I've been trying to get some guest bloggers to help me out from other departments of BasketsGalore, but it's very hard to track them down for long enough to get them to fit writing into their busy schedules. However, I am determined that next month I will get some news straight from the horses mouth & you won't have to listen to me rambling on.
In the meantime I can tell you about a recent software update we had completed for one of our couriers, DHL. The software we use of theirs is called Easyship and up until last summer we used it, alongside an order management system called Linnworks. This system works flawlessly throughout the year but of course at Christmas time 2014, when multiple instances are running across multiple PC's due to the sheer volume of labels being generated, we experienced problems.
In the run up to Christmas 2015 we wanted to try and avoid a repeat and decided to try and streamline the process, by sending the orders directly from our Magento e-commerce system to the Easyship software. We trialled this in the months leading up to November/December and it seemed to be working well. It also meant we could quickly import all the tracking codes and update all our customers at once, rather than doing this individually.
However, once again, when multiple users tried printing shipping labels they would sometimes fail as if it was confusing the system. The only other thing we had thought of was that perhaps the thermal printers not coping with the volume, and so we had brought in some extra printers to split the load, and have as back ups. The were the same type of printers again though, so we decided to research other compatible printers and get a more powerful one. It turned out other ones we had in the office were compatible and when we switched to these the number of times any prints failed decreased dramatically. Success! We managed to print without issue for most of our busy period.
The next problem we had was sending all the address information through to DHL at the end of each day, via the "End of Day Manifest". Although it was registering as successfully transmitted, we were getting calls on certain days from our local depot to advise they hadn't received it. If this happens they have to hand type all the address info which takes A LOT of time, especially when we may have sent 1000+ parcels out that day! Luckily the team at DHL worked with us to get the shipping info transmitted and our parcels processed in time, thank you Barbara :) I now know why I already had grey hair by the time I was 30! Their Easyship Team also discovered we needed to have our Easyship software upgraded to avoid any future issues and scheduled this in for the New Year.
The lovely Stevie then came to visit us and upgraded the software to the latest version over a couple of days. Jonny also worked hard in advance to prepare our new server to host the Easyship software instead of 1 PC simply sharing it. This is what I need his technical knowledge for, to explain server virtualisation and such like! Stevie had also arranged for us to receive more advanced printers to replace the ones we had "borrowed" from other locations around the office!
So far so good, all we need now is for Christmas 2016 to arrive so we can stress test everything. Be careful what you wish for though.