For Smaller eCommerce Companies, Optimizing Carrier Strategy Is Key

Carrier Strategy Key for Small eCommerce Firms

To gain and retain customers, small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the eCommerce field must get the goods to their customers when promised. That requires shipping the goods out quickly, managing the costs, monitoring the carriers’ performance and being resilient.

“Keeping an eye on the carriers and revising the carrier strategy from time to time is a must,” AfterShip Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Chan told PYMNTS.

AfterShip helps SMBs perform these tasks with its Postmen carrier shipping software that integrates with top eCommerce apps and connects with multiple carriers. It provides order management, real-time shipping rates and label printing.

Automating Tasks to Speed Shipments

Multi-carrier software like this provides time savings via automation and helps get orders out the door more quickly, Chan said. For example, the software helps print labels in bulk, eliminating the manual work required when doing that task on the carriers’ platforms. It also enables handling shipping with multiple carriers in one place.

“This Postmen solution helps you ship faster and also in one place so that you can meet your [service-level agreement] with customers,” Chan said.

A platform like this can also help SMBs ship more cheaply. With FedEx and some other carriers, it can get discount rates for these SMBs. The information about carriers’ shipping rates is kept transparent, making it easier for newer and smaller companies to see it.

Customers shipping larger volumes can talk with carriers’ agents and negotiate with the carrier directly to secure their own rates, but pre-negotiated rates are available for smaller companies.

“This discount program is helping the beginner to get a basic discount to kickstart without really negotiation and just start doing,” Chan said. “Once you build up that volume, then you really can play up the game and do the negotiation.”

Making It Easier to Select Different Carriers

By using a multi-carrier solution like this, merchants and shipping companies can easily change carriers at any time. So, if they’re monitoring their current carrier’s on-time rates and see that they’re falling short, they can choose another carrier. The platform includes 80 carriers worldwide.

Businesses also use a multi-carrier solution so that they can remain resilient, changing carriers at any time, for any reason. For example, businesses may make a move because one carrier has a strike or because a change in the weather requires using another carrier.

“You need a really agile way,” Chan said. “How do I swap immediately while not needing the operation team to do it manually? Have it change easily with just a few clicks, and it can handle everything — that’s very crucial.”

Monitoring Shipping and Changing When Needed

Efficiencies like these are especially important at this time of supply chain challenges and high fuel prices. AfterShip has seen the impacts of these trends in the notifications it receives from different carriers about updated pricing.

“We do see that impact for the price for sure — everybody’s talking about the price change,” Chan said.

Beyond the shipping costs, there are long wait times for shipping larger items. While some say the pandemic is ending, AfterShip sees that the delivery times are still not back to normal.

That means merchants must keep an eye on the carriers, find out if shipments are being delivered on time and revise their carrier strategy when necessary.

“Shipping is key, but how you monitor it and change it fast, I think, is the key for success when it comes to a shipping strategy,” Chan said.