Why the IBMi Shipping Platform is Growing

IBMi’s robust AS400 operating system is powerful, stable and secure, which is why it continues to be a world-class solution.

Shipping and fulfillment is a major cog in many industries. Warehouses, supply chains and logistics all run on powerful shipping software. In this space, there are many competitors, and people often expect that the best software is going to be something new. But this is one industry where that isn’t necessarily the case. IBM shipping software, known as IBMi, has been around for decades.

Despite that, it’s still in use in countless operations around the world, and many still consider it to be the best of the best. Here’s why.

IBMi’s Simplified Concept Empowers This Shipping Software

IBM i runs IBM Power (AS400) operating system software. Anyone who’s used AS400 understands that it heralds from a time before all the current software bells and whistles existed. It’s simplified to a degree that’s hard to find in modern programming.

This simplicity – which should not be mistaken for simplistic software – leads to a robust system that struggles to fail, even when faced with monumental challenges. IBMi is reliable for the simple fact that it has fewer ways it can falter.

Advantages of IBMi

There are 3 main advantages of IBMi.

IBMi is one central system

IBMi runs like converged software. It functions like a packaged whole, allowing a central system to manage many nodes. You can run it on-premise or through the cloud, and you get the same experience regardless.

IBMi offers powerful security

Another advantage of IBMi’s simplified concept is that it adds power to security. Many of today’s modern vulnerabilities don’t exist within IBMi and AS400. It’s important to note that this power doesn’t preclude the need for security altogether, but using IBMi significantly lowers the risk of both internal and external attacks.

IBMi is a scalable solution

IBMi shipping software favors scalability. Because there are fewer cogs in the machine – so to speak – it’s easy for an IBMi system to start with a small business and handle growth all the way to the enterprise level. For example, IBMi is the system of choice for many Las Vegas casinos. It can handle large-scale work, yet it is still sensible for businesses that are nowhere the level of operations a large-scale casino would require.

4 Benefits to a Strong Shipping Software that Builds on Your Resources

Any significant investment into software has to address ROI. If it doesn’t improve your bottom line in some measurable way, it’s difficult to justify the cost of transitioning. IBMi provides several ROI opportunities, and all of them are viable for virtually any business.

Benefit #1 – Security

The first ROI potential can be found in security. Hacks and breaches are extremely expensive. As noted, IBMi, as a function of its nature, removes many security threats. Again, it’s not a foolproof system on its own, but cybersecurity teams have a much easier job ahead of them when this software is running the show.

This translates to huge savings in potential losses that can likely be averted by using this robust system.

Benefit #2 – Labor

Your second return is tied to labor. Parcel shipping on IBMi provides a multi-carrier software solution. It can offer automation in many facets of order and fulfillment, and each point helps reduce human error. 

It also improves workflow and overall fulfillment efficiency by keeping information organized and streamlined.

Benefit #3 – Customer Experience

The third return stems from improving the customer experience. When shipping and fulfillment are more reliable, customers get what they want when they want it. 

This leads to a better experience, which ultimately can translate into greater overall sales and boosted revenue.

Benefit #4 – Carrier Costs

A final return comes from saving money on carrier costs. ShipAudit is an example of an IBMi module that helps companies lower their overall shipping costs. Varsity customers estimate that they’re able to lower carrier overcharges by an average of 8 to 10 percent when they use the module. 

You can realize direct cost savings when you implement and use good software.

Varsity Logistics and IBMi

Why is IBMi still alive and well? Simply put, it performs. It is powerful, stable and secure. Those three words are more important than any other when it comes to enterprise software, and for shipping and fulfillment, IBMi is still a world-class competitor. Until something can outshine it on these vital fronts, it will continue to live a long life. Schedule a demo with a Varsity Shipping Specialist to see how our shipping software integrates with IBMi to optimize your parcel processes.

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.

Reduce Shipping Errors and Overcharges with Auditing from Varsity

Learn how Varsity ShipAudit automates the once time-consuming process of uncovering errors and overcharges in your shipping process.

If a customer’s ship-to address is incorrect, if your shipping department overlooks a less expensive option, or if a carrier overcharges, your shipping costs increase.  Regardless of the reason, catching errors has traditionally been an after-the-fact, if-I-have-time responsibility for employees who are already overloaded. Fortunately, today’s methods to audit shipping charges have improved significantly. If you’re not already keeping a watchful eye on your shipping invoices, here’s how to step up to more savings.

In the Beginning: the Manual Audit

Everyone starts this way. Invoices arrive and it’s someone’s job to review them for errors and approve them for payment. This approach works fine initially, but when the volume of orders rises, and the designated person has other job responsibilities, it gets patchy. Things are missed. The percentage of errors found falls, which means your company is likely not finding all the errors and thus overpaying for some shipments.

At some point, your carrier invoices are barely being looked at. But someone should be monitoring them, right? Enter the consultant.

We Can’t Take it Anymore: The External Audit

Auditing companies have been established to review your shipping invoices on your behalf. They make money by keeping a portion of your overcharges for themselves. This is easily justified if your internal people just can’t keep up and you otherwise would not have anyone reviewing your invoices. After all, getting something back is better than nothing.

