Ecommerce returns, handle returns, customer returns

How to Effectively Handle Customer Returns: Making the Process Smooth

 

No business likes their products to be returned. However, it is a reality that every business, whether online or offline, must deal with. There may be nothing wrong with your product yet a few customers would want to return it for various reasons and get a refund. You should note that there’s nothing wrong with getting a few returns. No product is meant for all customers. In fact, you should anticipate a few returns and be well prepared in advance to handle them. A ready and smooth return process will not only make your job easier, it will also increase your brand image in customer’s mind. Let’s look at few things that will make it easier for you handle the returns.

 

Well defined return Policy:  Since you anticipate returns, you must be define your return policy for customers, have it clearly displayed on your website and make sure that you customers understand it. Make sure it is visible to customers while they are making the purchase (may be via a link). The package of your shipment should contain printed return policy along with any other documentation for the product. If they want to read it online, it should be easily accessible on your website. The language of the policy should be easy to read and understand. It is important that customers understand clearly, that when your return policy says 60 days from date of purchase it does not mean 60 days from date of receipt of product. Similarly, other requirements for returns must be in such a language that customer understands it in first reading. Especially for refund, ensure that your policy for refund amount, refund mode and time of refund is clearly mentioned. After ‘where do I return this’, the second question that the customer will ask is ‘My money?’ This will reduce the hassle for you later in the process.

You can use your return policy as a marketing tool as well. If you are offering free returns, make sure you highlight it. If you are offering any coupons or incentives or returns within specific period, ensure that these are highlighted. If you are asking for a reason to return, ensure that reason is well understood by your team and complimentary product if offered to the customer.

 

Return Process:  Make the return process easy for the customer. Include a postage paid return envelope or a return label with the product, if applicable. Hopefully not many people will use it, but most of them would give you the credit for giving them this option. Include a small note saying something such as if they are not 100% satisfied with the product, they can use the enclosed return label to return the product. Customers like these small gestures. If there are any forms that they need to filled in, Pre-fill the obvious sections (customer details and product details) for them, so that it is easy for them to fill just the relevant information such as reason for return quickly. Since they don’t need to spend any time filling mundane details, they may spend that time to fill in detailed feedback in the form.

 

If you are not providing the return label, make sure that return address is clearly indicated in the documentation (bill, invoice etc.) at the delivery, your website and any other touch point where customer might look for it (if you have a mobile app, include the section for returns with these details). Provide a phone number, if possible a free phone number, for customers to contact, if they have any query about their returns.

 

Receiving and processing Returns:  On your part, ensure your logistics team, warehouse or storage knows how to handle returns. They should know where do the returned goods need to be stored and how are they to be processed. If there are unopened boxes with products that are good to be sold again, then verify and put them back on the shelf, to be sold again and mark them so in the system (i.e. update the inventory). If they are damaged, then send them back to the manufacturer or your manufacturing unit. If it needs to be disposed, ensure how do they dispose it. Once you receive the product, how will your team process the refund (i.e. indicate the finance or accounts team to proceed with payment to customer)

 

Engage with the customer:  Remember, a customer is returning your product because he is not satisfied with it. This is a great opportunity to engage with the customer and get his feedback. Why did your product fail to meet his requirement? What could have been improved to provide him a better experience. Is he considering any other product? Make sure you thank him for the opportunity to serve him and hope to meet his expectations next time. The whole communication should show that you are interested in meeting his expectation with the product, and not just return the money and close the chapter. Engagingly positively over returns, with the customer will help to enhance your brand image.

 

Returns are a tricky business. Nobody likes them. They are not only lost revenue, but they add to the processing overheads. Yet, they are essential part of the business that cannot be done away it. Instead of looking at them as necessary evil, you can use them as an opportunity to build your brand and improve your product.

Outsource 3PL warehousing

9 Reasons to Outsource to 3PL

The economy today requires business to be efficient on every front. The competition is growing every day and a company must find new and efficient ways to retain its edge over its competitors, even in a growing market. That requires time, money and focus on activities other than area of company’s core competency. However, if a company diverts its energy from its core competency, it is bound to falter. Businesses cannot afford to divert their attention from their product and start paying more attention to logistics. Imagine if Apple started worrying more about shipping iPhones than creating a great phone, they would never reach the pinnacle of success that they enjoy. It is for this very reason that many businesses choose to outsource their logistics operations. In fact, over 85% of fortune 500 companies utilize 3PL providers. Here are some of the key reasons why you should also consider utilizing the services of a Third- Party Logistics Provider (3PL).

