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shipping perishables use case

Shipping Perishables

SkuNexus Use Case

The Problem

Shipping perishables requires careful timing. Melted ice cream, or warm meat showing up on your doorstep is not attractive, and will likely result in customers asking for their money back.

While the process of getting perishable items to customers isn’t a new one, it is oftentimes solved manually - where employees manage the shipping decision process. It provides accuracy and accountability, but it can be time intensive, especially in the busy season.

So without hiring additional members of the team or creating a complex integration, what can you do?

Statistics + Resources

The USDA has a comprehensive guide about shipping perishable goods, how long each of them can remain at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen. They recommend overnight deliveries for anything cold.

They also warn not to keep any perishable foods in the Danger Zone - between 40 and 140 degrees F - for more than two hours.

How It's Being Done Currently

There are many factors that determine how an order of perishable goods is shipped:

  • Day of the week
  • Size of the order
  • Amount of dry ice required
  • Transit time (1 day, 3 day,etc)
  • Packaging required
  • Temperature that the goods need to stay at

Each of these factors weigh in when how to pack and ship perishable goods. Let’s say your shipping ice cream:

A packer needs to decide how much packing material, how much dry ice, and then pack the box. Shipping is another considerations, since choosing the fastest option may not always be the best choice. And if an order is filled late in the week, you need to make sure that you’ve chosen an option to ship it through the weekend, so it doesn’t sit in a warehouse over the weekend.

Then, you need to factor in the time it takes for the delivery truck to deliver it, and the time it spends on the stoop.

Because nobody wants melted ice cream.

While that’s an extremely cold case (ha), the same concept holds true for cakes or cookies or refrigerated goods.

The SkuNexus Approach

The SkuNexus platform allows a ridiculous level of customization - best described in this case study:

How Graeter’s Automates 100% of Their Orders

Graeter’s uses the SkuNexus platform in conjunction with a customized Magento portal to accept orders of 6 or 12 pints of ice cream, and ship those orders out in a timely fashion. With almost 100 preset rules, every order is automatically assigned a shipping method, a certain box size, and is marked as ready.

Because timing down to the minute is crucial, Graeter’s prepares their shipping labels the night before fulfilling the day’s orders. They’re all printed in the middle of the night.

This saves a ton of time, because in the morning, they simply print a slip of orders to fulfill that day, and get to work. They are all already approved, have shipping labels, and are ready to go.

This does a few things:

  • Automates the entire shipping carrier decision making process
  • Saves time for warehouse employees because shipping labels are already printed
  • Provides time for customers to change their orders if needed, since orders are finalized at the end of the day
  • Ensures ice cream spends as little time as possible in a warm environment
  • Provides warehouse employees with specific instructions for packing
  • Passes tracking info back to the customer through Magento
  • Updates inventory levels in real-time

SkuNexus Features

This process illustrates how several key features of SkuNexus, working together, can automate manual processes, remove impediments from daily operations, and increase efficiencies on an open source platform. Specifically:

  • Fully customized solution removes the pack step from fulfillment - Graeter’s only uses picking + shipping.
  • Shipping carrier decision making automation that routes orders based on their ship date, order size, and other data points to certain carriers or services.
  • Batch printing of shipping labels reduces the time to start the day, because shipping labels are already printed when employees come in.
  • Real-time inventory sync always provide accurate info. This is important for Graeter’s since all of their ice cream is made in small batches, and they need to know when one will run out.

We know it’s impossible to create a product that solves every problem for every business. Instead, we created a flexible platform that empowers businesses to solve their own problems efficiently.

Related Reading For Shipping Perishable Goods

Fedex perishables shipping guide.

UPS guide on dry ice, perishables.