For all the pet lovers out there, we know that we consider our pets a part of our family. We want the best options for them when it comes to pet food and accessories. For online business owners, when it comes to order fulfilment services for pet food and accessories, don’t you also want the best?
Today we’re discussing the process of outsourcing your order fulfilment for pet products to a 3pl. You should be considering all sorts of factors when automating product delivery to your loyal customers – such as next day delivery, technology & warehouse management, custom packaging, and 3pl costs. So, lets discuss order fulfilment services for pet food and accessories in 2022.
Pet food and accessories are one of the largest online markets that exist today. People love their household pets, and this is an industry that is no fad – but a forever booming market. After all, it is estimated that some 62% of households in the world have pets. Pet ownership in the UK has increased every year since 2015 – with consumers spending more than £3 billion on pet food alone. The largest market segments by far are dogs and cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs and hamsters. As of 2022, the world market for pet food is USD 94.6 billion – and is expecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4% from 2022 to 2030.
In the UK, 20% of pet owners also spend at least £20 per month on outfits, toys, and non-food-related essentials for their pets. This is everything from water and food bowls to leashes and collars, pet beds, and grooming brushes. Because pets need regular grooming between four and six weeks, home grooming products are big sellers. Also, the #1 seller in 2021 were dental care toys, and treats – followed closely by novelty pet beds.
When it comes to our love of our pets, we spare no expense. The online pet food and accessories market is one of the largest industries that will forever dominate eCommerce sales. That is why it is vital you partner with a seasoned 3pl provider that will take your brand to the next level.
Order fulfilment services: Warehouse management pet food storage with a 3pl
In the logistics industry, warehouse management is everything. The best 3pls have efficient methods of organisation that incorporate technology for managing stock. Any warehouse management done without a WMS (Warehouse management system) is ineffective and will create mistakes. Pet food must be logged and handled correctly; otherwise, brands will face returns and customer abandonment. Responsibilities for warehouse management include keeping inventory secure in an organised environment, picking and packing the inventory when orders come in online, forecasting supply volumes, and tracking orders in real-time. Ecommerce warehousing ensures your orders are processed smoothly from intake to final mile delivery.
When it comes to proper inventory management, there are several methods to make sure inventory is properly stored. One stock management method is FIFO, known as first in, first out. When it comes to ambient foods and products that expire, it’s important that the freshest products are available for consumption first. This means the warehouse must scan, log, and organise in a manner that is compliant with food storage practices. This is why manual methods with 3PLs are liabilities. Real-time computer data is a failsafe for products expiring and being delivered to consumers. This is how technology and FIFO efficiently manage operations.
Next day delivery of pet food and accessories
There are several touchpoints that matter when making that final buying decision for customers. There are always price and quality of course, but also delivery speed. In a new age of retail in 2022, customer expectations have changed. Dispatch speed matters when it comes to getting products to your customers fast.
When it comes to ordering pet food, there can’t be much lag time. Consumers often wait until the last minute to renew their online orders for their pets – and “Fido” the cat will not put up with delayed fancy feast delights. Same-day dispatch matters to ensure next-day delivery. Selazar has industry-leading dispatch times that guarantee products move out fast, in the right order, in the most efficient way. This is why brands like Buddy & Lola count on our pet food storage and fulfilment services.
Peak shopping time during the week is between 5 pm and 9 pm. This is why we guarantee same-day dispatch for orders made before 7 pm and offer next-day delivery on orders received before 9 pm. Do not work with a 3pl that has average dispatch times around the industry between 1 and 2 pm. Your consumers will abandon you, and other brands will outsell you.
When it comes to your brand, it’s precious. It matters in modern times when customers associate their lifestyles massively with brands. For example, brands such as Buddy & Lola sell non-GMO, gluten-free products tested free from pesticides and glyphosate. Their eco-conscious natural approach to their brand resonates with pet owners. Their packaging and branding reflect this.
50% of consumers say branded packaging makes them more likely to recommend a brand to their friends – with 61% saying branded packaging makes them more excited about receiving products. Branded packaging exposure for your brand is another component of customer experiences. It all matters. Use only 3pl services that offer custom packaging for your brand. This can all be accommodated from fillers to boxes with a high-quality third-party logistics provider.
Scale your pet brand with a variable pricing structure
Scalability is on the minds of practically every business owner. Who doesn’t want to grow and make more sales? When it comes to using a 3pl for your pet products, it will be more beneficial with the right pricing structure. I’m talking about fixed vs variable pricing structures.
As more of your pet food and accessories are sold and fulfilled, it helps to have a pricing system with the best value.
Fixed pricing structures offer no flexibility. “A” always equals “B”. £5 per delivery, £6 per delivery, etc. Suppose the cost to fulfil the order as the 3pl was £2 for their business, but you were still charged £6? Businesses need to make a profit obviously to survive, but how does that help you with your profit margin? At Selazar, when we save, you save. Our pick and pack industry-leading rates keep costs low for business owners. So, with this system, prices will fluctuate up and down per order – but never above what was agreed.
