Whether you’re a customer or a retailer, shipping is the most complicated and expensive component of any e-commerce transaction. It takes time, money, and labor to pick an item off a shelf, package it up, and ship it out via the most efficient, cost-effective method possible. In this guide to automated shipping, we’ll discuss the benefits of logistics automation, how shipping automation works and how to implement shipping automation into your e-commerce business.
What is Shipping Automation
The term shipping automation refers to the process of integrating specific software, technology, and infrastructure to streamline shipping functions; remove manual processes and minimize human error.
Much like Automation in Warehousing, the goal of shipping automation is to eliminate the need for skilled, or unskilled labor to perform repetitive tasks, like shopping for rates or checking carrier availability.
Most importantly, automated shipping processes encourage greater efficiency, which leads to greater productivity, enabling your team to fill, process, and ship a greater number of orders in less time.
What are the Advantages of E-Commerce Shipping Automation
All of the advantages that automation can provide to your business fall into one of five categories: lower costs, greater speed, increased productivity, maximum operational efficiency and, most importantly, an improved customer experience. Here’s an in-depth look at the specifics of those advantages and how they apply to e-commerce.
Lower Shipping, Labor, and Fulfilment Costs
Automated shipping systems are designed to enable an operation to realize significant reductions in shipping, labor, and fulfillment costs by eliminating manual tasks from the shipping process, thereby minimizing the number of staff you need to operate and freeing up your employees to work on more productive ventures, like improving the customer experience.
Fact: A typical warehouse with 100 non-supervisory employees cost more than $3.7 million in labor expenses annually. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Greater Speed, Efficiency, and Productivity
Since automated shipping systems eliminate time-consuming tasks like pick/pack and sorting, they enable your team to optimize the fulfillment process, speed up turnaround times, increase production, and cater to a larger volume of orders in less time. Which will be beneficial to sales, profits, and brand image.
Improved Customer Experience
Regardless of the automation features you choose for your e-commerce business, the ultimate focus of any shipping automation system is to make it easier and cheaper for you to process and ship orders to your customers. The easier it is for your team to do their jobs with greater proficiency, the greater the experience will be for your customers down the line.
But let’s not forget about choice and accuracy. Choice is one of the biggest contributors to the customer experience. Whether it be same-day shipping, or a cheaper standard option, automated shipping systems allow you to present customers with the best shipping cost and carrier options at checkout.
The ideal shipping automation system will not only enable your customers with choice but also enable your team to be more accurate, avoid missed deliveries, and dodge the onset of customer complaints that are sure to follow.
How to Automate E-Commerce Shipping
Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of shipping automation, it’s time to dig into the actual shipping functions that you should automate.
Integrate E-Commerce Platforms
The best way to automate e-commerce shipping is to connect the system you use to sell online with the technology you use to fulfill and ship orders. Once your e-commerce platform is integrated with your fulfillment software, you can then streamline the flow of information between the customer and your fulfillment centers.
Once an order is placed, the automation software will automatically sync with your store to fetch orders, reorder inventory, check inventory levels, and monitor fulfillment centers, sales channels and customers all in one place.
Implement an ERP Inventory System
An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) inventory system is software designed to automate parts of the inventory process, enabling your team to keep track of accurate stock levels and manage your inventory across different channels that impact your business like finances and general operations.
Automate Shipment Tracking
The only thing more frustrating than tracking lost shipments is messing around with the complex processes carriers use to track them down. With an automated tracking system you can reduce human error and notify customers automatically of a shipments progress on its way to delivery.
Automate E-Commerce Shipping with Flowspace
The best way to cater to your customers is to not only provide them with the item they ordered faster and cheaper than the competition, but to present them with a choice in how they want it to be delivered.
No one provides as much choice and control over the shipping process as Flowspace, the premium on-demand warehousing service in the country. Request information to combine your store with our integrated technology and nationwide fulfillment network today.