Subscription Box Services Lead the Way in DTC Brands

Subscription Boxes Work to Build Your Business

Over 25% of consumers are signed up for subscription box services. The industry now contains over 3,500 established box services worth roughly $10 billion. And, according to MultiChannelMerchant, 75% of DTC (direct to consumer) brands will offer subscription services by 2023. As this model becomes more popular, many brands are wondering if they should ride this wave with their own subscription boxes or supply their products to mixed or mystery boxes to attract new customers. At the same time, fulfillment partners need to tone up their skills and highlight their capabilities in this area to attract and retain more clients.

Subscription boxes are beneficial to everyone, which is one of the reasons they have become so popular across the board. Here are some of the benefits.

Consumers

  • Save money
  • Try new products

The benefits to consumers are simple. Not only can they avoid running out of products that they use regularly and count on, they also save money on these products. Plus, they can discover new products in the samples included in the boxes. Sometimes the boxes are random selections, while other boxes are selected entirely by the consumer. Each has its own benefits. In a previous post, we explored some of the popular subscription box options.

Brands

  • Better order forecasting
  • Enhance customer loyalty
  • Improve bottom line

Order Forecasting
One of the challenges of retail in general is the predictability of order flow. Some brands experience a very regular pattern throughout the year, with peak season activity predictably raising revenue. But most brands struggle to anticipate the order volume. Forecasting isn’t easy, especially when it’s about the future.

The subscription box model helps regulate this flow by grouping orders and standardizing the activity among subscribed customers. Although some will cancel their subscriptions, the overall pattern will be more regular than businesses without subscription options, evening out cash flow and helping predict revenues month over month.

Back in the dark early days of e-commerce, a business would need to manually create reorder logic to ship to a customer each month. Today there are numerous services that provide this capability within existing e-commerce platforms, communicating with fulfillment partners as well as the customer and fully automating the process.

Customer Engagement and Loyalty

Subscribing is an act of loyalty. This model helps build a relationship between the customer and the brand. The consumer is more likely to purchase from the business that they deal with so regularly and the business has an easier time creating engagement for promotions or new items and cross-selling.

Building this level of trust paves the way for potential up-sells. Familiarity breeds customer loyalty in this case. And it’s worth noting that many of these brands would not have encountered or attracted the customers without the exposure to product trial that subscription boxes create.

Bottom Line Benefits

But subscription boxes can also save the brand money. By regulating order flow, there is more predictability in inventory, which prompts a leaner supply chain and reduces carrying costs. At the same time, the brand gains new customers and a more predictable order flow.

Fulfillment Services

  • Better forecasting
  • Fill niche services

Similarly, a fulfillment service that processes subscription boxes may be able to move inventory through more quickly, cutting down on stagnant inventory. Storage costs are rarely a significant source of revenue for a fulfillment house, but they can impact the brand’s bottom line. By filling orders and utilizing inventory in a more efficient manner, a brand can achieve JIT inventory (just-in-time inventory) and smooth the supply chain so there are less stuck-in-storage costs. This is good for everyone.

Shipping large volume for a client once per month helps a 3PL better predict staffing needs. 3PLs are accustomed to ramping up staff for peak holiday seasons, but when a client has a very successful sales promotion without warning, this can create a strain on the fulfillment operation. Again, subscription boxes help regulate this flow and make the peaks more predictable. Not only does the fulfillment partner benefit from more regular peak order volumes, but this improves efficiency which impacts the 3PL’s bottom line.

Much like the brands themselves, fulfillment partners can forecast revenue more easily with the more regulated pattern lent by subscriptions.

Fulfillment services who are adept at serving the subscription box market are prepared to handle the relevant logistics. These companies have worked out the kinks and are set up to provide service to this niche, which is growing rapidly. This expertise helps them provide quality service to their clients across a variety of fulfillment scenarios.

Conclusion

The subscription box model works well for all parties in the transaction.

