[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.

Ship Faster with SpeedWeigh: Auto Package Weighing

Learn about Varsity SpeedWeigh and how it works with ShipSoft Parcel to automate the package weighing process

Imagine you are mid-shift working in a bustling warehouse, where efficiency is crucial and every second counts for staying on track of your parcel shipments. In this high-stakes environment, every moment wasted on manual tasks, correcting inaccuracies, and inefficient processes can impact your business’s bottom line and lead to lost opportunities. When it comes to traditional package weighing processes, the reliance on manual scanning and data entry into shipping systems consumes valuable time and increases the risk for errors.

But what if there was a way to avoid these threats of inefficiency and streamline your shipping process with a solution that eliminates the manual tasks and integrates into your existing workflow? Enter SpeedWeigh, a module that partners seamlessly with Varsity ShipSoft Parcel to revolutionize the way packages are weighed and processed.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the world of SpeedWeigh, taking a closer look at how the module works, why it’s important for shippers, and the key benefits it can bring to your business’ shipping operations. From increased efficiency to significant cost savings, let’s explore how SpeedWeigh can transform the way you ship and propel your business towards long-term success.

SpeedWeigh works by automatically sending the package weight from the shipping scale to Varsity ShipSoft-Parcel (the only holistic shipping software built for the IBM i) at the precise time that the order number is scanned. This eliminates the need for an additional barcode scan or manually entering the package weight.

To find the best rate for a package, you need to consider all of these factors:

  • Package weight
  • Package dimensions
  • Service type
  • Carrier rate and discount
  • Destination

ShipSoft Parcel combines the package weight provided by SpeedWeigh with destination, package dimensions, service type, and carrier rates to determine your actual shipment costs in the blink of an eye. By using SpeedWeigh to eliminate the manual steps to scan or enter the package weight, companies improve accuracy and streamline the shipping process.

Varsity’s SpeedWeigh also eliminates the need for a keyboard wedge, a device that connects the scanner to the keyboard for inputting the weight. The data is transferred automatically from SpeedWeigh into ShipSoft Parcel on your IBM i (AS/400) Power system without the third-party device.

As we know, in the dynamic world of shipping and logistics, every step matters. That is why the SpeedWeigh module plays a crucial role in the industry as it offers a solution that goes beyond convenience. There are several benefits this module brings to businesses.

Key Benefits of SpeedWeigh

Automation of Package Weight Retrieval: Arguably the most important ability SpeedWeigh provides shippers with is the elimination of manual tasks. In traditional package weighing processes, manually scanning each parcel’s barcode and the tedious entry of weight information is not only extremely time consuming, but it also leaves the door wide open for introducing human error into the mix. This integration automates weight retrieval and removes the risk of inefficiencies, ensuring that the weight of each parcel is accurately recorded without the hassle of manual input.

Increased Throughput Speed and Efficiency: Automating the package weighing process allows for accelerated throughput speeds as workflows can move more quickly, creating an overall more efficient process. With less manual steps, employees can process more parcels in less time, leading to faster turnaround times, more time to allocate resources to other important tasks, and improving the overall customer experience.

Cost-Optimization: With manual processes comes the increased risk of costly human errors. Automated systems help to reduce the need for manual labor, saving businesses on staffing costs and costs associated with “damage control” from human intervention. Additionally, automated weighing systems provide accurate weight measurements, which help ensure shipping costs are appropriately calculated, minimizing the risk of overpaying, underpaying, or running into penalties and disputes with carriers.

Varsity Logistics multi-carrier shipping software is the #1 solution for IBM i (AS/400) Power systems users who need parcel shipping capabilities. Our ShipSoft-Parcel Suite is a complete and integrated solution, automating your business’s shipping process from start to finish. The ShipSoft application acts as a central control for each of Varsity’s supply chain execution modules for parcel including:

SpeedWeigh isn’t just a ShipSoft-Parcel tool – it’s a transformative solution for shipping operations. By automating processes, enhancing efficiency, and creating opportunities for cost-optimization, Varsity SpeedWeigh for IBM i (AS/400) Power systems users empowers businesses to revolutionize the way they ship.

To learn more about SpeedWeigh or Varsity shipping software solutions, contact Varsity’s shipping experts or schedule a demo. We look forward to exploring how Varsity Logistics can meet your business’s unique needs.

Mastering Market Volatility: 5 Ways Shipping Software Helps You Weather the Storm

You can’t always predict the unexpected, but you sure can prepare for it

In 2020, a global pandemic forced our world into a lockdown, causing productions to shut down, surges in unavailable product demand, and delays at ports. In 2022, 1,743 entities were impacted by supply chain cyber-attacks in the U.S., a 235% increase year-over-year since 2017. In 2023, anticipation of a potential strike by UPS Teamsters triggered a defensive response in many businesses, increasing costs for alternative shipping options, stress and anxiety, and many other harmful effects. Uncertainty regarding capacity exceeding demand adds another layer of complexity, as businesses grapple with questions about how many carriers will survive or merge in the face of changing market dynamics. Not to mention, other threats of disruption, like natural disasters and labor concerns, continue to loom over the supply chain and logistics industries.

