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et supply firm expedites package shipments

Doctors Foster and Smith switch software for sending out daily mail orders.

Rhinelander, WI-based pet supply cataloger Doctors Foster and Smith sends tens of thousands of packages to waiting pet owners each day. Catalog and Internet orders range from live, exotic fish to catnip toys. That puts a premium on keeping abreast of carrier requirements and securing the most cost-effective method of shipping.

Recently, Ron Sasek, the firm’s IT manager, decided that it was time to make a major switch from its existing software to a new system that would provide a new level of responsive customer support as well as seamless integration with the current warehouse management system, Exacta by ASAP Automation, and sophisticated rate-shopping and carrier compliance.

Sasek and his IT team discovered software from ProShip. ProShip implemented a black box solution using ProShip SDK. The integration flexibility of ProShip meant that Doctors Foster and Smith could retain the existing user interface. ProShip runs within Exacta and operates behind the scenes, keeping the Exacta Pack program for warehouse personnel. “We didn’t have to retrain the packers, didn’t have to have a whole new pack system,” says Sasek. “The way they were able to fit ProShip in helped for a smooth conversion.”

Software engineers at ProShip configured the system to accommodate the broad range of Doctors Foster and Smith products, and the designated shipping methods for each. “Corals and fish are sent next-day air, larger buckets of salt and aquarium supplies go differently,” notes Audrey Schmidt, warehouse manager. In addition, pet pharmaceuticals require the recipient’s signature. “ProShip took care of organizing with the different carriers so we were set up correctly, and managed details with how invoices and labels print out.”

Doctors Foster and Smith scheduled the actual installation off-hours on a Thursday night, and set aside a 12-hour window. Within two hours of starting and testing, they were shipping real packages. “It was the smoothest changeover I’ve ever gone through in 25 years of doing them,” says Sasek.

Credit that to months of planning that preceded the transition. ProShip software engineers worked closely with their counterparts at ASAP to integrate the system, and personnel from both companies were on site during the conversion.

Although the installation of ProShip was completed recently, Doctors Foster and Smith is already seeing benefits. “The nice thing with ProShip is there are certain products that have to ship a certain way, like fish that have to go overnight,” says Schmidt. “We’re able to tell ProShip which package has to go this way and which can be rate-shipped; it’s really flexible that way.”

Unlike the former shipping program that charged Doctors Foster and Smith for making carrier-required changes, ProShip updates keeps them ahead of the pack. “They are very proactive about making changes, miles ahead, with labeling requirements, letting us know with weekly updates that we can automatically download,” Sasek says.

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