McCombs Supply Sees Success with Shipping Technology

With the ecommerce market exploding on a global scale, merchants of all sizes are realizing manual shipping is an inefficient, time-consuming proposition. Without advanced parcel shipping capabilities, ecommerce retailers can be left with escalating costs and poor delivery execution, impacting customer satisfaction and impeding growth.

For appliance parts supplier McCombs Supply Co., finding new way to ship smarter in the face of swelling ecommerce demand was critical to the company’s ongoing success.

Increasing order volumes were causing a shipping bottleneck as McCombs’ small TV repair shop flourished into a thriving ecommerce business for appliance replacement parts. Today, McCombs reaches consumers via its own brick-and-mortar warehouse store and its website as well as through Amazon, eBay, Jet, Pricefalls, Sears and Walmart.

With this omnichannel strategy, McCombs had been downloading orders from multiple ecommerce marketplaces and processing them by hand using pieced-together shipping solutions. “We’d often have to re-key information to generate labels and duplicate information in a separate customer database,” said Ken McCombs, Vice President of McCombs Supply. “This was very inefficient and time-consuming and holding back our success.”

Shipping Technology for the Win

To address these issues, McCombs implemented Descartes ShipRush, a cloud-based, multi-carrier parcel shipping platform that automatically imports orders, compares carrier rates, prints shipping labels for major carriers and uploads tracking information to relevant ecommerce and business applications.

Using Descartes ShipRush, McCombs now accurately downloads all order information in just a few clicks, including shipping address, delivery requirements, price and type/quantity of parts. With a dashboard providing a centralized view of carrier pricing and delivery times, McCombs can rate shop the most efficient and cost-effective option, saving an estimated 10% on shipping costs.

“Pulling orders off all our marketplaces is now a piece of cake,” said McCombs. “We simply scan the barcode on every package and hit ‘ship.’ It’s that easy.”

He added Descartes ShipRush’s cloud-based application allows any employee to log in via computer, phone or tablet to process orders and print postage labels. They can easily download and access accurate customer order information so the company respond swiftly to resolve any customer issues, from returns to rush orders. “In emergencies, when it’s zero degrees and someone needs a furnace part, accurately processing rush orders is especially important,” said McCombs. 

Turbocharging Growth with Automation

With Descartes ShipRush’s shipping technology, efficiency and productivity at McCombs increased dramatically. It has seen a 30% increase in order processing speed and 6x growth in shipping volume. The company increased its shipping volume from 150 packages a day to 150 packages an hour.

McCombs Supply now ships more than 300,000 packages annually, with 95% of them handled through Descartes ShipRush. Faster order processing enables McCombs to offer premium express shipping to its customers, earning a 40% profit on express orders.

With its automated shipping platform, McCombs can also accommodate huge order spikes. In late December 2015, Buy by Amazon ran out of a particular product at its warehouse and turned to McCombs for fulfillment. The company received and processed a record 2,237 Amazon orders in one day.

Because shipping technology supports higher parcel volumes, the company moved staff from label-making to packing. McCombs also added approximately 15,000 square feet of warehouse space, 8,000 of it for shipping, plus additional packing stations and six more Descartes ShipRush stations. “When we started growing, I couldn’t keep up with the demand,” McCombs said. “After I started using Descartes ShipRush, it made our growth possible.”

The platform has also helped McCombs qualify for merchant discounts by meeting eBay’s shipping requirements. “On eBay, there is a different set of criteria depending on how fast merchants process and ship orders for each deadline, whether it’s 24, 48 or 72 hours,” McCombs said. “Now I can often get all the orders out on the same day. I’ve never missed a discount because my eBay shipping process is so streamlined.”

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