Order fulfilment Services for Pet food and accessories in 2022
If you’re an online retailer selling pet food and pet supplies/accessories, do your due diligence before picking your 3pl. They are not all created equal and will greatly impact your business. They will be your partner in business, essentially the logistics wing of your operations. Know what you want from your order fulfilment services – from next-day delivery to custom packaging and 3pl pricing. The relationship is important and needs to be built on trust. Should you be interested in our order fulfilment services, set up a no-obligation free discovery call today.
Amid the crescendo of the eCommerce boom in 2020 more eCommerce businesses quickly sought out logistics solutions. Third-party logistics suddenly became more prevalent as demand catapulted for storage, pick and pack services, and final mile delivery. Dramatic shifts in buying behaviours brought with it shifts in delivery options too. More companies were desperate to find the best solutions to maintain customer expectations. With no stores open and fewer employees on staff there needed to be a way to get the work done despite these issues. Cue the 3pl’s.
Thankfully working with a 3pl is a common-sense approach for enterprises that want to grow quickly and outsource operations. It’s the logical step towards alleviating the common stresses and headaches of your internal packing and shipping operations. Contracting those services to another company immediately takes care of your storage and delivery needs, saving your business valuable time, effort, and money. Yes, please!
However, choosing to partner with a 3pl means that you are giving a lot of responsibility away, right? This can bring some hesitancy for companies that are historically content with controlling all aspects of their business. With the right partner however the capability of this new fulfilment frontier will not only grow your operations but improve your quality of service. Hiring experts in any industry, like in fulfilment, ensures the job is getting done right. With these fulfilment benefits, you can focus on other aspects of your business while you remain fully operational without any loss to service or sales. When you do finally decide to take the leap to outsource to an eCommerce warehouse, it’s essential to do your due diligence.
It’s critical to make sure you have a reliable partner with a reputable record of accomplishment and the right pricing options for your business. You must make sure you understand every aspect of your contract for your fiduciary responsibilities so your business can thrive in a new age of digital commerce. Price gouging and 3pl annual subscription models can quickly bloat costs and deflate your bottom line if you don’t fully understand what you’re paying for. 3pl costs differ greatly between providers.
Third-party logistics services have helped to innovate business distribution and fulfilment channels in the late 20th century. With improvements in technology over the last 30 years, we are now able to offer more innovative business pricing options as well. This is where variable pricing vs fixed pricing comes into play, and this is what we’re discussing today.
Today, I will be breaking down fixed pricing vs variable pricing for 3pl costs. Both structures are similar, but only one has the ability to save you money. I’ll be discussing these 3pl pricing methodologies as well and how they compare, so you can decide on the best option for your thriving business.
There are different pricing options when you deal with any 3pl provider. Not one pricing structure fits all companies, and sometimes you need a customised solution. This can vary depending on the size of your company, monthly order volume, or product offerings. It can also depend on the services you specifically require such as custom packaging. Understanding the pros and cons of each pricing structure will educate you to make the best decision. 3pl pricing models include:
Fixed pricing model
Most often you will deal with fixed costs, a pricing structure that is predictable and easier to understand. You maintain the same rate for warehouse storage, pick and pack services, etc., and it doesn’t change (£8, £9, etc.). Delivery costs still change depending on the courier & size and weight of your parcel, but the general 3pl warehouse costs don’t vary. What you’re quoted is what you get.
Variable pricing model
The next is a variable pricing structure, which solidifies caps in your spending limits, but allows you to have lower fulfilment rates based on your consumption. So, what you spend has the ability to be lowered. It’s more closely linked to your performance, directly keeping costs in line with efficiency.
3pl costs include:
Storage and stock management costs
Picking and packing costs
Returns processing costs
* More detail on the various 3pl costs in a little bit
3PL Fixed pricing model example
A fixed pricing model is also known as a “flat rate” structure, meaning businesses pay a flat rate per order. You’ll pay fixed costs for storage, picking and packing, kitting, customer packaging (should you want it), and delivery. A fixed model is often preferred for companies that like easily predictable costs. This is considered an advantage for sellers as they can easily manage sales projections, but they do run the risk of paying higher margins without the ability to renegotiate their set contractual pricing obligations to the 3pl.
Let’s extrapolate this with a 3pl fixed pricing cost example: (Fictitious scenario)
£1.50 per order (before delivery cost) for your fulfilment needs with 2,000/month orders
= £3,000. Simple math.
The problem falls in this fixed cost – say you negotiate based on 2,000 orders per month but explode in Q4 and end up doing 10,000 orders. In this fixed scenario, your cost is stagnant at £1,500 even though processing volumes at that rate incurs benefits of scale and fractional cost savings across the operation. None of which are passed onto you the seller. It costs less to ship more on a per-unit basis typically.
When it’s time to plan, the certainty of a fixed price gives confidence to all members of the board. They look for optimisations and efficiencies in-house in other areas and just accept that 3pl’s cost money. If sales volumes are low – that’s a Sales & Marketing issue. If they’re consistently high, they can renegotiate rates to reflect the latest performance. It’s all a bit slow and wasteful but it gives a hard number for the bean-counters to work from.
3PL Variable pricing model example
A 3pl variable pricing model is a “consumption-based pricing model.” This is a hybrid approach to 3pl pricing, allowing more flexibility and scalability for businesses. You only pay for what you use and aren’t charged for services you don’t need.
