The benefit of solution providers like NetSuite is the sheer wealth of tools it grants you access to to manage your business. As your business scales there are plenty of plates to spin, so it makes sense to manage as much of that as you can in one place. Warehouse Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, eCommerce platforms, the list goes on...but it isn't endless.
Shipping is one area that NetSuite is unable to completely manage internally, and is something its important to nail to keep levels of customer satisfaction high. Even if you have a fantastic range of products and slick website, that impression will be ruined if you're unable to effectively deliver your product.
What's more, a lot of shipping related tasks can be automated. There are providers out there who are capable of connecting you with the world's biggest carriers, such as USPS, Royal Mail, DPD. You may also be looking for a NetSuite shipping label integration to further speed up your warehouse operations.
We're all about shipping here at Shiptheory, so we'll be exploring the benefits of NetSuite shipping automation and how it can enhance your eCommerce operation even further.
What to look for in a shipping automation software
There are a lot of options when it comes to shipping software, all with different features and benefits. Naturally, the needs of businesses can differ greatly, so there will always be specific things you'll need to look for. There are though, of course, plenty of things you should be looking for no matter what your NetSuite shipping process is. Here are a few key features you should always be looking for in a shipping provider:
Selection of shipping carriers:
Straight off the bat, you should be looking at which carriers are available to you with the integration. It's always a good sign if a shipping software integrates directly with big, national carriers such as Royal Mail and USPS, as this implies they're a trusted service. Outside of these, lots of people come to us at Shiptheory looking for our NetSuite UPS integration and FedEx NetSuite integration.
The #1 industry that uses ERP software is manufacturing, so if that applies to you, you may want to consider what you are shipping and keep an eye out for pallet carriers such as Palletforce, Palletworks and The Pallet Network.
Equally, if you're using a carrier that they don't currently support, it's always worth seeing if they'll build an integration to the carrier you're looking for. Most providers will have a dedicated page with a list of carrier integrations - ours is here, and its definitely worth examining the range of carriers before making a call on your automations.
Flexible pricing plans:
Payment plans tend to depend on factors such as amount of shipments per month that you send, though it's possible there will be other benefits and features locked behind higher plans too. What's important is that there is a plan that suits your business' needs now, AND plans that will support you all year round.
This could mean a payment option for flexible monthly plans - during the particularly busy eCommerce period covering Black Friday and Christmas, you may want to switch your plan up to enable you to process more orders than usual. A lot of solutions will force you into a year long contract right off the bat, so take your time and see if anyone can provide you with a flexible monthly payment option.
It's also important to remember that, just as with NetSuite, the shipping software you choose is to help empower your business to grow. It's all well and good finding a great solution, but if every six months you have to jump ship to a new software to keep up with the increasing needs of your business, it's worthless. Invest time into finding a shipping software that will serve you well for the long haul.
Great customer service:
Although there are a ton of benefits to looking at a separate software to help with your delivery process, this does come with the caveat that you're separating yourself from NetSuite's support. Whilst you'll be able to natively access a catalogue of support for any of NetSuite's ERP tools, a separate automation software will have its own support processes.
It's worth scouting around the site of any shipping software you're considering using for your business - check out their support guides and maybe see what existing customers are saying on their Trustpilot. If people are saying that they're unresponsive or support is lacking, consider looking for another option.
Feeds back to NetSuite:
It's natural to be sceptical of using another platform outside of NetSuite, as one of its perks is having all of your information easily accessible and shareable in the cloud. That's why many shipping apps will communicate information about shipments of your orders directly back to NetSuite.
Ideally, you won't have to constantly go to different carriers if issues with your solution arrive - your automation provider should be your solitary point of call for everything shipping related. If you suddenly have an issue with a carrier and you have to call them up yourself, you could probably be saving more time by opting for a provider who will liaise with carriers and solve issues for you.
Keep an eye out for just how well the software you choose communicates with NetSuite - the ideal provider will allow you to manage orders without even opening the dashboard and letting everything run through it.
Why you need NetSuite shipping automation software
Shipping for your eCommerce business can be frustrating and complicated. It can require jumping between different platforms, juggling different carrier accounts, scattered data, manual tasks and processes...I could go on.
Shipping automation apps are there for one pretty simple reason: to save you time and money.
It's likely that the reason you're using NetSuite is to enhance the performance of certain areas of your business - so it makes sense to do the same with your shipping. Shipping automation seeks to alleviate all of the pain points we mentioned above.
I hear you - it's easy to say that 'it'll save you time and money', but you need to understand exactly how automation apps can help with that. We've compiled a list of features to look out for that can dynamically improve your manual processes and demonstrate the value of automation in shipping.
Automatically book shipments:
If your shipping automation software isn't able to automatically book in shipments and print shipping labels based on certain criteria, then it isn't really fit for purpose, as it isn't automating! The right shipping automation for you will allow you to run your operation from NetSuite and book shipments automatically, without leaving NetSuite or visiting other sites or software.
For example, once set up with Shiptheory and having established your criteria, shipments can be automatically booked in the background without even having the website open, meaning NetSuite can do its thing and run through your automation like clockwork in the background. By saving time you would have spent manually booking shipments, you're saving time and enabling you to process more orders - meaning more money!
All your orders in one place:
It's possible that now, or as you grow, you may be pulling in orders from multiple places. Maybe you've set up a splinter store on eBay or Amazon, selling a specific range or a fraction of your whole product catalogue.
A good shipping software will provide you with a dashboard where you're able to manage orders from all of your sales channels. Again, you're saving time by managing orders in one place rather than jumping from channel to channel, dashboard to dashboard, juggling tons of sites to keep track of orders.
Keep your customers happy:
We recently wrote a guide on nailing your customer retention, and one huge thing is the post-checkout experience. This means ensuring the delivery of the products that they've ordered is smooth and reliable.
Manually sorting out your shipments is not only longer but makes your business more susceptible to human error throwing a spanner in the works. There's nothing worse to a customer than opening that package they've been waiting days for, only to find the wrong product inside. Using a shipping automation software helps minimize the risk of human error ruining a customer's delivery experience, and keeps them coming back again and again.
Don't believe the impact? Here's a few Shiptheory users who might convince you otherwise!
Start automating your NetSuite shipping
Hopefully our guide has given you some clarity over why shipping automation software can empower your operations to new heights, and what to look for in different providers to help you reach your goals.
If you want to find out more about Shiptheory's NetSuite shipping integration, you can check out our NetSuite integration page on the Shiptheory site, or book a demo to find out a little more about how Shiptheory works!