  3. Centralised data source (all carrier tracking data consolidated in one place)

SmartConsign is a multi-carrier management system powering carriers, retailers, resellers and partners. Our system securely integrates your carriers, eCommerce platforms and marketplaces into a single platform, allowing you to manage and control your parcel deliveries across multiple carriers easily.

You can read more from our blog or email sales@smartconsign.io for a quick demo.

How to Organise Shipping for a UK Subscription Box Service

UK subscription box services have been around for a while, but they only really started gaining traction in recent years. With brands like Dollar Shave Club, Craft Gin Club and BirchBox leading the way, now anyone can get started in this exciting industry.

If you have a great idea for a UK subscription box business, you might be wondering how best to organise the shipping process.

The good news is that modern technology makes it easy with online software that does much of the work for you. But there’s still a lot to consider before you start promoting your subscription box options.

Keep reading for everything you need to know.

Get the Right Software

At one time, organising orders and deliveries meant relying on extensive paper files and bewildering physical spreadsheets. Thanks to automation and the internet, however, many of your business’s processes can now be done online.

To start your subscription service, you’ll need a platform that can keep track of customer information, shipping carriers, and orders. But this is just scratching the surface. The more services you can get bundled in one program, the better.

SmartConsign’s delivery management services make organising lots of orders and deliveries simple with label printing, bulk batch processing, and more.

SmartConsign RapidX Batch Processing Screen

Choose the Best Carriers

When you’re sending physical goods to customers, providing the right shipping options is key.

Your customers may prefer to have the Royal Mail service deliver their orders, or they might prefer international carriers like UPS or DHL. Most of the time, they’ll want the most affordable shipping method possible. So having options is key.

SmartConsign works with just about every major carrier in the UK and offers prepaid shipping options. You can even access key shipping features through its mobile app.

Get the Right Packaging

When it comes to selling subscription boxes, you don’t want the box itself to be an afterthought. From choosing the right size to finding a shape that will hold your items secure, packaging is a critical part of your business.

You especially don’t want to send boxes that are too large, or you’ll waste money on packing materials and shipping fees. Shop around and experiment to find the ideal type of packaging for your products.

Engineer the Best Presentation

One of the most important moments for your customer is when they open your subscription box for the first time.

Make sure the moment isn’t spoiled for them by packing items securely and setting up each parcel for a great first impression.

Start Your UK Subscription Box Business With SmartConsign

And there you have it: everything you need to know about organising shipping for your very own subscription box brand.

Managing deliveries is probably the single most complicated part of running a subscription box business. Fortunately, with a platform like SmartConsign, it doesn’t have to be.

Request a demo to see how our software can simplify your subscription box service options.

Sustainable Parcel Delivery: Quick Tips for Ecommerce

In a study by the World Economic Forum, over 50% of online shoppers cite concerns about the environmental impact of eCommerce. What’s more 38% are willing to help address the problem by paying more for low emission deliveries. Sustainable parcel delivery is fast catching consumer’s attention. But how do eCommerce businesses tap into this growing sentiment without the risk of losing their customers to competitors?

Adding a premium on parcel deliveries sounds excellent in practice, but few customers have the willpower to resist free delivery offers.

Read on to learn how eCommerce stores can tackle sustainability within their parcel delivery process without compromising business performance.

Delivery Tech

With the same-day delivery services market projected to grow by over 20% each year. Even the largest shippers have lost the power to slow down the demand for faster delivery.

Delivery technology like SmartConsign are designed to address the challenges of shrinking delivery times. From aiding order processing to multi-carrier management – these systems are essential to modern eCommerce shipping management.

They can also help businesses tackle sustainability by providing rich data to inform decisions throughout every stage of the parcel’s journey. For example, DHL, one of several carriers integrated on the SmartConsign platform, offers a ‘Green Plan. The solution calculates the most efficient route using delivery patterns and travel times.