So, instead of paying a “flat rate” per order which never changes, a “variable rate” per order can change. The costs decreases (based on warehouse efficiencies) and caps are in place to ensure that inefficiencies do not result in erroneous charges. Look at it this way:
If you want certainty, base the cost of cap price and be happy with the savings when your typical 3pl costs are much lower. This might present itself as an expensive option when looking at its face value from a perspective of certainty. Keep in mind there is only so much certainty you can have when predicting the future in eCommerce – generally based on earlier performance.
If you dig deeper though you’ll see that the average price is much lower than the cap and the variation from average across the year is closer to 4%. This variation is a direct reflection of the changing seasons and order volumes being processed. At Selazar we currently cap pick and pack to £1.20 for a standard single item order, but the average cost is a staggering 67p. If we add 4% to 67p we get 70p. So, trusting in the past performance of variable pricing structure we can do some simple math:
The perspective of Certainty: (Fixed price perspective)
£1.20 per order (before delivery cost) for your fulfilment needs with 2,000/month orders
Trusting in variable structure: (My 3pl partner is striving for efficiencies)
£0.70 per order (before delivery cost) for your fulfilment needs with 2,000/month orders
The big difference is the price you pay when your order volumes inevitably go up Your costs as a proportion of profits won’t change drastically if you’re doing 2,000 or 20,000 orders per month.
With this model, it can be more challenging to first understand your exact costs, or track them, because they vary, but the savings cost is more favourable for you over time. Balancing costs and services that meet your brand standards is a challenge but embracing the future of fulfilment will help you stay ahead of the curve.
*Note – Fixed and variable pricing structures aren’t just single entities that are completely independent. They can be mixed and matched depending on different service charges. A 3pl can adopt the fixed or the variable structure, but they can also use both (fixed variable) like we do. More on that as we progress.
Amazon FBA “fixed-pricing-profit sharing” pricing model
Another 3pl pricing model that should be mentioned is fulfilment by Amazon (FBA). If you’ve used FBA or are considering using their services, there are more costs associated with working with them because of their eCommerce platform. You will be charged for fulfilment with Amazon (Fulfilment + storage + optional services) as well as the “selling on Amazon fee,” which is 15% of your product profit margin.
This pricing model with profit-sharing is not recommended for businesses looking for ease of scalability, as increased costs can hinder your growth. You’ll also lose brand identity when selling via Amazon, but there can be a lot of sales so it’s not to be dismissed offhand.
What 3pl costs are associated with eCommerce fulfilment?
Depending on which 3pl you decide to partner with will depend on what you will pay. Prices will vary from storage to delivery, custom packaging to returns costs. Again, with our structure, you only pay for what you actually use. There are no extra charges such as profit sharing or annual fees.
Here are common 3pl costs associated with order fulfilment.
Warehouse intake cost
This is the cost associated with workers receiving your stock you send in and organising them into the warehouse. This is typically a flat rate charge.
*Selazar currently offers this at 40p per minute.
Warehousing stock storage
After you send your stock to the warehouse, you’re charged a monthly storage fee. This varies depending on which 3pl you use.
This is a key part of the process where the devil is in the details. Common 3pl mispicks can cause headaches and this is where some 3PL’s do better than others. Tech-first approaches are preferable today as they tend to circumnavigate common human error. Special scanners should be used that update in the cloud, so details like the SKU number confirm transactions all day with order numbers. This way the right product goes to the right station, with the right packaging, to the right customer. You need certainty that orders are dispatching with the right items inside.
Selazar smart technology optimizes the routes for pickers to find the most optimal route for cost savings. We time our operations down to the second, so there are no padding or hidden fees. Our average picking time currently is 24p, capped at 40p per minute. Our pick and pack accuracy rate is also 99% thanks to our smart storage technology. It ensures smooth operations and seamless product delivery.
Selazar pick and packing cost:
Capped at 40p per item– Current average is 24p (variable pricing)
Capped at 80p per order – Current average is 43p (variable pricing)
Also known as pre-bundling, Kitting is the cost of packaging items that arrive separately that need to be organised into a single group. There is also de-kitting, which is the opposite of kitting – taking bundles and organizing them as single items for re-sale.
In normal warehouses, this can be a double charge on an unsuccessful experiment with bundling items. A great contrast is when using cloud-based technology. Bundles are combined virtually allowing one SKU to fulfil multiple items at once. Sellers can endlessly create new kits without cost until purchase and order processing takes place. Why guess at what works best when you can try it all?
Selazar kitting cost based on hourly timing fixed at 40p per minute. (Same as our picking charge)
Custom packaging means using your own custom boxes, inserts, paper, and gifts. If you’re a brand focused seller, then it’s important your parcels arrive the way you want them to. If you have a thank you card, coupon, or a gift inside, this can be added for an extra cost.
This fulfilment option is a service that is offered to clients who want to go the extra step in their marketing efforts and add some “wow factor.” Not every 3pl you work with will offer this. If you don’t want custom packaging as an option, however, then you don’t have to use it or pay for it.
The fee for custom packaging will vary for each 3pl. For example, Selazars custom packaging is based on a flat rate time used to create the custom order, at 40p per minute.
