Acumatica Shipping: Unlocking Shipping Efficiency
The shipping industry controls 80% of the global trade, hauling over $14 trillion worth of goods and commodities across the continents. It’s the reason for international trade and a vital part of the global economy. Without it, life today wouldn’t be the same.
Underpinning the colossal sector, however, is shipping technology. Harnessing the power of digitization, tech is the backbone of the industry. With platforms, particularly Acumatica Cloud ERP System, providing businesses with unparalleled efficiency, it’s the only way for logistics companies to remain ahead of the competitive curve as time ticks forward.
The following sections will uncover the transformative power of the Acumatica ERP for Shipping.
Understanding Acumatica Shipping
Acumatica is a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform for small-to-medium-sized businesses to reach their holistic goals. This industry-leading application suite covers everything from financial management, project accounting support, distribution management, and customer relationship management (CRM).
Thanks to the cloud-based characteristic, users can access their business “hub,” regardless of location, to remain atop organizational/infrastructure happenings at all times. While all departments of the provisions are comprehensive, the distribution management section (i.e., inventory and order fulfillment) is particularly fleshed out, offering a vast selection of functions and features to automate and control the entire distribution system.
Exploring Acumatica Shipping’s Features
The extensive suite offers a collection of handy functions, such as:
- Creating sales orders with the pick-and-pack process
- Confirming shipments
- Generating A/R invoices for customers depending on the reported inventory sold
- Printing the Bill of Lading paperwork for LTL shipments
- Providing detailed tracking of pallet and parcel packages
- Classifying products using classifications by NMFC
- Producing VICS BOL documents for LTL shipments
- Guaranteeing compliance through the Compliance Module
- Automatically batch-printing labels
- Generating configurable reports
- Automatically sending shipping emails to customers
- Supplying a self-service portal for customers
- Various extra configurations to meet every company’s needs (e.g., adding different capabilities at any time, extending to different solutions beyond ERP, and more)
Integration Capabilities with Shipping Operations
Any shipping-streamlining software must integrate well with shipping carriers and third-party applications — and Acumatica is no exception.
The base software works seamlessly between FedEx (with the FedEx Ship Manager) and UPS (with UPS WorldShip). However, users can install one of the many third-party applications to diversify their carrier networks and enhance the already-present shipping automation features. Two of the most popular additions include:
ShipStation — This integration sets the standard in multi-carrier shipping and logistics. Its APIs have powered over one billion shipments for some of logistics’ fastest-growing companies. It complements Acuamtica’s native shipping provisions wonderfully by offering:
- Discounted rates for USPS and UPS
- Access to more than 30 carriers, including Canada Post, First Mile, Sendle, DHL Express Commerce, etc.
- Global address validation
- Amazon Buy Shipping-eligible postage generation
- Documentation for international shipping
- International duties and taxes
FreightPOP — It’s a premium cloud-based supply chain software that gives all inbound and outbound shipping a home (air and ocean included). Boasting seamless integration with Acumatica, it’s exceptionally configurable to existing workflows and is trusted by some of the world’s top shippers. Features are as follows:
- Shipment pooling
- Freight carrier rate
- Load optimization
- Predictive analytics
- Freight auditing and claim filing
Benefits of Acumatica Shipping
The countless integration capabilities and the seemingly endless features are just the beginning. It’s the productive, cash-saving benefits gleaned from them that businesses adore. The top five are as follows:
Boosting Operational Efficiency
The platform offers extensive warehouse and distribution automation technologies that let employees complete their tasks swiftly and efficiently. The system deftly boosts operational efficiency by relieving the boredom that often arises when performing mundane, monotonous tasks, guaranteeing workers to fulfill orders accurately and promptly.
Moreover, workers can batch print labels to avoid the cumbersome task of printing them one at a time, and data will flow seamlessly from warehouses to shop floors and vice versa. The days of manually sifting through files are over.
Optimizing Resources and Saving Money
Resource optimization is one of the key ways businesses save money. Acumatica’ Shipping solution helps logistics teams do precisely that by reallocating human power to value-adding tasks. Process automation lets technology perform the brunt of the monotony, giving employees the chance to work on genuinely fulfilling activities. This will save precious dollars and boost employee satisfaction to ensure high retention — a must-have in today’s business world.
