B2B Fulfillment Centers Just Don’t “Get” eCommerce Distribution

Medallion Fulfillment is a 3PL service provider in California and Massachusetts.

eCommerce has revolutionized the way consumers shop, but it’s been an even bigger change for retailers. After decades of operating within a conventional sales model, B2B fulfillment centers are having a tough time adapting. Here’s a look at why a B2C fulfillment warehouse is better equipped to handle the needs of the contemporary marketplace.

B2B Fulfillment Centers vs. B2C Fulfillment Centers

  1. Staffing Requirements

When shipping to retailers, B2B fulfillment centers process bulk quantities. An entire pallet can consist of a single SKU that can be picked in one spot at one time. In contrast, a B2C fulfillment center works with smaller individual orders, where pickers may need to handle hundreds of units that are stored from one end of the warehouse to another.

Top B2C fulfillment centers understand that accurate forecasting is the key to proper staffing. They will work with retail partners to determine projections based on seasonality and other factors, then plan labor needs accordingly.

  1. Streamlined Process

Working with smaller orders also increases the possibility of errors, while at the same time magnifying their effect. If a B2B fulfillment center ships the wrong product to a retailer, they can refuse the item or even decide to keep it. When a consumer receives the wrong order, the retailer must make good on it, whether through a refund or replacement, which is inconvenient for both sides.

B2C fulfillment involves more detailed and repetitive tasks that require consistency and accuracy. Many B2C fulfillment centers are using robots and other high-tech tools to automate certain steps. Regardless of how the tasks are being accomplished, they call for a higher level of quality checks and documentation than might be found in a B2B fulfillment warehouse.

  1. Quick Delivery

When receiving shipments, traditional vendors rely on the predictability of set schedules. Vendor A has a 21-day lead time with a 50-pallet minimum, and so on. This allows them to plan their inventory around a specific set of conditions.

On the other hand, eCommerce retailers are working with orders directly from consumers. Each one is different, and customers are conditioned to expect rapid delivery in two days or less. B2C fulfillment centers cannot afford to work with long lead times, so they need to have inventory at the ready in close proximity to the seller’s customers.

  1. Customization

Orders processed by B2B fulfillment centers tend to be basic, revolving around a limited number of individual items. B2C fulfillment centers are often dealing with more complex orders that involve smaller quantities of products in different configurations. For example, an eCommerce vendor may sell pre-packaged assortments or “kits” built around a theme or purpose.

When orders follow a predictable pattern, it is easy to set a structure for filling them, but equally easy for that structure to be disrupted by the slightest deviation. B2C fulfillment centers use batching, inventory control and other methods to create a system that is flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of orders and efficient enough to process them accurately.

  1. Ability to Scale

If you are an eCommerce retailer, you have to look further down the road than today’s orders. You have an eye toward future growth, with a detailed plan at what the next three to five years will look like in service of that growth. Partnering with a B2C fulfillment warehouse that understands and supports this process will be invaluable.

Your #1 Choice for a B2C Fulfillment Warehouse

Let Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics be a part of your present and future. Contact us to learn more about our B2C solutions, including our Amazon replenishment warehousing service.

Tips for Handling Shipping Delays While Building New Opportunities

Keep Your Customers Happy with Transparency on Shipping Delays

Just as customers had come to expect lightning-fast shipping from your online store, along came the pandemic and all bets were off. Supply chain snafus created a trickle-down effect that caused delays on inbound and outbound shipping.

Are you resigned to riding out the storm, hoping that things get better soon? Take a proactive approach and use these helpful tips to turn shipping problems into opportunities for growing your business.

1. Be fully transparent.

In the interest of closing sales, it can be tempting to make vague promises about quick shipping. Some sellers take the attitude that once a sale is final, the customer will just have to accept the shipping time, no matter how long it takes.

This position may help to pick up a few sales, but you’ll lose far more in terms of repeat business. If you’re up front about estimated shipping times and offer prompt communication about delays, customers will appreciate the honesty.

