Bogged down by tedious and manual order management and missing opportunities to grow
When Chris and Cheryl Joyce purchased e-commerce business Union Jack Tools, they had big ambitions to improve order volumes and grow revenue. With a small team running the entire operation, their time was precious.
The company’s storefront, hosted on BigCommerce, was already providing a good face for the business. It was packed with quality products and made the process of checking out and payment fast and simple for customers.
Order management, however, was a different story.
The Joyces had inherited a drop-ship fulfilment model, which should have saved time, because they didn’t have to worry about inventory and warehousing. Unfortunately, it was mired in tedious manual processes that quickly bogged them down.
“Order management was a huge challenge for us,” says Chris. “The individual we bought the business from had been doing everything by hand—from creating purchase orders to sharing data with vendors— and hadn’t integrated much in the way of technology to automate key processes.”
Consequently, the job of transmitting order data to vendors felt like pulling teeth. Union Jack had to create every purchase order from scratch, trawling through order confirmations and jumping in and out of multiple systems to find prices, product IDs, quantities and shipment addresses—and then manually pasting or inputting them.
Adding further friction was the fact that Union Jack offered pre-prepared product bundles. Items in the same bundle often came from different suppliers, requiring the creation of multiple purchase orders, before forensically checking that the right POs, with the correct items and quantities, went to the right vendors.
It was chaos. And the risk of human error was huge.
“When you’re manually inputting so much data, it’s easy to make a mistake,” says Chris. “A simple mistyped number in a SKU could mean the wrong color, item or quantity was sent out. A mistake in an address field would fire a product off to the wrong destination.”
Any error meant more time and cost for the business. With much of the business’ product catalogue made up of large and heavy items, a single error could cost up to $20 to reship, wiping out any profit in a single hit.
Managing the back-end of orders was just as hands-on. Once a vendor had received an order, they’d email Union Jack back with the invoice and tracking. He’d have to trawl through the email, open the attachment, and manually key the details into QuickBooks, being careful not to make a mistake.
Keeping customers manually updated on tracking and shipment was costing Union Jack even more time. The whole sticky process of order management wasn’t just frustrating. It was pulling Chris and Cheryl away from value-added tasks such as marketing, merchandising, and visiting customers that were critical to scaling the business.
“We quickly realized that we couldn’t scale as a business if we kept doing everything by hand, so we had to urgently shift our strategy,” he says.
“We needed to find a way of automating key processes, but I was worried I wouldn’t find a vendor who understood our specific niche in drop-shipping fulfilment.”
Automated order fulfilment and a team that understands the challenge of drop-shipping
As Chris scoured the SaaS landscape for a solution, he discovered Duoplane—which promised to automate all the manual tasks that had been bogging him down.
“I knew right away that Duoplane was the perfect fit for us, because they’re 100% focused on solving problems and providing automation for online businesses who use a completely distributed drop-ship model,” says Chris.
Duoplane is designed to integrate seamlessly with a company’s existing systems, making it easy to set up. In Chris’ case, it took a little more work, as he didn’t have key data stored in a format Duoplane could read.
“I had some initial work to configure vendors and set up users for each supplier, but I only needed to do that once,” says Chris. “When that upfront work was done, Duoplane had everything it needed to automate the manual processes that had been taking over my workday.”
Chris received hands-on support at no extra cost during onboarding. Duoplane set up integrations with BigCommerce and QuickBooks, ensured data was migrating properly, and even spent extra time getting to know Chris and his business and making sure he had a complete grasp of the platform.
Within weeks, Chris’ entire order management process was digitized and automated in the following ways:
Automated order routing to multiple drop-shipping vendors
Duoplane automatically connects to Union Jack’s store on BigCommerce, pulls the data it needs to generate a purchase order, and then sends it directly to the correct vendor. Chris literally has nothing to do because Duoplane works like a magic wand.
With the unique set of rules that Duoplane created, it even determines how Chris’ product bundles are put together; sending purchase orders to the right individual vendors with the right costs and quantities, with 100% accuracy.
Duoplane is flexible, too. If Chris wants to change prices or products, it’s simple. Instead of having to worry about making changes across multiple systems, he inputs the change in one place—his storefront—and Duoplane collects and reflects that on the next purchase order.
Automated invoicing and bookkeeping
Duoplane makes life easier for Chris’ vendors, too. Instead of having to create and email invoices to Union Jack, they simply fill in 3 fields on a dedicated vendor portal—shipping cost, tracking information, and invoice number.
Duoplane then automatically creates the invoice and, because it’s integrated with Quickbooks, exports the details. There’s no more onus on Union Jack to input bills by hand.
Customizations that match the individual needs of vendors
Duoplane enables Chris to create individual rules for specific vendors whenever they need their order data customized. In one example, a vendor asked Chris for a specific line item about new tariffs to be added to purchase orders. Before Duoplane, that would have meant added time and manual work for Chris. With Duoplane, they added a custom rule that was conditional on that vendor, automating their request in an instant.
In another example, a vendor informed Chris that customers who ordered 20 units of a specific product would receive a bulk discount. Chris was worried this might be a tricky customization for Duoplane, but he needn’t have worried. They’d solved the same issue for multiple clients before, so the new rule was created and actioned inside 24 hours.
Chris could hardly believe how much work Duoplane saved him. Just as important to the busy entrepreneur was the support he received from the Duoplane team at every step.
“Duoplane are problem-solvers by nature and always helpful and flexible,” says Chris. “Sometimes I feel like they must have been around for 20 years, because whenever I have a drop-shipping issue, they have a ready-made solution.”
In a matter of weeks, Chris’ order management had gone from tedious and time consuming, to frictionless and future-proofed.
Double the order volume and $50k+ saved on salaries
Union Jack’s orders have doubled month-to-month, and revenue has skyrocketed 35% since integrating Duoplane.
This explosive growth was only possible because Duoplane gave Chris and his team so much of their time back. Instead of having workdays eaten up by manual tasks, they’re free to focus on the marketing, merchandising, and customer visits that are central to scaling.
“Duoplane has put so many problems to bed that we can now put all our focus on growing the business,” says Chris. “We barely have to lift a finger on order processing now, so we can focus on creating better SEO, email campaigns and blog posts that drive our sales and revenue.”
Associated cost savings have been nothing short of staggering. Without Duoplane, Chris estimates he’d have needed to hire two full-time assistants to manage orders. With Duoplane’s wall-to-wall automation, that need has been stamped out, saving him $50k+ in salaries every year.
The cost savings don’t end there. Not least because Duoplane has all but eliminated human error.
“Duoplane removes so many potential points of failure and error,” says Chris. “Before, we’d lose money when we had to reship and correct any mistakes, but now there are none.”
Duoplane has made it so much easier and affordable for Chris to scale and manage his e-commerce business.
“With Duoplane, I feel like we could scale to the size of a large corporation,” he says. “We can easily manage double the orders and it doesn’t cost us any extra time or trouble.”
Overall, Chris appreciates Duoplane’s always-there support just as much as its transformational platform.
“I’ve never once regretted using Duoplane,” he says. “If we didn’t have it, we’d be stuck at a certain revenue level, because we wouldn’t have time to spend on the areas that drive retail growth. Duoplane have the drop ship sector absolutely nailed and are a fantastic company to work with.”