USPS Holiday Shipping Rate Increases

USPS has raised rates.

We have received notification from the United States Postal Service that shipping prices will temporarily increase on October 18, 2020 until December 27, 2020. These increases are being enacted due to the higher shipping traffic from the pandemic and the expected increase in holiday shipping volume. Read more information.

FEDEX and UPS Shipping Rates

UPS has also announced rate updates due to pandemic shipping volume and extra handling.

FedEx has certain surcharges already enacted but has not announced holiday rate increases at this time.

As we know more, we will communicate any updates to you in our newsletter.

How to Take Product Photos for Your Store Like a Pro But on the Cheap

As online shopping continues to grow market share, the sense of touch has been removed from the buying process, making visual appeal more important than ever. According to ecommerce consultant BigCommerce, two-thirds of consumers rate image quality as “very important” when it comes to online purchases.

Before you rush out and hire a pricey photographer, check out these great tips for cost-effective and professional-looking DIY photos.

1. Technique Is More Important than Equipment

Don’t let anyone talk you into dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on a state-of-the-art camera. If you can afford it, then by all means, but modestly priced cameras and even smart phones are capable of producing high-quality photos. Decisions such as lighting, staging and processing play a more significant role.

2. Create Your “Studio”

• Set up a table as close to a window as possible without getting into the shadow cast by the windowsill.

• Use poster board or mats to create a generic white background, “sweeping” it from the horizontal tabletop to the vertical wall to provide a seamless look.

• You’ll need at least two lights. Clamp-style is preferable as they stay in place but can be easily moved around. Make sure to use identical light bulbs with a cooler shade.

3. Include Action Shots When Appropriate

In many cases the white background will be sufficient, but some products have more appeal when shown in use. For instance, a picture of a person wearing sunglasses can be more attractive to potential customers.

4. Don’t Stop at One

Take a number of pictures of your product from a variety of sides and angles. Multiple views are the best way to overcome the two-dimensional aspect of online images.

5. Keep It RAW

For best results you should shoot in RAW format, which captures all of the visual data and gives you greater latitude in editing. In addition, changes don’t affect the original file so you won’t have to worry about losing data.

6. Evaluate and Adjust

After every session, review your work with a critical eye to see what worked and what didn’t, and then apply your findings to future photo shoots.

Ecommerce Fulfillment Services for the Busy Entrepreneur

Are inventory, order processing and logistics taking valuable time away from the business of driving sales? Contact Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to learn more about our comprehensive ecommerce fulfillment services.

A Quick Fulfillment Guide to Happier Customers

Operating as a team to boost your success.

It takes a village to make your customers happy. At every point in the supply chain, there is an effect on customer satisfaction. At Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics and Sprocket Express, we call this the satisfaction chain.

Along the way, there are basic principles that you can use to specifically encourage higher consumer confidence. For happier customers, we recommend these six strategy points.

1. Always Be Accurate

Mistakes stick out and they hurt a brand’s reputation. No matter the size or severity of the error, there is an impact. Adhering to the highest standard of accuracy and insisting upon the same level of accuracy from business partners creates a supply chain with fewer weak links. If each vendor has this priority on accuracy, there will simply be less mistakes.

Fewer errors means fewer returns, less special handling charges, higher customer retention, better overall satisfaction, and less headaches for you.

2. Transparency is Solid

Recently, customers became more interested in seeing real-time inventory levels. To some businesses, this was not only intrusive, but unimportant to the selling process. However, Business Insider recently reported that 66% of customers prefer a business with transparent inventory across digital platforms.

Both the shopping cart software and fulfillment coordination must operate correctly and in tandem to provide this result. We recommend discussing this with a Medallion or Sprocket sales rep more information.

3. Just Ask

Your customers have opinions and they are the best source of constructive feedback, but they won’t always make the first move. Make sure to ask for reviews and feedback with language such as: “We invite you to contribute online feedback about our products/services.” To build a stronger relationship, show appreciation with customized promotions and offers. Customers will be happy both to be asked and to be rewarded.

There are many ways to encourage more reviews for your business, but the most important is to simply ask. Millennial consumers have made it clear that they are more likely to buy products that have been recommended by friends and even social media influencers, though they might not be personally acquainted.

4. Speed is Needed

Fast, faster, fastest are the new categories. Consumers have no time or patience to wait for packages because the normal lead time is now just two days. As automation of last-mile delivery increases in prevalence and capability, we expect to see more same day deliveries.

Keep customers happy with expedited shipping options (most are willing to pay extra for this perk) and quick fulfillment. Logistics providers who are not offering same day shipping are falling behind in the market.

5. Bend and Flex

No one likes a strict rule when it works against them. Although it is clearly necessary to have protocols and schedules, a little flexibility goes a long way towards customer happiness.

Do you offer a generous returns policy? Are customers able to make last minute special orders? Your customer service agents must be empowered to offer compensation and special arrangements as they are in the trenches speaking with the consumers themselves.

Consider compensating negative feedback as heartily as positive feedback. Those that have a really memorable experience with your company can become its biggest champions.

6. Be Partners

Your fulfillment provider can be an integral part of your success if you choose the right one and allow them to be partners. A logistics partner can help your business flourish and you will benefit from their years of experience. Whether it’s shipping options, e-commerce packages, returns, storage, or even custom packaging and labeling, a true partner will have positive input to improve your processes and keep your customers happier.

In Closing

Not every fulfillment house is a match for every brand. We invite you to read our guide to choosing the best fulfillment partner for your business and encourage you to phone us for a free price quote at 800-260-8250.

Subscription Boxes Lead the Way in Direct to Consumer Sales

Subscription Boxes Work to Build Your Business

From our June Newsletter – Subscribe Today!

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 the subscription model becomes more popular, many businesses 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.

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 to consumers and businesses.

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 times boxes are selected entirely by the consumer. Each has its own benefits.

Businesses

• 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 businesses experience a very regular pattern throughout the year, with peak season activity predictably raising revenue. But most struggle to anticipate the order volume. Forecasting isn’t easy, especially when it’s about the future.

The subscription box model helps regulate the order 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.

In the 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 to a box is an act of loyalty. This model helps build a relationship between the customer and the business. 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 enhances customer loyalty in this case. And it’s worth noting that many of these businesses would not have encountered or attracted the customers without the exposure to product trials that subscription boxes create.

Bottom Line Benefits

Subscription boxes can also save the business 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 business gains new customers and a more predictable order flow.

Fulfillment Partners

• Better forecasting

• Fill niche services

Similarly, a fulfillment partner 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 a business’ 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.

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 businesses 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. Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics and Sprocket Express have successfully worked out the kinks and are set up to provide service to this niche, which is growing rapidly. This expertise helps us provide quality service to our 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. Contact us today to see how we can help with your subscription box service needs.