Order Fulfillment, Small Package Carriers, Technology Case Study, CMS Globalsoft, FedEx, Manifesting, Shipping
Today FedEx released a new case study featuring ProPack and CMS Globalsoft (makers of ProPack’s manifest system, WorldLink). This article is available on the FedEx website and provides great exposure for ProPack.
Check out the FedEx case study at: http://images.fedex.com/images/us/2011crimages/compatible_solutions/content/CaseStudy_ProPack_v1.pdf
Inventory Management, Order Fulfillment, Technology 3PL, FedEx Ground, Logistics, Ogden, Order Fulfillment, Salt Lake City, UPS Ground, Utah, Warehousing
As of this past June 11th, ProPack’s new warehouse in Ogden, UT has been live and running. Located 45 minutes north of Salt Lake City, Ogden is ProPack’s first out of state expansion from our corporate headquarters in Blaine, WA. As well Ogden represents the first step in ProPack’s goal to build a distribution model that can reach the whole Unites States in two days ground.
ProPack’s Ogden warehouse consists of 45,000 square feet with room to grow. The facility offers warehousing, order fulfillment, cross docking and storage to our clients. All inventory is location managed and all orders are scanned at the location, SKU and lot number level.
The main benefit of Ogden is its ability to deliver FedEx Ground and UPS Ground packages in two business days to all zip codes west of Colorado. This positions Ogden, UT in a prime location to save clients on air shipments to West Coast customers.
ProPack is excited about its new Ogden facility and the added value and reduced costs Ogden will offer to our clients.
Client Interface, Technology 3rd Party Logistics, Freight, Order Fulfillment, Technology
ProPack is in an ever ongoing quest to improve the client experience in our online system, known as P3PL (ProPack 3rd Party Logistics). The first change we’ve done this year is to add a menu bar to our client interface. This menu bar takes the place of the static buttons that existed at the top of the screen, allows clients to more quickly access their different pages and provides a much more scalable environment for future system expansion.
The old button environment dates back to P3PL’s inception in 2004 and has been an admitted week point in our client interface over the years. Buttons for specific client groups would need to be shown or hidden based on which group was logged in and adding new pages meant having to physically configure new buttons with appropriate logic.
The new dynamic menu bar allow us to show each client group exactly what they need to see whether they are a fulfillment, freight, cross dock or storage client. It also allows for the quick addition of new pages to the client system specific to the appropriate client group.
There are going to be many enhancements to our client interface over the next six months. Our goal is that our clients will fine their portal into our system a highly valuable part of their business function that helps them save costs and add value to their supply chain.
Carrier Rates, Small Package Carriers, Southbound Forwarding, Technology Canadan Shipping, Cross Border Forwarding, Customs, DHL, FedEx, Manifest, Online, Southbound Forwarding, Supply Chain, Technology, UPS, US Border, US Mail
ProPack’s southbound forwarding program allows Canadian companies access to domestic US shipping rates from within Canada. Packages that would have otherwise been shipped internationally from Canada to the US instead are shipped from within the US at a fraction of the cost. ProPack has had this program successfully in place for several years with clients in southwestern British Columbia saving significantly on their US shipping costs.
Traditionally with the southbound forwarding program Canadian companies have forwarded their packages to ProPack’s Blaine, WA location along with a list of ship-to addresses. Each shipment is received, matched up with its paperwork and processed individually in Blaine.
ProPack is now pilot testing a new version of the program where Canadian companies log into ProPack’s online manifest system and process their packages from within Canadian. These processed packages are then couriered down to ProPack where they are simply transferred to their respective FedEx, UPS or US Mail trucks.
This new approach cuts out the sorting, paperwork matching and processes at ProPack’s end. Streamlining the process greatly speeds up turnaround time and allows for almost all packages processed within Canada to ship domestically from ProPack on the same day. Also by processes shipments themselves ProPack’s Canadian clients have instant access to all their shipment, tracking and charge information before their shipments leave their facilities.
A summary of benefits to ProPack’s southbound forwarding program are:
- Lower Shipping Costs; Domestic US Rates for FedEx, UPS and US Mail
- Same Day Service
- Extended Cutoff Times
- Wide Range of Shipping Services
- Work with Local Companies
- Online Visibility to Tracking Numbers and Shipping Charges
- Returns Program Available
To find out more please visit our website at: http://www.propack.com/warehouse-services/southbound-forwarding.aspx
Technology Data Inegration, ERP Systems, Inventory, Order Entry, Shopping Carts, Virtual Logsitcs, Web Services
For the past five years ProPack has employed Microsoft Web Services to allow our clients to submit orders, check inventory and retrieve shipment info through a direct web-to-web connection. We’ve had a number of clients take advantage of this service and be very happy with the result. However, there is still development work that must be done at the client end that sometimes creates implementation barriers due to cost, time and access to development talent.