 

  1. Time and Money: When you use a 3PL provider, you don’t need to invest in the warehouse space, transportation, operations staff etc. You don’t need to worry about billing, wages, audits, training the staff, space optimization and other things that go with the warehouse management. A 3PL is skilled in these areas and will perform all these more efficiently. You save the time that is required to build up these capabilities and save on the upfront capital required to build these capabilities. You are ready the moment you engage the 3PL provider.

 

  1. Scalability and flexibility: As the business grows, the logistical needs of the company grow and these again take time and money to scale up. During slow times, when your logistics space and manpower is not fully utilized, it is eating into your capital. With a third-party provider, you can hire the additional space as your business grows. Additional manpower also can be added quickly. At low times, you simply hire less space and less manpower. This keeps your cost at optimum levels while providing the flexibility to scale up and down quickly.

 

  1. The core expertise of a 3PL provider is their logistics management skills: They know about the best practices in the industry. They have the skill and experience to manage it all, from a small to a very large scale, with high efficiency. They keep on investing in manpower, warehouse capabilities, warehouse technology and IT, amongst others. Their software is optimized and can provide with wide range of reports which provide strong visibility and monitoring capabilities so that their clients, in turn, can focus on their core business activity, assured that their logistic needs are being handled by seasoned professionals.

 

  1. Diverse Resource network: 3PL providers are constantly developing their network to improve upon their efficiencies. This vast network has definite advantages over in-house supply chains. This provides volume discounts to 3PL, which in turn result in lower overheads for their client along with fastest possible service. This may not be possible with in house supply chains or at best it will be costly to achieve.

 

  1. Continuous optimization: 3PL are experts in managing links in the supply chain. It is their bread and butter. They have the resources to adjust to changing, individual circumstances. They constantly monitor each link in the supply chain to ensure they get fastest, most efficient service, which in turn means the same for their clients.

 

  1. Latest technology: The technology is changing constantly. Upgrades to technology requires heavy investment. Individual businesses need to ensure that they get their ROI before moving onto the newer technology, which may be a hurdle to upgrade. With 3PL and their huge base, they are constantly on top of their technology game ensuring that latest and the best is available for their clients. By partnering with 3PL, the need to purchase and upgrade the technology is eliminated.

 

  1. 3PL providers are usually up to date with all the latest regulations: They also have carrier contracts and insurance which is better than what individual businesses can obtain, owing to the bulk that they provide. This means that their client can stay assured that their products are being handled in most secured way possible.

 

  1. Improved quality: 3PLs thrive on efficiencies. This in turn means that their clients can expect improvements in their own supply chain. The advanced technology, plethora of assets and expertise that comes with 3PL providers, ensures that client’s logistics needs are satisfied without any capital investment in the most efficient way.

 

  1. Maximized growth rate: 3PL providers have warehousing solutions setup at multiple locations across the country and many times across the world. The clients can quickly make use of these locations, as he grows and expands, without making any capital investment, saving his time and money. The delay and cost of setting up a logistics solution (operational warehousing) is virtually eliminated, without any compromise on quality of operations.

 

Logistics is often an add on activity for the business that lies outside their area of expertise. Continuously scouting for best options available for shipping and other logistical solutions takes up time and resources, not to mention the investment. Business should be spending their energy on their key value add, their product. However, logistics is a very important part of business operations that cannot be ignored. Poor logistics can often take away all the brand value that businesses work hard to create. This is precisely where a 3PL player fits in.

 

Providing logistics solution is the bread and butter of the 3PL provider. Consecutively they make investments in warehouse locations, technology and people to stay at the top of their game and negotiate bulk deals with various providers. This enables them to provide customized solutions to businesses, in turn passing off all these benefits to them. Whether large or small, all business benefit from engaging with 3PL providers. The benefit is not only the obvious savings in capital investment, but flexibility and efficiency can provide them the strategic edge to compete in the ever-changing marketplace.

Mobile marketing and online store

E-Commerce Shipping and Fulfilment: Learn the Basics!

