With global ecommerce sales expected to top $6 trillion in 2023 and grow to over $8T by 2026 according to Forbes, printing a shipping label quickly is more important than ever. Being able to print labels easily from a transportation management system (TMS) is a growing need for companies of all sizes. While some companies may already have a label printing solution in place with a single carrier, they could be leaving a lot of money on the table by not rate shopping across carriers, or by not taking advantage of negotiated rates the TMS vendor may have in place. For international shipments in particular, a great deal of money can be saved with rate shopping prior to direct label printing for even small shipments, like for samples. At Descartes for example, we’ve seen customers cut shipment processing time in half and reduce shipping costs by double-digit percentages with TMS label printing. 
Integral part of TMS 
Being able to easily create and print shipping labels for samples and other small package freight has two major benefits when it’s part of your TMS. Number one for many companies will be the cost savings, especially if you have rate shopping. And, the second advantage, enabling a streamlined workflow, is perhaps an even stronger argument. With a more streamlined process you can increase throughput without adding more space or resources. Companies can increase sales while reducing costs for a greater impact to your financials when parcel label printing is part of your TMS. 
Realise cost savings 
When shipping parcels, there are often many different service levels available to choose from. What some shippers don’t understand is that depending on the origin and destination points you may be able to ship a package at a lower service level that will have the same transit time as a higher service level. For example, if a customer asks for a sample to be shipped via Air, but they are only 200 km away, even if you did ship it via the Air service, that package is not getting on a plane. Having a smart shipping solution in your TMS can not only find the right carrier and rate but also the right service selection (Air, Ground, 2-day, etc.) based on transit times and requested arrival date.  Keeping control of costs is especially essential for parcel shipments, not only across different carriers, but also across levels of service that can still achieve your customers’ expectations.  

Once the customer receives the samples and is satisfied, hopefully you receive their order for enough product to move into a heavier mode of transport. Having a TMS that can optimize shipments across modes is essential to continue to realise cost savings into Less-than-Truckload, Truckload, or Ocean/Short-Sea. 
Workflow improvement thanks to TMS  
Life is complex enough, right? Why would you choose various applications for all kinds of different operations as well? One reason some companies choose this path, could be that because the individual processes have specific requirements and niche technology vendors sell on the promise that their application works just a little bit better. But when utilizing different systems within a shipping operation there are going to be integrations that are required. APIs typically provide the links needed to exchange data with different internal and external systems and partners. Each one of these links creates a possibility where the data translation may not allow a shipper to utilize all the promised functionality since it may not align with other systems being used. Plus, these integrations need to be maintained with each new release of the connected software, which may require additional IT effort. Using a TMS that already has multimodal optimization, parcel label printing and connections to carriers built in makes life less complex. Managing parcel and sample shipping within an overall TMS will allow for your employees to execute shipments with less (or even no) clicks.  

A full-featured TMS like Descartes Shipper TMS also allows for automated auditing of your freight bills and releasing them for payment with confidence that you’re not being overcharged without manually reviewing each invoice.  
Not one-size-fits-all, but rather, a win-win situation  
There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all, especially for a TMS. Your TMS should offer flexibility, transparency, and control for your specific operations. While one company prefers to have shipments automated as much as possible, there are also shippers who want to perform some operations for smaller volumes manually and larger volumes automatically. With the Descartes Shipper TMS, both are possible. Even internal orders requiring label printing can be handled smoothly both automatically or manually. The Descartes Shipper TMS maps everything so that a label goes on the right shipment, regardless of whether your ERP is SAP, NetSuite, Oracle or any other. The ability to streamline different workflows within a single TMS for all your modes, and securely connect to your upstream and downstream systems while being able to reduce costs and get greater control of your operations is a clear win-win.  


Where is the real value in visibility?

A transparent supply chain has become more critical than ever, yet achieving true visibility presents numerous challenges. This involves defining what "visibility" means for shippers and forwarders, pinpointing the necessary data for a transparent supply chain, and identifying the essential IT tools required.

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