How Do I Know I Am Ready to Hire a Fulfillment Partner?

Young woman preparing boxes to ship

While you are getting your eCommerce business up and running, you are probably doing the bulk of the work yourself. Many online companies begin as cottage industries, operating out of a home or garage, such as Jeff Bezos famously did with Amazon.

Even if your eCommerce store does not reach Amazon’s sales levels, you are bound to reach a point where it is hard to keep up. How do you know when it is time to hire a fulfillment company? Ask yourself these questions to help guide your decision.

Are You Ready to Partner With a Fulfillment Company?

1. Are you running out of room?

As sales increase, you need more inventory to fill orders, along with more space to store that inventory. Unfortunately, science has yet to create a wall stretcher that will let you expand your current base of operations.

A fulfillment warehouse is designed to hold large quantities of product. As a plus, they have sophisticated inventory management software that provides efficient tracking and robust reporting.

2. Are you spending too much time running to UPS?

Whether you use USPS, UPS, or FedEx, you are bound to their policies and rates. Few things are more frustrating than scrambling to reach the post office just as they are locking the doors.

If you use a fulfillment service, you can say good-bye to that headache. Not only do they have daily pickups scheduled with all major carriers, but they can accommodate LTL (less than a truckload) shipments and you can benefit from their lower contracted rates. A fulfillment warehouse will also free you up from the task of following up on shipping problems.

3. Are you having a hard time finding labor?

We have all heard about the Great Resignation, with a significant number of people leaving the workforce due to a shift in priorities following the COVID shutdown. For this and other reasons, many employers are having difficulties finding and retaining qualified labor.

With a fulfillment company, you have the advantage of a full staff but pay based on your business alone. You no longer have the responsibility of recruiting, hiring, and managing employees, nor do you have to cover insurance and other labor-related expenses.

4. Can your infrastructure scale along with your business?

As your business grows, you will still find ebbs and flows along the way. The classic example is holiday sales, but there are many other situations that can cause fluctuations. For example, perhaps you sell scarves, bathing suits or other seasonal items.

A fulfillment company focuses on inventory management and order fulfillment. They are experts at these services, so they can navigate the process of scaling as needed to suit your business.

5. Are you expanding to other geographic areas?

Expanding your geographic reach is a natural progression. But with customers expecting two-day, next-day or even same-day delivery, it is crucial to have your product physically located nearby. If you are getting nervous at the thought of opening multiple facilities, a fulfillment warehouse can solve that problem.

6. Do you have time to run your business?

Increasing sales should be job #1. If fulfillment and logistics is taking time away from building your brand, coming up with new products and other sales-related projects, it’s time to take on a fulfillment partner.

Your #1 Choice for a Quality Fulfillment Company

At Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics, we truly consider ourselves a partner in your success. With more than 35 years of experience and facilities on both coasts, Medallion offers a full range of fulfillment services that are flexible enough to scale along with your business.

Contact us to learn more about our innovative Amazon replenishment warehousing service and other programs.

Finding the Value in Your Fulfillment Partner – Does Yours Measure Up?

Young woman comparing with two things.

With the school year over and summer in full swing, this is a perfect time to ask yourself: what grade would you give the performance of your fulfillment warehouse? Do they get a passing grade or below average? Use this scorecard to determine whether your fulfillment partner is making the grade or flunking out.

Pass or Fail: Performance Metrics

No matter what you sell, from accordions to zippers, your customers have many sources to choose from. Elite customer service is what will set you apart from the competition. Your fulfillment partner has a responsibility to uphold the commitments you make to customers regarding delivery time, presentation, accuracy, and other measurable factors.

Service level agreements, or SLAs, are a standard way to document what you expect from your fulfillment partner.

Use these metrics to answer key questions such as:

* Are same-day, next-day and two-day delivery windows met consistently?

* Are you processing a high number of returns because of damages or product quality?

* Are customers receiving the correct items in the correct quantities?

* Is inventory updated at least once a day? Are discrepancies addressed promptly?

