When Classic Alaska Trading Company decided to revamp and upgrade its online and shipping operations the challenge seemed almost as daunting as climbing to the top of the highest peak in Mount McKinley.
The outdoor retailer, which started as a small surplus store selling Army/Navy gear in Anchorage in 1947, has grown into one of the 49th state’s premiere wilderness outfitters with five Alaskan locations, 100 employees, and an impressive inventory of 40,000 SKUs.
But according to a recent case study from Pitney Bowes, while Classic Alaska was growing it knew that if it didn’t update its shipping operations, it couldn’t reach its goal of expanding its product line to more customers.
While all the five stores carried core outdoor products, each store also offered unique products catering to that particular region of the state. For example, while its Kodiak store sold full hunting and fishing gear, other stores concentrate more on work gear, the case study states.
“As part of our online business expansion, we needed to consolidate all five shipping operations into a single automated system,” said Brian Birklid, Classic Alaska’s outside retail manager, in the case study. By going to a single automated system, he said, it would allow the retailer to offer their full 40,000 SKU inventory to all of Alaska.
After incorporating Pitney Bowes’ logistics management solution, SendSuite, with its fulfillment operations, Classic Alaska, according to the release, were soon able to unify its multiple shipping operations into one fully automated single operation that was integrated with major carriers such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS, according to the case study.
Before using the new solution, Birklid said, shipping managers had to access the major carriers separately, enter the addresses by hand, get a shipping price, and then move on to the next carrier to compare prices. Birklid called the outdated procedure “a very time consuming process.”
Now, with the new solution, Birklid said, allowed Classic Alaska “price shop shipping” which saved time, determine the speed of delivery no matter if shipping from store-to-store or to the customer, and find the lease expensive carrier within seconds.
“When you consider we’re shipping 1,200 to 1,500 packages a month during our busy season, that’s an incredible savings in time and labor,” Birklid said.
In the past, Classic Alaska shipping operations also included writing shipping labels out by hand, using a scale, meter strip, and price chart to determine postal rates. Now everything is automated and mail operators can scan an order, create an accurate label, and save all the information into a centralized database. Now, Classic Alaska can easily track packages for consumers within all five of its stores.
Birklid said Classic Alaska’s initial goal was to expand its web business and fix an outdated shipping operation, but after incorporating a new logistics management solution to its fulfillment operations, “we ended up saving money, driving online sales, discovering new efficiencies, and improving customer service. You can’t do much better than that.”