2. Build a strong relationship with suppliers.

When you’re an online retailer, communication flows both ways. It’s just as important to maintain frequent contact with suppliers as with customers. The more information you have about product and parts availability and supplier shipping issues, the better equipped you are to give your customers realistic delivery windows.

Help your suppliers by providing accurate projections of inventory requirements and timelines. They’ll appreciate the effort to make their job easier and consider you to be more of a partner, which can pay dividends in a long-term relationship.

3. Be accessible.

Ghosting has become an acceptable way to deal with personal relationships, but this practice of disappearing with no notice has no place in the business world. Clearly define the methods customers can use to reach you, whether it’s email, phone, chat, or a combination. Few things will set people off on the social media warpath like a business that is unresponsive or, maybe worse, sends customer down the voicemail rabbit hole.

4. Offer free shipping.

Have you resisted jumping on the free shipping bandwagon? Yes, it can be difficult getting past the idea of giving up precious profit margins. But free shipping can offset the perceived drawback of shipping delays, tipping the scales in your favor. Consider the fact that, according to a UPS survey, four out of five shoppers rate shipping costs as a significant factor driving their decision to purchase.

This doesn’t mean you have to adopt a blanket free-shipping policy. Tie it in to promotions and incentives to create additional excitement and urgency. For example, you might offer free shipping for ordering during a specific time period, or reaching a minimum order value. Build repeat business by making free shipping a perk in a customer loyalty program.

Are you just not in a position to offer free shipping on any level? Keep it in your back pocket as an option to satisfy customers who experience major shipping problems. Pay the shipping cost retroactively or offer discounts to cover the amount.

5. Partner with a fulfillment warehouse.

You may find that dealing with today’s heightened supply chain and logistics difficulties is taking valuable time away from the main focus of growing your business. Teaming up with a fulfillment warehouse lets you shift the heavy lifting to an experienced and capable company, leaving you free to concentrate on sales.

Scalable, Cost-Effective Fulfillment Warehouse Solutions

With more than 35 years of experience, Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics has the know-how to handle your needs through any fluctuations in the marketplace. Contact us today to learn more about our customized programs, including our Amazon replenishment warehousing service.

The Amazon Effect

Learn About the Amazon Effect

Considerations for eCommerce and Brick and Mortar Store Owners

In the increasingly crowded and competitive world of eCommerce, Amazon remains the gold standard. The impact of the online retailing behemoth has been so primal and far-reaching that marketing experts have coined a term for it: “Amazon Effect.”

As the leader in California fulfillment services, we work to stay on top of trends and innovations influencing the industry. Here’s what you need to know about the Amazon Effect and how it applies to your business.

Shifting Buyer Expectations

Amazon’s principal effect has come in the area of buyer expectations. Consumers are demanding a buyer’s journey be “frictionless and immediate,” and these expectations cut across the digital arena to goods and services purchased in brick-and-mortar locations.

These three benefits top the list of what retailers are expected to provide today:

• Free shipping, which is most prominently featured in Amazon’s Prime membership program. While shipping costs can be steep, Amazon has found that it’s paid off in powerful customer loyalty and add-on sales.

• Speedy turnaround time, where customers receive orders in days rather than weeks. Amazon Prime’s free shipping takes only two days, and same-day delivery is available in more than 10,000 locations.

• Easy access, with a variety of options for ordering and delivery. For example, Amazon offers delivery or pick-up for grocery orders and certain items are eligible for subscriptions where orders are entered and delivered automatically.

Generational Differences and the Millennial Mindset

Not surprisingly, younger consumers who have spent their entire lives with technology are more demanding when it comes to eCommerce fulfillment and delivery. A survey of online shoppers in the U.S., Canada and U.K. found that less than 50 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 were fully satisfied with their orders.

Other studies have uncovered the “Millennial Mindset,” which Amazon has embraced with great success. The Millennial Mindset is a group of six brand values that buyers from 18-34 rate highly in their shopping experience:

• Social Circle: Is a brand popular within a buyer’s circle of family and friends?

• Self: Does a brand generate an emotional connection?