Pass or Fail: Open Channels of Communication

We all know (and have experienced) the horror stories of being stuck in voicemail limbo when contacting a company’s customer service department. But when it comes to your fulfillment warehouse, you are more than simply a customer. You are partners, with both of you invested in the same goals. If you have concerns about your fulfillment partner’s performance, do you get passed off to an account executive? Even worse, do they simply ignore you?

A dependable fulfillment partner will offer full transparency in their business relationships. If you do not have access to contact their leadership team for open and honest discussions, that is a red flag. But keep in mind that just talking to leadership is not enough. They should also be responsive to your concerns and create acceptable solutions in a timely manner.

Pass or Fail: Up-to-Date Technology

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, you cannot afford to be left behind due to outdated technology. A web-based portal allows you to access your information 24/7 without the need to contact your fulfillment warehouse. Make sure they use encryption or other appropriate measures for data security.

Even the most sophisticated technology is bound to hit a snag now and then. Ask about support protocols and whether upgrades are performed on a regular basis.

Pass or Fail: Initiative-taking Improvements

Do you sit back and let your e-commerce business roll along, content with the status quo? Of course not, and neither should your fulfillment warehouse. A good partner understands that improvements benefit both of you. Ideally, they are constantly seeking out ways to boost productivity and decrease costs. If your fulfillment warehouse is not presenting you with ideas to improve efficiency, that is a sign they are not as committed to your success as they should be.

We are glad to offer a free review of your service with us for recommendations or review your current fulfillment provider and let you know what we can do better. Just ask us!

Pass or Fail: Safety Precautions

Accidents and disasters can result in problems ranging from returns of damaged products to complete loss of inventory. What measures does your fulfillment partner implement for protection from fire or theft? At minimum, they should have a 360-degree monitoring system with no dead ends.

Safety does not stop with the products themselves. A high rate of workplace injuries can seriously compromise productivity. The warehouse should have an efficient layout and the company should have an established set of protocols to enhance employee safety.

Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics is a Fulfillment Warehouse that Scores High on the Satisfaction Scale

Find out why clients from coast-to-coast have chosen Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to be their partner in success. Contact us to learn more about how our services can enhance your business and why we are the fulfillment warehouse choice for a wide variety of businesses around the nation.

Resources to Grow Your Online Store in the Digital Age – Become Your Own Influencer

Medallion Fulfillment - a Fulfillment Company

The phenomenal explosion of social media has given rise to a new occupation: online influencer. People with a knack for promotion and a keen understanding of their audience can make a six-figure income.

Isn’t your money better spent on partnering with a fulfillment warehouse that can help you maximize sales and offer a stellar customer experience? Use our valuable tips to become your own influencer and control the narrative that shapes your brand.

1. Know your audience.

Before you do anything else, define the audience you want to reach. This is the core around which you’ll build your overall strategy.

Don’t stop at basic demographic data such as age and gender. Take a deep dive into who these people are and what motivates them. Where do they live? What are their interests? What are their preferred channels of communication? There are a number of analytics tools that allow you to gather this information.

2. Leverage your social media platforms.

Social media is not passive. It’s intended to create a connection between people who might otherwise not have the opportunity to interact. Boost engagement with followers through these tried-and-true methods:

• Post colorful, eye-catching pictures
• Share quirky videos that have the potential to go viral
• Include hashtags
• Conduct giveaways
• Incorporate user-generated content

3. Make content relevant.

This is where steps 1 and 2 intersect. The most professional, well-crafted content is all for nothing if it holds no interest for your audience. Target marketing, where you craft a program to reach your most likely consumers, is more successful and cost-effective than traditional mass marketing, which is the generic, “throw everything against a wall and see what sticks” method.

As an example, you probably wouldn’t get any results posting retirement-related content for a target audience of twenty-somethings. Many sellers use their customer data to build buyer personas that represent their ideal customers. This technique helps to humanize your audience and determine what content would be most appealing to them.

4. Follow a consistent schedule.

Random postings come off as an afterthought. When you follow a specific schedule, people will become accustomed to the rhythm and look forward to your posts. It also helps you get in the habit of planning your topics.

There’s another compelling reason to create a social media schedule. Instagram and many other platforms give preference to accounts that post on a regular basis.