         One of key difference between an e-commerce business and a brick and mortar business is the fulfilment. Many e-commerce  business  owners invest heavily in marketing and advertising to attract customers and build their brand. They also work hard in identifying the right suppliers to get the best product at lowest price. However, many times they miss giving fulfilment its due attention. In brick and  mortar business, the customer comes  to your shop and picks up the product. However, in an e-commerce model, you need to get the product to the customer. How your customer receives the product, becomes a key part of the customer experience. Having the right fulfilment model can become a key differentiator for your business.

So, let’s start from understanding what fulfilment is all about?

On a broad level, fulfilment includes everything, right from the time a customer places an order to the point where she/he receives the product in their hands. Fulfilment primarily includes:

• Warehousing
• Finding and picking the ordered item
• Packaging
• Shipping to customer

          Fulfilment can be done directly by the company or they may choose to partner with a Third-Party Logistics Company to cater to all their fulfilment needs. Of the above points, while warehousing facilities have a great impact on business, the two more crucial things that can impact eCommerce business are Packaging and Shipping. Thereby, making them key aspects for success of e-commerce fulfilment cycle.
Right packing and packaging is not only important to deliver the product safely and securely but it is also the first physical touchpoint for the customer with your brand. Similarly, the customer’s experience with the quality of shipping relates to his mental image of your brand. Let’s look at these two in a little more detail.

Packaging:

Packing of your product serves two functional purposes. It ensures that the product reaches the customer is right condition and it’s look and feel creates an impression about your brand. As expected, the packing of the product adds to the cost of operation, hence you need to be careful while selecting the packaging to optimize the impact and the cost. You should pay attention to following key elements of packaging.

• Size: The size of the packing should be appropriate to the size of the product. Too small and it may not protect the product as needed leading to degradation of the product. Too large and it will add to the cost of the shipment and give wrong impression to the customer. Imagine getting a USB key in packing which is the size of the hard disk. Customers usually generate a negative impression if the size of packing is disproportionate to the size of the of the product. However, it is important that adequate safety of the product is ensured. If that needs extra material, then so be it.

• Material: The packing material, along with safety also gives the impression of attention that you give to your product. A firm, good quality brown box gives a good premium impression as compared to a brown bag packing. It shows that you care about your product and the way it is received by the customer. It also provides you with a much better surface for your branding. Having a properly visible brand logo on the packing material creates a much better impression than a crumpled logo or just shipping label with no logo at all.

• Arrangement:  If your product has multiple components, such as wires, cords and manuals, the arrangement of these inside the box will make all the difference to the unpacking experience. A neatly arranged layout will save on your packing cost, ensure product safety and give a professional feel to the customer. Even if there is only one item in the packing, a well-arranged layout, which make the product easy to pick out of the packing, creates a better experience for the customer. The key to good packaging is the ease to pull out the product from it.

• Presentation: The external look and feel of the packaging, along with any paper (shipping bill etc.) that is pasted on the box along with the internal arrangement, gives the ‘unboxing’ experience to the customer. Your Brand logo on the external box, the feel of the material of the box, a well pasted shipping bill (with customer details) will give a good presentation. Many times, the businesses also add a sweet ‘thank you for choosing us’ card to the whole packaging. Such small additional gestures go a long way in establishing an emotional connect with the customer.

Packing of the product goes a long way in establishing a premium feel for the product. If it seems overwhelming to pay so much attention to the detail by yourself, you should outsource it to a third-party logistics provider (3PL). 3PL providers have experience in providing packing service and can design packaging and pack your product to your specifications at very reasonable costs.

Shipping:

How and when your product reaches the customer adds to the brand experience. It’s a no brainer that a Christmas present must reach before Christmas. But if the order is placed at last minute, this quick shipping will come at a price. The question here is: who bears the shipping cost. The key consideration for shipping are: how much to pay and who pays. For a true understanding of shipping, these two questions need to be looked at, together.

• Who pays: If you decide to pick up the tab on shipping, you have two options. One is to jack up the price of the product to include shipping costs. Customer can usually see through this one. They can easily compare the prices on other sites and may choose to shop there. Second is to absorb the cost of shipping. This will add to your cost of operations and reduce your profits. If the shipping charges for your product is low, the hit will be small but for large items, it will be significant. The decision really depends upon your business strategy, but one thing is clear. If you ask your customer to pay, you need to be clear upfront so that they can make informed decision. You could have marketing campaigns to absorb the shipping cost during certain periods to boost your sales. In any case, you need to be efficient, to keep the shipping costs low. Kind of packing you choose will also affect your shipping cost.

