August 4, 2016

After we recently looked at the efforts of big box retailers to whip their suppliers into shape and streamline inventory flow, it’s natural that we return to cover the topic of chargebacks.

The term is used to describe the infamous financial penalties that are levied across many different business types, which are especially prominent in the supply chain. Continue reading Unpacking: Supply Chain Chargebacks

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.

October 2, 2014

The supply chain, as its name suggests, is made up of many individual links, so when we talk about how to learn supply chain management, it can be tough to know where to start.

Today we’re taking our “Unpacking” series of posts to the educational aspect of our industry, and how you can get started on a career in the field. Capacity LLC’s co-founder and CSO Thom Campbell has plenty to say on the subject and, with more than a decade at the top of the industry, his insights are valuable to anyone just starting out. Continue reading Unpacking: Skills Needed for Supply Chain Management

August 1, 2014

Continuing our #Unpacking series, today we take the tech out of supply chain terminology.

A great deal of technological wizardry goes into getting your goods from A to B (and C and D and etc.), but it need not be as baffling as some of the acronyms and industry lingo make out.

Here to help you bust that jargon is a clarification on some of the terminology you’re sure to hear as you liaise with logistics partners. Continue reading Unpacking: Supply Chain Tech Talk