Parcel barcode is scanned by a mobile scanner

In a world where parcels pass through many hands and locations, with delivery mishaps along the way, maintaining control of shipments can be a tricky business. One area where retailers can regain control is with smart allocation.

Retailers can often rely on a more rudimentary way of performing allocation. This means they’ve carried out the technical work required to create a one-to-one link into a carrier’s system. It sounds like a secure way of doing things. Yet, the crucial part here is that any shipment – no matter its size, weight, destination or value – is routed to a fixed carrier service, or services.

According to Statista, a lack of delivery options is the number one reason shopping carts are abandoned globally. In the UK, “a staggering 41% of online shopping carts are abandoned because the consumer’s favourite delivery provider is unavailable”. But consumer choice isn’t the only issue.

A lack of carrier and delivery flexibility can also mean you’re missing out on cost-effective deliveries, something that directly and indirectly impacts your bottom line.

How do you create and manage more delivery options? And is there an easier way to drive parcel costs down for you and your customers?

Get smart with your allocation

We’ve all heard about working smarter, not harder. And the same philosophy rings true for shipment allocation to carrier services. But what makes allocation smart?

More traditional carrier management systems use basic logic to allocate one consignment with another carrier – for instance, placing package A with carrier D. But if you use a system that employs more advanced algorithms, this logic can be layered. This means you can balance carrier availability with delivery rules and costs. For instance:

  • What are the available carrier services that meet the requirements for this shipment? (This could be dependent on promised date, on destination etc.)
  • Is there any blocking logic you wish to apply? This, for example, could be based on shipment value: *for shipments over a value of X, exclude carriers services A,B and C*.
  • What is the lowest cost available carrier service (after the above have been factored in)?

Smart allocation can use this layered logic to allocate a parcel to a carrier service that fulfils the promise, is suited to your delivery preferences, and is the best price of the lot. This can help to mitigate failed deliveries, reduce ‘empty space’ in delivery vehicles by filling them more efficiently, and reduce overall parcel costs.

Getting smart with your allocation is one thing, but how do you begin to manage all the various carriers, warehouses, drop-off points and parcel journeys taking place?

The beauty of a carrier management system that has smart allocation capability is that it can automate true cost allocation to ensure the lowest cost service is always selected for any given shipment. This also means you can effortlessly ship from multiple locations and brands to complete a single customer order. And via the dashboard, you’re now positioned to create, monitor and manage all shipments and allocation rules, and track a parcel’s progress through a virtual timeline. This allows you to spot any problems, rank their severity and act if necessary.

Monitor to optimise to improve

You’ve got smart allocation and shipment management capabilities. Now, it’s a case of having the power to accurately analyse your delivery experience. With such a range of carrier and delivery data to hand, what metrics should retailers monitor to optimise carriage costs and improve their services? Retailers could monitor:

  • the percentage of vehicle fill
  • the delivery success rate by carrier, using “On time, in full” metrics
  • the first-time delivery success by carrier.

They can then assess how performance stacks up vs customer promises vs volumes delivered by carriers vs shipping locations, and see how this looks at a granular level, from carrier service to carrier service.

Control is king

As the economy remains stagnant, providing more delivery options and reducing delivery costs remain two of the biggest consumer ‘wants’. By adopting smart allocation and empowering your teams with control via a shipment management dashboard, you can offer your customers better delivery choice, manage multiple carriers and shipments with ease, automate your delivery allocation preferences, and choose the most cost-effective option available.

Crucially, this oversight gives you the metrics to monitor performance, enabling you to optimise your operations and costs, and improve your delivery experience. How much you use the dashboard, and what you do with it, is totally in your hands. The point is, you have control of your allocation, and control is king.