The trick is having access to these carrier solutions from a single touch-point. Parcel delivery software enables this process effortlessly. Shippers load all their carriers onto the system, set rules and automatically process labels without accessing individual accounts. 

SmartConsign Multi-Carrier Management Dashboard

For unbiased shipping rates, sign up for a carrier-agnostic solution. Carriers on these systems do not pay a fee, so their rates are neutral. Overall helping to take eCommerce and suppliers within the order processing journey a step further in realising sustainable parcel delivery goals.

Use Packages That Are the Right Size

A lot of waste comes from using excessive packages to ship products. Amazon is often exposed for its packaging failures and in most part, they can withstand the criticism. But for most eCommerce businesses that level of consumer ridicule can cause serious damage to the brand’s reputation.‘Egregious Packaging‘ is a Reddit thread populated with consumers’ packaging fails.

Source: Reddit

Paying attention to packaging choices and using fewer plastics can help businesses reduce their environmental impact. As well as minimising waste, lighter delivery vehicles can be used and thereby help reduce carbon emissions. 

Bonus Shipping Packaging Tips

  • Using the same packaging twice helps reduce waste and is often more convenient for the consumer. Double-sealed mailers or zip-locked bags are hassle-free solutions, especially when the product needs to be returned.
  • Replace the plastic with paper-based packaging, which is recyclable and cost-effective. In the Paper and Packaging board study, 63% of people surveyed perceive a brand that uses paper packaging to be higher quality. When choosing paper-packaging solutions look for FSC-certified packaging products. 
  • Consider using biodegradable materials made from corn starch and sugarcane for single-use packaging.
  • Explore alternative protective packaging solutions such as those made from mushroom fibre. They are more sustainable than styrofoam.

Apply the Most Effective Tips for Sustainability Shipping

We hope we have piqued your interest in how your parcel deliveries can become more sustainable. As consumer sentiments towards sustainability continue to evolve making small changes now can make a world of difference.

To learn more about new shipping trends and sustainable practices, feel free to reach out and talk to our shipping experts. Email: sales@smartconsign.io

How to Choose the Best Shipping Logistics Software

The global logistics industry is predicted to be worth $15.5 bn by 2023. With so much stock moving between retailers and customers, you need to be sure your shipping is working well.

Choosing the right software is one way to help manage shipping costs and your logistics. But with different options available, how do you choose the right software for your business?

Read on to learn what questions to ask when choosing shipping logistics software.

Does the Software Do the Basics Well?

At its most basic, logistics software needs to improve your productivity and efficiency. It’s designed to save money and keep your customers satisfied.

It’ll perform plenty of functions, such as warehouse functions like picking, and even transportation.

So ask yourself these questions when you’re looking at software.

Don’t be afraid to look at a package of solutions, rather than a single model you use for every client.

Can It Provide Analytics of Data?

More data passing through electronic systems give better opportunities to analyse such information. Having software that uses analytic tools gives you better insights through regular reports.

It’s all part of the ‘Big Data’ revolution. 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last two years.

Your software can harness the power of Big Data to help you grow your business. The software can spot patterns faster than human operators. So your reports might start providing solutions to problems instead of just highlighting the issue.

These recommendations can help your business make better, and faster, decisions about the entire business process.

Does It Offer Integration?

You can choose between plenty of stand-alone software solutions. But because of the moving parts involved with shipping logistics, you may need more.

You’ll need either one suite that covers all functions. Or you’ll need a series of stand-alone solutions that integrate. Alternatively, you’ll need your solution to integrate with those of your partners.

The software needs to extract data from the process in order to make decisions. Maybe it needs to change the warehouse dispatches to keep stock levels up. Or it might slow down to build stock levels / speed up to reduce stock?

Will This Software Address Pain Points?

Introducing new software can introduce its own problems. You don’t want to cause issues if it’s not necessary.

So you need to be sure that you know exactly what problems the software is going to solve. By evaluating where your current pain points are, you’ll be better able to choose the right solution for you.

