Smart Shipping Made Easy

All posts by Paula Heikell

Seven Tips to Eliminate Hidden Shipping Costs

Multi-carrier shipping software is a great cost reduction tool, but even greater savings can be gained by ensuring your shipping system and your shipping processes are tuned up to preempt common problems that result in hidden freight costs. Following are seven tips that can yield dramatic cost savings. 1. Use Address Correction Software When is the […]

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Multi-carrier shipping software is a great cost reduction tool, but even greater savings can be gained by ensuring your shipping system and your shipping processes are tuned up to preempt common problems that result in hidden freight costs.

Following are seven tips that can yield dramatic cost savings.

1. Use Address Correction Software

When is the last time you checked your freight bill to analyze up-charges related to incorrect shipping addresses? Address correction surcharges from the carrier can quickly add up. One expert, Satish Jindel, founder and president of Pittsburgh-based SJ Consulting Group, estimates that parcel shipping errors add 5% to 7% to a shipper’s annual freight bill. Given that companies collectively spend some $55 billion a year on domestic parcel services, those mistakes translate into serious money.[1]

Costs related to incorrect delivery addresses can be huge and accumulate in several ways:

  • Incorrect Delivery Addresses – Address correction charges by parcel carriers can range from $13.00 per package, up to $91.00 multiple packages addressed the incorrectly addressed shipment.
  • Residential Deliveries Erroneously Classified as Commercial – If residential deliveries are erroneously classified as commercial deliveries, the carrier may fix it, but at a cost of $2.50 or more per package.
  • Increased Customer Service Costs – Labor costs also increase when employees are diverted from their regular work to resolve address-related problems.
  • Unhappy Customers and Cancelled Orders – Delivery address problems can also lead to frustrated customers, order cancellations, even the loss of a customer.

Numerous address correction software options are available. Your shipping system vendor can help you decide which tool best fits your needs. Learn more in our blog, “How Address Verification Software Reduces Hidden Shipping Costs.”

2. Add Postal Carriers to Your Shipping System

Postal carriers can be an extremely cost- effective small parcel shipping option. The U.S. Postal Service®, for example, can offer attractive rates and other cost-cutting benefits for small parcel shippers, including:

  • Flat-rate products to simplify shipping
  • No fuel surcharges
  • Saturday and residential delivery at no extra charge†
  • No extra charge for residential delivery
  • Largest delivery network in the U.S.
  • Comprehensive delivery tracking

Your shipping system vendor can help you assess the cost savings you may achieve. The U.S. Postal Service also provides consulting services for shippers. Learn more in our blog: “Add USPS to Your Carrier Portfolio.”

3. Make Sure Your DIM Weight Calculation is Accurate

Have you audited your dimensional rating procedures lately? Hidden costs occur if your system calculates dim weight differently than the carrier’s system. If the carrier’s system yields a higher charge, you will be charged additional fees by the carrier. Discrepancies can occur for many reasons, such as:

  • Actual carton measurement discrepancies – One of our customers found that their package measurements for their carton sizes differed from the carrier’s measurements, resulting in higher freight rates and back charges.
  • Carton shape – The volume used to calculate the dimensional weight may not be representative of the true volume of the package, especially if the package is of any other shape than a right-angled box. If not, surcharges may result.
  • Data entry errors – If your staff makes errors when entering dimensions into the shipping system and the carrier discovers that they are larger, you will be billed back for the difference in freight cost.
  • Packing processes – For example, you pack a carton so full that it causes the size to bulge. Say you report a 20 lb. carton at 20” x 20” x 20” for a freight charge of $40.00. If the carton is bulging out to 22” x 22” x 22”, the carrier’s dimensional system will calculate freight at $45.00. Result? Additional charges.

To avoid these charges, implement a dimensioning system and eliminate data entry of dimensions by uploading them to your host system; integrate box types into the order fulfillment process, and audit your inventory of carton types and sizes to make sure package dimensions are accurately represented in dim weight measurements. Learn more in our blog, “Five Tips to Minimize Dimensional Rating Costs.”

