Featured in Industry Tech Insights: ProShip as one of the top 10 companies revolutionizing retail in 2020
Longtime friends Justin Cramer, Head of Sales, and Jeff Goeters, former Chief Architect, met while serving in the US Navy. At that time, they witnessed the shipping industry was full of kinks and obstacles causing customer experience and satisfaction to be extremely low. Justin and Jeff put their heads together to strive to create something better – something to improve satisfaction for both the customer and the shipper; in the end saving everyone time, money and headaches. The resulting software is now highly regarded in the parcel shipping industry as the gold standard. ProShip was created with a desire to provide the highest level of shipping compliance possible in a warehouse. Their goal was to provide a carrier-agnostic product with a better level of service that would allow a level of isolation of those various business rules and processes that did not belong tied to each other. By doing so, ProShip’s advanced and innovative technology aided them in becoming the fastest and strongest parcel shipping platform available today.
Once ProShip clarified the business rule isolation process, it was clear that they needed to have their own relationships with the carriers – relationships that were focused on providing all the carrier services to shippers in a predictable and high-speed fashion. In 2005, ProShip completed certifying their own carrier engine IP with UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS. This relationship with the carriers has been built upon for years. As the carriers started providing ground time-in-transit for customers around 2007, ProShip introduced Time-in-Transit filtering as a value add to the rate shopping process — ensuring that zone two packages would be shipped ground rather than next day air.
In 2014 when FedEx introduced a ranking program for shipping software vendors, ProShip was pleased to have been in the inaugural Diamond tier, and ProShip has achieved Diamond partner status ever since. At the same time, ProShip was working on the next evolution of rate shopping – Advanced Date Shopping where Time-in-Transit shopping had to use “business days” as its time criteria.
Advanced Date Shopping was developed to allow a customer to inform the system what days they had negotiated with the carriers as business days. This concept was extended to three major points of a shipment: Pickup, Transit, and Delivery. Additionally, Advanced Date Shopping allowed the entry of trailer pull times, meaning the logic knew what carriers were still at the warehouse at the time of shipment execution, ensuring that the lowest cost service for a trailer that was still at the warehouse could be used. The most important part, all of this logic was still executed in less than one second, ensuring that throughput and manual or print-and-apply based labeling could continue without interruption. [Learn more: Advanced Date Shopping: Time-in-Transit Rate Shopping]
ProShip, Inc. is now owned by FOG Software Group, a division of Constellation Software Inc. (TSX:CSU). The FOG Software Group acquires, manages, and builds software companies in a variety of vertical markets, enabling them to be clear leaders in their industries. FOG Software is highly experienced in the software industry and shares ProShip’s belief in the importance of technological advancement and exceptional customer support. ProShip’s ability to manipulate and properly enforce business rules to select the correct shipping method for their customers, whether they are doing hundreds, thousands or a million plus packages a day, gave them the power to become the preferred shipping software for more than 25% of today’s top 100 retailers who ship parcel. Instead of using API connections to the carriers, ProShip’s on-premise carrier engines allow carrier rates to be hosted on the ProShip Server for exceptional speed and control while producing millisecond shipping transaction times.
E-commerce continues to surge, and retailers are looking for external help in fulfilling their parcel orders (every client has their unique needs and expectations for integrations, business rules, functionality and expected cost savings). In an effort to keep up, 3PL companies are forced to revamp strategies and utilize advanced technology to deliver products to consumers faster than ever before, without compromising quality or accuracy. ProShip multi-carrier shipping software helps 3PLs meet their customers’ specific needs for customized parcel shipping solutions that maximize results and delight the end-customer, while creating efficiencies and cost savings. [On-Demand Webinar: The Ever-Evolving 3PL: Delivering Frustration-Free Fulfillment for E-Commerce Customers]
By normalizing the cost model across carriers, ProShip has made it easier for 3PL’s to provide “lowest cost for a given commitment time” functionality to all of their customers. They can even provide Advanced Date Shopping to ensure that a customer’s commitment is honored. Additionally, ProShip’s separation of concerns mentality is extended to shipper business rules as well. By leveraging their years of experience with 3PL customers, ProShip can apply business rules in a fashion that can be simplified to work across multiple customers, or branched to hit just one customer’s needs.
