When the stakes are high and your business is on the line, how do you choose between opposing systems?

This Expert Exchange was brought to you by Matt Mullen, former President of ProShip Multi-Carrier Shipping Software.

Every day, we are faced with the age-old question: Is it worth it? Most of the time, this occurs when we are confronted with an important purchase. We do our research, narrow our choices, find the best of its kind and then are stuck with a larger-than-budgeted price tag that may make us take a step back, reconsider and question even needing the item in the first place. Then, when we decide yes, I actually do need this, we go for the less expensive, less reputable option. Why? Because while it may not do everything we originally wished for, it should get the job done. But how many times have you purchased the lower priced product to only go back and purchase the item of better quality, the one that won you over initially?

This type of mistake might be okay in everyday life, but when your business is on the line and the future of e-commerce and customer loyalty is moving at a faster pace than ever, there is no room for mistakes. This is especially true if your business, like most, depends on the sale and distribution of your products, casting the spotlight on shipping. When you research shipping software technology, you’re going to be forced into a situation of price versus value, and it’ll be up to you to decide your fate. Believe me, I understand you have a tough road ahead of you and it won’t be easy, but the choice is a choice that thousands of company leaders have made, and it’s one that separates the top companies from the ordinary ones.

Let me give you some advice. Research is the key to success. You need to find the shipping software solution that will be a competitive advantage to your business. The following are some key points to do your due diligence on.

1. Will it do what it says it’s going to do?

You can’t afford empty promises at this point. Make sure you ask direct questions and get direct answers in return. Lay out your needs, list the capabilities you will absolutely not budge on, and make sure the vendor can deliver on what you’re actually looking for – not in the future, but now. But speaking of the future, it’s important to ensure that the solution is scalable for future growth (via capabilities and pricing model).

2. Reputation is key.

What does the vendor’s current customer base look like? Do some of them look similar to your business? Have they kept their customers loyal and are their customers willing to vouch for them? Look for a software vendor with a low customer turnover rate. Also, make sure that you not only tap into their customer base, but also understand where their relationships stand with both their technology partners (integration-ease) and the carriers they support (bulletproof compliance). Both integration and compliance woes can lead to expensive mistakes.

3. Do not, I REPEAT, DO NOT compromise on support.

This is the mother lode. A shipping software vendor is only as good as the product it supports. When it comes to IT, things can go wrong, but you want to make sure your vendor is continuously doing everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen. The people and the company providing your business-critical software solutions need to be totally invested in your success and committed to the relationship. This type of support cannot be outsourced, it has to be in-house and you have to have access to a dedicated account manager, your dedicated account manager, 25/8/366.

Your findings to these three all-important qualities will build the additional value you’re looking for to justify your cost concerns and make the right decision for your business. The last thing you want is buyer’s remorse. Too often companies choose to budge on capability, reputation and support, and end up choosing the lower-quality, lesser-value of the two solutions only to find out that it isn’t fulfilling their needs. Then what? You look bad, you’re delayed and you’re back to square one, perhaps even knocking on the door of the once-deemed “too-pricey” shipping software solution you should’ve implemented in the first place.

Overall, the solution that is best for your business offers the most value to you and brings you a quick ROI.  Some insider info? Many think the top companies choose more expensive shipping software because they have the resources to do so, but usually they are successful because they made the right choice the first time. Instead of looking only at the price of the software, they also see the value in it. As the old saying goes, “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

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