4. Eliminate Shipping Data Entry Errors

Data entry errors can occur at many points during shipment processing and add up to significant hidden costs. Here are some trouble areas:

  • Third-party billing errors If the account number is manually entered incorrectly, the carrier will charge the costs back to the shipper, and your odds of collecting those freight charges from the customer are slim at best.
  • Incorrect delivery addresses – When a carrier encounters an incorrect delivery address, they will fix the problem – for a price.
  • Incorrect or missing customer reference numbers – Companies shipping to retailers need to ensure that the customer reference numbers provided by the retailers are accurately entered in the correct field on the freight bill.  Failure to include this number so that it is automatically transmitted by the carrier can result in hefty fines.
  • Infrequent invoice analysisIt’s a good idea to regularly perform carrier invoice analysis to identify delivery problems and resolve them before they amount to significant costs, but this is often too time-consuming to perform manually. Consider adding invoice analysis services to track carrier performance.

Identifying these gaps requires a little common sense and a good checklist to ensure that data entry gaps are being identified and closed.

5. Add Desktop Shipping for All Departments

You’d be surprised how many non-warehouse packages such as documents, product samples and marketing materials are shipped by other departments every day, and processed manually, without the benefit of carrier rate shopping.

Implementing a browser-based desktop shipping solution that is integrated with your warehouse shipping software system can reduce freight costs in several ways:

  • Ensure lowest cost shipping on all packages
  • Provide data to support negotiations with your carriers
  • Track shipping details and identify shipping cost refunds on all shipments
  • Reduce costly surcharges that often result from errors on handwritten shipping, address corrections, etc.
  • Eliminate manual labor related to package and label preparation

These are just a few of the ways that you can benefit by implementing an organization-wide desktop shipping solution.

6. Leverage Regional Carriers to Reduce Freight Costs

Consider using regional carriers to handle some of your deliveries. This can be extremely cost-effective for companies with a concentration of customers in certain geographic areas.

Regional carriers can be categorized in several ways. Some focus on small parcel delivery, while others offer less-than-truckload (LTL) services for heavier shipping. Certain regional carriers provide multi-state solutions, while others are couriers or “micro-regionals” that cover smaller geographic regions such as cities or partial state.[2]  Regional carriers offer numerous benefits:

  • Lower freight rates. Regionals can often pass along to customers savings of 10% to 40% over UPS and FedEx pricing.
  • Fewer surcharges. Many regional carriers do not assess the same delivery surcharges that national carriers do, which can range from $1.85 to $3.00 per package based on rural zip codes.
  • Faster delivery for a lower cost. “Savings can be as much as 40% with any loss of delivery time,” says Rob Shirley, president/founder of Austin, TX-based shipping solutions consultancy ExpresShip.[3]
  • Negotiating power. Adding regional carriers can put you in a better negotiating position all your carriers.
  • Responsive service. Regional carriers may be willing to take on special shipping requirements and have more flexibility in terms of the kinds of services they can offer.

It’s important to make sure that your multi-carrier shipping system will accommodate the addition of regional carriers.  Perform a carrier cost/service analysis to determine if/where makes sense to add regionals to your delivery network.

7. Update Your Document Printing Tools

By stepping back and taking a bird’s eye view of your shipping workflow, you can quickly see how many times your staff stops to produce a shipment document:

  • Packing lists often require the staff to stop, print the packing list, fold it and insert it into a pouch.
  • International shipments are often created manually using a template or standalone software.
  • Hazmat documents may come from yet another system, causing the shipping staff to stop and retrieve the right labels.
  • USPS Customs documents US postal shipments are also often hand-produced.

Integrate Smart Document Printing Technology 

Today’s multi-carrier shipping solutions, integrated with host order entry, WMS systems and smart printing technology, can eliminate most manual document preparation. For example, you can

  • Auto-generate a Zebra z-slip, an all-in-one packing slip solution.
  • Generate a fold-under combination pack/ship label from your shipping system.
  • Auto-generate carrier-compliant shipping forms, Hazmat labels, and export shipping documents.

Your multi-carrier shipping solution provider can help you assess the best way to automate shipping document generation tasks.

Summary

As these suggestions show, you can find tremendous opportunities to reduce shipping costs.  The bottom line? Today’s leading multi carrier solutions are designed to manage a wider range of shipping scenarios.

