[Shipping Automation] How IBM i (AS/400) Users Avoid Manual Carrier Selection

Discover how Varsity ShipSelect eases pain points associated with the carrier selection process

Two things are certain when it comes to the logistics landscape today: the major growth of e-commerce over the past several years and the ever-dynamic conditions of up-and-coming and traditional shipping carriers. Therefore, the efficiency of logistics operations plays a crucial role for businesses striving to meet customer demands and maintain a competitive edge. And, with the exponential growth of e-commerce in recent years, the importance of fast and reliable parcel shipping has never been such a necessity.


However, with what seems like an unlimited variety of carriers to choose from, and several variables involved in the shipping process, selecting the optimal carrier for each parcel can be a logistical challenge.

E-commerce businesses thrive on efficiency and speed. Every step of the fulfillment process needs to be optimized to meet customer expectations and stay ahead of the competition. However, carrier selection in a traditional, manual setting can become a significant bottleneck. Businesses must juggle a complex web of factors for each shipment, including:

  • Carrier Availability: With a vast number of carriers offering services, finding the right fit for every package size, weight, and destination requires extensive research.
  • Cost Comparison: Different carriers offer varying rates based on factors like distance, weight, delivery destination, and service level. Manually sifting through quotes to find the most cost-effective option is a time-consuming task.
  • Delivery Speed: Balancing cost with desired transit times is crucial. To determine which carrier offers the best combination for each shipment, many businesses must resort to manual comparisons between separate carrier systems, potentially leading to delays if the optimal option is missed.
  • Compliance Considerations: Shipping regulations and compliance requirements can be intricate and are ever-changing. Manual compliance verification of each label for each shipment adds another layer of complexity and risk of errors.

This tangled web of considerations makes manual carrier selection a slow, error-prone process that can negatively impact shipping costs, delivery times, and overall customer satisfaction. Manual processes only complicate these issues, slowing down operations with inefficiencies, human error, and delays in finding the most cost-effective carrier and service level for each parcel or LTL shipment. Even more, fluctuating transportation costs further exacerbate the complexities faced by businesses. As margins grow thinner, every dollar spent on shipping directly impacts businesses’ bottom lines.


Fortunately, innovative solutions like automated carrier selection tools can help businesses navigate these complexities. These tools factor in variables like transit times, costs, and compliance to ensure the perfect fit for each shipment, while eliminating time-consuming tasks and potential errors associated with manual selection. Varsity Logistics’ ShipSelect module is a powerful example of such a tool, optimizing carrier selection for businesses in today’s dynamic e-commerce landscape.

When used with Varsity’s ShipSoft-Parcel or ShipSoft-Freight solutions, ShipSelect offers a comprehensive tool, designed to alleviate the pain points associated with carrier selection during the shipping process. For various modes of transportation including parcel, Less Than Truckload (LTL), Truckload (TL), and rail, ShipSelect automates the entire carrier selection process.


The module goes beyond the conventional approach of carrier selection solely based on cost. While cost is a crucial factor, ShipSelect accounts for the multifaceted nature of logistics decision-making, considering critical criteria such as:

  • Transit time
  • Carrier preference
  • Transportation cost
  • Transportation mode
  • Carrier performance
  • Carrier service types

By weighing these important factors, ShipSelect creates an output of the most optimal carriers based on user-defined preferences. This ensures each shipment is sent with the carrier best suited to meet the specific requirements of both the business and its customers, while also conforming to routing guide requirements and shipping compliance at the time of order placement.

ShipSelect empowers shippers to efficiently select optimal carriers for their shipments, driving efficiency and value across their logistics operations. By automating the carrier selection process, it soothes the many pain points associated with manually finding the carriers best suited for your business and customers. This invaluable solution not only provides overall logistical enhancement, but it also minimizes transportation costs, ensures your business remains compliant, and saves you time on managing inefficiencies and costly human errors due to manual processes. Not to mention, insights into carrier performance empowers shippers to make informed decisions and remain competitive in the dynamic supply chain landscape.

