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Know How: Map processes + use rules to improve efficiency

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Welcome to our "Know How" series - we share ways to maximize your success! See all our best practices.

Shipping Rules are all about improving your operational efficiency. Remove repetitive decision making by identifying which actions follow a consistent logic - then turn those into rules and let ShippingEasy handle it. Not only does this free your team up for tasks that are a better use of their time, but it also helps reduce human error.

In this guide, we'll walk you through adding Shipping Rules into your workflow:

  1. Understand how you ship and where you can improve efficiency
  2. Build rules to automate repetitive steps

 

First, consider what parts of your shipping operations would benefit from Shipping Rules:

Since the ultimate goal is to source orders and ship products, most companies will find it easiest to analyze their methods based on what (product), where (from store, to destination) and how (carrier service) they’re shipping. These are some general steps for brainstorming ways to improve your workflow and deciding which actions can be automated with Shipping Rules:

  1. Identify the biggest sources of your volume.

    Focus on streamlining your shipping process in the areas that account for a large portion of your volume. After all, this most likely consumes the greatest amount of your time and resources. For example:

    • Product SKU A might be a best seller
    • Store B accounts for 50% of your sales
    • Many orders are sourced from Destination C
  2. Map your current processes.

    Determine what steps you take to receive and ship out these types of orders. You could think about it, write it out or illustrate it with a diagram. Specifically, consider any decisions that must be made on an order by order basis and if any of the guidelines you use can be generalized across a class of orders. In most cases, discovered patterns can be translated to Shipping Rules (discussed in detail below).  For example:

    • Product SKU A fits in a specific box
    • Store B requires a unique packing slip
    • Orders going to Destination C use a certain carrier/service
  3. Analyze your findings and consider change.

    Decide if your current process for handling this volume is the most efficient use of your resources. If not:

    • What choices are your team making that could be standardized?
    • Are there any steps that can be eliminated, especially if automated?

    Generally speaking, the less a person “touches” an order, the more you’ll save on operational costs. These are some areas that can be optimized in most warehouses:

    • Inventory: if you sell it, keep it in stock. Know where products are stored and make them easy to find. Action items: routinely verify your levels; keep individual SKUs in their own bins and in consistent locations.
    • Movement: store your products where they’re most needed and easiest to access. Handle product as little as possible. Action items: keep fast moving inventory close at hand; keep bins close to the ground and within easy reach; don’t store away pallets that will be unloaded soon.
    • Information: make sure actions are well informed. Action items: make customer instructions readily available to shippers; verify order details before picking and packing.
    • Waiting: reduce idle time. Action items: find out who is waiting on what and how to reduce the wait time.
  4. Standardize your processes.

    Sometimes physical changes will need to be made to your operation. Combined with using Shipping Rules to reduce the number of conscious decisions that need to be made and you have a recipe for greater profitability.

 

Next, develop a set of Shipping Rules to compliment your processes:

ShippingEasy provides an abundance of options to automate your shipping with Shipping Rules. Built on simple IF...THEN logic, rules allow you to instruct ShippingEasy how to handle your orders. Use IF statements to narrow down which orders need to be acted on. Follow up with THEN statements to specify the actions that will be applied to these orders. The result is ultimate control and oversight with minimum handling.

Whether you’re a novice or expert, at a loss for ideas or ready to go, we have the right place for you to start:

If you’ve never created a Shipping Rule before:

It's best to start by familiarizing yourself with the finer points of ShippingEasy’s Shipping Rules. Take a look at our frequently asked questions about using Shipping Rules.

If you have some specific ideas in mind:

You can jump right into building your rules. Find out what conditions and actions are available - and - how to save a Shipping Rule.

If you need a little inspiration:

We have dozens of recommended uses. Since the goal is to automate a THEN action, our ideas will be broken down based on the actions available in ShippingEasy:

 

Organize orders

Shipping Rule Action
Suggested Uses

Assign to a category

Use Order Categories to organize and color code your orders. Learn more. Then automatically classify orders based on specific attributes.

Requested services: You may give your customers a choice in their shipping service. Flag an order if the customer requests a specific service. See example.

Batching by product: Similar products are easier to batch, due to weight and size. Categorize orders containing specific products. Then filter by the category for faster batching. See example.