• How much to pay: The decision about what kind of shipping do you want to use, standard or fast, is important. This decision will decide the cost of shipping. This decision again depends upon number of factors. If it’s festive season, the shipping needs to be fast. But for white goods, customers may be willing to wait. At times, for many products quick shipping may not make sense either. Imagine providing a next day delivery for a refrigerator, say about 300 miles away. It’s possible, but is it worth the cost? Do you want to provide the tracking facility to the customer? If yes, to what detail? This facility will also come at a cost and someone must bear the cost for it. Remember, the customers purchase from online store to reduce the cost thus it should be lower than what’s available to him next door.

 

These two costs need to be looked together. You might be okay picking up the standard shipping cost, but could charge customer for quicker delivery. You might want to pick up the tab for smaller items, but might want the customer to pay the shipping cost for larger items. You will also need to consider the shipping distance while making this decision. Choosing a shipping company is also important. Each company has its strength area such as small items, large items, low cost, quick delivery, low cost over large distance etc. You might need to tie up with multiple shippers and use for their strengths.

The shipping cost is an important part of your business strategy. It can be daunting to choose the right option from the all available ones. Using a 3PL provider is advisable if you want to stay focused on your key area, i.e. the product. The 3PL providers usually have tie ups with multiple shipping providers and can help you achieve good deals for shipping. They also have the infrastructure to absorb the variation in volumes.

Fulfilment and shipping, often the easy looking part of the business, are key components of the customer experience. This is the first real world touch point you have with your customer, outside the virtual world, and it matters. With the number of decisions needed to be made to give a positive experience to the customer, it is better to outsource these to a third-party logistics service (3PL) provider. With a 3PL provider, you retain the control, while the implementation nitty gritty is taken care of by them. You also get your shipping done at the best rate.

Free shipping vs Fast shiping

Free Vs Fast Shipping, Which is more Important?

Retailers, across the spectrum, are pushing their supply chain to become more efficient and squeeze out every ounce of efficiency and speed. They are able to play with their costs and offer variety of deals to attract buyers. Choice of product, payment options, customer service and ease of delivery are primary differentiators that many of the e-commerce websites use. The last one, shipping, has high-impact potential on customer satisfaction. How soon can you get your merchandise to the customer, after he has confirmed it, and spend less and less money on doing so? I.e. Can you give instant gratification to your customer, for free?

The question often revolves around providing either a quick shipment which has higher cost or a free shipment which while has lower costs, but translates into longer time before your merchandise reaches your customer. Long delay leaves a lot of room for your customer to cancel the order. Let us evaluate the pros and cons of both.

Free shipping

This is by far one the most popular service to attract and retain customer. After the product price, shipping charges are the second most popular thing that customers look at. Depending on the shipping requirements of your product, the shipping charges might vary. it means that, usually, the customers won’t come to know of the additional charges until the very last step of the order placement. Customers don’t like that. Free shipping ensures there are no surprises (cost wise) throughout the buying process, for the customers. During slow business periods, free shipping can incentivize customers to make a purchase at your store and help you move the inventory. This could be used as marketing strategy to lure the customers away from the competition and earn profit from them, during the high season.

On the other hand, you need to account for shipping charges, somewhere. You can increase the base price of the product to include shipping charges. But customers can compare the product prices at other sites and see through it. Unless the product you are offering is unique and cannot be obtained at other stores, this strategy can fail. Not only that, it can earn you bad reputation. However, if you simply absorb the shipping charges without increasing your product price, it is a true value proposition for your customers. But this will mean an increase in your operating cost and will reduce your profits. To reduce your operating costs, you will choose a shipping vendor with lowest charges. This will usually mean longer delivery times, for your product to reach your customer. This is not a good situation, especially when a customer can simply log in and cancel his order. Even if he doesn’t cancel, his satisfaction level would be certainly lower when he gets his product after 2 weeks as against getting it after 2 days.

Fast Shipping

Many times, customers need their product to be delivered quickly. This could be for a special event, such as when your product is sent as a present to someone, during festivals, when delivery before exact date is essential, or during other situations. You want to fulfil this urgent need of the customers before the need for quick delivery itself vanishes. There is no point delivering a Christmas present after Christmas or the printer refill cartridge, after the customer’s meeting. Here the premium is on the speed of delivery and not the cost of delivery. Fast shipping comes at a premium and at an extra cost.

