How the World of Futons fueled an e-commerce boom by streamlining its shipping process.
World of Futons started making sweet dreams in 1984 when David Frederick, co-owner of the Athens, Ga.-based futon and furniture seller, discovered a niche.
"As an owner and a businessman, anything that saves me time and money is a winner. UPS's marketplace shipping fits the bill." – Robert Frederick
"My brother was a bit of a hippie who lived in a commune in New Hampshire in the early '80s, and they made futons by hand and sold them to generate an income," says Robert Frederick, who co-owns the company with his brother, David. Back then, few in the United States made futons, which are quilted mattresses attached to low wooden frames that double as a sofa or bed.
By 1983, when David moved to Athens, home of the University of Georgia and the birthplace of bands like R.E.M. and the B-52s, the demand for the compact, economical piece of furniture started soaring. Athens became home to the World of Futons retail store, with a showroom that now boasts more than 20 frame styles, more than 10 futon pad styles and a variety of fabrics.
Today, business is bustling as orders come in 24 hours a day for its five full-time employees, including David's daughter and grandson. During its peak season, starting in August, the company receives up to 100 orders per day, and local manufacturers such as KD Frames assist in producing the finished products.
But the company had some difficulties entering the e-commerce market. That's where UPS's experience with streamlining processes and avoiding shipping errors came in handy.
Breaking into e-commerce
World of Futons had a steady stream of increasing revenue until around 2006. "As more businesses came online, our sales declined," explains Robert. While David handled the retail operation, Robert came onboard in 2005 to focus on online sales. "One of the easiest ways to sell goods online without having a lot of expertise was eBay," he says. "EBay had the platform, and we didn't have to build our own site from scratch."
By the end of 2006, the company noticed that more people were starting to sell on Amazon, so it opened an online marketplace there, too. And in 2007, the World of Futons website went live, creating three income streams via the Internet.
From day one, the company had to consider how it would ship its products. After doing some homework, the owners found that UPS offered both a competitive and efficient shipping choice. "We already had drivers coming in to bring deliveries, and we were happy with the service, so we explored the possibility of doing even more business," says Robert.
Because most products are shipped directly from manufacturers' warehouses, the company simply used the manufacturers' accounts to ship orders via UPS. Then Robert realized that there was a smarter, faster, even more efficient way to ship orders throughout the country.
Setting up an account via UPS marketplace shipping a couple of years ago helped the company immensely. "We could get billed directly from UPS. It cut out the middleman, and we saved 20 to 25 percent in shipping costs alone each year," says Robert.
"My team showed World of Futons several shipping options, and they liked UPS marketplace shipping because of the ease of use," says UPS Senior Account Manager Andy Moseley. "It was simple to integrate, and there was no cost to participate. Medium-size shippers like World of Futons are ideal for this service because as they face technology challenges, they learn this option can reduce time, save money and lessen customer complaints."
UPS simplifies a company's shipping by integrating online store orders from eBay, Amazon, BigCommerce and Etsy accounts. Companies can enroll 10 online store accounts, combine multiple orders in one shipment and pay by means of a UPS account number, a credit card or PayPal.
"Before we started using UPS marketplace shipping, we had to manually enter customer, product and shipping information from the marketplace into UPS," says Robert. "Now that everything is integrated, the labels are prefilled so that cuts the processing time in half and eliminates human error. As an owner and a businessman, anything that saves me time and money is a winner. UPS's marketplace shipping fits the bill."
Click here to download the UPS marketplace shipping user guide.