Boost sales and convert customers with online chat for business

In online business, we spend copious amounts of time on marketing and attempting to aggregate eyeballs – from SEO (search engine optimization) to Google AD spend to social media posting. When we’re lucky enough to get some traffic to our website finally, it can be thrilling. However, when we find that conversions are just not happening and our sales are dwindling, it’s time to reassess our tactics – such as what is working and what is not working. How can we improve? How can we increase interactions and conversions?

We live in a new age of online retail, but we also live in a new age of communication. Passive technology is increasing in large numbers – as a mechanism of convenience. Convenience is always key when it comes to your customers. That is why we are discussing live chat and chatbots today so that you can increase customer acquisitions and drive more sales. I’ll be covering key statistical information to support the importance of the subject today – such as live chat customers spending 60% more per purchase. Let’s discuss how to increase sales and customer acquisitions with live chat and chatbots.

 

Table of contents

1) What is online chat for business?

2) The importance of online live chat for customer acquisition and sales

3) The largest retailers offer online chat for business

4) Online engagement and customer conversion

5) How to set up online chat for business

6) What are chatbots?

7) Customer acquisitions with online chat for business and chatbots

 

What is online chat for business?

Live chat, also called real-time chat, is a method of communication where the conversation is live, with messages being exchanged in both directions. Customers can communicate directly with your agents through text while they are accessing and interacting with the website. Live chat can be highly effective if used correctly. It’s a way to engage with your customers, allowing them to get in touch directly with you – anytime, anywhere. It’s a great way to offer support and answer questions. It’s not only convenient for customers but preferred. One survey has shown live chat is the preferred customer experience method for people between 18 and 49.

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The importance of online live chat for customer acquisition and sales

Your website is one of your best tools for customer acquisition and creating a strong base of fans. The business of getting customers is a never-ending battle that no company wants to lose. When you have attention, converting those customers into sales is important. Customers expect more from online retailers today, meaning more means of communication. Businesses need to start thinking of live chat as a lead generation strategy.

Live chat customer service online is comparable to a real person in a physical store. When customers have questions that will inform their buying decisions, they need immediacy. It’s that instant gratification that encourages the sale. Unanswered questions create downtime. This is the downtime where minds aren’t made up – meaning money is being left on the table.

Millennials and Gen X’ers largely occupy a majority of important consumer demographics online today – and they are used to different levels of communication. In fact, 63% of millennials prefer to have their basic customer support queries answered by live chat. Most people don’t like calling and waiting on hold for service – the type of thing your parents and grandparents were used to. Times have changed.

selazar_live-chat-statistics-ecommerce-conversions-customer-acquisition_3Other powerful stats for customer live chat

  1. 60% of customers expect an immediate response when initiating a live chat
  2. 74% of B2C companies and 85% of B2B companies use live chat for sales
  3. 80% of companies say that live chat has increased sales, revenue, and customer loyalty for their business

Consumers want passive technology that provides instant gratification. This information studied at the analytical level by retailers is proof of that.

 

 

The largest retailers offer online live chat for business

If you do the keyword research for live chat nowadays, you will see just how important this trend really is. By studying some of the largest retailers – I’ve found approximately just how many customers are inquiring for online chat services. For example:

  1. ASOS – Asos is a leading online fashion and cosmetic retailer. According to Google search, their monthly search volume (just for the UK) for the phrase “live chat Asos” is 27,100.
  2. Amazon – Arguably the largest online retailer – According to Google search, their monthly search volume (just for the UK) for the phrase “live chat Amazon” is 90,500!
  3. Sky – Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies. According to Google search, their monthly search volume (just for the UK) for the phrase “live chat SKY” is 22,200.

The actual numbers of chats that happen monthly via these companies are much larger because these numbers reflected above are what users Googled. People are busy. They have kids, work, or just prefer to type than talk. It’s obvious within these numbers. People want to chat. Not everybody – but this is becoming the new normal. A recent survey found that 73% of customers find live chat the most satisfactory form of communication with a company

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Online engagement and customer conversion

Customer engagement is the key to success in eCommerce. Using live chat helps customers with easy access to support – pushing conversion rates. Users are more likely to interact with your business when they are online and while they’re in the checkout process. On average, using live chat on your website increases conversion rates by 20%.

Live chat should be carefully considered as a revenue stream gateway. 63% of consumers are more likely to return to a live chat website than one without it. Customer service will always be a cornerstone of successful enterprises, so live chat is quickly becoming the go-to mechanism for online retail.

Live chat business success stories

It’s always helpful to get first-hand knowledge from online business owners like yourself who have had success with converting customers. Here are a few examples of companies that saw increased sales and more customers after implementing live chat on their websites.

1. BottleLess

This online retailer sells bottle-less water coolers. They get a lot of inquiries, and live chat has helped them to grow their business immensely. After some careful surveying, they realized their conversion rate was 40%. As one worker said, “If we can get them to engage in a chat conversation when they’re kicking the tires, we can often get them to sign up. If we see they’re stuck on a page, we can send a coupon to offer a discount, like if they sign up by the end of the week. That helps put them over the top.”

2. Forrester

Forrester is a leading global market research company. They reported a 10% increase in their average order values when reviewing the sales from customers who engaged in a chat before making a purchase – than those that did not use live chat.

ICMI discovered that visitors that engage with a company via their websites are worth 4.5 times more than visitors that don’t.

3. Inflow

Inflow is a digital eCommerce marketing agency. They revealed they saw a 3.48% increase in conversion rates after using live chat – meaning a 6% increase in overall revenue. This was a simple change that everyone is happier with – both customer and the business. What would a 6% increase in revenue do for your business?

selazar_how-to-set-up-online-chat_6How to set up online chat for business

You can add live chat to your site with a few quick steps. It will typically be included as part of your plan with your website host (Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix). They typically recommend you to simply install a “widget” to get this setup. After this is completed, a chat icon will appear in the bottom right of the website. It takes just 10 minutes and is very simple to complete. Afterwards, simply select settings and messaging options to customize your experience.

For Shopify, customers go here

For WooCommerce customers, go here.

For Wix, customers go here.

What are chatbots?

Business moves fast and far beyond borders. Many online retail companies work with customers all over the world. For companies that want to scale rapidly, this is a huge benefit. However, businesses may not be available at all times of the day. Customers in other countries may inquire about products or services outside standard operating hours. This is where chatbots come into play.

Customers today have more expectations about brands – including being available more often. One survey showed that 51% of customers want businesses to be available 24/7.

Chatbots are computer programs powered by artificial intelligence that can have conversations with users. They’re made to understand what a human is asking and then provide an appropriate response. Chatbots are also used during standard operating hours in customer service, reducing call centre volume and improving the customer experience (CX) – while enabling interactions when human agents aren’t available. Chatbots have the capability to become an enabler for your business and help you incorporate Artificial Intelligence into your online strategy.

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88% of interactions with automatic chatbots reveal an “average satisfaction rate,” which is 2% higher than satisfaction rates for chatting with a human agent.

 

How to setup chatbots

Because chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate conversations with humans, they act like a computer – and are not sentient, obviously, so they can’t do everything for you. There are automatic answers that reply for you to the most commonly asked questions – which you set up prior. Again, setting up chatbots is helpful for online business owners because they’re easy to use, inexpensive, and provide an interactive interface between your brand and its audience.

Step 1 chatbots

Decide which platform you want to work with. There are various options, including Manychat, Chatfuel, and Mobile Monkey.

Step 2 chatbots

Go to your automation section to setup up “triggers.” These are answers and questions responses. You want to go through your “FAQs” typically used on your website and more relevant and detailed questions you think of for customers. It is ok to say, “we are closed, but I am a chatbot.” Customers appreciate transparency.

Step 3 chatbots

Build a flow process. What links do you want to send users to? Do you want to direct them to a support page for common questions or inquiries? Etc. Based on the questions asked will dictate what action you’d like them to take next.

Besides your website, I also highly recommend chatbots with Facebook Messenger as well. Facebook has over a billion users that use messenger every month. Chatbot integrations via Facebook make it easy for businesses.

 

Customer acquisitions with online chat for business and chatbots

Online chat and chatbots are the new storefronts. You can create a positive customer experience and increase conversions by increasing engagement. Connect with your customers at any time without worrying about call studies. Online chat and chatbots let you get a better idea of what your customers are looking for so that you can provide the right solutions and opinions to increase conversions and close sales. Chatbots will also help save your customers time and make the sales process more efficient. If you are interested in our 3pl fulfilment services for your eCommerce store, schedule a free, no-obligation discovery call today.

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Fulfilment Services: The dos and don’ts of using a 3pl

Are you currently pondering partnering with a 3pl for your fulfilment services? Are you perhaps already aligned with a 3pl and want to make a change? Whatever the reason, or if you don’t know about 3pl services, this is the article for you. By the end, you will understand what third-party logistics provide for your online business and how you can avoid the common pitfalls of using inferior 3pl companies.

You want to form a strong and productive relationship with your fulfilment services partner. They are an extension of your brand, so trust and reliance are critical. Let’s discuss the complete dos and don’ts of using a 3pl.

Table of contents

1) What is fulfilment services?

2) Inventory Management

3) Custom Packaging Fulfilment Services

4) Dispatch times and services

5) Next Day Delivery

6) Fulfilment Services Contracts

7) Customer service

8) Eco-Friendly shipping

9) Fulfilment Services for eCommerce Businesses

 

What is fulfilment services?

Fulfilment services are a third-party logistics provider that assists online sellers in housing and delivering their products to customers. Fulfilment services are vital to any online business, as they both simplify the ordering process and help businesses streamline operations. They essentially act as the logistics arm of your operations for getting your goods to your buyers.

3PLs offer a variety of fulfilment services for eCommerce businesses. For example, storage and inventory management, picking and packing your products, and shipping your orders to your customers when items are purchased on your website. They also offer custom packaging, inventory management software (so you can manage products online from anywhere), next-day delivery, and returns management.

A comprehensive fulfilment services provider gives you the ability to rapidly build and scale your online business by enabling you to ship large volumes of products – without all the hassle of actually doing it yourself!

What is a fulfilment centre?

Fulfilment centres are centralised warehouse locations where goods are processed, then stored and packaged for shipment to customers. Many online retailers prefer to use 3PLs for fulfilment services as owning or renting a warehouse themselves is expensive – plus shipping and packing products for delivery are time-consuming. Fulfilment services free you up to focus on your core business, meaning growing your product line or marketing your brand.

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Inventory Management

Inventory management is the process of managing the storage and flow of inventory within a 3pl warehouse. Many retailers are not aware of how important it is to have an accurate inventory of their products. Product and supply chain managers take inventory of items that need replenishment and oversee all necessary operations related to warehouse stock. With multiple SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and omnichannel fulfilment, inventory management can get tricky if your business doesn’t facilitate good practices.