Contact us to discuss ways to optimize your shipping operations and systems.

[1] “Six Steps To Cutting Your Parcel Shipping Costs,” http://www.shippingsidekick.com/news.wml?id=331

[2] Kent Szalla, “Regional Parcel Carriers: A Historical Perspective,” Parcel Industry, May/June 2012.

[3] William Atkinson, “Close to Home,” Multichannel Merchant, December 1, 2006.

[4] Rob Martinez, “A Look at Regional Parcel Carriers,” Multichannel Merchant, April 1, 2011.

How to Choose the Right Industrial Printer

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Industrial Label Printer for Your Warehouse Operations No one notices printers on the shop floor when they’re working well and keeping up with throughput. However, when printers are under-performing or they fail, operations come to a standstill. When to Choose Desktop, Industrial or Mobile Printers If your printers […]

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Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Industrial Label Printer for Your Warehouse Operations

No one notices printers on the shop floor when they’re working well and keeping up with throughput. However, when printers are under-performing or they fail, operations come to a standstill.

When to Choose Desktop, Industrial or Mobile Printers

If your printers are failing or you’re due for a printer refresh, it pays to know the strengths and weaknesses of your options in desktop, industrial and/or mobile printers.

Each of these models has a unique design with high-performance capabilities. Thermal label printers are great for creating high-quality barcode labels, tags, wristbands, receipts and more. The specific type of thermal printer you choose depends on your volume of printing, the operational environment and whether you need mobility. Here are the three main options:

 

Desktop Printers

Desktop printers are perfect for light-duty labeling in an office, retail store or similar environment. They’re ideal for producing up to 500 labels, tags or receipts per week. Our recommended Zebra desktop printers produce the same quality and support, and the same media as much larger printers, but they’re designed for lower-volume printing with a correspondingly lower price. They can communicate through a wired connection or wirelessly.

 

Industrial Printers

Industrial printers are designed for high-volume print applications in demanding environments. Industrial printers are larger and more rugged than desktop printers.  These printers reliably print thousands of labels, tags or other media every day. If you’re printing labels in large volumes, and if your printer will operate in a rugged environment with extreme temperatures, dust, debris or other challenges, an industrial label printer is your best option.

The latest Zebra industrial printers are ultra-rugged and print labels as small as 3mm and handle requirements all the way up to 14” in print width. They also support a wide range of communication options, including serial, Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and more.

 

Mobile Printers

Mobile printers are not made for high volumes, and they have limited roll capacity and smaller print widths. But, they enable printing on the go, wherever it’s needed—both indoors and outdoors, along with wireless Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

A mobile printer, such as Zebra’s QLn Series, can provide high print quality in a compact package that conveniently fits on your hip. It’s perfect for delivery drivers and field service or sales agents, as well as warehouse workers that need access to on-the-spot labeling.

 

Direct Thermal vs. Thermal Transfer Printers

Once you know the type of label printer you need, you’ll next need to choose between direct thermal (DT) and thermal transfer (TT) printing. This all depends on how long you need the label to last and the material that comprises it.

 

Direct Thermal Printers

Direct thermal printing is ideal for short-term labeling applications, such as shipping labels. They’re not suited for applications where labels are exposed to heat, long periods of sunlight or abrasion. However, to help with these issues, thermal labels and tags are often top-coated to resist these elements.

In direct thermal printing, heat-sensitive labels are used, and they blacken as they pass under the printhead. There’s no ribbon involved. The process produces sharp print quality with good scannability using only one consumable.

 

Thermal Transfer Printers

Thermal transfer printers use a ribbon, which is melted onto the label by the printhead. This makes it easy to use specialized non-paper label materials for harsh or outdoor environments.

Thermal transfer labels are more durable, and they have a long shelf life when printed. This makes them ideal for product labels and asset tags. Since thermal transfer uses a ribbon, you can also change color and print in colors other than black.

It costs a bit more to print thermal transfer media, but the benefit is durability and improved readability without ever needing to reprint.

 

Finding the Right Label Printer

Looking for advice in choosing the right printer? We’re here to help.

Contact our label printing experts at Logistyx for a free consultation and recommendation.