Key Benefits of ShipSelect

The ShipSelect module offers several key benefits that significantly improve logistics efficiency and reduce costs for shippers, including:


Reduction in Shipping Costs: ShipSelect analyzes various factors such as package destination, carrier rates, and package weight to optimize shipping costs. By applying weight breaks (the weight at which the shipping cost changes based on how much the package weighs), ShipSelect ensures businesses get the best carrier option for cost without compromising service quality.


Mitigation of Costly Violations: Ensuring your shipments are compliant with complex routing guides (documents dictating how and by whom shipments should be handled and transported) and shipping instructions is crucial, as penalties for misalignment can be costly. ShipSelect automatically verifies each shipment adheres to these requirements, helping businesses avoid the risk of violations and maintain streamlined shipping operations.


Significant Time Savings: The process of manual carrier selection is not only labor-intensive but also highly prone to human error, causing inefficiencies and operational delays. ShipSelect completely automates this process, keeping operations moving and enabling businesses to allocate their time and resources to other valuable areas.

Varsity Logistics is the only holistic multi-carrier shipping solution built for IBM i (AS/400) Power systems users who need parcel and LTL shipping capabilities. Varsity’s ShipSoft-Parcel and ShipSoft-Freight shipping platforms automate the parcel and LTL shipping processes at every step, serving as a centralized control center for each of Varsity’s supply chain execution modules, whether your supply chain includes parcel and/or freight:


Parcel-Specific Modules:

Freight-Specific Modules:

ShipSelect isn’t just a tool designed to alleviate the challenges of the carrier selection process, it’s a transformative solution that empowers businesses to enhance their shipping operations like never before and set themselves up for long-term success.


Ready to wave your shipping woes goodbye? Contact Varsity’s team of shipping experts or schedule a no-pressure demo to learn more about how ShipSelect and Varsity’s other parcel and LTL solutions can revolutionize your operations and meet your unique business needs.

4 Ways Zone Skipping Can Optimize Your Shipping Strategy

Learn how Zone Skipping can lower costs, decrease transit times, and boost customer satisfaction

In a supply chain and logistics environment where economic uncertainty is constant, businesses are always on the lookout for opportunities to reduce transportation costs without sacrificing transit times and customer experience. As e-commerce has continued to thrive by yielding high order volumes, the need for innovative shipping strategies has become more critical than ever.


Many will be relieved to know a logistics approach that offers a solution to both high shipping costs and extended delivery times does indeed exist. This approach is referred to as Zone Skipping, a logistics technique that consolidates individual packages and ships them directly to a parcel carrier’s distribution center closer in proximity to the final destination points of the consolidated packages. From there, a regional carrier delivers the package to the customer’s doorstep.


This technique is called Zone Skipping because consolidating individual shipments and transporting them in bulk to get them closer to their end delivery location allows the packages to bypass intermediate distribution centers, or zones.

How does Zone Skipping work?

Unlike traditional shipping methods that involve multiple sorting and transfer points, Zone Skipping minimizes the extensive routing of parcels across the country before reaching their end destination. Instead, the approach leverages local carriers for the final zone. The main purpose is to consolidate parcels headed for the same target location, allowing them to be shipped together in bulk. This process eliminates unnecessary handling and sorting, resulting in faster transit times and significant cost savings.

4 Ways Zone Skipping Can Benefit Your Business

Now that we’ve laid the foundation for understanding how Zone Skipping works, it is important to explore how this innovative shipping strategy can positively impact your business.

1. Cost Savings

Zone Skipping can bring substantial cost savings for businesses by optimizing the final stages of the shipping journey. Rather than relying solely on individual parcel carriers for end-to-end delivery, Zone Skipping utilizes local delivery services to make final mile deliveries. This strategy eliminates the need for multiple sorting and transfer points along the shipping route, significantly reducing costs associated with shipping packages. This cost efficiency allows businesses to allocate budget elsewhere, bettering the business’s finances and operations.


