Retailers have teased and rolled out online deals for days, even weeks, but the real Black Friday is here.
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Now, with the benefit of web-integration technology that can automatically pull information from address and shipment databases, the Flagship system lets the retailer process virtually all orders for “saver” shipments, and automatically re-send them through the higher-priced delivery method only when it detects that the ZIP code of the intended destination is not scheduled for a “saver” air delivery service.
“Using next-day air saver instead of next-day air is a huge cost savings for both us and customers,” Coon says.
Vermont Teddy Bear, which had $41 million in 2005 sales, didn’t reveal the cost of its Kewill Flagship system. But the Flagship’s cost generally starts at a licensing fee of about $25,000 and can go as high as $250,000 based on the shipper’s number of distribution centers and carriers and its global reach of deliveries, Zaenglein says.
Although the Flagship system has been considered ideal for Calyx & Corolla and its fresh flowers, Vermont Teddy Bear plans to roll it out for all of its operating units, including VermonTeddyBear.com, Tastygram.com and Pajamagram.com, Coon says. “Our vision is that every line of business will use Flagship to support shipping,” he says. “One of the objectives is not to be tied to any carrier. If Fedex offers us a better level of service on any day, we want to be ready to go with them.”
Delivering for small retailers
While larger retailers can streamline their shipping management with web-enabled systems from providers like Kewill and Pitney Bowes, which offers the web-based Ascent Multi-Carrier Package Management application, there are lower-cost options for retailers looking to benefit from streamlined shipping management without all the bells and whistles of rate-shopping and other features. Toy retailer Kazoo & Co., for instance, has realized a 99% accuracy rate in shipments, up from about 95%, since implementing the World Ship shipping management system from UPS over a year ago, says president and owner Diana Nelson.
Kazoo, which operates one store at its base in Denver, does most of its sales through KazooToys.com, which sits on a Yahoo Stores platform and does under $5 million a year in sales. Specializing in selling items not typically found in toy stores, Kazoo has been growing at an annual rate of over 200% for the past few years, but, like many small retailers, it has struggled with the chore of re-keying customer data from its order management system into its shipping system, resulting in extra labor costs and order inaccuracies, Nelson says.
The World Ship system is directly integrated with the Yahoo Stores platform, which lets Kazoo electronically transfer its online customer orders within seconds directly into World Ship, Nelson says. “We don’t have to re-enter names and addresses, and it saves us a lot of time,” she says. Customer testimonials linked from KazooToys.com’s home page applaud the retailer’s delivery service.
Kazoo formerly handled shipping duties with a shipping manager and three shift crews of 5-6 employees each, but since deploying the UPS World Ship system early last year has been able to cut the size of its crews to only 2-3 employees, Nelson says.