If you're relying on a standalone, carrier-provided shipping system to ship orders, you may be leaving considerable cost savings on the table. Here's why and how.
When you're shipping a few packages per day, a manual-entry workstation given to you for free by a carrier (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.) or even a multi-carrier shipping software solution designed for an office can get the job done. However, systems like these aren’t conducive to productivity as your order volume grows.
Standalone shipping systems have a shipping screen and allow the person who is processing packages to make changes directly on the screen. And yes, that means any changes, such as manually choosing high-cost air services and changing addresses without authorization – decisions that often create more problems and higher shipping costs than planned.
Standalone systems are also cumbersome, especially in high-volume shipping operations (hundreds or thousands of packages per day). If you use multiple carriers and your staff is using separate standalone carrier-provided systems to compare rates for each package, parcel processing is slowed down.
A multi-carrier workstation can streamline the process by enabling you to load all carrier rates and services on one system for easy rate comparison, but you still stand to lose valuable time scanning or manually entering data into a shipping screen. However, you can streamline and accelerate shipping operations even more by choosing Blackbox Shipping Automation.
Here are a few things you should know.
Blackbox shipping software automation involves direct communication between applications without the need for a standard shipping screen.
These applications are configured with your business rules, published/custom rates, label, and document requirements, to automatically process shipments. This approach embeds your company's shipping rules into the system, eliminating many manual tasks and the need for staff to make decisions during shipment processing. It's faster and error-free.
Shipping workstations where shippers scan and ship the boxes are no longer used. Instead, in a black-box environment, your “shipping screen” is your WMS or ERP, with the actual shipping system simply feeding the necessary shipping information directly to your ERP or WMS in the background, whenever a ship call is made.
The packer still packs the box and then applies the shipping label, but just about everything else is handled application to application, far faster than any human could.
The Blackbox shipping process also offers additional call processes that you can take advantage of:
Blackbox Shipping Automation interfaces can apply to several different areas of a warehouse based on need, including:
With its integrative capabilities, Blackbox Shipping Automation dramatically improves efficiency, and can dramatically reduce labor costs, carrier costs, and shipping errors.
If you have multiple employees packing boxes, putting a barcoded license plate on those boxes and forwarding them to another shipping area only to be labeled again, you're repeating a step that may not be necessary when you apply black box automation to your process.
By connecting your host system (WMS, ERP, etc.) directly with your shipping software solution, you eliminate the need to handle the same order multiple times to both pack and ship it. All labels and documents can be produced at the pack station, at which point the order is ready to be handed over to the carrier.
You'll also save costs by reducing the number of shipping operators by making the packer the shipper. If you have 10 to 12 packing stations and three to four shipping stations, you don’t have to add much to the packing station to handle the shipping.
Moreover, if you can eliminate two to four shippers that you're using in your current operations, it can mean tens of thousands in annual compensation.
The good news is that you have an opportunity to take advantage of Blackbox shipping automation. Here are three key benefits to consider:
At CLS, we've implemented InfoShip®/Vx as a Blackbox shipping solution in cases where our customers want to eliminate a worker-attended shipping station. For example, it can be integrated to take place automatically at your pack station or as a pre-manifesting process — printing shipping labels before you pick your product — so you can produce labels as part of your wave process.
These techniques have dramatically streamlined labor required for shipping, to help our customers reduce their shipping budget by 25% to 50%. Contact us to learn more about it.
Rick Williams, president and CEO of CLS, is a transportation expert with 40 years of experience in shipping and supply chain operations and technology. CLS helps companies improve warehouse productivity by combining streamlined workflows with multi-carrier shipping software, integrated pack/ship stations, data collection, and more.