You might be wondering: What’s the point of calling out these examples of market volatility? The point is, the supply chain and logistics landscape changes rapidly, constantly evolving. At the same time, they’re consistently faced with irregularities and the unknown. The possibility of supply chain disruption can occur at any time, especially when we least expect it. So, how can businesses be prepared for the unexpected?

Not only understanding, but also preparing for these market dynamics is crucial for businesses looking to excel in today’s volatile shipping environment. An advanced supply chain technology solution, such as a Transportation Management System (TMS) or multi-carrier shipping software built for both parcel and LTL shipping, emerges as the strategic key, offering a variety of tools and capabilities designed to help you navigate uncertainty. Let’s explore how these solutions can set your shipping operations up for success against unforeseen circumstances and market volatility.

From visibility to automation and provider expertise, here are five ways a robust shipping software solution can help you adapt to evolving market conditions and provide the control you need to weather any storm:

1. Enhanced Visibility: Industry leading multi-carrier shipping software offers real-time visibility into the entire supply chain ecosystem. Advanced tracking and monitoring gives businesses visibility to several factors including shipment status, carrier performance, inventory levels, and market conditions. This provides companies with the ability to quickly detect disruptions and proactively respond to any unexpected obstacles.

2. Optimized Routing: In times of supply chain disruption, a shipping software’s optimized routing capabilities can really make a difference. The software can analyze various factors like traffic conditions, carrier capacity, and delivery windows, to select the most efficient route avoiding any disruptions. This way, businesses can still minimize transit times and adapt to volatile market conditions.

3. Improved Communication: Superior shipping software platforms integrate seamlessly with other parts of the Enterprise Software Stack (ESS), ensuring smooth data exchanges and streamlining operations. This also allows for uninterrupted communication between shippers, carriers, and customers. By maintaining real-time communication between the different parts of the supply chain, it helps businesses keep stakeholders informed to swiftly mitigate the impact of unforeseen circumstances and vice versa.

4. Automation: The ability of a comprehensive multi-carrier shipping solution to automate manual tasks and streamline workflows improves overall operational efficiency and agility. Not only do automated processes reduce the risk of costly errors, but they enable businesses to quickly adapt to sudden market changes, ensuring high service levels even in unpredictable events.

5. Expertise: A top-tier shipping software provider’s expertise is invaluable when it comes to preparing shippers for market volatility. Experienced providers offer strategic guidance, innovative solutions, and proactive support. Leveraging their strong industry knowledge, these providers can assist businesses in anticipating potential risks and developing contingency plans to mitigate them. By partnering with an experienced shipping software provider, shippers can lean on a trusted resource to help them navigate turbulent times and ensure resilience in supply chain uncertainty.

While it’s clear that unforeseen circumstances and instances of supply chain volatility are inevitable, Varsity Logistics’ comprehensive shipping software solution is the obvious choice for safeguarding your shipping operations against them. Varsity Logistics is the industry-leading multi-carrier shipping software provider exclusively designed for shippers on the IBM i (AS/400) Power systems. Included in our parcel shipping suite are various robust functionalities and supply chain execution modules, built for even the most complex shipping challenges. As a premium shipping solution, we help you protect your shipping operations with our:

Supply Chain Visibility

Electronically linked via Varsity’s ShipTalk module, your shipping software is seamlessly connected to your carriers to provide your business with real-time, end-to-end visibility into various parts of the supply chain. This functionality gives insight to variables such as current time order updates, delivery status, and advanced tracking and tracing. The visibility ShipTalk provides gives companies the ability to swiftly identify disruptions and take proactive action.

Carrier Selection

Another functionality Varsity provides as an important tool in mitigating supply chain disruptions is our carrier selection process. Based on a list of criteria including transit time, cost, mode, performance, optimal carriers, and more, Varsity’s ShipSelect module chooses the best carrier for every single shipment. This kind of functionality offers your business an automated way to still select the optimal carrier option for your shipments even during volatile supply chain conditions.

Streamlined Communication

Varsity’s shipping software solution offers the most robust and powerful integration possible with IBM i ERPs, making it the clear choice for IBM i (AS/400) Power systems users. This seamless integration allows for smooth communication and real-time shipping data access, empowering IT and e-commerce teams to stay informed of any potential threats or disruptions, allowing for immediate collaboration and proactive responses. [Learn why Varsity is the preferred shipping software partner of VAI!]

Automated Workflows

Automation plays a big role in helping shippers mitigate volatility. Varsity’s ShipSoft-Parcel solution automates the entire shipping process from start to end, eliminating the risk of expensive manual errors. From optimizing shipment pricing to ensuring label compliance, our automated solution ensures quick adjustments to your shipping strategies in response to shifting market conditions, like disruptions in transit routes. Additionally, our ability to conform to business requirements and industry compliance standards guarantees shippers a reliable solution regardless of supply chain challenges.

Supply Chain Expertise

We absolutely agree that the experience of your shipping software provider is invaluable, especially with unforeseen circumstances consistently looming. Founded in 1989, Varsity Logistics is proud to share that we hold over nearly 40 years in the supply chain and logistics space under our belt. Additionally, the tenure of our services and support teams surpasses 120 years. With that much experience, we know best when it comes to preparing shippers for resilience against market volatility.