• Innovative: Does a brand lead its field in creative advancements?

• Trusted: Does a brand have consumers’ best interests at heart?

• Purposeful: Does a brand contribute to the greater good?

• Accessible: Is a brand easily assimilated into a buyer’s lifestyle?

While this mindset originated with Millennials, it’s having a ripple effect through other generations. At this point, Generation X has adopted the mindset nearly as completely as Millennials have.

Countering the Amazon Effect in Brick-and-Mortar Stores

• Use locations to complement eCommerce, not duplicate or compete with it.

• Engage high-tech solutions to track in-store behavior

• Leverage mobile apps with mPos, location-aware coupons and personalized service.

California Fulfillment Services that Exceed Customer Expectations

Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics provides a comprehensive set of eCommerce services that scale to meet your specific needs. Contact us to learn more about why we should be your first choice in cost-effective and efficient California fulfillment services.

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.

How Fulfillment Service Impacts Customer Satisfaction

“If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That’s the “halo effect.” Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept.” – Daniel Kahneman

When you work with a fulfillment partner, it is easy to oversimplify their involvement. True, a fulfillment house picks and ships orders. How could that hurt customer satisfaction?

Final Hands

Simply put, they are the last hands to touch your products and they are responsible for delivering the final product to your customers. To see where you stand, ask yourself a few questions:

• When your customer receives an order, how does it look?

• What packaging materials are used?

• How quickly does it arrive?

• How is the tracking information transmitted?

• How are returns handled?

If you have not audited the results in a while, it may be time to check your fulfillment results. Check our Guide for Fine Tuning Fulfillment for more tips and remember: A great fulfillment provider increases customer satisfaction, while a poor provider can actually damage satisfaction.

Case Study

One of our clients moved from a different 3PL because of customer dissatisfaction. The business started receiving complaints that orders were arriving in junky old boxes with newspaper used as packaging. Many orders were incorrectly shipped, leading to reshipments and delays.

If customers had not reported these issues, our client would not have known the impression their former 3PL was leaving on the customers. You have spent time and money making a good impression on customers. The last thing you need is a lousy box or a packing error to erode your credibility.

Errors Undermine Credibility

Mistakes not only cost money and time, but they damage customer trust. Medallion and Sprocket Express have a 99.9%+ accuracy rate and exceptional customer service personnel. In the case study above, errors and complaints stopped after the business switched to Sprocket Express for fulfillment for East Coast servicing. Customers almost never received incorrect items again, and the clean uniform packaging made a great impression on the recipients. The client added a packing tape printed with their logo, for a complete branded solution.

Speedy Delivery

When we first opened, our CEO used to joke that someday customers would hit the “buy” button and then check the mailbox. Ironically, we’ve nearly reached that point!

With Amazon leading the charge, customers continually have a higher expectation of speed (and shipping cost). To answer the call, most 3PLs expect to provide same day delivery within the next 5 years. And 40% say they anticipate 2 hour shipping by 2028. Interestingly, when Amazon offered 1- and 2-hour delivery in select markets, many customers preferred the free 2-day shipping instead. Speed is not everything, but shipping value is essential. The best shipping strategies offer a few options with a range of costs.

Knowledge is Satisfying

Immediately after placing an order, most website systems generate an order confirmation email. The more transparency a business provides during the order process, the more confident a customer can feel when interacting with the company. Therefore, as soon as an order is released to a carrier for shipment the tracking information should be communicated in real-time.

Both Sprocket Express and Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics sends automatic tracking information to your customer. And we can brand the email with your company information for a consistent image. We ship the same day and we also offer rush and special services.

We Are Here When You Need Help

These are just some of the ways that your fulfillment service partner can affect customer satisfaction. We strongly encourage you to call references when choosing a fulfillment provider and ask some of these questions. Your choice will be representing your business in public view, so it’s no easy decision.

Whichever partner you choose, we invite you to connect with us to share challenges and ideas via email or social media. To learn more about our services and our low industry pricing, see “What We Do”, or get a quote today.