Out of stock: Sometimes you'll find yourself with back ordered products or taking pre-orders. Color code these orders to keep track of them. See example.

Assign to a user

Multiple user logins open up opportunities for multiple warehouses or work stations with unique hardware. Each location can have a unique login, adding the option to assign specific orders to specific users. Each user can then filter their orders and shipments to view only those that require their attention. Learn more.

Regional warehouses: Take advantage of Regional Rate shipping and assign orders to users based on the shipment destination. See example

Specialized shippers: Sometimes your pickers specialize in specific types of orders. Assign a user based on the quantity of items (ex: very large orders) or types of products (ex: awkward sized or fragile).

 

Communication tools

Shipping Rule Action
Suggested Uses

Set packing slip template

ShippingEasy provides the option to customize your packing slips. Learn more.

Whether you need packing slips for picking orders or as a customer invoice, you can assign these to your orders based on specific attributes. Learn more about ways to use packing slips.

Multiple platforms: Merchants who sell across multiple platforms may need a unique brand for each store. See example.

Gift orders: When orders are meant as gifts you have a unique opportunity to introduce your brand. You'll also want to be sure to remove pricing and add gift messaging. See example

Different warehouses: Each warehouse has unique processes and may require unique information to pick orders. A warehouse specific packing slip can be assigned in tandem with a user.

Set shipment notice template

Email is the best way to communicate with your customers and a customized email helps you express your brand. ShippingEasy can help with tools to customize your emails. Learn more.

Opportunities abound to vary your emails and rules expand the possibilities. Learn more about ways to use emails.

Multiple platforms: Merchants who sell across multiple platforms may need a specific brand for each store. Return policies and procedures may also vary between stores. 

Seasonal promotion: Offer special sales throughout the year or tailor emails to the season. See example.

Destination: A specific confirmation email can help prepare your international customers for any unintended delays. Also consider sending a special note when shipping to our service men and women oversees. See example

Carrier and service: Shippers who use multiple carriers can customize emails with links to each specific carrier's tracking sites, or provide other carrier specific information. For example: when assigning a USPS Saved Selection, also assign the USPS confirmation email.

 

Order weights

Shipping Rule Action
Suggested Uses

Set order weight

Use this to override the entire order weight. Be sure that the weight accounts for both products and packing materials.

Known product weights by quantity: When you know that a specific quantity of a certain SKU will always pack up and weight the same, apply a weight to the entire order. For example: if SKU contains "XS" and QTY is "5" set the order weight to 1 lb.

Add to order weight

Use when you need to add additional weight to an order. This will be added to any weight synced from your store, saved to your Product Catalog, or assigned to your packaging.

Include a promotional gift: Perhaps you advertise new products with samples or are running a promotion where certain orders qualify for a free gift. Account for the extra weight and add it to the order. See example.

Fragile or valuable products: Some products require extra padding to prevent damage. When you know how much extra packing material will be used for certain products, automatically add it to your package weight. For example: if the item description contains "glass", add 3 oz to the order weight for the extra padding needed to protect the item.

Set estimated order weight

Leverage the wealth of data in your SHIPMENT HISTORY to automatically apply the last known weight for each product in a order. Learn more.

Order lacking weight: When orders download to ShippingEasy with a "0" weight, your SHIPMENT HISTORY data can be used to apply the last known weight. See example.

 

 

Postage preferences

Shipping Rule Action
Suggested Uses

Set saved carrier selection

Save frequently used combinations of carrier, service, and packaging to your account. Learn more.

Then assign them to your orders for instant rate quotes on the ORDERS and READY TO SHIP pages. Learn more.

Requested service: Honor your customers' shipping requests and automatically map these to your orders. Assign an order category in tandem to make filtering and batching a snap. See example.

Custom package: Take advantage of dimensional rates by saving your custom package sizes with your Saved Carrier Selections. Then assign these to your shipments with a rule. See example.

Less than 13 oz: Take advantage of the inexpensive USPS First Class service for your lightest shipments. See example.

Greater than 13 oz: For heavier shipments, opt for Priority Mail, USPS' next most cost effective air service. See example.

Regional shipments: Regional Rate Boxes are affordable options for relatively heavy shipments traveling shorter distances. Use Zones to determine when this is the most cost effective option. See example.

