1)Introduction to Shipping Manager Software
One of the biggest trends to enter the ecommerce market in the past decade is the use of shipping manager software. These are essentially systems that are designed to simplify the process of shipping and managing orders for online businesses. But why do you really need them? Imagine you run a shop that only gets 1 customer a day. It’s a solo mission, and you have full control over every last detail. Over time, the influx of daily customers increases from 1 to 3 to 10. You now need more hands on deck to deal with customers and someone to manage those hands while you take care of the output. After all, you’d want all 10 customers that visit your store to leave with at least 1 purchase, if not more. Delegating management to someone you trust enables you to stay in control. This is essentially how ecommerce businesses progress as well, but at a much larger scale.
So when your daily output reaches 100 orders or 1000, you need multiple shipping partners to reach all of these customers across numerous different pin codes. A single person may be able to manage 3 employees and 10 customers a day, but to manage 1000, you need something smarter. This is why ecommerce businesses have been turning to shipping manager software. These softwares use tech-enabled solutions to improve communication, shipping speeds and overall eCommerce performance. In this article, we’ll be diving headfirst into what shipping manager software is, how they work, and the best shipping manager software you can choose from.
2)What Is Shipping Manager Software?
To put it in the simplest terms, shipping manager software are a system designed for eCommerce businesses to manage and enhance their shipping operations. A good shipping manager software will make use of a plethora of technological solutions inspired by the latest shipping and eCommerce market trends. Using shipping manager software you can integrate with all of your shipping partners easily. Shipping API integrations allow for better communication of order information between you and your shipping partners, as well as you and your customers. AI-enabled systems quickly process important data on shipping and delivery. GPS and GPRS programs enable greater visibility to customers. From pre-purchase to post-purchase, every stage of shipping operation is optimised with the help of shipping manager software.
3)Top 10 Best Shipping Manager Software for eCommerce Business [2021 Updated List]
Shipping Manager software have been around for more than half a decade and have steadfastly become one of the most popular shipping tools in the ecommerce industry. So it’s no wonder that there are shipping manager software companies popping up all over the world. Each of them offer a different set of features and specialised services that enable more efficient shipping systems. These different features, shipping partnerships, and specific services are what allow you to distinguish between different shipping manager software. A clear example of these distinctions can be seen when you take a closer look at the top 10 best shipping manager software currently serving major ecommerce brands.
Clickpost is a shipping manager software company that was founded in 2015 and operates globally. It currently serves major ecommerce brands like Puma, Carat Lane and Nykaa. This software provides an advanced recommendation engine with an AI configured to include data on business priorities when selecting shipping partners. ClickPost provides a single API for the entire order manifestation process, thereby enabling greater accuracy of shipping information. One of its flagship features is its NDR workflow that reduces RTOs through issue-specific customer communications. It is best suited for large e-commerce enterprises with high order volumes.
Aftership is a shipping software that began operating in 2011. Created in Hong Kong, this software is operational in multiple countries. It is integrated with 600+ shipping companies as well as numerous storefronts and marketplaces. It is well known for its automated package tracking system that provides real-time updates. This is supported by a customer tracking page that can show each milestone of delivery. It is most efficient for small enterprises that have low order volumes.
MetaPack was founded in London and is one of the premier shipping manager software used by the European ecommerce market. It offers enterprises access to 3,50,000+ warehouses that enable faster pickup and delivery. This includes international delivery services and customs clearance in addition to express delivery. Metapack offers a limited range of shipping services.
Shippo was started in 2013 in California, United States. It primarily operates in North America. This shipping manager software offers automated order processing systems which print shipping labels and create packing slips. It also provides updates to customers when their orders are picked up or about to be delivered. Frequent validation checks help avoid unnecessary delays due to inaccuracy of information. It is also known for aiding in international shipping. Implementation of Shippo can be a difficult process at times.
Shippy Pro is a company based out of Italy that first began providing shipping manager software to ecommerce businesses in 2017. It provides integrations with 130+ shipping partners and multiple storefronts. It uses an automated system to print shipping labels much like Shippo. ShippyPro is popular in certain regions because of its user-friendly interface. However, limited support is provided through a chat-only mechanism.
Narvar was founded in the United States in 2012 and currently serves ecommerce businesses across North America, the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Like it's counterparts, it offers an automated order processing and shipment tracking mechanism for ecommerce shipping. One of its most notable features is its Concierge service. This service enables faster pickup and drops through a well-connected network of concierge centres. However, these concierge services will be entirely dependent on the shipping partners employed.
Shipwell is another company providing shipping manager software services that was founded in and operates within the United States. It uses a loadboard proprietary matching algorithm to allow shipping partners to bid on freights. This enables ecommerce enterprises to choose the shipping partner with the lowest rates for each order. It provides a system to simplify order manifestation. It's tracking mechanism also helps in route optimisation for deliveries. Most of its features are standard and non-customisable.
