Effective Tips for 3PLs Struggling to Manage Client Shipping Rates and Invoices

3PL Shipping Rates and Client Invoice Management Software - TEC Mailing Solutions

As the ecommerce industry has evolved and retailers have looked for better shipping solutions, fulfillment providers and 3PLs are at the forefront of this revolution.  To succeed, they must navigate a complex array of challenges to ensure the seamless delivery of each and every order from their clients. The crux of this intricate process lies in the management of client shipping rates and carrier invoices, especially for those providers that consolidate all those shipments under their negotiated carrier rates.  Making sure this process is handled accurately can be a painstaking process to reconcile client shipments with any surcharges or other fees from the carrier.  

ParcelPrep™ was designed to streamline these very complexities. Tailored specifically for fulfillment providers and 3PLs, ParcelPrep™ has revolutionized the way these companies manage all aspects of carrier rates, labeling, and invoice management. By implementing the robust ParcelPrep™ API (which can be integrated into existing software systems), your fulfillment or 3PL warehouse can transcend traditional hurdles, ensuring your company and your clients are setting the standard in the competitive world of ecommerce shipping.

What is ParcelPrep™?

ParcelPrep™ is a cutting-edge software solution that enables businesses to manage all their parcel carriers via a next-generation, robust API. ParcelPrep™ delivers a more efficient and cost-effective way of managing parcel rates, markups, labeling, business rules and client invoicing.

  • Rate Shopping: This is a key feature that helps businesses shop between all the available carrier rates to find the one that works best for their bottom line, often with substantial cost savings attached. 
  • Financial Integration: This feature seamlessly manages charges and expenses, making it easier for businesses to track and control their shipping costs, surcharges and fees.
  • Flexible Account Management: This feature offers businesses the flexibility to manage their various carrier accounts according to their specific needs.  It allows for tailored solutions, rate sheets, fees, automation, reporting and invoicing.
  • Custom Rate Cards: This feature allows businesses to negotiate custom rates with carriers like FedEx, UPS, USPS and more.  It also allows your business to offer and manage various rate cards or client-specific rates with parcel carriers.

Understanding the Intricacies of 3PLs

Fulfillment providers and 3PLs provide an essential bridge between manufacturers and customers, handling all aspects of order fulfillment, warehousing, and even returns. They also have the complicated task of managing shipping rates and invoicing, which can be a complex process given the various types of surcharges and fees that can be added to shipment when the carrier invoice arrives.

What Makes 3PLs Stand Out?

3PLs serve an important role by helping to streamline logistics for businesses while enabling more efficient management of strategic inventory fulfillment; a boon of customer satisfaction. They manage multiple stages of supply chain functions, including:

  • Warehousing: They store manufactured products in a secure location, typically managed by a warehouse management system (WMS).
  • Distribution: This includes everything from helping clients with strategic inventory placement to order fulfillment, custom labeling, and packing.
  • Transportation: Managing the movement of goods to and from their various facilities.  Many fulfillment providers offer discounted rates on freight/LTL services and freight consolidation when possible. 
  • Reverse Logistics: Customer returns are better managed to benefit from increased customer satisfaction and reduced reverse logistics costs. 

The Role of 3PLs in Invoicing and Billing

The invoicing process for 3PLs is multi-faceted, involving contract signing, data collection, charge calculation, reconciliation, invoice creation, and payment. Each stage is crucial to accurately calculate rates, charges, and finalize payment.

  • The Contract: This is the initial agreement between a 3PL provider and a client, outlining all the services provided, corresponding rates, payment terms, and other crucial information.
  • Data Collection: Before signing a contract, 3PLs must gather detailed information about the client’s operations, such as packing slip details, shipping box sizes, expected monthly shipments/orders, storage space required, and the total number of SKUs.
  • Calculation: After collecting all of the associated data, a 3PL will determine what charges are required for each service tier, all based on the data provided in the terms of the contract.
  • Invoicing: Once the charges are calculated, an invoice is generated summarizing the various service costs and sent to the client.

The Challenge: Managing Shipping Rates and Invoicing

Almost every person that has worked in the warehouse for a fulfillment provider or a 3PL company knows all-too-well the challenge of handling thousands of shipments daily. Each shipment might involve different carriers, each with its own set of rates, surcharges, and fees. And after all the packages are shipped, they need to track and reconcile these varied rates for every single client they serve. Higher-volume clients might be charged one rate and low-volume startups are charged another shipping rate.  Some clients’ shipments are assessed additional fees and the fulfillment provider does find out until they have received the weekly carrier invoice.

