Parcel shipping technology is evolving—quickly. From eCommerce to manufacturing and more, shippers are managing and coordinating more delivery methods than ever to keep up with customer needs. No longer will one carrier or one distribution model do. Whether shipping shoes to a consumer or parts to a plant, parcel shipping has become a multi-carrier, omnichannel endeavor and a robust parcel shipping platform is needed now more than ever. That’s one of the things that Ken Fleming, chief operating officer at Logistyx Technologies, discussed in a recent webinar, “The Future of Multi-Carrier Shipping Systems (Beyond the Shipping Label).” And we couldn’t agree more.

As Fleming pointed out, according to Gartner Inc., the core functions that you should expect to find a majority of in a one-stop-shopping parcel TMS are:

  1. Procurement/Bid Optimization
  2. Contract Management
  3. Parcel Consolidation
  4. Parcel Optimization
  5. Parcel Freight Payment
  6. Real-Time Parcel Visibility
  7. Parcel Execution
  8. Label and Document Creation
  9. Reporting/Analytics
  10. Mobile Solutions

However, Fleming noted, as parcel shipping technology continues to evolve, there are certain functions that need to be considered as we move beyond point multi-carrier shipping software solutions. Here are four highlighted by Logistyx in the webinar:

  • Omnichannel Delivery: Controlling shipping and delivery processes across the extended multi-carrier enterprise, including drop shipping, ship-from-store, etc. The way people shop is changing and more are shopping online. According to Adobe Analytics, online sales on Black Friday 2018 topped $6.2 billion ( up 23 percent from 2017) and Cyber Monday was expected to set a record of $7.8 billion (up nearly 18 percent from a year ago), with in-store pickup a growing delivery selection, indicating that there is still a need to have a traditional retail presence. Some eCommerce players are moving into a hybrid model with brick-and-mortar footprints and traditional retailers are taking up space on the internet to boost sales.

Retail organizations are trying to respond to the needs of the consumer,” said Fleming during the webinar. “To respond to that, there are two key factors they have to understand very clearly. One is, how do you integrate the online purchasing system so when I go online I have choices in how I want my purchase delivered: same-day, overnight, or willing to wait a few days to get free delivery.” He added that this also impacts distribution and warehouse operations, which need their automated systems to be able to handle the delivery logistics created by customer choices.

  • Expanding Delivery Services: The globalization of customers and how to serve them all is increasingly complex. No longer are deliveries made to business addresses from 9 to 5. From eCommerce organizations delivering large appliances across the threshold, to a manufacturer of auto parts delivering to the end user in addition to the auto parts store, it is essential that shippers are able to handle the growing complexity within the supply chain. Additionally, with more companies expanding their reach across borders, it is crucial that they are able to navigate the choppy waters and regulations of international parcel, freight, and LTL shipping.

Even though we're talking about that parcel segment, parcel becomes LTL when you consolidate parcels and move toward palletization,” said Fleming. “It becomes more when you do a dropship or bulk-break shipments into a different market and it becomes more when you're dealing with bigger than parcel type of shipments, so consideration for solutions has to include this as well.”

  • Procurement: The need to simplify the procurement of transportation services. The ability to obtain and manage rates and accessorial fees from multiple carriers in a single environment is, and will be, increasingly essential as shippers look to meet the different demands of their diverse customer base.

“The kind of thing that you look for within procurement is ‘do I understand how I’m going to manage my contracts and in particular, how am I going to manage the rates I have with my different carriers?’” Fleming told the webinar audience.

  • Control Tower Capabilities: The demand for seamless shipping analytics and workflow tools to monitor, anticipate, and proactively optimize carrier interactions and delivery processing is going to be paramount to not only keep costs down but to ensure timely deliveries and happy customers.

“It's all about visibility. I want visibility from a customer's perspective, a management perspective, a department’s perspective —anyway I want to see it,” said Fleming. “I want to be able to tune those dashboards to reflect how my data is analyzed and tell me what's happening in my organization. That, simply put, is a control tower for multi-carrier shipping now, and at the end of the evolution, what we plan to do with this leads to predictive analytics.”

It is clear that it is key to have enterprise parcel shipping software in place that is not only able to handle the changing needs of today’s shipper, but that can grow and adapt to business needs and industry demands.