Multi-carrier shipping software

Multi-carrier shipping software: Vital things to consider when choosing


Written by Kimberley Hughes

One of the big challenges for eCommerce retailers is keeping up with the evolving expectations of their shoppers. Having a great product is one thing, but how quickly can you get it to your customers? What shipping deals can you offer?

We’re finding more and more retailers are turning to multi-carrier shipping to navigate better rates, stay flexible on delivery options, and give customers more choice at checkout. Here’s our guide on the benefits of multi-carrier shipping, and how using the right tools can make this process even more efficient for your business.

Courier unpacking parcels from delivery van

What is multi-carrier shipping?

Multi-carrier shipping is when businesses work with a range of couriers to deliver products to their customers. Rather than partner with one specific shipping company, multi-carrier shipping will see these retailers send packages with the most suitable courier.

For retailers who have built strong relationships with a single shipping partner over a number of years, it might seem strange to suddenly reach out to other competitors. However, the growth in eCommerce sales and rising consumer demands mean businesses need to adapt. Shopify found that eCommerce sales accounted for more than 20% of all retail sales in 2023 meaning having a multi-carrier shipping strategy can help you meet this demand.

The key benefits of multi-carrier shipping are:

  • Flexibility: React to disruptions and choose carriers according to the best delivery options in real-time.
  • Leverage: Negotiate better rates with carriers that are now competing for your business.
  • Suitability: Some carriers might have great same-day shipping rates, others are better suited to shipping oversized objects. Multi-carrier shipping means you always have the right carrier for an order.
  • Increased services: Customers want delivery options at online checkouts. More carriers means more services for them to choose from.

Choosing the right multi-carrier integrations for your business

For multi-carrier shipping to be as efficient as possible for your business, you need a software solution that’s equipped to handle it as an option. Multi-carrier integration means you can manage all your available couriers from one dashboard, which saves you time and keeps all your important order information in one spot.

Integrate your eCommerce store with Starshipit

It’s important to choose software carefully when you’re integrating it into established business practices, especially for something as time– and cost-sensitive as shipping. The key questions to ask yourself when evaluating shipping software are:

  • Will this be easy to learn and to train staff to use?
  • Does it have robust privacy and security features to protect our business and our customers?
  • Is it compatible with our existing tech stack?
  • Can it integrate with the couriers we want to use?

To really optimise a multi-carrier shipping approach for your business it’s important to look at all the integration options a shipping fulfillment platform can offer. Take a look at some common integration options and the shipping benefits they can provide.

Shipping and fulfilment software

Choosing the right shipping platform is crucial for managing a multi-carrier shipping strategy. It should not only facilitate easy integration with your existing tech stack, but also enhance the overall workflow with features like automated courier selection, bulk label printing and up-to-date order traking.

eCommerce Platforms

By integrating popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, you can directly import your orders into Starshipit and manage your carriers from there. This helps you assign the best carrier for each order, print the correct shipping labels and manage returns.

Inventory Management Systems (IMS)

When managing multi-carrier shipping you want to know exactly how much inventory you have, where it is, and where it needs to go. Integrating Starshpit with your IMS can help make this process easier and more efficient.

Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Integrating your WMS with Starshipit can optimise your multi-carrier shipping approach. This allows you to fix address errors, print labels and assign orders to the right carrier without jumping between platforms.

The benefits of using a multi-carrier shipping API

We’ve talked about the benefits of multi-carrier shipping, but what about the advantages of using software that’s built to handle it? Being able to customise your shipping software to match your needs is essential for creating an efficient workflow, and for making changes without introducing unnecessary disruption.

What's more, using a solution like Starshipit means gaining access to a multi-carrier shipping API. If required, you can use this API to integrate with your unique tech stack. Then, as well as having access to features like the rules engine, you immediately get access to integrations with the world's leading domestic and international carriers.

You can use the Starshipit dynamic API to easily build your own integrations

Software like Starshipit also gives you the ability to scale as needed. Are you adding more couriers because you’re going to start shipping internationally? You’ll want a platform that can adapt with you and align with your business goals.

Benefit 1: One centralised view into your shipping

To realise the full benefits of multi-carrier shipping, you need to do it in a way that’s efficient and accurate. Jumping between different platforms is a recipe for confusing staff and mixing up orders for customers. With the right software you can integrate multiple couriers and see everything you need in one platform. This greatly simplifies your operations and means you don’t need to build and maintain multiple courier integrations.