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to ship, you need software that excels at that. But if stock management is more of an issue, that’s where your new software needs to place its focus.

Now You Can Choose the Best Shipping Logistics Software

The world of shipping logistics doesn’t need to produce headaches. By evaluating exactly what problems you need to solve, you can find the right software for you.

If you’re looking for a partner to help solve your shipping problems, then why not get in touch? We can discuss how to get you moving today.

SmartConsign Demo Request

How to Manage Serial Returners for Ecommerce Businesses

Running an eCommerce business means every day is different. One could be dedicated solely to packing and shipping items, the next to updating your site with new products. All part and parcel of being an online retailer.

But there are certain aspects of the job that throw even the most seasoned sellers for a loop. The challenge of serial returners and how to handle them, for example.

You want to serve your customers as best as you can. But after a certain point, there’s no denying that something needs to be done. According to KPMG analysts, returns cost retailers close to £7bn a year. 

So, how can you go about preventing recurring returns while maintaining good customer relationships and doing the best for your business? Read on to find out.

What Are Serial Returners?

As an e-commerce business owner, you’re well versed in the process of delivery and returns. But what is a serial returner and how can you spot one? A serial returner is not a customer who returns only one or two items during the holiday season or after their birthday.

A serial returner is a customer who makes a habit of regularly and repeatedly returning items they have purchased or someone else has purchased on their behalf. This can be someone who is bad at controlling their spending habits and later regrets many of their purchases. But it could also be a customer who has some sort of bad intentions.

Because of this, a serial returner can be a thorny issue to handle. That said, returns are a costly thing for sellers to deal with. They represent trillions of dollars worth of losses for retailers each year.

How to Lessen the Burden of Returns

There are a few different tacks you can take when it comes to dealing with serial returners and returns in general. Amazon chose to ban all serial returners. This is a risky tactic, and for smaller retailers should only be used as a last resort.

Before getting to that stage, try these tips to prevent returns instead. First, try providing more accurate information about your products in your online product descriptions. If you sell clothing, improve your sizing charts.

You can also refine and clarify your returns policy. Make the product return time window shorter and make sure your policy is prominently displayed and explained on your site.

You can also improve your shipping process to ensure that your items always arrive on time and at the correct location. This, in turn, will decrease the chances of an item arriving late for a specific date or no longer being wanted when it does arrive. This is an easy and effective way to help reduce returns while keeping your customers happy.

Make Shipping and Returns a Breeze With SmartConsign

Serial returners are a problem, but not one that can’t be solved. If you’re tired of losing money to avoidable returns, SmartConsign can help. Request a demo today to see how you can level up your business with our smart shipping logistics support system.

Post Peak Product Returns: Looking at the Bigger Picture

When the potential for sales is highest, the last thing you want to think about is product returns. However, ignoring the bigger picture and inadequate planning for product returns will cost you. 

To learn more about how to manage returns like a pro, keep reading below!

Peak Season Comes and Goes But Returns Are Year-Round

For managers, the purpose of a sale and the hype of peak season comes from turning over a high volume of products. Understandably, few managers want to think about returns after the sales.

However, returns are an inevitable part of the eCommerce economy. According to research, close to 70% of online shoppers take note of a brand’s return policy before they buy. Furthermore, with 1 in 4 customers likely to discover your brand for the first time during peak season – creating that first impression is vital.

Delivering a positive return delivery experience can help lock in brand loyalty and drive repeat business. Therefore, making sure your return policy is clear and easy to access should be a top priority.

Mishandling Products Will Hurt Your Bottom Line

There are plenty of reasons why shoppers return their purchases; understanding some of the underlying causes might help you plan. From wardrobing, damaged goods to failed deliveries, the list is endless.

But it doesn’t have to compromise your revenue targets. On the contrary, the quicker you can get eligible returned goods back into the sales funnel, the more chances you can protect your revenues. 

