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Exclusive: Online home improvement retailer expands shipping infrastructure

BY CSA STAFF

Without a store base to support any fulfillment, pure-play home improvement retailer Build.com lives and dies by efficient product shipping.

Further complicating the retailer’s efforts to provide quality shipping while maintaining reasonable internal costs is the nature of its product assortment.

“We knew for some time there was a huge opportunity for more intelligent determination of customer shipping,” Marshall Downey, director of direct marketing at Build.com, told Chain Store Age. “A lot of our items are big enough to qualify for free shipping – like tubs and showers.”

In 2015, Build.com decided it wanted to implement an enterprise solution that would manage the end-to-end customer delivery experience in a way that would guarantee customer satisfaction while controlling costs. That summer, the retailer performed an initial pilot implementation of the Convey enterprise SaaS customer delivery platform.

Convey connects carriers to retailers, enabling drop shipments to the consumer. The solution takes product tracking data from retailers and transforms it into shipping APIs.

“We sent data to Convey regarding our current shipping choices,” explained Downey. “They suggested alternate services with cost savings numbers generated specifically for us.”

During a 90-day trial period, Build.com piloted five carriers on the Convey platform.

“Convey typically halved our price forecasts and saved 15%-20% per freight,” said Downey. “It takes the human element out of deciding what regional companies to use for drop shipments.”

In addition, Convey removes the human element out of decisions made remotely at drop shipment centers.

“Warehouse personnel decided how to ship our products,” said Downey. “We had routing guides listing our specs, but they have lots of guides from other companies and may not read ours.”

Now personnel at drop shipment centers are directly informed how to ship Build.com orders, resulting in fewer damaged packages. Build.com has been onboarding new carriers every week since the pilot, starting with its top performers. Currently the retailer has 75 carriers live on Convey.

Looking ahead, Build.com plans to use Convey functionality to allow customers to obtain digital updates of the status of orders.

“Currently, we can only tell customers when an order is paid or delivered,” said Downey. “We can’t give updates on physical status. It’s not a great brand experience. We will give updates via email or SMS.”

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