Smarter e-Commerce Fulfillment: A Smart Investment

Analytics specific to e-commerce fulfillment can save companies money and help meet customers expectations.

Analytics specific to e-commerce fulfillment can save companies money and help meet customers expectations. That’s a smart investment! Image courtesy of Grand Canals.

I love to shop on-line. When I order on-line, like everyone else, I look for fast, low-cost or even free shipping. Amazon has taught us to expect that, and reliable, on-time arrival goes without saying. By the way, I want easy returns too. It’s great for consumers, but not necessarily so great for companies selling on-line. As consumers or business customers our expectations are extremely high, and few sellers can match Amazon’s capabilities. While customer expectations rise, so do carriers’ prices. It’s a squeeze for those selling on-line or fulfilling orders.

How can other businesses compete successfully? That’s a question that Grand Canals has set out to answer. As with so many other questions in industry, analytics is providing new answers, and Grand Canals has developed analytics specific to small parcel delivery options. Grand Canals’ Fulfillment Intelligence Cloud software is designed to layer on top of existing software and pull information from the major small parcel shippers such as UPS, FedEx, USPS and DHL.

Grand Canals customers are on record with some eye-popping shipping cost savings. Grove Collaborative, a B corp for natural consumer products, saved 25% per order. Toy and gift retailer Hollar saved greatly on their annual logistics spend while improving fulfillment time. 3PL Seko found large per year savings opportunity with discount and mode modeling.

So, how does it work?

This SaaS solution is purpose-built for analyzing e-commerce fulfillment operations. It provides a consistent analytics layer that connects supply chain systems: ERP, warehouse management, transportation management, and small parcel carriers’ software. Like most analytics products, the system normalizes the data to generate effective results.

Analysis of how to provide cost-effective shipping for every order across a variety of carriers can create many aspects of supply chain improvement for both the e-Commerce company and its customers:

  • Optimized carrier contracts and automated RFPs
  • Ideal routing logic and optimized service mix
  • Compliance monitoring
  • Network and DC optimization
  • Order and transportation management integration
  • Increased customer shopping cart conversion
  • Predictive analytics for changing carrier needs

Grand Canals envisions this as a three-part journey: Get Lean, Stay Lean, and Transform.

Last week, they announced a new version of their product, Fulfillment Intelligence Cloud 3.0, that can quickly and automatically generate and analyze RFPs to carriers. It also has carrier switch modeling for complex what-if scenarios, and  a new user interface . They will be expanding functionality for more modes, and creating a full solution focused on 3PLs.

Time to Invest

Retail e-commerce sales are growing rapidly, and accounted for 8.5% of the total U.S. Retail sales in the first quarter of 2017. Returns for on-line sales are 30% compared to 8% for traditional in-store purchases. So this is a significant challenge , which is growing every day. It’s worthy of investment. Last week, Grand Canals announced its $4.8M Series A funding from Cloud Apps Capital Partners and AllMobile Fund. With this round, the company will be able to grow to reach more of the companies struggling to fulfill orders quickly and profitably.

Initial markets are B2C and B2B e-commerce. Grand Canals is developing a special version for 3PLs, where it will become part of their billing or invoicing system. Companies with $500,000 or more in shipping spend may want to consider this solution. Those with smaller fulfillment operations may find other solutions more appropriate.

Fulfillment Intelligence Cloud this sits on top of the transactional systems as a unified analysis layer that leverages those carrier line-item transaction reports. If you integrate order and invoice information, the analysis becomes richer. As with all analytics, the more data the customer provides, the richer the analytics view they can receive.

Ready to get smarter with your fulfillment? How about some carrier integration and analytics to start? Would you like to be the first of your competitors to gain these major savings?

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