For example, if you were shipping 5,000 parcels from Oklahoma City to Detroit at $10 each in shipping costs, you would incur a grand total of $50,000 in shipping spend. The flat rate, however, is $5,000 if they all arrive in a truck. From there, shipping the individual parcels from the Detroit sorting facility will cost $7 per parcel. If you add the $5,000 flat rate shipment with the $7 per parcel for local delivery, the total shipping will equal $40,000. That’s $10,000 in savings compared to using the parcel carrier for shipping the parcels individually.

5,000 x $10 = $50,000

(5,000 x $7) + $5,000 = $40,000

$50,000 – $40,000 = $10,000 in Savings!

2. Faster Transit Times

Zone Skipping also revolutionizes the speed and efficiency of parcel deliveries, significantly reducing transit times. Traditional shipping methods involve excessive back-and-forth traveling through multiple sorting facilities across the country throughout the duration of transit. However, this logistics technique utilizes local carriers to minimize unnecessary detours and ensures a direct route to the end customer. Not only does this eliminate transit delays, but it shines a spotlight on businesses offering reliable service. It is no secret that today, especially, faster delivery times translate to higher customer satisfaction.

3. Greater E-commerce Capabilities

As the e-commerce landscape continues to evolve, customer expectations grow right along with it. This means meeting the growing demand for seamless and hassle-free deliveries is crucial for businesses. Zone Skipping presents an ideal strategy for businesses to meet these expectations by providing faster and more reliable shipping options to their customers. With the ability to directly route a package to the customer, avoiding transit delays and sorting, it meets the immediate needs of today’s online shoppers. Not only will this boost your business’s customer service, leading directly to happier customers and increased customer loyalty, but it will help your business excel in the competitive e-commerce market and ultimately drive profits.

4. Fewer Chances for Damaged Packages

Not only does Zone Skipping save your business time and money when it comes to shipping, it also reduces the risk of damaged packages. As we know by now, traditional shipping methods can send packages through multiple sorting and distribution centers, exposing packages to more hands and a higher likelihood of becoming damaged. Zone Skipping decreases the opportunity of something bad happening to packages, such as being dropped or dented, by eliminating unnecessary touchpoints in the shipping process. This helps ensure that customers receive their orders in pristine condition, improving the overall customer experience and building trust with the shipping process and your business.

What Do I Need to Implement Zone Skipping?

Here are 3 things to do before you implement a zone skipping strategy.

Evaluate the Areas You Serve

Before implementing a Zone Skipping strategy, it’s crucial to evaluate the regions you routinely serve. This strategy is most cost-effective for businesses that consistently have a substantial volume of parcels going to the same area. If you are considering utilizing Zone Skipping, you should consider the frequency of orders that are headed to the same region and examine how many steps are in your current shipping process. Remember, reducing the steps in your shipping process creates a more streamlined experience as well as increases cost savings to your business. Ideally, you should have a shipping system that allows you to turn zone skipping on/off based on current volume to ensure optimal efficiency and savings.

Evaluate your Internal Infrastructure

Before jumping into Zone Skipping, evaluate your internal infrastructure to ensure a seamless implementation. You will need software that is equipped to seamlessly handle increased capacity requirements. The integration of a robust solution, like multi-carrier shipping software (MCSS), becomes crucial in this context. Advanced shipping solutions are designed to handle complex shipping scenarios and streamline parcel logistics, ensuring your system remains agile and efficient, even with the increased demands of Zone Skipping. Because of volume, Zone Skipping may overly burden a more traditional system, which could reduce efficiency and increase labor costs. By leveraging the capabilities of multi-carrier shipping software, business will be able to effectively utilize Zone Skipping to deliver ROI and operational efficiency.

