Do You Meet Drop Ship Order Expectations Every Time?

OPAL is the first and only smart platform that combines all of the needed drop ship automation capabilities into one place.  It , requires no human intervention, works 365×24, automates and enhances your ERP order processing capability, is fully compliant with all on-line marketplace requirements, provides document data translation and transmission without errors at zero cost, and works with your 3PL or warehouse to provide all labels and information needed to pick, pack, ship and track an order. And, best of all, it will process those drop ship orders in less than 8 seconds.

This kind of automation has become a necessity.  On-line marketplaces (Wayfair.com, Overstock.com, Walmart.com, Amazon.com, etc. etc.) all have increasingly high expectations.  After all, they need to enhance their brand, move ahead of their competition and reduce their order cost to a minimum.  More and more, they want their suppliers to drop ship from their own warehouse rather than one of their fulfillment centers, provide acknowledgement, tracking number, ship it in three (3) days maximum, provide accurate invoicing and provide them with accurate item inventory updates.

Unfortunately the tools they give you to do this are cumbersome and labor intensive, causing most suppliers to cobble a variety of technologies together to ease that labor intensity – all of which usually still requires some level of dedicated staff and time to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Consumer expectations, as well, are getting higher almost every day.  If they order something at 3:00am Saturday morning, they want to see an acknowledgement, tracking number and expected delivery date right away.  They also expect to receive that order in a few days at most.

Drop Shipping is difficult, costly and all too often not as profitable as it should be. A big part of that comes from everything required to meet your customer’s expectations.  You need process management and automation to succeed. There IS a better way to do this!  OPAL can do this!

Are You Meeting Customer Expectations?

Drop Shipping is difficult, costly and all too often not as profitable as it should be.  That is a universal truth.  A big part of that comes from everything required to meet your customer’s expectations.  And by “customer” I mean not only the end consumer that you’re shipping to, but also the retail marketplace that you are using to reach the consumer.

Consumer expectations are getting higher almost every day.  If they order something at 3:00am Saturday morning, they want to see an acknowledgement, tracking number and expected delivery date very quickly.  They also expect to receive that order in a few days at most.

Marketplaces also have increasingly high expectations.  After all, they need to enhance their brand, move ahead of their competition and reduce their order cost to a minimum.  More and more, they want their suppliers to drop ship from their own warehouse rather than one of their fulfillment centers, provide acknowledgement, tracking number, ship it in three (3) days maximum, provide accurate invoicing and provide them with accurate item inventory updates.

Unfortunately the tools they give you to do this are cumbersome and labor intensive, causing most suppliers to cobble disparate technologies together to ease some of that labor intensity.  This usually includes things like an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP system), a method to translate, send and receive data to / from the marketplace, software to automate management of that data and software to communicate with shipping carriers – all of which usually still requires some level of dedicated staff and time to ensure everything goes smoothly.

In 2014, a drop ship supplier experiencing these growing customer expectations and technology challenges, came to us, Cityon Systems, a software development company, and said “there has to be a better way to do this!”  

This led to the birth of OPAL, the first and only smart platform that combines all of the needed capabilities into one place for drop shipping.  It automates and enhances your ERP order processing capability, requires no human intervention, works 365×24, is fully compliant with all marketplace requirements, provides document data translation and transmission without errors at zero cost, and works with your 3PL or warehouse to provide all labels and information needed to pick, pack, ship and track an order.

And, best of all, it will process those drop ship orders in less than 8 seconds.

Simple Drop Shipping

You receive an order, pick it, pack it and ship it to the consumer.  That is simple drop shipping.  Unfortunately, reality is never that simple.  To be cost efficient you need automation.  And by that I mean DROP SHIPPING AUTOMATION THAT DOES EVERYTHING FOR YOU WITHOUT THE INTERVENTION OF ORDER PROCESSING PERSONNEL.  For example, does your software AUTOMATICALLY:

ü  Retrieve the order (EDI 850) from the Retailer?

ü  Acknowledge the order (EDI 997) to the Retailer?

ü  Notify you if there’s an exception?

ü  Finalize the order requirements?

ü  Determine packaging requirements for the shipment?

ü  Create a Sales Order or Invoice in your accounting system?

ü  Generate and print a Pick List?

ü  Generate and print Shipping Labels?

ü  Generate and print 3rd party Packing Slips?

ü  Send the order confirmation (EDI 855) to the Retailer?

ü  Send the ASN to Retailer (EDI 856)?

ü  Invoice the Retailer (EDI 810)

ü  Send item inventory to the Retailer (EDI 846)

You may think you are automated because you have a sophisticated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or you may simply be using QuickBooks for accounting and inventory.  You may also have software applications that help manage shipping and labels. 

The problem is that this automation still requires trained order processing personnel to manage each step or, even worse, they may have to duplicate the entry of information into each software application opening the door for human error.

And then, of course, there’s EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) when it’s required to do business with a particular customer.  This can take two basic forms:  First the EDI provider you’re working with may be simply providing a secure translation and data exchange for you, such as a Value Added Network (VAN) or they may be a full service EDI provider that has integrated with your business processes and help you manage order processing.  In either case, it just means more complexity and cost.

Automation, real automation, is a necessary part of growing your business.  When your business is seamlessly connected the possibilities for growth become evident and easy to achieve.  OPAL can help you do this by knowing the business compliance requirements of every retailer, processing your drop ship orders in less than 8 seconds, 24 hours a day, with 100% EDI compliance and zero EDI document costs.  Please visit us at www.opal-llc.com or call us at 469-661-2407 to schedule a 15 minute demonstration and see what it can do for you.

