How Retailers Are Evolving With Their Customers

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There is often a correlation between customer satisfaction and company profitability. To be more specific, if businesses aren’t able to find the balance between giving customers what they want while still making revenue, they risk losing business to competitors or simply go out of business. Billionaire and businessman, Mark Cuban, says it perfectly, “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” With millions of customers looking towards online retailers to satisfy their needs, it is up to each eCommerce business to understand what their customers want and how they can best fulfill it. As customers continue to change their preferences and demands, retailers must be able to adapt and exceed customer’s expectations in order to continue to have a competitive edge and keep their business alive.

When online shopping, customers first and foremost want a seamless buying experience: a process that is both user-friendly and instantly gratifying. This means that retailers must ensure that their websites are easy to use and can instantly deliver, both with their products and their service. There are many aspects to consider in order to ensure quality service- fast and free shipping, transparent shipment tracking and efficient order management to ensure smooth delivery. By deciding to order an item online versus shopping in person, customers want to be guaranteed that their purchase will take less time and effort than it takes to go to the store.

Once one company is able to deliver on those customer’s needs, competing retailers must also comply in order to retain customer loyalty. For example, with eCommerce giants like Amazon, setting the precedent of free shipping, companies must also offer the same services in order to avoid consumers switching to a competitor site that offers the same item without extra shipping fees. An extra $10 shipping charge can be the reason for in-cart abandonment and overall company revenue loss. Furthermore, customers expect their items to come quickly and want to be constantly updated on where there item is, without needing to call customer service or engage on external sites. While both of these services are necessities for online retailers, subsidizing shipping costs and constantly providing shipment updates can take away additional margins that businesses make on their products, as well as increase time spent on customer service.

Engaging in competitive pricing and service can turn out to be very costly for businesses. However, there are a couple of areas where businesses can tweak in order to avoid losing profit margins on their product. One solution is to minimize shipping costs by utilizing packing optimization and picking the cheapest carrier available for your specific service type and delivery speed. Another way to improve customer satisfaction is by improving the technology used on your platform. With no physical sales representative, user experience takes the place of in-person customer service. By finding an efficient system to constantly track and manage orders while constantly updating customers on their package, customers will not only call customer service less, but also be more satisfied with the delivery of their items.

While businesses can engage in many different solutions and strategies to satisfy these needs, there is also another option: integrating a shipping API like ShipHawk into your website. Not only does ShipHawk’s multi carrier rating and packing optimization software reduce overall shipping prices, but ShipHawk’s fully transparent tracking system leads to superior customer service. Instead of directing customers to third party sites to track their packages, ShipHawk integrates all carrier tracking systems into one platform, so that customers can directly track their shipments on your website. Furthermore, instead of having to request shipping updates from carriers, ShipHawk pushes these updates in real-time so less time has to be spent inquiring carriers. By both streamlining your business’s shipping process and improving end-to-end customer buying experience, ShipHawk is able to increase company revenue through both customer conversions and operation costs.

In conclusion, no matter what solution your business chooses to implement, retailers must face the facts. As the eCommerce market becomes more advanced and technologically advanced, customers will continue to increase their demands and expectations for online retailers. While there may be many things that retailers can do to improve, one thing is clear. If retailers do not adapt and evolve with their customers, it will be very hard to maintain a successful business.

How Much Does ShipHawk Shipping Software Cost?

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One of the questions we are asked regularly is, “How much does ShipHawk cost?”, to which the reply is typically along the lines of “Well, tell me about your business.”  At ShipHawk, we pride ourselves on transparency, which is one of the reasons why we would like to be able to provide on-the-fly-pricing. Unfortunately it’s just not that easy. You see, ShipHawk’s pricing is based on a variable model, designed to ensure that you pay a price relevant to your specific needs and usage. This not only helps ensure a fair pricing system, but it also enables us to continue building a superior product that is best-in-class in it’s category and improving every single day.

To give you an idea of the complexity that goes into a variable pricing model, take into account two different sized businesses: one ships 100 packages per day, while the other ships 1000 shipments per day.  Now add drop shipping to the mix, the number of users and type of access needed, special requirements such as ERP or WMS integration, carrier specific services, and international shipping requirements- the list goes on and on.  Is it fair that the business with the lower shipping volume should pay the same as the higher one?  What if that business has more complex needs but lower shipping volume over all?  These factors, and more, are carefully analyzed and taken into account on every potential new customer relationship to ensure each and every need is addressed and priced appropriately.

Consistency is Key

Although ShipHawk’s pricing fluctuates based on the needs of our clients, the service does not.  Every account is looked after with the same level of care, ensuring success and long-term partnership, which is the hallmark of the relationships we build with our customers.  Ultimately, we see ourselves as a partner to your business, not just another vendor who does the “shipping.” We assign a dedicated Account Manager who knows you and your business, backed by the full support of ShipHawk’s customer service team, implementation team, product team and engineering team to make sure our partnership is successful – and it’s all included.