Amazon is an example of a 3pl service that does not offer custom packaging. Everything arrives in Amazon boxes, so the seller doesn’t have an opportunity to be showcased as the main brand ambassador upon delivery.
Parcel Delivery 3pl costs
This is the cost of delivering the actual parcel to the customer. This is completed with a courier network of providers including brands such as Royal Mail, Hermes, DPD, Yodel, and UPS.
3pl costs parcel delivery examples
Some couriers vary in where they deliver, such as locally, nationally, and internationally. This is why most 3PLs work with several couriers. The cost from the courier is passed onto you from the 3PL.
These are fixed costs. Variable factors include the size and weight of your parcel, your destination, and your preferred arrival time.
See some examples of 3pl delivery rates below.
Returns (Reverse Logistics)
Parcel returns or reverse logistics is the opposite of 3PL standard operations. Now, instead of the goods going to the end-user, the end-user needs the package to go back, for whatever reason. This could be a product defect, a wrong size item, colour, etc.
When parcel return management happens there is a cost associated with this process. If the parcel is sent back to the 3PL instead of the manufacturer or provider, someone needs to do a quality check on the item to see if it can be restocked for resale. This can be inspected and processed in under 2 minutes. This action of course will incur a small fee.
Returns can be a leading cause of frustration for any online retailer. Returns are not offered with every 3pl you work with. Make sure you check this detail before committing to any contracts. A good returns process will help you maintain customer loyalty and retention, and you don’t have to deal with the headaches!
*Selazar returns cost based on hourly timing cost/variable pricing or 40p per minute.
Selazars’ order fulfilment process broken down
You’ve seen the charges, now here is our order fulfilment process in a nutshell, a simple and straightforward process. When an order is received on your website, our warehouse gets the notification instantly in real-time (left-side below) and begins the entire packaging process and delivery (right side below).
From the moment the customer hits the buy button to the moment they receive their package, the system automates for you, customising your specific needs with intelligent AI. You’re charged for the time that is used to complete this process along with any extra costs of the packaging and delivery (courier charges). For simple understanding, the picture outlines the fulfilment process with the costs outlined above previously.
Other non-related order fulfilment costs
There are various other fees that some 3PL’s choose to add in with their services. Much like a bank or a gym with extra signing charges, they many times are just the cost of doing business with them. Well, how is that calculated? Do you know administrative fees are calculated? These seemingly random charges should be scrutinised by you. At the end of the day a variety of unexpected charges will add up and impact your profit margins. Sign up fees & subscription fees
When choosing to work with a 3pl it’s important to understand the total cost-benefit ratio. What are you being charged for and why? Selazar as a partner wants to help eCommerce businesses grow faster and cheaper, hence why we don’t bloat our costs. This is just one we reason why we offer no sign-up fees and no annual subscription fees. You should not be charged for this. If you see these with your 3pl, my advice, ask what you gain from this club membership?
Next is hidden fluctuating costs.
Not all services are the same. Some are designed to benefit the provider more than the seller. Amazon as an example has operational charges that vary for seasonal changes. See here.
This means during busy peak seasons when operations ramp up, you must foot the bill. Obviously, this is to cover their operating costs. But, why should you have to cover those extra costs?
This is an issue with fixed costs. Companies can bloat your costs as they please with seasonal changes. And those rates are already “fixed” into your contract. Make sure you keep an eye on non-related costs or hidden costs when signing any contract.
Every 3pl will need some sort of a warehouse management system (WMS) for stock storage and organisation. Now, not all 3PL’s will be equal in this area.
For example, we are what’s known as a “software with a service” (SWAS). We’ve already built the platform for you with our in-house tech team. With a single online platform, you control all your storage and shipping operations. This is not offered with every 3pl you use. It’s also offered as a free bonus when signing with Selazar. Now that’s service!
When working with a 3PL, you need to understand what software is being offered to you, and how good it is. This is because antiquated operations cause warehouse inefficiency, potentially deflating your bottom line. A survey of 250 supply chains revealed the average business loses over £280,000 a year due to warehouse inefficiencies like improper picking and packing.
Our proprietary API integrates with your Shopify or WooCommerce store for simple automation and fulfilment. This allows flexibility in our operations. Make sure your 3pl provider can offer you the proper tech you need for your business to thrive and compete in the digital marketplace.
Understanding bespoke price model
Bespoke pricing is both fixed and variable pricing. We offer both. Selazar’s bespoke pricing is “variable pricing” with fixed caps for certain services and fixed pricing for others. You could technically refer to this as fixed variable pricing. Sounds confusing, but it means designing a pricing structure service that is flexible and can save you a lot of money on processing your warehouse orders. This can all be answered by giving us a free call should you want to learn more about this now.
3PL bespoke pricing examples fixed & variable:
Stock processing & kitting – Fixed
Storage – Fixed
Pick – Variable
Pack – Variable
Packaging & shipping – Fixed*
*Depending on custom packaging use and the destination this price will vary.
Built-in caps and efficiency
So, let’s discuss caps. A cap on your pricing means that the price will never go above this. Well, you may ask then what is the difference between a capped price and a fixed price? Nothing, at first glance. A cap on your pricing is a fixed price. The difference is that a variable pricing structure allows changes to go down and fluctuate below your set capped agreed-upon price (for certain services). The difference is fixed price will ALWAYS stay the same no matter what the service is.