  • Predictability (of delivery, order flow, revenue)
  • Efficiency
  • Relationships
  • Saves money (retail prices, inventory, supply chain, preparation)

If your business is not involved in subscription service, this may be a good time to research your options. Almost every brand has a product that fits in one or more of these boxes.

Sprocket Express is a division of Medallion Enterprises and owned by Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics.

4 More Signs it’s Time to Outsource Fulfillment

Questions on Fulfillment Services

There are many reasons your business may consider outsourcing to a fulfillment service. The most important, although difficult to monetize, is time. Once your business has grown beyond the startup phase and begun to sustain itself, prioritizing your time, and that of your employees or partners, is crucial to continued success.

In addition to needing time to concentrate on business growth, here are four more signs that it is time to outsource your fulfillment.

Too Many Questions

You are an expert in your field. Your business knows its target markets and has a plan in place to increase sales. As your product offering widens and your customer base grows, your orders become less homogeneous. Soon you intend to pursue wholesale customers, increasing the variety even further. All of these changes bring questions.

What is the best shipping method for wholesale orders? Is it the same as retail orders? Should we use the same carrier for all packages to increase volume discounts, or can we save money in other ways? Do we need to stock more shipping box sizes? And, above all, are we paying too much for shipping?

A reliable fulfillment service already has the answers to your questions and will allow you time to market your business and develop your assets.

The Sea of Rising Costs

Shipping costs have risen over 60% in less than a decade. Many companies spend 10-12% of their revenue on shipping costs alone. Utilizing different carriers for different shipping scenarios can save money, but diffuses your volume discounts for a single business.

An established fulfillment service is able to offer discounted freight rates based on the volume they handle for all clients together. Leveraging this power in numbers will save your business more money than it can earn from its own volume discounts for many years, if not indefinitely.

As sales grow, many related costs increase: the staffing costs to pack and ship orders, packaging materials, storage space, shipping costs, returns processing, and more. This is in addition to advertising and marketing costs, manufacturing, freight, web development, legal and other expenses. And time, the most precious and nonrenewable resource. When the fulfillment need begins to drain resources, outsourcing is the decisive action that consolidates and manages these costs into one bill, one concern, one (very important) cog in the wheel.

A Barrier to Growth

Expanding to new markets and marketplaces requires planning and logistics management. The software integrations alone can save valuable time for a growing business. Third-party logistics partners (3PLs) like Sprocket Express have existing software integrations that can take your orders directly from most any shopping cart or marketplace and automatically process the orders through their system.

With expansion, peak season traffic also increases. This is great news for your business, but is your in-house capability ready for the heightened activity? With a professional fulfillment partner, your business can focus on promotions and social media, rather than shipping orders during busy times. They will have seasonal staff on hand to meet the demand and they have regular pickup, plenty of packing materials, and the experience to keep the whole thing running smoothly.

Trying to forge ahead once your business reaches the tipping point can impede your success. It’s like trying to start two businesses- one in your field and one in the fulfillment field. If that idea resonated with you, it is probably time to outsource.

Warehouse Space

Depending on your product line, warehouse space may become a concern early in the game. For businesses that import containers of goods, storage space is key. If your products are small and/or purchased in small quantities, it may not be urgent to find a separate location for storage. For those that deal with large items or quantities, a professional warehouse is immensely helpful. Over time, it will save money to use a warehouse rather than your own business space to house inventory.

Conclusion

Recreating a knowledgeable and experienced shipping department is a deviation of resources, both time and money. Once you have taken hold in your market, diverting your focus to this task may not be the best course of action. Outsourcing fulfillment at this crucial moment can streamline your operations and provide room to scale.

If you are ready to consider outsourcing your order fulfillment, contact us for more information.

Sprocket Express is a division of Medallion Enterprises and owned by Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics.

The Evolution of Ecommerce

History of eCommerce

In 1979, Michael Aldrich invented online shopping that continued to gain widespread popularity and made shopping a lot easier. It is now known as ecommerce. Over time, it has become the most preferred method of shopping and has provided significant opportunities for businesses around the world. According to a study, North America alone had around 223 million online shoppers in 2017, and world retail ecommerce sales reached $2.3 trillion. It is estimated that retail ecommerce sales will reach $4.9 trillion by 2021.