After a few years, you’re still paying an outside service, but you could have paid for audit software several times over by now.  Plus, who’s auditing the auditors? You feel a loss of control over the high volume of money spent on shipping… and to monitor shipping. You want more visibility, but no one wants to return to a manual process. What’s your next step?

Enter auditing software.

Keep it Simple: The Automated Audit

With shipping auditing software like Varsity’s ShipAudit™, you enter your pre-negotiated contract rates in advance. Then, as invoices are received electronically, the software automatically checks your invoices against your contract. Everything that aligns is marked ready for processing and sent automatically to your 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, require an adjustment based on your contract rate, or deny.

After a quick review, legitimate exceptions are paid and the details for the contested charges are submitted back to the carrier for correction.

Could a third party with software do this for you? Yes. But you’d still have to pay them. Here, your audited savings cover the cost of the software in a few months and the rest is savings. Plus, there is one additional benefit from keeping your audits internal: a well-trained shipping staff.

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 dimensional weight pricing, residential surcharges, address corrections and more.

Having auditing software will help you recoup carrier overcharges. Having the right shipping software in place can help you identify the types of overpayments that are internal. For example, a package might have been sent Regular Delivery to a residential address (causing a surcharge) vs sending via Home Delivery. Additional employee training to reduce internal errors can be another great way to minimize your shipping costs. Your auditing program will surface the examples you need to help them learn.

While rising shipping costs will continue to be an area of concern for most companies, keeping a close eye on your costs with internal auditing software will help you make the most of your company’s shipping expenses.

Ready to learn more about how Varsity’s ShipAudit™ software can help you? Reach out today to schedule a ShipAudit™ demo to see how auditing software can help you avoid costly shipping mistakes.

MHI Report: Companies Investing in New Supply Chain Technologies

Learn about the NexGen model and how emerging technologies will propel supply chain forward.

A new report by the Material Handling Institute (MHI) and Deloitte shows the new trends taking over the technology use of the supply chain, referred to as the “NextGen” model.

This newly released report, titled “Overcoming Barriers to NextGen Supply Chain Adoption,” the report examines the 11 emerging technologies that are expected to work together to establish a new information ecosystem that is always accessible by demand. These new trends in technology include everything from from robotics to artificial intelligence (AI) to wearable devices, which are becoming widespread in the supply chain industry, proving that this NextGen model is quickly taking over. The majority of the report’s survey respondents report that the NextGen supply chain will represent the predominant model within just 5 years.

5 considerations for NexGen supply chain tech

Five innovations — robotics/automation, predictive analytics, the Internet of Things, AI, and driverless vehicles and drones — will have the greatest impact in how products will move through the supply chain in the future.

Companies are recognizing the need for change

The report shows how adoption rates of new technologies are on the rise, and it forecasts that they will increase in coming years. For example, adoption of robotics and AI is currently at 34%, but it predicted to more than double to 73% in just five years. Part of what’s driving this is cost. As automation becomes more commonplace, due to its accuracy and speed, it will also become less expensive and easier to implement. Survey respondents say that the most common use for automation if picking, packing, and sorting orders.

Driving the new supply chain are big dollars

Half of the survey respondents are from companies reporting annual sales topping $100 million, with 10% reporting annual sales of $10 billion or more. Half of all the respondents say that they are planning new technology investments in the supply chain totaling more than $1 million over the next two years. Twenty percent plan to spend more than $5 million; 10% plan to spend more than $10 million.

The potential slowdowns to the supply chain are related to people

Most companies say that hiring well-trained or qualified workers is a major challenge, as is addressing growing customer demands. As more customers become accustomed to improvements in transparency and increased delivery times such as same-day service, competition will be focused on new technologies that will strengthen speeds. Warehouse companies will transform into high-velocity operations that will be expected to push more product through a smaller pipeline, as well as become flexible enough to respond to increased customer expectations.

Another barrier to adoption is ROI

Some companies are finding it difficult to estimate the full cost benefits of these technologies, which is causing them to hesitate in their investment. The report estimates that the potential costs of inaction are loss of market share, problems with future compliance, increased risks, and loss of competitiveness.

With innovations come threats

Besides hackers and lack of awareness, poor cybersecurity practices among suppliers represent a third challenge to keeping the supply chain safe. This will become more prescient as customers will demand greater transparency for every level of the supply chain, which means that companies will need to share a greater capacity of information. This means that suppliers need to be better schooled in potential threats and adopt best practices avoid breakdowns or other cost-threatening disruptions.

Now is the time to look at all of your supply chain technology

Whether NexGen tech or the current technology powering your supply chain, making sure your shipping software is supporting your current and future business needs is of utmost importance. Request a shipping software demo with a Varsity Shipping Specialist to discover how our #1 multi-carrier shipping software solution for the IBM i (AS/400) platform can optimize your parcel strategy today.

