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.

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.