Delivery Management Guide: Improve Your Delivery Management Systems

Want to know the secret to creating a memorable post-purchase experience?

Fast, reliable, and consistent delivery.

Here are the facts:

  • 41% of consumers are willing to pay more for same-day delivery.
  • 43% of online shoppers view fast and reliable delivery as the most important factor when shopping online.
  • 70% of US customers will choose a brand over a competitor if they provide more delivery options.

A great delivery experience is what builds customer loyalty and makes brands stand out from their competitors.

But as an ecommerce operator (and not a carrier), you might be thinking: do I have much control over the delivery process?

The answer is — “yes!” In today’s fast-growing industry, there are endless ways to improve the delivery process, especially with the right systems in place.

In this article, learn why delivery management is important for business growth, and how you can improve your delivery strategy to meet customer expectations.

What is delivery management?

Delivery management refers to the process of transporting finished goods from one location to the next. In ecommerce, it involves optimizing and overseeing the last-mile delivery process for shipping customer orders.

Since online shoppers expect fast delivery, from same-day delivery to 2-day shipping, delivery management continues to be an essential part of running a successful ecommerce supply chain.

It’s important to note that order fulfillment and inventory management both play a key role in delivery as they can either speed up or slow down the process.

Delivery management and rising consumer expectations

With ever-increasing customer expectations, on-demand logistics solutions are becoming an essential component of the supply chain. 

Online retailers are feeling the pressure of delivering customer orders quickly to boost brand loyalty and stay competitive.

Delivery management starts with a strong fulfillment and logistics strategy. The fulfillment experience involves picking and packing items, and shipping orders through the most optimized route in terms of speed and cost.

But without the proper fulfillment infrastructure and supply chain technology in place, the ability to deliver orders quickly and accurately can be a challenge. 

Benefits of a strong delivery management system

How consistent you are in delivery highly impacts both the customer experience and your bottom line.

Without a proper delivery management system in place, you can’t offer the variety of shipping methods that customers expect, which can increase your cart abandonment rate.

Post-purchase, if your delivery system lacks visibility and reliability, it can lead to higher shipping costs and slower transit times (and customers who are less likely to buy from you again).

By investing in your delivery process, you can improve both sales and internal operations. Here are the top benefits of implementing a strong delivery management system.

Higher customer retention rate

Once a customer makes a purchase, the customer experience doesn’t stop there. The shipping experience is key to establishing a proper delivery strategy.

Though many customers expect orders delivered one or two days after purchasing, having a variety of reliable shipping methods for customers to choose from can help build customer retention — as long as what was promised is delivered. 

To ensure that delivery is meeting shipping expectations, a proper delivery management system can assist in identifying the most optimized routes, estimating delivery times, and tracking shipping costs, so customers are able to get their packages delivered on time based on the preferred shipping method.

Access to real-time data

Real-time order tracking provides more visibility into the shipping process, so you can automatically share updates with your customers on when their orders will arrive.

Many delivery management systems also provide access to shipping and delivery insights, so you can track shipping history, view estimated delivery dates, and even compare shipping methods based on customer preferences and delivery performance.

With the right data at your fingertips, you have what you need to make informed decisions and make improvements to your shipping strategy.

Reduced operational costs

Delivery management aims to reduce shipping costs, so you can improve profit margins. There are many factors that influence shipping costs. For one, keeping an eye on different carrier options is important.

Depending on the areas you ship to, different carriers (including regional parcel carriers) may offer cheaper rates than what you’re currently paying.

How you fulfill orders can also impact shipping costs. For instance, you will want to make sure you avoid common packing mistakes that increase costs, like using too large of packaging (for a higher dimensional weight).

Faster delivery options for customers

With an efficient delivery management process, you can offer your customers faster delivery options. 

There are a lot of factors that play into fast delivery, such as where you store inventory and fulfill orders from geographically. The closer inventory is to your customers, the sooner packages can arrive at their door step at a more affordable rate.

For instance, ShipBob is a 3PL that operates multiple fulfillment center locations. By allocating inventory across locations, orders can be sent to the closest fulfillment center to its destination to be picked, packed, and shipped right away (without the need for a brand to manage one, let alone multiple warehouses themselves).

Establishing a product allocation process can greatly improve delivery by being able to offer affordable 2-day shipping to more (or all!) of your customers.

Increased supply chain communication

There’s a lot of data that needs to be shared throughout the supply chain, and it must be recorded, analyzed, and shared with the proper parties in a timely manner.

Delivery management systems can help increase supply chain communication between third-parties that are involved in the shipping and delivery process. 