Analysis Shows Shippers Like TMS for E-Commerce, ROI, and Speed

TMS is an important part of your company’s technology stack. Here are 3 trends that support that.

For companies routing multi-stop full trailer shipments, a transportation management system (TMS) is necessary to optimize the FTL and LTL components of the supply chain. TMS gives operators the ability to map out route planning, handle freight audit, track payments and orders, and manage carrier and route selection in ways that generate efficiencies that result in lowered costs and increased customer satisfaction.

A study published by Logistics Management in January examined the state of the TMS market and found trends that portend the industry’s future and also show why it provides the best collaboration among shippers, carriers, and customers. Let’s take a look at these trends.

A Closer Look at TMS Trends

E-commerce driving growth

As more companies expand more of their retail strategy to e-commerce, the more shippers turn to TMS to strengthen their supply chain management. This is particularly true for shippers that spend more than $100 million per year on freight. TMS investment is a preferred solution because it can help move a high volume of goods with greater speed and efficiency than traditional methods.

Return on Investment seen as beneficial

For companies of all sizes, Logistics Management says that the return of investment (ROI) is also one of the most appealing features.

Companies saw an 8 percent savings when they use TMS, which users attribute to three key features: multi-stop route optimization, load consolidation, and simulation and network design. Sixty percent of the companies that saved money said that less than 10 percent of the net savings was absorbed by the TMS itself.

A need for speed remains

TMS operators tend to purchase the system for its optimization, but what they find is that speed is among its greatest assets. The immediacy that TMS naturally generates in providing real-time tracking and reports, as well as a better managed inventory flow, is what customers ultimately notice on their end. Which means that customer satisfaction is strengthened, resulting in continued business in the future.

Looking for a TMS Solution for the IBM i (AS/400) Platform? Let’s Talk.

Discover the #1 multi-carrier shipping solution for IBM systems – Varsity Logistics. Request a Demo today to learn how our robust shipping software can optimize your shipping strategy today.

You Might Want to Take Notes on Amazon’s New Supply Chain Model

We uncover 4 tips for finding supply chain success from retail giant, Amazon.

While Amazon has been around for almost a quarter of a century, the company’s real breakthrough has come in these past few years with the way they’re challenging the logistics industry. The company is the fastest to reach $100 billion in sales revenue. Analysts say that by 2027 the company could reach yearly revenue of $1 trillion.

4 Amazon Tips to Use in Your Supply Chain Strategy

How it achieved those milestones is because of its supply chain management. Using a sophisticated network of warehouses and transportation, data analytics, and multi-tier inventory technology, Amazon was able to establish itself as a reliable clearinghouse for any product or service now imaginable. Through Amazon Prime and its game-changing two-day delivery promise, speed became its brand. In the process, the company disrupted the traditional supply chain model, elements of which other companies can adopt to achieve success. Here’s how to do it.

Give customers a range of delivery options

Amazon Prime offers a wide range of delivery options, from same-day to three to five days. By sharpening its focus on giving customers the delivery they want and then following through on that promise, the company has been able to brand itself as the only reliable choice in the world of e-commerce.

Fulfill orders immediately

Speed means getting orders out and in the hands of your customers by the quickest means possible. It means processing orders instantaneously. Amazon has done away with cut-off times or lining up packages for late afternoon pick-up. Instead it has created a steady routine of processing and pick-ups to ensure no time is wasted at the customer’s expense.

Outsource inventory management and insourcing logistics

Amazon depends on third-party sellers for niche inventory that is not stored in regular Amazon warehouses. However, despite using some third-party products, Amazon still insources its logistics. All products rely on in-house delivery platforms to achieve all of its delivery promises, therefore speeding up a process that could be slowed if it allowed third parties to handle shipping and delivery on their own.

Establish a mix of warehouses

Amazon has established a network of more than 70 fulfillment centers across the U.S. that are staffed with 90,000 employees. Their model has moved these warehouses closer to urban centers, not remote in some cornfield. This means that its inventory is already close by even before orders take place. Secondly, the company categorizes its storage spaces differently. Its prime storage houses books and magazines; its pallet prime storages full case products with high demand. Another stores high demand products. The reverse storage has irregularly shaped and low demand products. Finally, its random storage area has small items.

Incorporate automation

Amazon was one of the first to integrate automated solutions to its warehouses, even acquiring companies to do so. In 2015, three years after it started, the company was using 15,000 robots; today that number is up to 45,000 robots. The Amazon robots pick and pack without human assistance, which increases speeds.

Those are just a few ways Amazon has created a revolution in rethinking the supply chain. With the development of autonomous vehicles, warehouse drones, and other emerging technology, the company is poised for future innovation. Most companies may not have the scope or budget to match what they are doing, but they can incorporate elements to improve their processes. Customers are optimistic about these changes, with the current desire for instant gratification and quick shipping for online orders. Amazon is driving and supplying this new demand!

Advance your supply chain even further with multi-carrier shipping software. Request a demo with a Varsity Shipping Specialist to discover how we can optimize your shipping process with the #1 multi-carrier shipping software for the IBM i (AS/400) platform.