Legacy Technology is a Thing of the Past

An overwhelming majority of businesses, from small to large, seek out ShipHawk for one thing – to replace legacy technology that required servers, annual maintenance and support costs, paid training fees, staffing to support complex infrastructures and more. Now, tack on the added expenses for data-center space and the salaried IT professionals paid to make sure nothing stops working.  Suddenly your costs have skyrocketed well beyond even a fraction of the cost of ShipHawk, which comes without the headaches and unpredictability.

In fact, ShipHawk is the only company who won’t nickel and dime you to get you the solutions you need.  We don’t charge implementation fees and we don’t charge for professional services fees.  We only charge for software licensing and we take the rest on our shoulders as our part of the partnership.

It Gets Better

As an added bonus, ShipHawk customers take advantage of the latest, most cutting-edge and advanced features at no additional cost.  Whenever we add new carriers, discover ways to save money, improve workflows or add customer facing enhancements, they are automatically available to users- free of charge.  This also means cost-predictability, something that is extremely important for long term planning and reducing risk, regardless of how many users you bring on-board.  How important is this?  Just ask your CFO.

Keeping it Apples-to-Apples

We find that ShipHawk is often compared to the dozens of “shipping solutions” available out there, yet none offer the complete breadth of services, and they all tend to operate on the nickel and dime model.  When you take into account the cost for integration, base software, Bill of Lading fees, carrier modules, seats and support, you wind up with an inferior product with a higher price tag.

It’s common for businesses to try and reduce costs by purchasing fewer features or seats than they might need, and it makes sense, assuming they would be paying for something they don’t need.  What happens, however, is that they often miss out on opportunities for further cost reduction. These costs could be carrier or efficiency based and when multiple users are sharing a single account, it becomes impossible to track history and audit accordingly, which in-turn increases risk. So, are those cut costs really worth it?

ShipHawk is Predictable, Reliable and Scalable

When you sign up for ShipHawk, you get more than a best-in-class shipping and fulfillment platform. You get predictability, reliability and scalability.  That means you can rest assured and shift focus to what matters most: growing your business.

How much is ShipHawk going to cost you?  I don’t know yet, but I’m happy to spend time learning about your business and understanding your pains and initiatives. And I’ll come back to you with a fair price that addresses your needs and creates the value and goodwill and on which long term partnerships are formed.  

Defining Blanket Wrap and White Glove Services

What is Blanket Wrap and How Does it Work?
Blanket wrap is a type of service where carriers wrap items in blankets to protect them during transit, generally used for larger unpacked items such as furniture. This type of service is exactly how it sounds: items are wrapped in blankets, strapped securely inside the truck, and transported onto a truck with other items wrapped in the same way. Each truck is staffed by two drivers who make all of the pick-ups and deliveries.

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Blanket wrap providers usually have multiple warehouses around the country. The closest office will first contact the shipper to arrange a pick up. Once the item is picked up, it is then brought back to the closest warehouse. From there, the item may be transferred on another truck to the terminal closest to the destination. When the item arrives at the closest terminal to the destination, that office will then contact the recipient to arrange delivery.

What is White Glove?
White Glove describes a delivery service level. It includes delivery inside the home, placement in room of choice, all packing materials removed, and basic assembly if necessary.

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Is There a Difference Between Blanket Wrap vs. White Glove?
Yes. The terms “Blanket Wrap” and “White Glove” are often used interchangeably, although there is a slight difference. Blanket wrap is the method used to transport goods throughout the whole shipment. On the other hand, white glove describes the type of service offered at the final delivery to the customer.

Since blanket wrap providers transport unpacked items, all blanket wrap shipping includes white glove delivery. However not all white glove deliveries are necessarily transported by a blanket wrap carrier. For example, the freight could have been palletized and shipped to a delivery agent, who unpacks the freight, inspects it, and delivers it “white glove” to the customer.

Why Choose Blanket Wrap?

  • Most economical way to ship used goods or unpacked items.
  • Great fit for fragile items, unpacked freight or oversized pieces. The transit is far less turbulent since there is less movement of each item and shipments travel within their own vehicles.
  • For highly fragile items such as chandeliers, mirrors and art, most blanket wrap carriers can provide packing and crating services in addition to wrapping in blankets.

Expectation Setting for Blanket Wrap Shipping

  • Since carries only use their own vehicles, they schedule their routes as efficiently as possible based on their capacity.
  • Transit (pick-up and delivery dates) varies greatly compared to traditional freight transit. Typically you should allow 1-3 weeks for pick-up to be arranged and an additional 2-3 weeks for delivery. Remote areas could take longer. Thus, we suggest setting customer expectations for a 3-8 week transit time. Depending on the location, a more precise time frame can be provided.
  • Appointments are based on the carrier’s availability, not the customers. The carrier will contact the customer a few days in advance to provide a date and time frame of 2-4 hours. Similar to following a bus or train schedule, the customer will need to make themselves available to meet the carrier to make the pickup or delivery. In high density metropolitan areas such as New York City, carriers often have dedicated trucks to accommodate customer’s schedules, but generally both shippers and recipients need to be flexible to accommodate the driver’s schedule.
  • Pickup and delivery dates are not guaranteed. Weather, traffic, and mechanical issues can interrupt scheduled routes. However, carriers make an effort to communicate directly with customer as quickly as possible to inform them of any changes.