Veeqo is a UK-based shipping manager software that focuses on inventory management for ecommerce businesses. It was founded in 2013 and operates in the UK primarily, as well as a few other countries. Veeqo provides integrations with online storefronts like Magento and WooCommerce to ensure that ecommerce inventories remain synchronised across multiple selling channels. This enables inventory forecasting and stock projections to be carried out regularly. This promotes maximum order fulfillment as stock will be available for every order placed. The only difficulty with Veeqo is that each vendor must be separately integrated with.
While Veeqo handles inventory management, Freight Pop takes care of transportation management. This shipping manager software comes from another California-based company. Its major selling point is that it enables ecommerce businesses that are not integrated with any WMS (warehouse management system) or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to manage their transit mechanisms. It offers integrations with 300+ shipping companies and negotiable shipping rates with them. Freight discrepancies are minimized through regular monitoring of invoices and deliveries.
ShipStation is available for use by ecommerce companies in multiple nations across North America, Australia and Europe. In addition to the usual selling channel and marketplace integrations, other systems like QuickBooks can be tied up with. This gives you access to more ecommerce services. They offer multiple payment plans that are calculated based on order volumes, making them ideal for small and medium enterprises.
4)How to Choose the Best Shipping Manager Software
As you saw in the above list, there are so many ways each shipping manager software differs from its counterparts and competitors. Some have a wider range of features, others have a wider reach. All in all, when you’re trying to select a shipping manager software to boost the performance of your eCommerce shipping operations, these distinctions may be hard to choose from. You may even feel like all of them are too similar for your choice to make any real difference to your business, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You need to first understand your shipping strategy inside and out, i.e, the areas you service, your customer preference, and your financial requirements (to name just a few elements). After that, you can more clearly apply the criteria listed below to select a shipping manager software that is most suited for your ecommerce endeavour.
The first thing you need to check when you're checking out a shipping manager software is its area of operation. Some may operate only in specific regions. Others may simply offer more efficient services in specific locations. To start with, it always helps to look at shipping manager software companies from your home ground. They will also be more likely to be tied with a greater number of shipping partners in your region
4.2)Cost of Software and Shipping
The bottom line of every ecommerce business is to make money. And you can't make money if you're spending more on your shipping operations than your customers are spending on you. This is why every shipping strategy needs a budget. You will know how much you can (and should) pay for a certain range of shipping services. The right permutation and combination of shipping services could end up saving you a lot.
4.3)Ease of Implementation
The world of ecommerce never slows down. So neither can your business. When you're onboarding with a shipping manager software, the process should be seamless. After all, you need to keep fulfilling orders. A delay in your services could have severe ramifications. Customers tend to lose trust in ecommerce enterprises that fail to provide services consistently.
4.4)Ease of Use
This software has been created for the sole purpose of making job easier. It should enable shipping operations to be carried out smoothly. And you should be able to monitor your supply chain with minimal effort. A good shipping manager software will afford you a platform that is user-friendly and easy to navigate, while at the same time being comprehensive.
4.5)Range of Features and Services
The beauty of shipping management software is in its utilisation of technology. A good shipping management platform will make use of every available technological advancement to help you optimise your supply chain. This means you will have, or rather you should have, a wide range of shipping services made available to you. These services can include multitude of practices, workflows and protocols that make your shipping operations more efficient. You should also be able to select the services of your choice.
Now, we move onto why it's essential to be able to choose the features and services you want. We've discussed the importance of a shipping strategy. This has to be built around the needs of your business. You may have a multitude of goals for your supply chain, from reducing RTOs to collecting more customer feedback. You accordingly need to find a shipping manager software that can help you achieve each of your goals.
With everything that gives us convenience, there is always a catch. With technology, the catch is that it requires a certain amount of upkeep. The shipping manager software you partner up with should be accompanied with sufficient support. The support staff must ensure consistent maintenance of the software platform as well as updating and upgrading it when needed.
5)What are the Key Benefits of Using a Shipping Manager Software
Your take-away from this article so far would likely be that shipping manager software can simplify certain tasks and increase productivity. But you may still be wondering what the actual tangible benefits are. These are the various improvements and enhancements that you will be able to see in two phases. The first is almost immediately after implementing shipping manager software. The second is after prolonged use and after more data has been collected and analysed. In both of these phases, shipping manager software can create a substantial difference in your shipping mechanism. With the help of services provided by shipping manager software, you can expect to receive the following positive outcomes
5.1)Easy Order Viewing
The unified viewing platform made available by your shipping manager software of choice is designed for a very specific purpose. To make viewing, monitoring and sorting orders an easy process, shipping manager software platforms provide a single page where all orders can be viewed. Orders can also be searched for and monitored with the use of a unique identification code.
5.2)Faster Order Processing
Think about the time and effort that goes into processing each order after it's been placed. A shipping partner has to be selected. The information must be passed on to them. Then the order is created and a shipping label is printed. Only after this can the order be packaged and readied for delivery. Many parts of this process had to be manually carried out, slowing down the entire delivery process. With shipping manager software, the process is automated and quick.
5.3)Greater Accuracy of Order Information
When it comes to ecommerce shipping, communication is key. The order information printed on the shipping label has to be correct. Customers want accurate estimated delivery dates before purchasing and accurate order tracking notifications after. This is made possible with the help of a shipping manager software.