Open a Dialogue with your Local Parcel Carriers

It’s important to foster a collaborative partnership with your local parcel carriers as these are the people you’ll rely on to make Zone Skipping a successful strategy. Communication with these carriers is vital to smooth operations and an effective plan. While Zone Skipping might reduce the sorting and shipping workload on your part, transparent communication with your local carriers will help them recognize the substantial benefits of increased volume. A collaborative approach to this strategy ensures benefits for both your business and the carriers involved.

Zone Skipping with Varsity Shipping Software

Zone Skipping is an effective way to reduce shipping costs and improve customer experience. The industry leading multi-carrier shipping software for IBM i (AS/400) Power systems users from Varsity Logistics offers the ideal solution for flexibility and reliability when it comes to additional cost savings and promoting a positive customer experience.


Read our How it Works Brochure to learn more about Varsity’s software integration and comprehensive set of features.

To discover all the ways Varsity’s multi-carrier shipping software can improve your parcel shipping processes, contact our shipping experts or schedule a demo.

The Importance of Supply Chain Collaboration Between Retailers and Suppliers

Discover the 4 ways retailers benefit from collaborating with their supply chain vendors.

Over the past few years, the landscape of the global supply chain has faced various shifts and disruptions, reshaping the ways that many businesses operate and collaborate with one another. This period of transformative events and trends has exposed many companies’ vulnerabilities, tested their resilience, and most of all, proved the importance of adaptability and collaboration across the entire supply chain network. Especially when it comes to the retailer-supplier relationship, the recent rise in e-commerce and continued evolution of technology has echoed the significance of an efficient collaboration.

In today’s intricate world of commerce, where customer demands are soaring, the success of retailers and suppliers weighs heavily on their ability to collaborate seamlessly within the supply chain more than ever before. The flow of products from manufacturers to store shelves and into the consumer’s shopping cart relies on synchronized and robust supply chain operations. An interdependent relationship between both parties sets a sturdy foundation for cost savings, demand planning, continuous improvement, and improved customer experiences among many other key factors that make their collaboration crucial.

Key Benefits to Collaboration

Here we’ll take a closer look at some of the primary benefits of a strong connection between these retailers and their vendors.

  • Cost optimization: Effective supply chain collaboration between the retailer-supplier relationship presents the opportunity for significant cost savings. By working together closely, both parties can streamline processes, look for areas of improvement, and eliminate any inefficiencies. By sharing information on demand, production, and logistics, together they have better visibility in identifying cost savings such as consolidating shipments and optimizing shipping routes. Additionally, for both retailers and suppliers, the cost savings can be reinvested into bettering their business or even passed on to their customers.

  • Demand planning and forecasting: By utilizing collaborative demand planning and forecasting, retailers and suppliers can view and understand more accurate predictions of product demand, allowing for improved overall preparation. This also allows retailers to share real-time data and forecasts with suppliers who can use it for things like production scheduling, adjusting inventory levels, and clearer visibility of the supply chain for both sides to proactively tackle any potential disruptions or opportunities. Collaboration on demand planning and forecasting can also reduce the chance of products being under or overstock, ensuring the products in demand are available at the right time.

  • Continuous improvement: Working collaboratively in the supply chain drives continuous improvement for each partner involved. When retailers and suppliers work in collaboration, it enables the exchange of successful strategies and best practices, advice and lessons learned, as well as performance feedback. By partnering in analyzing data, both parties can identify inefficiencies and opportunities for optimization, fostering growth on each side. A collaborative retailer-supplier duo is also important for staying on top of trends, evolving technology, and innovative solutions, adaptations businesses should make if they want to remain competitive. Especially with the various supply chain shifts experienced in the last few years and the unpredictability of the supply chain today, retailer and supplier collaborations are important for staying resilient, agile, and responsive to changing market dynamics.

