At the bottom of this page is a cool article on how LUSH, the British manufacturer of bath and skin products, worked with UPS to change its shipping practices when the volume of orders from the US meant that individual handling became too time consuming.
In the past, Lush's shipping and customs documents were produced manually. And personnel who received calls from customers proceeded as follows: They told the customer that they would call back. After hanging up, they called the courier company. They then called the customer to communicate the requested information. Each order was delivered individually to the US. For each parcel shipped, they had to assume transportation costs and customs. You can imagine the number of calls and checks in a day and the costs of such a situation.
Doing it manually meant lots of individual packages held up at customs, and lots of fees. There were also lots of errors--I remember my first few orders from LUSH each had at least one mistake, although it was great because LUSH would immediately ship the right thing and you got to keep the error! Once I bought a huge gift box and they sent the wrong one, so I got to keep it and receive what I ordered a few days later as well.
The article is a love-letter to UPS--or maybe a promo piece *from* UPS, but very interesting on solving the logistical problems.
Hat tip GirlHacker.