Additional Features

There are many more capabilities of Varsity’s shipping modules that go beyond this list, but it’s important to mention:

  • Auditing: Varsity’s ShipAudit module reconciles carrier invoices against the anticipated costs, eliminating over-charges, duplicate bills, or invalid charges. Overall, by protecting profitability, ShipAudit helps companies fortify their supply chains against disruption and encourages operational continuity.
  • Analytics: TransData is Varsity’s transportation analytics tool that provides shipping companies with access to organized historical shipping and carrier data, enabling them to analyze performance, monitor trends, and make informed decisions. Leveraging this data helps businesses negotiate better agreements with carriers and reduce costs, thus helping to mitigate the impacts of a volatile shipping market.
  • Containerization: The ShipOptimizer module revolutionizes shipping operations by providing companies with the ability to predict shipping costs accurately before product shipment, offsetting rising transportation expenses and enhancing warehouse efficiency. By optimizing the container packing process, this module enables companies to seamlessly manage complex fulfillment requirements, reduce operating costs, and minimize potential product damage, ultimately helping companies navigate the challenges of supply chain disruptions.

To learn more about the modules mentioned above and Varsity’s comprehensive selection of parcel, freight, analytics and auditing shipping solutions, visit our resource center.

Varsity Logistics’ industry-leading multi-carrier shipping software is more than a shipping tool; it’s an essential piece of your supply chain software solution helping to safeguard your IBM i (AS/400) shipping strategy against the unexpected. Offering a valuable set of capabilities, including enhanced visibility, optimal carrier selection, streamlined communication, automated processes, and provider expertise, Varsity provides the solution to equip your shipping strategy for whatever’s around the corner.

Ready to weather the storm and take on supply chain disruptions with confidence? Contact our team of shipping experts or schedule a demo to learn more about how Varsity can help you navigate the ever-changing parcel shipping landscape.

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.

Custom ERPs Uncovered: Navigating Integration Complexities with the IBM i (AS/400) Power Series

Discover a breakdown of the challenges IBM i Power Series users face when using a custom ERP and how to solve them

In 1988, IBM introduced the AS/400 server. Today, despite advancements in technology, the IBM i (AS/400) Power Series continues to be a pivotal choice for many businesses. In fact, a recent IBM i survey conducted by All400s found that 49.32% of users operating on the IBM i platform do not plan on migrating off at any time. This underscores the strength and reliability of the IBM i (AS/400) Power Series, making it a cornerstone for businesses seeking robust and reliable computing solutions.

When it comes to the parcel shipping industry, many businesses choose custom Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions to tailor their operations to specific needs. Custom ERPs provide flexibility, allowing companies to fine-tune their systems to address unique requirements that some off-the-shelf solutions may not meet.

However, this customization journey, especially when paired with the robust IBM i Power Series, brings about challenges. Specifically, when businesses integrate custom ERPs with carrier systems, they encounter complex tasks, such as creating interfaces for customer interactions.

The Challenges of Custom ERPs and the IBM i Power Series (AS/400)

Let’s dive into three challenges that shippers face, exploring the difficulties of integration complexity, time-consuming customizations, and the natural tendency for errors.

Challenge 1: Integration Complexity

A significant challenge comes from the complexities of blending custom ERP systems, particularly those also operating on the robust IBM i Power Series, with carrier platforms. Shippers find themselves faced with the demanding task of crafting custom interfaces to establish seamless communication between their proprietary systems and the diverse array of carrier technologies. This integration complexity not only requires a substantial investment of time but also introduces the risk of errors, potentially disrupting the entire shipping process.

Challenge 2: Time-Consuming Customizations

Another difficult challenge arises when creating custom interfaces for businesses to interact with carrier systems, especially when using custom ERPs on the IBM i Power Series. Making and using these customizations is not only time-consuming but also demands a meticulous approach to ensure accuracy. Shippers struggle with the need for quick and error-free deployments, often facing delays and strained resources as they aim for a seamlessly integrated and efficient shipping workflow.

Challenge 3: Proneness to Errors

As shippers work through the intricate process of connecting their custom ERP, specifically designed for IBM i Power Series, with carrier systems, the potential for errors becomes a large concern. The manual nature of writing these interfaces leaves room for unintentional mistakes, risking problems like inconsistent data, communication issues, and operational inefficiencies. Addressing and rectifying errors post-implementation further compounds the challenges, highlighting the need for a more streamlined and error-resistant integration process.

Overall, the introduction of custom ERPs introduces an extra layer of complexity, requiring businesses to create custom interfaces for multiple carriers to integrate with the carrier system. Furthermore, changes or updates in carrier APIs, a common occurrence, may cause delays in aligning the ERP system with the latest requirements. This can lead to inefficiencies, hindering a business’s operational effectiveness. Businesses must understand that traditional or manual methods are no longer sustainable in our fast-paced and competitive environment. Embracing innovation and streamlined processes becomes crucial for navigating the challenges posed by integration complexities in the shipping industry.

A Multi-Carrier Shipping Solution

Once your parcel shipping volume starts to increase, the need for automation becomes increasingly evident. Among the leading solutions is multi-carrier shipping software (MCSS), an option that smoothly integrates with custom ERP systems. MCSS stands out for its ability to seamlessly integrate with custom ERP systems, presenting a streamlined alternative to the often complex and manual processes involved in supply chain workflows.

