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A New Way to Ship
If you need boating supplies, Wholesale Marine has them. An online retailer since 2006, Wholesale Marine embraces the motto “We are boaters.” Staff members at Wholesale Marine are passionate boaters themselves, which allows them to provide their customers with the best service and highest quality products from real-world boating experience. Wholesale Marine offers it all, from small O-ring parts to complete pontoon packages. Most of their products are individually packaged and shipped, resulting in a huge range of parcel sizes and weights (think boat seats and fishing accessories all the way to stainless steel, sea-faring anchors). With nationwide distribution and the best prices for high-quality products, Wholesale Marine stocks approximately 20,000 different SKUs and can ship more than 2,000 items in a single day during the peak of summer.
How does an online retailer stock and ship this enormous amount of products? Efficiency. Rows upon rows of neatly stocked shelves fill Wholesale Marine’s distribution warehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the immense product offering is obvious when walking from one end of the building to the other. With e-commerce and fast shipping speeds becoming an expectation, and not just a luxury, Wholesale Marine has always held up their promise of great service and great prices. However, when large postal carriers started making changes to billable weight processes, Wholesale Marine felt the consequences.
Prior to dimensional weight (also called dim weight) shipping, Wholesale Marine shipped products exclusively on actual package weight. But when carriers enacted dim weight to better maximize capacity, businesses like Wholesale Marine became susceptible to fees and back charges from miscalculated dimensions and freight compliance issues.
“Dimensional weight was really hurting us,” says Wholesale Marine owner Jim Stewart. “We were doing a manual product sort and grouping with what we thought was the cheapest shipping. We looked at an order and would say, ‘This is probably small enough for this type of shipping,’ but we weren’t capturing the dimensions.” Frustrating dimensional shipping experiences and extra fees convinced Stewart to find a better way of shipping product.
For dimensional weight billing, having acurate cubic dimensions is key. Dim weight reflects a package’s density—in essence, the amount of space the package utilizes in relation to its weight. To determine dim weight, a package’s length, width and height are multiplied, and then divided by 166 for domestic shipments or 139 for international shipments. Carriers then charge shipping based on either the package’s actual weight or dimensional weight—whichever is greater.
Determining dimensional weight by manually measuring a package and solving the formula can be labor-intensive, especially if hundreds (or thousands) of packages are shipped daily like at Wholesale Marine. It also leaves room for human error. “It was manpower wasted. We were pulling someone away from another job to figure out the best shipping price for a package,” explains Stewart. However, using only the package weight to determine shipping can by risky as well. “If we tried to ship something using actual weight, but it had a bigger dimensional weight, we’d get a huge ding on pricing because we were basing it only on weight; that was one big downfall for us.”
Even when Wholesale Marine manually measured and determined the best shipping, they still ran into problems when trying to challenge charges. “We were getting an after-the-fact surcharge with no way to dispute it,” says Stewart. “We had a scenario where we shipped three of the exact same item. One bill came in smaller, another was what we predicted, but the last one was huge! It included hundreds of dollars in back charges for dimensional weight shipping and we had no way of truly going back on it to say what the exact dimensions of the package were.” The waters were choppy and the sky red in Wholesale Marine’s shipping department after a year of struggling with new dimensional billing practices. So began the search for a solution to their dimensional weight woes.
The first step towards dim weight smooth sailing was analyzing their current process and seeing where it was breaking down. Stewart realized that the company needed a reliable and efficient system to document package dimensions and weights to help them get the best shipping rates for each individual item shipped. Wholesale Marine also needed a solution fast—and they found one with Rice Lake’s iDimension™ 300.
iDimension 300 is a 3D imaging and sensing technology system that instantly captures dimensions of normal packages like boxed Yeti® coolers, as well as irregular shapes (think shrink-wrapped anchors and polybags filled with fishing accessories). iDimension is able to convert these irregular shapes into cubed dimensions. It is an easy addition to almost any warehouse or shipping department, and since it operates on imaging technology with no moving parts, maintenance is virtually non-existent. iDimension’s web service is accessed with a DHCP IP address and its free API allows users like Wholesale Marine to interface using a simple HTTP request and XML parsing method to store dimensional data for their records.
The iDimension at Wholesale Marine’s distribution center is installed over their pre-existing shipping conveyor line and synced with third-party postal software. Dimensions, package images and weight data, as well as rate comparison and label printing are now streamlined to one central workstation. With iDimension, Wholesale Marine is able to ship with confidence, and at the best rates. “It’s awesome,” says AJ Stewart, Jim Stewart’s son who works with Wholesale Marine’s web development. “Now we have the ability to ship at the best price. We were sending packages that were too big for the carrier based on our old process. We’re not getting those dings on fees anymore. Everything is streamlined and automated as it goes through shipping.”
As an online retailer, speed, efficiency and reliability were important features while looking for a dimensional weight solution. After just a short period of time using iDimension 300, the staff at Wholesale Marine can definitely see the value. “I have confidence that I am getting the least expensive shipping method, especially when we offer free shipping,” Jim Stewart states. “And it’s good looking.”
With the help of (an allegedly attractive) iDimension 300, what once was a floundering shipping process became a well-streamlined department that ships with confidence. Wholesale Marine has been offering the best prices and best service since 1979. Although a much newer addition to Wholesale Marine’s business, iDimension 300 fits their company philosophy well by ensuring the business gets the best rate when shipping their high-quality products to boating enthusiasts nationwide.
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