Sales of the Little Red Wagon were on fire in 2020.

Radio Flyer, the iconic 104-year-old maker of the red wagon as well as with tricycles, ride-ons, bikes, inflatables and more, saw demand for its products increase significantly during the pandemic, driven in no small part by the demands of online commerce. While the Chicago-based company maintains a warehouse near its headquarters to fulfill direct-to-consumer orders, retailers were demanding more.

“In recent years, we were asked by our retail partners … to do drop shipping,” Matt Herrera, application architect for Radio Flyer, told Modern Shipper.

Those partners, which include Target (NYSE: TGT) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT), needed more product moved closer to the end customer to quickly fulfill orders. Walmart’s ask was causing a logistical problem for the company, though. The retailer, which wanted nearly 3,000 units shipped daily to its warehouses or stores, required those items to be moved via FedEx.

Radio Flyer was “only capable of [shipping] 1,500” units daily, Herrera explained. Moreover, it primarily used UPS (NYSE: UPS) as its shipping partner and was not set up on FedEx’s system.

The biggest complication was actually a paperwork problem — the ability to print shipping labels. Radio Flyer typically handled that process just before the shipment was picked up. Moving as many as 4,000 units a day created a backlog in the system.

 Onboarding FedEx

Herrera said Radio Flyer was using a warehouse management system from Foxfire, but the solution didn’t integrate with FedEx’s (NYSE: FDX) system.

“Foxfire brought up a solution they were working on with EasyPost. I was already familiar with EasyPost because we were using it for online [customer address validation],” Herrera said.

The three companies came together and built an integration that solved Radio Flyer’s primary issues — preprinting of labels and integration with FedEx.  

EasyPost is a provider of a shipping API that includes integrations with over 100 carriers, including FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, DHL, Purolator, Canada Post and Royal Mail.

Foxfire brought up a solution they were working on with EasyPost. I was already familiar with EasyPost because we were using it for online [customer address validation].

Matt Herrera, application architect for Radio Flyer

Jacob North, CIO of Foxfire, said his company was already working on a rate shopping product integration with another customer, but Radio Flyer wanted to add preprinted labels as part of the process. That was a simple add-on, North said.

“[Foxfire] needed a more flexible shipping solution as part of their WMS offering, with more carrier options for their customers to easily onboard,” Carolyn Wilson, director of marketing for EasyPost, said. “Shipping is such a dynamic environment, and whether it is COVID or peak season, you have to be agile so having a solution like EasyPost [makes this possible].”

North said Foxfire had discussed building a FedEx integration into its software, but EasyPost had already done it, so adding an integration was a simpler solution. Because Radio Flyer was already working with both Foxfire and EasyPost, the integration went smoothly.

Herrera said Radio Flyer did some testing and provided feedback on the solution to Foxfire, but there “weren’t too many technical hurdles to overcome.”

Label preprinting

He added that the integration allows Radio Flyer to preprint shipping labels for all its carriers at one time. Previously, Radio Flyer printed a label after an item was picked and the label included only basic information that was then scanned for each package to create a separate shipping label.

“We already know the dimensions of each item and we already know the weight [items are pre-boxed]. … That’s why we wanted to eliminate the scanning step,” Herrera said. This holiday season will be the true test of the new system, but he doesn’t anticipate any hiccups.

The system should also lead to cost savings for Radio Flyer, which had to bring in extra shifts and hire additional staff to handle shipping surges.

Herrera noted that EasyPost’s access to carriers opens doors to the company as it looks to expand its retailer partnerships.

“As your business expands, you are almost certainly going to use multiple carriers,” he said. “We can make the decision internally that we only offer UPS online but [retail partners have different requirements].”

North said this integration will also be beneficial for Foxfire, allowing it to offer similar integrations to other customers of its warehouse management system, which handles all aspects of inventory management and tracking. Foxfire is also offering rate shopping (Radio Flyer is not using this feature at the moment), which allows users to find the best shipping rate across a multitude of carriers before booking a shipment.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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