May 5, 2011, 10:17 AM

Goodwill gets better at order fulfillment

The retailer cut the time it takes to prepare a shipping label.

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Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin Counties says its use of labeling software from Endicia, a fulfillment services company, has shaved more than four minutes off the time it takes to prepare an online order for shipping.

Long known for selling donated clothing and goods in retail stores, the San Francisco-area Goodwill organization began selling online via eBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. storefronts in 2006. Today, the retailer sells thousands of products, such as books, movies and games, a year.

Preparing a shipping label five years ago took about five minutes, says Johnny Cochran, Goodwill e-commerce manager. When the site’s sales volumes were about five orders a day, that process was time-consuming, but not problematic.  But as the site’s order volume increased to as many as 1,000 orders a day that system wasn’t sustainable.

Enter Endicia. The vendor’s process takes about five seconds. It works by using the shipping information the customer entered online to create shipping labels as the orders are processed. Cochran’s operation also uses shipping software from Intelligent Business Systems LLC to determine the proper postage to print on the Endicia-produced labels.

“This allows us to focus on how to get the item packed and shipped as fast as possible,” Cochran says.

Goodwill, though it has a mission to help people acquire skills to rejoin the workforce, has to meet business goals, such as prompt order fulfillment to meet the expectations of online shoppers, he says.

“If someone buys a product from Goodwill’s Amazon storefront they would expect the same level of service as if he bought the item from Amazon,” he says. “Just because we’re a nonprofit doesn’t give us a pass from the customer.”

Cochran says the software will help Goodwill reach its annual e-commerce revenue goal of $2.5 million this year.

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