“The costs of running an eCommerce business have dramatically decreased over the past decade, and modern online retailers don’t have the appetite to pay for large upfront integration fees in order to work with a 3PL,” begins Tom Tzakis, CEO, DropStream. One of the biggest challenges 3PLs face is keeping up with the demands of their customers. Online retailers have a variety of eCommerce platforms to choose from to sell their products and manage their inventory, and increasingly retailers are looking to make their products available on as many marketplaces as possible to help expand their customer base. Compounding the challenge is the fact that retailers have the expectation that all of these systems will seamlessly work together and communicate with their fulfillment provider. 3PLs need to have a plan to support high quality eCommerce integrations in order to continue to win new customers. DropStream is designed to help 3PLs and Warehouse Management Systems maintain pace with the innovations happening in the eCommerce space. “Our entire focus is building and maintaining integrations, thus removing a factor that could limit a 3PL’s ability to win or maintain business due to connectivity,” adds Tzakis.
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A main goal of DropStream is to lower the costs for both online retailers and 3PLs to work with each other using their preferred software systems. Before DropStream, companies were forced to pay for custom integrations from external contractors or utilize in-house IT staff to build them. Both of these options incur high upfront costs, with the downside that they are ill-suited to provide continuing maintenance of the integrations as time goes by and the integrated systems release new versions and new features. DropStream has sought to change that dynamic.
DropStream has for years been able to accommodate base case integrations, supporting order import and tracking export.
“What we are seeing as the next priority for retailers and 3PLs is the ability to handle edge case workflows, including returns management, real-time order editing, and multi-location fulfillment,” states Tzakis. As the demand for these types of sophisticated integrations by high-volume retailers is increasing, DropStream provides a user-friendly platform to manage multiple integration instances in a reliable way. “DropStream is architected to offer the flexibility to accommodate individual retailers’ custom requirements.” As a many-to-many platform, users are able to route orders from any eCommerce system to a WMS with just a few clicks.
Before DropStream, integrations existed behind the scenes and only IT staff had insight into what was happening. If a shopper called a retailer inquiring the status of an order, it kicked off a series of calls between the retailer and the 3PL and ended with IT personnel explaining why the integration stopped working. With DropStream, users are alerted as soon as there is a problem, and remedies are swiftly implemented.
3PLs often win new customers based on the fact that they utilize DropStream for integrations. “Retailers often have a greater confidence that an integration can be implemented when they know a dedicated integration provider will be doing the work,” asserts Tzakis.
The company continually reinvests in the platform, and adds enhancements to the system based on the pain points that 3PLs and online retailers face. “Because we are connected to over 70 of the most popular ecommerce and warehouse management systems, we are able to diagnose emerging gaps in the industry and develop key features to address these technology gaps to improve fulfillment workflows,” concludes Tzakis.