Streamlined Integration Process

One of the unique features of automated multi-carrier shipping software is the ability to simplify the integration process with custom ERP systems, especially those operating on the robust IBM i Power Series (AS/400). Unlike manual efforts that may require additional work to seamlessly connect with diverse carrier systems, MCSS is purpose-built for shipping-related functions. This eliminates the need for custom interfaces, simplifying the integration. Embracing this automation isn’t just a strategy – it’s a necessity for businesses relying on the IBM i (AS/400) Power Series and custom ERP systems.

Real-time Adaptability to Carrier Changes

Top-tier multi-carrier shipping software solutions don’t just optimize shipping operations – they adapt in real-time to changes in carrier APIs. This agility ensures that businesses using MCSS can quickly align their ERP systems to meet updated carrier requirements, minimizing delays and disruptions in shipping operations.

Enhanced Operational Efficiency

The introduction of automated multi-carrier shipping software brings significant efficiency benefits for parcel shipping businesses. By integrating seamlessly with a business’s ERP system, MCSS acts as a centralized hub, automating decisions for various shipping processes. This unified platform enhances visibility and streamlines tasks such as returning shipping rates, label generation, and shipment tracking across carriers. The result is an improved responsiveness that contributes to an enhanced customer experience (CX) for both the business and its customers. The automation aspect not only mitigates manual bottlenecks but also substantially reduces shipping costs and errors, freeing up valuable resources that can be redirected to other critical core business functions.

In summary, choosing automated multi-carrier shipping software is a must for businesses dealing with the challenges of custom ERPs and IBM i Power Series (AS/400).

Varsity Logistics Automated Multi-Carrier Shipping Software for IBM i (AS/400) Power Systems Users

Are you ready to say goodbye to those time-consuming manual processes? Say hello to Varsity Logistics! As the leading provider of automated multi-carrier shipping software for businesses using IBM i (AS/400) Power Systems and with over 30 years of proven experience, Varsity stands out.

Designed for retailers, manufacturers, 3PLs and healthcare companies, Varsity’s parcel shipping software is a seamlessly integrated suite of advanced supply chain modules. These modules are built to simplify every aspect of your parcel shipping operations, from order entry to shipment tracking and reporting.

Varsity’s parcel shipping solution automates each step of the shipping process, ensuring efficiency at every step. To learn more about how Varsity Logistics can transform your shipping operations, contact our team of shipping experts or request a demo. Your streamlined and automated supply chain begins here!

The IBM i (AS/400) Guide to Handling Increased Parcel Throughput

Learn how IBM i (AS/400) Power users can streamline their shipping operations and increase their parcel throughput with ease

Up and running since 1988, IBM i (AS/400) operating systems (now Power Systems), are a cornerstone of many businesses’ shipping operations. In fact, the AS/400 platform is used in over 100,000 companies including Fortune 500 companies that use IBM i Power systems. As these systems have stood the test of time, their reliability, scalability, and durability have remained strong, which is why they are still relevant in today’s modern business environments. IBM i (AS/400) Power systems act as a central hub for various business functions, including those related to shipping and distribution. For those in the parcel shipping industry, these systems play a critical role in managing the various aspects of daily shipping operations.

E-commerce and customer expectations have surged over the last few years. This has caused the pressure for shippers to handle increased parcel throughput to grow in tandem. As businesses find themselves grappling with the challenge of managing an increased volume of packages, they must find an efficient solution to help them navigate this quickly changing environment to remain competitive. For shippers relying on IBM i (AS/400) Power systems, there are strategies and solutions that can empower your business in tackling the ever-growing demand for efficiency. Let’s start by looking at potential challenges you may face if you fail to adapt your strategy.

The Challenges of Handling Increased Parcel Throughput

While increasing your business’s parcel throughput can point to many positives, such as business growth, improved customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage, it is not always an easy undertaking. A quick spike in orders can stretch a company’s staff and resources thin without proper planning. Operational bottlenecks and a slow down or halt in tasks due to inefficient processes can result in order processing delays, late shipments, and unfulfilled customer expectations.

As mentioned previously, there has been a substantial increase in consumer demand and expectations surrounding the delivery of their products and customer service. Because of this, there is a heavy pressure on shippers to ensure they meet order fulfillment timelines and delivery promise dates. This requires businesses to adapt their shipping operations quickly to meet high order volumes and keep their customers satisfied.

As a reliable system for over 35 years, it is no wonder that the IBM i (AS/400) Power system is one of the world’s “most popular business computing systems”. However, because it has been around for so long, it is considered a legacy system by many – mainly because of other, newer solutions that have been released since. In fact, many companies with IBM i (AS/400) Power systems still have homegrown shipping solutions that may not be as adaptable or efficient, making it hard to keep up with increased throughput demands. Because of this, it is crucial for shippers to find scalable and efficient technologies that can seamlessly grow with their operations and provide the adaptability they need to keep up with such a dynamic parcel shipping landscape.

Strategies to Handle Increased Parcel Throughput Like a Pro

While the challenges of managing increased parcel throughput are evident, there are several strategies for shippers utilizing IBM i (AS/400) Power systems to empower them to tackle these obstacles effectively.