Three Technology Tools for a Smarter Warehouse

Mobile and Configurable Technology Solutions for Today’s Receiving, Packing & Shipping Needs Delivering timely, cost-effective service and ensuring customer satisfaction are critical in today’s dynamic world of fulfillment. But, as many warehouse managers are discovering, it takes more than the traditional technology solutions to achieve the agility needed to meet today’s service demands. Companies are […]

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Mobile and Configurable Technology Solutions for Today’s Receiving, Packing & Shipping Needs

Delivering timely, cost-effective service and ensuring customer satisfaction are critical in today’s dynamic world of fulfillment. But, as many warehouse managers are discovering, it takes more than the traditional technology solutions to achieve the agility needed to meet today’s service demands.

Companies are finding new success by deploying mobile and wearable data collection solutions that move with their workers and capture and upload critical order details in real time to the host systems.

Here are three areas where you can leverage the latest technologies and solutions to get smarter and gain a competitive edge in your warehousing operations.

Mobile Receiving Workstations

Many of our customers are looking for a more efficient way to capture and upload product dimensions and other SKU-level product details in their receiving operations. Logistyx has developed an all-in-one, seconds-fast solution with Measure-IT.

Measure-IT combines our innovative and easy-to-use software with a scale, dimensioning system, and Zebra mobile computing and barcode scanning technologies. Measure-IT is a portable receiving workstation that can be moved to where needed to scan, measure and weigh received products, and upload the data in real time to the WMS and other host systems.

The Measure-IT system:

  • Scans the product ID and measures the product on the Measure-IT workstation
  • Captures the item’s weight and dimensions, snaps a photo, and stores the data in a file
  • Shows product characteristics on-screen for visual guidance of workflow
  • Allows exporting and uploading of a product file to your WMS and other host systems for planning purposes.

The combination of Measure-IT and Zebra barcode scanners makes it easy to accurately measure regular and irregular-shaped packaging such as cartons, bags, tubes and other containers.

Mobile Picking & Packing Technologies

Accurate order picking and packing processes are essential to ensure consumer safety and satisfaction, as well as optimize inventory management. The underlying technology also needs to be flexible and scalable, to address peak or seasonal volume spikes without increasing labor.

Many of our customers purchase our Pack-IT order fulfillment solution, integrated with our multi-carrier shipping software, to ensure fast, accurate and automated picking and packing. Pack-IT, combined with the latest hands-free barcode scanners, enable workers to:

  • Scan, verify, and close orders in one continuous action
  • Fulfill orders in seconds, slashing production time
  • Access order picking and packing details on an intuitive screen
  • Use visual, audio and pop-up messages to prevent errors
  • Get real-time visibility into inventory
  • Gain the ability to track orders and line items within orders
  • Generate a wide range of print-and-apply packing slips

Pack-IT is easy-to-learn, which makes it ideal when onboarding new employees, and its accuracy tools have helped many of our customers achieve near-100% order picking accuracy while dramatically increasing throughout.

Configurable Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

Your shipping area and loading dock are the last touch points before goods are shipped to your customer. To ensure accurate, timely and cost-effective delivery, it’s critical to eliminate manual processes and ensure the right goods get on the right truck with the right carrier.

Logistyx multi-carrier shipping software helps companies of all sizes reduce parcel shipping costs and ensure fast, accurate and efficient shipment processing.  Combined with Zebra mobile computers, scanning and print technologies, Ship-IT helps you:

  • Reduce freight costs by automatically comparing all carrier options for small parcel, LTL and TL shipments.
  • Automate customer or vendor-specific routing guides.
  • Automatically route, rate and process shipments in seconds.
  • Produce shipping labels & documents for domestic and export shipments—including automatic AESDirect filing—in seconds.
  • Gain real-time delivery tracking on customer shipments.
  • Capture and upload shipping data for customer service and analysis.

Are You Looking to Get Smarter in Your Warehouse?

We’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a free consultation.

Top Factors in Comparing Rugged Printers

What Makes a Printer Truly Rugged? Not all printers are built the same. Some are more robust and rugged than others and better suited for working in industrial environments and harsh conditions where reliable and uninterrupted printing are essential. At Logistyx, we’re often asked to recommend printers that will withstand years of use in a […]

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What Makes a Printer Truly Rugged?