DO

Do use a 3pl that digitally maps their warehouse and use tech-first methods for scanning, storing, and managing products. Warehouse management software (WMS) should always be used for accuracy and efficiency. Selazar has a 99.9% order accuracy rate because of our technology.

DON’T

Do not use a 3pl that uses manual methods of managing your inventory. These older primitive warehouse inventory management methods are inefficient and prone to mistakes.

Custom Packaging Fulfilment Services

If you’re a brand-focused seller, chances are you require custom packaging for your products. After all, having great “unboxing experiences” creates a strong affinity with your customer’s brand perception – so it’s imperative to use a 3pl that handles your custom packaging. 3pls that offer custom packaging will have their own standard boxes but will use your custom box if you have them. They also have their own packing supplies – but will insert your custom cards, and other custom additions should you require them.

DO

Do use a 3pl that offers custom packaging. Even if you don’t currently need custom packaging, it’s a favourable option if your brand chooses to do so later.

DON’T

Don’t use a fulfilment services solution that doesn’t offer custom packaging if it’s important to your brand. One of the worst purveyors of fulfilment that do not do custom packaging is FBA – which delivers everything with its own branded packaging. Though fulfilling with them has perks, complete brand control is not one of them.

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Dispatch Times and Services

When fulfilment services refer to dispatch, that means an order that has been made online from your store has been picked from its shelf location and been made ready for pickup from the courier. If you were to think of this as delivering a parcel to a post box – then this is accurate. Though it’s not been delivered yet, it’s been (dispatched) made ready for pickup. This means packages can be delivered the same day or the next day depending on courier pick-up times.

DO

Do use a 3pl that offers same-day dispatch and has longer dispatch times within the warehouse. This offers the best solution for your customers. Dispatch speed is your competitive advantage – which is why Selazar offers later cut-off times for dispatch than its competitors. Any orders made by 7 pm are guaranteed same-day dispatch.

DON’T

Do not use a 3pl with standard industry dispatch cut-off times around 1 or 2 pm. This delays delivery times for your customers.

 

Next Day Delivery

Today customers have higher expectations than they did five years ago. Waiting 3 – 5 days for a package used to be normal – then it increased to 2 – 3 days. As eCommerce has expanded and supply chain logistics have gotten more efficient, more customers are expecting next-day delivery. A recent survey found that 62% of people expect next-day delivery options.

DO

Do use fulfilment services that offer next-day delivery for your customers. It’s much more convenient and will keep customers happy.

DON’T

Don’t use a 3pl that is unable to offer next-day delivery. Your competitors will be looking for the same solutions for fulfilment services, so don’t neglect these options – or you may lose customers simply due to delivery options.

Fulfilment Services Contracts

Going into business with any 3pl for fulfilment services can make you feel nervous – after all, they are looking after your business interests. Getting into a contract that you can’t get out of (when you’re very unhappy with services rendered) could be a nightmare. It’s always a smart idea to have the freedom to decide your business strategy – if and when you want to.

DO

Do use a 3pl with rolling month-to-month contracts. Whether due to budgetary constraints or you’re simply unhappy with their services, it’s always best to have an immediate exit strategy later.

DON’T

Don’t get into annual or multi-annual contracts. This could be detrimental to your businesses should your fulfilment services provider not “deliver” on its promises. Also try to avoid unnecessary administrative costs such as “joining fees” or arbitrary annual costs. All 3pls have their own costs associated with their services to function obviously but be aware of unnecessary price-gouging practices.

Customer service

As a tech-forward 3pl, we pride ourselves on our technology for smart and efficient fulfilment services. However, when it comes to service, nothing beats good old-fashioned. Business is challenging, and when issues arise, you don’t have time as a business owner to wait for email replies or make a customer support ticket. Business moves fast, and sometimes you need help right away. Live customer service support will always remain a mandatory tenant of b2b service – no matter where technology takes us.

DO

Do use a 3pl that you can call and speak to over the phone (or via video chat) if and when you need it during regular business hours. Your business and time are valuable, and you should be treated with the respect and dignity you deserve. Never settle for less than excellent customer service with your 3pl.

DON’T

Don’t partner with a 3pl that does not value your business enough to pick up phone calls when you need them. In business, you need trust as well as respect. Make sure your 3pl is there for you and makes you their priority.

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Eco-Friendly shipping

Sustainability and green fulfilment strategies are responsible business practices that are mandatory for everybody to reduce our worldwide carbon footprint. We believe that sustainable practices are the future of supply chain logistics. That’s why we make it our mission to be a leader in environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices for our industry.

DO

Do use a 3pl with eco-friendly business practices. Ask them what they do precisely to be a part of the eco-friendly green revolution. An astonishing 81% of customers prefer to buy from sustainable sellers.

DON’T

Do not use fulfilment services with no commitment to ethical, eco-friendly practices. Consumers increasingly favour brands with a commitment to environmental sustainability.

 

Fulfilment Services for eCommerce Businesses

Third-party logistics are a single-source, integrated platform and service to help grow your eCommerce company faster, easier, and more cost-effectively. Finding the right fulfilment services partner will allow you to focus on your core competencies and reach more customers – while giving your business a hands-off worry-free experience.

One of the most common questions we hear about eCommerce fulfilment is whether companies should use a fulfilment service for their orders. The answer depends on the customers your company is trying to attract, the size of your order volume, and how you want to run your business. Fulfilment services are very useful and can help you save time and money. Outsourcing and automating your logistics for managing, packaging, and shipping products could reshape the future of your brand. If you have more questions about this or have other related fulfilment services questions, schedule a free no-obligation discovery call with us today.

 

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How 3PLs help with Rising costs and Inflationary pressure

If a global pandemic wasn’t already enough to deal with – looks like it’s time for another worldwide disruption. You may have noticed that inflation has been on a steady rise over the last year – and it’s affecting people and businesses everywhere. The Bank of England predicts that inflation will be up to 11% within months, the highest rate for 40 years in the UK. Globally, prices are rising for everything from food to everyday products and energy costs. Now is the time to audit your accounts department and scrutinize your incomings and outgoings. The rising costs of inflation on eCommerce sellers are a huge burden. However, even though we are in a very volatile market, there are still many ways to remain profitable – and 3PLs can help alleviate the strain of rising costs and inflation levels.

Economic frugality requires making challenging decisions about where to axe costs – but it also means re-evaluating operations in general. Though seemingly negative, financial strain and deciding your operations moving forward can bring innovation and a surprising surplus of cash. In these challenging times, businesses tend to wait until the last minute to focus on the liabilities of their business. Conversely, some businesses simply prefer to hunker down and wait it out – keeping them treading water and remaining stagnant.

If you’re overspending on internal operations with your online retail business, then it may be time to make the switch to a 3pl. If you are a medium-level or large enterprise business with monthly orders between 2,500 – 10,000 or more, then this article is for you. Let’s discuss how 3PL fulfilment can cut your costs and help safeguard your operations against inflationary pressure and rising costs.

 

Table of contents

1) How does inflation affect my eCommerce business?

2) The rising costs of energy on internal operations

3) The rising costs of goods

4) How 3PLs save your eCommerce business money

5) Capped rates, variable pricing, and increases with 3PLs

6) Safeguard your eCommerce business to beat inflation & rising costs

 

How does inflation affect my eCommerce business?

One aspect of inflationary factors affecting eCommerce businesses everywhere is when there is an unhealthy balance of supply and demand. Currently, much of the inflation is due to a turbulent supply chain infrastructure. During inflation, the price of “stuff” naturally increases over a period of time. This includes commodities like the price of raw materials, goods, and production costs.

inflationary pressure, how to beat inflation, inflation in UK, inflation impact on businesses, inflationary effect, inflation in UK 2022, 3PLSWe saw this trend largely during Covid when online retail skyrocketed. Suddenly, businesses had to compensate for the new demand, but supply operations were still in limbo – plus, many factories were shut down or only operated on a limited capacity. We still see this trend today as fewer people occupy the logistics workforce worldwide. So, as inflation increases, companies need to find ways to cut their costs and increase productivity. You may be one of the online retail businesses still struggling to meet demand.

Some of the biggest issues for eCommerce businesses currently include:

  1. The rising costs of goods
  2. The rising costs of utility bills
  3. The rising costs of employees
  4. The rising costs of transportation

A thorough understanding of internal and external supply chain operations and the effects of inflation on them is particularly important for companies. A company that can understand the daily and long-term changes in its operating environment will be able to capitalize on opportunities and avoid potential problems. One way that companies can benefit from this knowledge is by using it to develop effective supply chain strategies, which can help minimize costs and maximize customer satisfaction.

The rising costs of energy on internal operations

From marketing to shipping, there are many costs to running your own business. Energy is one of those costs. When energy costs go up, so does the cost of doing business. When you’re developing a budget and trying to stay within your financial means, digging deep into the details of your strategy may give you some unexpected savings.

Warehouse costs

As energy costs rise for businesses, the cost of operating warehouses continues to increase. Rising energy costs for businesses with warehouses can affect more than just the bottom line. Electrical equipment, such as central air conditioning and refrigeration equipment may require special maintenance to ensure sustained function. Energy costs also determine the rental rates of warehouse space, which can skyrocket.

Employee costs

Sellers must protect themselves against escalating employee costs that come with inflation. Employee compensation is one of the main cost drivers for retailers, as it can account for between 40 to 80% of gross revenue. In a high-inflation environment, sellers can safeguard their profits by exercising control over employee costs. Inflation creates uncertainty for sellers because the price their customers pay does not keep pace with the cost of living. As a result, sellers must raise prices or reduce wages to prevent losses in profits and cover these increases out of their own pockets.

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The rising costs of goods

Rising costs of inflation for goods can have a significant impact on your bottom line as an eCommerce seller. From soaring prices of materials and labour to rent, utilities, and more, covering the rising costs of inflation can be difficult if you’re not hitting sales goals. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate these risks and keep your business moving forward.

You need to be thinking about contingency plans for running out of key inventory items, negotiating supplier contracts, monitoring key data points like inventory price rolls and shipping rates – as well as important new trends in customer value creation such as promotions and discounting.

To remain competitive in business, many sellers such as yourself will want to raise prices – passing on the cost to your consumers. There may be a better idea, however.

How about cutting your costs? There are two advantages to this.

  1. While your competitors are price-gouging customers, you will be at the front of the line for the preferred price point – increasing sales.
  2. Internal audits of wasteful spending can embolden your business – allowing easier scalability.

