As the world’s largest retailer, Amazon is also a shipping juggernaut. The company’s many fulfillment centers (it opened 23 more in the second half of 2016) are its hub for shipping millions upon millions of packages worldwide. A network of that size is vital for a retailer that does big business in ecommerce: Amazon sales alone represented more than half of all growth in the U.S. ecommerce market last year.
Of course, not every retailer is Amazon. But, the retail giant’s fulfillment story underscores the challenge faced by large and small retailers, as well as the shipping providers and postal carriers who serve them: the need to boost shipping capabilities to reach even more customers. Ecommerce is a booming market, growing 15 percent to reach $395 billion in total sales last year, according to the Commerce Department. And, more sales mean many more packages to ship.
It’s not just the rising shipping volume that challenges retailers and shippers; it’s the increasing complexity, too. Cross-border ecommerce, for example, is playing a bigger role in online retail: Our 2016 Global Online Shopping Study found that 66 percent of online shoppers purchased a product from a retailer in another country.
Cross-border shipping involves many more considerations than domestic delivery, including compliance, duties and taxes and the challenge of meeting customer expectations for fast and affordable delivery across the planet.
So, how do shippers simplify delivery complexity while moving at the speed of ecommerce? Automated parcel sortation is one answer. By streamlining parcel sorting management, shippers are able to save on time and costs, increase fulfillment efficiency and improve shipping accuracy, tracking and visibility. These process improvements give them the operations they need to fulfill more orders quickly and accurately, leading to more revenue.
What is Automated Parcel Sorting?
Parcel sortation automation involves the use of technology for package processing, taking care of many of the tasks that would be time-consuming and repetitive to do by hand. This includes capturing dimensional information (i.e., package weight and size), reading and applying labels, and certifying and routing packages to the right loading area in the fulfillment center.
Automated Parcel Sorting Benefits
Automated parcel sortation solutions can be customized to fit any shipping environment, big or small. These systems can be optimized to suit a particular size of parcel, delivery times specified by service level of agreements and the overall expecting shipping volume for that carrier. Other benefits include:
- Labor Efficiency – An automated solution frees mail operation staff from having to manually sort mail by hand, allowing them to focus on other tasks that maximize their time.
- Time and Cost Savings – Shippers can achieve the high throughput they need to keep up with demand while keeping production costs low. A more efficient mail center helps retailers and couriers improve profit margins as shipping volume increases.
- Improved Accuracy – Barcodes and machine-printed or handwritten labels need to be properly scanned to ensure accurate pricing and sorting. High-integrity parcel sortation solutions include innovative image capture and scanning technology that can accurately scan this information even as you process more packages, faster.
- Improved Tracking and Efficiency – Precise data tracking is a major asset to shippers, who need to offer up-to-the-minute package tracking both for operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Modern sortation solutions offer rich data insights to fuel these requirements.
Scalability is another important factor. As your business grows and starts to process more packages, you’ll want a solution that’s easy to upgrade and can expand as your company does. That is a major asset at a time when the trends point to higher ecommerce sales and busier times for retailers and shippers.
Increase the speed and accuracy of your shipping operations. Pitney Bowes TrueSort™ automated parcel solutions and OneSort® automated data capture solutions give shippers the tools they need to deliver more value to their customers in the form of fast, accurate and trackable shipping.