It’s the 12 Days of Shipping!

November 30, 2017 - Jen Washburn

12 days of shipping - introThe holidays are quickly approaching, and this year we want to give back to you. During the early part of December, we will be posting fun holiday themed questions for you to answer. Each day of our 12 Days of Shipping contest, we’ll collect your entries based on the hashtag #12daysofshipping. At the end of the 12 days, one lucky participant will be randomly chosen to win a $50 digital Amazon gift card!

To enter, head on over to Twitter:

  • Follow us @Unishippers.
  • Tweet the daily task, and make sure to include #12daysofshipping.
  • Come back every weekday between December 4 and December 19 to complete more tasks and get more entries.
  • Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Contest winner will be selected at random December 20.

Franchisee’s and their employees are encouraged to participate, but will not be eligible to win.

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Nurturing Brand Identity

October 25, 2017 - Jen Washburn

 

An effective brand identity goes far beyond a cool logo or sexy color scheme. It’s more than a memorable name or a catchy tagline. A good brand identity encompasses more than even a product or service. It’s a first impression. An elevator pitch. The experience someone has when they think of you. A company’s brand identity should be evident from its first interaction with an audience to its last.

Brand Identity

A well-defined brand identity influences the way you market to consumers and includes your company’s visual, emotional and conceptual identities. Following a few basic principles can help you build and maintain a strong identity that ultimately pays off with loyalty to your brand.

Be consistent with your name and visual identity.

Make sure you are using the same company name and logo across all external communications, including your website, email signature, social media platforms, marketing materials, trade events, advertising and even customer invoices. Consistent representation of your brand is the first step in building a strong brand presence.

Use a consistent voice.

When you communicate with your audience, you want to develop a tone that aligns with your service or product and to which your target market can relate. Your brand voice should be an extension of your visual brand.

Leverage the emotional appeal.

When customers think of your company or see it represented visually, how do they feel? Identifying and understanding the emotional appeal of your brand allows you to better connect with your core audiences as you communicate your company’s values.

Know your company’s mission.

Identifying the values your company stands for and how they support your brand allows you to craft a strong mission statement that you and your employees can look to when making decisions for your business. That mission statement will become the North Star for your brand.

Stay true to your brand.

Integrating your brand into every aspect of your business allows you to present a unified and cohesive image to customers, partners, employees and other stakeholders. The level of commitment to your brand is reflected in how you allow your brand to be represented, both internally and externally.

Consistency in your branding efforts will create exponential value for your business. Consumers will be able to more easily identify your brand based on the characteristics you’ve established and more fully recognize your company’s growing presence in the marketplace—all while you reap the financial rewards of providing consistent brand reinforcement in every interaction.

Don’t Let Your Shipping Get You Under the Weather

October 2, 2017 - Jen Washburn

Brrrr. In most parts of the country, the temperature is starting to inch downward. On top of that, millions of people are still recovering from seasonal events such as hurricane-related damage and flooding. When bad weather and other disasters strike, they can impact many areas of your business, including your shipping. This vital part of your business can often be dependent upon weather factors that are not always predictable or easy to prepare for.

Consequences of inclement weather and natural disasters on your shipping could include service interruptions for shipments to or from the affected areas, delays on shipments passing through those areas, rising fuel prices and more.

Some common weather-related scenarios that could impact your shipping include:

  • Snowstorms
  • Microburst winds
  • Floods
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Earthquakes
  • Other types of natural disasters

Sounds scary, right? There are ways to mitigate the risks so that current or potential bad weather won’t keep you from maintaining your business’s vital shipping activities. Understanding the facts and your options can help prepare you to deal with weather-related issues if they do arise.

Always Be Aware

It’s always a great idea to stay on top of your shipments, and inclement weather makes tracking all the more important. For UPS shipments, you will still be able to track your shipment online, although you may find that your shipment has been temporarily diverted. You can also contact your Unishippers office for support in tracking your shipment.

For freight shipments, your Unishippers office may be able to track down the current location of your shipment, depending on the situation.

Remember Reimbursement Limits

Many shippers assume they’ll be reimbursed for weather-related service failures on guaranteed shipments. This is a false assumption. Unfortunately, weather is considered “an act of God” and is therefore exempt from reimbursement for unmet delivery dates.