Offering Greater Visibility
With one solution at the center of all shipping operations, companies have unmatched visibility into each part of the supply chain process. Whether local or global, owners can see the exact happenings in real time, ensuring any pain points are rectified as soon as possible.
Increasing Data Accuracy
Acumatica Shipping utilizes machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to guarantee connected, real-time data for logistics companies. All reports are configurable, ensuring businesses see precisely what they want — nothing more. Such robust information provides ample opportunities to make decisions that boost profits and add value to business offerings.
Rewarding Businesses with More Creative Teams
Automating mundane activities (like one-by-one label printing, for instance) releases individuals and entire teams from the limitations of said tasks. Personal creativity will prevail, resulting in more profit-boosting activities being completed. The result? An innovative bunch that constantly optimizes operations and, ultimately, gives companies the leg up they’re hoping for.
Implementing Acumatica Shipping Software
The benefits of this technology are numerous and far-reaching, but shipping operations will only receive them with an understanding of how to implement the platform. Everything from the initial integration to configuring batch label processing to addressing common issues can be found below.
How to Integrate Acumatica Shipping (A Step-by-Step Guide)
Getting started with Acumatica Shipping is relatively straightforward. The steps are as follows:
- Create an Acumatica account.
- Have a UPS or FedEx account and download the UPS WorldShip or FedEx Ship Manager from the respective website.
- Download the Acumatica Shipping Tool Integration utility. This tool takes the information from any Acumatica screen and sends it to UPS WorldShip or FedEx Ship Manager.
- Run the Acumatica Shipping Tool Integration utility.
- Click the cog icon on the toolbar.
- Configure the settings to point to any Acumatica application.
Setting Up Batch Label Processing
Upon integrating the platform, companies can tweak the utilities to suit them. One of the most beneficial customizations is batch label processing. With this setup, Acumatica will automatically print label files after the user has processed multiple orders, saving the otherwise arduous task of sending labels individually to the printer.
- Configure automatic packaging
- Ensure the automatic packaging feature is on in the “Enable/Disable Features” screen.
- Head to the “Boxes” tab in the left-hand panel to create packages. The boxes can relate to a specific carrier or be generic.
- To associate boxes with a particular carrier, head to the “Ship Via Codes” screen in the left-hand panel.
- Set up automatic packaging for stock items by ensuring all items include eligible boxes, weight, and volume.
- Ensure carriers return labels compatible with the printer
- Click on the “Carriers” screen.
- Select the desired label type. It must be supported by the carrier and be directly printable. PDFs are best for laser printers. ZPLs or EPLs are best for thermal printers.
- Create a print batch file (This step necessitates knowledge of the operating system in use. Commands for creating a print batch file vary.)
- On a Windows machine, open Notepad.
- Type this text — print /d:ServerNamePrinterName %1 — and replace ServerName with the appropriate network server and PrinterName with the printer’s network.
- Save the file as PrintLabels.bat.
- Associate the batch file with the file extension
- Search for “File Association” in Windows.
- Open the “Change the file type associated with a file extension” interface.
- Select the relevant extension (i.e., the document type set in stage two) and associate it with PrintLabels.bat.
Addressing Common Implementation Challenges
All new system implementations can come with innate challenges. But awareness is a huge step toward preventing them.
Some common challenges include:
- Cost — Since distribution management is complex and different for every business, the software (and any customizations) can quickly add up, making it initially expensive.
- Data integration — The software must integrate with already-in-place systems to amalgamate data and shipping operations effectively. This can be time-consuming.
- Difficulty — Those less tech-savvy may struggle to comprehend some back-end operations.
- Change management — People are inherently resistant to change. Thus, any software additions must be carefully managed to be adopted successfully.
Best Practices for Maximizing Shipping Efficiency
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for utilizing Acumatica Shipping — it offers so many customizations and third-party integrations that a universe answer is impossible. However, companies should learn to follow certain best practices to maximize shipping efficiencies using the platform, as discussed in the coming sections.