Early Years of Ecommerce

Michael Aldrich found a way to connect domestic television and a multi-user transaction processing computer via telephone lines. His invention was called the teleputer, and it allowed users to buy various items without leaving their homes. Aldrich’s invention enabled people to carry out transactions anytime and anywhere.

In 1991, when the World Wide Web became widely available, ecommerce experienced massive growth. One of the very first successful ecommerce platforms was eBay. In 1995, eBay launched an online auction website where people bought and sold used items from one another. By 1996, eBay sold well over $7.2 million worth of goods and had only two full-time employees.

Another company that saw its stock rise with the emergence of the World Wide Web was Amazon. Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon was created with the intention to sell books. In the first month, it started selling books across the US and other 45 countries. Today, Amazon offers a wide range of products.

The Growth of Ecommerce

Ecommerce is continuously evolving since it has to keep up with the competitive online market and the rate of development. With the emergence of newer technologies, online retailers have to utilize new and effective ways to generate leads and make more sales. Some of the inventions that have drastically impacted ecommerce are digital marketing and mcommerce. The infographic below will further provide you with more facts about ecommerce.

International Fulfillment – How to Reach More Customers Worldwide

Cross-Border eCommerce

The world of eCommerce knows no boundaries. Consumers in the US want access to foreign products without currency conversions and lengthy shipping times. Outside of the US, consumers want American products without surprises and delays. As a business owner, you want to reach a larger market with ease. Your fulfillment partner plays a big part in making international eCommerce sales flow smoothly.

Cross-border online consumer purchasing is increasing 25-30% a year and is projected to reach $1 trillion this past year, according to market statistics. These sales account for over 17% of all eCommerce sales worldwide.

How Fulfillment Can Help

Navigating the intricacies of cross-border commerce is no easy feat. It takes a lot of time and research to understand how to facilitate a smooth purchase and shipping process. There are different carriers, documents, regulations, and certifications to consider. The most important part is the keep the customer happy and increase your sales. To save time and money, choose a fulfillment partner with experience in these areas.

Services to Look for in Your Provider:

• Customs documentation
• Drop shipping
• Freight consolidation
• Overseas carrier relationships
• Multiple warehouse locations

If you are already selling on Amazon, you can easily expand to their Canadian and Mexican platforms, as well as other countries. You may need to upload documents or approvals, depending on your product category.

If you are using FBA, Amazon will fulfill and ship the orders. But if you are fulfilling orders in house, you will need to tackle the process yourself. If you are new to international shipping, this can be a big project that takes time from your marketing and growth efforts.

Global Seller Benefits

Whether selling in small quantity to consumers outside of the US, distributing overseas, or sending products the US for sale to American consumers, this is a prime opportunity to work with a 3PL. A strong global fulfillment house offers experience in both B2C and B2B international eCommerce situations. These partners truly offer multi channel support. No boundaries.

International Seller Benefits

• Reach US customers quickly
• Avoid customs holdups
• Compete with US sellers
• Freight consolidation

US Seller Benefits

• Reach international customers efficiently
• Offer smooth customs process
• Understand export sales factors
• Expand your market reach

Multiple warehouses are not appropriate for every business. Maintaining more than one inventory location can be too much for many businesses as this tends to increase the cost of the service and divides your inventory. Without a large volume and solid historical stats to decide how to break up the inventory, it can actually hurt a business to spread out inventory at this level.

Companies with large volume, fewer SKUs, or a wide and even geographical reach will benefit from multiple locations. This is a big consideration when choosing a fulfillment partner. Medallion has two warehouse locations one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast. Use our two locations to grow your business.

Businesses that prefer one location can still achieve worldwide distribution. The key is experience. Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics and Sprocket Express can help any business create a seamless process to overseas shipping. By increasing your market reach, you can grow exponentially as you create brand awareness in new locations and in new markets.