The variable pricing structure can fluctuate and go down, but it won’t ever go up.
Wait, why does the variable price structure vary again?
We have a consumption-based model. You get charged for what you USE. Let’s be more specific:
If a single pick and pack time for an order cost us £2 for the employee to complete this for you, why would we charge you £3? That extra £1 adds up in time. £1 x 50,000 orders in a year = £50,000 in extra costs!
These extra 3pl costs are built into outdated fixed pricing structures. This is where companies capitalise on your invoices. Their cost of labour & some profit may have only been at £2 for a single pick and pack, but you got charged £3. Why? Well, FIXED pricing structure.
With Selazar, when we save, you save. It’s that simple.
3PL pricing examples fixed & variable (bespoke)
So, Selazar bespoke pricing is “variable pricing” with fixed caps and fixed costs. So, if your cap pricing is £5 per delivery, you know you will never go above £5. But would’ve it went below that threshold? Would’ve it varied less? Well, that means more money in your account! Yes, please.
Let’s extrapolate bespoke model pricing by 5,000 units a month with picking and packing costs (variable) and delivery costs (fixed).
FIXED picking & packing and parcel delivery
Assume pick & pack charged at £1.20 (fixed or capped price), packaging materials £0.60
5,000 units at £1.80 for pick, pack & packaging per order = £9,000
5,000 units at £1.30 per order for pick, pack & packaging per order = £6,500
Add $3.30 for delivery/5,000 units = £16,500
Total = £23,000
That is $2,500 in savings in a 30-day period for 5,000 units
That is £30,000 savings in a 1-year period for 60,000 units
This is a simplified straightforward example that clearly demonstrates savings with variable pricing. In reality, the average cost of picking and packing will shift more sporadically every day, all day. In a single day, the variable pricing structure can go from £4.23 to £3.68 to £2.50, up to £3.20 again, etc. It may be more challenging to understand, but a cap is set, so you know you won’t be overcharged.
You have options here to save more money.
Advantages of courier partners for order fulfilment
Lastly, it’s important to remember that we are not a single operation. We are two operations, both with separate costs. We have in house services as well as a partnership service with our courier companies. You don’t have to do anything because we’ve already taken care of the supply chain for you.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship which is another significant advantage of working with a 3PL. We are interconnected to a large network of national and international couriers. Wherever your target market is, we can fulfil it, and we work with our partners to keep your costs consistent. Any changes and you will be notified. You don’t have to do any work.
Working closely with the courier networks ensures we can offer you the best possible service when it comes to sending, tracking and delivering your customers’ parcels to their front door. We are also in a position to negotiate prices for our clients because of our working relationships and mutual business benefits. We manage the service offerings and negotiate the best costs for your convenience and savings.
3pl cost savings with Selazar
The pay-as-you-go consumption model eliminates the need to tie up capital on warehouses, equipment, staff or software. There are no setup fees or monthly fees combined with an easy-to-use customer portal makes our automated end-to-end fulfilment solution the best choice for anyone looking to keep control of their brand as they grow.
For smaller businesses, this can mean a couple hundred in savings a year. For other larger companies, this can mean tens of thousands in savings, potentially even more.
3pl costs eCommerce fulfilment
Fixed vs Variable pricing: The big difference
To sum things up, you want to carefully consider your pricing options when working with a 3pl. Make sure you ask questions and don’t be afraid to embrace new variable options if they are a bit challenging to understand at first. What matters for your business and long-term relationship is that you’re getting the best return on your investment. Some purely fixed pricing options as traditional standards may be easier to understand, but the variable fixed pricing structure will save you more money and help grow your business. Simply chasing a flat price number when deciding on your fulfilment provider just may not be the best solution and may leave your business vulnerable.
As a partner in your business and essentially an extension of your brand it’s critical your 3pl provides you with the ultimate benefits to automate and scale effectively. From them, you should have flexible pricing options, convenient solutions, and superior technology to streamline your processes, along with a dedicated customer service team.
We can get your order fulfilment automation set up in days. Give us a call so that we can find out more about your business and streamline your operations.
Matching your order fulfilment with your service level is critical to your eCommerce success. When you study the most successful businesses you will find that they have a lot in common. Things like great branding, great products, great service, and great order fulfilment. They have also optimised a sales cycle and refined it for the best customer satisfaction experience, quite often delighting and exceeding expectations. Various KPI’s prove a consistent record of accomplishment that eventually lead to enormous growth; showing that what they’re doing is working. From service businesses to online shopping, there are parallels of a sellers promise that match with a customer’s expectations.
McDonalds revolutionised the food industry by innovating and streamlining a repetitive system – An assembly line style order fulfilment distribution system for food that was faster and cheaper. It became a staple in our culture which set the standard for what we know as the “fast food” industry. Great fashion brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Versace also set a standard for premium clothing.
Top-quality products like clothing shape our culture. They are a reflection of our values and our beliefs. Customers seek out these goods as part of their personal identity. These industries are a small example of a history that have set standards and expectations around consumer buying. An unspoken agreement that says, “I want what you have,” and “I expect you to deliver the goods.”