The question here is, who pays for this high cost of fast delivery service? If you keep it free for your customers and bear it yourself, your operating costs will increase drastically and your profits would go down. With proper marketing, you will get more customers. This should translate into more orders and inventory moving fast. Your profits percentage may be low, but the overall return on investment will be higher. If you offer this around peak season, ensure that you have enough inventory to fulfill the expected large volume of orders. Nothing breaks your reputation, like delayed orders, especially if you promised fast delivery.

You could ask your customers to pay for shipping cost for fast delivery. There is a large demographic out there who is ready to pay extra to receive its orders, quickly. However, you should be very clear and transparent about the extra charges, throughout the buying process. You need to be creative about the way you present the value proposition of fast shipping and the additional cost that your customer would be incurring. What is most important is that you need to ensure that your customers get their products on time, as promised.

Fast shipping, might not be suitable in following scenarios:

  1. For slow moving products
  2. During slow seasons
  3. When you need to reduce your costs
  4. When you wish to reduce the total price for the customer.

If there is no hurry, there is no need to incur extra changes. Having only the high cost shipping option, can push customers away from you, during slow periods. This will slow your inventory cycle even further.

There isn’t a single model that is suitable for all businesses, or for all products, at all times. The best model for your business strategy could be different from the standard delivery model of your industry (or product category). What works for you could be as simple as sticking to fast and paid shipping model, and investing on marketing and customer service to attract and retain the customers. Alternatively, your business may boost by offering free shipping as standard and letting the customer choose for fast delivery at extra charges if they so desire. Depending on your business strategy you may need to experiment and decide what is best for you. however, in all cases, the product must reach the customer within the promised time period.

Why Choose Sungistix for Your Kick-starter Fulfilment?

Today’s business environment is getting more and more complex with rapidly changing technologies, newer markets and varied sourcing locations. With highly extended supply chains, the demands from logistics professionals is also increasing. Quick and efficient decision making is the need of the hour from logistic partners.

However, the choice of 3PL partner, if not done carefully and with due diligence, can be a process full of pitfalls and can hamper growth. Considering that there are numerous 3PL players and their numbers are not diminishing anytime soon, choosing the right 3PL partner can be a daunting task. Important point to note is that the price of service of 3PL provider is rarely the only criteria. It is the overall supply chain cost that needs to be considered while choosing a 3PL service provider.

Here are a few critical essentials that should be weighed, analysed and considered carefully while choosing a 3PL partner.

Infrastructure. With increased globalization and ever improving new technologies, the 3PL provider should have large space which can be quickly, easily and seamlessly scaled up. They should be located near the ports or other distribution hubs. Not only the location, but the facility itself should be capable to cater to any special requirement for handling your products.

3 PL providers such as Sungistix have their warehouses in southern California, close to two of the largest ports in United states, the Los Angeles Port and Long Beach Port in California. Sungistix also has a large warehouse on east coast, in New jersey, which is the largest port by volume on east coast. This reduces your cost of landing, on-land shipping and leverages multiple advantages of being located in a major distribution hub.

As an example, Sungistix’s Temperature controlled warehouse, along with facilities for lot control, expiry date tracking, tracking and quarantine is well suited for perishable items. Facilities for sterilization and pathogen kill-step processes are available to treat sensitive food items. They also provide Quality Control Laboratory service to help you control and evaluate the quality of consignment right at the site. With certifications like NSF, AIB, Organic, Kosher and Halal, SpecRightProcessing (A sungistix Company)  facilities can handle any kind of food, which may require special handling. They can support repacking from bulk drums and bags into various smaller size packaging. Similarly, Sungistix’s facilities can cater to special needs of other industries such as Pharmaceutical and manufacturing.

Tools and IT capabilities. This goes hand in hand with infrastructure capabilities. The 3PL provider should be able to integrate their systems with shipper’s and other partner’s tools for seamless information flow between the supply chain partners. Today a company needs to know the level of inventory in the warehouse, status of the order, exact location of shipment, support for shipment documentation on real time basis. For e-commerce, the integration needs to be even tighter. Direct integration with order acceptance, integrated fulfilment process update, regular reporting of SKU’s, returns, integrated customer billing and integration with customer care of the store are just certain things that need to be in order.

