Manifesting software is becoming more sophisticated with each passing year. The software pinpoints the most cost-effective carrier for each package, based on criteria the cataloger has configured into the software. The criteria typically include the physical dimensions of the box the item will be shipped in, the weight of the package, the destination, and the approved carriers.
While shipper-provided systems are becoming faster and more flexible, there remains a clear advantage in both speed and functionality to systems from third-party manifest companies. Invariably the systems provided by third party providers are faster, with labels being produced in three seconds or less on their higher end systems. Third-party systems can also pre-batch labels and print them as a batch or by sending the data to an automated print and apply system.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of third-party systems is that they can help you track the performance of your individual shippers as well as their freight surcharges. These systems can tell you if a residential surcharge is appropriate, and can also determine which shippers do best in a particular area of the country or a particular zip code. Using this information you can negotiate more effectively with your shipper, and selectively use a different shipper when you know that they have better on-time performance. Third party systems can also provide proactive information to your customer service staff, letting them know when an order left the warehouse late, or when an order was delayed by a shipment exception. These systems can also give real-time updates to your customers.
Sam Flanders is president of Durham, NH-based operations consultancy Warehouse Management Consultants. For more, visit www.2wmc.com