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.

Creating Your Own eCommerce Empire Means Expanding Beyond Amazon

Man Thinking About Expanding Beyond Amazon

As an eCommerce vendor, it may seem like it’s Amazon’s world and we just live in it. But you didn’t become an entrepreneur just to play by someone else’s rules. Use your relationship with Amazon as a springboard to building your own eCommerce empire.

Rented vs. Owned Platforms

Just as with brick-and-mortar businesses, online vendors have the choice of rented or owned storefronts. Rented platforms include Amazon, Facebook, and other third-party options, while owned platforms are created and operated exclusively by the vendor. An owned platform would be your own ecommerce website.

Of course, both types have their pros and cons. Let’s look at the different elements of eCommerce platforms and how they apply to your business.

Range

This one is a no-brainer. Amazon has a built-in user base that’s second to none. New eCommerce retailers can quickly jump-start their business by tapping into Amazon’s ready-made customer base.

But as your business grows, this benefit can become a drawback. With Amazon controlling all communication between you and the buyers, you have no opportunity to nurture the customer relationships that are key to building sales and developing customer loyalty.

Cost

Again, for a start-up, there’s a financial advantage to using Amazon’s platform. You can bypass the expense of designing and maintaining a digital storefront and invest your funds in product, marketing or other areas that may need it.

If time is money, Amazon’s platform also provides savings in labor. There’s no need to divide your energies between operating your storefront and handling other business activities.

Eventually, these savings become offset by the increased fees you pay as your sales go up. Loss of repeat business is an indirect cost, but one that can ultimately add up even more.

Competition

This is one of the bigger disadvantages of Amazon’s size. Their doors are open to just about anyone, so you’ll often find yourself going up against multiple retailers offering similar or even the same products.

vAmazon does have tools to help you promote your products, but they’re not easy. Prime positioning in the Buy Box or Merchant Offers List is awarded by rankings based on pricing, merchant history, customer reviews and other factors. In essence, it’s a catch-22: to gain one of these spots, you must beat the competition you’re trying to overcome in the first place.

When you’re operating from an owned platform, your products have the spotlight all to themselves. When you get visitors to your website or mobile app, you know they’ve come because they’re interested buyers.

Shipping

Once your product has been sold, Fulfillment by Amazon handles the shipping end of the transaction. You send your products to one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, where orders are shipped out to customers.

A time-saver? Absolutely. But one that comes with a lot of strings attached. For example, merchants sometimes find a discrepancy between the actual cost of shipping an order and the amount reimbursed by Amazon.

In addition, Fulfillment by Amazon has stringent requirements for the procedures used to package and ship products to their centers. Failure to comply can result in penalties ranging from additional charges to refusal of inventory. Plus, Amazon may limit your warehouse space or even change what is available to use in peak seasons.

When you operate on an owned platform, you’re free to work with an independent fulfillment center that offers the flexibility to scale along with your business. You can still work with Amazon, confident in the knowledge that your fulfillment center will comply with Amazon’s rules.

With the unique Fulfillment by Medallion program, we warehouse your Amazon stock and then ship to the Amazon warehouse when you need a stock refill. Allowing you to fulfill orders from your own website AND Amazon stores or the Amazon warehouse from our company’s two locations – L.A. or Boston.

Fulfillment Services to Fit Every Need

Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics started out in our family garage, so we understand what it takes to grow a business. Contact us to learn more about our full-service fulfillment solutions, including our Amazon replenishment warehousing program.

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.

Amazon is Drawing Increased Attention as Antitrust Chatter Grows

In the world of online retailing, Amazon is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla. The one-time bookseller has become a global juggernaut, allowing consumers to shop for everything under the sun from the comfort of their own home.

With annual revenue approaching $400 billion, it may seem as though it’s Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. Earlier this year, a group of independent-business organizations joined forces to take aim at monopolies, with Amazon at the dead center of their target.

Small Businesses Feel the Squeeze

Over the years, Congress has enacted various antitrust laws designed to maintain a level playing field. The purported goal of such legislation is to prevent monopolies and promote a competitive marketplace.

In reality, these laws are only as strong as their enforcement. Larger companies have the means to play Goliath to the smaller companies’ David. In 2020, Amazon alone spent approximately $18 million to lobby against stricter antitrust measures.

It may seem as though fighting the retail giants would be a tall enough order. Adding insult to injury, many small businesses feel that industry organizations such as National Retail Federation (NRF) pay lip service to the idea of equal representation while quietly favoring their largest members.

Standing Up for Market Equality

In a proactive effort to regain some equitable conditions, more than 20 trade and business groups formed a coalition under the name, “Small Business Rising.” Members include organizations such as the National Grocers Association (NGA), the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a vocal critic of Amazon’s dominance.

Small Business Rising announced their formation and goals in an April 2021 press release. Amazon was specifically cited by name several times, making it clear what the organization sees as one of their biggest obstacles. As Stacy Mitchell, ILSR co-director stated, “concentrated market power” is the toughest challenge facing today’s small business owner.

The organization’s objectives call on policymakers to do the following:

*Break up tech monopolies, such as Amazon, to prevent them from cornering the online market.

* Add teeth to antitrust laws by making them stronger and more enforceable.

* Put a stop to mega-mergers and set higher criteria for regular mergers.

In addition, Small Business Rising is leveraging the relationships local business owners have with power players in their respective hometowns. Members are organizing meetings, seeking out media coverage and waging letter-writing campaigns.

The Rich Get Richer

The unprecedented conditions of 2020 served to magnify the gap between Amazon and other e-commerce businesses. While COVID restrictions created a surge in online shopping, small online retailers faced corresponding supply chain and distribution difficulties, making it hard for them to accommodate demand.

On the other hand, Amazon was able to draw on its significant resources to weather the storm and emerge stronger than ever. The company spent a reported $4 billion on “incremental COVID-19-related costs,” enabling it to successfully adjust its processes and policies.

In the face of mounting criticism during the last few years, Amazon has tried to brand itself as a valuable ally to small businesses, especially with Amazon Marketplace, its third-party online sales platform. Companies have responded by pointing out how Amazon uses prohibitive fees and data access for competitive advantage.

Grow Your Online Business with Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics

Are Amazon’s arbitrary and restrictive fees and policies helping or hurting your e-commerce business? Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics works with you by offering a full assortment of services tailored to fit your needs.

Contact us to learn more about our flexible and cost-effective fulfillment solutions, including our innovative Amazon replenishment warehousing service.