Technology is vital for retail logistics. Every retailer wants to deliver positive experiences to their customers. With customer demand, expectations, and vocality through social media higher than ever, it’s important for retailers to put systems in place that will facilitate happy exchanges. Online buyers want options. This includes options for local pickup as well as at-home delivery. Consumers want visibility into when their purchase will arrive and place their trust in the seller’s ability to get it delivered reliably in the expected timeframe. Retailers are therefore looking to leverage all of their potential inventory sources and carrier partners to reduce costs and increase delivery speed. This means navigating large logistics complexities. ProShip provides solutions, like their Advanced Date Shopping technology and ship-from-store (omnichannel) functionality, that will automate shipping decisions to comply with customer expectations and deliver at the lowest cost to serve. [Single-Carrier Parcel Shipping Strategies are Dead. Here’s Why]
ProShip can be used in multiple parts of a retailer’s Enterprise Software Stack:
- Shopping Cart: A good customer experience starts with managing customer expectations as early as possible. If an item is only available from one inventory source, ProShip can be referenced to determine the cost for a given time-in-transit for that customer. For same day deliveries, ProShip can be referenced to validate ever-changing delivery coverage maps.
- OMS: Determining the correct place to originate a shipment from, based on inventory availability, can affect the cost of a shipment by a factor of 3 or 4. Having an OMS reference ProShip shipping software provides a critical understanding of the overall cost of meeting a customer expectation from a given inventory origin.
- WMS and POS: This is the traditional space where multi-carrier shipping software, like ProShip, is usually interfaced. ProShip helps to select the lowest cost service level that will meet the customers expected delivery date, even if fulfillment has taken extra time.
- CRM: Feeding tracking information back to customer-facing systems is vital to keeping the customer “in the loop”. ProShip can help augment existing systems to ensure customers have current knowledge of where their shipment is and when it should arrive.
Solution of the Future
ProShip multi-carrier shipping software allows shippers to easily shift volume across both national and regional carriers, and the capability to quote accurate rates and rate shop across service levels will allow planning and execution of these moves in a way that protects profitability. Choosing the carrier mix that works best should always betop of mind. It is crucial to set the right balance that will reduce transportation spend, maximize negotiated discounts, and avoid surcharges and capacity limits, such as peak season quotas and COVID surcharges. Rate shopping and service selection logic should enforce the retailer’s plan and be easily adjustable as conditions and parameters change. It assists with Advanced Date Shopping where retailers can enforce the delivery date according to customer expectation and gain adjustable rules around service selection like the holidays approach and as more information on carrier performance is made available.
One of the company’s clients JD Sports/Finish Line’s main focus is on the customer experience. They strive for their customers to have a positive, seamless and memorable experience in any way they touch their brand. Currently they’re operating almost 1000 retail locations inside US malls and shops inside of Macy’s, they ship out of around 550 DTC stores plus a warehouse in Indianapolis, all using ProShip. They wanted to work on their click-to-delivery consistency and parcel shipping costs and were interested in how robust ProShip’s routing engine was and the opportunity that they got to surprise and delight customers (aka get orders to customers faster than they expected it) within cost constraints. They also were looking for a solution that could easily be implemented within their current enterprise technology stack (Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Point of Sale software (POS)) before peak season with zero changes to the warehouse and store associates’ workflow, and it was imperative that the system not be hindered by daily shipments surpassing the one million mark. Today, Finish Line continues to benefit from this project on a daily basis as they continue to save on shipping costs and improve the customer experience with additional omnichannel fulfillment functionality. [What’s the transition process from current shipping software to the ProShip solution?]
The future roadmap for ProShip is centered on an expansive connectivity model placing ProShip as the integration nexus of any enterprise logistics technology stack where multiple technologies can all be connected through the ProShip platform. This allows for customers to integrate to multiple technologies from multiple vendors without additional development and heavy customizations to their ERP or WMS. It’s worth mentioning that the current peak holiday shipping season is quite abnormal given the pandemic conditions. On top of the already challenging conditions we have faced for several months, we’ve experienced yet another surge in e-commerce demand,” says Bill Schroeder, Vice President of Research and Development at ProShip. “Retailers will need to prepare their marketing and operations plans and implement processes and systems to overcome these challenges and finish the year strong. In October, we released a podcast on the compressed upcoming holiday shipping season to provide advice and insider tips in navigating increased parcel volumes in the midst of the pandemic.”
Article originally posted in Industry Tech Insights in December 2020 for the Top 10 Companies Revolutionizing Retail in 2020 issue.