Reveel’s Shipping Intelligence™ Platform Provides the Leader for Sports and Entertainment Graphics With the Insights its Shipping Operation Needs to Drive Bottom- and Top-Line Results
Rachel Mahrle is the owner, founder and CEO of ProfitNet, an award-winning bookkeeping firm that helps fast-growing companies improve core financial functions with scalable systems, time-saving technologies and the effective integration of processes and people. When she was tasked by her client Fathead to uncover savings, both saw an opportunity to further the company’s efforts in embracing a more strategic approach to shipping. Mahrle, an expert with more than two-decades of experience streamlining back-office functions, surmised that a close review of the shipping function – a key cost center for all e-commerce and omnichannel retailers – had the potential to drive additional bottom- and top-line results for the company.
As the industry leader for authentic, officially licensed sports and entertainment graphics, Fathead empowers fans to express their passion by bringing their inspirations to life. With thousands of images to choose from, and licensing agreements with popular consumer brands and the world’s best-known sports leagues, Fathead offers life-size, high-definition wall decals of athletes, team logos, entertainment characters and more. The company also offers custom creations, including die cut vinyl decals, Big Heads cut outs, vinyl graphics and wrapped canvas that can be designed to fulfill each customer’s unique wishes.
With several thousand items ordered online at fathead.com each day, and subsequently shipped via carriers like FedEx and UPS, shipping costs were one of the most significant line items in the company’s operational budget. To help contain costs, Fathead commissioned the services of a recognized shipping consulting firm to provide carrier contract analysis and negotiation services.
Traditional Parcel Consulting Fails to Deliver
It did not take Mahrle long to uncover the parcel shipping consultant’s failure to deliver available savings. It quickly became clear they weren’t securing the refunds Fathead should have received when shipments failed to satisfy existing service level agreements. Although Mahrle did not have the data needed to qualify how much they should be, the fact that none were being received for thousands of orders was a red flag.
It was at this point that she and members of Fathead’s shipping operation decided to try the Essential (free) version of Reveel’s Shipping Intelligence™ Platform. Her initial expectations were low.
“Most free versions of technology solutions are disappointing because they rarely deliver the functionality or the benefits you want exposure to, in order to determine if investing in an enhanced, paid version is worthwhile,” she says. “I was immediately surprised when out of the gate the free, seven-day trial of Reveel uncovered a process improvement that saved us thousands in the first few days.”
This first discovery was that a technological error results in shipments being tagged as Next Day Delivery, regardless of the shipping method requested by the customer at checkout. In just one month, the error – the result of a default setting on a new technology migration the month before – racked up $30,000 in extra costs.
In quick order, Reveel also uncovered service-level refunds in its audit of Fathead’s operation – a process that on its first pass typically uncovers refunds of 1-3% of total shipping spend. These were typically for shipments that did not arrive on time. For Mahrle, the quick wins reflected the platform’s potential as a game changer.
“Parcel shipping veterans are well aware of the hidden, and often unnecessary costs that exist in any large-scale fulfillment operation,” adds Mahrle. “Shipping is complex, governed by carrier contracts that include many pages of fine print details. More importantly, no one, including shippers and even the consulting firms they hire to lower costs, historically had real visibility into shipping activity. When you add to that the fact that nearly every shipment is unique, and there are thousands of them occurring at any moment, it’s clear that even simple mistakes can have a real impact on costs. In most organizations these can go unnoticed for years.”
The powerful analytics, machine-learning and artificial intelligence in Reveel’s Shipping Intelligence Platform upended that dynamic – not only uncovering anomalies, but also providing actionable insights that Fathead’s shipping department could use to immediately save money in real time. In addition, the platform enabled the team to pose “what-if” scenarios, letting them try out different options and scenarios and see if they either improved shipping performance or lowered expenditures. Just as importantly, the platform uncovered the patterns inherent in the company’s shipping data – not only identifying where errors occurred, but also where there were opportunities for future improvement.