Recently ProPack has partnered with a company called Virtual Logistics out of Toronto. Virtual Logistics specializes in integrations between shopping carts and ERP systems and has successfully integrated their platform with ProPack’s web services. Now any company who integrates with Virtual Logistics will automatically have full access to orders, inventory and shipments within P3PL (ProPack’s online customer interface). Virtual Logistics is connected to a number of shopping cart services such as Amazon, EBay, Volusion, Infusionsoft, Secured.com, Paypal, 3dcart and Magento, and can setup a new connection to any company not currently on their list.
ProPack has already gotten one client setup and successfully submitting orders through this system. The client in question has been trying for the last four years to find an automated solution between their shopping cart and P3PL and is very happy with the new service. ProPack also has a second client who is all setup, tested and ready to begin anytime now.
The benefit to a current or new client in using Virtual Logistics and ProPack’s web services is that orders will directly flow from client’s site into P3PL. As well inventory values and shipping information can flow back to to the site from P3PL. Virtual Logistics will act as a middle-ware component between the client and P3PL. This streamlining of information flow will add value through quicker information turnaround and reduce costs in time spent importing orders through conventional means.
Virtual Logistics charges a setup fee as well as a monthly service fee. They can setup a new account independent of ProPack and assist in any customizations that are needed. Please feel free to check out their website at www.virtuallogistics.ca, blog at http://blog.virtuallogistics.ca, or email Robin Smith at email@example.com.
Technology Customer Service, Logistics, P3PL, Task Management, WMS
Built within P3PL is the Task Management Tool used internally by ProPack to streamline internal processes, saving our clients valuable time and money. The Task Management Tool allows us to create task records that that can be assigned to specific departments and individuals for any internal task. These records can be related to a specific client, a specific order, SKU or job.
An example would be creating a task to monitor the progress of a carrier call tag on our clients behalf. The call tag is created and is initially assigned to the Returns Department. Once the call tag is received and logged, the task is updated and immediately in real time reassigned to the Customer Service Department (from where our clients are notified).
Another example would be creating a task for a client inventory request. Through the Task Management Tool we can schedule the physical inventory count, report the results and make necessary updates quickly and efficiently. Creating the task within the Task Management Tool will automatically notify the owner or department so that the task can be scheduled at the most efficient time of the day.
Each new task record allows us to add a category, assign a priority level, input a due date, add notes along the way and manage the time spent working on a specific task with a stop watch and direct billing feature. All of these features allow us to perform tasks more rapidly and proficiently, saving our clients and ProPack valued time and money.
Technology 3PL, Blaine WA, Canada, Freight, Fulfillment, Third Party Logistics, Warehousing
If you have a business in Western Canada that ships product to customers in the US, there is a good chance you need a quality Third Party Logistics partner on the US side of the border. ProPack offers cutting edge order fulfillment, freight forwarding and warehouse cross dock services designed to get your product to your US customers quickly and accurately. Please go to our website to find out more, at www.propack.com.
ProPack is located in Blaine Washington, less than one mile from the US-Canada border. The company has been in business for 20 years. We make use of very robust custom built technology to achieve a high level of accuracy and speed. This technology also provides online visibility to your supply chain activity. We take the stress out of the distribution part of your business to allow you more time for marketing and product development.
Freight Forwarding, Technology Billing, Freight Forwarding, Online Access, Online Interface, Quoting, Technology, Tracking
This week, ProPack is launching our new online freight forwarding interface. This new system exists within our current online WMS (warehouse management system) and is available to any of our clients who ship through our freight program. It pulls directly from our freight management system and represents real-time information about freight shipments at ProPack.
ProPack’s new freight forwarding portal contains four main value-added areas for our clients: quoting, work orders, tracking and billing.
Clients can submit requests for quotes directly to ProPack’s freight department. Our qualified freight forwards are notified instantly when a new request is put through and respond within a hour. Once a request has been quoted by ProPack’s team, clients can then authorize those quotes through the online interface, thus directing ProPack to begin forwarding the freight. All quotes are visible online, along with built-in search and reporting capabilities.
Work Order Management
Clients can view all their current and past freight work orders online via the new interface. All details contained within the work orders like consignee and shipper information, weights and dims, and billing information are represented. Clients can search for individual work order numbers or filter the work order log based on a variety of criteria.
