07-10-13 | Blog Post
Internet retail companies have so many things they need to worry about. Outside of actually making their product, they have to make and monitor their website. They need to meet the appropriate compliances. They have to market their products online, and when orders come in, they need to fulfill the order and ship it to the correct buyer. Couple that with any brick and mortar stores companies may also need to monitor and distribute to, and it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. So, with that in mind, I thought I would take some of the pain from the supply chain, and feature a company that has gotten shipping/distribution services for internet retailers down to a science.
Integrated Distribution Services (IDS) is an Indiana-based order fulfillment company whose advantage is many-fold. First, IDS is a one-stop shop for a retail company. When a retailer gets their product in, IDS can pick it up, ship everything to their warehouse, repackage as needed for each individual order, and then transport them to their final destination (this may be a brick and mortar location, or straight to the consumer). They actually prefer companies with complex shipping needs, like having multiple skus per order, repackaging, and even gift-wrapping. Providing an end to end solution is a major way IDS stands apart from their competition.
With Amazon offering free shipping, the cost of shipping with other internet retailers can be the difference between winning and losing the sale. However, ecommerce companies often struggle to offer competitive shipping rates without seriously impacting their bottom line. IDS, through intermodal transportation services can help minimize shipping costs for the retailer. Intermodal transportation is, as it sounds, the ability to use different types of transport, like trains as well as trucks. IDS passes their discounts from FedEx and UPS to retailers, and they can also pick up products from port, instead of making the retailer ship to the warehouse. This creates several links in the chain where a company can save some real dough.
IDS also cares about retailer branding. When a consumer buys something online, they aren’t surrounded with the company name and logo the way they would be if they were walking into a physical store. This also means they have the potential to be less attached to the site they’re buying from. I spoke with Alicia Dale from IDS who explained that the company works hard to give retailers the opportunity to keep customers engaged with their brand:
“We try to get customers to do as much branding as possible. Printing logos on packaging, writing thank-you notes on the labels, slipping coupon leaflets into the orders; we want the end-customer to have a good experience from their very first interaction with the product.”
Outsourcing these services can be a little unnerving for a retailer. How do you know where your products are? What orders are being fulfilled, and when? How do you know orders are going to the correct location? Transparency is the key. IDS gives that transparency to retailers by using cloud platforms. Retailers can log into their system and follow along with the whole process. It means that even if someone else is taping the box shut, you can be confident in knowing exactly when it’s happening, and when it arrives at your customer’s door. They also use this monitoring to help ensure order accuracy, checking and rechecking the product and destination, to reduce returns and boost the customer experience.
If you’re an internet retailer looking for ways to simplify your life, you’ll want to check out IDS’s website for information on distributing and order fulfillment.
Cloud Computing Use Increases Among Supply Chains
Cloud computing has found a place in nearly every industry, from e-commerce and banking to automotive to healthcare, and all the processes in between. Research shows that cloud use in supply chains has increased dramatically over the past year, and doesn’t expect to slow down in 2013.
Why Cloud Use is Rising to $131 Billion in 2013
In a recent report from Gartner, they expect the cloud market to surpass the 2012 total of $111 billion, and reach $131 billion in 2013. They also stated that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) was again the fastest growing segment, having grown 42.4% in 2012.
Clarifying Levels of PCI Compliance
So, you either transmit, store, or process credit cardholder data for your business. You already know that means you need to be compliant with the 12 Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). However, based on the number of transactions your company processes per year, there are specific levels of PCI compliance that need to be met.