E-commerce fulfillment service Sprocket Express (whose cost can be determined by contacting the company) was founded in 2005 to serve the large number of e-commerce entrepreneurs coming out of the various Boston-area universities. As time progressed, the company also began to focus on European companies that had U.S. and Canadian customers buying from their sites and that could therefore benefit from shipping inventory within North America. Currently about 70 percent of its clients are U.S.-based.
Like many fulfillment vendors focused at online customers, like Ships-a-Lot, most of Sprocket Express' clients sell consumer goods such as nutritional supplements, clothing, calendars or sports equipment. A few sell perishable goods such as chocolates. Its software interfaces with Amazon, eBay, some other marketplaces, and with shopping cart apps such as Shopify.
The company said it has an interesting range of clients, from rappers and football players with large fanbases to startups that are selling 10-15 orders a week of products that show potential.
Sprocket Express charges a fee for keeping an account open in its system that covers use of the software and about half an hour per month with a customer service team. Additional customer service time costs extra.
Each processed order has a charge on a sliding scale, starting with $2.10 per order. The price per order decreases when the number of orders increases. There is also a charge for each item in the order, starting at 50 cents per item. Again, the price depends on the number of orders per month. It also charges for packaging and for storage.
Other charges include receiving fees (an hourly charge to take the goods from the truck to the warehouse), any kind of assembly work for products that are shipped as parts, and box design. Sprocket Express will also help clients with supply chain planning. Sprocket Express works with month-to-month contracts.
Sprocket Express has a single warehouse in Plainville, Massachusetts. According to a company representative, it has a partnership with another company on the West Coast so that if a client needed bicoastal fulfillment, the orders can be split based on geography.
While that seems to give Sprocket a fairly large coverage area, you'd do well to measure your delivery and storage needs by tracking customer localities. It may be that you're better off dealing with a company that has a larger warehouse portfolio, like Rakuten.
The Sprocket Express user interface (UI) is simple and businesslike, much like Shipfusion. Drop-down menus on the top of the screen lead you to Order Entry, Received Orders, In Process Orders, Inventory and Reports. The software also includes an Account and Help Tab.
Received orders show all of the orders that have not shipped yet, including channel (for example, Shopify or Amazon), Bill To, Ship To, Order Date, and Status. Click the order number and you can see more details about the specific order, including items, prices and shipper.
Once the pick-and-pack process has begun, the entry passes to the In-Process Orders page, which looks almost identical to the Received Orders page. The Processed Orders page is slightly different: It offers information such as the vendor's order number, the ship date, and the status of each shipment, including if it's been back-ordered. Users can filter orders by date, order number, channel, status, and customer, among other factors. As with the other pages, you can click through to get more details on the order, including tracking information.
An Inventory screen offers a listing of all the products, including available units, as well as orders that are on hold, have been committed to an order (but not yet shipped) or back-ordered, together with a total for each item on how many remain available to sell. You can set a reorder point to automatically notify you when inventory is getting low for a specific item.
Finally, an Order Entry screen lets users do special orders that, for any reason, aren't being put through their usual shopping cart software. There is a Report tab, but very few available reports; according to a company rep, customers can call up and request a specific report.
Sprocket Express supports clients through individual customer service reps who are assigned to each account and provide personalized service. Because of this, the company said problems can be handled quickly.
Because Sprocket Express is not a large company, there were not many user comments available. Most were positive and stressed the individualized support.
Sprocket Express is unusual in that it will handle a startup e-commerce shop with very low sales if it feels that the product the shop is handling has potential. As a result, if you're a brand-new business, this could be a good place to start.