MetaPack Manager Basics

New to MetaPack Manager? No problem.

In this section, we’ll run you through the application basics so you’ll be up and running in no time.

Overview

Importing Order Data into MetaPack Manager

There are three main ways in which you can import data into MetaPack Manager:

  • Manual Consignment Creation (Fully Manual)
  • File-Import (Semi-Automated)
  • API Integration (Fully Automated)

Orders or consignments can be created on MetaPack Manager manually by simply clicking to the Create Consignment header and bringing up the main consignment page.

Data can be entered directly by a user at a pack-bench, warehouse or support centre.

Consignment

A more advanced technique is to create a File-Import template within MetaPack Manager.

A File-Import template maps order data found in a comma separated file (.csv) to consignment fields within MetaPack Manager.The file is then imported manually. 

Every aspect of the manual consignment creation process can be defined in the file-import file, including allocation of carrier services.

Files can even be placed on our FTP servers so that they get imported automatically.

File_Format

The most advanced technique available is to interface directly with our API and create consignments via your current Order Management or Warehouse Management System.

This offers the same flexibility as the previous methods, but removes the need to manually intervene directly with MetaPack Manager.

Systems such as JDA, Red Prairie, Magento and Channel Advisor currently allow for direct integration.

The Consignment Object

The most important “object” within MetaPack Manager is the Consignment.

Here, a hierarchy exists: a consignment contains at least one parcel, which itself contain at least one product.

Consignment

The parent consignment data can be found under the Delivery tab. Parcel data can be found under the Details tab, and product data can be found under the Product tab within the Consignment screen.

It’s important to note that when creating a consignment on MetaPack Manager, the following details are required as mandatory:

  • Despatch Warehouse Code (as defined within the application)
  • Recipient Name
  • Recipient Post Code
  • Recipient Address Line 1
  • Recipient Address Line 2
  • Recipient Country Code
  • Number of Parcels
  • Consignment Weight
  • Consignment Currency Code

Consignment

Handy Tip: All necessary data is highlighted in bold.

Without this data, the application will return an error and you will not be allowed to create the consignment.

This is particularly important when shipping overseas or when a second address line, for example, is not needed.

In this case, you can simply pass a period or any valid character to ensure that all fields are populated with data.

Consignments can be identified in four ways within MetaPack Manager.

The first, is via a given Order Reference Number. This is the unique identifier passed to the application from an external system. If this is not defined, MetaPack Manager will create one automatically.

The second identifier is the Carrier Consignment Code. This is the tracking reference given to the consignment at the point of allocation.

The third, is the Delivery Manager Consignment Code (DMC Code). This is an application specific reference given to the consignment.

The final and fourth identifier is the Consignment Identifier. This is a back-end reference for each consignment created. This won’t be used generally within the Graphical User Interface (GUI) but can be found in the URL when on the consignment screen.

Carrier Allocation

Allocation, much like with the consignment creation process, can be done manually or left to MetaPack Manager’s allocation engine for a fully-automated process.

Selecting a carrier service to ship an order by can be done manually by going to the Options tab within the main consignment page. Here, you can either:

  • Let MetaPack Manager choose the best option for you, by clicking on the Choose Best Carrier button.
  • View all possible carrier service options for the order by clicking on the Show Carriers button.
  • View not just carrier service options, but the hierarchy that MetaPack Manager places each service in, as well as other advanced features, by selecting the Advanced Allocation button.

Allocation

When selecting carrier services, you can do this graphically or by referencing their MetaPack Carrier Service Code.

This becomes particularly important if your method of data import is via a file-import method or an API integration.

It’s important to note that there will be differences between the carrier’s own unique references and MetaPack’s own carrier service codes.

For a list of MetaPack Carrier Service Codes, please contact our Support team and they will be able to send you the information you need.

Carrier services can also be aggregated into sub-groups across multiple carriers.

MetaPack Manager can then allocate from this defined sub-group instead of all available carrier services.

These sub-groups are called Service Groups and are configured within the main application Setup menu.

Service Groups

The benefit of a service group is that you can create flexible and user defined allocation groups.

For example, a retailer can group together multiple 24 hour services from various carriers (Royal Mail, Interlink, DPD) or nest standard and express international services into two separate service groups.

Service groups are identified within the application via a service group code.

They need to be passed into the application along with order data. This can be done in an import file; manually entered in the GUI via a custom field; or can be submitted in an API call via the booking code tag.

Beyond the idea of a service group, the application also supports booking codes.

Booking codes define not just the service group, but can add further logic, such as:

  • Collection Date / Time
  • Despatch Date / Time
  • Service Codes

Given the list of available services, MetaPack Manager’s allocation engine will select services based on the following criteria:

  1. Cost
  2. Earliest Delivery Date
  3. Latest Delivery Date
  4. Earliest Collection Date from Warehouse

This is the logic that will drive automated carrier service selection, unless modified by the retailer.