Ecommerce sellers should protect themselves from inflation and rising costs by measuring ROI and considering automation with third-party logistics. From saving money on warehouse space to utilities and employee costs, it’s an instant win.

How 3PLs save your eCommerce business money

Third-party logistics (3PL) are an increasingly popular solution for companies with complex supply chains. The number of 3PLs have increased significantly in the last decade, especially after Covid – since more consumers shopped online from home.

Selazar and similar companies provide services from warehousing and transportation to distribution and inventory management. 3PLs can also help save you money by taking over supply chain operations, freeing up time and money associated with running your own logistics. 3PLs have their own warehouses, their own employees, and their own efficient systems around inventory management.

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3PL warehouse costs

Suffice it to say that not all warehouses cost the same – however, with 3pls, there are no warehouse costs! With a 3pl, you are provided with the facility and a facility management team, freeing up valuable resources for you to serve your customers better. For medium to large enterprise-level brands, this could mean tens of thousands in savings to hundreds of thousands or more a year.

3PL energy costs

What are your energy costs with a 3pl? Well, none. Though these types of costs may seem lower on the priority list when it comes to paying for employees and marketing, it all adds up. If you’re a large company, then these costs could be astronomical. Energy costs for using your own warehouse or facility can range from thousands to tens of thousands a year. On top of that, you also have water bills for your facilities. There is also required insurance coverage.

One of the advantages of using third-party logistics is that you will immediately pocket these costs – because there are none! What could a few extra thousand or even tens of thousands do for your business? Could you bring on some more help, spend more on marketing, and invest in more products? 3pl services allow you instant savings on your energy bills and more.

3PL employee costs

How much money could you save by not having full-time employees that also need insurance and pensions? Picking, packing, and shipping are necessary for any online retail business. Why should most of your profit go towards paying internal employees to do that when you get the same service at a fraction of the price?

For example, the current picking and packing rate for Selazar is capped at 40p a minute. The average pick time for Selazars warehouses is currently 37 seconds on average. They are quicker than most because the warehouses are digitally mapped, with algorithms dictating the quickest, most efficient routes between pickings. The average picking with packaging cost is also currently at £2.03. Employees that you don’t pay for directly still fulfill orders on an ad hoc basis. No money is wasted on breaks or lunches or overtime. The supply system simply automates for you on-demand– at a fraction of your costs.

3PL courier costs

In line with worldwide inflation, couriers naturally have to raise prices. When oil and gas prices increase, that cost is passed along to clients along the supply chain. Because couriers have strong ties with 3pls and rely on them, we negotiate rates on your behalf. Our network works with multiple carriers both domestically and internationally. Courier costs can be difficult to predict if and when we see an upward trend in rising inflation, but as an organization, we help to mitigate such potential issues.

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Capped rates, variable pricing, and increases with 3PLs

One of the goals and values for Selazar is to help businesses scale faster. This means keeping costs low and only paying for what is used. This means no signup fees or annual fees. There is no profit-sharing for products – unlike FBA. This also means a capped rate on picking and packing prices, meaning no increases during times of inflation.

With our bespoke pricing model, we also offer variable pricing, which allows for more cost savings rather than antiquated fixed pricing structures. As a consumption-based model, you only pay for the time for when services are rendered, rather than generic quotes based on industry average – a model ripe with inefficiencies.

When working with 3PLs, it’s important to solidify a pricing structure that benefits your business – especially in lean times. As a business owner, you have to pay particularly close attention to what you’re signing. It may feel like a daunting task, but it’s vital to ensure a deal that is fair for both you and your customers.

Rate increases can happen for many reasons, such as warehouse leases, shipping supply, payroll, couriers, etc. Rate increases over the years tend to compensate for the cost of living, which are perfectly natural and normal. After all, you do want warehouse workers to be compensated well enough to take care of your customers. However, you should still pay close attention to the frequency of increases so that you are getting a fair deal agreed upon by all parties.

Safeguard your online business to beat inflation & rising costs

While inflation will affect many aspects of business, the impact it has on supply chains can have a significant impact on sales and consumer decisions. If a business wants to grow, it will need to consider how inflation will affect its revenue and operations. This is why it’s important to know what causes inflation, how it affects businesses and consumers, and why it is so important to be aware of its effects on your operations. Should you be interested in our 3pl services, feel free to set up a free no-obligation discovery call with us today.

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Understanding Returns Logistics: A guide to online returns

Online returns continue to be a major point of frustration for many online businesses that tend not to plan for it. Returns logistics, or reverse logistics, is a sophisticated process in itself that should be thoroughly explained and understood. How you go about managing the returns process directly affects your profit and loss as well as your customer loyalty.

First of all, returns should try to be avoided at all costs obviously, because it takes up time and money, right? This means making sure you deliver on what you promised, and that you had good photos and descriptions of your products. Many returns happen simply because what was delivered wasn’t promised or presented in a clear manner. However, if returns do happen you need to have a strategic process in place that ensures your customers remain happy, and you can restock and resell your products. On top of that, plans need to be worked out on what to do with excess stock that can’t be resold.

A recent report from IMRG revealed that online returns were on a meteoric rise in 2021. This reflects the obvious uptick of eCommerce sales worldwide due to Covid – meaning the more deliveries you have, the more returns you will have too. Returns are typically viewed as bad by most eCommerce sellers. However, the truth is that how you choose to handle this process could be beneficial to your business. It’s actually an opportunity to prove yourself. Handling online returns is an opportunity to show precisely how your business delivers on your customer service standards, no matter the issue.

Research reveals that 92% of customers will purchase again from a retailer if the returns process was easy. This statistic matters. Don’t just assume you will lose customers if they ask for returns on your products. Therefore, let’s discuss returns logistics and efficient processes for returns management.

Table of contents

1) What is returns logistics

2) How reverse logistics works

3) Benefits of returns logistics

4) Efficient reverse logistics management

5) The importance of returns logistics

 

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What are returns logistics?

Unlike regular logistics, which is all about delivering packages to your customers, returns logistics (also known as reverse logistics) is the opposite – moving the goods from the customers back to the warehouse or seller. This returns management process may be triggered for many reasons.

  1. If the product was defective and needs to be returned
  2. If the product was the wrong colour, shape, or size
  3. If the customer was just generally unhappy in some other way with the product

Unfortunately, in eCommerce, online returns are inevitable. The challenge for many logistics providers and sellers is creating a returns process that is efficient, cost-effective, and convenient.

What is returns management?

Returns management is the process and systemic approach of first determining how a return will be processed, then the execution of it. This will differ depending on who will receive the goods, what the return policy is, and what the customer preference is (if given multiple options). When the returns process is effectively managed intelligently and efficiently, it means a better customer experience, increased retention, and profits.

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How reverse logistics works

The reverse logistics process starts with the customer initiating their eCommerce returns or return, and by the end, the goods will be received and processed by the seller, manufacturer, or 3pl.

1. The customer starts the returns process

Returns management starts with the customer determining why they want to return a product. They need to check the returns policy first to determine if they can return items. Some items may not be able to be returned and it always depends on the seller or returns contract. Once this is determined they will begin the returns either by mailing it, dropping it off in person (if possible), or arranging pickup (if offered). Mailing obviously costs money, and the customer may or may not get a refund (depending on the seller). Dropping off in person is obviously free (if possible), and new methods of arranging pickup may or may not require a small fee.

2. The return is received

The warehouse returns process is started either at the manufacturer warehouse, a physical stores warehouse, or a 3pl warehouse. For eCommerce businesses that use Shopify or WooCommerce and use 3pl services, the 3pl accepts the returns on behalf of their client’s customers. This then begins the quality check process for the return.

3. The return is checked

Warehouse returns procedures dictate that all items have to go through a quality check process to determine if the items can be resold. Products will be inspected for any type of damage, deterioration, or deformity. If there are no issues that have been found, online returns are sub sorted into items, based on their stock-keeping unit number, and will be readmitted into the stock for the specific vendor area. If items are damaged, however, they will not be returned to the regular stock area. They will either be trashed or repurposed. Some companies choose to donate some items to charity should they no longer be fit for customer use. This is a great way to reduce waste and positively impact communities.

“Products use precious resources which are becoming scarce and we are throwing them away unnecessarily.”

-Sarah Needham, Centre for Sustainable Fashion

4. The return is processed

Finally, using returns management software, the item can be added back to the original stock – assuming there are no issues obviously. The item is given a new SKU number and a refund can be triggered at this point.

Benefits of returns logistics

benefits or returns logistics, returns management services, returns management in ecommerce, online returns, online returns policy, online returns centre, shipping logisticsThere are many benefits to an efficient returns logistics process. Proper supply chain management includes maintaining profit, reducing environmental impacts, and maintaining brand value. Recouping value is still possible through reverse logistics.

Customer satisfaction

Good returns logistics build trust with your customers. If a returns experience is managed well, they will shop with you again. You always have a chance to wow customers. That starts from the website to final mile delivery and returns.

Reduces monetary loss

Items returned in good condition can be resold – resulting in no monetary loss. The cost of providing refunds for mail delivery returns for customers can be a factor – however, it is minimal and still mitigates losses. Manage this with more clear return policies.

Environmental impact

We all have a responsibility to encourage sustainable practices in relation to waste. Instead of simply trashing items, more can be reused and repurposed. It is estimated that 5 billion pounds of waste are generated through returns each year.

Efficient reverse logistics management

Effective returns management for eCommerce is still a relatively new concept that begs for innovation. Clear policies and automation are great – but is enough being done? Companies don’t necessarily have a binary approach when it comes to online sales – only focusing on the first part of the journey.

The question companies need to focus on is “If online commerce makes it more convenient to shop from home and receive packages from home, why can’t the opposite be true?” This means if I can receive packages at home – why not send them back from home? This is the future of eCommerce returns.

62% of customers would choose courier collection as their choice of return service.

Return Robin

Selazars partner company Return Robin was designed for this purpose. Customers can manage and monitor multiple returns from home, saving them trips to the store or packaging returns for Royal Mail delivery. They innovate in the following ways.

  1. Returns can be submitted online: Customers can enter their return details and choose a date that suits them for return pickup from a courier, between Monday-Saturday – up to two weeks in advance.

  2. Customers get notified of a 2-hour collection window on their chosen date.

  3. A courier drives to the customer’s home to collect the parcel. No packaging label is needed as the courier prints and provides it.

  4. The parcel reaches its warehouse, and the return can be refunded within days. It can often take 30 days or more to receive refunds today after you mail it – so this is huge. Incentivise your customers more and they will repay you with more loyalty.

This is the type of innovation and convenience your customers need. Through awesome products, customer support, and great returns, you will create raving fans.