Automating Order Processing

Order processing automation is crucial for businesses experiencing an increase in demand. Implementing the automation of tasks such as order entry, address validation, and order routing can minimize the need for manual data input. Overall, this significantly reduces the possibility of human error and allows businesses to handle increased parcel throughput with ease. When integrated into IBM i (AS/400) Power systems, order processing automation substantially improves the precision and seamlessness of order fulfillment, delivering a streamlined processing of orders and efficient dispatch of shipments.

Rate Shopping

Rate shopping is an invaluable strategy for shippers utilizing IBM i (AS/400) Power systems to efficiently handle the challenges that come with increased parcel throughput. Rate shopping technology gives shippers the ability to compare and select the best carriers and rates for each shipment, allowing them the opportunity to stay cost-effective for both their business and their customers. Incorporating rate shopping into the shipping process also guarantees a reduction of overspending on shipping costs while ensuring users can make well-informed decisions in real time, guarantee timely deliveries, and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Real-Time Tracking for Customers

With the high expectations consumers hold today, real-time tracking and visibility to their orders is extremely important. Shippers can utilize their technology to provide their customers with tracking information, providing them insight into every step in the shipping process of their order. Notifications of early, on-time, or shipping delays make deliveries more convenient for consumers, as well as builds trust with the business, enhancing the overall customer experience. IBM i (AS/400) Power users can achieve this through integration with shipping software, like a multi-carrier shipping software solution, ensuring real-time tracking and visibility for their customers.

Dimensional Weighing

Incorporating dimensional weighing technology can significantly boost your company’s parcel throughput. This strategy is critical for IBM i (AS/400) Power users to integrate in order to get accurate rate calculation and cost-efficient shipping. It ensures accurate pricing based on the dimension and weight of parcels, minimizing discrepancies between manifest weight and actual weight. Not only does this technology lower shipping costs and allows businesses to handle increased parcel throughput, but it also results in substantial labor savings. [Learn more about dimensional weight pricing and unexpected shipping costs.]

The list of strategies for shippers using IBM i (AS/400) Power systems to handle increased parcel throughput goes on, but wouldn’t it be nice if there was one comprehensive platform that combined all of these strategies into one helpful solution?

Introducing: Varsity Logistics’ Multi-Carrier Shipping Software Solution

Varsity Logistics has stood as a top-tier supplier of multi-carrier shipping software for companies in need of parcel shipping capabilities for over a decade. Designed exclusively for IBM i (AS/400) Power users, our comprehensive parcel shipping suite is seamlessly integrated, hosting various top tier supply chain execution modules engineered to handle even the most intricate small package shipping.

Varsity’s ShipSoft-Parcel seamlessly integrates with ERP, legacy, and Order Entry systems running on IBM i (iSeries, Power, AS/400) systems. It delivers a unified and automated shipping solution that ultimately eliminates manual data entry and significantly reduces shipping costs for your business. This solution incorporates several technologies to apply the strategies for businesses to handle increased parcel throughput discussed above.

Within Varsity’s ShipSoft-Parcel solution, ShipSelect automates the carrier selection process based on factors such as transit time, cost, and carrier service. It chooses the optimal carrier for every shipment, following business requirements and routing guides. ShipOptimizer technology finds the ideal containerization process and accurately predicts shipping costs before processing the order. SpeedWeigh allows shippers to automatically retrieve the package weight from the scale which is pulled into the system at the time the order number is scanned. This eliminates the need for an additional get-weight barcode scan or manual entry, ultimately saving your business processing time and money.

Varsity’s multi-carrier shipping solution is a unified platform that encompasses automation, order processing, dimensional weighing, real-time tracking, and more. This all-in-one solution optimizes operations, improves efficiency, and guarantees the effective and successful management of increased parcel throughput for those operating on IBM i (iSeries, Power, AS/400) systems. To learn more about Varsity’s Parcel shipping solution, the additional execution modules, and how our software can transform your shipping operations, contact our team of shipping experts or request a demo.

How IBM i (AS/400) Power Users Can Reduce Shipping Errors and Overcharges with Automated Auditing

Learn how to automate the once time-consuming process of uncovering errors and overcharges in your shipping process

From inaccurate charges to overlooked errors, the numerous ways your parcel and freight shipping invoices can quietly drain your company’s finances are as widespread as they are costly. All it takes is a simple miscalculated surcharge, an incorrect shipping address, or an unnoticed billing error before you are hemorrhaging money that could have been invested elsewhere in your business.

Regardless of the reason for your increased shipping costs, often times they aren’t identified until after the fact. Fortunately, today’s methods of auditing shipping charges have improved significantly due to automated intelligent audit software provided via some multi-carrier shipping platforms. For companies utilizing IBM I (AS/400) Power systems, using a tool like this can revolutionize the way businesses audit parcel and freight shipping invoices, ensuring precision and substantial cost savings.

Let’s take a look at a few ways companies can perform these audits.

In the Beginning: The Manual Audit

Manual auditing has been the traditional approach and common way to start evaluating parcel and freight shipping invoices. However, like any job done manually, this process has its fair share of flaws. Not only is it a time-consuming process, but it also demands a high attention to detail, leaving room for human error. This, unfortunately, is unavoidable as it’s human nature for even the most meticulous auditors to overlook an error or record something inaccurately.

