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Jun 5, 2009 | 1 minute read

Shipping Carrier Relations in a Tough Economy: Monogamy or Philandry?

written by Linda Bustos

With tough economic times and increasing customer expectations for free shipping, how can retailers keep offering customers free (or competitive) shipping rates without sinking ship?

One way to run a tighter ship is to work with several carriers, and select the lowest priced carrier based on real-time, per parcel lookup to take advantage of fluctuating rates and competition. Rate shopping software like Anyrate or Logicor coupled with warehouse management systems can determine prices based on parcel dimension, weight, destination and delivery date.

Another approach is to nurture a relationship with one carrier which may cost more on paper but has its advantages. Good carrier relations help you negotiate better rates and even receive better service, which helps you satisfy your customers better. Price isn't the bottom line when it comes to shipping if speed, reliability and customer service are compromised. You could end up paying far more in returned items that were damaged in transit, and lose long time customers to one bad experience.

What's your experience? Has rate shopping saved you thousands? Has fidelity paid off?