 

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The importance of returns logistics

Returned items need to be a larger focus for eCommerce sellers because it is an opportunity to not leave money on the table while pleasing your customers. Online returns can’t be viewed as an ad hoc measure – and need obsessive focus on the reverse side of the customer journey too. Refunds are inevitable, so offering great return policies and methods for customers earns trust and builds return business. If you want to learn more about reverse logistics for your business, schedule a free no-obligation discovery call today.

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Instagram Shopping: Integrate your Online Store & 3pl services

Well, if you have not heard of Instagram shopping, then you might be living under a rock – or just ignoring it because you think Instagram isn’t “relevant” to your brand. It’s just for the kids right? Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Today social selling has become one of the most powerful channels for eCommerce sales – with all types of age groups. Just like selling on TikTok or Facebook, more brands are capitalising on sales from these popular social media channels – because it’s just smart business. You have to go where your customers are – and that’s Instagram too. The data is encouraging and taking some simple steps to set up your Instagram shop can allow your business to benefit in a big way.

“Instagram is the 7th most visited website in the world.”

3PL’s now make up approximately 25% of the freight industry. This has doubled over the last decade alone. This is because eCommerce is bigger than ever, and more business owners are using multi-channel fulfilment. So, in this article, you’re going to learn the why and how to integrate your Instagram shop for your customer’s order fulfilment.

Table of contents

1) Instagram shopping

2) Reasons for selling on Instagram

3) How to integrate your Instagram shop with your eCommerce store

4) How do 3pl services integrate with Instagram shopping?

5) Tips to increase sales on Instagram

 

Instagram shopping

So, what is Instagram shopping?

Instagram is a free social media channel that allows users to share photos and videos and interact with friends, but also with brands – then shop and purchase products directly from the brands’ Instagram storefront. Think of it as a brand-new free traffic source (storefront) in tandem with your website. Your website may already be doing well and flourishing with sales, however, why not add just one more sales channel to increase sales?

Some of the biggest brands are on Instagram including Nike (90 million followers), Victoria’s secret (68 million followers), Huda Beauty (38 million followers), and Gucci (35 million followers). These lifestyle brands know how important it is to be relatable, authentic, and innovative when it comes to target marketing. The internet is the digital storefront of your business. In fact, digital storefronts are becoming more popular than many physical storefronts today. Ecommerce in many industries has been outselling high-street brands over the last year, like the online fashion market.

Instagram is more than just a stagnant website. It’s a thriving community of people that want to share and interact with each other with visual aesthetics such as photos and videos. So, it was only a matter of time before Instagram shopping became available to businesses. Now, Instagram users can buy directly from Instagram and checkout on the app – or they can be redirected to any website for checkout. This is huge for eCommerce retail.

instagram shopping, instagram selling

Credit: Instagram Business

Reasons for selling on Instagram

As one of the world’s leading social channels, they currently have over 1 billion active users daily! Instagram is the second most-download app in the world. Today 23.4% of all people aged 13 and up use Instagram. They use Instagram for several reasons. They like the social aspect obviously and social interaction with friends and family, but also influencers and more. They like the access to celebrities and follow them – learning and seeing more about their personal lives. They like more access to their favourite bands and can find out more about tour dates and concerts. However, they also like to follow brands that reflect their own lifestyle. This is why lifestyle brands thrive on Instagram. In fact, 50% of people confirm using Instagram to discover new brands.

“Instagram is the 4th most-used social platform.”

From fashion to health and fitness, drinks to food, and home décor, they all work. Lifestyle brands embody values, aspirations, interests, and attitudes. It’s culture really, and customers always associate with brands as a personal reflection of who they are. That’s why it’s important for brands to be creative and evoke emotional connections with their audiences. Instagram brands that do well on Instagram target their demographics with creative marketing in line with their offerings. 58% of users say they’re more interested in a brand after seeing them in an Instagram story.

Today customers want more from people and brands they associate with – because access is just simply more available through technology. Consumers are hungry for more experience-based connections.

“83% of consumers admit paying as much attention to how brands treat them as on the product they sell.”

For marketing gurus, everyone knows that Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach your audience, with open rates averaging around 16.9%. However, email lists are only so big, and not every person on a business email list is necessarily a qualified lead. However, when a potential customer follows you on Instagram, you know they’re very interested in your offerings.

Here is a list of some of the most popular regions of the world for the Instagram user base.

Instagram user statistics

India – 230 million users

United States – 159 million users

Brazil – 127 million users

Indonesia – 99 million users

Turkey – 52 million users

Japan – 46 million users

United Kingdom – 31 million users

Germany – 29 million users

France – 26 million users

Canada – 17 million users

With global statistics like this, it’s understandable why the largest brands in the world embrace selling with Instagram. These are the latest statistics in 2022 and the numbers are only going to keep rising. In terms of demographics, new research has also revealed that 75% of 18-24 year-olds use Instagram while 47% of 30–49-year-olds also use Instagram.

Reasons to sell with Instagram:

  1. Boost brand visibility
  2. Better online engagement
  3. Make more sales
  4. SEO
  5. Easy marketing

Integrating your online store with Instagram is easy. The only question to ask yourself now is “what are you waiting for?”

 

How to integrate your Instagram shop with your eCommerce store

There are several simple ways to integrate your Instagram Shop with your online store. Whether you have a Shopify store, WooCommerce store, or self-created website, it’s a basic setup through your Facebook business manager page. If instagram shopify, how to sell on instagram with shopify, instagram woocommerce, instagram shopifyyou’re unaware, Facebook owns Instagram, so that’s why they’re both integrated from there – making it simple on two platforms. Therefore, when you add a shop to your Facebook page, you also add Instagram, and boom – two more platforms for your business.

If you’d still like to only open on Instagram, you still have that capability. You simply go to:

  1. In the Instagram app, open your profile
  2. Tap the 3 lines in the top right
  3. Tap settings
  4. Tap Account > Switch to Professional Account
  5. Select a category and confirm your business details with your website

 

To add an Instagram shop in Facebook:

  1. Go to business settings
  2. Click accounts
  3. Click Instagram accounts.
  4. Click the blue add button.
  5. Click connect your Instagram account
  6. Enter your Instagram username and password

When completed your store will look like the following below. As you can see it’s very visually appealing, users can like the image and also follow you if they’re interested in your products. They can also share your page and pictures with friends.

instagram shop image, instagram shop example

Image provided by Medium

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have an easy Instagram integration with your shop. You can also link your Instagram feed on your website so there is cross-platform marketing.

How do 3pl services integrate with Instagram shopping?

When you set up your Instagram shop, there will be links back to your website – which also links to your 3PL. Therefore, whenever you get an order on Instagram, your 3PL is automatically notified and fulfils the order for your customer.

As we recently wrote about in your article featuring the Selazar integration with Shopify we offer a digital integration through the app store. This is currently both on the Shopify and WooCommerce marketplaces.

instagram shopify, instagram wooceommerce, instagram shopify

Of course, for us to be able to fulfil your customer’s orders, we physically need to have your products in our warehouse. So, first, you simply send them to us, we store, and connect your online store to our warehouse through the Selazar platform. When this is completed, and your online store is connected – you’re ready to sell! Leverage the power of automation both for your online website and Instagram shop.

Tips to increase sales on Instagram

There are many tips to get your brand competitive on Instagram quicker. Though the potential is there for selling, you still must be smart with your marketing efforts to stand out amongst various competitor brands. I have found these are the most effective ways to market your brand on Instagram.

Leverage influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the top sales tactics for brands. Instagram influencers are typically people with a large number of followers that have a unique ability to influence others. They have well-established credibility and high engagement rates. Because of this, 93% of marketers use influencer marketing. The top industries working with influencers include luxury brands, sports clothing, and beauty brands. 82% of consumers say they are very likely to follow the recommendation of an influencer they follow.

Add CTAs to your Instagram stories

Instagram stories allow users to share photos and videos to their profile image – which is featured amongst various profiles that users can scroll, rather than just going to individual pages. When they are interested in a story they will click. Instagram stories are published separately from the Instagram profile gallery. Over 500 million people use Instagram stories daily.

So, when you add a product to your Instagram story, all you need is to add product links (CTA) which makes it shoppable. The link will go directly to your website where customers can pay and checkout from there.

 

instagram selling example, instagram shopping features, instagram shopping image

Image provided by Tech Crunch

Use Instagram ADS for a minimum start of £10 a day

Advertising is the tried and tested strategy for brands attempting to generate leads. Much like a website that can remain stagnant with no traffic, it works the same on Instagram if you’re not very active. Advertising works the same way and leads users to your Instagram page. Therefore, set aside some of your budget to either get Instagram users to follow your page or be directed to your website.

 

I recommend setting a budget of £10 a day. Even the smallest to medium brands can typically afford a marketing budget of this size. The reach for this amount has an estimated reach of 1,300 – 3,300 a day. Those are healthy numbers for brands looking for more awareness. If you increase to £20 or £30 a day you’re looking at a reach of 2,500 – 10,000 potential customers.

Instagram shopping with 3PL services

As you can tell there are many benefits to selling with Instagram as well as your online store. Learn to leverage your brand amongst the social channel to reach more customers and boost your sales. There are many brands today that are selling with Instagram successfully. You don’t have to abandon traditional marketing methods, however innovative thinking needs to be practised, especially in 2022, and Instagram should be considered. Schedule a free discovery call with us today so you can fulfil orders with the power of third-party logistics and Instagram.

 

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5 Powerful Reasons to Focus on Mental Health in the Workplace

If you’re not aware, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. It’s an important time to provide a safe space to focus on mental health, raise awareness, and cultivate a sense of comradery. Covid raised mental health awareness to new levels, as it directly affected everybody worldwide. Gauging the risks and benefits of mental health matters for your employees as well as your business.

We’re often so focused on numbers and memos and meetings that it’s easy to neglect self-care. We often give an abundance of energy to our work, families, and community – while neglecting ourselves. This has a direct cascading effect on everybody around. Left untreated, it can compound into decreased company morale, inefficiencies in the workplace, and declining revenue as a result. Right now is the time for us to open up and be honest about what we’re going through, both for ourselves individually and for business. This is a critical public health issue, and it needs our attention.

“66% of respondents in a survey concluded that their workplace did not have any policies or programmes to promote mental health”

Many companies have taken long strides to put this at the forefront of their cultural values, improving the lives of their employees daily. Employees get more job satisfaction, and companies excel as a result. Remember that happier employees equate to happier customers.

From extra time off to remote working, better health benefits to HR efficiencies, businesses everywhere are positively benefiting in various ways. Let’s discuss 5 powerful reasons to focus on mental health in the workplace.

