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Carrier Rate Shopping for Retailers in 2022 - The Why

eCommerce businesses today have put in much effort to map out what they think is their best approach to order management and fulfillment. 

But with consumers now expecting cheaper, faster, and timely deliveries, most retailers are still not sure about how best to evolve and match those expectations. This raises key questions:

  • How do you streamline operations at the backend to ensure that you’re always offering an array of delivery options that match customer expectations without hurting your revenue?
  • And how do you display these multiple delivery options at checkout in a way that won’t overwhelm and confuse shoppers? 

To eliminate this air of uncertainty hovering around shipping and delivery, many retailers are now turning to a new solution that is fast becoming a new trend – Automated Carrier Rate Shopping

In this article, we’ll talk about Carrier rate shopping and how far the industry has come with the technology.

Carrier Rate Shopping in Retail

Carrier rate shopping is the use of software to compare multiple carriers and their shipping rates in real-time so you can pick the fastest and lowest-cost shipping options for an order. It’s all automated, so you can stop providing an endless list of delivery options at checkout based on guesswork. 

Although retailers today might be using automated systems and software to do rate shopping, it wasn’t always the practice. In the past, eCommerce businesses relied on manual processes to shop rates. 

To better illustrate why automated rate shopping is a must-do for eCommerce brands today, let’s talk a bit about the outdated method of traditional rate shopping.

Traditional Carrier Rate Shopping and Its Downsides

In the past, retailers had to manually decide the shipping rates and carriers after the sale was made. To do so effectively, it was up to a warehouse employee to find the best carrier service that could get a customer’s order shipped. 

That was a painstaking process involving a multitude of disconnected systems and platforms. Here’s how it usually played out:

  • A customer places an order on the website and it registers in the order management system.
  • A designated retail operator then has to log into different carrier websites like UPS, USPS, DHL, and FedEx. 
  • Once logged in, the operator has to manually obtain quotes, compare different services, look at rates, and then finally book the shipment with whichever carrier they think is best for that order. 

Can you tell how gruesome it was to keep switching from window to window while trying to find the best shipping rate and service between multiple carriers? 

And that’s just for a single customer order. Now Imagine that the operator has to repeat the same rate of shopping steps for 10, 15, or even 300 different orders. Not only did those tasks waste a lot of time, but they were also obsolete and could no longer keep up with the demands of modern retail and consumer expectations. The possible avenues for errors were just too many with traditional rate shopping. 

And when you also consider the absence of a system to handle tracking numbers received from carriers, you'll admit it was even harder to keep tabs on every package until they arrived at their destination. 

Put simply, an over-reliance on manual processes to determine the most optimal service to get a package shipped is unreliable and will affect your bottom line negatively. 

With a rapidly evolving eCommerce landscape, it’s downright inefficient if you have to manually follow up with different carriers and monitor their services in real-time to come up with the best shipping methods and least costs for every order. 

To break away from manual rate shopping, retailers need a single platform that can return rates for every kind of shipping option across different carriers in real-time. 

That’s where automated carrier rate shopping comes in. 

Automated Carrier Rate Shopping and Why It's the Game-Changer

A few years ago, it used to be just a few delivery options like Standard, 2-day, next-day delivery, etc.  

But moving on from the era of traditional rate shopping, there are more shipping options from different carriers available to customers now than before the pandemic; We've got carriers offering actual rates, flat rates, same-day, overnight, expedited shipping, etc.

This new development is what makes carrier rate shopping at the checkout a must for visionary retailers. By using rate shopping software, eCommerce businesses can guarantee efficient, cost-effective order fulfillment without having to rely on the manual decisions of warehouse employees.

Rate shopping software automatically finds and displays the best service and carrier that will get any order delivered faster and at the cheapest cost possible. That way, you can provide more accurate shipping prices and offer your shoppers a wider range of shipping methods to choose from at checkout.

Carrier rate shopping today allows you to compare different carriers and their shipping rates in real-time. So you can rate-shop across all major shippers while taking into account your configured business rules and real-time order data.

The result?

You'll get a decluttered checkout page that displays only the best and most cost-effective shipping options for your shoppers to see. Using rate shopping software is a smart move for retailers since it is automated, saves time, and optimizes costs when deciding the best delivery option for any order.

Carrier rate shopping software also benefits customers by eliminating any options considered expensive and unnecessary. By doing so, it reduces how much time they spend in choosing from what would otherwise have been a long list of shipping options at checkout, thereby creating a better shopping experience for them.

Conclusion

If you own an online store, you don’t want to keep making manual decisions about the shipping rate and carrier for an order. That’s an arduous task that could see you keep making either of the following mistakes:

  1. Select expensive shipping options which will lead to lost customers (since 63% of shoppers say shipping costs led them to exit a retailer’s website).
  2. Select very low rates which will hurt your revenue. 

With no manual effort required, you can use intelligent carrier rate shopping software to display the most cost-effective rates, along with the best shipping method from a convenient carrier. 

By integrating with the right live rate shopping software, you can create a smooth conversion-driven checkout experience and delight shoppers with the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient delivery options that they want. 

If you’d like to take full advantage of rate shopping, increase shipping revenue, and simplify your checkout, we have a Free Demo waiting for you.

In our next blog, we will investigate the current state of carrier rate shopping software today and how to maximize it at the checkout to help your business grow.

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Author: Akhilesh Srivastava

Founder and CEO of FenixCommerce

Akhilesh is a Technology enthusiast who's passionate about creating a superior consumer shopping experience with technology innovations. He has deep expertise in envisioning and launching new products for eCommerce, Supply Chain Fulfillment and Logistics. To date, he has helped several large Fortune 500 companies including eBay, Walmart, Gap, Nordstrom, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, adidas, Petco, Staples and Microsoft among others.

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