People always tell you that you need to find a parcel shipping provider that matches your needs, but how do you choose the right one? So you have done your research, you have made a list. Now let's assume you have made a choice. A particular provider has convinced you to buy their software, so you do, you set it up, but you find yourself dealing with slow response times. Now you have to adapt to this web service and you have no backup plan. How did you end up in this situation?
First of all, you should know that carrier solutions can be created in two ways. Either labels, quotes and other similar variables are generated by a piece of software within an app or they are generated using web service driven software. The latter solution involves lower costs, but it also has a number of disadvantages, as is usually the case with anything. Web services can prove an ideal solution for some businesses but cause quite a mess with others, generating all sorts of problems that will interfere with their performance.
Here is a set of questions that should help you decide which of the two solutions meets your particular business needs - web service carrier solutions or on-premise carrier solutions:
1. Is your workflow speed driven so that you need a precise parcel shipping response time?
2. Does your workflow require the pre-printing of labels for the packing slips or WAV plans upon the release of orders?
3. Are you thinking service or rate shop?
4. What kind of services are you interested in? Think about international trade, hazardous goods, etc.
There is a certain level of predictability with on-premise software given that the solutions it generates are stored on the hardware. Also, these solutions are often more varied than in the case of web services, as well as more flexible when it comes to providing visual support for the generation of labels and not only. However, they need to be updated and maintained more frequently than web services, which also require the regular certification of interfaces.
You should always have someone conduct a complete analysis on the impacts a particular parcel shipping solution can have on your business in order to avoid any unexpected situations. You should know how exactly a parcel shipping provider's carrier solutions are developed - whether web service interfaces are used or not and if they are, which carriers are they used for? Will their solution help improve your business? How would the solution apply if you were to make any changes in your business model?
This is not a choice you can afford to make at random. Some carriers provide web interfaces only while others do not provide any. You need to know what a carrier offers. Otherwise, you will find yourself spending a lot of money trying to fix all kinds of mistakes in your endeavour to meet your customers' needs or the latest market needs.
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