By connecting inbound and outbound logistics with the right technology, you’re able to optimize the supply chain and ensure orders are shipped and delivered efficiently. 

10 ways to improve the delivery management processes

To meet customer expectations around fast, accurate delivery, here are a 10 ways you can improve the delivery management process.

1. Pick the right delivery management system

Picking the right delivery management system or app that easily integrates with your other systems is the first step in improving the delivery process. 

Since every business runs their logistics operations differently, it’s important to take the time to choose the right technology for your business. But some of key features to look for include:

Another important feature to consider is direct integrations, especially if you partner with a 3PL. By connecting a delivery management system with a 3PL’s software (or using the 3PL’s built-in tools), you can further streamline the shipping process.

2. Optimize your inventory management system

Inventory management plays an essential role in the delivery process. Without the right items to fulfill an order, delivery is already delayed before it’s even shipped. 

Inventory management software provides real-time insights into inventory levels, the ability to create and manage SKUs, identify which items are fast selling or slow moving, and more.

For instance, ShipBob’s technology has built-in inventory management technology that makes it easy to replenish inventory by setting reorder notifications, bundle products for promotions, and even make inventory transfer requests.

“ShipBob’s analytics tool has been great to have. We can see inventory reconciliations and easily view SKU velocity, transit times, and inventory distribution recommendations.”

Pablo Gabatto, Business Operations Manager at Ample Foods

3. Automate shipping

Automated shipping technology and processes allow for much faster delivery. But many time-consuming tasks like packing, adhering shipping labels to boxes, and controlling stock can now be automated, so you can reduce manual work and improve accuracy.

Having a streamlined shipping process enables you to increase production, allowing you to cater to a larger volume of orders in less time.

As a result, this leads to more growth and optimization throughout the supply chain. To automate shipping, many brands partner with a 3PL like ShipBob that has systems and processes in place to automate fulfillment and delivery. 

That way, you don’t have to worry about shipping orders, invest in costly automation, or spend time finding ways to optimize the delivery process. 

4. Easily generate shipping labels

An important part of the delivery process is generating shipping labels, but it can be an extremely time-consuming process. And if done manually, any small error can cause delivery delays (or reshipments).

Fortunately, there are ways to easily generate shipping labels at a much faster rate.

If you manage a high volume of orders, outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL like ShipBob that purchases and generates shipping labels for you can take the hassle and stress out of label creation.

ShipBob will make sure your customers’ orders are labeled and shipped properly, taking care of the entire shipping and handling process.

5. Use distributed fulfillment centers

The best way to reach customers more efficiently and offer faster (cheaper) delivery is to utilize more than one fulfillment center location. Fulfilling orders from more than one warehouse allows you to speed up delivery times at an affordable rate via ground shipping.

The quicker a customer gets their order, often the happier they are. If you can offer a quick turnaround time – without the need for costly expedited shipping, you can meet customer expectations while keeping logistics costs low.

“ShipBob has been a great ally as they have fulfillment centers all over the US, facilitating a 2-3 day delivery time for any customer in the US.”

Andrea Lisbona, Founder & CEO of Touchland

6. Keep your customers in the loop

Customers like to know right away if their order is being processed. It provides peace of mind, knowing that their order has been acknowledged and is promptly prioritized.

Providing frequent orders updates keeps your customers in the loop, making them aware of the progress at each stage, from order processing all the way through delivery. Not only do customers appreciate the updates, but you can save your ecommerce customer service team time by reducing the amount of customer inquiries.

The more transparency you can provide customers, the better. Depending on the type of systems you have in place, you can choose to send customers updates on when an order is received, processed, being prepared, and shipped.

7. Set up a return management process

It’s important to create a return management process that is easy to understand for your customers and also for your team to execute. Customers may even be more likely to make an exchange, knowing they can get the new item delivered quickly.  

Additionally, an easy return process can help your team sort, organize, and restock returned inventory.

A 3PL like ShipBob can help support the ecommerce returns process. With ShipBob, you have the option to restock, quarantine, or dispose of returned products at the SKU level (or even sent back to you directly). On your end, all you have to do is choose how you want each individual product to be processed, and our team can handle the rest.

“About a year and a half after building out our business, we figured it was time to optimize some of our processes, including returns. The ability to work with one of the co-founders of ShipBob to launch a new, custom returns process was awesome.

Returns were taking a lot of time and resources to process on our end, but ShipBob was super helpful and critical in creating a solution for us.”

Nikolai Paloni, Co-Founder of Ombraz Sunglasses

8. Offer order tracking

Order tracking is essential to share with customers, allowing them to take control of deliveries, which ultimately improves the delivery experience.