  • Enhanced customer experience: When retailers and suppliers work together like teammates, it can help them ensure product availability, timely delivery, and seamless order fulfillment. Collaborative efforts also lead to faster order processing, shorter lead times, and better delivery efficiency, resulting in a reliable service that will keep customers coming back. By working closely together to address issues and proactively face challenges, retailers and suppliers can better mitigate risk, improve their communication, and provide an exceptional customer experience. Lastly, shared real-time data and shipment tracking between the two can help both parties stay informed on potential delays and monitor daily delivery performance. All these collaborative efforts build customer loyalty and leave customers satisfied.

Supply chain collaboration between retailers and suppliers has proven crucial to finding shipping success. Working together enables opportunities for cost optimization, improved operational efficiency, positive customer experiences, and overall greater supply chain visibility. The collaboration also plays a vital role in ensuring product availability, timely delivery, and seamless order fulfillment.

After the collaborative partnership is confirmed, the next step is finding a shipping solution that streamlines these collaborative efforts and enables retailers to work with suppliers in a way that meets the unique needs of each relationship for optimal outcomes. Implementing a shipping software solution is an effective way to enhance the relationship and produce optimal operational outcomes.

Varsity Logistics offers robust and comprehensive freight and parcel shipping software solutions for IBM i/AS400 systems that enhance communication and transparency, optimize logistics processes, and enable retailers and suppliers to synchronize their operations and meet delivery expectations for the end customer. It unlocks a new level of accuracy and visibility with document generation and detailed historical data visible for analysis and reporting. The software also helps customers manage their selection of carriers and optimize shipment pricing, fostering seamless collaboration, elevating the competitive edge, and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Interested in simplifying and streamlining your supply chain strategy with shipping software? Get in touch with our team of experts today to explore the ways Varsity Logistics can enhance your shipping operations and transform the way your business handles logistics.

7 Benefits of Carrier Diversification

Learn how carrier diversification reduces costs, improves customer satisfaction, and more.

Everyone’s familiar with the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. The expression is a warning against concentrating all your resources or efforts into one place or thing. When relying too heavily on a single option, you potentially put everything at risk in the event of a crisis. Although this time-worn phrase dates back to the 1600’s or earlier, it still remains applicable to an abundance of situations, including your shipping strategy.

An effective way to apply this advice to your shipping strategy is by diversifying your carrier mix. This provides shippers with carrier options in the event of a supply chain disruption. The saying became especially relevant in the logistics world after the pandemic struck, causing a spike in e-commerce, disruptions in carrier networks, shifting consumer behavior, and more.

7 Reasons to Implement a Carrier Diversification Strategy

Post pandemic, in today’s rapidly evolving shipping landscape, supply chain innovation and adaptability are essential. Still, amidst times of changing consumer expectations, dynamic market conditions, labor unrest and other unforeseen circumstances, businesses are realizing that carrier diversification is a key driver of success. If you are looking to inject flexibility into your shipping processes, mitigate risks, enhance service coverage, and unlock new opportunities, then carrier diversification is a strategy to put in place. Here are seven ways having more than one major carrier can benefit your business:

1. Carrier Diversification Reduces Risk

Relying on a single carrier can pose risks such as service disruptions due to weather, labor strikes, or unforeseen circumstances. By diversifying carriers, you reduce the risk of shipping disruptions having a devastating effect on your business by distributing shipping volumes across several providers. Additionally, with an advanced multi-carrier shipping solution, if one carrier experiences an issue, you can seamlessly switch to an alternative carrier. This redundancy helps to continue the flow of goods, ensure timely delivery and business continuity, and minimize the impact on your shipping operations.

2. Carrier Diversification Increases Flexibility and Scalability

By integrating multiple carriers into your shipping software, you gain the flexibility and scalability to adapt to evolving market conditions, shifting consumer preferences, and seasonal demands. It allows you to find the best carrier suitable for specific needs on a shipment-to-shipment basis, based on factors such as cost, transit time, destination, and service level. This agility allows you to optimize your shipping operations and handle fluctuations in consumer demands efficiently.