Not all printers are built the same. Some are more robust and rugged than others and better suited for working in industrial environments and harsh conditions where reliable and uninterrupted printing are essential.

At Logistyx, we’re often asked to recommend printers that will withstand years of use in a distribution center. We asked our team of printer specialists to weigh in, and they came up with the following tips on evaluating industrial printers.

An Ability to Withstand Extreme Environments

You may need to print on the floor of a manufacturing plant, in a warehouse, or even out in the field—outside the four walls of a workplace.

In these environments, printers are often subjected to extreme heat or cold, dust and debris, and even being bumped, dropped or knocked over.

To minimize downtime, you need an industrial-strength or enterprise-grade printer that can withstand the use and abuse that go along with them.

An industrial grade printer is essential if you’re choosing a stationary printer for barcode labeling, RFID, and printing shipping labels, packing slips or other documents. It should:

  1. Be built with an all-metal frame and chassis.
  2. Include high-quality, durable internal components.
  3. Have internal temperature sensors and controls to ensure proper performance in extreme temperature environments.

Mobile Printing Durability

If you plan to use mobile printers for labels, receipts, tickets or invoices on the go, indoors or outdoors, choose a device with military-grade construction. Mobile printers in this class are lightweight and much smaller in size than an industrial printer, but they’ll be drop-resistant and highly durable, and proven by military-grade testing standards.

Support for High-Volume Printing

For high-volume of printing, such as labeling parts for use in car production or pharmaceuticals, you’ll need industrial printers.

In these applications, reliability and continuous operation are critical, because you can’t afford to stop production or shipments if a printer breaks down.

As with the all-metal frames and high-quality components that enable reliable printing in extreme environments, the same mechanisms ensure performance at higher volumes.

Easy Maintenance & Management

If you use numerous printers across many sites, being able to remotely manage them is critical to continuous uptime and keeping your costs down. One way to ensure this is to use printers with a cloud-based Operational Visibility Service (OVS) that provides detailed insight into the status, usage and health of every printing device on your network.

The best printers offer configurable dashboards that provide the insight to help you proactively manage and improve the performance, availability and life cycle of your printers.

They also provide automatic notifications of servicing needs or print errors, so you can quickly address issues and ensure your printers are as reliable as possible.

A Brand You Can Trust

Whether you need a robust industrial printer or a highly durable mobile solution, our logistics technology specialists recommend printers from Zebra Technologies.

Zebra is the global leader in manufacturing industrial and mobile printers for the most extreme environments and some of the world’s most demanding print applications.

Zebra fulfills all the key requirements of a truly rugged printer, which is why its solutions are used by over 90% of the Fortune 500.

Want to learn more and get a personalized recommendation for your business? Contact our print experts at Logistyx now.

Where Mobile Printers Make The Most Sense in the Warehouse

Where and When to Use Mobile vs. Industrial Printers Worker mobility should be a key consideration when you’re designing and optimizing your warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and other operations. Mobile computers, wearable technology and cordless barcode scanners are extremely effective in freeing up workers to take their technology with them as they move to the next task. Mobile printers […]

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Where and When to Use Mobile vs. Industrial Printers

Worker mobility should be a key consideration when you’re designing and optimizing your warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and other operations. Mobile computers, wearable technology and cordless barcode scanners are extremely effective in freeing up workers to take their technology with them as they move to the next task.

mobile printers for the warehouse
Mobile printers eliminate extra steps back and forth to fixed printer stations and increase productivity.

Mobile printers can help you increase efficiency. However,  there are significant differences in the scenarios in which mobile and fixed industrial printers deliver the most benefits. Following are several key factors to consider when deciding:

Printing Volume & Environment

If you’re printing barcode labels in an environment where durability and throughput are critical, fixed industrial printers are often your best choice.

industrial printers in the warehouse
Look for industrial, rugged tabletop printers to deliver high-volume, high-quality results and reliability in harsh environments.

Industrial printers, such as the ZT400 printers from Zebra Technologies deliver fast print speeds and can operate continuously in extremely demanding environments—whether those demands are high volumes or extreme temperatures and harsh conditions.

