Single carrier shipping software provided "free of charge"❠by UPS (Worldship) and FedEx (ShipManager) can be very useful and the fact that they don't cost anything makes them very appealing and extremely popular in corporate mail centers. If you ship a low volume, say, 1-20 packages or letters per day with one carrier, then it probably makes sense to stick with the "no cost" solution. However, if your shipping volume is higher, if you ship multiple modes, insure your shipments, want to deploy USPS and/or regional carriers or if you simply want the financial benefits of shipping with multiple carriers instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, it may make sense to invest in a multi-carrier shipping solution.

There are two types:

1 - Client/Server based (on-premise software)
2 - Web based (on-line)

There are pluses and minuses of each type:

Advantages of client/server:
· You can implement "rate shopping"❠or "least cost routing"â. Note: This is the only current method of comparing UPS with any other carriers' rates and services.
· Easy to customize user interfaces, labels, reporting etc.
· Flexible business rules
· Robust functionality and carrier support
· Security -- for both user and data

· Cost more than web based
· Require implementation
· Usually require long-term contract i.e. 2 -- 4 years
· Each workstation has to be configured
· May require server

Advantages of Web-based:
· Low cost monthly subscription pricing
· Immediate deployment -- within a few days
· No software license fees
· Nothing to install
· Works from any computer, anywhere, anytime

· Inflexible -- designed for the masses
· Minimal business rules
· Data security
· Lack of customization
· No "Rate Shopping"❠or "least cost routing"❠with UPS. United Parcel Service restricts the use of this functionality. Note: FedEx and the USPS don't mind.

Industry leaders envision companies starting out with web-based solutions, a much less profitable offering, and then trading up to a client/server solution upon discovering that more flexibility is required.

Where to shop for a multi-carrier solution:

In the mail center client/server market Pitney Bowes dominates with the Ascent software ( but if you desire an alternative visit one of these sites;,,,, and there are many others. Search "shipping software"â.

Web based apps are gaining in popularity. For example: The new AgileShip for QuickBooks. This award winning, innovative web-based multi-carrier shipping app automatically synchronizes order information typed in QuickBooks Sales Orders and Invoices, a first for the roughly 4 million QuickBooks users. More information can be found at Other places to find web-based apps:, and Search "web-based multi-carrier shipping".

Since carrier provided software is free it is designed to make more profit for the carrier. Why else would it be free? Multi-carrier shipping apps cost money so naturally they will help lower shipping costs (or they wouldn't survive).

Some ways multi-carrier shipping apps lower shipping costs;

· Help companies acquire lower contract rates
· Optimize shipping spend; i.e. least cost rate shopping (even without switching carriers)
· Simplify invoice reconciliation
· Extensive management reporting capabilities
· Validate addresses
· Expose accessorial fees prior to shipping

Dan Gooley, a Pitney Bowes TMS veteran has made a career out of replacing "free"❠carrier provided software with multi-carrier shipping solutions in the mail center. According to Dan: "Mail Room shippers generally cut their carrier costs by about 35% the first year following deployment of a desktop multi carrier shipping solution"â. Dan opines: "No need to switch carriers, just pay the same one less"❠and "These empowered shippers have become accustomed to higher discounts since the incumbent carrier takes the threat of a quick carrier change seriously"â. Many mail center shippers think pricey air service is required when economical ground service can accomplish the same or better delivery objective. A multi-carrier solution lets you know the least costly carrier and service -- free carrier software does not make it simple. Dan goes on: "Multi-carrier systems are carrier neutral, they provide information that allows the end user to make the best choice for the company, not the carrier"â. Dan is continually lauded by CFOs and other financial executives alike who invested in this technology and have the ability to control shipping costs.

Want to learn about how a multi-carrier shipping solution can lower your shipping costs? Logistics solution providers will be happy to provide a free up-front ROI (Return on investment) analysis to help you make the best decision. Reach out to your logistics professional today. Or, contact me anytime, I would love to hear from you so I can help you Ship Better and Save Money.

Jim LeRose is Principal of Agile NYC Metro and President of Jim has been a transportation industry consultant for over 25 years. His clients have saved millions on transportation costs. Agile has helped companies such as JP Morgan, Audiovox, Intuitive Surgical, Panasonic Electric, Petco and over 1,000 others. Jim welcomes your comments and can be reached at or 888-214-1763.