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Shipping is all about movement. Moving product off of shelves. Moving items out of warehouses and distribution centers. Moving parcels to homes and businesses. The crux of the situation is that the need to move items faster, more efficiently, and cheaper to keep up with the quickening pace of parcel and consumers’demands for fast and free shipping.

So, what happens to shippers when the need to keep up with demand while keeping costs in-line? Well, this is where more movement, to multi-carrier shipping software, makes sense to shippers’ bottom lines.

To cut down on time and transportation spend, businesses are turning to cloud-based transportation management systems (TMS) to save time and money. This is driving worldwide revenue for TMS from $9.6 billion in 2016 to an expected $30.04 billion by the end of 2025, according to a study reported by DC Velocity.

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As implementation time and costs continue to fall, the move to the cloud is easier than, however, there are still some things to keep in mind as the industry moves beyond multi-carrier shipping systems of the past and into the future. Here are some things to consider when evaluating the production-level performance of cloud-based parcel shipping systems in a business environment where every second counts:

1) Quick Carrier Rating

Transportation costs can move as quickly as the small packages being transported based on several factors: weather, fuel surcharges, market conditions, or demand. Having real-time access to carrier rates at the time of order entry or fulfillment is critical. Relying on carrier web APIs (or TMS services that solely rely on them) can slow your business down as their response rates may not be quick enough to meet your order entry or fulfillment needs. To compete at today’s—and tomorrow’s—pace takes a well-designed, cloud-based TMS that can return carrier rates in less than a second so e-tailers and others can route and shop rates on high volume parcel shipping daily.

2) Fast Transaction Processing

When it comes to shipping, especially in the eCommerce industry where shipping is “free,” there is pressure to do it better, cheaper, and faster than the next guy. Especially faster. Parcels zipping down conveyor lines need a level of automation and processing speed that is beyond typical freight shipping. The volumes seen in parcel dictate that for weighing, rating, and labeling, every sub-second counts.

3) Local Data Integration

Transportation execution requires connectivity and real-time access to order data to reduce and eliminate manual data entry and the errors that that can bring at the point of shipping. The faster a shipper can confirm a shipment with tracking information and proofs of delivery, the faster to payment.

4) Connectivity

There was a time when automating high volume shipping processes, required software to be installed on-premise. The IoT has changed all that. Today, cloud-based TMS solutions can leverage IoT technology to securely interface with scales, scanners, thermal label printers, and other material handling devices over the Internet, and fully automate high volume production shipping environments from the cloud.

5) Flexible Workflows

Logistics management is a complex task, and it’s probably not going to get any easier. A cloud-based parcel TMS can streamline processing and improve efficiency if there are tools available to configure it to user-specific workflows. Because change is a constant in today’s multi-carrier shipping and business world, it is important that a TMS solution can be easily reconfigured by system administrators to stay ahead of the competition.

Parcel shipping keeps moving to the future and having the right multi-carrier shipping system in place can help speed up that movement while keeping costs in check.