Industrial-grade printers provide around-the-clock printing performance and outstanding print quality, along with the greatest flexibility in supporting specialized label materials and printing high-quality labels as small as 3mm.

RFID Printing Requirements

To print RFID labels or tags, an industrial or desktop printer is your only viable option. Mobile RFID printing technology may eventually become a reality, but thus far there has only been some limited experimentation with it.

Mobile Workforce Considerations

If your printing and labeling requirements are a bit less extreme or demanding or you have a mobile workforce, mobile printers may be your best option.

wearable printers
Users now have many choices in wearable print options and sizes.

Mobile printers allow workers to perform critical labeling tasks throughout a warehouse, plant or other facility, or even outside the four walls – on the spot, wherever they’re needed.

If you’re already using handheld, wearable or vehicle-mounted computers, mobile printers are the perfect complement.

Many companies find them ideal in certain areas of receiving, inventory, packing or shipping. Mobile printers are also effective for field sales or service staff who when printing receipts, small-scale invoices and proofs of delivery.

Mobile Printing Durability & Performance

Mobile printers offer portable, print-on-demand flexibility and convenience without having to sacrifice durability or performance.

mobile printers vary in size
Be sure to evaluate size requirements before you choose printers, both in mobile and desktop environments.

However, not all mobile printers are alike. It’s important not to assume that every manufacturer or model will offer the same level of extreme durability as industrial printers. If you need mobile printers that will withstand tough wear and tear, there are rugged, military-grade mobile printers available.

Lightweight and drop-resistant models, such as Zebra’s QLn Series and ZQ Series mobile printers, can withstand daily use and abuse in both indoor and outdoor environments. In addition, they provide fast, quality printing that ensures your barcodes and receipts are seamlessly readable and scannable.

If you only need receipt, invoice or ticket printing on the go, Zebra’s iMZ Series and ZQ110 mobile printers are the most compact and lightweight options. Each offers quick and reliable wireless printing in a small-profile device.

Making the Choice for Your Business

Are industrial printers or mobile printers the right choice for you? What’s the best option to maximize your operational efficiency and ROI?

Logistyx Technologies is an industrial print expert. For many years, our print specialists have helped companies evaluate their options for a wide range of warehouse and other business environments. We also integrate our order fulfillment, inventory and shipping software solutions with a wide range of printers, simplifying the implementation process for you.

We’re here to answer your questions as you review your printing needs. Contact us for a free consultation.

Don’t Miss These E-commerce Trends for 2017 and Beyond

A Useful Checklist of What’s Driving E-Commerce Trends in 2017 Did you know that one in five searches on U.S. android mobile apps are now done as voice searches? Does your SEO strategy take this into consideration? Here’s another important finding – according to e-commerce design firm Red Website Design, 82% of shoppers start their […]

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A Useful Checklist of What’s Driving E-Commerce Trends in 2017

ecommerce trends 2017

Did you know that one in five searches on U.S. android mobile apps are now done as voice searches? Does your SEO strategy take this into consideration?

Here’s another important finding – according to e-commerce design firm Red Website Design, 82% of shoppers start their purchase on one device and complete it using a different device. What better indication of the importance of having a responsive online store that flows between devices?

Understanding Customers’ Evolving Preferences

When it comes to procuring customers, it’s critical to know beforehand what gets shoppers attention. Among other factors, they’re concerned about service, confidentiality and easy returns. According to Red Website Design:

  • 78% of internet users are concerned that the sites they sign up on will sell their data
  • Inconvenient returns policies turn off 80% of shoppers, and
  • A hefty 89% will stop buying from an online store if they experience bad customer service

You can find all these trends and more on Red Website Design’s interesting infographic, below. It’s a good checklist to see how your company measures up with evolving e-commerce trends.

Keeping up with change is challenging, especially for companies with legacy order fulfillment and shipping systems. If you’re exploring new technology and would like to discuss your ideas, we’re here to help. Contact us today.

Infographic below by Red Website Design:

e-commerce trends 2017

 

Logistyx Technologies is a provider of carrier-agnostic e-commerce fulfillment software and shipping software solutions that enable shippers to manage all their small parcel, LTL postal, regional, national and international carriers on one platform. We also help companies automate their reverse logistics process for greater efficiency and lower cost. 

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