5.4)Real-Time Tracking Updates
We've already stressed on the elemental role tracking plays in keeping customers happy. And the more accurate they are the better. A customer is able to build trust with an ecommerce platform when they know the business is working actively to keep them informed and updated. Being able to pass on tracking information before a customer can wonder where their order is can help reduce WISMO calls.
5.5)Push Improvement Initiatives
One of the most notable features of a shipping manager software is its utility in processing data. It is constantly monitoring how each of your shipping partners is performing. This data can then be analysed to enhance your shipping operations through improvement initiatives. This may mean trying out a new workflow, creating standardised systems for certain tasks, or focusing on specific delivery exceptions.
Speaking of delivery exceptions, failed deliveries are among the highest contributors to RTOs. When shipments get stuck or delayed, customers are more likely to cancel the order. By narrowing down the causes for various RTOs, a shipping manager software helps you perform targeted strikes to reduce delivery exceptions.
5.7)Reduce Shipping Costs
Employing a shipping manager software to enhance your supply chain is a long-term solution for a variety of shipping problems. It first begins by dealing with small issues, through automation and integration. After this, more serious issues can be tackled through careful monitoring. Overall shipping costs can be reduced by optimising the delivery process. And losses can be curbed with the help of specialised improvement initiatives.
5.8)Enhanced Customer Experience
The ecommerce market is a consumer market. No matter how much you think you're in charge, the customers are always the ones calling the shots. That's why you work so hard to give them the best shipping experience. With better order management and real-time tracking updates, customers are always in the loop. This gives them a sense of comfort and control that enables them to put their faith in you more.
9)Features of Shipping Manager Software
Ideally, you now have some idea of what a shipping manager software provides, vis-a-vis technology. You get access to API integrations, Artificial intelligence, calculated workflows, and various other technologies. But you might still be confused about how exactly these different technological boons benefit your business. It’s important to stay abreast of what the major products offered by shipping manager software are. This ensures you make the fullest use of your shipping manager software for its intended purpose: providing a seamless delivery experience to your customers everywhere. To that end, here’s a quick-view list of some of the features you can expect from an advanced shipping manager software.
9.1)Unified Management of Orders
A shipping manager software’s core function is to give you a single location where all your orders across all your shipping partners can be viewed. Using API integrations and unique identification numbers, all orders and their status are displayed in a unified manner on a single platform provided by the software.
9.2)AI-Enabled Shipping Partner Recommendation
AI (Artificial Intelligence) has a great many number of uses in shipping. One of the foremost is aiding in shipping partner selection for various orders. An AI-enabled engine processes the order information (weight, dimensions, delivery destination) and cross-references the same against various configured shipping partners' delivery performance data. Accordingly, it recommends an appropriate shipping partner for that order.
9.3)Automated Shipment Processing
After an order has been placed, it needs to be processed by the selected shipping partner. Only then the order can be manifested and prepared for delivery. This process of creating the order on the shipping partner’s platform as well as the process of order manifestation can be automated and sped up with the use of API integrations. These integrations are provided by shipping manager software.
9.4)Creation of Shipping Labels
A major part of a shipping partner's job is to generate the airway bill (AWB) for the order and then print the shipping label. The shipping label is created by inputting all relevant details of the order, including customer information and delivery destination. The creation of shipping labels is automated by shipping manager software via the use of API integration. This speeds up the process and ensures the accuracy of information.
9.5)Automated Order Tracking
Customers can be impatient and anxious after placing an order. However, a lot of this anxiety can be tempered by enabling them to track their orders. A shipping manager software uses API integrations to pass real-time tracking updates to customers. They are automatically notified every time an order crosses a certain shipping milestone. Even when delays occur, an informed customer is usually a happy one.
9.6)AI-Driven Data Collection and Analysis
Data science is an extremely important part of shipping and logistics. All ecommerce shipping operations are made up of a complex system of resources and functions. This system needs to be continuously improved overtime, based on identifiable patterns. Some shipping manager software offer analytics services, which enable you to monitor specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) in your shipping partners’ performances.
9.7)Delivery Exception Management
A truly efficient shipping manager software will give you a fully rounded experience. In addition to providing analytics for shipping performance, it will also carefully monitor delivery exceptions. These include delayed deliveries, stuck shipments, fake deliveries and other areas that could result in losses. Some software provide shipping workflows to manage and reduce delivery exceptions based on the causes.
Every ecommerce enterprise, once created and established, becomes a living breathing entity. It has to be fed, fueled and nourished with the aid of numerous different resources. Only then can it become a productive member of the market and thereby society. Shipping companies are the first resource you would turn to. However, as your business grows, its needs grow proportionally too. Eventually you'll find yourself juggling one too many resources. Shipping manager software lets you become a master juggler with the help of technology. You can reduce your overall shipping costs, optimise your delivery mechanism and maximise order fulfillment with it. The tracking systems offered by this software also go a long way in building trust with customers and increasing brand loyalty. Essentially, shipping manager software is that dose of tech-based magic that turns your ecommerce enterprise into an ecommerce superhero.