June 13, 2008, 12:00 AM

Reducing extra footsteps can lead the way to savings for merchants

Small businesses can improve their operations at low cost by streamlining picking and packing processes to reduce extra footsteps, according to speakers at IRCE 2008.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Online retailers can save time and money by making their fulfillment processes more efficient, ScrapYourTrip.com President Julie Swatek told attendees this week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

Small businesses can improve their operations at low cost by streamlining picking and packing processes to reduce extra footsteps, according to speakers at IRCE 2008. Online retailers can save time and money by making their fulfillment processes more efficient, ScrapYourTrip.com president Julie Swatek told attendees this week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago.

During the session, “Running a Small E-Commerce Business: Practical, Real-world Tips and Tricks,” Swatek described how her company reduced packing time from 15 minutes to 90 seconds for an order purchased on the web site which specializes in theme-specific scrapbooking merchandise. Changes included picking more than one order a time and pre-sorting packages based on delivery method, such as FedEx, priority mail or UPS, so that employees can more quickly package and prepare labels and other documentation. These improvements were recommended by graduate business students at Rollins College in Florida who focused on ScrapYourTrip.com as a class project.

Swatek was joined by Stone Edge Technologies Inc. president Barney Stone who told attendees that small businesses can improve operations in other low-cost ways, such as posting shipment goals which has been shown to boost productivity by 15%, picking multiple orders at a time so that employees can complete several orders with only one trip through a warehouse, and keeping best-selling products near packing stations.

In addition to improving the picking and packing process, Swatek stressed the importance of customer service. She said she includes handwritten thank you notes in every ScrapYourTrip.com order.

“Personalized touches contribute to repeat buyers,” said Swatek. “I received validation from a customer who told me ‘I know that for five minutes that day, someone was thinking of me.’” ScrapYourTrip.com, an Orlando-based e-commerce site, has grown to $1 million in revenue annually and 13 employees.

Swatek also credited Stone Edge order management software, which cost her company $25,000, with improving her business. The company was founded in 2002.

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