 

Table of contents

1) Mental health affects productivity

2) Mental health awareness Increases employee retention

3) Mental health investment decreases business costs

4) Less stress increases company profits

5) Being open about mental health encourages a better team working environment

 

1) Mental health affects productivity

Mental health well-being has a direct correlation with the productivity of employees. That productivity, or lack thereof, directly affects revenue. The Mental Health Foundation recently released a report that found 5 per cent of the UK’s GDP directly suffers due to this. If you extrapolate that to the actual cost to the UK economy, that’s £117.9 billion annually. Mental health issues include depression, anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and bipolar disorders.

mental health in the workplace, mental health in the workplace uk, mental health for employers, cost of mental health in the workplaceUsing a preventative-based approach toward improving health and wellness in the workplace matters – especially since the third biggest cause of disability in the UK is depression. Employees often work very hard and long hours and can be stressed out about deadlines and various pressure from executive staff. Employees may keep the anxiety hidden inside and put on a brave face, but subconsciously have damaging toxic thoughts, behaviours, and emotions.

Depression and mental illness aren’t always easy to spot. Oftentimes, some of the seemingly happiest people are the most depressed. They put on a brave face for co-workers (because they’re professional) while suffering in silence. There is a term for this, and it’s known as “smiling depression.” This is known as someone living with depression on the inside yet appearing perfectly happy to the outside world. Maybe they don’t feel safe divulging their true feelings. Maybe they are fearful of saying what they really think for fear of job security and retaliation. Employers need to do a better job to ensure employees are happy and feel comfortable opening up.

Common signs of mental health decline in employees are a reduction in productivity, making uncommon mistakes, isolating themselves, and looking fatigued.

 

4 ways employers can improve productivity with mental health initiatives

  1. Offer mental health time – Give extra days off each quarter just for mental health
  2. Spend more 1 on 1 time with employees. HR and leadership need to spend more time simply being more empathetic. Schedule monthly check-in sessions for this purpose alone.
  3. Invest in better health care plans – Medical benefits are great, but make sure your company goes the extra mile to offer extensive mental healthcare help.
  4. Offer seminars & training on mental health – HR should prepare presentation training around mental health. How to spot signs, what to do, and how to approach requesting time off for this issue.

Use the 4 strategies to normalise mental health and boost productivity in your business. It’s not only smart, but it’s also good ethical practice. It’s just the right thing to do. Being more compassionate to your staff improves morale and encourages better teamwork overall.

 

 

2) Mental health awareness increases employee retention

When you develop a culture of well-being, employees feel more stable and secure. Company culture is everything – and those who take it for granted will surely feel the pain.

One of the biggest reasons employees value working for a company is for the benefits that are included with their salary – but also the culture and company ethos. To go one step beyond, adding increased access for “work perks” around the health of the mind appeals even greater – directly affecting retention.

Ultimately your values are what your employees will personally identify with as key difference when making job decisions.

This could be everything from employer-funded counselling to discounted gym memberships, to early finish days. Every little bit helps, and it doesn’t have to only be mentally focused. Healthier employees are less likely to be depressed as they naturally feel better with exercise. Work benefits like this help reduce addictions to alcohol or drugs.

 

“50% of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance abuse.”

 

I implore every company to make better strides and make mental health the number one priority for their business – to keep workers happy, and working for you for longer periods of time. Focusing more on mental health in the workplace fosters engagement and job satisfaction. Bad workplace environments overemphasise punishment while good workplace cultures emphasize rewards, caring, and empathy.

Remember that nothing will stagnate a company more than staff feeling underappreciated.

 

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3) Mental health investment decreases business costs overall

As businesses know, medical benefits are one of the most attractive reasons for employees to be with a company. But what about access to therapy and mental health resources? As discussed, there is a direct link between mental health well-being and workplace productivity.

 

When employees don’t have the proper access to mental health services or general mental health-related perks, businesses can expect to spend as much as 300% more on health care.

 

All industries experience significant financial losses as a result of poor mental health within the workforce. According to the world health organisation, anxiety and depression cost the global economy 1 trillion in lost productivity every year – and self-insured employers shoulder much of the cost burden.

Employees suffering from poor mental health at work make the company pay for it both directly and indirectly. The direct costs refer to the “visible costs” associated with the diagnosis and treatment of a mental health condition, such as psychotherapy or psychiatric drug costs. Indirect costs refer to the “invisible costs” associated with the downstream impact of mental health conditions such as productivity, physical health care costs, and accidents.”

Awareness of mental health in the workplace should be carefully observed and detected before it develops into a worst-case scenario. This starts with companies knowing the common signs of depression.

5 Signs of depression 

1) Changes in sleep and appetite

2) Loss of interest in pleasurable things

3) Feelings of hopelessness

4) Lack of self-esteem

5) Fatigue and feeling lethargic

Invest in mental health today for employees so you don’t incur more costs on your business. It’s a responsible financial practice which also encourages employee longevity. Praise openness around this issue and be a positive example for employees by sharing your own experiences.

 

 

4) Less stress increases company profits

As we’ve already discussed, productivity has a direct parallel predictable effect on revenue. The happier the employee, the better they work, and the better the company does overall. It’s a direct compound effect.

Not investing in employee mental health is a missed opportunity. A car tire can only last so long until there is a blowout on the highway – causing chaos. When you hire an employee, you should not only think about investing in that person’s professional skills but their mental and emotional acuity. You should think of being responsible for this person’s well-being – not just what they can do for you.

 

For every £1 spent on supporting employee mental health, employers get back £5 back on their investment in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism, and staff turnover.

 

To provide a very inspiring example, and perhaps one of the most innovative is a story from a Washington based tech company.

In 2015 the CEO of Gravity payments (Dan Price) decided to do something extraordinary, something innovative, and extremely kind for his employees. As we all know, one of the biggest worries for every human being on this planet is financial security. One of his most dedicated employees was struggling financially to afford a home in a suburban area of Washington. The cost of living rose – making it harder for everyone to afford standard living conditions. She struggled as a result. She wanted a better life for herself and her children. She was also a two-tour war veteran and Dan didn’t feel it was fair. It was then he had a revelation. So, to improve the mental health and well-being of all his employees, he helped eradicate mental related stresses around financial security by introducing a $70,000 minimum salary for all his 120 staff. This helped to level the playing field for the bloated costs of living compared to standard salaries for job positions in that area.

To do this Dan took a $1 million dollar pay cut to his salary. He sold his house and changed his standard of living so his employees could benefit more. From this point, he saw employees happier and less stressed daily. He completely turned capitalism on its head, destroying the pyramid scheme of typical Fortune 500 companies. This is the kind of innovative compassionate capitalism that larger companies should take notice of. Not only did his employees thrive, but the business grew as well.

 

“Employees were happier and the international attention and press increased the company’s prominence and revenue by 3x within five years.”

 

What an innovative idea to garner more customers huh? Though this wasn’t the motivation behind the increase – it certainly brought innovation to typical corporate financial structures. I mean, what customer doesn’t want to work with a company like this? I strongly feel Dan’s employees will stay with his company for a long time – and his customers. Many companies will say they truly care about their employees and do everything they can to ensure it. How many actually do it though? This is one of the greatest examples of a company leading by example.

In the UK, the average CEO earns 117 times the average worker’s salary. People are starving or being laid off and taken advantage of, yet many companies are still not leading from Dan’s example. Though not every company may not be successful enough to offer this incentive, they can certainly start getting creative ideas flowing to better help their employees financially. Even a 10% increase to employees company-wide can make a significant difference to compensate for worldwide increases in living costs. Perhaps cut wasteful spending in other areas so this can be accomplished. Companies can also offer special bonuses, profit-sharing schemes, and/or stock options. Invest in your staff and they will invest in you. Turn your staff members into raving fans.

 

5) Being open about mental health encourages a better team working environment

Normalising stress, anxiety, and depression reduces stigmas around mental health. When your business implements mental health programmes and even training, employees are less likely to suffer in silence. As a result, they feel a deeper emotional connection to their work peers. This creates trust and solace – much like a friend. Working together becomes easier and encourages better teamworking environments. Judgement decreases and empathy increases.

A recent study revealed 89% of CEO’s agree that there is a positive link between employee mental health and company mental health programmes. 75% of employees stated that they appreciate it when their leaders speak openly about mental health. It no longer becomes a moot subject – but a tangible companywide value that everyone understands and appreciates. Depression and anxiety affect everyone worldwide – so let’s be loud and proud about it.

Steven Bartlett, CEO, Social Chain

Ensuring your staff are supported and cared for is paramount. Mental health problems can fluctuate, so being consistent matters. Work diligently today to invest in the health of your business, starting with the mental health of your employees.

Happy mental health awareness week.

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Fulfil orders with Shopify Fulfilment Network: Selazar integration

Selling with Shopify is one of the best ways to sell your products and fulfil orders online today. However, all the work doesn’t stop as soon as the customers buy your products online – but where it begins! This is where the order fulfilment process starts and a whole lot of people work diligently to get your products to your customers quickly.

Learn below how the Shopify fulfilment network integrates with Selazar – and why you need to pay close attention to the 3PL provider you choose as your online fulfilment centre.

 

Table of contents

1) What is eCommerce fulfilment 

2) Advantages of selling with Shopify

3) Types of eCommerce order fulfilment

4) How to integrate Shopify fulfilment with Selazar

5) How 3PL logistics streamline your order fulfilment

6) Shopify and Selazar fulfilment manage and scale your operations

 

What is eCommerce fulfilment?

Ecommerce fulfilment is the process of storing, picking, packing, and dispatching customer orders for your eCommerce store. We house your products, organise them, and deliver them quickly through our courier networks.

As a third-party logistics provider, we are a partner in your business. We automate the entire delivery side of your operations, so you do not have to. Because we have the warehouse space, the staff, and the experts in our field, we do fulfilment better while bringing down your costs.

3pl warehouse, ecommerce fulfilment, shopify fulfilment, shopify fulfilment uk, shopify fulfilment network, online fulfilment centre, shopify shipping

Ecommerce fulfilment allows scalability and flexibility

Outsourcing your operations puts your business in the ultimate position for quicker scalability. One of the biggest reasons companies don’t grow is because they simply do not know how to leverage their money and resources. When you sit down and do the math – the cost of you hiring more people “in-house” and increasing warehouse space while paying utilities and mailing costs, insurance, etc. Adds up!

If you get clear on your business goals (and hopefully that means growing), it’s only logical to outsource fulfilment. Fulfilment services give you more freedom and allow you to focus more closely on other business priorities. You can focus on marketing, customer service, partnerships, or any other element really helps you scale.

To put it simply, you can sell more and work less!

 

Advantages of selling with Shopify

Because your website is the face of your eCommerce business it is critical to choose a company that offers the right platform for your sales channel. One of the most reputable companies in the space is Shopify – serving over 2 million daily active users.