The same goes for issues with your shipment being lost or arriving damaged. Weather-related damage will likely be considered the result of an “act of God” and may be exempted from carrier liability. Claims for lost shipments may be paid depending on the situation, but reimbursement is far from guaranteed.

The bottom line on reimbursement is that it’s always a good idea to insure your shipments to protect your business from predicted and unexpected weather events. Which leads us right into the next topic!

Be Sure About Insurance

One of the best ways to maintain peace of mind with your shipping is to ensure that you’re insured. Here are a few insurance-related items to be aware of:

Freight

  • Carrier liability covers only loss or damage incurred from the negligence of the carrier. When shipments are lost or damaged through “an act of God” (such as weather or natural disaster), your business will be out the value of the good. Insurance steps in to help cover the costs and keep your business financially whole when a shipment is lost or damaged due to circumstances outside of the carrier’s control.
  • Insurance only covers loss and damage and won’t reimburse for guaranteed delivery delays in the case of weather.
  • For liability rules and exclusions on freight shipments, you’ll want to review your carrier’s current General Rules Tariff, which is typically available on their website.

Small Package

  • In addition to insuring your heavy freight shipments, be sure to declare the full value of your small parcel shipments to take advantage of shipment insurance rather than relying on the generally lower coverage amounts of default carrier liability.
  • For Small Pack loss or damage rules, refer to the Declared Value section of the UPS rates and service guide (Acts of God – PG. 170) or check out UPS’s rates here.

Don’t let bad weather give you soggy shipping and an even soggier bottom line. The shipping pros at your Unishippers office are also always available to answer your questions, rain or shine!

 

4 Ways to Save on Inbound Shipping

August 31, 2017 - Unishippers

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When it comes to shipping, many small and mid-size business owners tend to focus on maximizing efficiency with outbound shipments while overlooking potential savings for inbound ones. Intrigued? Read on!

With the competitive state of the current marketplace, implementing a rigorous program to manage inbound shipments can minimize delays, trim your bottom line, and increase your shipping’s predictability and reliability.

By partnering with Unishippers, you have four easy ways to save on inbound shipping:

Save Money

Many vendors mark up inbound shipping costs! Your Unishippers shipping consultant can analyze your inbound and provide you with solutions on how you can save (and avoid those markups). Plus, we’ve developed strong relationships with the best carriers so you can save even more money. From UPS® express, ground and international to LTL, full truckload, air freight and more, we can arrange your shipments to be picked up and delivered practically anywhere.

Save Time

Unishippers will work with your vendors to book and manage your shipments—and can even provide a customized Routing Guide so they can easily contact us to arrange your shipping. Or, simply list Unishippers’s contact information on the purchase order forms you give to vendors and we’ll take it from there.

Save Paperwork

We offer consolidated invoice options and reports that provide complete details of all your shipments, regardless of carrier and shipment type, so you can get the total shipping picture.

Save Trouble

Inbound, outbound, express and freight: we do it all so you don’t have to. Our dedicated team of shipping experts will make sure you and your vendors get the service you deserve. It’s all a part of our Platinum Service benefits, developed for businesses just like yours.

Want some additional guidance? Reach out to your Unishippers team for a top-to-bottom assessment of your shipping program. They can evaluate all aspects of your outbound and inbound shipments and provide a plan that improves predictability and reliability within your company’s supply chain and enhances overall customer service. Give them a call today!

Understanding Small Package Terms and Conditions

Deciphering Small Package Terms & Conditions

June 8, 2017 - Unishippers

Have you read every word of your carrier’s service guide? We didn’t think so. But have no fear! Unishippers has 30+ years of experience in all things shipping and we’ve put together some of the most commonly-referenced small package shipping terms and conditions and how they may be applicable to your business’s shipping.

Service Guarantee

Many carriers have a service guarantee that promise on-time delivery of shipments based on the service level the shipper selects. If the carrier has a service failure (the shipment isn’t delivered on time), the shipper can request a refund. However, there are conditions and exclusions that service guarantees are subject to, including, but not limited to:

  • A package addressed to a P.O. Box is typically not covered by service guarantees
  • Carriers often make service guarantee modifications during peak shipping times, such as holidays
  • Service guarantees do not apply to packages that are subject to large or oversize package surcharges or additional handling fees or to packages that exceed maximum weight and size limits

If you need to request a refund due to a service guarantee failure, you must file an official refund request with the carrier within 15 calendar days of the scheduled delivery date.