Automatically create shipment: Perfect for one-by-one shipping when you always use the same carrier service for specific SKUs. See example

Qualifying products: Whether specific products qualify for free shipping or others need to be shipped fast, assign the exact service any product needs with a rule. See example.

Set ship from address

Merchants who ship from multiple locations can save those addresses to their account. Learn more.

Shipping Rules are one of many ways to assign these to orders. Learn more.

Order number: Having multiple order sources routed through the same store integration creates the challenge of branding your Ship From address. Use the unique order number formats to assign the correct store brand. See example.

Destination/State: Take advantage of regional warehouses when shipping to near by states. The shorter travel distance (zone) will reduce overall shipping costs. For example: if the destination state is Washington, Oregon, Cali, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, or Idaho, set the Ship From Address to your West Coast warehouse.

Products: Certain products may be stored in specific warehouses. Knowing this helps you set the correct warehouse address. See example.

Set confirmation option

While most shipping services include basic tracking, other confirmation services can be added.  Learn more.

Additional confirmation options cannot be stored with your saved selections, but they can be applied with a shipping rule. Learn more.

Signature confirmation: When shipping high valued orders, consider adding signature confirmation to ensure that your package is delivered to a person and not left on a doorstep. See example.

Adult signature: Certain products, such as alcohol or tobacco, are closely regulated and require that an age verified adult receive the shipment. Add this confirmation option to orders containing restricted products. See example

Set saved third party billing

Connect your existing UPS or FedEx account to ShippingEasy. Learn more.

Then find new opportunities to bill shipping costs to a third party account. Save any frequently used third party account for quick access. Learn more.

Save more time by applying billing preferences with a shipping rule.

Multiple carrier accounts: While ShippingEasy only allows you to connect one account for each carrier, you can manage multiple carrier accounts via third party billing. This is helpful if you have negotiated specific services for specific products. 

Shipping to wholesaler: If you frequently ship to wholesalers, you may use unique order prefixes to differentiate these orders. Use this order number to bill your wholesalers directly for shipping. For example: orders intended for ShippingEasy may start with SE. So, if an order starts with "SE", bill to ShippingEasy.

Create scan-based return label for outbound shipment

Scan-based returns labels are a valuable option if many of your shipments may be returned. They allow you to include a USPS return label in the package, but you are only charged for the label when it is scanned. This service must be configured through your Endicia account prior to use. Learn more.

Product based: Some products may be sold as a lending or return service. Other products, such as clothing, are prone to returns. Print a scan-based return for these shipments. 

Store specific: Certain platforms are more prone to returns. Anticipate this by including a scan-based return label for all orders from certain stores.

Gift orders: Shopping for others can be hard. If you frequently find that your gift orders need to be returned, include a scan-based return label in the package to make it easy on the gift recipient.

 

Insurance coverage

Shipping Rule Action
Suggested Uses

Set shipment insurance...

ShippingEasy partners with Shipsurance to provide shipment insurance. When you don't want to apply insurance default settings across all your orders, use a Shipping Rule. Learn more about insurance defaults.

...based on Specified Amount

Specify how much insurance you wish to purchase for qualifying shipments, even cover just a fraction of the order total.

Cover cost of goods: Perhaps you do not need to recoup the total cost of the order, but only the value of the lost inventory. For example: if Order Total is $401 - $500, set the insurance based on $200.

...based on Order Total

Purchase enough shipment insurance to fully insure the cost of the order.

Full coverage for high value orders: When you run a slim margin or want to be certain that you do not lose any money due to loss or damage, insure your shipments based on the order total. For example: if Order Total is greater than or equal to $1000, set the insurance based on Order Total.

 

The possibilities with Shipping Rules are truly endless. Hopefully this gives you some ideas for where to start. If you'd like additional assistance configuring your Shipping Rules, feel free to reach out to ShippingEasy's Support Team:

  • Paid subscribers will see links to email, call, or chat in the upper left corner in app.  
  • Anyone can post questions in our Community forum or to the comments below and our team will be happy to assist.

 


Related articles:

Best of Shipping Rules
FAQs: Shipping Rules / Mapping
What Shipping Rules are available for set-up?
FAQs: Product Catalog
Seasonal Shipping Tips

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