Customers love choices. Allowing them to select various options and build their own kit or bundle makes a lot of sense and a lot of sales. A great example is a computer. The computer will need RAM, let them choose how many gigs and how fast. It will need storage, let them choose Standard or Solid State as well as the number of gigs or terabytes. I think were on the same page. When it comes to packing verification you want to be able to make sure that everything the customer chose makes it into the shipment. This may be easy, it may be difficult, or it may be impossible without changing your current system, and it usually comes down to your online store and or the extension used to save and list the choices made by the customer.
Scenario 1 - The easy way. In this scenario each of the choices the customer makes is listed as a line item in the order, along with the quantity. So in our computer example they chose:
8 gigs of DDR RAM x QTY 1
250 gigs of solid state storage x QTY 1
The SKU of each of the items they chose and the quantity they chose appears as a separate line item in the order. This makes it possible for your inventory system to know what was ordered and track it and GroovePacker can verify it. In addition to the items chosen, the master bundle item, the Computer in this case, may also be listed as a line item. In most cases, it will not need to be packed as it is just a way to group the items together for tracking sales metrics. When the Master item is just an intangible idea used to group the items together, you will need to set this master SKU to be treated as an intangible item using the switch found in the Packing Options tab of the products detail page. (Find the product in the product list, click it's name to open it's page, click the Packing Options tab at the top of the page and enable the "Intangible" option.) This will hide the Master item from the packer an only the line items that were chosen will be packed.
Not all shopping carts offer an option to send the chosen items as individual line items. Some offer the option but it is not the default or it may only be supported through the use of an app or extension. If you are using an extension to control the bundle setup you will need to use an extension that supports passing the individual skus. Since passing individual skus is required for tracking inventory, you might check that the bundling extension supports inventory tracking for items in configurable bundles.
Scenario 2 - The difficult way. In this scenario we prepare for a lot of manual work. In our example the customer is only making two selections. Each selection could have tons of options, but lets say their are just 3 for each. This means their are 9 total combinations for what could be ordered for this particular bundle. If a unique sku is assigned to each of these combinations in the online store and we set each up as a kit in GroovePacker, it is possible to properly verify them. I'll give a quick example SKU
COMP220-8GIGDDR-SS250. COMP220- is the prefix letting us know which bundle it is. This part will stay the same in each combination. The next part, 8GIGDDR, is their RAM selection. When we build the kit for this sku we know it will include the SKU for 8 gigs of DDR RAM. Other options might be 4GIGDDR or 16GIGDDR, but these will be separate kits. When the setup is done there are 9 separate kits, one for each combination, each with their own unique sku, which the shopping cart adds to the order based on what the customer selects. This scenario is manageable when there are few choices and few options for each choice but it can get exponentially more brutal as the choices grow.
Scenario 3 - The impossible way. This scenario begins the same way. The customer chooses their RAM and their storage options and the process looks the same on the surface. However, on the backend, something different is happening. Rather than adding each of their selections as line items in the order, the shopping system is adding just one Generic SKU to the order. In this example it would be the SKU for the computer itself, COMP220. This tells us which bundle but nothing about the selections the customer made. The selections are then tacked on as text, in whatever way made sense at the time, to the master sku item. Sometimes they appear in the description, sometimes a custom product field, it's different from store to store but the one thing that ties all these options together is that they ignored by inventory systems, accounting systems and packing verification systems that use SKU's to identify products, not descriptions. This method is used because it's a quick hack way to get the choices on the packing slip, and when that is all that is required, it works. When it's time to optimize your operations though, this is a good place to start. You'll need to select another online store, or an extension for your current store, that treats the items the customer chose as individual line items.
If you find yourself in Scenario 3 and you're not ready to make changes to your store, there is no "quick fix", but you can use an alternate setup to get some benefits from GroovePacker, even if true packing verification will not be possible for these bundles until the items that need verifying can be communicated in a way that the software can understand.
The concept is simple. Since we don't know what should be in the order we can not verify it, but we can still record exactly what was shipped. The does a few thing. First it allows your packers to remain consistent. Everything gets scanned, no exceptions. Second, it gives you more information if an error is made. You know who made it and exactly what was scanned. That's way better than not knowing. Here is how you can set this up. First, locate the bundle "master" sku in GroovePacker. This will be the one that appears as a line item in the order when the bundle is ordered. I would add a note in the "Special Instructions" field of this item that says something like: "Scan each of the items the customer chose for this bundle, then scan the bundle barcode." This will remind the packer what action to take. When it comes time to scan the bundle barcode they can either scan the barcode for that bundle from a sheet at the packing station, they can use a "click-scan" to pass the item, or they can use the CLICKSCAN barcode. As for the items in the bundle, they will not be shown to the packer in the "Items left to scan" column. Normally when an item does not appear in an order it can not be scanned into the order without an error. To get around this we will need to enable an option for each of the items which are possible bundle selections. This option is found in the scan and pack options tab of the product detail page and it's labeled: "Add to any order". As the name suggests, it allows the item to be scanned into an order even if the item is not listed as a line item. Once this option is enabled for each SKU that can be added to a bundle you are ready to rock.
Here's the workflow:
- The packer begins scanning the items in the order.
- When they reach the bundle item they check the packing slip to see what was selected.
- As they scan each of these selections it is recorded with the order.
- After scanning all of the bundle items they scan or click scan the master bundle item.
With this workflow you know what was scanned and who scanned it. No, it will not prevent them from scanning the 4GIGDDR instead of the 8GIGDDR, for that we would need to know the 8GIGDDR was ordered. When the online store is able to pass the customer selections as a line items, that is exactly what we will do, but for now we have more info about what was packed than before and we are less likely to see errors.