Example – You can set up rules to automatically assign orders to different carriers based on your unique requirements, such as cheapest rate, delivery speed, or destination. This means you don’t need to do the time-consuming work of manually assigning carriers to each order.

Benefit 2: Displaying multiple carrier options on checkout

Customers love having choice at the checkout. If your eCommerce business is able to offer multiple carrier options, it can go a long way to meeting customer demand for flexible and speedy delivery. Shoppers will want to see:

  • The cost of each delivery option.
  • The expected delivery date and time.
  • The carrier that will be picking up their order.

Example – At checkout, you can use Starshipit to automatically display multiple shipping options from your different integrated carriers. This gives your customers the best checkout experience – choice! They can pick from the delivery options you’ve set and choose which one best fits their needs. For example, they might want to pay more for same-day delivery, or they may be happy to pay less by going with a standard delivery option.

Benefit 3: Managing multi-carrier shipping labels with ease

One key hurdle to overcome with multi-carrier shipping is the different labels you’ll need to be familiar with. Some of the challenges multi-carrier shipping labels present include:

Different standards for each courier: The more shipping partners you engage with, the more labels you and your staff will need to be familiar with. Meeting these requirements is important for maintaining relationships with your shipping partners.

Accuracy: No matter who the shipping label is being printed for, it needs to carry accurate information to ensure a package arrives on time and in the right place. The cost of invalid shipping addresses and other errors can have a real impact on how your business operates.

Efficiency: Without the right systems in place, multi-carrier shipping can impact your workflow. Staff need tools that can help them efficiently create and print labels for a number of couriers.

– Purpose-built shipping software like Starshipit helps retailers overcome these challenges. For example, you can print the right shipping labels for each order, without needing to hop between different carrier web portals. You can also auto-print whenever orders come in!

Shipping label with Starshipit shipping software dashboard in background

Purpose-built shipping software like Starshipit can help your business overcome these challenges. Automation and carrier API integration help to prioritise accuracy when creating shipping labels to ensure orders are getting to your customers. Bulk label printing also helps staff perform these tasks efficiently for all your shipping partners.

Tools to compare the best multi-carrier shipping software

The benefits of multi-carrier shipping are there, but it sounds like a lot of work, right? With the right shipping software, you can maximise the impact of working with multiple couriers without it heavily impacting your workload. Looking at online comparison tools can help you figure out which software options are going to best meet your needs. The three that we recommend are:

It can be hard to take the leap and try out a new tool or software solution, especially when it involves changing your shipping processes. The links above can help you compare and contrast features of the best multi-carrier shipping software to see what will best suit your needs. When doing your research, it’s best to look for:

  • The overall rating: This won’t give you the full breakdown, but it’s a quick snapshot of the quality of the software.
  • User reviews: What are people saying? See if they work in similar industries to you or are using the software to solve problems you’re also trying to overcome.
  • Pricing options: Check to see if it’s in your budget and if you are likely to generate a good return on investment with the increased sales and streamlined workflow.
  • Features: Does it support multi-carrier shipping? What else does it do?

Starshipit Dashboard

Starshipit is designed to work with retailers that offer a multi-carrier shipping strategy. By integrating our platform with top couriers and eCommerce platforms, you can manage orders from one platform no matter which company is in charge of delivery.

Wrap up

With the right tools, your business is ready to adopt multi-carrier shipping and broaden options for customers, negotiate better shipping rates and react quickly to shipping disruptions. As your business grows, working with different couriers means you can meet high customer standards.

When you’re looking for software and other resources it’s important to consider what your business needs. The best multi-carrier shipping software will work with your existing tech stack while offering integrations with essential industry staples like international couriers, inventory management systems and more. Matching these capabilities with your goals is the key to finding shipping software that will help you work more efficiently and effectively.

Ready to optimise your shipping?

Keen to experience the efficiency of multi-carrier shipping software firsthand? Sign up for your free trial of Starshipit now and level up your shipping strategy today.

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Kimberley Hughes

Kimberley Hughes

Kimberley is Starshipit's Content Marketing Lead. Her days are filled with creative storytelling and innovative content strategies. Off the clock, she's an all-seasons iced coffee fan, a Catan strategist, and skincare explorer. For a peek into her world, find her on LinkedIn.

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