September 9, 2019

Now that we have so many ways to order and engage with brands, the importance of providing a frictionless experience for customers cannot be overstated. In addition to websites, storefronts, mobile apps, and the many other ways that buyers can engage with retailers, that consideration must also extend to frictionless fulfillment.

Research from Brightpearl and Endless Gain last year found that over 60% of respondents said they wouldn’t want to buy from the same retailer again if they experienced a significant problem after purchase. This includes aspects related to fulfillment, such as inadequate packaging safety, delivery issues, or difficulties returning a problem. Continue reading 3 Hallmarks of Frictionless Fulfillment

August 22, 2019

If the disruptive influence of eCommerce has taught retailers anything, it’s that simply maintaining the status quo and hoping that online competitors prove to be a flash in the pan is not a strategy that will work. In fact, it’s often the road to bankruptcy. 

Now that online retail has come calling on the consumer packaged goods sector, it’s time for CPG brands to offer a distinct and compelling identity that turns consumers into fans. Rather than burying their heads in the sand, as caused the likes of Sears and Brookstone to go under in 2018, CPG companies must highlight and amplify the unique traits that bring customers to their brand and keep them coming back for more. 

Any brand capable of translating these qualities to the online space stands a much better chance of winning new customers, retaining existing buyers, and making a successful transition to eCommerce retail. Continue reading Why CPG Brands Must Differentiate Themselves for the Future of Retail

February 27, 2019

There’s no doubt that this is a challenging time to be an established consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand. Whether it’s the constantly shifting landscape of consumer expectations or the agile startups making the most of their digital native status to connect with customers in a more personal way, the need to adapt to the demands of eCommerce looms large over the CPG sector.

However, what is often seen as a threat could equally be framed as an opportunity for CPG brands. With size and status on their side, the ability to go direct-to-consumer (DTC) holds the potential for improved communication with buyers and enhanced brand reputation.

Continue reading 4 Facts that Show Why CPG Brands Are Embracing DTC
December 18, 2014

This is part two in our ‘Unpacking’ feature focus on order fulfillment technology. You can read the first piece here, or check out other entries in the ‘Unpacking’ series on our archive page Continue reading Unpacking Order Fulfillment Technology – Part Two

December 15, 2014

Our recurring “Unpacking” series digs into the deeper meaning of commonly used terms and trends in the supply chain world that prompt a lot of questions. You can read all of the previous entries here.  

Fulfilling orders can be smooth execution or hard duty. Which you end up with for your business lies in direct proportion to the software and people you bring together to perform the service. Both play a key role, but one may prompt more work than the other, depending on the technology you put to work.

Today we’ll focus on the order fulfillment technology that brings the best out of your team and delivers the most  , based on an answer from our CSO and co-founder Thom Campbell on Quora.

For us it comes down to this (deeply mathematical) equation: Good software + well-integrated workers = fun, fast accurate work; bad software + workers = hard times on the production line.

This places a lot of emphasis on the quality of the technology you choose, and with good reason. A hard-working, smart and motivated team is always important and sought-after in the warehouse and beyond, but the software they use can easily be overlooked if you don’t know what works best.

When it comes down to it, we’re actually a software company that does some heavy lifting; a solution provider for challenges relating to efficiently getting orders to our clients’ customers, both individuals and retailers.

 

one click buying button

Of Orders and Acronyms

To follow an order through the supply chain, first you need to get it from your e-commerce platform or drop-ship retailer to your fulfillment provider, whether it’s internal or a third party.

The main means of integration are (apologies in advance for the government-like flurry of acronyms to follow):

  • FTP (file transfer protocol),
  • API (application programmer interface, or web services),
  • EDI (electronic data interchange), and
  • XML (extensible markup language.)

Most of our e-commerce integrations are via a secure FTP server we host. Capacity clients submit orders in batches at preset times and they are uploaded into our system. Our system screens for duplicates, items or shipping methods we don’t recognize, or other common issues which might cause the file to ‘bounce’. The next most common approach is API, where a client reaches out to our web services server with a real-time query. For example a query might be ‘here’s an order’, or ‘what is the tracking # for this order’, or ‘what is the inventory level for this item’.

So the order software has to have that ability to integrate and validate order data. Sometimes it’s important to perform address validation, sales tax calculation, and other services, but mostly we see that happening upstream, at the e-commerce platform level.

package assembly line

The system we use to provide dashboard visibility into our services is an internal proprietary order management software (OMS), which we imaginatively called ‘Intra’ because it is located on our intranet. Our clients get a ‘through the firewall’ version called, again with all our imaginative forces brought to bear, the ‘Capacity Client Center’.

Its purpose is much what it sounds like: providing clients with real-time online access to order status and inventory information, modifying SKU/product information, changing ship methods, creating and downloading reports, and many other aspects of our service. Intra is also very involved in how we integrate with retailers, housing the tables and rules for dealing with over 300 of the retailers we ship to who require EDI.

We’ll break off here to give you some time to digest how your order handling system stacks up against the ideas above. The next entry moves into how technology drives the physical fulfillment process, from picking to shipping and delivery. You can read part two here.

Read the rest of our Unpacking posts here, or connect with Capacity LLC on Facebook or Linkedin to let us know what you’d like to see next.

Contact us if you’d like to talk more about how order fulfillment technology can work for your business.