Even the best-laid plans for melding e-commerce systems and electronic data interchange can drastically change mid-stream.
Susquehanna Glass, a glassware wholesaler and provider of custom glass-etching, engraving and cutting services, learned that lesson in 2018 when it landed a major new client after starting to integrate its ecommerce, EDI and fulfillment systems into one system for all its customers.
Rick Anders, Susquehanna’s IT manager, says Susquehanna had expected the glassware client to generate huge daily order volumes but learned it also had unique requirements for its shipping labels. As a result, Susquehanna found itself unexpectedly searching for a fulfillment system capable of meeting its new client’s needs and pivoting 180 degrees to re-channel all its efforts from its ecommerce/EDI integration toward its new client.
The two biggest challenges Susquehanna faced were ramping up fulfillment to 4,000 orders per day—which dwarfs the 400 to 500 daily orders the company previously filled—and printing a 3×5-inch shipping label, which is an odd size, for its client’s packages, Anders says. Complicating matters was that Susquehanna’s existing shipping application took more than three minutes to produce a shipping label.
Printing labels in 23 seconds
At that rate, Susquehanna would not be able to print enough labels to meet the daily order volume of its new client, which it declined to name. To get labels produced as fast as needed, which is about 23 seconds, Anders says, Susquehanna worked with TrueCommerce to combine its e-commerce, EDI and fulfillment applications into one system through TruCommerce’s Foundry platform.
After looking at the capabilities of its existing fulfillment application, Susquehanna Glass opted to install TrueCommerce’s Pack & Ship application. A web-based, multi-carrier fulfillment application, Pack & Ship allows manufacturers to integrate e-commerce and EDI channels with back-office software systems and customer service to speed fulfillment, and simplify compliance with customer requirements. Earlier, Susquehanna Glass had been working with TrueCommerce to integrate EDI for Sage 100 enterprise resource planning software, replacing a homegrown file transfer protocol-based solution in 2016. File transfer protocol, or FTP, is a common network protocol for transferring files over the internet.
The implementation of Pack & Ship, which went live in January, allows Susquehanna Glass to receive orders via an EDI connection in a Microsoft Excel file and automatically import them into Sage in the proper format. Next, Sage 100 sends the information to the Pack & Ship module.
Once the order ships, the order-tracking information is updated in Sage 100, allowing Susquehanna to forward to its clients advance shipping notices, which notify customers of a pending delivery and provide tracking and packing information.
“This is a smoother, more hands-off data transfer process,” Anders says. “It’s fast and effective.”
Integrating with Nexternal ecommece software
Susquehanna Glass is in the process of implementing TrueCommerce’s Nexternal e-commerce application for its own online storefront presence, TrueCommerce says.
While Susquehanna Glass is currently using TrueCommerce for one client, the integration of TrueCommerce EDI and Nexternal to Sage 100 opens the door for the company to handle digital orders for other clients regardless of whether customers placed orders through EDI, ecommerce sites or online marketplaces, or with customer service representatives, says Josh Wayne, vice president of commerce products for TrueCommerce.
This allows Susquehanna to consolidate the steps required to fulfill orders and comply with its customers’ demands in a standard operating procedure, Wayne says. With Susquehanna Glass’s compliance needs met largely by the integration and shipping rules defined in advance, they can concentrate on the right things at the right time, he adds.
Despite the benefits of its new fulfillment system, Susquehanna Glass has no immediate plans to roll it out to other existing clients, according to Anders. Instead, orders from those clients will be filled through StarShip, a multi-carrier shipping system that integrates with myriad ERP, e-commerce platforms and accounting systems. The company was using Starship prior to implementing Pack & Ship.
Implementation of TrueCommerce’s fulfillment system has allowed Susquehanna Glass to service a client it could not have serviced otherwise with its pre-existing fulfillment system, while continuing to servicing other clients, Anders says. He says the new client is likely to increase, and even double, its daily order volume.
“The volume we are getting from our new client is a big change for us, but we can still satisfy all our existing clients while we also pursue profits from this new volume we previously couldn’t handle,” Anders says. “If we were to land another client with this kind of volume, we’d certainly put them on this system.”
Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.
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