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COMPLEX BUSINESS RULES: A HOUSE BUILT FOR SUCCESS

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BY JUSTIN CRAMER

very shipper can agree that the past year has seen a dramatic shift in buying habits from more traditional retailers to online sales, with the pandemic and safety concerns pushing consumers to shop online. Delivery time has become more critical for shippers as consumers are following the shipping journey of a package. They are recognizing the idea of on-time shipping, or when a retailer says a package has left the warehouse, distribution center, or store shelf, and how it compares to on-time delivery, or when the package is actually delivered to the customer. As this shift in customer expectations has progressed, shippers’ enterprise software stacks (ESS) have had to adapt with them. Specifically, the shipping software in the stack has had to change

to allow for the inclusion of new carriers and new tracking feeds. New carriers have been added, new tracking feeds are being pulled, and many pre-existing business rules have had to be changed. Business Rules How easy these changes are to make in shipping software relies almost exclusively on the mix of business rule types. As e-commerce grows and the fulfillment process continues to become more complex, brands need to design and set up business rules to be configurable and easily changed by the business as their needs change. There are two major types of business rules (algorithmic and prescriptive) that will allow retailers to control the options for delivery, enhancing the customer experience and relaying cost savings to the retailer. Understanding the difference between algorithmic and prescriptive business rules facilitates the selection of the right technology for your specific shipping

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logic. Prescriptive business rules are very fast to execute. They are typically conditional, usually represented by true or false. These types of rules are not easily adaptable and require a software engineer to revise as your business scales and the shipping environment changes. Algorithmic business rules are, by definition, built to be configurable by new data. They will simply adjust to new information with automated decision-making. They are rules that, when given an input, simply return an output. If that input were to change, the output would change as well. They may execute a bit slower but provide greater flexibility in the long run without having to engage a software engineer as often. Building Better Business Rules Think about these rules like the classic story of “The Three Little Pigs.” Building your house out of sticks alone is like building your shipping software system out of prescriptive business rules