Sungistix’s IT capabilities such as direct integration with client’s website’s shopping cart, subscription billing, enhanced inventory reporting on individual SKUs, detailed shipping costs along with host of other customized reports, integrate with client’s systems and provide real time data. The client is up to date with the information about their inventory and shipments, so that they can take quick and informed decision about their business.

Breadth of Services. As your business grows, and you grow into your business, you would want to outsource more and more of your non-core activities and focus on your key strengths. You need to tie up with a 3 PL partner who can take on more and more of your processes from you, and perform them efficiently and at a reasonable cost. You should choose a 3 PL partner not only for his basic logistics services, but also based on the value added services it provides. A 3PL partner who can help take more and more work off your hands and perform it efficiently as well as at reasonable costs, should be your choice. Having a single partner for all these services, provides advantages of managing single partner and get you overall better pricing.

3 PL providers such as Sungistix provide not only basic services such as distribution and warehousing, pick and pack fulfilment, cross docking, Port Drayage, real time reporting etc, but also, Value added services such as packaging and co-packaging, assembly support, e-commerce support, retail support, re-labelling, re packing, Documentation and regulatory compliance support and can take, more than just simple logistics, off your hands. They let you focus on more important aspects of your business such as marketing and procurement. Added services such as, Import & export services, custom brokerage, back end solutions, office space for remote staff, and handling return and reverse logistics make 3 PL service providers such as Sungistix your partner in a true sense.

Depth of Industries and suppliers. A 3 PL service provider who works with different industries, has depth of knowledge about processes and best practices followed in different industries. He would also have a ready setup to support these industries. There might be some practices from other industries that may suit your requirement better. A 3 PL service provider, who works with multiple industries is better positioned to understand them, make recommendations and quickly implement these processes for you. Having wide array of clients, makes it possible that you might find a supplier partner, who is already with them, thus making logistics simpler and cost effective. Moreover, for business such as e-commerce, a 3PL provider having existing tie ups with multiple shipping service providers, gives you multiple options to choose from and makes your life easier.

A 3PL service provider such as Sungistix, work with clients from Pharma industry and maintains high standards of hygiene and environment to cater to sensitive products. These experiences can be leveraged to cater to sensitive food items as well. Their experience from retail logistics can be leveraged to provide improved additional sorting services for e-commerce. Their tie ups with several shipping providers such as UPS, Fedex, US Post etc, give you the option to choose what is best suited for your needs.

Choosing a right 3 PL partner with all these dimensions can define how much time you spend on your logistics and subsequently on your core business. A flexible, experienced partner such as Sungistix, can take a lot of your process off your hands and fulfil them more efficiently, adding to the bottom line of your business.

10 Myths About E-commerce Fulfilment Solutions

The high paced growth of the E-commerce sales channel has given immense boost to the E-commerce Fulfillment Solutions and various Third Party Logistics companies. However, there exists a wide section of the market – especially the smaller, newer e-commerce players who debate the concepts of outsourcing their Fulfillment operations or for that matter, even consider a professional Fulfillment solution. So here’s an attempt to break certain myths about the whole order Fulfillment solution and put things into perspective.

  1. Getting orders is tough; Order Fulfillment is easy.

Right and wrong. While the base of any business is getting more and more orders for your products, it is equally important to have a seamless, cost effective and fully optimized order Fulfillment process in place to ensure repeat customers, better revenues and even better profits. Many small and new businesses believe that having a good product to sell is a war won. However, what they miss is that order Fulfillment is a giant that will slowly grow so big that it would be tedious and not profitable to do it all by themselves.

  1. Fulfillment solutions are only for the BIGGIES.

A BIG Myth. Fulfillment solutions can benefit businesses of any scale. The key is to tap on the right Fulfillment partner for your business’s need. A bit of research and having clarity of what you need from your Fulfillment partner can be far more beneficial and economical than doing it all by yourself.

  1. Fulfillment Solutions Are Expensive.

At the first look of it – Yes they are! But have a closer detailed look and you would know that it’s an investment that saves you a lot more expense at a later point…maybe even today. If you are an ecommerce merchant handling your own order Fulfillment, you know how high your fixed costs have gone. You can cut them down by outsourcing your order Fulfillment to a specialized Fulfillment solution provider. Imagine not having to bear the cost of that warehouse?

