Reducing transport spend while continually enhancing customer service has always been a critical challenge for shippers, particularly for small to medium-sized firms who can be more exposed to fluctuations in distribution costs and meeting the changing demands of end-users. Creating a truly hassle-free shipping process has always been more of an ambition than a reality but multi-carrier shipping software provides an effective solution. For many it has already become a key differentiator, helping reduce overall distribution spend while enabling shippers to pass on cost savings. Sydney-based SmartFreight® is the leading multi-carrier software provider across Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and has now set its sights on deploying into the UK market. In 2017, it won a new contract with pharmacy and healthcare supplier Valley Northern to adopt its shipping platform at its dispatch hub, helpi¬¬ng simplify their distribution processes and reduce costs. Stafford-based Valley Northern is a leading supplier of medical consumables to pharmacies and other healthcare providers across the UK. It provides innovative packaging solutions such as the ProBox printed tablet carton and ready-capped medicine bottle range and operates in an extremely demanding sector, where community pharmacies are facing cuts in government subsidies and increased pressures on cost efficiencies. Valley Northern has been continually working to meet these changing demands and last year set about further enhancing its dispatch hub. It needed a shipping platform that not only reduced its overall distribution spend but met the common challenges that customers were facing around speed and efficiency gains. These included helping pharmacies to keep on-site stock levels to an optimum, allowing them to use Valley Northern itself as additional storage space, saving them rent, time, hassle and money. Dale Pittock, Sales Director at Valley Northern, said: "We are always very serious about investing in and developing new pharmacy and medical packaging for our customers and wanted to provide those same standards to our distribution function, which is why we hunted out a world-class shipping platform. We came across SmartFreight, which was at that time operating in Australia but not yet in England. On contacting them we found that they were just starting to reach out to the UK so were very interested." SmartFreight links directly with Valley Northern's Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, meaning customers can make changes directly to the address details, which are then printed on the parcel labels instantly, saving frustration and hassle. "We are able to least-cost all the routes our transport carriers take to ensure we are implementing the most cost-effective method of dispatch. This means we can also pass on that saving directly. Not only does SmartFreight allow customers to track their parcels through a bespoke Valley Northern portal, and see where the parcel is at all times with any tracking events that occur, but they also receive an automatic email sent to them with a unique link. This means they no longer need to call us but have the information they need instantly. It's all about providing a more hassle-free service. This is our ethos and that is why SmartFreight fits so well with us," Pittock added. Gordon Owen, UK Business Development Manager at SmartFreight, said: "It's been exciting to work with Valley Northern and help them take some of the hassle out of their supply chain and to pass on those cost savings to their customers. We are absolutely focused on helping small and medium-sized business in the UK to cut their overall distribution spend through improving process efficiencies and we believe that there is huge potential in the UK right now. "SmartFreight is hugely effective for smaller firms using as few as five transport providers and there are a lot of small companies who absolutely need to look at adopting a modern, multi-carrier shipping platform. With a quick return on investment SmartFreight has stepped in to provide an answer to an age-old challenge and we look forward to helping many more companies as we continue to grow in the UK." Ben Woodward, Channel Manager at SmartFreight, added: "The UK represents a fantastic opportunity to build on our great success in Ireland with over 500 sites using SmartFreight today and 3,000 in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Our list of carrier partnerships is always growing and we are ready to help customers save money shipping and to gain increased visibility over their shipping. We know there is some pretty well-established shipping software players in the market but we have a solid solution and extremely competitive pricing." Dale concluded by saying: "SmartFreight is fast, hassle-free software that improves processes, simplifies IT, stops you sending goods to the wrong address and stops you running out of labels. It has fantastic reports, gives live tracking, provides invoice reconciliation, is customizable and adaptable. Our customers love it."