Sudden growth is great for any small-business owner—as long as you have the processes, resources and support you need to keep up with it.
But what happens when success takes a business by surprise? You have to learn as quickly as you can to stop doing everything yourself. That’s exactly where automation and electronic shipping solutions come in.
Here are four tips for smart electronic shipping solutions that you can apply to your business, courtesy of Ozbo, a Pennsylvania-based online retail startup that recently wrestled with sudden success.
1. Consult experts; they’re closer than you think. As Ozbo started growing rapidly (sales quadrupled in one year), the most critical barrier to keeping up became filling orders on time. Founder Joshua Wood called on experts in the form of FedEx shipping engineers. They immediately equipped him with better scales and high-speed label printers.
By integrating automated shipping capabilities into his third-party software, Wood could quickly and easily create labels and track package status. He even took the engineers’ advice on how to organize the shipping lines in his warehouse and redesign and pack his boxes more efficiently. Most recently, Wood added a scanning system that enables his employees to move shipments faster than ever.
2. Treat automation as a customer service weapon. Ozbo handles an average of 1,600 orders per day, and Wood expects that number to increase to between 5,000 and 6,000 during the holiday season. Electronic shipping solutions and automation are among the most critical aspects of Wood’s e-commerce business, and they have to be done right.
“If all we do is take orders all day long, but we don’t get the packages to the customers in a timely fashion, they’ll never shop with us again,” Wood says.
3. Invest in space that can pay returns in efficiency. Ozbo traded in its original, 6,200-square-foot headquarters for a 65,000-square-foot warehouse with five dock doors. “We are constantly under pressure to get our products to our customers faster,” Wood says. With the increased space and electronic shipping improvements, Woods added more people and boosted efficiency.
4. Ask peers for automation advice. Wood aims to create $1 billion in annual revenue within the next five years to rival other e-commerce giants. To accomplish this he connects regularly with industry leaders for guidance. “Every e-commerce company experiences the same kinds of problems, the same growing pains,” Wood says.
In a mere three years, Ozbo has grown from a tiny startup to the 501st largest e-commerce business, according to Internet Retailer. Equipped with automated processes, a spacious facility, trusted advisors and a passion for providing excellent customer service, Ozbo is ready to climb even higher.
Read more about Ozbo and find other successful e-commerce business success stories at the FedEx Online Retail Solutions website.
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Ellen Shaffer is a Minneapolis-based writer.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FedEx.
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