For many in this industry, the process is riddled with manual steps. Let’s sketch a typical scenario: a team collects data from different carrier invoices, manually inputs them into a system (or worse, a spreadsheet), and then attempts to match these with client shipping records. It’s labor-intensive, time-consuming, and the margin for error is massive. One slip – a miskeyed rate, an overlooked surcharge – and the dominoes start to fall. This could mean overcharging a client or getting substantially higher carrier invoices than expected. The consequences? Damaged relationships with carriers, losing client trust, and potentially making the business financially unviable are all probable outcomes of a manual carrier invoice reconciliation process.

Now, enter the hero of our story: ParcelPrep™. This isn’t just a software; it’s a flexible lifeline that can deliver better parcel shipping to whatever system or software needs it. ParcelPrep™ automates the entire carrier rate management and invoicing process. Fulfillment providers can say goodbye to manual data entry and hello to a streamlined parcel solution.

ParcelPrep™ delivers precision to the carrier invoice process and streamlines the reconciliation with billing for each client. This accuracy is critical, especially as businesses scale. It’s the difference between growing smoothly and stumbling under the weight of logistical nightmares.

ParcelPrep™ is more than a tool; it’s a strategic ally in the high-stakes world of fulfillment logistics. It empowers providers to manage shipping rates with unprecedented accuracy and efficiency. For businesses looking to thrive rather than just survive, ParcelPrep™ is a cornerstone of their long-term success.

Rate Shopping: Finding the Best Deal

Effective and automated carrier rate shopping is not just a critical feature for 3PLs aiming to optimize their shipping operations; it is an essential value proposition and marketing message to promote your capabilities to discerning ecommerce clients. The concept revolves around a deceptively simple yet profoundly impactful idea: comparing shipping rates from multiple carriers in real-time. This method leverages technology to transform what was once a cumbersome, manual process into an efficient, automated experience that delivers an immediate return by maximizing savings on shipping.

The real magic of effective carrier rate shopping lies in the ability to dissect and analyze several crucial factors in the blink of an eye. It’s not just about the bottom line; it’s about understanding how transit times, delivery reliability, and specific carrier strengths play into the larger picture of customer satisfaction and logistical efficiency. For instance, a business might find that paying slightly more for a faster transit time is more beneficial in the long run, enhancing customer experience and boosting repeat business. On the flip side, for less time-sensitive shipments, opting for a more cost-effective carrier or service level can significantly reduce overall shipping expenses. This level of nuanced decision-making, powered by rate shopping, is what sets forward-thinking fulfillment providers apart.

Flexible Account Management: Tailoring to Your Needs

ParcelPrep™ also offers flexible account management. Flexible account management includes features such as the ability to set up multiple user profiles, customize shipping preferences, and manage billing and payment information.  The integration of flexible account management with advanced automation rules in parcel shipping takes rate shopping to the next level. Our robust API allows providers to apply advanced business rules for each account to make intelligent shipping decisions automatically. These rules could include factors like choosing the fastest option for urgent shipments, the most cost-effective carrier for standard deliveries, or even prioritizing carriers based on past performance or specific shipping destinations. This automation transforms the rate shopping process from a tactical task to a strategic asset, enabling businesses to make smarter shipping decisions consistently and efficiently.

Financial Integration: Managing Charges and Expenses

When it comes to the nitty-gritty of financial management in logistics, ParcelPrep™ is like a financial wizard, seamlessly weaving through the complexities of shipping expenses. The software’s financial integration capability isn’t just about tracking costs; it’s about bringing a new level of clarity and control to fulfillment providers and high-volume shippers. It meticulously logs every dime spent on carrier charges, customs fees, and those pesky hidden costs that can often go unnoticed. This eagle-eyed tracking is more than just record-keeping; it’s an insightful analysis that lays bare the complete financial footprint of a company’s shipping activities.

But here’s the real kicker – the ParcelPrep™ API can be integrated with most popular accounting, order management, and warehouse management software. Imagine a scenario where, with a few clicks, ParcelPrep™ data flows seamlessly into your existing financial systems. This integration is like a symphony where each note – or in this case, data point – aligns perfectly, creating a harmonious financial overview. The result? Faster and more accurate invoice reconciliation. Gone are the days of manual data entry and the headache of cross-referencing client and carrier invoices. The user-friendly API ensures that every piece of financial data aligns with your existing systems, eliminating discrepancies and ensuring that what you see is the real deal.

With a comprehensive overview of shipping expenses at their fingertips, fulfillment warehouses can zero in on areas ripe for cost-saving measures. Maybe it’s renegotiating carrier rates, tweaking shipping routes, offering better deals to existing clients as a reward or more confidently pursuing new potential clients – whatever it is, having this data integrated into your existing financial systems means making informed decisions just got a whole lot easier.

