How To Integrate Shipping Costs Into Your eCommerce Platform

Written by Paul Forand

Integrate-Shipping-CostsOne of the most vital services that anyone involved in shipping can offer to their customers is accurate and optimized shipping estimates on website orders.  Are you looking to improve your eCommerce solutions?

A properly implemented eCommerce platform can allow for quick and easy self-serve ordering, even on large or complex orders.  In some scenarios, such as companies who supply raw materials for other manufacturers, it even becomes possible for them to choose optimal shipping routes for themselves based on their own needs.

All of this will help improve your relationship with your customers and help make you a steady partner in their operations.

Implementing a new integrated eCommerce system isn't simple, but it will pay off for years or decades to come.  Luckily, business owners today now have multiple options that can greatly ease implementation difficulties.

Four Resources That Can Build Integrated eCommerce Shipping Options

1 - eCommerce Software Vendors

There are numerous options online for building your own online store, and many of the major ones such as 3DCart allow for direct integration into common shipment systems such as UPS and FedEx.  Unfortunately, the customization options are limited and are generally not tailored to large-scale shipping.

However, this is also usually the cheapest option since they host the eCommerce site and it usually has a very simplified plugin-based design interface for easy rollout.  As such, this can be a valid option for small operations, but you'll likely outgrow it before too long.

2 - Transportation Management Software VendorsIntegrate-Shipping

The other common "pre-fab" solution comes from TMS vendors such as MercuryGate.  They can provide all the back-end support necessary to run website-based shipping requests, and maintain huge databases of shippers and product categories / regulations.  Further, some go so far as to specialize in sub-industries.  The restaurant business, for example, has several TMS services dedicated specifically to food service shipments.

These systems, however, are not cheap to license, and you're reliant on them for updates.  Also, you're likely to have to do the heavy lifting on your end for website design, and merely integrate their systems into the final product. 

3 - Direct Carrier Integration

Many freight carriers now offer these same services themselves, specifically because they'd like to lock you into becoming a customer.  If you have a carrier you have a good relationship with they can often give you a lot of expert help with integrating your website into their systems.

This may not offer your own customers too many choices, but it's a cost-effective solution and can form the basis for a reliable long-term shipping partnership.

4 - A Third-Party Logistics Agency

A 3PL can offer a combination of all of the above, and at affordable rates.  They already have the same software systems in place that a TMS would use and they have the existing relationships with carriers necessary to do direct integration.  They can put together a powerful and flexible eCommerce site with substantial customer-driven options for shipping and routing.

For many businesses, this hits the true sweet spot of competitive rates and value.  You get a superior website, superior customer support, and highly accurate freight quotes.

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