QCI Direct, which sells cleaning supplies and other home improvement products through its Home Trends, Sleep Solutions and Picket Fence catalogs, is now able to provide faster, better delivery thanks to the Newgistics Intelligent Logistics Management system.
The third party fulfillment and logistics service uses the post office for the first and last mile.
Jane Glazer, president and founder of new York-based QCI Direct, says compared to the company’s previous shipping service, Newgistics has shaved days off delivery times; reduced shipping costs; improved reporting capabilities; and delivered greater visibility into the supply chain.
“Newgistics picks up our packages and distributes them to logistics warehouses where they are sorted and then sent out to the different post offices,” she says.
One advantage of using a USPS-based service, Glazer says, is that parcels can be delivered six days a week, “as opposed to five through the other carriers.”
“You have to understand that our customers are mostly older women – and when you tell them that something’s going to be there in five business days, they don’t always understand what that means,” she explains. “But if we tell them that they’ll get it in five days through the post office, then that’s much simpler for them to understand.”
Having advanced Web-based tools that allow for full visibility into the supply chain is also a plus, she says, “because we can now track where every package is, whether it’s in Newgistics’ network or the USPS network,” and company representatives are able to quickly relay that information to customers.
Although it’s been around since 1999, Newgistics is new to the forward-shipping game. Up until February of this year, the company offered only reverse-logistics services. In fact, Newgistics is widely regarded as a leader in the reverse-logistics field, having been the first and only Parcel Return Select provider authorized by the USPS. For the past nine years the company has been providing reverse-logistics services to major consumer electronics suppliers as well as large apparel catalogers such as Eddie Bauer, Abercrombie & Fitch and Neiman Marcus.
Newgistics CFO Mike Twomey says it was in 2006, when the USPS proposed its ambitious restructuring plan, along with its new “shape-based” rate structure, that company officials realized that they were in an advantageous position to move into the forward logistics space. “With the new rate structure, we found that we could be competitive,” Twomey says.
So in April 2007 the company acquired LMI, a transportation services company specializing in less-than-truckload/truckload services as well as invoice/payment and auditing services. That acquisition gave Newgistics additional buying power in the LTL and truckload markets.
Then in December 2007 it acquired Cornerstone Shipping Services, a small forward shipper based in the Midwest that had recently expanded into the Northeast. By combining the two company’s software systems onto a single .NET platform, Newgistics became one of the only fulfillment/logistics providers offering complete visibility and control over the supply chain — both forward and back — on a single system.
“When I first heard about this new service, I said, ‘let me be your beta tester,’” Glazer says, adding that QCI Direct is one of the first merchants to trial the new system. “And I was perfect for being a beta tester because, I’m not in the gifts business, so my business is pretty even year round.”
What’s more, she says, “my boxes go from 2 lbs. up through 25 lbs. — so they could really test their services with everything I do.”
Glazer says QCI Direct started with the service in January, “and now I do about 98% of my shipping through them.”
QCI Direct offers more than 4,000 products from more than 800 vendors, as well as its own private line of cleaners, and distributes them through its Website, three print catalogs and a retail store located in New York.