  1. Order Fulfillment solutions are only friends of ‘volumes’.

No doubt, volumes ensure better profits but Fulfillment solutions are profitable to all. Smaller businesses often go through fluctuations in their sale volumes. Festivals and special occasions can sometimes give a huge spike which can become highly difficult to manage in terms of product deliveries. Having a Fulfillment partner ensures that you receive the scale up and down of order Fulfillment resources without having to either increase your fixed costs or lose market credibility with poor deliveries.

  1. We’re too small to have complex systems and processes

Small e commerce ventures believe that having Fulfillment solutions may end up complicating their otherwise simple delivery process. On the contrary, if you wish to grow and scale up your business in future, it is far more important to have your processes put right at an early stage. Looking in to detailing at the start and letting Fulfillment experts set up your base can actually save you lot of time, money and effort of revamping at a later stage.

  1. We know them best- Our Business, Our Customers

Most retailers are driven by the thought that they know their business and their customers well and no third party can match up to the standards of reaching out to their customer. Remember, just like you, the 3PL or Fulfillment solution providers are experts of their business and your delivery services may actually not match up to their efficiency and standards. Let the experts do the job!

  1. We’ll lose sight and control.

Business owners worry that having their warehouse stocking, logistics and shipping out of their main system may lead to losing sight of their product and control on their deliveries. However, the truth is that modern Fulfillment solutions give better control and visibility to business owners. With providers offering real time tracking, order Fulfillment can be a cake walk.

  1. It’s Only Packing and Shipping! What Extra would They Do?

Most small to mid-size companies are not fully aware of the offerings of modern day 3PL’s and thus fail to see the benefit. Order Fulfillment companies are way beyond a pick, pack, ship player. Their extensive value added services can really help your business grow.

  1. They may stunt our growth

For the ambitious ones, being stuck with a Fulfillment partner is a scary thought. The truth, however, is having selected a ‘fit to your needs’ Fulfillment partner and having a great working rapport can in reality help you scale faster than you could do yourself.  Your partner scales up as your business grows.

  1. What if my inventory is slow moving? It’ll be far more expensive.

Yes, it’s a fact that there may be chances of you paying much extra on storage for slow moving inventory. However, collaborating with a good Fulfillment partner who gives you a good picture of your stock and stats, can help you avoid the scenario of SMI in the first place. Additionally, Fulfillment solution providers offer value added services like promotions in order delivery which can help the slow inventory pick pace.

 

5 ways to save your logistics cost

5 intelligent ways to cut down your logistics cost

Logistics and supply chain are the essential links of any business. Regardless of being a manufacturer, distributor, importer, retailer, or an e-commerce business, logistical issues are imminent. They may include order fulfillment, warehousing, material handling, e-commerce fulfillment or any other logistical aspect. It would be smart to find an optimized 3PL solution to cut down your distribution costs. For businesses small and large, any savings in revenues means being more competitive in the market.

There are various ways to cut down your logistics costs. Here are five intelligent ways to cut down your logistics costs and envelope a wholesome approach to cater for all kinds of businesses (small or big).

  • JIT- Just in time management

With the introduction of better global communications, logistical grouping and faster means of delivery, the alternative concept “just in time” follows the minimalist approach. Leave it to your 3PL company to provide you with the resources you need just in time to fulfill your orders successfully.  The concept calls for generating required logistics just in time to cancel out logistical costs incurred on procurement, maintenance, and inventory of such requirements.

  • Collaborate

All businesses have seasonal inventory fluctuations (especially e- commerce related businesses) for which the inventory levels drop to minimal for quite some time each year. Logistical costs like manpower and space hired outweigh the benefits acquired from  such arrangements. Companies might have to pay for un-utilized storage spaces under such circumstances. A smart way to handle such situations is to collaborate with third party logistics providers who carry the requisite structures to handle your needs.

  • Don’t outsource, insource

Let the experts handle it. After finding your collaborative partner, it’s time to let go. Let the experts join your team to review logistics, gather market feedback, and do the heavy lifting (no pun intended). Such partnerships will help you a great deal in reducing your logistical footprints and costs.

  • Regionalized Partnerships can be most beneficial

Logistics are more about ground presence in most cases and it has more regional implications than global ones (for most operations). Benefiting from logistical resources of other regional players while offering from yours is a win-win situation for all. While you compete in some fields, you can cooperate with others to derive logistical benefits and reduce your costs.

  • Power of analytics

This stands true for every business in the world. Investing a little in logistical analysis software will help in making successful business decisions using detailed data points.

http://sungistix.com/ is a smart 3PL fulfillment solution provider which can help you virtually in any logistical quagmire.

