Any day now, your company will get hit once again with an annual GRI - General Rate Increase from the Dynamic Duo: FedEx and UPS, who continue to increase their rates faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. But some mail center managers have a new message for the duopoly: "We're not going to take it anymore!" Are you in that category? Faced with rising costs, less staff and budget cuts, smart execs are turning to multi-carrier shipping solutions to replace UPS Worldship and FedEx Ship Manager's in the mail center. The result? Thirty percent savings, or more.

These are difficult and confusing times. Our government continues to assure us that inflation is low, but many would disagree. According to Business Week, from 2009-2012, the income for a typical household rose by .2%. But at the same time the cost of goods and services went up over 9%. This "squeeze" has reduced buying power. I see the same thing is happening in business. Faced with constant and vast increases in shipping, healthcare, energy, taxes, banking fees, rents and many, many other areas, companies are also getting squeezed. For ecommerce companies the problem is exacerbated by the fact they have to offer free shipping but can't raise their prices.

That's why business is good at Bottom Line Concepts (BLC),, an organization dedicated exclusively to helping companies reduce costs and increase profits -- and they only get paid if you save money. "There are about a dozen areas businesses have been hit hard during the past several years," says Gary P. Mitchnick, President of BLC. "In the last millennium, prices increased a few percentage points here and there. Now you see constant increases of 10 to 20% or more, and these areas have become so confusing, it's hard for companies to save real money unless they ignore their businesses and become experts in each of these categories." BLC works with Subject Matter Experts (SME) with an average of 20 years experience. These experienced "fresh eyes" find areas of savings even the stingiest controllers often overlook. "We help eliminate waste and coordinate information to improve a company's overall financial picture."

Shipping is a key component of BLC's money-saving strategy. Gary opines, "Due to the sheer amount of increases during the past decade and how difficult it is to understand carrier invoices, this is a key area for us."

It would be nice if UPS and FedEx announced a GRD (General Rate Decrease) instead of a GRI (General Rate Increase) but that doesn't seem very likely. That means you have to take matters in to your own hands and do something about these repeated assaults on your company's profits. A multi-carrier shipping solution in the mail center will help achieve your goals. So how can this help realize 30% savings or more? Here are five areas:

1 - Rate Shop/Least Cost Routing - Ever visit Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Kayak or other comparison site? The same applies in the mail center. While carrier-provided software doesn't encourage rate shopping/least cost routing, multi-carrier shipping software does and the savings is significant.

2 - Business Rules - It is very difficult for companies to enforce shipping policies. You've heard me talk about the "blank check" employees have when it comes to shipping with UPS and FedEx. Set business rules that reduce costs then get monthly reports to validate they are adhered to. You'll be surprised how often they are not.

3 - Use Ground service instead of Air. Many mail center managers don't realize that Ground package service is guaranteed to arrive quicker than more costly second and three-day air services to multiple locations. There is a savings of over 10% just on fuel alone when you choose Ground over Air!

4 - USPS - If you are of the old mindset that the USPS doesn't offer quality delivery service, then you ought to look again. Driven by demands of the B to C marketplace, the USPS has emerged as an extremely viable third player in the parcel and expedited delivery space with competitive tracking and accountability.

5 - Insurance - May companies still insure directly with UPS and FedEx (Declared Value) at a cost 50 to 70% higher than necessary. There are great third-party companies that can lower insurance costs such as UPIC, PIP and others. You can even expect better coverage and service.

I hope this information helps you Ship Better and Save Money.