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. 

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

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!

4 Ways to Demonstrate ROI on Parcel Shipping Software

Cloud-based multi-carrier parcel shipping software has grown up since the early days of SaaS and they are getting smarter. Factor in the rapid growth of eCommerce and the case to invest in a shipping software system is easy to prove. However, with so many systems now available how do you ensure you’re getting maximum ROI? In this article, we look at the different ways these systems can deliver value, over and above standard ROI metrics.

1. Deliver Faster Response

Consumer’s demand for speedy delivery has transformed the sector often at great cost to the supplier. A solution that gives you access to instant quotes for shipping the same day, can help to accelerate your response. Furthermore, you can use the data to deliver more accurate ROI projections. Some systems like SmartConsign multi-carrier management software hold data for up to 10 years.

2. Spread your Risks

Traffic and bad weather are major causes of delivery delays. Having a back-up system in place can help spread your risks. A cloud-based solution with access to multiple carriers does not require any hardware setup and is easy to install. Sign-up to systems that offer a DR (Disaster Recovery) solution for maximum protection. 

3. Control your Processes

Signing up to a parcel shipping software solution that offers features like Route Management via an app gives you more control. You can keep track of a driver’s schedule and manage your collections in real-time wherever you are. Furthermore, having the ability to control your deliveries instantly from your mobile enables you to deliver a frictionless delivery experience. These are crucial table stakes in the battle to overcome last-mile challenges. 

4. Innovate your Services

Struggling with footfall? Optimise your physical retail space by converting some of your space into a fulfillment area. Multi-Carrier management software like SmartConsign for example only requires a printer for shipping labels. Optimizing your retail space for deliveries is a simple and cost-effective way to innovate your business model.

Whether you are looking to upgrade your existing parcel delivery system and/or getting started for the first time. Book a personalised webinar with SmartConsign’s team of UK based shipping logistics experts and get all your questions answered. Email sales@cloudstuff.co.uk or call 0345 257 3005.

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Retail Shipping Costs

Are you looking to reduce shipping costs for your retail business? If so, read on to discover the top five ways you can reduce shipping costs.

You’ve extended your market to other cities, counties, states, maybe even other countries. But you’ve realized getting your product into distant hands is expensive.

How expensive?

Just consider that companies last year alone spent nearly $1.5 trillion dollars on shipping costs. Cutting back some of the costs might be a lot easier than you think, and we’ll show you how.

Continue reading to learn how you can reduce shipping costs without compromising any quality!

Reduce Shipping Costs with These 5 Tips

1. Offer Discounts to Nab Big Sales

While not immediately reducing the cost of shipping, this can increase basket values to offset shipping costs. Discounts for bundling items or seasonal coupons can encourage customers to purchase more products at once.

Try offering free shipping on large items or on items totaling higher than a set amount.

2. Negotiate Your Price

If you’re signed up with a large company like FedEx or UPS, you can negotiate ways to maximize your pricing model. Consider your contract and how you can adjust it to meet your business’ current needs.

Often, a company will sign up for one delivery service but not remember to adjust it into another as the business grows.

3. Don’t Settle for the Big Names

Because the market is so heavily saturated with the big names like FedEx and UPS, many companies don’t think to look for other options. Actually, there are tons of alternative or hybrid options that only use big names in small portions.

One of the caveats of choosing a smaller service provider is you may lose a guaranteed delivery date customers expect. You’ll have to weigh your available local options and consider if cutting shipping costs is worth the new service.

4. Be on the Lookout for Invoice Errors

Looking out for a potential recovery, while not hugely rewarding, will help you keep track of the pounds and pence. It’s what separates a lot of expert establishments from the novices.

Checking over every invoice with a fine-tooth comb would exhaust all your time and resources. Instead, Look for an automated solution to reconcile your carrier invoices & keep a lookout for credit-recapture opportunities.

5. Keep Track of Data

To improve your business and optimize the cost of shipping, you have to keep an eye on all your data. You should invest in a software (or opt-in for tools through major shipping companies) to stock all your information.

This way, you can have various perspectives to work with including the big and little pictures.

Shipping Management for the Modern Age

To ultimately reduce shipping costs & keep your customers happy with multiple delivery choices and on-time delivery, you need to have a grasp on all the various shipping functions and numbers. This is difficult for someone to pull off in a single role without comprehensive software.

And if you’re on the lookout for the best shipping management software around, you’re just in luck!

SmartConsign gives detailed insight into a business’ shipments and handles the large sets of data seamlessly. With our software, you can review depots, tracking, invoices, support tickets, and more.

Check out our website and browse our blog for more details!

Three Ways Parcel Delivery Software Brings Value Beyond the Warehouse

Delivery management is not just about the movement of goods through the supply chain to the end-customer. It’s about trust. The customer trusts that the business will ship goods that arrive when promised and with the utmost care. This aspect of the parcel delivery process is an integral part of your brand. At the same time, the complexity of the supply chain cannot be underestimated; it’s a process that involves many different stakeholders. For this reason, managers who are not in the logistics department may overlook the holistic benefits of smart delivery management software. Here are three ways smart parcel delivery software like SmartConsign can deliver value beyond the warehouse:

Take Advantage of Shipping Data To Improve Your Marketing
Parcel delivery software that can store your shipping data for up to 10 years provides rich information that you can use to identify trends and patterns in your delivery strategy.  Mine the data and see what insights you uncover. For example, if you find that you’ve exceeded your delivery promise, you can use this for marketing purposes. It’s just one of many ways to keep your brand top of mind and encourage repeat purchases.

Get Your AOV Right
Whether you’re in the warehouse or on the product team, keeping a close eye on shipping costs is vital to your ROI. However, not many brand managers attribute returns to their AOV (average order value). With returns in some sectors averaging at a rate of 40%, it makes sense to account for the flow from outbound and inbound shipping holistically. Getting your AOV right is fundamental to improving your ROI.

Furthermore, the shipping software solutions that are powering the success of growing enterprises are constantly innovating their offerings to meet today’s parcel delivery challenges. From rapid consignment generation to label creation, these smart shipping solutions understand the commercial needs of today’s retailers.


Drive Repeat Purchases
A repeat customer is more valuable than a new one, so getting the right processes in place to manage the inbound aspects of your parcel delivery strategy is crucial to the reputation of your brand. A recent study in the US reveals that 75% of consumers prefer to return online purchases to the retail store. Depending on your business, this can place huge pressures on your in-store resources and potentially delay the return of the item back into the supply chain. SmartConsign helps to make this process easier. The software return management system allows the customer to login, print off the label and return the item to the retailer effortlessly.

With so many features and data at your disposal–from carrier performance to address lookup to Disaster Recovery Plans and to Same Day Booking Portals–even the hardened logistics professional cannot fail to be impressed by the infinite possibilities a modern shipping management software can bring. Unlike legacy systems, SaaS parcel delivery software solutions are easy to implement and require no hardware; the majority of enterprises who sign up are operational within 24 hours.

Get in touch today to request a demo and learn how SmartConsign carrier management software can help enhance your overall brand performance and add clarity to your parcel delivery process.