7 Drop Ship Automation Imperatives

Chances are that you’ve automated your e-commerce, drop ship business.  But, what does automation mean to you and how automated are you?

 The truth is that automation should eliminate the problems, complexities and costs of drop shipping and do things like: 

  • Require little to no trained staff to manage order fulfillment.
  • Plug in to and enhance the existing investment in your ERP or accounting / inventory automation software and fill in the missing gaps.
  • Be intelligent and self-managing so that orders are processed accurately and in seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – even when there’s no one in the office.  
  • Communicate with your customers via EDI without needing a 3rd party to charge you for EDI documents.  
  • Automatically communicate with shipping carriers and alert you to shipment status.
  • Easily plug into your warehouse pick, pack and ship operations.
  • Not only automate but simplify the way you work.

You may think you are automated because you have a sophisticated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or you may simply be using QuickBooks for accounting and inventory.  You also have software applications that help manage shipping and labels.  

The problem is that this automation still requires trained order processing personnel to manage each step or, even worse, they may have to duplicate the entry of information into each software application opening the door for human error. 

And then, of course, there’s EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) when it’s required to do business with a particular customer.  This can take two basic forms:  First the EDI provider you’re working with may be simply providing a secure translation and data exchange for you, such as a Value Added Network (VAN) or they may be a full service EDI provider that has integrated with your business processes and help you manage order processing.  In either case, it just means more complexity and cost. 

Automation, real automation, is a necessary part of growing your business.  When your business is seamlessly connected the possibilities for growth become evident and easy to achieve.  OPAL can help you do this.

Obstacles to a Supplier’s E-Commerce Success

Retailers must offer the lowest cost of order processed compared to their competition.  It’s an imperative and we see it permeating the market all the time in different ways:  Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com to improve its speed and agility, Sears removing the cost barrier of mandating CommerceHub as the EDI portal that its suppliers must use to work with them, and the list goes on.  

A big part of achieving this goal for retailers is migrating their suppliers into a drop ship e-commerce model.  After all, retailers don’t need to spend a single penny when utilizing drop shipping – it’s an extremely convenient transaction for them.  Retailers simply ask the customer to fill out an order form and then submit it to their suppliers for sorting and fulfillment. And lastly, but critically important, retailers don’t have to worry about having a large warehouse to store products. 

There are drop shipping advantages for the supplier of course, but it also creates a number of obstacles that can be very difficult to overcome:

  • A dramatic increase in order volume and the speed in which they must be processed
  • The additional cost of processing all of those additional orders can seriously impact profitability
  • Often, there’s lost revenue opportunity due to limited order processing capacity
  • And, it’s very difficult to maintain the correct inventory presentation across many retailers which can lead to underselling or overselling. 

All of this can impact your key business metrics in the areas of:

  • Profitability per SKU
  • Chargebacks
  • Scorecards
  • Number of customer complaints
  • Number of delayed shipments
  • Number of cancelled orders
  • Inventory accuracy
  • AND COST PER ORDER.

There are a number of perennial solutions to these issues such as ERP systems and / or third-part supply chain management companies like SPS Commerce or CommerceHub.  Unfortunately, all of these solutions still require trained staff to manage the process AND cuts into your product profitability when drop shipping.

What’s needed is an extension to an ERP’s order processing capability so that you can truly automate order processing, sales orders, invoicing, inventory tracking and connect directly with your retailers and e-tailers without EDI translation and transmission fees and the need for trained order processing personnel.

The Pain of Drop Shipping – Why Suffer?

The rapidly expanding number of Manufacturers and Suppliers adopting OPAL all come with common business problems that they are trying to solve:

  • They are drop shipping a large number of orders daily.
  • EDI vendor cost and order processing labor is seriously impacting the profitability of these orders.
  • Their order processing capacity is limited by their number of staff available.
  • They need to add more staff to keep up.
  • Someone needs to perform manual steps to process each order.  This often includes things like downloading orders from a retailer portal, loading them into their ERP, going to the portal again to send Acknowledgments, Ship Notices, Invoices and Inventory Updates, creating Packing Slips, using a 3rd party application for Shipping Labels, etc.  

Then there’s the profitability issue.  With an average cost of $7 – $11 including warehouse handling and order processing labor for a drop ship order it’s really difficult to squeeze out any profit at all on some items, and it certainly impacts the profitability of ALL items.  

They also really needed to be able to execute “perfect orders”.  Essentially, everything stopped when an order went wrong, forcing them to spend an enormous amount of time and effort researching and correcting the problem and, very often, incurring the expense of a call tag to retrieve the incorrect item and expedited shipping of the product that didn’t arrive when or where it was supposed to. Then, to top it all off, their Vendor Score Card suffered and they were a disappointment to the consumer. 

OPAL became their solution of choice for several reasons:  It enabled them to process a drop ship order in less than 8 seconds without an order processing intervention, to automatically receive orders from retailers, e-tailers, shopping carts and / or B2B partners, manage all of their EDI transactions, process and invoice orders through their ERP and accounting system, create packing slips and custom branded 3rd party shipping labels and get them to the warehouse for pick, pack and ship – 24 hours per day, seven days per week – even when there’s no one in the office.  

It even enabled them to do all of that WITHOUT ANY EDI DOCUMENT COST from a 3rd party EDI vendor.

Overall, it dramatically increased their profitability, increased the quality of their service, was configured to meet their internal business processes, eliminated the need for 3rd party shipping applications, was easy to implement and paid for itself VERY quickly. Does this sound worthwhile to you?