April 11, 2008, 12:00 AM

How GiftsForYouNow.com cuts shipping costs

GiftsForYouNow.com, a personalized products retailer, expedites fulfillment while cutting costs through basic steps like using flexible packaging materials and eliminating redundant steps in package handling, says general manager Chuck Albanese.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

GiftsForYouNow.com, a personalized product retailer that sells such items such as sweatshirts, picture frames and coffee mugs, has found ways to expedite fulfillment and cut costs through such basic steps as using flexible packaging materials and eliminating redundant steps in package handling, says general manager Chuck Albanese. “We’re constantly working on how to get products out the door better and faster,” he says.

Instead of shipping sweatshirts in boxes as it had in the past, GiftsForYouNow.com now sends them in flexible vinyl pouches that can be easily folded to fit a product’s size and shape, Albanese says. When it does ship items in boxes, it’s replacing craft paper as protective packaging material with much lighter plastic air pillows. The result is lower overall package weight, plus the ability to load more products onto a truck, leading to an estimated 10% savings in shipping fees, or about 50 to 60 cents per package, Albanese says.

The retailer also recently found that a fulfillment step designed for accurate packing was slowing down some orders. With about 4,000 variations of products, including all of its personalization techniques, GiftsForYouNow.com often ships several items in a single order. The company had a long-standing policy of routing all finished products to a common staging area, so that all items in an order could be packed together.

The system works well for most orders. But the retailer has rearranged package flow to let single-item orders skip the common staging area and go to a new designated packing and shipping area. “Now we get single orders out a day earlier,” Albanese says.

GiftsForYouNow.com also has reduced shipping costs by about 14% by partnering with Newgistics for consolidating shipments and forwarding them to the U.S. Postal Service for local delivery, Albanese says.

Once the retailer’s orders are picked, packed and ready to go, Newgistics takes skids of orders to its own facility, where it sorts them by size and weight to minimize U.S.P.S. local delivery fees. The retailer then forwards the orders to either a Postal Service bulk mail center or the local post office closest to the customer’s address.

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