Since RETRO Innovations opened for business, I’vetaken advantage of solutions like USPS.COM and the USPS integration in Paypal to print shipping labels in the office. When shipping volume rarely hit 5 parcels a week, typing addresses into the USPS.COM website, and filling out customs information on either solution was bearable, though annoying. However, as sales volumes increased, I found I dreaded fulfilling non-Paypal and foreign orders. The former has no integration with the post office, so addresses required manual entry. The latter required a customs form, which was a manual process as well.
This week, after filling 30 or so overseas orders, I’d finally had enough. It was time to find a better solution. Luckily, my shopping cart vendor (BigCommerce) now offers integration with a Shipping Manager called ShipWorks. So, I downloaded a trial and started evaluating the solution. Color me impressed. Arguably, I did not do a comprehensive vendor selection, but I’m not sure I need to evaluate any other solutions. ShipWorks offers Fedex, UPS, and USPS shipping, pulls shipping addresses from the actual order (no more wrong shipments because the customer used Paypal and has an outdated address in that system while putting the current address in the order), updates the order when shipping labales are printed, tracks the shipments (if possible), offers all of the post office postage types (first class, parcel post, etc), and automatically handles customs forms. The list of features goes on far beyond those, but the above are my pain points.
After playing with the solution for a few days, I determined that it will print the shipping label from one printer tray (which holds self stick labels) and can also print a packing slip from another tray (which contains regular paper). This may alleviate shipping delays to Germany, as I previously did not send invoices.
In an instant, order fulfillment went from dread to delight. Stuffing orders used to take the least time, now it far exceeds postage printing duration. I’m not overly wild about the tiered pricing, nor that the solution requires an additional monthly subscription to Endicia or Stamps.com for postage purchase. However, in light of the time saved, it’s a cost I can bear far easier than the time wasted in manually handling postage labels.
I hope customers see the value as well, both in more professional presentation (invoices, logos, etc.), and swifter delivery. If I can determine how, I plan to enable multiple shipping providers. Some overseas customers lament the slow pace of USPS Priority Mail and encourage offering a more expensive, but more timely shipping service. I hope to provide that soon.