5. Team up with a complimentary brand.

Cross-promotion is a great way to tap into an audience you may not be currently reaching. Look for a brand that appeals to a similar customer but is not a direct competitor. Activities can include anything from links and guest blog posts to co-sponsoring contests and giveaways.

Burger King is a high-profile example of a successful cross-promotion strategy. The fast-food chain has marketed tie-ins with a wide range of movies and TV shows, most notably The Simpsons and a number of Disney films.

6. Follow other influencers.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. It always helps to learn from the best. Follow some of the top influencers and pay attention to what they do. How often do they post? How do they interact with their audience? Also note what kind of posts generate the most response from followers.

Build Your Brand with First-Class Fulfillment Warehouse Services

No matter how well you market your brand, it means nothing if you can’t follow through with excellent delivery and service. We offer scalable, customizable fulfillment warehouse services that can grow along with your business.

Contact Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to learn more about our programs, including our Amazon replenishment warehousing service.

Tips to Build Ecommerce Sales in April

Logistics and supply chain management for online shopping concept : Fork-lift moves a box with a red shopping cart logo, 2 cartons on a laptop computer. The image depicting delivering goods or products in a store.

When it comes to ecommerce sales opportunities, April may seem to stretch out like a vast wasteland. The lucrative holiday season is a fading image in the rearview mirror, and people are scrambling to pay their income tax bills.

But this doesn’t mean you should simply coast along and hope for the best. April is the perfect time to try some creative strategies for boosting sales. Use these expert tips to keep your fulfillment warehouse pumping out orders through the month.

  1. Fine-Tune Your Email Marketing Strategy

Does your website make it easy for visitors to join your email list? Pop-ups, floating banners, and opt-in check boxes are all dynamic ways of encouraging customers to provide their email address. Be sure to use vibrant calls to action, such as “Get Started,” rather than the generic “Sign Up.”

Don’t treat your email list as a one-size-fits-all program. Ask customers questions, such as what type of promotions they like or how they heard about your shop. Use the information to segment your email list for personalized marketing that will build loyalty and repeat sales.

  1. Leverage the Power of “Scarcity”

There’s even an acronym for it these days: FOMO, or “fear of missing out.” No one likes to feel left out of something that they believe everyone else is enjoying. According to credit reporting company Experian, creating a sense of urgency in promotional emails doubles the transaction rate of regular marketing emails.

Limited time offers, flash sales and countdown timers are all ways to generate excitement. But don’t stop there. Direct the momentum by providing clear, easy-to-follow instructions on what steps customers should take to capitalize on the offers.

  1. Build Brand Awareness

How often do you monitor Facebook, Instagram and your other social media platforms? Do you use Google Alerts and other tools to follow your mentions? Your brand is your identity. Make sure people are receiving the image you want to project. If you find any discrepancies, use the information to tweak your marketing methods.

  1. Review Data Analysis

When your goals are vague and unfocused, it’s difficult to create a plan of action. Goals should always be measurable so you can track your progress and stay motivated. Reviewing data on a regular basis lets you see where you stand and make any necessary course corrections.

  1. Know Your Audience

Who is your target audience? No matter how carefully crafted your marketing program is, it won’t matter if it’s focused in the wrong direction. Google and Facebook have useful tools that reveal information about your website traffic, such as how people are finding your site and where they’re located.

Buyer personas offer a detailed picture of your target customers. Put yourself in their shoes. What are their pain points? What motivates them? Where do they congregate online? The more specific you can make these personas, the better equipped you are to find and reach your audience.

  1. Improve Customer Service

With the sales journey taking place digitally, customer service becomes even more important than ever. Software company Zendesk conducted a survey that revealed 84 percent of respondents use customer service as a deciding factor on whether or not to buy.

Customer service can be the element that sets you apart from your competitors. Give your customers plenty of options to contact you and then provide prompt follow-up.

Is Your Fulfillment Warehouse Helping or Hurting You?

Don’t let supply chain and logistics issues distract you from growing your sales. Contact Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to learn about our cost-effective, scalable fulfillment warehouse services.