With Shopify, you don’t need any technical skills. There are ready-made website templates that are easily editable, and their integration library contains numerous other platform tools for selling. It’s really your one-stop-shop for selling online.

Other advantages include:

  1. Marketing tools
  2. SEO tools
  3. Flexible selling tools like coupons & various payment options
  4. Outstanding landing pages for Google Ads or PPC social ads.
  5. SSL certification and PCI to encrypt data for heightened security

 

Types of Ecommerce Order fulfilment

1. Self-fulfilment

Self-fulfilment is when eCommerce brands manage the entire fulfilment process from end to end. This is the obvious scenario for many growing and medium-sized businesses. Whether you have your own warehouse or work from a single location, this can cause unnecessary headaches. This means packaging orders and packing slips and filler and sending them off. This takes precious time away from your operations. Many Ebay and Etsy sellers do it this way and have to personally mail packages which takes lots of time. It’s not as efficient when you have multiple orders and must package items and run them to the mailbox. Delivery and dispatch speed is critical for eCommerce selling.

Remember that eCommerce order fulfilment includes:

1) Inventory storage

2) Order processing

3) Picking & Packing

4) Shipping

5) Reverse Logistics

Self-fulfilment is full of hidden costs that you may not be aware of. As orders increase, more storage is needed, and therefore eventually a bigger labour force. When seasonal peaks happen across sales channels and you’re not prepared, you set yourself up for order delays and significant refunds. 3PLs also negotiate the best prices on courier deals as well so you may not be getting the same discounts as third-party logistics providers.

2. Dropshipping 

Ecommerce sellers for Shopify drop shipping UK businesses is an option where the manufacturer sends the products straight to the warehouse. This seems like the most appealing and convenient way – however, there is a risk of overlooking quality checks on products. Sending packages that are wrong and/or damaged is a quick way to lose customers – and revenue. Bad reviews will build up and before you know it, you’re underwater.

Also, if your manufacturer mislabelled anything in your stock your provider will not know what to do with it. It can sit in storage for prolonged periods, and you can lose more money and time. Caution needs to be observed with drop shipping operations. Inventory management is critical for eCommerce warehousing.

3. Third-Party Logistics

Whether you’re a medium level business or a large enterprise recognised eCommerce brand, Shopify shipping is also managed with third party logistics. 3PLs are responsible for your entire fulfilment process from end to end. A Shopify 3PL provides storage in a fulfilment centre along with necessary labour, materials, and technology. All your specifications in relation to orders will be customised to your business needs and requirements such as custom packaging. Parcels can be shipped quickly and the fulfilment process is handled with expertise. The Shopify fulfilment network offers this – with 3PL integration for Selazar.

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How to integrate Shopify fulfilment with Selazar

There is a myriad of services and operations we offer around logistics and warehousing – making sure your packages are picked, packed, and delivered quickly. However, it doesn’t only stop with the physical operations. We offer digital services as well. We are what is known as a software with a service (SWAS). This is where our partnership with Shopify fulfilment comes into play.

For Shopify customers, we offer digital integration through the Shopify store, easily connecting your website in real-time. Selazar can be found within the Shopify shipping apps. With Shopify shipping apps, you have the option to integrate many services. Once you integrate with Selazar fulfilment, you are digitally set up to fulfil orders. However, the next step is to get physically set up. This means sending your stock to one of our warehouses for the inbound stock process (ISP).

When this is set up and you are a registered partner of Selazar, your custom-built inventory management portal gives you complete control. This is not offered by every 3PL provider. An in-house tech team delivers on key elements by providing our proprietary software so you can easily manage from anywhere, on any device. This is a complimentary service that is offered at no extra cost to you as well. The integration with Shopify fulfilment allows you to sell and manage inventory with ease.

Thanks to features like two-way stock sync, the warehouse is notified as soon as your customer purchases an order. So, as sales come into your Shopify store the Selazar portal automatically updates in the warehouse to fulfil right away. You can easily log in and see the progress of all your orders so that you are updated and aware of what is happening with your stock. You can see when the orders were picked, packed, and dispatched.

The benefit of “in-house” IP is that we allow the technology to deliver the best solutions for our clients in a practical user-friendly way. No more outdated spreadsheets and inadequate warehouse management systems.

No-fuss – Just simple, hassle-free inventory management.

Any deeper questions on the mechanics of integrating your Shopify store with Selazar simply go to our support article.

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How 3PL logistics streamline your order fulfilment

Below are some ways that third-party logistics streamlines all the necessary requirements for your eCommerce fulfilment needs. From storage to your customers’ front door 3PL services make life for your business care-free.

Next–day delivery

Did you know that only 70% of consumers choose to purchase goods based on delivery options? With the rapid implementation of online retail (especially during Covid), consumers want faster delivery. Same day dispatch and next day delivery are becoming the industry standard. What is the best way to crush your competition? Offer quicker delivery. It’s a major customer touchpoint that will win you sales and retention. Our industry-leading dispatch times are longer than the industry standard. All orders made before 7 pm are guaranteed same day dispatch.

Pick & Pack precision

Tech-led solutions to picking and packing orders mean that the right product goes to the right box with the right delivery details. Automating this process decreases errors that are caused by antiquated warehouse mismanagement methods. Technology provides superior solutions that offer 99.9% accuracy.

Custom Packaging

For brand focused sellers, do you need custom packaging? This will also be provided for you, down to the final detail of your needs. You can work with a 3PL like Selazar to customise every detail of your boxing needs from custom boxes to fillers, and more. This isn’t offered by every logistics provider, like FBA.

 

Shopify and Selazar fulfilment manage and scale your operations

Technology allows anybody anywhere to get a business up and running fast. By leveraging the best software and physical services through the power of eCommerce automation – you can thrive. Shopify is optimized to be your online selling machine. By using Shopify with Selazar, you can easily manage your entire eCommerce business. With tech-first solutions from both Selazar & Shopify – this guarantees efficiency, order accuracy, and delivery speeds that will rival your competition. If you’d like to start outsourcing your eCommerce fulfilment with your Shopify store, set up a free, no-obligation discovery call today.

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The Fifo Method: Ecommerce fulfilment & stock management

FIFO is not a common term that most eCommerce sellers may be aware of – however, it’s an important one to understand before deciding to partner with any 3pl company. When it comes to warehouse storage and stock management, efficient systems are critical to keeping products organised and available correctly. That’s why we use the FIFO method as a workflow to organise the way goods are moved and stored. Complimentary to FIFO, another industry term is FEFO.

FEFO specifically relates to the storage of perishable goods as well as non-durable goods. Errors that happen within the inbound stock process for FEFO can lead to food waste and lost profits. For many companies’ waste is a substantial issue that can be caused by mismanagement. For example, approximately one-third of food produced for humans each year is entirely wasted, equating to 1.3 billion tons. Much of this is due to inefficient stock management systems.

Today we are discussing FIFO methods for both perishable and durable items, and why they matter for your thriving eCommerce business.

 

Table of contents

1) What does FIFO stand for?

2) FIFO examples of goods

3) Ecommerce businesses that need first in first out 3pl warehousing

4) The Fifo Method & pallet location tracking

5) Fifo streamlines and automates your eCommerce fulfilment operations

 

What does Fifo stand for?

Fifo stands for first in first out. Fifo meaning is an inventory method, whereas the first incoming products or unit load are the first to leave. First in first out stock rotation is typically used to manage perishable products with an expiry date. It’s also a common method for products that may become obsolete or “go out of style” quickly.

So, the FIFO inventory method is used with several types of goods so that customers receive the newest quality materials and products. The handling of these products requires different methods for storage and shelf locations depending on the type of goods. Various products may expire at separate times so it’s critical to manage them well. This is where another term comes into play, FEFO.

Fefo stands for first expired first out. Relating to perishable items – they are brought into the warehouse and stored for as long as they are required for use. Perishable items can spoil and have a shorter shelf life, so proper FIFO storage of individual items matters.

When warehouses receive products, they must record their expiration date. When an item is sold online and transferred from its stock location to a picking bin, the product with the most recent expiration date must be picked – meaning the closest expiration date to the day it’s picked (or the first one on the shelf closest to the picker as previously organised).

This way the oldest product (first in) goes out first and the older product (last in) goes last. This ensures goods and materials stay fresh and don’t expire within the warehouse – otherwise, there could be a major monetary loss to the company. You can see how mismanaging inventory can easily lead to major waste.

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Benefits of the FIFO Method

  1. Perfect stock turnover

  2. Avoids possible stock expiration

  3. Mitigates financial losses due to waste

 

Fifo examples of goods

Common goods for Fifo are represented below. They are perishable foods, non-perishable foods, durable goods, and non-durable goods.

Perishable foods

Perishable foods refer to rapid deterioration such as: Fish, fruit, vegetables, potatoes, plants, bread, meat, game, butter, eggs, milk, cheese & poultry.

Non-Perishable foods

Non-perishable foods refer to canned goods and dried fruit items that have a longer shelf life than perishable foods. Such as: Canned meats, canned tuna and salmon, peanut butter, jelly, canned or dry soups, canned stews and chilli, tea bags, coffee, canned pasta, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned pasta, cereals, rice, cake mixes, pancake mix, syrup, pasta, juice boxes, canned juices, canned beans, spam, canned gravy, sugar, baby food, formula, granola bars.

Durable goods

Goods not for immediate consumption and can be kept for an extended period are durable goods. Durable goods examples include: Computers, televisions, electronics, jewellery, office supplies, household goods, appliances, sports equipment, medical equipment, toys.

Nondurable goods

Nondurable goods are manufactured items that are not intended to last for an extended period of time but can have a shelf life of up to three years typically – such as: Clothing, paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, beauty products.

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Ecommerce businesses that need first in first out 3pl warehousing (FIFO)

Based on the type of goods you’ve seen above (Perishable and durable goods) 3pl logistics will fulfil almost anything – while making the expiry date a priority. When the Warehouse Management System (WMS) captures expiration date data, the system selects the stock box with the soonest expiry date for placement on picking shelves. FIFO perpetual inventory method management helps you manage products in the following eCommerce order fulfilment verticals.

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2) Cosmetics fulfilment

3) Nutrition fulfilment

4) Healthcare fulfilment

5) Sporting goods fulfilment

6) Ambient foods fulfilment

7) Mobile fulfilment

8) Perishable food fulfilment

9) Beverage fulfilment

10) Homewares fulfilment

11) Jewellery fulfilment

 

 

The FIFO method & pallet location tracking

pallet tracking, pallet ways tracking, pallet online tracking, wms, warehouse management system, wms systems, warehouse management, order fulfilmentTo ensure proper and continuous control over products it is the 3pl warehouses‘ responsibility to inspect, identify & store, package and dispatch FIFO goods. Included in this process is a digital built-in feature for FIFO requirements. That is the software or warehouse management system (WMS) – which includes an embedded algorithm guaranteeing 99.9% accuracy.