Medallion and Sprocket Express Have the Experience You Need

An experienced 3PLs like Medallion and Sprocket Express can help you immensely when shipping overseas. Greg Kent, our President, is well-versed in using fulfillment systems reaching a global market. He can help international sellers with US eCommerce, as well as help US companies sell better abroad.

All of our clients benefit from our custom-built portal that offers real-time inventory and shipping information. Businesses and customers alike receive tracking information directly and immediately. We can provide same day shipping across a variety of carriers. Talk to us about international shipping and see if we can help you expand your geographic reach.

Beyond Amazon, the Power of E-commerce Marketplace Diversification

Grow Your Business by Thinking of More Resources than Amazon

Plenty of businesses use Amazon as their primary online marketplace. But many observe the old adage and don’t put all of their eggs in one basket. Diversification is a successful e-commerce strategy that allows your business to reach more customers in more places.

Our clients use a variety of marketplaces to expand their businesses. These are some of our favorites. Sprocket Express and Medallion Fulfillment integrate with all of these markets quickly and efficiently so that you can ship all of your orders using one easy fulfillment interface.

eBay

This year marks eBay’s 25th anniversary as an online marketplace. It was one of the first and continues to function as a major selling platform. Although Amazon has risen to number one with roughly three times the annual gross merchandise volume (GMV), eBay is still the second leading marketplace in the U.S.

Similar to Amazon, an e-commerce eBay “shop” allows retailers a single branded storefront for all of their listings. Whether used in conjunction with a brand website or as the primary online presence, the eBay shop is a powerful selling tool.

Sprocket and Medallion Fulfillment are fluent in multiple e-commerce marketplaces and already integrates with eBay for a seamless experience, allowing multi-channel merchants to focus on their products and leave the marketplace protocols to us.

Walmart.com

Walmart is the third largest e-commerce marketplace in the United States and represents serious competition to Amazon. Approximately 95% of Americans have shopped at Walmart or Walmart.com in the past year, so this is a massive audience and it continues to grow.

It is easy to start selling on Walmart with these seven steps. Marketplace items appear in search results on Walmart.com alongside other items.

Shopify

Shopify is an e-commerce platform designed to allow clients to easily build a website with a shopping cart solution. As one of the most popular e-commerce cart packages, this software option is a powerful online selling tool.

For businesses who prefer to sell mainly on their own websites, Shopify is an ideal choice. You can also use the platform to build your own marketplace for your brand. Look for a fulfillment service like Sprocket Express a division of  Medallion Fulfillment, which is already integrated and ready to connect to your site in fifteen minutes.

Rakuten.com Shopping

Buy.com (recently named Rakuten.com Shopping) is one of the largest online retail marketplaces with over 20 million customers in the U.S. On this platform, e-commerce sellers can create their own fully branded “storefront” to maintain cohesive brand identity.

As an added bonus, Rakuten clients have access to an e-commerce consultant to advise sellers on ways to expand exposure and increase sales. Customers of the marketplace also earn cash back, which promotes loyalty to the platform and encourages repeat business.

Retail EDI

Companies that sell to wholesale customers to supply their retail stores often use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to transmit orders. This is the most efficient way to resupply because the system does all of the work behind the scenes and all the store has to do is enter the quantity of an item to trigger the order.

EDI is a powerful strategy for B2B sellers and can trim time and staff expenses, contributing to a healthier bottom-line and less error in the supply chain. Sprocket Express is equipped with full EDI capabilities to allow our wholesale clients to focus on expanding their businesses without devoting valuable time to processing large orders.

In Conclusion

Sprocket Express a division of Medallion Fulfillment is expressly designed to serve multichannel marketers and omnichannel sellers. With built-in integrations for numerous marketplaces, we are prepared to serve your business wherever and however you choose to sell.

We currently support multi-channel platforms for over 25% of our clients, so we can also coach on carrier selection, shipping method strategies and more, based on your unique business needs.