The following article appeared in the March, 2001 issue of Midrange Technology SHOWCASE
concerning our work at eSpeed
Fulfillment (now SpeedFC):
Finding Fulfillment at the Speed of 'E'
By Alex Woodie
One of the great things that the Internet has done for commerce is that it lowers the bar
for entry. Practically anybody with a little product and an eBay account can become an
But all too often these dot-com start-ups lack the business know-how possessed by the same
"bricks and mortar" companies they're trying to displace. Logistical skills such as order
management, inventory control, and running a warehouse just aren't the types of things an
Internet entrepreneur can pick up by reading the "For Dummies" series of how-to books.
That's where companies such as Jeff Zisk's step in. Zisk is the founder, president, and
chief executive officer of eSpeed Fulfillment, a Dallas, Texas, outsourcing company that
picks, packs, and ships product for companies that can't afford the time or expense of doing
it themselves. Armed with an 112,000-square-foot warehouse, an AS/400-based
warehouse management system from Manhattan Associates, and the knowledge to use them
effectively, Zisk and his partners are building a business based on streamlining the supply
chain of others.
"I saw there was a need for distribution for other companies, primarily fulfillment
distribution, where companies want to outsource to get better control of their cost," said
Zisk, who has 15 years of experience in the manufacturing, distribution, and retail
industries. "Smaller clients use us because they don't want to make the investment. Larger
companies see it as a controllable cost. If their business is seasonal, they don't have to
pay for the warehouse for the entire year."
As a fulfillment center, eSpeed receives, stores, and ships out more than 40,000 packages
for its clients every week. In order to manage the shipping traffic, eSpeed invested in a
state-of-the-art warehouse management solution that incorporates the back-end PKMS software
from Manhattan Associates, a PC-based order-taking system, a high-speed Internet line, and
wireless handheld barcode scanners that are used to track individual packages and input the
data into the PKMS system.
The AS/400 is connected by LAN to eSpeed's order management system, which was written
in-house in Perl and gives clients real-time access to information about their inventory
over a password-protected Web site. The AS/400 polls the PC server every 30 minutes for new
orders, which can come in via FTP, EDI, the Web, and email, and to update the PC-server with
new information about shipments. For either a per-transaction or storage-based fee, eSpeed
takes the trouble of managing inventory away from the client.
eSpeed uses an AS/400 Model 600 to run PkMS. Zisk had good things to say about the hardware
and software. "We've had an AS/400 for six or seven years," he said. "It's great because
it's stable and incredibly robust. We installed PkMS about five years ago. It took a little
longer than anticipated to learn the ins and outs of it, but we think it's a great program."
In its first year, eSpeed Fulfillment attracted 15 clients. So far, its client-base runs the
gamut, from retailers that sell using the Web and infomercials to established catalog-based
retailers and even a Fortune 100 company. Zisk also completed his first acquisition at
eSpeed--a local Dallas manufacturing company--in December and hopes to see it increase the
company's carrying capacity.
"We're pretty happy with it and are looking to grow," he said. "There's a lot of companies
that need this type of innovation and to do it themselves is too expensive."
Copyright 2001 Midrange
Computing. Used by permission.
Since this article was written, eSpeed Fulfillment has
upgraded their AS/400 to a Model 820.