All of ProPack’s freight shipments are tracked individually by our freight department. This information is entered into our freight management system and will now be available online. Clients will be able to view their “In Transit” shipments, “Delivered” shipments, tracking details and notes, as well as filter and search through the tracking records. Finally, PODs (Proof of Delivery) will be scanned into our system and made available online for download via PDF.
The final component of ProPack’s new freight online interface is billing. Clients will have online access to their pending and paid work orders. They will be able to view billing information and accessorial fees as well as reprint invoices. As with the other areas of the interface, they will be able to search for and filter by a variety of different criteria.
After seven years of providing online access to our order fulfillment customers, ProPack is excited to be offering the same technology and online visibility to our freight customers. Our new interface will add value to the services we provide and reduces the costs of our freight customers by giving them easier access to their information.
For more information please visit our website at www.propack.com.
Order Fulfillment, Technology 3rd Party Logistics, Order Fulfillment, Packaging, Returns, Shipping, Technology, Warehousing
Product returns go hand-in-hand with shipping orders. Anyone who orders a product online assumes that they can somehow return that product if it becomes defective or is not what they ordered. Thus, companies shipping product need to be prepared to receive and process returns. When these same companies use a fulfillment warehouse they need to be aware of the returns processing capabilities of their 3rd party provider.
Returns come in a variety of flavors. A shipment can be refused by a consignee and returned to its sender. Likewise, there can be a bad address, causing the shipment to be returned. In both cases the package was not opened and the product can simply be returned to the shelf in the warehouse. Otherwise, a consignee can receive a shipment and later decide to return all or part of the items in the shipment. In this case, an RMS number is often issued by the company along with an address and instructions for how and where to return the item.
The warehouse receiving the return needs to be prepared to quickly receive, identify and report on its contents and condition. Returns must be processed swiftly since the customer is waiting to get a credit back for their purchase. Online visibility is also key for the company to monitor their returns through the process.
ProPack has built a complete returns processing system for receiving, processing and providing online visibility to all client returns. Returns are first entered into our system, complete with an inventory of each item contained within. Clients then receive an email detailing the return and its contents. Once the client authorizes action on the return, its contents are then returned to the shelf, discarded, returned to the customer or held for further inspection. This whole process is visible online along with a complete history of a client’s returns.
Returns are an intricate part of picking, packing and shipping orders. At ProPack, we’ve invested in technology and systems to quickly and effectively drive our returns process. Our added online access allows clients to manage the returns process with complete transparency. This reduces costs and adds value for our clients, allowing them to focus on selling more product and shipping more orders.
For more information please visit our website at www.propack.com.
Technology Development, Logistics, Make or Buy, Systems, Warehousing
Every logistics company is at sometime faced with the make or buy question. Does a company custom build their own software specifically for their business needs and incur all related costs? Or does that company purchases their software from a vendor and alter their business practices to fit within the new system’s capabilities? This is a debate that’s ongoing with companies advocating very strong for either side. In end the answer is no less frustrating; it depends.
Custom building software from the ground up is time consuming, full of surprises and delays, and enormously expensive. Small companies can become swallowed in the cost overruns that enviably accompany any complete business system project. $50,000 systems can turn into $500,000 systems with still no end in site. For these smaller companies it is often better to purchase existing systems with set prices and support contracts.
Off the shelf systems limit their users to the system’s capabilities. These system can often be modified, but modifications are almost as expensive as building systems from scratch. The rule of thumb is purchased systems can supply the user with 90 to 95% of what they need to perform their business function. The problem is that extra 5 to 10% could provide the business with the additional edge they need to be competitive in their marketplace. This is why for larger businesses it is often better to custom build their software to ensure that their exact business needs can be met.
So what does the medium sized business do? They are not large enough to allocate the funds to building completely customized systems. Yet they need the competitive edge provided by customized technology to meet their specific business needs, stay competitive and continue growing. They’re stuck between being too big not to do anything and to small to be able to weather unforeseen cost overruns.
At ProPack we’ve met this challenge head on! The answer is to divide your systems between those that add value to your business and customers and those that simply run you business operations. Thus accounting, payroll, time keeping, email, etc can all be handled by industry standard systems which are widely available, reasonably price and easy to support. However, systems for forwarding freight, receiving packages, managing inventory, picking orders and shipping packages are very unique and critical to our operation. We’ve custom built or heavily modified these systems to service our unique client base and give ourselves that extra competitive advantage.
Choosing the “make” option can be a challenging avenue to head down. Yet the reward for both the company and their clients/customers is substantial. With ProPack’s technology we’ve been able to rise above our competitors and offer our client’s with business solutions that reduce their supply chain costs and add value to their brands.
For more information please visit our website at www.propack.com.