Allocation Troubleshooting

One of the most popular support ticket types deals with allocation queries. Why did an allocation fail? Why was a carrier service chosen over another?

One great way to troubleshoot outlier orders is to use MetaPack Manager’s inbuilt Why Not? feature.

Why Not

The Why Not? button can be found within the Options tab on the main consignment creation screen.

When selected, it will give you a drop down menu of all your subscribed to carrier services.

Simply selecting a service and clicking on the pop-up’s Why Not? button will return a statement explaining why a particular service was not available for allocation.

This simple and intuitive feature will help resolve most allocation issues.

Printing Labels

All labels on MetaPack Manager are optimised for labels of 6×4 inch dimensions.

Format types we support include: .pdf, .png, and .zpl. Please note that not all carriers will support all format types.

Before labels and any documentation is printed, a consignment must be allocated to on MetaPack Manager.

Once the consignment is in an allocated status, labels can be printed directly via the consignment screen by clicking on the Print Label(s) button found just below the Log Out option.

Label Print

Orders can also be printed in batches via the Home screen.

Simply clicking on the Advanced Features button reveals further options, one of which is to print labels.

Orders can be selected by from the same page and printed in a batch.

P1

If importing orders via a file-import method, labels will need to be printed manually or via MetaPack Manager’s Rapid Print feature.

This feature allows pack bench operatives to scan paperwork and automatically print labels just before despatch.

Rapid Print

If integrating via our API, various options will be presented via the main Consignment Service that will allow you to select label formats, documentation types and print quality.

It’s important to note that as MetaPack Manager is commonly accessed via a web browser, labels will often be generated via third-party applications such as Adobe Acrobat or Google Chrome’s inbuilt print feature and not directly by the application.

Sending Manifest Data to Your Carrier

Once consignments have been created, allocated to and had their labels printed, the status of the consignment will move to Ready to Manifest.

It is at this stage that consignments can then be grouped together into carrier specific manifest records.

A manifest record will be an aggregation of multiple consignments and will appear in the Ready to Manifest screen, under the Manifest menu.

M1

To send the manifest record to the carrier simply click on the Send & Print button and this will send the end of day data to the respective carrier.

Once sent, the records will move to the Historic Manifests tab.

If for any reason you need to re-send your manifest record, simply go to the Historic Manifest tab and click on the Resend button.

Note however that retailers only have 24 hours from first sending the data to re-manifest.

Should you need to re-send a record after this time, simply raise a Support ticket and the team will be able to process the request.

How to Raise a Support Ticket

Contacting our Support team for technical assistance is done via MetaPack’s Customer Portal. The portal also allows customers to manage invoices as well as order labels directly from MetaPack.

CS Portal

You should have received login credentials upon Go Live. If you have forgotten your details, simply click on the Forgot Your Password? link to reset your credentials or contact Support on the details provided at the top of the site for further assistance.

Please note that due to licensing restraints, each customer is assigned a single dedicated user.

Once logged in, the user is faced with the site’s home page:

CS1

A header menu presents three options:

  • Cases
  • Invoices
  • Label Orders

From the Cases menu, click on the Create New Case. Once done, you will be presented with a drop down list to select the Case Record Type. The case record type tells the Support team the issue category and is an important factory when assigning severity. Underneath the menu you will find a description of all available record types.

C2

Once selected, you will be brought to the main ticket page. The following fields are mandatory:

  • Case Contact Name
  • Case Contact Phone Number
  • Case Contact E-mail Address
  • Which carriers are affected?
  • Carrier
  • How many orders are affected?
  • What method do you use for allocation?
  • What is the issue being experienced?
  • When did the issue begin?

C3

Once all relevant fields are filled in, click on the Submit button to send the case to our Support team.

It’s important to note that once your ticket is received by our Support team, it will be reviewed by a team member and a severity will be assigned. You will at this point receive a notification e-mail to confirm that the case has been formally picked up.

For more information on Service Level Agreements and severity categorisations, please see your contract. To summarise, however, our severity classification is broken down into the following categorisations:

SEVERITY 3: Routine fault – a problem causing inconvenience to a user, not immediately critical. Resolution target: < 5 working days.

SEVERITY 2: A major component failure – a problem affecting a minimum of 30% of operations and with a potential impact of significant number of users. Resolution target: < 8 hours.

SEVERITY 1: Critical fault – whole service is unusable / unavailable – a problem causing a major business impact. Resolution target: < 4 hours.

Conclusion

The aim of this guide has been to give you a quick, bootcamp style introduction to MetaPack Manager.

We’ve covered the entire process flow: from consignment creation, to allocation, label printing, manifesting, and how to get in touch with Support should you need further technical assistance.

You should now be ready to tackle the basics of the application and move on to more advanced topics.

Happy shipping.