Ecommerce has certainly changed the way people buy their goods, and the pandemic has significantly accelerated that and changed consumer buying behaviour forever. While we once may have only been familiar with carriers such as Royal Mail or ParcelForce, the number of carriers has also grown exponentially to meet the unwaning consumer demand. So for operators in the retail and wholesale distribution arena, creating efficiencies when it comes to shipping is crucial.
In the case of dealing with multiple shipping carriers, most Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) will require the operative to switch between screens and navigate varying processes and requirements. Aspects such as label formats, packing slips configuration, sales order info or tracking information on separate log-in interfaces or screens, can be time-consuming for an operative and an area where is it difficult to create efficiencies.
With some WMS there are out-of-the-box solutions available that consolidate the processes, but as shipping carrier numbers grow and firms want to use a multitude of carriers to get the best price and solution available at the time, it can be difficult to find a ready-made solution that facilitates integration of a wide number of carriers in one application.
Some solution providers have developed apps to help streamline processes, but often this approach requires that customers have additional points of contacts for their implementation and support. This also becomes a larger consideration where customers need to support multiple carriers, and therefore could be required to manage a number of different partners if any issues were to arise.
Creating efficiencies in the shipping process was one challenge that was facing craft supplies retail giant Crafter’s Companion – a hobbyist’s heaven and the brainchild of Sara Davies who is also a Dragon’s Den regular and who is currently starring on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. The business started as a university bedroom dream of Sara’s, debuted its wares initially online and now also has bricks and mortar stores as well.
The firm is a NetSuite user and it enjoys the benefits that an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that integrates all operational aspects can provide, giving one version of the truth. However, with a real need to create efficiencies around the complex area of shipping carrier management, it turned to BrightBridge to create a custom-made solution.
In direct response to the challenge, BrightBridge developed its own Shipping Carrier integration framework – something that can now be offered to all customers, ensuring that all shipping carrier integrations can be implemented and supported by one provider, BrightBridge.
A wide variety of carriers supported under one single framework
BrightBridge has developed a framework that allows support of a wide variety of carriers and can easily be extended to add additional companies, making it a futureproof option for the retailer.
Integrated into the core NetSuite item fulfilment capabilities, it supports both processing of individual transactions and those in bulk. NetSuite sales order data is submitted to the carrier systems which then returns both the tracking information as well as packing labels. Everything is handled in NetSuite, without the need for users to switch between systems, regardless of which carrier they are sending goods via. Shipping labels can either be printed separately or integrated into a single document as required.
The user can see information relating to ordering and fulfilment across multiple carriers on one screen. Information such as the carrier code, the package type and size, the contract account number and other relevant internal information is visible.
Solution capabilities are comprehensive
The solution developed by BrightBridge, as a result of the requirements of Crafter’s Companion, facilitates shipping carrier account setup – connection details, label format requirements, carrier service setup and shipping item mapping.
It also handles shipping label and packing slip configuration for both separate and combined orders, and item fulfilment integration, which allows the submission of sales order data to carrier, store carrier tracking information and store carrier shipping label. There is also the functionality to execute shipping carrier order cancellation and access an optional end of day carrier manifest submission and print out.
These highly functional features are invaluable for a retailer such as Crafter’s Companion – which handles around 15,000 online orders per month, which is no mean feat!
Cost savings are made through efficiencies and reduced error risk
Before using this solution, Crafter’s Companion operatives handled shipping manually, which was incredibly inefficient.
Now it can create order details and specifics into the carrier portal for each order, sending details such as barcodes, delivery address labels, carrier link, tracking information and returns labels. For businesses using multiple carriers, the solution negates duplication of this process across carriers, and it can facilitate this across many popular carrier providers including Royal Mail, DPD, UPS, FedEx, DHL, GFS and ProCarrier.
Not only are the efficiencies dramatic, but wherever there is higher instance of manual intervention, there is an enhanced risk of error – which is a cost to the business to rectify. The use of this kind of solution reduces that risk, generating cost savings.
Crafter’s Companion is delighted with the solution and the time savings it has generated, and the firm has seamlessly and efficiently processed thousands of orders since using it.
BrightBridge is now offering this solution to other current customers and to prospective clients; the solution can be applied to help any company achieve infinite efficiencies, whether they currently use NetSuite, or require a full solution design and implementation. In a world where online retail is only going one way, it should soon become a solution no wholesale distribution business can afford to be without.
To find out more about BrightBridge’s shipping carrier integration platform could help your business, you can book at appointment directly with Tim on the BrightBridge team, or call our office on 0330 133 5000.