Get Ready for Temporary Shipping Rate Adjustments for the 2021 Holiday Season

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The United States Postal Service filed notice earlier this year with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) regarding a temporary price adjustment for key package products for the 2021 peak holiday season. This temporary rate adjustment is similar to one in 2020 that anticipated heightened peak-season package and shipping demand, which typically results in extra handling costs.

The planned peak-season pricing, which was approved by the Governors of the Postal Service on August 5, would affect prices on commercial and retail domestic competitive parcels – Priority Mail Express (PME), Priority Mail (PM), First-Class Package Service (FCPS), Parcel Select, USPS Retail Ground, and Parcel Return Service. International products would be unaffected.

Pending favorable review by the PRC, the temporary rates would go into effect at 12:00 a.m., Central Time, on October 3, 2021, and remain in place until 12:00 a.m., Central Time, December 26, 2021.

This seasonal adjustment will bring prices for the Postal Service’s commercial and retail customers in line with competitive practices.

From the UPSP about these changes: “Delivering for America,” the Postal Service’s 10-year plan for achieving financial sustainability and service excellence, calls for appropriate pricing initiatives. The Postal Service has some of the lowest mail postage rates in the industrialized world and continues to offer great values in shipping. These temporary rates will keep the Postal Service competitive while providing the agency with the revenue to cover extra costs in anticipation of peak-season volume surges like levels experienced in 2020. The forecasted additional revenue from the time-limited increase will depend on the volume of packages shipped between Oct. 3 and Dec. 26, 2021″ – the period the Postal Service historically considers its holiday peak season.

The planned price changes include:

Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Parcel Select Ground and USPS Retail Ground:

• $0.75 increase for PM and PME Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes.
• $0.25 increase for Zones 1-4, 0-10 lbs.
• $0.75 increase for Zones 5-9, 0-10 lbs.
• $1.50 increase for Zones 1-4, 11-20 lbs.
• $3.00 increase for Zones 5-9, 11-20lbs.
• $2.50 increase for Zones 1-4, 21-70 lbs.
• $5.00 increase for Zones 5-9, 21-70 lbs.

Additional Planned Increases for the United States Postal Service

Product : Parcel Select Destination Delivery Unit (DDU)
Current: Starts at $3.30
Planned Increase: No change

Product: Parcel Select Lightweight (DDU)
Current: Starts at $2.15
Planned Increase: No change

Product: FCPS Commercial
Current: Starts at $3.01
Planned Increase: 30 cents

Product : FCPS Retail
Current: Starts at $4.00
Planned Increase: 30 cents

Product: Parcel Select Lightweight (DSCF and DNDC)
Current: Starts at $2.55
Planned Increase: $1.00

Product: Parcel Select DSCF
Current: Starts at $4.84
Planned Increase: $1.00

Product: Parcel Select DNDC
Current: Starts at $6.85
Planned Increase: $1.00

Product: Parcel Return Service
Current: Starts at $3.21
Planned Increase: $1.00

FedEx Announces Their Holiday Rate Increases For 2021

Kicking in November 1 with a $1.50-per-piece price hike for FedEx’s Ground Economy deliveries, FedEx starts the holiday season off for merchants with a not so merry notice.

The planned increase affects shipping to outbound residential deliveries for small and medium-sized businesses and covers low-weight, low-value, non-urgent deliveries – typical consumer package deliveries.

The November 1 surcharge expires on November 28, but will be then be upped to $3 per package November 29, and will last until December 12 to compensate for the higher volumes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases. FedEx rate surcharges will then return to the $1.50 per piece increase from December 13 to January 16.

FedEx also announced a new on-going 60-cents-per-piece charge starting January 17, 2022, for retailers whose shipment volumes qualified for holiday surcharges.

UPS Announces Their Holiday Rate Increases For 2021

UPS has developed a pricing tier for the 2021 holiday shipping season based on merchant shipping volume.

This complicated grid is based on distinct variables such as shipments originating from China Mainland and Hong Kong SAR to the U.S.; shipments originating from Japan to the U.S.; shipments originating from Taiwan to the U.S.; shipments from Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand to the U.S.; shipments from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, or United Kingdom to the U.S. and North America; and finally exhaustively any international shipment from all origins to all destinations, except shipments subject to the Peak Surcharges set forth in Sections A through E above, until further notice for the Service Levels and Peak Periods set forth below.

The pricing grid is so complex and confusing, that it is more important to review the document to ascertain what your shipping surcharge for the holiday will be. Visit the price grid.

UPS appears to now be structuring its price increase based on the merchant’s February volume in tiers. The tiers are 110% to 200% of February 2020 volume; greater than 200% to 300% of February 2020 volume; greater than 300% to 400% of February 2020 volume, greater than 400% to 500% of February 2020 volume; greater than 500% of February 2020 volume.

Any way, you look at it, shipping for merchants in the holiday season for 2021 will be more complicated due to Covid-19 and more expensive with new shipping volume surcharges.

