eCommerce is blowing up the traditional lines that used to differentiate transportation modes. Increasingly, consumers are demanding free and faster delivery for more types of goods than ever before, including appliances, furniture, food, and clothing. Retailers are responding with omnichannel fulfillment and shipping strategies to reduce the cost of free shipping while staying true to their delivery promise.

With an estimated 1.92 billion global digital buyers in 2019 accounting for as much as 13.7 percent of retail sales worldwide, according to an Oberlo post, the growth of eCommerce has led to a continuous surge of parcel shipments. The report goes on to estimate that there will be as many as 2.14 million digital shoppers worldwide by 2021, and that growth isn’t going to slow anytime soon.

To handle the surge—and grow their business along with it—carriers are quickly adapting to the market. Parcel carriers are offering freight services (FedEx is now the largest LTL carrier). Traditional mail carriers like USPS are seeing the fastest growth in last-mile delivery among all parcel carriers. Freight carriers are beginning to look like parcel carriers, delivering and setting up heavier items like mattresses within the home, or what some have called “the last inch.” Retailers are engaging local carriers to make white glove deliveries. Group sourced services like Deliv are emerging to make same-day deliveries. Ocean carrier Maersk has talked about “coming inland” and competing with traditional parcel carriers. Major eCommerce marketplaces are building out their own delivery networks.

With so many options to choose from, this has left many shippers, especially those that aren’t transportation experts, wondering, “What’s the best way to ship a multipack shipment?” and “Is it better to go Ground, Ground with Freight Pricing or LTL?” Well, the answers aren’t always easy. Guesstimates can prove to be very costly.

For example, UPS has introduced Ground Freight Pricing. This is a contract service that calculates transportation charges based on the total weight of individual packages grouped by National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) and Freight Class. This can mean big savings to shippers sending many packages to a single destination.

“UPS’ Ground with Freight Pricing (GFP) is an industry-changing innovation that gives shippers a competitive edge by showing data they need to pay the least amount for the GFP Pricing level," according to Lance Healy, chief innovation officer at Banyan Technology. "No other solution can bring to the table the ability to ship parcels at freight prices. The service is ideal for non-traditional shipments like mall deliveries, kiosks, home delivery, and strip malls."

These kinds of calculations require automated multi-modal rate comparisons, the kind Pierbridge’s Transtream solution can provide. Without using the best shipping software to support these goals, shippers can spend hours chasing freight costs. No one has time for that any longer with customer expectations for faster delivery.