Navigating Shipping Challenges: How Acumatica Provides a Shipping Automation Solution

The pandemic posed many challenges for inventory-centric businesses in distribution, retail, and manufacturing. Many businesses had to grapple with the complexities of strained supply chains and unpredictable shipping schedules. Consequently, companies were compelled to overstock inventory, leading to elevated carrying costs and heightened risk. Many still struggle to manage shipping documents and label requirements and pay exorbitant prices for parcel shipments– this is where an automation shipping solution can help.

These challenges are heightened when businesses rely on entry-level accounting or legacy ERP applications that don’t connect order management and fulfillment processes with dedicated shipping software. These solutions often require manual data entry between disparate applications due to unintegrated data silos. Modern ERP applications like Acumatica can help businesses connect their transportation and shipping software suites to gain shipping insights and visibility. 

This eBook provides an in-depth overview of connected shipping and ERP applications with considerations for specific industry segments, automation benefits, and tips for shipping integration configuration. Below, we’ll summarize the key takeaways from the eBook so you can quickly understand the importance of a modern and robust ERP system for your business and how it can be your go-to shipping automation solution.

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3 Common Shipping Mistakes to Avoid

Poor Planning 

Inaccurate demand forecasting or inadequate route planning can significantly impact shipment planning and expenditures. With Acumatica, you can utilize forecasts to gain insights into future shipping volumes and negotiate carrier contracts effectively. Employ planning algorithms to optimize the utilization of both Full Truckload (FTL) and Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) capacity and assess the outcomes for efficiency.

Missing or Incorrect Documents 

Documentation errors significantly disrupt shipping. The absence of necessary paperwork or critical information leads to confusion, delays in customer shipments, and could even incur carrier penalties. It is crucial to thoroughly review documentation for accuracy and establish processes to guarantee the inclusion of required documents.

Manual Processes 

Disparate systems force users to enter data manually into multiple systems. Manual data entry is fraught with human error causing delays, costly returns, and unhappy customers. With Acumatica as your shipping automation solution, you can cut throughput times and human activity by as much as 50%.

The Benefits of Shipping Automation

Companies that use separate shipping and ERP applications face big challenges in effectively managing shipping activities because of all of the error-prone and time-consuming data entry processes. The delays in finding accurate information present hurdles to stakeholders updating customers, carriers, and internal teams as frequently as necessary. Modern solutions like Acumatica offer integrated shipping connectors, facilitating a streamlined order fulfillment process without excessive manual intervention. Automation enhances the overall customer experience and equips executives with valuable insights for effectively managing and improving business processes.

  1. Improved profits: Streamlined shipping processes minimize duplicate data entry allowing you to do more with less staff.
  2. Connected systems: Connecting shipping and ERP systems eliminates multiple steps and reduces the chance of errors.
  3. Streamlined order fulfillment: Shipping automation improves order fulfillment, enabling businesses to choose which system they use for each process.
  4. Customer satisfaction: Displaying shipping information to customers via automated emails or through self-service storefronts and portals provides customers with transparency and confidence in your shipping process, boosting sales for future orders while building customer loyalty.

System Configuration Options

While many systems can fulfill most of your business requirements, assessing their capability to accommodate changes in your business, escalating customer demands, and evolving technology is a complex task. Acumatica offers a forward-looking cloud platform specifically crafted for scalability and extensibility, featuring abundant configuration choices to customize the solution according to your distinct needs.

  1. Sales order preferences: Many systems lack sales order and shipping preferences. Acumatica provides options to configure shipment numbers, freight allocation on partial shipments, and free shipping settings. 
  2. Order types: Modern systems like Acumatica provide flexibility to manage shipping defaults differently based on order types, such as blanket orders, credits and returns, mixed orders, sales orders, transfers, and other order types. 
  3. Customer details: Control customer-specific shipping details, such as which party is responsible for freight based on free on board (FOB points like destination, shipping port, or other scenarios). Define customer carrier accounts where customers pay for shipping costs. 
  4. Item and warehouse details: Item settings impact shipping costs. Define units of measure for inventory items with unit-of-measure conversions. Define item weight and volume used for freight calculations. Establish auto-pack options by weight, quantity, or by weight and volume combination.

Labels, Documents and Compliance

Businesses employing outdated systems or entry-level accounting software face challenges in efficiently handling paperwork, vendor and carrier invoices, and labelling requirements. Acumatica offers inherent barcode support through connected applications to effectively manage labelling needs. Additionally, features such as accounts payable automation, built-in document management, and integrations with carrier systems streamline paperwork through embedded digital document storage, making it a great shipping automation solution.

  1. Carrier labels: Automate printing of industry and customer-compliant labels for GS1-128, Amazon, and more. The connected shipping application provides a library of industry and regulatory labels. In addition, the optional label connector makes it easy to tailor labels with your company logo and address.
  2. Product and location labels: Create barcode labels for items, locations totes, carts, and lot or serial numbers to streamline shipping processes. 
  3. Document management: Modern ERP systems like Acumatica provide embedded document storage. Share files via native document management with Adobe PDF markup capabilities and Microsoft Teams integration for collaboration.

Shipping Analytics

Companies need the right tools to make sense of colossal amounts of shipping data. Acumatica provides comprehensive reporting and analytical tools that extend beyond mere financial reporting. This allows you to grasp your company’s health at a glance and promptly identify emerging trends.

  1. Role-based dashboards: Use role-based dashboards for shipping and receiving clerks and warehouse managers to visualize data from multiple sources. Dashboard content is dynamically generated for real-time results with drill-downs to view detailed transactions.
  2. Business Intelligence: Integrated business intelligence tools like Microsoft Power BI aggregate data from multiple sources, extract actionable information for strategic decision-making and present it visually to stakeholders.
  3. Low-code and no-code reports: Leverage essential reports that can be used out-of-the-box or easily modify reports and create new reports quickly with Acumatica’s Report Designer. 
  4. Business Events: Use business events to trigger email alerts, SMS text notifications, or tasks when database conditions require user intervention.

As businesses navigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic, the significance of streamlined shipping processes and efficient ERP systems cannot be overstated. Acumatica addresses common shipping challenges and brings forth many benefits, including improved profits, connected systems, streamlined order fulfillment, and heightened customer satisfaction.

There are a multitude of different configuration options and its emphasis on shipping analytics highlights the role of Acumatica in providing a comprehensive set of reporting and analytical tools.

Download the eBook to explore how Acumatica can be a game-changer for your business, providing insights, automation benefits, and configuration tips for shipping integration.

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