Every business encounters situations where they need to have a partner, customer, or other 3rd party ship something, and you need to cover the bill. This happens all the time with ecommerce businesses, who often have some technology to support the process, but it also importantly happens in “ad-hoc” situations. These are situations where you may not have an easy technology solution in place to manage what may still be a very critical delivery.
A simple example of this is when you are trying to get a contract signed with a partner or third party. Timing for these things is obviously critical and knowing exactly where your documentation is at any given point is a must.
So the question is how do you create a secure, professional method for allowing someone to ship on your dime, while maintaining proper controls around tracking, accounts numbers, and more?
Luckily there are a lot of good, easy solutions for this problem, so let’s dive in:
Use a carrier website to create a shipping label
This is the most basic, least flexible, and cheapest way to solve this problem. Major carriers like UPS and FedEx will allow you to create labels directly through their online platforms, and then send those labels to your customers.
If you wanted to get fancy, you could even generate the labels, print them on label paper, and include the label in whatever package you may send your customer in advance. You only get charged if the label is used, so there’s minimal cost in this process.
Works great for the occasional need, but if you do this on any sort of regular basis it can get cumbersome.
Build your own shipping label solution
This is the opposite of the above – a complex, longer-term approach by using an API to connect with your major carriers and electronically request labels. The process here is outside the scope of this blog, but having done this personally I will say it’s not as daunting as you may believe.
The pros of this solution are the level of control, and ability to incorporate into any existing solutions you have. The cons are development time is expensive, and it can take a while to build, test, and deploy.
Use an Enterprise Parcel Solution to create your labels
Enterprise parcel solutions are really the best option for non-customer transactions. These systems will allow you to access your negotiated rates for a given shipment, create a label, and then use/send as needed. The nice thing is there are few restrictions on what you can use this label for, so it can meet a variety of needs.
Key to a good solution is having consolidated tracking, a good UI, and the ability to track spend and use so you can see who is leveraging your account.
If you think an Enterprise Parcel Solution is right for you, check out Boxton Parcel. Our solution combines security, tracking, pickups, and rating for UPS and FedEx – all in one crazy simple platform.