Dimensional Weight

Both UPS® and FedEx® use the greater of the dimensional weight or the actual weight of a package as the billable weight (the weight used to calculate your rate). The way a carrier determines dim weight can vary and the calculations are a bit complex.

Bottom line: always be sure to enter in the correct dimensions and weight when preparing your shipment. That way, the carrier’s system can automatically calculate the dim weight for you and determine what the billable weight should be.

If you don’t enter in the correct dimensions and weight, the carrier has the right to audit the shipment, verify the weight and dimensions, and make appropriate adjustments to your shipping charges.

Items Not Accepted for Transport/Prohibited Items

There are items that small package carriers typically do not accept for transportation. If found in their systems, the carriers reserve the right to return the shipment at the shipper’s risk and expense. Below are a few examples of the types of items that are typically not accepted for transport.

  • Coins, cash, currency, bonds, postage stamps, money orders, and negotiable instruments (such as drafts, bills of exchange, or promissory notes, but excluding checks)
  • Counterfeit goods (also commonly referred to as “fake goods” or “knock offs”)
  • Common fireworks
  • Marijuana
  • Unset previous stones and industrial diamonds

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. If you are unsure that an item you are shipping is prohibited, check with the carrier’s service guide for a comprehensive list.

Hazardous Materials

Also referred to as HAZMAT or “Dangerous Goods,” these items have strict shipment requirements and restrictions.  In fact, the Federal Government determines what materials are considered hazardous under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 C.F.R.).

If you are shipping hazardous materials, you must indicate that you are doing so, provide a Dangerous Goods class and make sure that the shipment is properly packaged, marked and labeled in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. It is highly recommended that you contact the carrier well ahead of time if you need to ship hazardous materials for the first time, as many carriers require that you sign a contract specifically related to transporting HAZMAT materials.

Not sure how to figure out what your Dangerous Goods class is? Contact Unishippers for help.

Perishable Commodities

Items that require refrigeration (or other environmental control) like food, live animals, flowers, biological materials and beverages are considered perishable commodities. Perishable commodities are accepted for transport solely at the shipper’s risk for any damage arising from the perishable nature of the item. And take note, you will not be able to file a claim for any damage arising from the transport of perishables due to exposure to heat or cold or the perishable nature of the item.

It is recommended (and for some carriers a requirement) that your shipment is packaged for a minimum transit time of 12 or 24 hours (domestic and international, respectively) greater than the shipment’s delivery commitment time.

Limits of Liability

Every carrier has a maximum liability for loss or damage for each shipment, this is also known as the carrier’s limits of liability. For many parcel carriers, the carrier’s maximum liability for loss or damage is limited to $100 on shipments with no declared value – regardless of the actual value of the shipment. If your shipment exceeds $100 in value, you may want to consider declaring the actual value of your shipment. Doing so will trigger the automatic purchase of shipment insurance for a small additional charge.

Need a shipping expert on your team? Navigating through complex shipping rules and regulations can take precious time and resources away from a company. Unishippers has been handling the logistics of 50,000+ businesses for more than 30 years – and we can help your business, too.

Contact Unishippers today to get started.

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How to Create Mailing Lists in Express Manager

April 4, 2017 - Unishippers

Creating labels for multiple shipments at the same time doesn’t have to be a headache! From sending customer appreciation gifts to the mass shipping of documents, creating custom mailing lists in Express Manager can save you time. Create a mailing list within Express Manager with up to 150 addresses and prepare all 150 labels in the amount of time that it would normally take you to prepare one. Follow the step-by-step guide below to set up a mailing list and get started! Continue reading

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How to Manage and Create a Commodity List on Freight Manager in 3 Steps

- Unishippers

If you repeatedly ship the same commodities and dislike repetitive tasks, we’ve got your back (and your sanity)! You can create a searchable Commodity List on Unishippers Freight Manager so that you don’t have to manually enter in the commodity details each time you prepare a shipment (think: class, weight, description, dimensions, NMFC code, etc.). Follow the three easy steps below to create your own commodity list and save some time! Continue reading

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How to Set Up a Default Commodity in Freight Manager

- Unishippers

If you ship the exact same thing the majority of the time, this handy feature on Freight Manager is for you! By creating a Default Commodity, your shipment information will automatically populate each time you quote or prepare a freight shipment (think: class, weight, description, dimensions, NMFC code, etc.).

Interested? Follow these easy steps below to get started: Continue reading