The manual auditing process may work initially, but once the volume of orders rises to a certain level, it can become impossible to keep up. This is especially true if employees have their hands full with other job responsibilities. Things start to be missed, and the percentage of error starts to increase, thus costing your business dollars that could and should be spent elsewhere. Labor shortages also raise concern for manual tasks as we currently have 1.4 million fewer Americans working than we did in early 2020. These flaws place a spotlight on the urgent need for a more advanced approach to parcel and freight auditing so what else do you try? Enter the consultant.

We Can’t Take It Anymore: The External Audit

Auditing companies have been established for a long time and serve a crucial function in helping businesses ensure financial accuracy and adhere to regulatory standards in various areas of their operations. They make money by keeping a portion of compensation from the businesses that use their auditing services. Although they may do a better job of keeping up with high volumes than an internal team, auditing companies still have their own flaws.

While you may be saving on shipping costs by receiving more accurate audits on your parcel and freight invoices than you were with manual audits, you are still paying for an outside service. [Learn more about FreightAudit solutions]. At this point, you may be feeling a lack of control over the money spent on not only shipping, but also monitoring shipping. The reality is you could have paid for automated auditing software several times over by now, reducing excessive costs and unnecessary errors. If you want more visibility, but are unwilling to return to a manual process, it’s time for the next step. Enter auditing software.

Keep It Simple: The Automated Audit

Top shipping software solutions provide easily integrated and automated auditing solutions as a core component of their offerings. These software solutions go beyond the traditional auditing methods mentioned above as they leverage algorithms, data analysis, and technology to examine various kinds of records. Typically, they work by analyzing data invoices, receipts, and shipping records against rules agreed upon by contract to detect any discrepancies or errors in real-time. Doing so prevents your business from paying for things like overcharges, duplicate bills, and invalid charges. This solution also empowers businesses to improve their competitive edge, streamline their operations, and reach substantial cost savings. What’s even better is that there are multi-carrier shipping solutions strategically built for shippers who are on IBM i (AS/400) Power systems. This is key when trying to find a solution that integrates properly into your Enterprise Software Stack (ESS).

Feedback Loop: The Continuous Improvement Benefit

When your automated auditing software discovers errors, particularly those that cause expensive accessorial charges, the fault doesn’t always lie with the carrier. There are many potential errors that your shipping software and/or your employees can help you avoid. These include, but are not limited to, dimensional weight pricing, residential surcharges, address corrections and more. [Have more questions about dimensional weight pricing? Watch this webinar to learn more about tackling unexpected shipping costs with automated technology.]

Having auditing software can help recoup carrier overcharges and with the right shipping software in place, brands can identify the types of overpayments that are internal. For example, a package might have been sent via Regular Delivery to a residential address, causing a surcharge, when it could have been sent via Home Delivery. Additional employee training to reduce internal errors can be another beneficial way to minimize shipping costs. An elite auditing program will surface the examples you need to help your staff learn.

While rising shipping costs will continue to be an area of concern for most companies, keeping a close eye on costs with internal auditing software can help make the most of shipping budgets.

The Industry’s First IBM i (AS/400) Power Shipment Auditing Solution: ShipAudit™

There’s only one solution for IBM i (AS/400) Power customers looking to ensure accuracy on their parcel shipping invoices, as well as save money on their transportation spend. Varsity Logistics’ ShipAudit™ software helps shippers find a quick ROI on their investment by reconciling pre-negotiated contract rates against actual carrier invoices as they are received electronically. Once the invoice is audited, everything that aligns is marked ready for processing and sent automatically to the finance or accounting department.

All the details related to any exceptions, duplicate charges, and accessorial fees are collected and presented together, along with recommendations to pay or deny, and charges that require an adjustment based on contract rates. After a quick review, legitimate exceptions are paid and the details for the contested charges are submitted back to the carrier for correction.

Varsity’s ShipAudit™ software offers many other benefits in addition to cost savings and eliminating manual data entry and audit processes. Other benefits include erasing the need for costly third-party involvement and ensuring contract rates and incentives are correctly applied to freight bills. Plus, there is one additional benefit from keeping your audits internal: a well-trained shipping staff.

Ready to learn more about how Varsity Logistics’ ShipAudit™ software can help you? Contact our shipping experts today to schedule a ShipAudit™ demo & see how auditing software can revolutionize your shipping process and help you avoid costly shipping mistakes.

What to Know Before You Invest: 7 Key Questions About Shipping Software

Shipping software is an important supply chain investment – do you have all the answers?

Rising transportation costs, labor concerns, and ever-changing customer demands for faster and free deliveries make shipping one of the most critical and costly areas of the supply chain. Because of this, the role of shipping software to gain efficiency and stay competitive has become increasingly pivotal. From optimizing resource allocation to ensuring consistent customer satisfaction, the right shipping software can make a significant impact on the cost savings you find as well as the overall success of your business. 

