E-Commerce Fulfillment Business Takes Off

Making the news yesterday got us all nostalgic so we went and dug up this post from 2012.

JACKSONVILLE — Priority Transportation Group Inc. CEO Christian Flowers said he’s found some good deals in the classified section of a local newspaper.

Priority Transportation is the parent company of three sister companies: Priority Couriers, Priority Delivery & Logistics and Shipping-and-Handling.com. Shipping-and-Handling, which Flowers says has experienced more than 400 percent growth in the past two years, was bought from an ad in the classified section of The Florida Times-Union, the same way Flowers bought Priority Couriers in 1990.

The shipping business, which started with four accounts, now serves more than 100 and company executives hired six people this year to help fill and ship orders, Flowers said. Shipping-and-Handling was founded to provide fulfillment services to ecommerce websites, including filling orders from product inventory, shipping and back office work such as taking orders, accounting and acting as a telephone answering service.

It also helps customers design a website more effectively and integrate an effective shopping cart function. Flowers said he bought Shipping-and-Handling.com for less than $100,000 in 2010 as a way to reinvent the company during the economic crisis and it worked.

“The market is growing rapidly because people who can’t find jobs want to sell themselves on [online auction website] eBay,” Flowers said.

Handbag designer Kelly Moore Clark said she’s had a very intimate customer relationship with the Jacksonville-based Priority Transportation for at least the past two years.

Clark designs handbags for photographers, although she’s also moving toward creating less specialized purses for women. Based in Ruston, La., she sells her handbags through her website and in about 100 camera stores around the world.

Shipping-and-Handling services all the orders and shipping that come from Clark’s website and about 75 percent of the shipping to retail stores. Clark shipped nearly 15,000 bags in 2011. She was worried about handing it off to an outside company at first, but she said she’s happy with the decision.

“We hit it off immediately,” she said. “They know us and love us and they do what it takes to make us and our customers happy.”

The company charges $1.25 to $5 per item on an order, depending on the order’s complexity, Flowers said. The company also offers storage space.

Flowers just bought another 40,000-square-foot warehouse on Dawn Road in South Jacksonville for slightly more than $1 million and he is looking for more space to grow the business. Priority Transportation employs about 25 people in Jacksonville and has around 1,000 customers.

The First Tee has used Shipping-and-Handling since January. Training coordinator Marian Eichholz describes the relationship as close and personable. The First Tee is a nonprofit organization based in St. Augustine that aims for positive youth development through the sport of golf.

“They’ve been a pleasure to work with,” Eichholz said.

The First Tee has more than 200 chapters across the globe and ships out at least 10 items a week, including marketing material, coach training guides and annual reports through Shipping-and-Handling. The nonprofit has been able to consolidate all its belongings in the Flowers warehouse on Philips Highway and uses the courier service to get items from storage dropped by the group’s headquarters.

Shipping-and-Handling has helped The First Tee create a product inventory and helped with the design of its online storefront. The change has made its website more user-friendly, which has led to an increase in orders over last year, Eichholz said.

Orders for last year totaled 1,308. Orders for the first eight months of 2012 have already risen nearly 13 percent over 2011 figures to 1,477.