Tired of Figuring Out the Shipping? Leave it to Medallion to Ship Your Goods

Leverage our expertise and volume pricing to ship your goods this holiday season and concentrate on selling and servicing your customers. Medallion has programs that fit all budgets and needs – large and small. With warehouses on the East and West Coasts, we make shipping easy, fast, and now headache-free.

Contact us at Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics today to get a free rate quote and learn how easy it is to have us handle your fulfillment and shipping needs.

How to Choose the Right 3PL Partner for Your Business

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The rise of eCommerce and virtual storefronts has made 3PL a popular buzzword. Is a 3PL the solution to your operational challenges? Here’s a look at what a 3PL can and can’t do and how to make the right choice for your business.

What Is a 3PL?

Simply put, a third-party logistics company, commonly referred to as a 3PL, handles a wide range of services that make up the supply chain. This generally includes operational functions before and after the sale, such as warehousing, transportation and order fulfillment.

A business can outsource their entire operational “department” to a 3PL or engage the 3PL only for specific functions. According to a study by research and consulting firm Armstrong & Associates, Inc., as much as 86 percent of domestic Fortune 500 companies use a 3PL for an average of just under three different services.

Why Use a 3PL for Shipping and Fulfillment

• When you turn operations over to a 3PL, it frees you up to focus on sales, which is the lifeblood of your business.

• Money you don’t spend on warehouse space and staff can be invested in other areas of your company. In addition, 3PLs can negotiate much better rates with freight carriers than you can as a small or mid-size independent retailer.

• With same-day and next-day shipping becoming the norm rather than the exception, a 3PL’s expanded distribution network allows you to meet customer delivery expectations.

• While the 3PL handles shipping, you are still the face of the company and so retain control over your brand.

• You can leverage the locations of the 3PL warehouse to your benefit. For example, Medallion has an East Coast and a West Coast location – allowing for fast shipping nationwide when you store merchandise at both locations.

• Hiring a 3PL can be made easy when using the right partner. Even small businesses can benefit from using a 3PL partner such as Medallion Fulfillment – who has a special program for startups.

Tips for Choosing the Right 3PL Partner

1. How will you find the answer if you don’t know what the question is? Define your needs and expectations and how you will measure them. You’re sure to come across a few 3PLs that are perfectly fine providers, but if you’re not on the same page, a partnership is pointless.

2. Do some due diligence regarding potential 3PL providers. How long have they been in business? Are they financially stable? What does their performance over the last few years look like? If you commit to a 3PL and they suddenly go sideways, the whole bottom could drop out of your own business.

3. What is the 3PL’s reputation in the business community? Social media and online review sites make it easier than ever to get “word of mouth” reports on companies from a customer’s perspective. You can also solicit recommendations from your peers who may have experience with various 3PLs.

4. Does the 3PL demonstrate a willingness to address customer service issues? Some providers feel no responsibility to go outside the bounds of their specific duties. When a 3PL works with you to solve problems, that indicates desire to be a true partner.

5. Technology continues to progress at a rapid pace. Is the 3PL keeping up with current advancements, or are they content to hobble along on an outdated platform?

6. Where do you expect your company to be next year? In five or 10 years? Look for a 3PL provider that can scale along with you.

Coast-to-Coast Warehousing and Fulfillment Services

Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics has what it takes to be the right 3PL partner for your needs.

Whether you’re a small startup or a thriving eCommerce vendor, we have a program that fits your needs, including our innovative Amazon replenishment warehousing service.

Contact Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to learn more our customized fulfillment options.

Google Ups Its Game in eCommerce with a New Deep Shopify Connection

As Amazon continues its quest to strong-arm eCommerce retailers into submission, another online giant has decided not to roll over. Google, which holds a commanding 90 percent of the search engine market, has joined forces with top eCommerce platform Shopify to challenge Amazon’s dominance.

Google Takes on Amazon

While Google has so far been only peripherally involved in online retailing, Amazon has been encroaching on Google Ads, which was the recipient of more than 50 percent of digital ad revenues in 2020. However, Amazon grew their own advertising market share from 13.3 percent to 19 percent during the same time.

With more than half of online shopping excursions beginning at Amazon, advertising was a logical extension of their other services. Similarly, Google recognized the opportunity to leverage their own robust ad business into providing an alternative for small and mid-sized eCommerce retailers who feel stifled by the lack of options.

The Changing Focus at Google

The new venture is the brainchild of Bill Ready, who joined Google in January 2020 as the company’s President of Commerce and Payments. Ready had previously served as COO of PayPal and CEO of Venmo and Braintree.

Ready’s arrival at Google coincided with the onset of the unprecedented global pandemic, which in turn triggered a seismic leap in the already robust eCommerce industry. Shortly thereafter, Ready took the first step in shifting Google’s strategy by offering online retailers free listings in Google Shopping.