Exceptions to the Rule and Additional Charges

  • The weight limit for two movers is approximate 150 lbs. If the item is extremely heavy, there will be additional charges per additional mover.
  • Quoted prices assume that there is a clear path and no stairs at both pickup and delivery. If a delivery location is difficult to reach or if there are stairs at either end, there will be additional charges for labor or time.
  • Chandeliers need to be disconnected by an electrician prior to pick up. Movers will not install them for safety reasons.
  • There are additional charges for disassembly or assembly of beds.
  • Depending on the carrier, the drivers may be willing to roll a rug and pick up and unroll at delivery, but they do not move pre-existing furniture for liability reasons.

Which Blanket Wrap Providers Do You Offer on ShipHawk?

  • Plycon
  • Team WorldWide
  • Ukay
  • Vintage Transport
  • B Cubed
  • Justo
  • AirSea
    +we can add your tariff!

Why Utilize Packing Algorithms?

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Packing Algorithm. When you say it out loud it sounds pretty fancy. Definitely wins the wow factor. But what is it? What’s the point? Well, for our enterprise customer who utilizes this service, it has been a godsend. So let’s break it down and define it as simply as possible: A packing algorithm will tell you how to most efficiently pack an item. You’re probably thinking… “Well I can that out figure it out! I don’t need a computer to tell me how to pack an item!” While that may be the case, there have also been many times where the lack of a packing algorithm led to less than efficient packaging strategies. 

Exhibit A: Rogue Fitness

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The above was packed by an employee at a multi-million dollar fitness equipment company. I guarantee you this isn’t the first and only time. By not utilizing packing optimization and not selecting the correct box size based on the item’s dimensional weight, this company lost out on profit margins that could have easily been saved. While a couple dollars saved here and there may seem minuscule, when you consider hundreds of boxes, shipped out every day with the wrong packing dimensions, a few dollars can turn into thousands, and thousands can turn into millions lost, all due to inefficient packing.

If only there was a software that showed me what the proper size box, padding, bubble wrap, void fill etc. to use… Well ShipHawk is the only shipping company with a patented packing algorithm that will take any item and do exactly that. To pack a chandelier, it will tell you what size crate to use, how many rolls of large or small bubble wrap to use, how many scoops of peanuts and best of all how much it will cost. No matter what item it is, what size or weight it is, or what material it is made out of, ShipHawk’s ability to plug and play item characteristics always ensures the most cost efficient packaging each time.

So why waste time and money – 2 things we never have enough of? Let’s ShipHawk help ease the shipping burden of your shoulders. Stop wasting valuable resources and equip yourself with the only tool that will help you get ahead of the competition.

What is Ground Shipping?

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When shipping domestically, ground shipping is usually the most cost-effective and flexible method of getting your package to your door. Ground shipments are generally forwarded through freight services such as FedEx and UPS, which route smaller and larger trucks across the country to ship and deliver your products. Ground shipping will typically take more time to arrive than products shipped via overnight or second-day air because freight trucks stop at various distribution centers across the country to drop off and pick up multiple shipments. With ground shipping, time to delivery is purely a function of the location between the sender and the receiver.

Below is an example of UPS shipping times for a package that is being ground shipped from California:

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And FedEx follows the same general timeline for their ground shipping rates:

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The price of ground shipping will vary across freight carriers, but let’s compare the rates this year vs. last year’s between both UPS and FedEx to give us a general overview. The shipping rates at UPS and FedEx have recently changed with the beginning of the new year, so it’s important to recognize the costs and adjust any pricing changes you may need to make in order to match your personal or business shipping needs.

Effective January 2017, UPS and FedEx ground shipping rates will both increase by about 4.9%. For example, sending a package with 10 x 10 x 10 dimensions headed within two zones (150 miles) will incur the following costs as compared to last year’s rates:

2016 2017
Dimensional Weight 7 pounds 7 pounds
Cost $8.81 $9.22

Of course, there will be some variation in these rates between the two companies, but the general increase means that shippers should try and minimize the size of their shipments in order to avoid paying more for ground shipping. As carriers like FedEx and UPS move more towards utilizing a dimensional weight calculator to price their shipments, businesses should pay greater attention to the dimensional weight of their packages in order to cut costs. Especially if businesses ship in large volumes, a great way to continuously optimize dimensional weight is by utilizing shipping intelligence software, such as ShipHawk. With the use of such software solutions, businesses can find the best shipping rates without having to go through the hassle of searching through different carriers manually and continue to optimize profit margins off of ground shipping.