Bringing Powerful Negotiation Capabilities, Actionable Data and Reporting to Bear
With significant early successes and cost savings under its belt using the free version, Fathead decided to subscribe to the paid version of Reveel’s platform, and immediately used the intelligence from it to not only more effectively negotiate its carrier contracts, but, just as importantly, to do so with an understanding of the pricing levels secured by companies with a similar shipping profile. Reveel calls this the Reveel Peer Index. With it shippers can see how the costs they secure and the performance they deliver compares to other comparable shipping operations. This is important, not only for shipping operations to gauge the effectiveness of their own efforts, but also when articulating their success to other departments and senior executives.
“The guidance and insights Reveel provided were instrumental in our contract negotiations with the carriers, and make it possible for us to secure highly favorable rates for our peak season,” adds Mahrle. “That’s been great, but what has been just as valuable are the actionable insights and the detailed reporting the platform delivers.”
The platform uncovered not only simple mistakes that otherwise would have gone unnoticed, but also actionable insights that have enabled Fathead to optimize its shipping operation. Some of these included:
- Faulty overages: Reveel’s Actionable Insights showed Oversize Package Fees spanning the last 365 days, which the platform determined were not oversized at all, but instead were triggered by a bump or tear in the box that caused the carrier’s scanner to deem it oversized.
- Incorrect charges: The platform also uncovered that a former supplier was accidentally still using Fathead’s account number when periodically shipping large, overweight containers of tools. Easily overlooked in the many pages of the invoices both companies received from the carrier, these limited but costly shipments would have remained undiscovered.
- Technical issues: The Reveel Shipping Intelligence Platform also uncovered that after successfully migrating data from existing back-office systems to a more advanced and modern infrastructure, an API in Fathead’s system was not recognizing commas between city and street names. This simple, small technical glitch prompted the carrier’s system to require an address correction – an error that was not only identified by Reveel, but quickly corrected.
- Shipping intelligence for partners: Fathead recently recommended to a partner that they trial the free version of Reveel, a step that immediately resulted in savings of more than $4,000 in the first month. Shipping intelligence, spread throughout the company’s ecosystem, benefits all involved.
- Comparing carrier contracts: In minutes, the Reveel platform enables Fathead’s shippers to conduct a detailed side-by-side analysis of even the most complex and lengthy carrier contracts – giving users the facts they need not only to choose the right one, but to assist them in negotiating the best terms and conditions. Other factors, such as negotiated surcharges that expire before the end of the contract term, were discovered – a capability that in a busy operation can quickly save millions.
- Greater internal operational intelligence: Using the ability to post “what-if” scenarios, Fathead’s shippers can explore and determine in mere moments how changes in any number of variables will impact not only the company’s bottom line, but also top-line results. The technology made it possible to quickly understand whether the company could also offer free or discounted shipping to increase conversions and sales.
- True, fact-based budgeting and advanced modeling capabilities: Using the advanced modeling capabilities inherent in Reveel’s platform, shippers can also determine how any new rules or fees introduced by carriers – a new fuel surcharge, an annual general rate increase, or a new zone-related rule change – impact the company’s costs by using a model to apply them to real shipments the company previously made.
“Before Reveel, shippers had to put their trust in consultants who themselves had little real visibility over shipping activity, and no way to deliver the actionable insights needed to deliver immediate savings or make process improvements,” says Mahrle. “Reveel changes all of that by bringing real transparency and fact-based decision making to parcel shipping. Now shippers can do what they once turned to consultants for, only better.”
Reveel is the leading Shipping Intelligence™ Platform that enables companies to level the playing field with FedEx and UPS. With over 16 years of parcel agreement management expertise and $300M+ in savings for its clients, the company provides actionable insights to help customers make smarter business decisions and have peace of mind. Reveel helps shippers leverage the power of data science and peer comparison data to capture significant ROI and improve their competitive advantage.
Sign up for a free Reveel account today to see how you can leverage automation to synthesize your data, ship more for less, and reduce the time needed to identify issues and action items.