The Fifo inventory method of organisation happens with live pallet tracking. For example, Selazar digitally maps its warehouses so that every SKU is tracked via its intelligent warehouse application. Every nook and cranny is stored digitally and can therefore be located instantly. Every item is ready to be picked and packed for the warehouse staff when an order is made online. No outdated sheets of paper for this process, both making FIFO more efficient as well as less liable to human error.

This type of intelligent engineering allows 3PLs to respond to market demand from an application point of view. This becomes an advantage for the customer – always getting the correct goods and materials. Having established coordination from the website to the warehouse to the customer is easier than ever with live tracking tech-forward solutions.

 

 

Fifo manages and streamlines your eCommerce fulfilment operations

First in first out stock rotation 3pl warehousing brings efficiency to your fulfilment operations and storage solutions. FIFO helps perfect stock turnover, protects against the devaluation of stock, and prioritises the oldest obsolete products. Smart systems reduce spoilage and obsolescence, more specifically with companies in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and apparel industries. If you have any questions about FIFO or how our 3pl logistics services can help your thriving eCommerce business schedule a free discovery call today.

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Green Fulfilment: Eco-Friendly Shipping & Green Logistics

The advantages of going green for your business 

Thinking green for your business matters in 2022 more than ever. We work primarily in a digital world but still rely heavily on a physical network of transportation, warehousing, and delivery. The switch to more sustainable solutions affects everybody worldwide, both personally, and professionally. Governments and companies are already working diligently to reduce our global footprint. More green energy alternatives are coming online – and now it is time for green logistics to catch up!

Climate change is real, and it is everyone’s responsibility to make a difference. Climate change was estimated to have cost at least 210 billion in damage in the last two years worldwide. Many businesses went under, and countless people lost employment. Sustainability matters everywhere and affects every aspect of our lives.

Green logistics and sustainability are important for many reasons, not just for the planet, but for your customers – and your sales. Eco-friendly, eco-conscious consumers are more prevalent than ever. Green logistics is the future of our global supply chain. You can already tell with the overwhelming success of Tesla and electric vehicles on the road today. Going green is no longer a moot subject – but a new global movement that is more important than ever.

52% of UK shoppers say they would be more loyal to a retailer who practices sustainability, while 41% would even be happy to pay more for delivery to know it was a greener option.

Today I want to discuss green logistics and how your brand will directly benefit from embracing green fulfilment strategies. The world is changing, and a green revolution is happening – so it’s time to get on the proverbial green bandwagon.

 

Table of contents

1) What are green logistics?

2) What is green fulfilment?

3) Advantages of green logistics & green fulfilment

4) Green fulfilment cost savings

5) Sustainable packaging

6) Crackdown on plastics for packaging

7) Align green logistics with green manufacturing – make a difference

8) Global impact of green logistics and green fulfilment

 

What are green logistics?

Green logistics means using sustainable practices in the logistics industry to decrease harmful impacts on the environment. Setting more responsible policies and standards for transportation services, warehousing, and shipping, global climate health will benefit as a result. There are several ways that these practices can and will be implemented for long term environmentally friendly solutions.

Green logistics examples

Contributing to the reduction of global carbon emissions includes the use of more electric transport vehicles and biofuels. 2021 saw the biggest annual sales increase of electric vehicles in the UK, involving over 305,000 newly registered vehicles. This is a staggering growth of 74% when compared to 2020. The need for moving from fossil fuels to electricity is important and might be mandatory before we know it. For example, conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans are already on track to be banned from sale in the UK in 2030.

Over the next 10 years, sustainable fuels will play a critical role in reducing climate change as well as electric transport vehicles. DHL, a courier partner of ours have started a global protection initiative known as “GoGreen,” created to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases – where their target is to be 100% emission-free by 2050.

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What is green fulfilment?

Green fulfilment means using safe and sustainable business practices regarding eCommerce fulfilment to reduce harmful impacts on the planet. From materials used for packaging to materials used to protect products, it all matters. Big goals with sustainability require big action from everybody, and 3PLs can actively encourage this daily in several ways.

Green fulfilment examples

When it comes to eCommerce fulfilment it’s important for 3PLs to use recyclable materials that are eco-friendly. Eco-friendly packaging options, or “green packaging, “use both corrugated cardboard and gummed tape, which is recycled paper with a latex solution. Plastic tape is made of polypropylene and is not recyclable. Styrofoam is commonly also used with other picking and packing companies, but it is polystyrene and not recyclable. We only use recycled paper for package fillers, and all other 3PLs should too.

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Advantages of green logistics and green fulfilment

Not everyone focuses on the environment or going green with their business and that is understandable – you have a business to run. We cannot all care about everything when we have employees to look after and bills to pay. However, to put it in perspective there are many positive benefits to pay attention to that can actually boost your business by going green.

Below you will see the commercial and profitable advantages to pay close attention to when considering a green shift.

1. Brand reputation

Making sure your brand is aligned properly with sustainable logistics providers matters. Understanding customer interaction should be a core interest and KPI for eCommerce businesses and retailers in the B2B, D2C environment. Empirical data and research in this area have confirmed it’s a large point of contention for customers in 2022.

“50% of digital customers state that environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions.”

Having integrity in your already eco-conscious brand means being eco-conscious in the supply chain too. Your customers will pay attention to this – and not focusing on this can alienate you from your audience. From store to door – make sure it’s all green. Go green or go home!

2. Get more sales

The question that needs to be asked is “If you’re already an eco-conscious retailer – why would you align yourself with a 3PL without eco-conscious practices?” Make sure your entire operation audits its green practices from sourcing to delivery matters – as it influences buying decisions for customers. First impressions matter – so if a parcel received by a customer is covered in multiple strips of plastic tape, this will negatively impact the impression of your “eco-friendly” brand. Partnering with an eco-conscious 3PL gives you marketing capabilities to elevate and align your brand and customer values for final mile delivery. As a result, more brand trust, and more sales from dedicated consumers.

3. Government Policies

It’s also important to remember the policy and regulatory aspects of going green. In the next decade (as more eco-friendly legislation is passed globally) this issue will become even more popular & poignant. For example, the UK government has announced plans to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035. Over the next decade, because of this goal, more pressure will increasingly be placed on companies to expand their green initiatives. Already being aligned with companies that focus on sustainability helps you keep in line with what is happening legislatively – while keeping your brand consistently accountable and planet friendly!

Green Fulfilment cost savings

Did you know you can benefit from reduced packaging costs with an eco-friendly fulfilment provider? One of the benefits of using more sustainable products for green fulfilment (besides helping save the planet!) is the cost savings passed onto you. 3PLs pass the costs of picking and packing items onto you as well as the cost of their packaging for those materials (boxes, tape, etc.). If those materials are cheaper, your cost is naturally cheaper too.

 

Sustainable packaging

There are many types of sustainable packaging. There is sustainable packaging for food, sustainable packaging for liquids, and sustainable packaging for materials. We use sustainable packaging boxes as well as paper and plastic-free tape.

For example, water-activated tape (or gummed tape) is much stronger and requires fewer strips of tape when compared to plastic. This is another reason why it’s becoming an industry standard – while avoiding toxic plastic tape. Analysis has shown more strips of plastic tape are needed to properly seal boxes when compared to water-activated tape. This obviously affects labour costs, and consequently, profitability. This is true for any 3PL – as time is money. This practice brings the costs down for the 3PL, hence bringing down the cost for you as well – the 3PL partner. Also, plastic is eradicated – helping the planet.

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Styrofoam vs recycled paper filler

Besides being more expensive, packaging items in boxes take a lot longer to do with styrofoam (also known as packing peanuts) than with recycled paper. Adding to the previous point of labour costs, the recycled paper takes less time to complete the task of preparing packaged items (void fill) – and your customers don’t have to break out the broom! More industries like fashion are already embracing recycled paper packaging.

Major fashion houses and iconic online fashion industry brands have shifted their focus on this issue in recent years – because they know customers are more vocal than ever about plastics in their packaging. Fashion fulfilment for eCommerce is exploding in 2022, even garnering more market share than many traditional brick and mortar stores. Recycled paper filler is already becoming more popular by major brands and will be embraced more moving forward. As the third-largest manufacturing industry in the world (garments), more pressure needs to be placed on these companies to support sustainable packaging for clothing.

 

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(Picture above is one of our eco-friendly clients Upcircle)

 

So… Forget styrofoam! Embrace recycled paper fillers for your products.

*According to National Geographic, of the estimated 400 million tons of plastic produced every year, 40% or 160 million tons, is used exclusively for primary and secondary packaging applications. Styrofoam fillers are plastic-based and wind up in landfills – taking hundreds of years to decompose.

Crackdown on plastics for packaging

Did you know the UK government is already cracking down on plastics? As of April first (2022), the UK enacted a Plastic Packaging Tax (“PPT”). The reasoning for this is to incentivise businesses to reduce their use of plastic materials specifically for plastic packaging! Large manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging will be on the hook for bringing too much plastic into the UK. So, as you can tell – it’s a dying industry.

 

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Align green logistics with your green manufacturing – make a difference

Ethics check! Eco-friendly eCommerce sellers, who source products from large manufacturers with no commitment to sustainability – is it time to change?

Some countries have fewer regulations when it comes to emissions. It’s understandable you want to get the cheapest price for your products. In the long run, without more accountability, you might directly support one of the largest polluters in the world. It’s important to investigate this critical issue and understand where you want your loyalties to be aligned. More importantly, what would your customers think about this practice with your eco-friendly brand?

A recent poll confirmed that 60% of internet users are willing to pay more money for products that are eco-friendly. This number is expected to increase as millennials and Gen Z will soon be a more prominent demographic in the eCommerce retail space. Younger generations actively approach their buying decisions with a sustainable outlook – and then align themselves with those brands accordingly.

81% of people prefer to buy from sustainable companies

What’s worse than directly supporting the largest polluters? I would say getting called out for it and losing your customers. I am sure your competitors would love to take you to task for it. Personally, I would love to crush my competition by calling out their unethical or “ironic” non-eco-friendly sourcing practices. That would take care of two problems for my business!

So, for the sake of the planet as well as the sake of your bottom line, I’d say it is time to do an ethics check on the source of your manufacturing too. Embrace green manufacturing.

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Global impact of Green Logistics

Obviously, the biggest advantage to green logistics and green fulfilment is a reduction of environmental strain. However, you can clearly see the other benefits of these practices for your business. Over the next decade, every industry will be developing more and more “go green” tactics – from green logistics to green manufacturing and even green warehousing. Make sure your brand is aligned on the right side of history. Your planet thanks you – and your customers will too.

