10/17/05

How CampingWorld.com saved Katrina orders from getting misplaced

When the Katrina and Rita hurricanes hit, CampingWorld configured its fraud-prevention system to prevent orders to hurricane-impacted ZIP codes from getting stuck in carriers’ warehouses.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

When the Katrina and Rita hurricanes hit, Camping World Inc.’s CampingWorld.com configured its fraud-prevention system to prevent orders to hurricane-impacted ZIP codes from getting stuck in carriers’ warehouses. For orders already being processed in the fulfillment center, the CWDirect system from Commercial Ware Inc. can abort orders by ZIP code by preventing them from proceeding to the pick-and-pack operation.

“When Katrina hit New Orleans, everyone was scrambling to see how to keep shipments from going there,” director of corporate data Mike Hall tells Internet Retailer. “We realized it would be better to keep our products in our temperature-controlled warehouse instead of in a UPS or FedEx holding facility.”

CampingWorld specializes in selling equipment like power generators, awnings and refrigerators for recreational vehicles, items that remained in demand in areas impacted by last summer’s hurricanes. Although it sent some equipment to the impacted areas as part of organized relief efforts, it needed to find a way to prevent incoming web orders from being fulfilled for shipment to areas where its carriers had suspended deliveries.

CampingWorld is using an order entry/customer service module in the CWDirect system. Sitting on an IBM iSeries platform on a corporate intranet, the CWDirect system replaces a home-grown system that didn’t offer the flexibility and integration the retailer needed to control outgoing orders, Hall says.

Through the CWDirect web front end, CampingWorld enters ZIP codes provided by UPS, FedEx and other carriers that indicate destinations with suspended delivery services. If online orders request shipment to those ZIP codes, the CWDirect system automatically puts those orders on a “Katrina hold” mode to prevent them from being passed to a fulfillment center. The system is also designed to hold orders to ZIP codes suspected of having a high incidence of fraudulent orders, Hall says

In addition to protecting inventory, the system also serves to maintain customer relationships, Hall says. Because the system matches orders in real time with ZIP codes blocked for shipping, CampingWorld has the ability to immediately inform online or call center customers that their order will be on hold, and that they’ll get an e-mail notification as soon as it’s cleared for shipping.

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