This leads us to the question: How do you ensure that your shipping software is a good fit? Before embarking on the journey of selecting the perfect shipping software solution, it is important to take a step back and consider your answers to a series of valuable questions. We’re sharing seven questions you should ask before deciding if a multi-carrier shipping software (MCSS) solution makes sense for your IBM i/AS400 system.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Shipping Software

Shipping software is an important supply chain investment. Here are the top things to consider before choosing a multi-carrier shipping software solution for your business.

1. Are we doing too many things manually?

If your business is using separate, carrier-supplied systems and website searches to find the best shipping rates, you can likely add automations to your process with a new shipping solution. By fully assessing the manual effort required, you can determine the potential cost savings a MCSS solution could provide. Shipping software improves accuracy and reduces errors, avoiding costly consequences that can arise from manual tasks.

2. Are our shipping costs accurate?

It is important to audit your shipping invoices to ensure they match your contract rates, so you avoid overpaying. Cost auditing can also reveal inefficiencies and bottlenecks in your current shipping operations, allowing you to pinpoint areas where redundant tasks may be causing unnecessary costs. When you identify the areas of cost savings, you can better allocate your budget for a more efficient operation.

3. Do we have good visibility of shipments once they leave our facility?

Now more than ever, customers have high expectations for shippers to meet estimated delivery dates and provide updates throughout the shipping process. Top-tier MCSS solutions integrate seamlessly with your carriers and have options to allow real-time tracking and status updates for your customers. MCSS visibility also helps reduce risks, like supply chain delays or disruptions, which can prevent substantial financial losses for your company.

4. Do we have an efficient number of shipping staff?

Evaluating your labor force can help you allocate your resources effectively, especially in today’s labor-constrained warehouses. Industry-leading MCSS are single, fully integrated systems that seamlessly connect with your existing carriers and ERP or WMS systems, replacing inefficient carrier-provided systems. Using advanced shipping solutions can save your team time and effort, allowing them to dedicate it elsewhere. This results in improved productivity and a competitive advantage.

5. Can we scale up as needed?

Scalable shipping software integrates seamlessly with your existing software systems, ensuring that as your business scales, everything scales together cohesively. MCSS gives you the ability to automate carrier selection to find the best rates for your customer’s needs from the start, and as your business grows, you can add modules or features such as auditing, pick/pack integration, and custom filings. Investing in scalable shipping software is also a way of future-proofing your business operations, avoiding costly frequent software upgrades and keeping up with shifts in customer expectations.

6. How accessible is our shipping data?

The ability to analyze and evaluate transactional and historical data is essential for operational success. Choosing shipping software that allows you to easily view and/or export your data is the key to monitoring day-to-day shipping operations, ensuring accurate order processing and optimal resource allocation. Historical data gives great insight to performance evaluation and customer behavior, leading to data-driven strategies for future success and effective cost management.

7. How quickly will our investment pay off?

Estimating the time to achieve ROI helps align your investment with your financial goals and business strategy. This allows your company to effectively plan and allocate resources. Leading shipping software solutions, like Varsity Logistics, see their customers recoup 5-15% in overcharges and realize an ROI in just a few months. The combination of benefits that MCSS provides, like streamlined processes, automated rate shopping, batch processing, and reduced shipping errors, lead to immediate bottom line cost savings for your business.

Learn more about Varsity Logistics multi-carrier shipping software for IBM i/AS400 systems

Interested in learning more about the long term cost savings and increased operational efficiency with multi-carrier shipping software? Varsity Logistics offers a robust, industry-leading freight and parcel shipping solution for IBM i/AS400 systems that integrate seamlessly into your existing business infrastructure.

Contact our team of shipping professionals to discover how Varsity Logistics can step-up your shipping operations and revolutionize your supply chain game.

Ship Faster w/Auto Package Weighing

Learn about Varsity SpeedWeigh™ and how it works with ShipSoft to automate package weighing processes

Our thoughts go out to all the busy warehouses and distribution centers. Most of these essential businesses are going strong, but they all need to keep their essential workers equally strong and healthy. 

Physical distancing within the warehouse can be tricky, which is one reason companies like this automated way to get actual package weights for shipping without having to physically walk over to the scale.

What is Varsity SpeedWeigh™?

SpeedWeigh™ automatically sends the package weight from the shipping scale to Varsity ShipSoft when the order number is scanned. This eliminates the need for an additional get-weight barcode scan or manually entering the package weight.

To find the best rate for a package, you need to consider all of these factors:

  • Package weight
  • Package dimensions
  • Service type
  • Carrier rate and discount
  • Destination

ShipSoft combines the package weight provided by SpeedWeigh with destination, package dimensions, service type, and carrier rates to determine your actual shipment costs in the blink of an eye.

By using SpeedWeigh™ to eliminate the manual steps to scan or enter the package weight, companies improve accuracy and streamline the shipping process. Plus, when your essential warehouse workers don’t have to move around as much, it keeps them safer. 

Varsity’s SpeedWeigh also eliminates the need for a keyboard wedge – that contraption that connects the scanner to the keyboard for inputting the weight. The data is transferred automatically from SpeedWeigh™ into ShipSoft on your IBM i system.

Schedule a Demo of SpeedWeigh™ and Varsity

Read more about SpeedWeigh™ or ShipSoft on our website, or contact Varsity to schedule a demo. We look forward to hearing how you are keeping your warehouse workers safe during this pandemic.