Custom Merchant Rate Cards: Negotiating Better Deals

Flexibility is key in the fast-paced world of ecommerce, and ParcelPrep™ is all about empowering fulfillment providers with just that. Think of ParcelPrep™ as a Swiss Army knife for managing carrier relationships. Whether it’s FedEx, UPS, USPS, or another parcel carrier, ParcelPrep™ offers reliability and advanced functionality to every parcel shipper. The API’s robust support for all major carriers means that businesses are no longer handcuffed to limited options. Instead, they can confidently explore and secure the best possible rates through negotiated rate agreements.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting. ParcelPrep™ isn’t just a tool; it’s a strategic enabler. Fulfillment providers juggling multiple carrier accounts and diverse client shipping needs often find themselves in a labyrinth of complexity. ParcelPrep™ cuts through this maze with ease. It provides a unified platform where businesses can manage all their carrier relationships, track negotiation rates, and apply custom rate cards all in one place. This centralized management is a game-changer, especially when dealing with high-volume shipping or unique requirements that traditional shipping software and transportation management system offerings typically cannot support.

But why stop there? The ability to negotiate custom rates and apply them seamlessly across various carriers and client accounts is like having a superpower in the logistics world. Fulfillment providers can now tailor their shipping strategies to the specific needs of each client, ensuring maximum cost efficiency and optimal service delivery. This flexibility is not just about cutting costs; it’s about gaining a competitive edge. With ParcelPrep™, businesses can confidently pursue the best deals, knowing that their parcel technology will back them up every step of the way.

Reducing Errors in Multi-Carrier Shipping

One of the significant advantages of ParcelPrep™ is its ability to reduce errors in the shipping process. This is achieved through features like automated data entry and validation, address verification and correction, and compliance checks.

Streamlining Data Entry

Through the integration with other enterprise software solutions, such as warehouse management systems (WMS) or order management systems (OMS), ParcelPrep™ can automatically pull relevant shipping details and deliver unmatching processing and printing speeds for shipping labels.  After processing, the system will write back all the key shipment details, like tracking and shipping costs, so that every key software system in your ecosystem is updated with accurate information. 

Ensuring Address Accuracy with Verify and Confirm

Our exclusive Verify and Confirm feature acts like your own personal shipping sidekick, meticulously scrutinizing every address on each parcel and mail item you dispatch. It taps into the comprehensive USPS National Change of Address database to ensure you have the most up-to-date address for every recipient before the order packing process is complete. With Verify and Confirm, rest easy knowing your shipments are always heading in the right direction, right off the bat!

Automated USPS Manifesting

ParcelPrep™ also helps businesses create a scheduled and automated process to generate a manifest for all USPS shipments and submit it to the USPS eVS system.  It’s a powerful tool that can improve compliance and reduce the chance of additional fees.  Companies using ParcelPrep™ will receive all scan data for every package sent with USPS with each transactional event associated with the correct package, which drastically improves visibility throughout the entire delivery process.  For fulfillment warehouses using services like Parcel Select, Bound Printed Matter, or Media Mail, this can completely transform your USPS shipping process and the ability to confidently offer these services to your clients.

Minimizing Returns with Enhanced Visibility

Returns are an issue for almost every online product-based business.  The companies that craft a customer-friendly return policy and make it easy on customers have a definitive advantage.  For fulfillment providers, returns are an opportunity to shine with your clients.  Handling the process well and helping your customers keep clients is a necessity.  Finding ways to minimize returns for all your clients gives your company a competitive edge.  This is where ParcelPrep™ helps take your 3PL to a new level of customer service.  By leveraging our Verify and Confirm service, you will be able to spot potential delivery issues and avoid many returns for all your clients before the shipment is even sent.  With most ecommerce businesses wanting to offer return policies that compete with major retailers, this will be an invaluable service that will help keep them using your fulfillment services for years to come.

ParcelPrep™ by TEC Mailing Solutions Can Help!

Navigating client shipping rates and invoice management as a 3PL can be a complex task. However, with the right technology and an understanding of the intricacies involved, 3PLs can efficiently manage these processes. By improving how they manage carrier rate cards and client invoices, 3PLs can enhance their customer relationships, streamline their operations, and ultimately, boost their bottom line.

TEC Mailing Solutions is a leading company in the mailing industry that offers a wide range of services to meet all your 3PL shipping needs. With our state-of-the-art technology and highly skilled team, we are committed to delivering high-quality and efficient solutions. Whether you need direct mail marketing, data management, or fulfillment services, we have the expertise and resources to exceed your expectations. 

Our dedication to customer satisfaction and our attention to detail set us apart from our competitors. Choose ParcelPrep™: Powered by Tec Mailing Solutions for all your mailing needs and experience the difference of working with a trusted and reliable partner. 

Contact us today at 866-379-9437 or email us info@tecmailing.com to learn more about our offerings and how we can help your fulfillment business thrive. 

 

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