As an eCommerce business owner, when you think of your customer journey, you need to be thinking about what your brand says, and if it aligns with what you deliver. Quality and brand value are important and always will be. What is also important, especially nowadays, is speed. It is a value that people expect when ordering online.
People want quality, but they also want convenience. In such a competitive marketplace your business should be ticking all the boxes of excellent quality, brand value, and quick delivery. Let us discuss how aligning your order fulfilment with your services will drive more sales for your online business.
THE UNBOXING EXPERIENCE & IMPORTANCE OF BRAND INTEGRITY
If you watch YouTube, you can see the growing phenomenon that is known as “unboxing videos.” There are literally thousands of user-generated videos online where people unbox a product. It’s the modern commercialisation of simply opening packages, which has basically become a form of consumer entertainment. There are more than 20 million search results on YouTube for “unboxing.” What does this tell us? People value the gratifying experience of receiving products that they are excited about, even if it’s done by other people! It also taps into the childlike anticipation for something shiny and new.
As discussed in our article “eCommerce fulfilment tips from the experts to drive sales,” custom packaging is all about first impressions. Your brand reflects how people feel about you. It reflects how they feel about themselves. Is it premium and sophisticated? Is it simple and clean? What is the lifestyle of the people who connect with your brand?
You want to fine-tune these details within your fonts, your colours, and your physical packaging. Perhaps a small presentation style box, unique angular design with attitude, or designer ribbons. It all matters. Just imagine buying a premium product like a watch (one of the biggest sellers of fashion accessories online), however, when the watch arrives, it’s simply thrown in a standard box with some paper packaging and tape around it. Wouldn’t exactly feel like a premium product, would it?
Being effective in your packaging design is critical for successful marketing. It is the only physical point of contact with a customer, conveying all aspects of your brand. Being strategic means satisfying customers, but also standing out from the competition.
Here are some notable examples of boxes with very simply custom branding on it.
This is great presentation quality. Nothing fancy, plain brown as a simple neutral background colour that makes it feel rugged whilst also drawing out the sharp colour and fine design of the razors! It then has a funny quote that reads, “I like shaving with a dull razor, said no one, ever.” It’s humorous and displays values. They believe in high-quality sharp razors that won’t dull you. That creates an emotional connection for people who have had problems in the past with dull razors that irritate the skin their target audience.
1) Reflect your brand – Every brand has a “brand personality.” Your packaging and design should make it completely apparent what you are representing. You want to be identifiable to your customers and be authentic. Remember that packaging plays a key role to communicate your brand’s story and will determine how customers perceive you.
2) Know your audience – If your product is a luxury item, your customer might expect that custom-printed packaging with a sleek feeling and minimal design. If you’re in the market of selling baby products, you may want to develop a more nurturing, clean, simple look that appeals to moms who look for natural products for their babies.
*Selazar’s features allow custom packaging solutions for all our clients. Let us know if you have any questions about it by setting up a discovery call now.
QUICK DELIVERY TURNAROUND
Have you ever thought about how delivery reflects on a brand? Do you think it matters? Well… it does, massively!
Have you ever waited in a fast-food drive thru that normally takes 5 minutes, but for some reason, it suddenly took 20 or 30 minutes? You’re furious! Right? How about waiting for a package for 5 business days when you’re used to getting packages that arrive next day or 48 hours? That waiting period feels like forever!
As a society we adapt with technology, and as a result get use to certain norms. We have new levels of expectations. Ten years ago, people did not mind waiting five to seven business days for their products, in fact, they expected it. Fast forward to today and that sounds ridiculous. People want their products fast! Part of this is due to new expectations caused by the Pandemic. During the lockdown 14% of customers revealed they expected their deliveries to be delivered in no more than two days.
Based on one eCommerce survey, 41% of customers said long delivery times are grounds for cart abandonment. Another reason for cart abandonment is for excessive shipping costs. This is the number one reason UK shoppers cite abandoning their online carts – 61% in fact! You need to be partnered with a company that delivers your products quickly at prices your customers are willing to pay.
Two of the biggest reasons that Selazar innovates delivery turnaround in the UK is because of late dispatch times and efficient pick and pack fulfilment. We also have a strong delivery network with refined systems for optimal final mile service benefits.
A reliable delivery network is essential to your business and your customer. Working closely with the best companies in the UK ensures that we can offer you the best possible service when it comes to sending, tracking, and delivering your customers’ parcels to their front door. 24 – 48 hour delivery is standard for Selazar services.
You can have the best products around, but if your speed and delivery options are not up to par, your customers will quickly find another solution. E-commerce businesses need to realise that delivery is a major touchpoint for customers; in fact, they see it as a reflection of your brand.
So, what does unstable or slow order fulfilment, and delivery, say about your brand?
Slow = Unreliable
Fast = Reliable.
Late deliveries will decrease customer retention, not to mention can cause negative online reviews, further damaging your brand. So, how do you increase quicker delivery turnaround? Well, that is easy – partner with Selazar!
Not only do we ship anywhere in the UK in 48 hours, but your business and customers can track shipments and stay up to date. Our easy-to-use portal gives you (the business owner) the tools to easily manage and control all your shipments. Using our courier network, your customers can rest assured of the precise day and time their packages will arrive.
with another 35% preferring to use the courier’s app and 17% preferring WhatsApp.