Many carriers like how UPS offer programs like My Choice and Access Point to make sure deliveries fit into your customers’ schedules. These types of programs can reduce lost and stolen deliveries, which is ideal for high-value orders. It also makes it much more convenient for your customers (especially if they know about them!). 

9. Optimize your route planning

Route optimization is a key part of delivery management. By having the right technology in place to identify the most efficient route, you can ship orders fast and at the most affordable rate. 

Delivery management systems come with route optimization tools and also provide data and insights that help you make better decisions on shipping.

For instance, ShipBob’s technology allows for faster shipping times by being able to analyze optimal delivery routes and fulfilling orders from the most efficient location within our network.

10. Set the right expectations with customers

Setting expectations with your customers can go a long way in keeping them happy, and it can also protect your brand.

Make sure you always have a clear shipping policy published on your online store that’s easy to find, which should include estimated shipping dates and costs for different shipping methods, such as ground shipping, global shipping, and expedited shipping.

Internally, make sure your retail fulfillment team has training on how to handle shipping fragile items, HAZMAT shipments, and any other product-specific needs.

In the case of packages arriving damaged, make sure you have a process in place to respond to shipping damages, including how to file claims with carriers (ShipBob does the for free on behalf of our customers). 

It’s also a good idea to have shipping insurance to cover orders that are lost, stolen, or arrive damaged.

Top 6 delivery management softwares

To enhance the delivery process, there are several delivery management solutions on the market.

To help you source the right delivery management software for your ecommerce business, it’s important to look for a solution that has the ability to track in-transit orders in real time, utilizes machine learning, offers data and analytics, and provides route planning and optimization tools. 

Note: If you partner with a tech-enabled 3PL like ShipBob, you may not need additional tools, but choosing a delivery management software that complements your 3PL’s technology can help you automate shipping and streamline the delivery process. 

Below provides a high-level overview of some of the most popular delivery management software options for ecommerce.

 

Delivery Management Software

Top Features

Route Real-time Visual Tracking™

Premium order protection

AfterShip Real-time tracking data

Branded tracking page

Elite EXTRA Dispatch management

Route optimization 

Real-time GPS tracking 

Onfleet  Dispatches and delivery routes 

Track drivers and communicate with them in real time

Real-time updates for customers 

Routific  Real-time updates for customers 

Route optimization 

Notifications for when packages are delivered

Tookan  Route optimization 

Automatic dispatch 

Tracking analysis and reporting

Trust the experts when it comes to delivery management

To improve the shipping and delivery process, you need the right systems, technology, and expertise. 

Many online brands find success with partnering with a ShipBob, a best in-class 3PL that can support your shipping and delivery needs. 

With ShipBob’s domestic and global shipping capabilities, carrier partnerships, discounted shipping rates, and automated shipping solutions, you can worry less about optimizing your delivery process.

Our logistics automation software ensures accurate and fast fulfillment, as well as the ability to track and manage orders in real time.

For a more robust solution, ShipBob partners with leading delivery management systems including Route and AfterShip to provide more data, visibility, and transparency into the delivery process.

“Customers get accustomed to a certain service level at a low price — often free — and want it faster over time. Ever since we started our partnership with ShipBob in the summer of 2018, they’ve been able to deliver the customer service level we need at the right cost.”

Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12

To easily get started with ShipBob, click the button below for more information. 

Delivery management FAQs

Here are the top questions around delivery management

Why is delivery management important for ecommerce?

Delivery management is vital for ecommerce business as it helps retain customers and drive customer satisfaction. It involves optimizing the entire delivery process, starting at fulfillment to shipping. Delivery management ensures internal efficiency, so orders can delivered quickly and accurately to satisfy customer expectations. 

How does delivery management work?

Delivery management works by analyzing how companies can get goods from a fulfillment center to their final destination. This includes how quickly goods can be picked, packed, and shipped. In many cases, technology is used to ensure the right packaging is used, identify the most optimized route, and generate order tracking, so customers can stay in the loop on orders.  

How can you improve your delivery management process?

The best way to improve the delivery management process is to implement technology and automation. With the right systems in place, you can improve visibility, track orders in real time, allow customers to track their deliveries, and optimize routes. Over time, you can track shipping insights and data to make informed decisions on how to improve the delivery process. 

Can you outsource delivery management?

3PL companies like ShipBob operate multiple fulfillment locations powered by their leading technology. With ShipBob, you can automate the shipping process. ShipBob partners with multiple carriers and uses technology to identify the most efficient route. That way, orders are delivered quickly and at the most affordable rate.