Firstly, start by planning approximately 10% of your retail sales for returns

Next, make sure all your systems and processes are unified by onboarding an advanced multi-carrier management system. These systems are designed to manage all aspects of your shipments and are easy to install. 

Finally, make sure the system you install is carrier agnostic like SmartConsign; unlike other systems, they do not charge carriers to integrate onto the platform – which means that the rates you access are unbiased. 

With returns management costing almost twice as much as outbound shipping, ensuring you get the best carrier rates is vitally important.

Turn Returns Into Profit With Some Simple Strategies

Whilst not all returned goods are equal, there are still opportunities to recover your losses. Just over half of returns are not fit for reselling at full price and based on the latest research, that equates to approximately £400bn worth of goods.

Successful eCommerce businesses mitigate the loss by selling returns in the outlet section of their website. So – the concept serves an entirely new audience. 

An alternative strategy might be to offload returns to online auction houses like Trade-secret.co.uk or auctioneering site John Pye for larger or higher value ticket items.

Furthermore, these strategies help to minimise the volume of goods sent to landfills, so it’s not only good for business but also good for the planet.   

Think About the Bigger Picture, Not Just Peak Season

Peak season is one of the more exciting parts of online retail, but it’s just one part of the bigger picture. After peak season inevitably comes an influx of product returns. And if your company is not prepared for that, it risks missing out on chances to recoup on losses.

To help improve your chances of success, invest in a system that connects all your shipping carriers, sales channels and partners. Whilst you cannot control the timing and volume of returns after each sale – you can have the best system in place to mitigate potential losses. 

Peak season has already started, but you still have time to build your returns management strategy. To discover more – search for SmartConsign and talk to our returns management shipping experts. 

Anatomy of an ecommerce fulfilment platform

When entrepreneurs start on their ecommerce journey, they will likely do everything themselves or with a very small team. This means ordering products, fulfiling orders, and shipping them out. Any tracking is normally done by spreadsheets if it is done at all.

This is perfectly fine when ecommerce businesses start out. However, as they start to grow processes like this start to break down as people get busy and human error creeps in.

What is an ecommerce fulfilment platform?

An ecommerce fulfilment platform is a piece of software that lets you manage all of your fulfilment operations in one place. 

Businesses turn to them when they are:

  • Looking to grow and need to make sure their fulfilment process can match their ambitions 
  • Using multiple pieces of software to manage their fulfilment operations and want to streamline their operations

Features of an Ecommerce fulfilment Platform

Inventory tracking and control features

Inventory syncing

One of the main operational challenges of multichannel ecommerce is keeping your inventory updated across multiple channels. For example, you could be selling on your own website, a physical store and on marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay.

If you don’t sync your inventory across these marketplaces it can lead to overselling. Where a customer purchases a product on one channel only to find out later that it is out of stock.

An ecommerce fulfilment platform will automatically sync inventory across all channels so that when you make a sale on one channel all the others are updated.

Stock alerts

Another way ecommerce businesses can run into problems is when they don’t realise they are running low on stock. Again this can lead to items being out of stock and the business losing sales

An ecommerce fulfilment platform will automatically send you stock alerts at replenishment points, so you can then reorder products when you need to. Set up correctly, this will take into account lead times.

Inventory purchasing

This neatly brings us on to inventory purchasing. Part of having control of your inventory is being able to quickly reorder it when you need. With a modern ecommerce fulfilment platform, you should be able to automatically generate invoices to send your suppliers when you need to reorder. 

Virtually bundle products & kits

Being able to sell your products in bundles is a major advantage for ecommerce companies. It allows you to run special promotions, give your customers deals and even shift slow-moving stock.

But putting products into bundles can lead to issues with your inventory control if you are not tracking your sales properly. For example, if you do not have bundles set up correctly you could end up selling more products than you realise (as they will be being sold as individual items and as part of a bundle). With inventory management software you will be able to automatically put products into a bundle and track their sales both as part of the bundle and as an individual item.