So, what exactly is the new Google Shopping? What it’s not, according to Ready, is an eCommerce retailer or marketplace. In a blog post sent to Forbes in early May, Ready referred to it as a platform for consumers to discover a wide range of products across a spectrum of sellers, from national big-box stores to small independent retailers.

Days later came Google’s I/O Developer conference, during which Ready officially announced the company’s partnership with Shopify. He expounded on his vision of the venture as part of an overall plan to “democratize” eCommerce with a “free and open” system for consumers and retailers alike.

Why Google Shopping?

Here’s a look at what to expect from Google Shopping now and in the future:

• With just a few clicks, merchants in Shopify’s network of 1.7 million+ retailers can install the platform’s Google channel to auto sync their inventory. They can also link a new or existing Google Ads account, and the free listings policy will continue.

• Shopify sellers can feature their products on heavily trafficked Google platforms, including Maps, Images, Search, Lens and YouTube. More than 1 billion “shopping journeys” occur on these platforms daily, making them fertile sites for new customers.

• Google’s powerful access to comprehensive sets of data will power Shopping Graph, an AI-generated model that makes connections between products, sellers and brands. In an example of this synergy, when a shopper views images of products in Photos, it will trigger a suggestion to search for places to buy the items via Lens.

• Amazon isn’t the only online presence in Google’s crosshairs. The company is testing a program that allows YouTube users to shop for products they discover through their favorite content creators. This is in response to the growing presence of TikTok and Facebook in the eCommerce arena.

Coast-to-Coast Fulfillment Services to Fit Your Needs

How do you set yourself apart in the competitive eCommerce field? Sophisticated shoppers insist on exceptional service, rapid delivery, and complete responsiveness. Let Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics handle your storage and shipping needs while you focus on growing your business.

Our scalable, cost-effective solutions include our Amazon replenishment program. Contact us today to learn more.

Amazon is Drawing Increased Attention as Antitrust Chatter Grows

In the world of online retailing, Amazon is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla. The one-time bookseller has become a global juggernaut, allowing consumers to shop for everything under the sun from the comfort of their own home.

With annual revenue approaching $400 billion, it may seem as though it’s Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. Earlier this year, a group of independent-business organizations joined forces to take aim at monopolies, with Amazon at the dead center of their target.

Small Businesses Feel the Squeeze

Over the years, Congress has enacted various antitrust laws designed to maintain a level playing field. The purported goal of such legislation is to prevent monopolies and promote a competitive marketplace.

In reality, these laws are only as strong as their enforcement. Larger companies have the means to play Goliath to the smaller companies’ David. In 2020, Amazon alone spent approximately $18 million to lobby against stricter antitrust measures.

It may seem as though fighting the retail giants would be a tall enough order. Adding insult to injury, many small businesses feel that industry organizations such as National Retail Federation (NRF) pay lip service to the idea of equal representation while quietly favoring their largest members.

Standing Up for Market Equality

In a proactive effort to regain some equitable conditions, more than 20 trade and business groups formed a coalition under the name, “Small Business Rising.” Members include organizations such as the National Grocers Association (NGA), the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a vocal critic of Amazon’s dominance.

Small Business Rising announced their formation and goals in an April 2021 press release. Amazon was specifically cited by name several times, making it clear what the organization sees as one of their biggest obstacles. As Stacy Mitchell, ILSR co-director stated, “concentrated market power” is the toughest challenge facing today’s small business owner.

The organization’s objectives call on policymakers to do the following:

*Break up tech monopolies, such as Amazon, to prevent them from cornering the online market.

* Add teeth to antitrust laws by making them stronger and more enforceable.

* Put a stop to mega-mergers and set higher criteria for regular mergers.

In addition, Small Business Rising is leveraging the relationships local business owners have with power players in their respective hometowns. Members are organizing meetings, seeking out media coverage and waging letter-writing campaigns.

The Rich Get Richer

The unprecedented conditions of 2020 served to magnify the gap between Amazon and other e-commerce businesses. While COVID restrictions created a surge in online shopping, small online retailers faced corresponding supply chain and distribution difficulties, making it hard for them to accommodate demand.

On the other hand, Amazon was able to draw on its significant resources to weather the storm and emerge stronger than ever. The company spent a reported $4 billion on “incremental COVID-19-related costs,” enabling it to successfully adjust its processes and policies.

In the face of mounting criticism during the last few years, Amazon has tried to brand itself as a valuable ally to small businesses, especially with Amazon Marketplace, its third-party online sales platform. Companies have responded by pointing out how Amazon uses prohibitive fees and data access for competitive advantage.

Grow Your Online Business with Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics

Are Amazon’s arbitrary and restrictive fees and policies helping or hurting your e-commerce business? Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics works with you by offering a full assortment of services tailored to fit your needs.

Contact us to learn more about our flexible and cost-effective fulfillment solutions, including our innovative Amazon replenishment warehousing service.