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. 

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.

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.

New Asendia integration

Asendia joins the SmartConsign family of carriers. Why? Because shipping can be a complex business for even a seasoned online seller, so the more you can Streamline your process, the more freedom you have to effectively grow your business.

Here at SmartConsign, we have a vision to simplify shipping operations and create collaboration within the logistics industry. From order through to delivery we aim to make the journey as seamless as possible. Our delivery management software does just that.

With that said, We are always looking for ways to help support your ecommerce operations with efficient and dependable delivery and returns services. That’s why Today, we’re really pleased to announce our new integration with Asendia a 30+ years veteran in international shipping. Learn more about Asendia USA.

And like many of the 25+ carriers who use SmartConsign, customer satisfaction is our number 1 priority and we achieve this by helping our users meet deadlines consistently. Furthermore, all our carriers listed on our system free of charge so when our clients access performance information they can be sure that the data they receive are totally independent and unbiased. This assurance combined with the ability to access information and performance data quickly is what sets us apart from our competitors and is crucial in protecting revenues.

Whether you are a courier, reseller or retailer we offer one of the fastest and most cost-effective systems in market today. We offer a range of services to suit all needs from DR Plans, Pre-Pay, Same Day Booking Portal, Smart Invoice Inspector and coming soon a mobile app – we work to ensure our clients business is operational in all scenarios.

Not yet a SmartConsign customer? Time for you to experience shipping in its simplest form today. Sign up for 25% of your first 3 Months , and access the best rates, tons of integrations, and automation that will give you freedom.

Sign up for 25% of your first 3 Months

Carrier Giants DHL and FEDEX Incorporating Blockchain

Following on from this post about blockchain, we’re taking a brief look at how two of our biggest carriers, Fedex and DHL are limbering up to the emerging new technology that has everyone so excited.

The first thing to make note of is the existence of Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), of which Fedex is a founding member and to which many other major carriers have signed up including DHL, and UPS. The purpose of BiTA, to quote from their website, is to:

“create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry…”

Now, how have DHL and Fedex incorporated blockchain tech? In brief:


DHL recently announced that it had created a blockchain-based prototype in partnership with Accenture to track pharmaceuticals across a supply chain.

“The ledger tracking these medicines may be shared with stakeholders, including manufacturers, warehouses, distributors, pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors. Lab-simulations show how blockchain could handle more than seven billion unique serial numbers and 1,500 transactions per second.”

Given that 1 million lives are lost each year as a result of counterfeit medications, the positive impact this massively increased level of traceability can have due to the transparent and tamper-proof nature of the blockchain can’t be underestimated.


Fedex is working with BiTA to create uniform logistics standards for blockchain applications across the industry and has already set in motion blockchain pilots dealing specifically with dispute resolution. Vice-president of strategic planning and analysis Dale Chrystie said: “We have millions of records a day in our system, and we think of blockchain as a secure chain of custody that could transform the logistics industry. We believe it holds a lot of promise in that space and would streamline all that data exchange in a very secure way.”

From these examples amongst our carriers, it’s clear the blockchain wheel is in motion and so far, with positive outcomes predicted right across the supply chain.

SmartConsign is the first true cloud SaaS parcel delivery solution used by over 300 companies throughout the UK – offering access to 25+ top carriers including Fedex and DHL. Carriers do not pay a fee to be integrated onto the system, providing users with unbiased access to performance data that users can compare and contrast at any time. To learn more get in touch email sales@cloudstuff.co.uk