 

3pl, Warehouse, Fulfillment, ecommerce

Do’s and Don’ts before signing up with a 3PL warehouse

Well, your business seems to be growing and you suddenly realize the need to improve your logistics and set up new warehouses to suit the growing demand of your business. But wait, do you really want to set it up all by yourself??? Most Probably, NO! Unless you want to get into hefty investments and hassles of getting a warehouse operational. And trust us, it is a herculean task! So, let’s look at an easy and economically viable solution- Yes, partnering with a 3rd Party Logistics Company and using their warehouse.

A Third Party Logistics provider (3PL) is a company that assists your organization at various points in the supply chain by proving their expert solutions and implementing best practices suited to your need. A good 3PL partner can be your one stop solution to all fulfilment needs. Warehousing is one of the key offerings of a 3PL solution provider and thus must be chosen wisely as it can have huge impact on your revenues and overall business. However, it is not an easy job to find the right Warehousing Partner. Here’s a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you sign up with a 3PL Warehouse. Remember, making un-informed decisions and choosing the wrong logistics partner can be more damaging than beneficial to your business.

Do’s

  • Do Check the Location of the Warehouse –

The location should suit your overall distribution plan and preferably closer to your high consumption area. The closer you are to your high customer density areas, the faster you can reach out to them and create a brand value with splendid customer experience.

  • Do Check the capacity of the warehouse –

The capacity of the selected warehouse should suit your current need as well as quickly scalable up as your business grows. The warehouse supplier should also be flexible enough to manage fluctuations in your demands.

  • Do Keep your needs clear –

Unless you are clear on what you would need from your warehouse partner you may never be able to make the right choice. Being crystal clear on your current and futuristic requirements is an important step in finalizing the 3PL warehouse.

  • Do Check the hiring and training policies of the warehouse provider-

The warehouse manpower is a key aspect to be considered for the success of the warehouse services. Checking the hiring and training policy of the 3PL provider can ensure that your goods will be handled well in the warehouse by skilled manpower.

  • Do Check their financial stability

The last thing you want to suffer from, is your warehouse partner limping on financials and unable to support your business. Checking the service provider’s financial stability in the market and their track record with other customers can assist in making the right choice of 3PL partner.

  • Do Ensure that they prefer technology over manual dependency-

Evaluate the service provider based on their usage of Technology at their warehouse. Do they have a good warehouse management system in place? Is the material handling automated? Does the system give you correct reports of the inventory? Can they offer live Inventory Check? The more they use latest technology and equipment at the warehouse, the more beneficial they will be as your partners.

  • Do Check the Safety Policies and Procedures of the 3PL warehouse supplier-

Safety at the warehouse should be a prime focus are of the service provider. It should be applicable for their employees, managers, floor staff and even the consignments. Visit the warehouse and check for Fire Safety provisions, warning signs and labels and adherence of staff to other safety norms. Evaluating the safety equipment and norms being followed at the Warehouse, right at the start, can go a long way in preventing losses later.

 

Don’ts :

 

  • Don’t go for a provider whose warehouse does not have good connectivity to highways, rails and ports-

Since your shipment time is hugely dependant on proximity to roads, rails and ports, having a partner whose warehouse isn’t close to these may delay your speed to market and have a negative impact on your business. Thus not a very great idea.

  • Don’t Over Analyse –

Restrict your search for a 3PL warehouse to maybe a maximum of 3. If you keep considering more and more options, you may miss on the intricate details that you need to check and focus on before signing a 3PL warehouse partner. Keep your list short and delve deep into evaluating them to identify the partner most suited to your need.

  • Don’t fall into the price Trap –

Certain companies go ahead choosing a 3PL warehouse based solely on the pricing. However, this approach may be quite damaging. While you need your warehouse service supplier to be competitive in pricing and not over-charge you, but what is also essential to check is the quality they will deliver. If the warehouse management does not have the necessary quality processes in place, it is ultimately your business that will suffer.

  • Don’t Rush into signing up-

Take your time. Do a proper due diligence of selected suppliers in accordance to your needs. Check for important things like safety, scalability, flexibility and pricing of the supplier and sign up only when you are fully satisfied. Try to build faith and trust between both the parties at the start. This will go a long way in having a successful and mutually beneficial partnership.