What's the difference between an aggregator and enabler?

2020-04-14

Written by Starshipit

This article was updated in October 2022 to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Every online retailer, regardless of what they sell, asks themselves the same question: "How do I get my orders out the door?"

For some retailers, the answer is a shipping aggregator. An aggregator brings multiple carriers into one platform to provide online retailers with lower-than-normal shipping rates. It gives retailers greater visibility across the pricing of many courier providers, which helps them choose the cheapest one. But while initially easier, the downsides of shipping aggregators really start to stack up as your business grows.

In this article, we’ll explore shipping aggregators, why they may not be the best option for your business, and an alternative that will save you money and time.

Why retailers choose shipping aggregators

In the early days of a business, a courier aggregator is seen as a great option because it’s a plug-and-play one-stop shipping shop which takes care of everything shipping-related. Retailers feel like they save time by not having to contact multiple carriers. And with their fulfilment taken care of, business owners have more time to focus on making money.

As a company becomes more established, savvy business owners should be looking at how to save money while scaling. Just because a courier aggregator is quick and easy, doesn’t make it the best choice long-term. In fact, long-term, an aggregator will actually cost you money.

Some of the problems with shipping aggregators

💰 Pricing mark-ups

In order to make money, a shipping aggregator marks up its couriers’ prices then clips the ticket, which means you have to pay for your shipping plus the convenience of getting that ‘lower’ price. It might look like you’re getting a good deal but if you went straight to the courier, you’d get it even cheaper.

🚚 Limited number of couriers

An aggregator is also restricted by the carriers it partners with. For example, if a courier aggregator advertises pricing for 10 couriers, what’s to say that other providers can’t offer better pricing? The numbers might look good in the moment, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best numbers out there.

📞 Cheap ≠ best

Just because one carrier is cheaper than another, doesn’t mean they offer the best service. An aggregator ranks carriers in order of price, not reputation, so if you’re only making your decision on how much you’ll save you may end up with a negative experience further down the track.

Aggregators vs enablers

Another way to get the best shipping pricing for your business is to secure pricing yourself. Of course, no one’s got time for that; that’s why you signed up with an aggregator in the first place, right?

To really save money and hassle, a fulfilment enabler is your best bet. While an aggregator passively serves up pricing, an enabler empowers businesses to negotiate the best rates directly.

An aggregator marks up their pricing and profits on the difference, while an enabler gives their retailers real-life savings that they can pass onto their customers or keep for themselves. An aggregator restricts retailers to selected carriers, but an enabler has great relationships with a wide range of domestic and international carriers that offer them different ways of doing things.

The main benefit of a shipping enabler

The greatest benefit of an enabler is their relationship with couriers. An enabler doesn’t just send retailers a courier’s way like an aggregator does; they work with them in partnership. Because they have such good relationships with the couriers, an enabler can send a customer directly to a rep to start the negotiation process, instead of going in blind via a generic email address.

These relationships take the pain out of negotiating rates direct, so as a retailer grows and scales they can save money and improve efficiencies in parts of the business that matter.

You also need to consider the middleman issue: When you deal with an aggregator, you’re never actually working with the courier company directly. This means if there’s ever an issue with the courier, you’ll need to work through an intermediary to solve the problem.

Why retailers choose shipping enablers

Here are the main reasons we’ve found customers choose shipping enablers over shipping aggregators:

  • 💰 Save on shipping rates. Negotiate your own rates directly with each courier. As you scale, you get access to better rates.
  • 🚚 Pick and choose from any courier you want (Essential when you want to start shipping overseas).
  • 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Control your relationship with each courier, meaning you can quickly manage issues directly with the courier, instead of dealing with a middleman (Useful if there’s a problem).
  • 💻 The shipping software provider you choose remains focused on the technology, not clipping the ticket on each order you ship.

Got a question that we haven’t answered? We’d love to talk to you.

Book a demo

Starshipit: The powerful, all-in-one courier enabler platform

Now that we’ve got an understanding courier aggregators and enablers, your next question is likely going to be: “So how do I get started?”. Allow us to introduce you to Starshipit, our shipping and fulfilment platform that’s designed to streamline and automate your shipping – all while letting you control your courier costs.

So why use Starshipit?

A centralised dashboard to manage your shipping

The best courier enablers are the ones that manage the whole fulfilment process for you. We’re not just talking about pricing; we’re talking about automating the entire process so the technology works for you.

Starshipit is the leading provider of integrated and automated shipping solutions for online businesses of every age and stage. Integrating with a large range of couriers and eCommerce platforms, Starshipit streamlines every step of your fulfilment process, reduces handling time, minimises human error, and improves your customer experience.

Ready-to-go integrations

Starshipit does so much more than save you money. Starshipit connects you with your preferred domestic and international carriers, like NZ Post, Australia Post, FedEx, Royal Mail, DHL Express and UPS, to simplify the process of fulfilling orders.

With more than 40 couriers on our books – and more on the way – we don’t restrict you to a limited selection of couriers; we give you a wide range of options that suit you domestic and international needs.

Starshipit is an enabler: Leverage our partnerships with leading couriers

Our team has ongoing, face-to-face relationships with each of our carrier partners – both a strength and benefit that we pass onto our customers.

These relationships mean that retailers who use Starshipit can negotiate the best pricing with their carriers directly, based on the services they need rather than simply choosing the cheapest face value option.

Want to swap out a courier due to shipping delays? With an aggregator, you may have trouble.

Our pricing is designed for where you are – and where you’re going

A one-size-fits-all shipping solution doesn’t take a business’ unique needs into consideration. That’s why customisation is key when it comes to finding the best pricing to suit your business’ unique shipping needs. Our pricing scales with you, from when you’re shipping 10 packages per week to 5,000.

Starshipit: Try for free or talk to our team

We hope you found this article useful. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Starshipit’s automated shipping and fulfilment platform, check out our features pages or book a demo with one of the team.

Or, if you’re more hands-on, sign up for a 30-day free trial to see how Starshipit can supercharge your business.

Starshipit

Starshipit

Starshipit is the best practice shipping and fulfilment platform that helps retailers save time and deliver great shipping experiences.

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