Revolutionizing Parcel Management: What Sendflex Parcel TMS Can Do that Legacy Systems Can't
The new generation of Parcel TMS platforms, like Sendflex, offer automated intelligence that goes way beyond simple multi-carrier label printing.
Parcel management used to be simple: give everything to one carrier and try to negotiate better rates every year in hopes of controlling rising shipping costs. However, the exponential growth of eCommerce - which now accounts for over 20% of all retail purchases - has led to higher parcel volumes, increased demand for omnichannel fulfillment, and driven the need for carrier diversification. These combined forces have made parcel management incredibly complex. Shippers are now turning to more advanced parcel management technology like Sendflex to conquer complexity and gain a competitive edge.
This article will examine the limitations of legacy multi-carrier shipping systems and explore how cutting-edge parcel TMS platforms are addressing the challenges of today’s parcel management environment.
A Look Back at Freight TMS vs. Multi-carrier Parcel Shipping Systems
Freight TMS systems have always had to manage complexity across hundreds of multi-modal carriers. Configurable rules for routing, load planning, mode shifting, simulations, palletization, and execution have been standard freight TMS features for many years. But, while these systems were relatively well-equipped for truckload and LTL shipments, they lacked the nuance and performance to execute high-volume parcel shipments effectively.
By comparison, multi-carrier parcel shipping systems were designed to automate high speed weighing, rating, and label printing at the end of a conveyor. While freight TMS has been primarily a back-office function, multi-carrier parcel shipping systems have focused on providing warehouse automation point solutions. Historically, very little planning was required for parcel management. The extent of parcel planning was basically: “I plan to tender all my parcels to UPS (or FedEx),” therefore multi-carrier parcel systems were simply not designed for complex decision-making traditionally required by freight TMS systems.
To the extent that legacy parcel shipping systems required automated decision making, they relied on hard-code business rules, which are often expensive and time-consuming to implement at scale.
The Sendflex Parcel TMS Difference
Times have changed. The modern parcel delivery environment is looking a lot like the freight management market, with decentralized omnichannel distribution and diversified carrier networks. Deciding where, how, and when to use final mile delivery services is now very complex. Enter Sendflex, offering the first true Parcel Transportation Management System (TMS) with a range of advanced features that address today's complex parcel management challenges.
- High-Speed, Onboard Optimization Engine
Processing iterative planning decisions and “what if” simulations requires speed. Sendflex parcel TMS features an onboard parcel optimization engine that can process an astounding 20,000+ carrier rates, transit times, and business rule instructions per second. Comparatively, legacy parcel shipping systems rely on carrier web APIs to compare multi-carrier rates, which are slow and unreliable, especially during peak periods. Carrier rating APIs were never designed for iterative decision making upstream from shipping and, to make matters worse, carriers are increasingly levying surcharges for overuse of their rating APIs.
- No-Code Business Rule Instruction Configurations
Legacy parcel shipping systems require hard-coded programming to apply static business rules during the shipping process which makes it difficult for logistics managers to keep up in the dynamic parcel shipping environment. Like its freight TMS cousin, Sendflex parcel TMS enables non-programmers to easily configure decision trees to automate complex decision-making in shipping as well as fulfillment, order allocation, and digital storefronts. Using Sendflex no-code instructions, logistics managers can easily configure in minutes what would otherwise take programmers weeks to develop, test, and deploy.
- Planning Optimization
To the extent that legacy parcel shipping systems can apply business rules, they do so one order at a time and often too late in the process. Sendflex, however, can intelligently optimize routing across order batches, enabling logistics managers to build and compare plans based on configurable, data-driven instructions during order allocation or wave picking upstream from shipping. Desired plans can then be released to shipping for processing, or process labels as part of the release.
- Simulation Modeling
Programmers have always had sandboxes to test new technology and programs before releasing them into the wild. But logistics managers have had to test new strategies in the physical world, in the form of expensive pilots. Sendflex parcel TMS offers virtual simulation capabilities that enable logistics managers to model the impact of new strategies on cost and delivery performance. Sendflex applies carrier rating and instructions against shipping history to create any number of “what if” simulations:
- What if I had used a regional carrier last November?
- What if my primary carrier imposes a pickup limit during peak season?
- What if I change my inventory of carton sizes?
- What impact would General Rate Increases have had last year?
Insights from simulations can then be operationalized as embedded decision-making triggers in Sendflex planning and execution processes. Legacy shipping systems, on the other hand, can only offer rear view reporting about what did happen, not what could have happened.
Upstream digital storefront quotation and planning requires accurate and comprehensive understanding of the carton size and weight of each order. Without this, shippers risk margin erosion or lost sales. Sendflex uses cartonization algorithms and business rule instructions to SKU data and determines the most cost-effective way to pack and ship orders based on available carton sizes and dim factors. Additionally, they take into account factors such as fragility, SKU orientation, and fill percentage. Legacy parcel shipping systems can only process shipments at the end of a conveyor when all the critical decisions have already been made.
- Modern Microservices Architecture
Software products typically benefit significantly from a “refresh” on technology to take advantage of cost, performance, and other benefits. Legacy parcel shipping systems are no different. Many are stuck with older technology stack that require manual intervention and constant administration to scale and adapt to more secure IT environments. Sendflex is SOC 2 certified and embraces microservice technology with features like auto-scaling, multi-regional failover, and built-in security. This ensures that systems are always up-to-date and capable of adapting to mission critical environments.
- Cloud-Native, Deploy Anywhere
Sendflex parcel TMS platform is built on a cloud-native, modular microservices architecture designed for cross-platform deployment. This compares to legacy shipping systems that use cloud environments to host their older technology stacks. Sendflex parcel TMS can be more easily deployed and administered in “containers” within other cloud or on-premise environments.
Meet Sendflex: The Next Generation of Parcel Management Technology
Sendflex’s parcel TMS platform seamlessly integrates with digital storefronts, OMS, and WMS systems. It complements existing freight TMS platforms and legacy shipping systems, making Sendflex a versatile and cost-effective solution for shippers looking to control costs, optimize capacity, and enhance their customer's delivery experience.
If you want to stay ahead in the complex world of parcel management, you need to discover what modern parcel TMS systems can offer. Schedule a consultation with the experts at Sendflex and see how their parcel orchestration system is revolutionizing parcel shipping.
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