4 Tips to Optimize Shipping Process with Acumatica
Maximizing shipping efficiency means optimizing shipping, and there are plenty of ways to do that with Acumatica. As outlined below, some streamline the practical processes involved in shipping operations, while others focus on boosting indirect yet related processes.
- Accurate financial tracking — The cloud shipment automation service gives business owners immediate access to steadfast accounting software to automate freight invoice payments, sales commission workflows, and expense management.
- Use generated reports to make value-adding decisions — Acumatica offers configurable reports, giving shipping professionals real-time information on every section of their business. Automated data capture provides ample opportunities to analyze shipping costs and carrier performance to make the best, most profitable decisions for new market expansion and carrier network diversification.
- Take advantage of automated order fulfillment — The platform’s tools automate everything from picking processes to retail compliance monitoring, barcoding, and shipping.
- Enable self-service portals for consumers — The automatic email notifications and self-service functions give customers confidence and trust in companies’ shipping processes. And a happy, satisfied customer is a returning customer.
Continuously Adapting and Improving with Acumatica Shipping
Traditionally, adaptability, flexibility, and constant improvement were more challenging and attainable due to the linear nature of software development. With Acumatica, however, businesses can look forward to seamless enhancements thanks to the platform’s CI/CD development approach. This practice automates the build-test-deploy cycle to ensure rapid iterations and deployments of brand-new functions, simplifying users’ professional lives.
Beyond that, the built-in analytics and configurable reports make it easy for businesses to make value-adding decisions, knowing their shipping data is always accurate and in real-time. Consistent improvements are more than just a pipe dream.
Overcoming Implementation Challenges
As mentioned, implementation challenges are inherent whenever companies change their operations significantly. Thus, professionals must consider the best practices for streamlining shipping processes with Acumatica and implement strategies to negate potential adverse reactions or stumbling blocks.
It’s worth noting that change — especially one as monumental as a new shipping platform — takes time for effective implementation. People can be resistant, and those using the software daily require adequate training to familiarize themselves with fresh working methods before it goes live.
With that in mind, the following table details proven solutions for businesses to resolve or prevent common implementation issues.
Solutions for Common Issues During Implementation
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How to Ensure a Smooth Transition to Acumatica Shipping
Beyond the solutions mentioned above to potential issues, companies can ensure a smooth transition to Acumatica Shipping by:
- Defining the scope, objectives, and timeline of the deployment.
- Setting up an implementation team that includes representatives from any department the new system will impact.
- Outlining the requirements of the implementation (i.e., features needed to meet goals and which functions should be implemented first).
- Developing the project plan that sets out the timelines, tasks, and resources required to implement the platform correctly.
- Planning training for all system uses. This should include technical and functional training for staff members.
Addressing Security and Compliance
Security and compliance have been essential components in shipping operations for decades. However, the recent onslaught of digitization and the modern complexities within supply chains have significantly boosted their critical nature.
Compliance throughout the shipping operation revolves around employee labor laws, environmental concerns, hazardous material handling, and labeling. The latter is perhaps most pertinent here, as everything from product barcodes to shipping labels must meet specific standards to ensure that international shipments land in the right place without being intercepted for non-compliance.
Should businesses fail to adhere to the relevant guidelines, they’ll face diminished brand value, decreased customer satisfaction, heightened regulatory scrutiny, financial penalties, client losses, and sanctions.
The same can be said for data security — not only are rules and regulations clamping down on companies’ abilities to keep client information safe, but cybersecurity threats are costly. Data is a valuable resource; preventing it from unauthorized access and corruption is vital for stopping reputational damage, broken consumer trust, and financial loss.
How Acumatica Ensures Regulatory Adherence
Acumatica’s Compliance Module allows logistics companies to record information and construct ever-changing reports to remain aligned with regulatory demands. This dedicated tool ensures that facilities, employees, and products are safe and passable by the relevant authorities or governing bodies.
