Hard work may have been the surest way to success in the past. But in the modern era, smart work is way more effective. This philosophy will stand true when you apply it to the ecommerce shipping process. An in-house shipping management can efficiently manage all your shipping operations. However, you can quickly reach your limit with a manual process. On the other hand, with an automated shipping process, scaling is easier as you can process a higher volume of orders with multiple carriers.
The rapid progression of technologies in the modern era has allowed innovators to optimize these benefits for customers by using new and groundbreaking approaches to shipping automation. This has allowed businesses to use these solutions to enhance their processes and enable an elevated shopping experience for their customers.
As a result of these advantages, the market is flooded with shipping automation solutions. Therefore, along with the challenges of automating the shipping process for your ecommerce business, you have to tackle the challenge of choosing the right shipping automation solution. In this blog, we will talk about the ins and outs of automated shipping for ecommerce so that you can grasp the concept and use it to get an edge over your competition.
What is Shipping Automation in Ecommerce?
The Shipping Automation process uses software as a central control center to manage and automate the service calls to various third-party APIs. This includes the selection of a suitable carrier, automatic order manifestation with the carrier API, automated tracking APIs, etc.
The automation removes the need for manual intervention at every step in the shipping process. This will allow you to ship faster and improve your fulfillment speed. Along with this, you will be able to reduce RTO percentage/ failed deliveries due to the accuracy of the automated systems.
5 Benefits of Using Ecommerce Shipping Automation
Here are the five crucial benefits of adopting an automated shipping workflow for your ecommerce business.
1. Reduces Operational Costs and Efforts
Automation allows you to remove any unnecessary elements that slow down the order fulfillment process. You will be able to process more orders at a faster pace and reduce operational expenses with a lower RTO percentage. Labor costs are reduced as processes like order picking, carrier selection, order tracking, and management are handled through automated systems more accurately.
2. Improve Efficiency
The automated ecommerce process will maximize the efficiency of each step of the process. With easier carrier adoption and a single-point integration for multiple carriers, you will be able to optimize your courier selection process. The automated order manifestation process will reduce the errors in the creation process to reduce failed deliveries making the entire process more efficient.
3. Provide Accurate, Actionable Insights
An automated shipping process means that even though your fulfillment process is spread across multiple carriers for multiple sales channels, you will have a centralized control center. This centralized control over the process provides you with accurate insights into your shipping operations. You can gauge important metrics like delivery speed, delivery success rate, product return rate, carrier performance, RTO percentage, etc., based on real-time data.
4. Improve the Order Fulfillment Process
Since automated systems will reduce the need for manual intervention, human errors can be kept to a minimum. These automated systems use authentication and address verification APIs while creating the order to bring down the RTO percentage.
5. Consolidate the Shipping Process
The dependency on third-party services complicates the ecommerce shipping process. Once you automate the workflow, you will be able to integrate the order management and manifestation system of different sales channels over a single dashboard. You can view and track your orders from a single window for better order fulfillment efficiency.
5 Features to Consider While Selecting the Shipping Software
The ideal choice for shipping software for your automated ecommerce shipping process should have the following features:
1. Multi-carrier Integration
One carrier won’t be able to fulfill all your shipping needs. The shipping solution that you choose should allow you to ship with multiple carriers through a single-point integration. This makes it easier for you to expand into new geographies and serve a larger customer base.
2. ML-Based Carrier Allocation Engine
An ML-based carrier allocation engine is a must-have feature if you plan to use the multi-carrier integration feature of the shipping software. With the help of ML analyzing the carrier’s performance, you can automate finding the right carrier for your shipment according to your preferences.
3. Automated Shipment Tracking
As you scale your operations, having automated shipment tracking features will enable a better business process as well as customer service. Since you will have the latest updates on your parcels on an integrated dashboard, you can resolve customers' complaints faster and more effectively. Along with that, you will be able to have better control over the delivery supply chain as you will have thorough visibility over your shipments.
4. Order Management Dashboard
If you process hundreds of orders every day through the automated process, but you do not have visibility over them, the operation is likely to go haywire sooner or later. A comprehensive order management dashboard that allows you to integrate all the orders from various sales channels shipped with various carriers is crucial. This dashboard will act as the control panel for your entire shipping process and allow you to control and tweak it as needed.
5. Customer Experience Enhancement
While it is important to improve the coherence of your operations, it is equally important to improve the customer experience on your platform. A holistic shipping solution will allow you to introduce various features like branded tracking experience, seamless communications, automated notifications over different channels, etc. This will improve customer engagement and conversion, allowing you to use the full potential of your fulfillment process.
3 Common Challenges You Will Encounter While Automating
Here are some of the most common challenges you will encounter while automating your ecommerce shipping process.
1. Efficient Multi-carrier Integration
When establishing the automated shipping process, you will need to include multiple shipping carriers in the process. Integrating each carrier API individually can require a lot of effort and technical resources.
2. Compatible Systems
Just using shipping automation is not sufficient for establishing a seamless automated ecommerce shipping process. You are most likely to face compatibility issues with the existing systems for warehouse, inventory, and order management. You will need to find an automation solution that is either compatible with your existing system or find one that can revamp your entire supply chain.
3. Varying Regulatory Norms
Anything of dynamic nature can potentially handicap an automated system. The varying domestic and international shipping norms can cause conflicts in the automated process. This can result in unwanted interruptions in the shipping process and increase the number of stuck/failed deliveries.
4 Tips to Automate the Shipping Process for Ecommerce Business
Shipping Automation is not a new process. Businesses have been adopting it for a long time. Learning from their experience, we have a few tips for you to make the entire process easier.
1. Choose Updated Carriers
Carriers are essentially the backbone of your shipping process. The courier partners that you choose have to be up-to-date in the technology that they use for management and communication. This will allow them to seamlessly integrate into your automated systems that are typically built on advanced tech stacks as well as make it easier for you to adopt newer technologies going forward.
2. Use the Right Shipping Management Platform
If your shipping automation platform does not come with order management and monitoring features, it is strongly advised that you invest in one. As shipping automation will allow you to increase your order fulfillment rate, management and monitoring the shipment without the right platform can quickly become tedious.
3. Get Automated Shipment Tracking
Getting automated real-time tracking updates regarding your shipments is vital for your order management and customer experience. It allows you to resolve WISMO complaints at a much faster pace. Along with this, it will enable you to keep track of your shipments throughout the delivery cycle without much effort.
4. Check for New Carrier Adaptability
One or a few carriers will never be enough. As you expand into newer markets and geographies, you will constantly avail services from different carriers. Therefore, when choosing a shipping platform, it becomes imperative to easily integrate new couriers and platforms.
Automation is the key to establishing a shipping process for your ecommerce business that will satisfy the needs of your customers along with fulfilling all the necessary operational metrics. Although it will be a significant effort on your part to set up the process and make it functional, the above blog makes a strong case for the benefits of the process.
1. Is automating the ecommerce shipping process affordable?
Considering the initial setup cost of incorporating the automated ecommerce shipping process, you may find it expensive. However, an in-depth analysis of the ROI on the initial investment will show that you will get handsome returns in the long term.
2. How does Shipping Automation work?
You can choose either a shipping aggregator or shipping software to automate your shipping process. Aggregators are more suitable for businesses that do less than 100 orders a month. Anything above that can be managed better through shipping software.