What Is Shipping Software?
Shipping software streamlines the entire outgoing shipping process from label creation to package arrival for online retailers and e-commerce businesses. These programs typically integrate with e-commerce platforms, shopping carts, shipping carriers, and other technology to bring all sales channels and shipping needs together in a single platform. Most platforms provide real-time shipping calculations and custom tracking and confirmation notifications.
While there may be some similarities, shipping software isn’t the same as transportation management or supply chain management software. These software are intended to manage and track shipping of products to the seller instead of managing and tracking products being sent by sellers to their customers.
Shipping software providers usually partner with shipping carriers to obtain discounted rates for their users. These discounted rates and clear shipping details on their websites can help prevent abandoned shopping carts. With an ever-increasing number of online shoppers, businesses that sell online use shipping software to improve the efficiency of their shipping operations and ensure they can offer their customers multiple shipping options at the lowest prices possible.
Benefits of Shipping Software
The most obvious benefit of shipping software is the money users save by receiving steep discounts on shipping from software providers. These discounts vary, but businesses can generally provide consumers with affordable shipping options that encourage brand loyalty. Before choosing software, businesses should evaluate how many shipments they make monthly compared to the cost of the software and the discounts offered. Other benefits include:
- Accelerated shipping and fulfillment: Automated processes save time with order-specific rules, picklist and packing slip creation, organized packing, and quicker shipment processing.
- Integrations: Integrate orders from multiple sales channels to manage all shipping from one platform with automatic order downloads and uploaded tracking numbers and order status posted to the sales platform.
- Save time: Instead of manually figuring up shipping costs, shipping software automatically calculates cost and presents the best shipping options to customers.
- Rate comparisons: Software that includes shipping price calculators and real-time rate comparisons ensure consumers get the best prices possible.
- Streamlined document creation: Software walks users through the process of generating all required documents, including labels, invoices, packing slips, and customs forms.
- Simplified returns management: Easily generate return labels to provide to customers, and use return tracking details to manage returns swiftly.
Must-Have Features for Shipping Software
To be considered a quality shipping software, a company must offer integrations for e-commerce platforms, shopping carts, and other online retail sites. It must have order management tools, so businesses can manage orders and monitor shipments in real time. There are also numerous must-have shipping features that businesses should require in their software, including:
- Shipping label creation: Ensure products meet shipping regulations and help consumers identify shipments with easy printing options straight from the user’s desktop.
- Rate management: Get discounted rates from various shipping partners, which allows businesses to pass on lower shipping rates to their consumers and encourage completed orders.
- Inventory control: Manage physical inventory with insights into how much is left of each product and automatically get low stock alerts.
- Reporting tools: Advanced metrics reporting provides insights into where most shipments are going and how much these shipments cost, which influences decisions like where to place new shipping hubs.
- Returns management: Generate return labels and send these to consumers to ensure timely returns and refunds/exchanges that keep consumers happy.
- Tracking and customer communication: Real-time shipment confirmations and automatic tracking updates sent to consumers keep them informed and reduce inbound calls to businesses concerning tracking status.
The Cost of Shipping Software
Shipping software usually comes with monthly subscription pricing, with the average amounts running the gamut. Most software options offer multiple price points with different plan levels at different prices to cater to a variety of personal and professional needs. Compare each level carefully, because lower-level plans tend to be missing certain features and/or will cap the number of shipments per month. A small number of shipping software companies offer a free version, but the included features are typically limited, and they almost always cap the number of allowable monthly shipments.
Most shipping software doesn’t have per-user pricing, although some limit the number of users who can access the system. A majority of shipping software offerings are cloud-based solutions, so users can access shipping and tracking data from anywhere. They also usually work out discounted rates with various shippers, which can help promote customer satisfaction and future sales. Of the companies on our list, pricing ran between $1 and $499 per month, depending on the product. Besides a monthly fee, many have additional fees, such as pick fees, setup costs, training sessions, and various other hidden costs.