The utility’s myriad features offer reliability, flexibility, collaboration, and a single platform cohesive system to guarantee compliance throughout the entity. Such features include (but aren’t necessarily pre-built):
- Helping to comply with FDA guidelines by document printing and capturing
- Capturing safety information for material handling
- Maintaining ISO documentation
- Designing GHS labels as necessitated by OSHA requirements, containing pictograms, hazard and precautionary statements, supplier identification, signal words, and more
- Designing and printing FDA labels
- Generating lot traceability reports
- Designing and printing custom recall letters
- Printing Certificate of Analysis/Certificate of Conformance
- Producing deviation reports
- Recording and printing Correcting Action and Preventive Action reports
The Acumatica ecosystem offers even more industry and government regulation compliance features. The platform splits its related offerings into the following six sections:
Solutions for Common Issues During Implementation
|Common Implementation Issue
|Create a detailed project plan containing each step and milestone. Always include timelines and set the scope of responsibility for key members of the business.
|Underestimating technical needs
|Ensure existing infrastructure is capable of supporting Acumatica Shipping before jumping in headfirst. Budget for increased technical requirements if necessary.
|Failing to acknowledge potential risks
|Anticipate potential security or other risks before beginning the implementation process. Once risks are identified, create appropriate mitigation strategies.
|Neglecting post-integration support
|Provide support to employees and shareholders after the implementation to ensure a complete, unwavering implementation.
|Employee’s resistance to change
|Communicate changes early and provide regular updates. Involve employees and listen to their opinions. Providing support and time for software familiarization.
Future Trends in Shipping Technology
The future of shipping operations appears to lie in unmanned warehouse robots and E-Brokerage platforms — a far cry from the heavily human-based processes of yesteryear. While the industry is already transitioning to the entirely digital world, expert predictions tout autonomy as tomorrow’s transformation.
Since Amazon launched its idea to provide drones for last-mile deliveries, these flying phenomena have been the poster child of shipping technology. However, autonomous forklifts are likely to hit the wider industry first.
Travel is unarguably the most time-consuming and unproductive task inside a warehouse. Still, the new forklifts (“vision-guided autonomous mobile robots”) can address this issue and process orders up to four times faster than humans.
Beyond the warehouse, entirely autonomous fleets are set to be a reality by 2030. The benefit? Fuel economy. A Forbes article notes that truck platooning, for instance, could save as much as 20% on fuel costs.
The rise of e-retailing and the connectivity technology boom will provide shipping operations with all-new solutions — primarily of the digital variety (unsurprisingly). This digitization will force traditional freight brokers to adopt mobile-based, brokerage-esque solutions. Professionals are calling it the “uberization of trucking.”
As this trend emerges, mobile-based freight brokers will formulate in-house software solutions that ensure synergic compatibility with current systems, like Acumatica. Depending on rates, schedules, and routes, such solutions could match up truckload drivers to the most suitable shippers, automating the number of processes involved with delivery status, load-finding, payment, and dispatch.
Self-Orchestrated Supply Chains
The future technologies shaping shipping operations will turn entire supply chains into self-orchestrated affairs, giving those who can adapt to the ever-changing times a serious competitive advantage. It’s the era of previously unimaginable effectiveness.
Will Acumatica Keep Up?
Acumatica Shipping is already miles ahead in the market, supplying shipping operations with many intuitive utilities to streamline processes, ultimately boosting cash flow and maximizing efficiencies. And it will undoubtedly continue to do the same as the industry faces massive transformations.
The brains behind the platform have their ears to the ground, constantly searching for improved ways to automate and help their clients thrive in the ever-evolving logistics landscape. Acumatica is undoubtedly well-versed in the industry, giving current and potential users the confidence they need to choose this brand for their future shipping-proofing efforts.
The Bottom Line
Acumatica Shipping utilizes the latest shipping technology to give businesses cash savings, boost employee retention, improve operational efficiency, enhance visibility, increase creativity, and unmatched visibility. Couple that with the constantly updating features and the exceptional Compliance Module, and implementing the platform is a true game-changer for logistics operations.
Those who employ the recommended steps above to reduce standard integration are set to find the most success with this comprehensive, intuitive suite. With proper planning, the system slots right in and provides the competitive edge businesses require to stay ahead.