3. Carrier Diversification Uncovers Competitive Shipping Rates

Competitive Shipping Rates: Carrier diversification enables you to compare shipping rates across multiple providers. Each carrier may offer different pricing structures, discounts, or negotiated rates based on several favors like your shipping volume, destination, or time in transit. By having options, you can identify the most cost-effective shipping solutions for your business, potentially reducing shipping expenses and passing along those savings to retailers as well.

4. Carrier Diversification Improves Geographic Coverage

Incorporating different carriers into your shipping software allows businesses access to a broader network of delivery routes and service areas. Individual carriers typically have strengths in certain regions whether that be local, regional, or international. By diversifying carriers, you can expand your shipping reach to more areas and access markets that might be underserved by a single carrier. This allows you to leverage your established expertise in different geographic locations while also growing your business. Carrier diversification helps you reach a wider customer base and opens the door to entering new markets with confidence.

5. Carrier Diversification Improves Service Levels

Different carriers have their strengths and weaknesses, such as specific routes, delivery networks, or specialized services. By diversifying carriers, you can fill the gaps in areas where some carriers might be as efficient. This allows you to tap into each carrier’s unique strengths and select the option that best aligns with your specific shipping requirements. This can result in faster delivery times, higher customer satisfaction, and overall improved service levels.

6. Carrier Diversification Empowers Negotiation

When you have multiple carriers integrated into your shipping software, it strengthens your position during carrier negotiations. You can leverage competition among carriers to compare rates or service capabilities. Carriers may also be more likely to offer you discounts, customized solutions, or other attractive incentives to secure or maintain your business. Overall, negotiation allows businesses to vouch for more favorable pricing, contractual agreements, and value-added services.

7. Carrier Diversification Improves Customer Satisfaction

Every business has the goal to provide an exceptional customer experience- after all, it’s what builds brand loyalty and customer trust. By expanding your carrier library, you increase customization abilities, flexibility, and other great options for customers. It also allows for the selection of carriers based on factors like reliability, delivery speed, and geographic range that best aligns with your customer’s needs. With higher consumer expectations surrounding deliveries today, customers appreciate carriers who can get them their goods in a safe and timely manner.

How Carrier Diversification Facilitates Growth

Overall, diversifying your carrier mix offers a variety of benefits for businesses navigating the ever-evolving world of supply chain and logistics. This strategy enables greater flexibility, improved service levels, cost optimization, risk mitigation, expanded market reach, negotiation power, and increased customer satisfaction. Integrating multiple carriers provides operational redundancy, allowing businesses backup options in the event of disruptions and other unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, carrier diversification creates the opportunity for businesses to expand their reach, enter new markets, or those that may be under serviced. Embracing a carrier diversification strategy is imperative and empowers businesses to construct resilient, streamlined, and customer-focused operations in a constantly evolving marketplace.

Need help getting started with a carrier diversification strategy or shipping software? Contact our experts today to discover how Varsity Logistics can improve the way your business does shipping.

Ship FedEx? Varsity is FedEx Compatible

Varsity proudly announces FedEx Compatible Community 2021 status achievement.

If your company ships a lot of packages a day (from the low 100s to the mid 1000s), saving a little money here and there can really add up. 

Varsity Logistics makes it easy to ship and save with FedEx, which is one of the reasons we’ve achieved FedEx Compatible Community status for 2021.

Varsity ShipSoft software works with all the major parcel carriers to generate your best method + service + price in real time so you and your customers save on shipping costs. Then, our ShipAudit software ensures that your invoices match your contract rates. 

Learn how Varsity Logistics multi-carrier shipping software can take your parcel strategy to the next level. Visit our Request a Demo page to connect with a Varsity Shipping Specialist to learn more today.