More Moving Parcels Equals More Costly Errors – Here’s How to Save Money

Learn how auditing these 3 areas in your shipping process can result in significant cost savings.

Shipping has become the new normal. Everything from soap to socks, from pedometers to pet food are being delivered to COVID-19-imposed, quarantined consumers around the world. Companies are breaking open cases to deliver smaller quantities or enlisting 3PLs to do the piece-picking for them. The result is a huge increase in the number of parcels moving through the supply chain to residential addresses.

Yet, the increase in parcel shipping to residences means there are more errors on more invoices. More errors on invoices means you may be paying more than you should for shipping. What you can you? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the three most common reasons your bill might be too high, and what you can do to reduce the impact of invoicing errors and overcharges to your bottom line.

Wrong Address Charges

If any part of an address is wrong, your package could be delayed, held up or mis-delivered. This can be due to updated Zip+4s or incorrectly formatted or wrong addresses.

When a parcel is sent to an incorrect address, or delivery is attempted at an address that doesn’t exist, carriers charge a fee to provide the correct, deliverable address information back to you.

2020 Charges for Address Correction by Major Carrier:

  • UPS $17.00 per package
  • FedEx $17.00 per correction
  • DHL $17.00 per shipment

It’s worth updating your database with corrected information for the future, or to consider shipping software that is already integrated with the US Postal Service’s database. Make sure the data you use is CASS-certified, meaning it uses the Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) to check for accuracy against the USPS database.

Address correction charges only appear after the package is delivered, without any advance warning. That’s why it’s important to review your invoices and record any address changes for future shipments. If your customer provided the wrong address information and already paid for shipping, good luck trying to collect the extra charge! Shipping software that examines and corrects addresses up front can save you money and headaches.

Wrong Method Used

The second most common reason for invoice errors is not selecting the right shipping options from the start. Employees need to be aware of the most current methods, rates and billing programs to be able to find the lowest rates every time. Carriers have long lists of “Accessorial Fees” or what they like to call “Value Added Services” that are a significant portion of most invoices.

These charges are assessed for additional handling requirements, rural delivery areas and more. Some of the more common surcharges include:

  • Dimensional (Length or Width) Overage
  • Dimensional Weight Charges
  • Collect on Delivery (COD)
  • Delivery Confirmation (Signature Required;Adult 21+ Signature Required)
  • Address Correction
  • Delivery Reattempt
  • Inside Delivery or Pickup Charge
  • Fuel Surcharge
  • Third-Party Billing
  • Package Rerouting (Phone request; Web Request)
  • Delivery Area Surcharges (Remote Area; Metro Service Area; Residential Area; Alaska or Hawaii; International)
  • Return Pickup
  • Saturday Delivery or Pickup

While it’s easy to know if you should be looking at a Saturday rate based on the expected pickup or delivery date, it’s not always easy to know if you’re selecting the right service from the right carrier for the lowest price.

For example, UPS has 10 different service levels with 12 delivery timeframe options for sending a domestic package, while FedEx has 11 options for U.S. package shipping. Do you know all the differences between SmartPost, SurePost, and SimpleRate shipping and when to use each?

It’s also important to be aware of new offerings for residential deliveries and how those prices compare with standard/saver delivery options with a residential surcharge. It’s not unusual for a warehouse worker to send a parcel using a specific service to save money, only to have two or three additional charges added at the back end. Unless you are actively reviewing carrier invoices, it will keep happening. The key is to use what you learn about those additional charges to improve internal training.

If you don’t have the resources to do that, it’s time to consider shipping software that does the rate shopping for you. To use rate shopping, you would first enter your contract rates for each carrier. Then, when an item is ready to ship, the software identifies the best way to ship it to meet your goals—such as fastest, least expensive, or to meet a specific delivery date.

Carrier Overcharges

What if you are keeping your database clean, and you’re always choosing the best rates and minimizing your accessorial fees, but your invoices are still higher than you expect? The truth is, with so many line items, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of the charges on your invoice are just wrong.

Sometimes there are accessorial fees on your invoice that you shouldn’t have been charged. Most of the carrier errors, however, are for packages that were not billed at your contract rates. So what are your options?

You could hire a third-party service to do a line-item audit of your invoices for you. The downside is that they keep a good portion of the money you were overcharged. For some companies, the attitude is that whatever they get back, it’s “found money,” since they don’t have the bandwidth to do their own audits.

A better option is to use invoice auditing software, like Varsity’s ShipAudit. The ShipAudit module is integrated with the company’s ShipSoft® shipping and rate shopping software. With ShipAudit software, all overcharges are credited back to your company, not just half. Plus, having the shipping software gives you the tools you need to validate addresses in advance, keep your database up-to-date, and to find the best rates to satisfy your customers.

One Final Tip: Avoid Overpaying

Shipping costs are inevitable. To get the lowest possible rates based on your shipping volume, it helps to have audited documentation about what (and how much) you are spending by carrier and by service. While this information won’t save you anything on this month’s invoice, it will help immensely when it comes time to renegotiate your annual contract.

Varsity Logistics is the preferred multi-carrier shipping software solution for the IBM i (AS/400) platform. Request a demo with a Varsity Shipping Specialist to learn how Varsity can help you eliminate costly errors and save money.