Finding and comparing shipping rates between major carriers in the U.S. just got a bit easier for small businesses — both online and off — thanks to a newly launched Web-based, on-demand shipping solution from RedRoller Inc. The service compares the price and delivery options of top U.S. carriers to help, small businesses, e-commerce shops and consumers save time and money when shipping packages.
Here’s how it works: On the RedRoller Web site, you enter an origin and destination zip code, along with package weight and dimensions (or select a standard size shipping box). Within seconds you’ll see a list of shipping options offered by U.S. Postal Service, DHL, FedEx, Eastern Connection and Overnite Express. This list is designed to save you from having to visit individual carrier Web sites and using multiple rate calculators within each of the carrier’s Web site to get shipping costs and delivery information.
RedRoller is free, and the company charges no upfront costs or monthly fees for you to view the side-by-side comparisons of major national and regional carriers. The company makes its money by providing third-party portlets, through margins on some carrier services, its own online store where you can purchase shipping supplies and through advertising-based revenue.
You can access the shipping comparison without registering on the RedRoller Web site. However, in exchange for signing up for a free membership, you’ll get access to features such as the capability to sort results based on price or delivery time, reporting and tracking; maps to show nearest drop-off locations; schedule pick-ups, e-mail verification and access to saved customer preferences. Within the next 30 to 60 days, unregistered patrons will see RedRoller advertisements (one of the ways the company makes money) and overall registering will provide patrons with more functionality.
|As this screen suggests, shipping charges can vary widely from carrier to carrier. |
(Click for larger image.)
Along with providing the shipping price at varying levels of services from the included carriers, you can also click the type of delivery method shown to obtain more precise delivery standards information for that particular carrier — eliminating the need to spend time researching and helping you to make better shipping choices.
After selecting your preferred service, you can also print out the necessary shipping labels on your own printer and bring you shipments to the most convenient drop-off location or arrange for parcel pick-up through RedRoller.
All This and eBay, Too
The service also provides an eBay-compatible system for sellers. RedRoller is designed to automatically synchronize your eBay auctions status and history, once you have set-up your personal eBay Shipping Center through the RedRoller tools page. According to Bill Van Wyck, the company’s CEO, RedRoller opens up your own personal eBay space within the RedRoller Web site.
“The user’s eBay space offers the same look and feel as eBay. Once you have logged in, you’ll have all your auctions listed right in RedRoller. Once the auction has ended and it is time to ship, you simply click on the closed auction, and if you have provided the shipping addresses, the shipping comparison information automatically comes up.”
The eBay integration is designed to allow you to complete your shipping directly from RedRoller, and provides e-mail notification to both the shipper and receiver, which include shipping and tracking details. Tracking the item can be done through RedRoller or the carrier’s own Web site.
Of course, eBay sellers are not the only ones who can benefit from RedRoller. Consumers shipping one item a month can use RedRoller, as well as small businesses in the U.S. that ship multiple packages daily, who would benefit from a shipping comparison service that allows you to work from a customer address book and provide easy automated shipping notifications.
The RedRoller Web service is currently in beta and, according to Van Wyck, the Java-based shipping service contains more than a million lines of code and its unique shipping carrier interfaces have been in development for more than two years now. Even with the RedRoller Web site sporting a beta tag, you get a fully functional search comparison and features at present time. Throughout the beta phase, RedRoller plans to enhance its comparison shipping-and-saving service based on the feedback and input they receive from customers.
RedRoller is a U.S- based service, but Van Wyck said that international services are in development now and can be expected by the end of this year.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|