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Online fashion industry and fashion fulfilment in 2022

The online shopping industry in recent years has steadily taken over certain sectors, especially the online fashion industry. Brick and mortar fashion retail appears to be on the decline while fashion eCommerce is on the rise. This is a logical conclusion of lockdowns, but also due to a lack of tourism and ongoing supply chain issues. The big question now is are we witnessing the new normal?

To assist in fulfilling this online shopping golden era, 3pl services will automate your storage, and manage your inventory, packaging, and shipping. Switching to a 3PL in this online fashion boom in 2022 could exponentially grow your operations and increase your sales. Learn more below about fashion fulfilment and the online fashion industry.

Table of contents

1) Brick and mortar vs online fashion world

2) Online Fashion market

3) Brick and mortar pain points bring more opportunity for eCommerce sellers

4) Fashion fulfilment customer experience

5) Online fashion returns

6) Automation and brand control fashion eCommerce fulfilment

7) Online fashion industry conclusion

Fashion eCommerce

Brick and mortar vs online fashion world

fashion ecommerce, fashion fulfilment, fashion 3plA personalised shopping experience has always mattered to customers. We know what we like, the brands we admire, and how much we want to spend. Traditionally our only option was the in-store shopping experience where we could see and touch the products we wanted to buy. However, modern technology is completely improving the online shopping experience with AR and VR, making it more customised and convenient. Window shopping has become much simpler on a phone or tablet and offers customers a greater variety of buying options.

77% of digital window shoppers tend to make impulse purchases.”

More online fashion brands are improving mobile shopping experiences today, creating trust and retention with consumers globally. With technology innovations in this new world of convenience, e-tailers are capturing more market share by focusing on it. Improving the simplicity of the D2C & B2C eCommerce fulfilment experience is completely reshaping the fashion industry.

Styles change seasonally in the fashion industry. Fads come and go. What is not a fad is service and convenience. Speed is king today for customer expectations when it comes to shipping. Especially if consumers are willing to forgo the in-store shopping experience and instead participate in fashion retail online. Those who work to improve their supply chain with next day delivery automatically separate themselves from their competitors massively.

Next day delivery can help businesses gain a competitive edge over other industry players

As online fashion retail soars in 2022, novel solutions are needed for fashion fulfilment, delivery, and bespoke services. This is where more eCommerce fashion companies will thrive with 3pl services. Whether you’re looking to outsource fulfilment operations completely, or simply relieve supply chain pressure in key areas, automation means scalability.

Online Fashion market

online fashion market, fashion retail online, online fashion industry, fashion fulfilment servicesAs UK retail fashion online sales increased 19% in 2020, brick n mortar sales fell by 24%. This shift to fashion eCommerce was an obvious transition, forcing bigger brands to focus on digital sales channels. Fashion is one of the most popular products selling online today. The most popular categories sold online include clothing, household items, groceries, and electronics. To start let’s go over online shopping statistics in the fashion retail sector to present an overview of the size of the industry.

The eCommerce fashion industry is estimated at 760 billion pounds worldwide. The most popular divisions largely include apparel, accessories, and footwear. By 2025 the market valuation is estimated to increase to 1 trillion. The largest online fashion shopping market is China, valued at 284 billion.

The next largest market is the United States, estimated at 126 billion, followed next by the United Kingdom at 32 billion. In 2020, 87% of UK households made online purchases, the highest online purchase penetration rate the last decade. The latest research is predicting that 52% of UK apparel sales will take place online in 2022. Following from this is Japan at 23 billion and Germany at 22 billion.

The largest online fashion retailers currently include Nike, Zara, Shein, and H&M. As more customers shop online in 2022, brands will be working to make online shopping a more immersive experience. This includes virtual reality selling, subscription models, and will even include metaverse eCommerce.

Nevertheless, digital selling will continue to its ascension as more people are preferring shopping from home in 2022. Does this mean brick n mortar will become less relevant in the coming years?

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Brick and mortar pain points brings more opportunity for eCommerce sellers

Technology not only connects the world better, but it increases freedom. From the days of letter writing snail mail to email, from home phones to mobile phones, technology shapes culture. It shapes behaviours and values. Today technology has completely reshaped our personal shopping experiences. The common denominator in all these technological innovations is convenience.

Convenience will always be king. Convenience is at the top of the priority list for customers. This is the strongest reason fashion customers prefer online shopping to traditional brick n mortar shopping. For them, there is no waiting in line. There is no walking around a crowded shop for the exact item needed. There is no hassle from the sales staff. Plus, there is an abundance of buying options with competitive pricing on related fashion items – and all from the comfort of your own couch!

Freeing up operations saves time and money

Without the need for overhead costs like physical space and employees, eCommerce stores can significantly scale their operations. Want to grow faster? This is how to do it – smarter and faster. Cost savings on overheads allows you to reduce prices on your own products, instantly being more competitive in the marketplace.

Other incentives for consumers shopping online

1) Free shipping
2) Reviews
3) Price comparison
4) Safety (Covid fears)
5) Discounts

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Fashion Fulfilment Customer experience

Customer experience matters. Customers have elevated expectations, especially nowadays, and those customers who have a wonderful experience with brands will likely repurchase. This is because of trust. Developing trust with online transactions is critical. As the adage goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions. From order to delivery, it is all part of a 360 journey, a complete journey you must pay attention to in fashion and apparel.

Fashion is a highly competitive space, and seasonal changes affect stock levels quickly. Cloud-based fulfilment allows you the freedom to make quick adjustments on your inventory with multiple items. Organising your stock & implementing efficient warehouse management can be completed with the touch of a button. Otherwise, errors with antiquated systems of stock management will stunt your company’s growth and be very costly in the process.

46% of SMBs either do not track inventory or use a manual method

3PL’s make the perfect partner for fashion retailers as the service is designed for smaller items. These items can easily be packaged and sent with same day dispatch. You can do custom packaging for the brand focused sellers and offer online tracking to your customers. Fulfilment services excel in this as experts because they do it every day and ensure efficiency and accuracy.

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Next day delivery

Great products are everywhere. Similar products, similar materials, similar styles. What is not so great quite often is other important customer touchpoints. Offering next-day delivery for example is not always a top priority for brands when they’re scaling or focusing on other channels of the business.

If you are working with a 3pl, ensure same day dispatch is available for shipping. Customers are so spoiled today with quick delivery. The smart brands will offer it because they know they need to. Without a doubt, staying behind this trend will leave you in the dust – you must ship faster to compete in today’s online fashion industry.

Approximately 43% of consumers choose next day delivery.

Online fashion returns

With the highest percentage of returns in eCommerce (fashion), a smooth returns experience is paramount for online fashion brands. Being organised in your logistics operations with various SKUs demands a sophisticated warehouse management system (WMS). Great3pl returns management, e commerce returns process, online fashion returns, online return process, 3pl shipping, easy return online shopping, technology and automated practices with a customer-powered return solution (like Return Robin) free up valuable business time.

Clothing returns account for 75% of total returns. Why is this? Well, the obvious issue here is the reality of online selling. Not being able to try on something before you buy it can be challenging. This is something that is being improved each day with AR/VR selling for eCommerce returns.

For eCommerce businesses to maintain the sustainability of online sales and not alienate customers further, then ensuring a smooth returns experience is mandatory.

Best business practices to avoid eCommerce returns & ensure future business  

  1. Include highly detailed accurate descriptions of your products. Inaccurately labelled descriptions are the top reason for most eCommerce returns. Include as much detail so that your customer feels they are getting exactly what they want.
  2. High-quality images & video – Using higher quality images and/or 3d renderings helps your customer see exactly what they’re buying. Videos also add an extra level of transparency to ensure quality and encourage better buying decisions.
  3. Make sure your customers can return products at no cost to themselves. Offer a Collect + return option or Return Robin solution, powered by Selazar.

If you’re using a 3PL make sure they offer you an easy returns policy and process. Quality checks can be done on products, then once cleared, be readded to your stock for reselling. Smart, simple, automated solutions.

*Selazars Return Robin integration provides a single platform for managing high levels of returns, bringing convenience and simplicity to reverse logistics. Customers can return items from the comfort of their homes – an innovation in 3PL services.

Live chat

It would behove me not to mention a considerably basic but important principle of business, communication. Live chat needs to be embraced and implemented by more online retailers. Selling online means there is an obvious barrier unlike when customers shop in-store. In-store they have instant access to customer service. If they call, there is usually a long wait until you are given 10 options for the right department, which is exhausting. This is the OLD way of doing business, though it is still important to have. Customers need to feel they can trust you, and an immediate connection with live chat facilitates this process.

79% of customers say they prefer live chat because of the immediacy it offers. This matters in the age of convenience, right? Technology has spawned new breeds of shoppers. It would be prudent for brands to digitally transform the way they communicate. Today, 41% of customers expect live chat on your website, although research has shown only 9% of companies offer it.

Get on the train.

Automation and brand control fashion eCommerce fulfilment

inventory management, online fashion industry, ecommerce fulfilment, fulfillment centers, fulfilment centres, shipping warehouse near me, pick and pack pricingAs brands secure more omnichannel selling services like third-party logistics it is imperative for them to not let go of the brand, right? Brand matters. Branding has many advantages – luckily this service is not lost with third party logistics. With a 3PL you still have the option for customisation like custom packaging. This will be automated to your exact specifications. Pretty neat huh?

Using eCommerce warehouses is the best way to save on costs for warehouse space, employees, shipping, but also brand control. Service will not only continue for your business when you outsource it to a 3pl, it will improve. 3PLs, like Selazar, are experts in fulfilment.

Fashion eCommerce fulfilment inventory management

One of the biggest issues in the fashion industry is holding onto substantial amounts of stock. Items have so many sizes and colours, creating massive amounts of data collection and inventory management. An optimised software solution will be more efficient, allowing control of hundreds of SKUs from a single platform.

With the high number of SKUs to manage (style/size/colour combinations), a good 3PL can help you alleviate the stresses of managing multiple items – while being able to bundle items together or separate them as single items for sale.

Online fashion industry conclusion

The data is real. Fashion retail online is the new normal. Online fashion industry retailers need to rectify new options for their target customers, including omnichannel fulfilment to support the online experience. It’s obvious what the customers are saying in 2022 – they want more shopping from home convenience. Leveraging the best solutions for this process will keep you competitive in a new digital landscape. Make sure your eCommerce fulfilment service has smart operations that will automate your entire product journey from sale to final mile delivery and returns management. It will save you time. It will save you money. It will save you headaches and hassle.

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