The business-to-business market is booming and ripe for growth in the coming years. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, global B2B e-commerce sales will surpass $6.6 trillion by 2020. This incredible growth is sure to inspire new entrants into B2B industries, further crowding the market.
How will current B2B businesses differentiate themselves in a crowded space? While there are various ways to pursue differentiation, shipping represents a huge opportunity to create a comparative advantage through outstanding experiences that delight buyers.
It all starts with choosing the right carrier (or carriers) for B2B shipments. Which is the best carrier for your B2B company? Here’s a look at 5 options, as well as key determining factors to consider as you choose the ideal carrier for your B2B shipments.
Your 5 Options for B2B Shipments
You’ll run into countless options when searching for the perfect B2B carrier, but those various options can fit into 5 broad categories:
The United States Postal Service: Because of their notable flat rate packaging, the USPS is best when you’re shipping items that are small and heavy or bulky and light. For example, if you’re using a poly-mailer to ship T-shirts you’ll likely want to use USPS. Whereas, if you’re shipping a dozen or more t-shirts in a box, you’ll find it cheaper to choose a different carrier. The USPS is also the most effective option when shipping to post office boxes and APO/FPO addresses overseas.
UPS, FedEx, DHL and Large Private Carriers: Large private carriers like UPS, FedEx,and others offer global networks, superior tracking, and greater accountability when it comes to delivery. You can often get better deals on shipping lighter items through the USPS, but these private carriers typically offer better value when you need to ship larger items or packages with special handling requirements.
Regional Carriers: One mistake we see too often is that many B2B businesses fail to tap into regional carrier networks. For example, OnTrac provides fast, affordable delivery on shipments within Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Similarly, Lone Star Overnight (or LSO) delivers within Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Regional carriers are best known for higher on-time delivery rates, outstanding customer service, and processing fewer damage claims.
Aggregators: If you need to ship internationally but don’t have time to mess with the logistics and paperwork, aggregators, like Global Post, can be a great solution. You simply ship your packages to one of the aggregator’s warehouses, and then they take care of the required customs forms, tracking, and all the other fine details.
APIs: You can also integrate with a quality shipping API to better optimize your workflow. ShipEngine’s shipping APIs allow you to shop rates across multiple carriers, validate addresses, print labels, track shipments, and manage returns. You only have to integrate once with an API in order to gain access to the many carrier and marketplace integrations.
Choosing Your Best Option: 3 Determining Factors
Given your many options for B2B shipping, how do you identify the best one? Start by using these 3 determining factors to evaluate your needs and to choose the best shipping solution for your business:
Rates: Most B2B companies will focus on providers that offer the lowest shipping rates. Some businesses can negotiate their own rates with carriers if they have enough volume. Also, when using a shipping API, you gain access to the API’s pre-negotiated rates. For example, at ShipEngine, we have access to discounted USPS rates, and we just announced a new deal that includes lower rates through UPS.
Connection Speed: When you’re cranking out B2B shipments, you need a carrier that offers fast connection speeds and dependable uptime. The carriers themselves are not technology companies, which makes direct connections more challenging and less dependable. Again, when opting for a shipping API like ShipEngine, the provider optimizes carrier connections both for speed and dependability.
Reliability: It’s essential, of course, that you choose a carrier that can reliably get your shipments to their destinations. As noted above, regional carriers offer outstanding deliverability, and private carriers offer superior tracking and reliable delivery to international addresses. You may also have a carrier that you trust for deliverability based on past experiences.
No one of the 3 determining factors listed above is more important than the others. Find the right balance of low rates, fast connection speed, and reliable delivery, and you’ll know which carrier (or carriers) will work best for your business.
Test ShipEngine, the Leading Shipping API
Have you considered a shipping API for your B2B business? A solution such as ShipEngine gives you instant access to multiple carriers, with connections designed for speed and dependability.
To start your risk-free trial, get a free ShipEngine API key, and start exploring the many benefits of using an API for your B2B shipments.
Categories: B2B eCommerce