Rob Kaneff knows the cake decorating supply business.
Owner of Oasis Supply Company, a wholesaler with operations twenty-five miles outside of Philadelphia, he and his employees have been supplying bakeries and supermarkets for over twenty years.
Most of his long-time customers place orders in bulk, so he was used to filling fewer, larger shipments each day.
But when he saw the potential of selling his products via the Internet, he realized his company could also supply home cake decorators who wanted to buy just a few items at a time. That meant a whole lot more customers.
"So let's say we had 100 orders a day (on the wholesale side), that 100 orders turned into (about) 1,000 orders (including our online customers)," Kaneff said.
To satisfy these consumers, he would need to get many smaller packages out the door faster. And that meant a more streamlined shipping system.
His previous system required printing out two pieces of paper for each order. One served as the packing slip and the other was returned to the company offices for billing purposes.
As he started selling online, he realized that with orders fulfilled via the Internet, customers pay right away with their credit cards, and there's no need for a second copy of the packing slip.
But Kaneff still wasn't sure how to identify package destinations before packages went out the door. If the packing slip was sealed inside during the first step in the process, workers had no way, short of handwriting the customer's name on the package, of keeping track of where it was headed.
Still searching for a solution, Kaneff was looking at a package he'd received in the mail when he saw a bar code label and had a revelation. He realized a unique bar code could be created for every package, and employees sending out orders would simply scan the bar code and produce a shipping label.
"So that's what started me on the search for a company (where) I can print one (computer form), but on that sheet of paper have the bar code printed," Kaneff said. "Whoever is processing the packages for shipping, all they have to do is scan the bar code on the package and an address label prints out. And that's pretty much the system, that's what we're doing now. It's working out great."
Kaneff's system is built on a print-on-demand bar code label from Burris Computer Forms. He started sourcing the forms from Burris just a few months ago after doing plenty of homework.
"I've looked around and I've done a lot of research on the Internet, and (the Burris forms seem) to be the best for our applications now," Kaneff said. "I don't see any other forms, like at the (big) box stores that have nearly what I'm looking for."
He uses the LS-2X1B4 computer form from Burris, with four peel-off labels on the page. Each space is reserved for a piece of information used during the packaging and mailing process.
One peel-off label takes the bar code, another the order number - which prints if there's a problem generating the bar code - and the last two show the shipping method (i.e. first class, next day air, priority).
Once the package is ready to go, the shipping label goes on top of of the bar code label, so the customer never sees it.
Kaneff acknowledges that his upfront costs went up slightly when he switched from plain paper packing slips to the Burris computer forms.
"My cost per (mailed) package has increased by, let's say, three cents," he said. "But (the computer forms have) cut down on so much more labor and time. You also don't get mixed up shipments, because the label that goes to that package, goes (on it) right away. So we've seen most of our shipping errors go down to (almost) nothing."
And getting his online customers their packages quickly and efficiently with virtually no mistakes means the likelihood of repeat business is much higher.
For Rob Kaneff and Oasis Supply, moving from a strictly wholesale model to carving out an Internet presence hasn't always been a piece of cake. But with a little ingenuity and the help of Burris Computer Forms, home enthusiasts now have a way to incorporate his cake decorating supplies into their specialty creations.