Swift delivery, easy portal management, easy tracking. That is how a brand stays competitive and profitable.
Next Day Delivery
Many retail companies have listened to the drums pounding in the streets for years of the importance of next-day delivery, and many are taking it seriously now. Why? It’s what the market wants! It integrates the convenience of eCommerce with the immediacy of brick-and-mortar stores.
Many companies are beginning to examine the models of order fulfilment and next day delivery, and how to navigate the best courier networks. This is good for service and good for the bottom line as many consumers have said that they are willing to pay same-day delivery costs to get items. As innovation keeps continuing in shipping and logistics, it is important for your brand to keep up with the trends. As with innovation, it’s only a short amount of time before trends turn into the new normal/expectations. That is why Selazar is the best solution for UK based eCommerce.
Rather than simply meeting expectations based on “standard delivery rates,” you always want to go above and beyond for your brand. You want to WOW your customers.
Selazar injects your order directly into your chosen courier’s distribution network to save time and unnecessary trips to and from depots. The deadline for same-day dispatch is 7 pm, and next-day delivery is available on orders received before 9 pm. Our network of UK based, and international couriers can easily and efficiently deliver your orders to your customers globally.
Being able to retain customers for your brand in other countries is a great way to increase your profits while gaining more brand awareness. However, it’s a process that can be challenging to navigate, especially after Brexit. Since January 2021 came along there are lots of new rules and regulations that must be followed by sellers. You can read about the Brexit consequences for eCommerce here.
We have automated these hurdles for eCommerce businesses, making the whole process streamlined and error proof. If you want your brand to thrive in various countries, it’s critical that you know precisely how to sell to other countries and automate your process.
Should there be any issues with your products and your items need to be returned; Selazar also handles this. Whether returning internationally or domestically, we got you covered.
Increase automation. Better order fulfilment. Increase sales. It’s as simple as that.
Again, every step of the customer journey always reflects on your brand and how they perceive you. They will either have a good or bad perception of your company based on how easy you make every step of the process. A UPS online shopper survey showed that 68% of shoppers view returns policies before making a purchase. So, it is a big deal!
Using our returns portal, Return Robin makes managing returns easy. You will exceed your customers’ expectations with an improved returns experience. Your customer can easily generate a label online and find their local drop off points.
Once a return is received back at the Selazar warehouse, it can be inspected and processed in under 2 minutes. Your products are placed back on the shelves ready to be dispatched when re-sold.
Once a return is received back at the warehouse, it can be inspected and processed in under 2 minutes. Your products are placed back on the shelves ready to be dispatched when re-sold. How easy is that?
This frees up your time to focus on emails, phone calls, and customer management.
Innovations in technology have revolutionised logistics, specifically, robots and AI (Artificial Intelligence) for warehousing. However, the one customer touchpoints that are not eradicated by technology is good old-fashioned human customer service!
Harvard Business Review showed findings that customers with the best past experiences spend 140% more with a company than those with the poorest past experience. As companies have found ways to streamline their workforce, perhaps even cut costs by outsourcing customer service to another country, that is not necessarily a good thing. The business may save money in the short term, but the long-term effects will be more damaging – because the service won’t be as good most likely – plus different accents create suspicion. If someone in England calls a company with a local address, yet it’s obvious someone further afield picks up, it doesn’t match the “shop local” brand affinity you’re searching for.
So, if your brand is a premium brand, don’t you think your customers deserve a premium service all around? That’s the magic in branding. All around, from the website to the service to the final mile delivery. It all needs to match, and it is all a reflection of your brand. From the first impression to the last impression, you’re always on stage with a customer. It’s the same way you view a business when you buy anything.
If you go into a fancy suit shop where you are about to spend a lot of money, wouldn’t you expect to at least be greeted hello and perhaps asked If you could use any assistance? Yes, you would.
If you go into a car dealership and the dealer is rude, doesn’t acknowledge your presence, or doesn’t even seem like they care, do you think you’d want to buy a car from them? Definitely not. There’s an expectation there that comes with you spending your money. Keep that same attitude with your own customers. Give them a service you would expect from anybody else.
Customer service is everything to them. Your brand is everything to you. Make them everything to you.
As you can clearly see, matching your order fulfilment with your service level is a must! Order fulfilment is a well-rounded and complete customer service experience idea. From custom packaging to delivery to customer service, these are all important key factors towards the success of any great business. Take care of your customer and they will take care of you. No detail should be overlooked when it comes to your brand. High levels of service correlate to higher rewards and more sales. Schedule a discovery call with us today if you have any questions on how Selazar can help your fulfilment and level of service.
The truth is not all companies are created equal. It’s the same with 3pl fulfilment services. When you analyse a company, break it down into parts, and decide how it compares to other companies, only then can you make an intelligent and informed decision. Selazar makes managing your inventory and delivering your products easy, driving better reviews from more satisfied customers.
Running your own eCommerce business is exciting – especially when you start turning a profit! However, you must be prepared when sales start to skyrocket and the demand for your products increases. Launching a beautiful online store and creating branded products that your customers absolutely love is only the beginning.
