4 Challenges In Linking Freight Calculations With eCommerce Site

Written by Paul Forand
     

Integrating-Freight1.  Cost

A website and database overhaul will almost certainly be an expensive proposition, but it's an investment in your business that will pay off over the years to come.  Besides the hardware involved, if you want to do your own transportation management, you'll have to license a database of product measures, weights, and schedules.   

At the low end, it's possible to use some of the "pre-fab" shopping cart services to tie directly into parcel carriers, but few of these services offer freight quoting options.  It can be effective helping smaller businesses to get started, though.

2.  Web Service Hosting

What servers will your eCommerce site "live" on?   You could self-host, use a third-party cloud service or, in some cases, rely on a transportation partner to host the site.  There are some Third Party Logistics firms and Transportation Management System vendors who provide the webspace and bandwidth as part of the deal.

Otherwise, you'll have to either build the back end, or look for a secure Cloud provider who can also interface with all the necessary systems.

3.  Compatibility

Another major concern is compatibility between systems.  A successful freight calculation system will need to communicate between, at the least, your systems and those of your preferred carrier.  If you plan on offering multiple shipping options, the compatibility issues multiply.

Some websites like WebShopApps  address this with standardized plugins, but this creates a growing stack of third-party apps, which may be unstable or insecure. 

Many carriers allow businesses to tie directly into their services, and some even offer plugins for third-party shopping carts, but these aren't designed to encourage inter-compatibility.  Before implementing website upgrades, your website group may want to talk to the carrier(s) you use and get details on what web services they support.

4. Ongoing Supportcost-freight-management

Finally, there's the fact that website management only begins when it goes live for customers.  There will undoubtedly be bugs to work out, as well as the usual user issues that accompany software projects.

If you're self-hosting the site or using low-cost third party software, you will probably handle the tech support yourself.  Transportation Management Systems vendors will give you tech support on their products, but probably not your customers.

Some third-party logistics firms, however, have begun integrating full website service into their product offerings.  This by itself can make them a very attractive all-around solution.  They cost more than a cheap e-cart, but can take most or all of the administrative burdens off your hands.

ReTrans Freight can bring you an all-in-one solution for efficient freight estimates, and eCommerce integration.  Contact us today for a free consultation.  

photo credit: Highways Agency via photopin cc