Inventory reporting

Key to a business’s success is its ability to accurately use it’s data. If you are just using spreadsheets to keep on top of your data, it’s likely that:

a) human error will creep in, leading to inaccurate data.

b) it can be time-consuming to produce an easy to digest report

That’s why a modern ecommerce fulfilment platform gives you a range of easy to digest reports (such as product reports and sales reports) to help you make informed decisions about your business

Inventory forecasting

A common drag on the growth of ecommerce businesses is not knowing how much stock to order, especially when preparing for peak sales periods like Black Friday or Christmas.

To accurately forecast the amount of stock you require it helps to have a fulfilment platform that can do dynamic forecasting. Dynamic forecasting is where the fuflilment platform produces forecasts that take into account variables like previous peak sales periods. So you can accurately forecast enough products for future sales periods.

Warehouse management features

Syncing across multiple locations

As an ecommerce business grows it may look to keep it’s stock in different warehouses or in a shop and a warehouse. When this happens it’s important to be able to keep a unified stock count across each location. So that you know how much stock you have in each location and overall.

Know where your stock is, even when it’s on the move

Sometimes stock will be in between warehouses or on the way from your supplier to a warehouse. It’s important to have this figure easily accessible at all times, so you don’t get confused as to the true amount of stock you have. This is very hard to do if you aren’t using a perpetual inventory system and are instead tracking inventory manually.

Provide visibility for your whole team

As your business becomes more successful it is likely you will want to hire more people to do tasks that you once did yourself.

This causes problems if each person is acting on different information using their own processes or software to record any action they take. Having one ecommerce platform ameliorates this situation by giving you one centralised system for your entire team to use and record actions on.

Barcode Scanning & Digital picking

Digital picking works by using barcodes to connect your products to your inventory management system. Every time an item is picked, it is scanned either by a specialist scanner or a mobile app. This serves a few different purposes:

  1. Makes sure your picking team is always picking the right item. This is important if you have many similar-looking products (such as the same shirt in medium or large).
  2. Allows your team to do inventory cycle counts, where they take their barcode scanner and do a stocktake of part of your inventory at regular intervals. A more accurate and efficient way of doing stocktakes than doing them the old-fashioned manual way.
  3. Makes your live inventory count much more accurate, as each time an item is scanned it is updated accurately. Without the chance of human error.

Shipping

A modern ecommerce fulfilment platform should also help expedite your shipping process. This is by being able to:

  • Bulk print shipping labels
  • One-click printing for labels, pick lists, and invoices
  • Automating shipping workflows

An ecommerce fulfilment platform like Veeqo will also integrate with your shipping carriers, help manage returns in one place and help manage refunds. 

Automated workflows

A key way to keep your operations efficient is through automation. Automations work by letting you set rules for each part of your fulfilment process. This means you don’t have to have someone make lots of small decisions, which will often lead to errors. Thus speeding up your processes and making them more efficient.

There are many uses of automation, such as:

Select the right shipping carrier – every time

You can automate the process of selecting a shipping carrier. This could be based on sales channel, customer location or another relevant factor.

Producing optimal picking lists

You could also use automation to decide which picker should pick which items and in which order they should pick them based on the warehouse route. This makes it easier and faster for your pickers to do their job and you to fulfil orders. 

Integrations

It may already be apparent, but it’s still worth stating that: key to a modern Ecommerce platform is its ability to integrate with a wide range of other ecommerce applications. Alongside marketplace and shipping integrations, it should also be able to integrate with accounting applications, POS applications like Vend and Shopify, 3PLs and more.

About Veeqo

Veeqo is an ecommerce fulfilment platform designed for ecommerce businesses looking to scale and improve their fulfilment operations. It offers marketing leading inventory, warehouse, shipping and picking management: in one platform. SmartConsign is integrated with Veeqo, helping to make the shipping process clearer and easier for businesses to grow

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!