Hi! I'm Dane Carlson, and welcome to the Business Opportunities Weblog. I've been publishing this website, by myself, and sometimes with the help of others for over twelve years now. You'll notice two things about this site right away:

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I received the following as a press release, but I thought that the idea of chicks being sent through the mail made this story interesting enough to post.

Endicia helps companies save money by maximizing productivity. And with the recent USPS price increase, it’s a great time for businesses of all sizes to start saving with internet postage. Companies like Murray McMurray Hatchery (MMH), seller of over 110 varieties of live poultry, have benefited from Endicia’s services

Their story is below.

Who says chickens can’t fly?

Thousands of day-old baby chicks fly (or drive) into the waiting arms of eager purchasers each week from the Murray McMurray Hatchery, which sells 110 varieties of chickens, game birds and rare poultry to consumers throughout the United States.

In business since 1917, McMurray relies on the U.S. Postal Service® to deliver its live poultry, as well as related products and equipment, from its state-of-the-art 26,000 sq ft. Hatchery and fulfillment location. Shipping speed and efficiency are paramount, to ensure that the day-old chicks arrive safely and in excellent health.

The Challenge

Because of the complexities involved with shipping live animals, McMurray was increasingly finding its shipping process to be slow and cumbersome. Indeed, in this era of automation, employees were forced to handle many of the transactional steps manually, adding valuable time and the possibility of errors to the shipping process. Because the shipping process was not integrated with their former system, employees were unable to process and fulfill orders individually and instantaneously.

“With the (former) system, we had to download the orders that came through online in batches, rather than fulfilling them in real time,” recalled Bud Wood, President and Managing Partner, Murray McMurray Hatchery. “That delayed the process.”

Adding a final complication to the situation were outdated and expensive postage meters, which were both burdensome and unable to calculate and process pricing discounts.

The Endicia Solution

Seeking a way to streamline its shipping system, Murray McMurray engaged Endicia, an electronic USPS® shipping solution with over $4 billion in postage printed and more than 25 years of experience in the postal industry. Endicia lets users print pre-paid shipping labels with just a computer, printer, and an Internet connection.

Endicia and the team at Murray McMurray developed a customized solution for the hatchery, which centered on integrating Murray McMurray’s order management process with the Endicia Label Server Application Programming Interface. Most importantly, Endicia Label Server allows customers to print USPS shipping labels – complete with postage and tracking — directly from their current application, without the need for additional software. Including postage on the labels was a key aspect of the Endicia solution, eliminating a step from the previous system. The old system had only listed postage on a separate electronic manifest – which further delayed shipment reconciling activities.

McMurray also used Endicia’s Address Verification API to correct customers’ addresses as they are entered into the order management system. Before, the address correction would be done during the order fulfillment process, which added an additional step. Now with Endicia, if a customer enters an incorrect address when placing their online order, Endicia’s API notifies them that the address is undeliverable. They are then prompted to correct the inputted address. Addresses are verified instantaneously on the front-end with the customer, while eliminating a step for McMurray on the back-end with order processing.

Further, Endicia Label Server added an inventory control component as its software auto-populates box size, weight and other important information – a key feature when dealing with nuanced requirements (like a Live Animal Surcharge fee based on the weight of the shipment) related to the delivery of live animals.

The Results

After a simple installation and conversion process, the real-time Endicia solution immediately garnered results for Murray McMurray. Specifically, the upgraded system eliminated the frequent bottlenecks the hatchery had experienced with its previous, manual labor-intensive, shipping system.

“Endicia Label Server allows us to tightly integrate production with our order entry database, and that streamlines the flow of boxes through the Postal Service,” explained Wood. “Putting labels on the boxes is much easier, and order fulfillment is faster.”

Wood emphasized that even as the hatchery continues to grow and evolve, Endicia will be integral in ensuring that the streamlined order processing and shipping system remains reliable and worry-free for its customers. “Endicia software is helping us handle our growth more efficiently.”

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Originally posted by Dane Carlson on January 20, 2014 in Ideas.

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