TAB Performance's small staff saves valuable hours with integrated technology solution.
In 2004, a couple of longtime Harley-Davidson owners were disappointed when a new motorcycle they'd purchased didn't produce the deep, throaty growl they expected from a Harley. After scouring the market, they discovered there were limited options for aftermarket exhaust accessories. They decided to fill that niche by launching TAB Performance.
Justin Pflanz estimates that ShipStation has increased same-day shipments by as much as 30 percent.
As the Lincoln, Neb.–based company grew, with distributors all over the world and customers on six continents, another sound started to fill their days – that of customers calling to check on the status of their orders.
TAB Performance's products were available through several different online sales channels, including its own website, eBay and Amazon, plus dealers and distributors. While the broad reach gave the company access to more customers, it also made it difficult to track orders.
The company's small staff – just three employees – had to log in to each portal separately to download and fulfill orders, and update tracking information. The process consumed a lot of time and didn't provide an easy way to locate orders when customers called with questions.
Through discussions with his UPS account manager, the company's owner and president, Justin Pflanz, learned about a web-based shipping system called ShipStation, which automatically downloads all orders from the many marketplaces to one central, easily searchable location.
TAB Performance took advantage of the UPS Customer Technology Program to pay for ShipStation, a certified UPS Ready® application.
"With the Customer Technology Program, UPS provides the company with a subsidy to purchase ShipStation and pay the subscription fees," explains Kirk Raymond, UPS account manager. "In exchange, they agree to ship a certain amount over a three-year period."
The company uses ShipStation to populate the customer's address and create a shipping label automatically. The product has two-way integration, so it automatically updates tracking numbers on the appropriate websites.
"The big thing is the time-savings. Having everything automated has cut a lot of time out of our day and we can spend that time doing things that will produce new sales," Pflanz says. He estimates that ShipStation saves his company two to three hours a day and has increased same-day shipments by as much as 30 percent.
And because ShipStation is cloud-based, TAB Performance's staff can access it from anyplace with an Internet connection. That's important, because TAB Performance's employees often travel to bike shows together. "If we're at a show we can see when orders come in and what's waiting to be shipped out, and when we take orders at shows, we can place them right away," Pflanz says.
For international shipments, which make up 30 to 40 percent of sales, TAB Performance speeds customs clearance with UPS Paperless® Invoice. Instead of attaching customs documents to the packaging, the documents are electronically included in the bar code on the label and sent to customs when the package is first scanned.
"The paperwork arrives before the package, so it gets cleared [through customs] a lot faster," Raymond says. "It can knock a day off time in transit, on average."
It saves time and money, too. Pflanz says that previously each shipment required two or three sheets of paper and that each invoice needed to be signed. Plus, to accommodate the paperwork some of their smaller shipments needed to be sent in larger envelopes, increasing shipping costs.
Live shipping prices
With UPS application programming interface (API) integration, TAB Performance's customers get the best price for shipping on company website orders.
"When we sell through eBay or Amazon we don't have that integration, so we have to use fixed shipping prices. On our site with the integration, we have live rates so the customer typically gets the best deal," Pflanz says.
It's a plus for the company, too. Sales made on its own website avoid the fees it would have to pay for sales on eBay or Amazon. Pflanz likes the sound of that.