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.

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.

How to Choose the Right 3PL Partner for Your Business

Handshake to do business with Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics

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.