New 2022 Rates for USPS, UPS, and FedEX

USPS Vehicle in New York City

Shipping in 2022 just got a tad more expensive starting as early as January 9, 2022. The United States Postal Service (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), and FedEX have all announced new rates for 2022. We’ve summarized the highlights below and have linked to the various websites and announcements if you want to do a deep dive into package sizes and time sensitive shipping updates.

United States Postal Service (USPS)

Still awaiting final price approval, but scheduled to take effect on January 9, 2022, the USPS expects to raise prices about 3.1% for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express. See all the details at the USPS website.

Shipping for domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate packages will be also higher. See the summary table with the expected updates below.

Product Current Changed
Small Flat-Rate Box $8.45 $9.45
Medium Flat-Rate Box $15.50 $16.10
Large Flat-Rate Box $21.90 $16.10
APO/FPO Large Flat-Rate Box $20.40 $20.00
Regular Flat-Rate Envelope $7.95 $8.95
Legal Flat-Rate Envelope $8.25 $9.25
Padded Flat-Rate Envelope $8.55 $9.65

Although USPS published increase is an average of 3.1%, Shipware.com predicts that most shippers instead will see a rate increase of 5 to 8%.

“The announced average price change for Priority Mail is 3.1%, however, most shippers will realize a 4.9% increase (1-5 lbs), while ecommerce prices will increase an average of 6-8%.” Read the full article to check your impact.

United Parcel Service (UPS)

Bucking the trend UPS’ price rate increase takes effect just after the Christmas holiday on December 26, 2021. The rate increase will be one of the largest in UPS’ history. Expect a 5.9% average rate increase plus a hefty Fuel Surcharge.

Large package shippers will get hit again with a higher than average rate increase. Shipware.com say, “The large package surcharge will increase within a range of 8% to 16.7% and the additional handling charge for weight and dimensions will increase from 5.2% to 13.9% depending on zone.” Read the full article to check your impact.

For regular shippers the Fuel Surcharge is added to your weekly shipping statement. UPS describes the surcharge:

“UPS uses an index-based surcharge that is adjusted weekly. Changes to the surcharge will be effective on Monday of each week. The surcharge will be based on the National U.S. Average On Highway Diesel Fuel Price as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for the week that is two weeks prior to the adjustment, rounded to the nearest cent.”

The posted sample grid show a surcharge of 9.2% to 12.75% on the UPS website page for reference Your shipping may also be affected by Peak Surcharges for shipping into the US from overseas. View the table. Visit the Shipware.com website for a good summary of all the rate increases for UPS to get a high level overview.

FedEX

FedEx will increase shipping prices on January 3, 2022. A whopping 5.9% average increase is expected. with Fuel Surcharge increases to be factored in as well. This is the largest increase for FedEx in eight years. Most shippers will feel more than a 5.9% impact.

Additional information from the FedEx website show additional increases that will impact shipping costs in January.

• Effective Jan. 17, 2022, FedEx Freight will introduce a No Shipment Tendered surcharge that applies when a pickup is performed and no shipment is tendered to the carrier.

• Effective Jan. 17, 2022, the International Out-of-Delivery-Area Surcharge and International Out-of-Pickup-Area Surcharge rates will be determined based on the corresponding tier of the ZIP code, postal code, or city of the shipment’s origin and/or destination location for International Express Freight and Parcel services.

• Effective Jan. 17, 2022, a Delivery and Returns Surcharge will be assessed on packages that are delivered or returned using FedEx Ground Economy services.

• Effective Jan. 24, 2022, the Additional Handling Surcharge and Oversize Charge rates for U.S. Express Package Services and U.S. Ground Services will be determined based on the shipment’s zone”

You can read the full rate change notice on FedEx for more information. Or preview the rates now in a PDF from the FedEx website.

Shipware.com says this about the FedEx rate increase: “This is the first time since 2013 that the average parcel increase is greater than 4.9%.” For a high level summary of the new FedEX rates read the full article.

Rates May Change, But Medallion’s Customer-Focused Service Does Not

Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics knows that increases in shipping costs squeeze your bottom-line. You want to get value from the services you receive and keep your customers happy and loyal. Medallion understands this as your 3PL service provider.

Rest assured we do all we can do to keep our costs low and our prices affordable to boost your bottom-line.