In this article, you will learn how Selazar is innovating 3pl fulfilment with our tech-first approach. Unlike the old-school methodology, we’ve built our system from the ground up to be just as nimble and dynamic as your eCommerce store. We want to walk you through the great benefits we can offer your online business and why you should consider partnering with Selazar fulfilment services.
Selazar is the UK’s most accurate third-party logistics provider that supports eCommerce business with order fulfilment. From sale to final mile delivery Selazar is at the forefront of technology and warehouse logistics innovation. An award-winning service that has been publicly recognised by the logistical operations industry time and again. We partner with some of the most exciting brands in the eCommerce space, and we want to bring that same success to you.
We will pick and pack your products, manage your product inventory, and ship them directly to your customers. As a tech-first 3pl, we process faster with more organisation than you could ever hope to achieve self-fulfilling. You want your business to be a success. We want your business to be a success, which is why we work diligently with our partners to execute all their needs and requests. We listen to our partners and then deliver upgraded features that help sellers reach growth targets.
Tech forward approach
Where the old-school approach of logistics has failed in the past, emerging technology combined with smart processes has revolutionized the logistics industry. Being at the vanguard of technology is crucial for b2b and b2c in the 21st century. Prioritizing the entire journey of product fulfilment can often be overlooked by business owners. Focusing on sales but lacking in fast delivery can negatively impact the customer experience. Tech lead fulfilment speeds up delivery practices for your business to deliver products faster and smarter. Slow service and disgruntled customers are your business’s last needs when trying to scale operations.
By pointing out some of the typical vulnerabilities in supply chain management, Selazar was able to evolve the entire process with data-driven solutions. Our dynamic built-in tools allow our digital systems to easily align inventory tracking into our warehouse operations. From product absorption to final mile delivery, our fulfilment operations can be tracked from a desktop or mobile device.
Using smarter software, we have implemented time-saving practices during our pick and pack processes that help reduce typical warehouse errors such as missing items and slow dispatch speeds. Because of these safeguards, we have maintained a 99.9% pick accuracy rate since our inception. This is the type of focus, core competency, and careful attention to detail sellers need to partner with to delight customers from the store to door.
Our 3pl mobile solutions, combined with smart business practices like state-of-the-art scanners and using QR codes instead of bar codes, deliver more information to our network rapidly. Having the unique ability to deliver quick status updates with inventory offers our clients complete transparency throughout the supply network at all times. Rest assured that your service expectations will be met, and your customer’s satisfaction will be evident by all your new delivery-focused reviews. From warehouse to seller, benefits like this improve efficiency and sales.
By embracing technological solutions, you reduce human error and implement time-saving practices. When dealing with large volumes of inventory, automation also makes it much easier to manage day-to-day operations, reducing costly mistakes.
Two-way stock sync, for example, allows our systems to communicate with your seller’s dashboard so that you have an overview of what’s happening with all products from sale to delivery. When items are sold online, your website is updated from our warehouse side to reflect the correct amount left, ensuring zero errors. This is important because 34% of businesses ship late because products that are not actually in stock are sold. With live inventory across multiple channels, Selazar sellers can ensure order success, serving their customers wherever they decide to engage.
Accurate monitoring of live information provides sellers with actionable information to help manage their business. With our data-driven approach, Selazar helps sellers develop and deploy customer-focused operations.
Software with a Service (SWAS)
Unlike other 3PLs, we not only offer logistical services such as pick-pack-ship, but we also control all our systems and tech in-house. We don’t outsource our software. We design it. This approach allows Selazar to implement updates and deploy new features with unmatched speed, as our development team has intimate knowledge of the product and how best to integrate new functionality. The highly experienced team undertakes constant aggressive QA testing, ensuring only reliable features are added to our service.
Our innovative tech team have deployed intelligent algorithms, automating the day-to-day processes of fulfilment, bringing the highest possible service level without the need for key personnel. Through our easy-to-understand dashboards, reporting on your success is straightforward, saving you time every day and every quarter.
By using our tech-first approach, we can deliver an agile, dynamic and iterative service like no other. Updates to operations are live from the next order placed – making rapid action to changing environments a breeze.
As sales are made online, you can track live updates for all your inventory. It’s easy, transparent, and automated. Inventory tracking is a critical component to shipping operations, and what’s also great with our software is that it can be monitored from anywhere.
When the power of automation is utilised, our partners have saved up to 5 hours a week. Let our powerful system do the heavy lifting for you by streamlining and simplifying your operations and network. Freeing your time to focus on those vigorous growth-focused goals.
Thanks to Selazars understanding of what motivates consumers, we negotiated industry-beating late dispatch times on our partner’s behalf. This consumer-focused innovation makes delivering a true Next-Day service possible, creating better experiences for your customer.
Dispatch is when a parcel is packaged and ready to be injected into the courier network for final-mile delivery service. All orders received before 7 pm are guaranteed same-day dispatch. This window far exceeds that of our competitors, with same-day dispatch windows that typically end at 2 pm, missing the peak sales period 5-8 pm. Yikes!
Speaking of innovations, we offer it in tech and shipping logistics as well as our approach to customer service. We do this by understanding what businesses need to grow and expand operations. For us, this means keeping costs down for you as much as possible, so you can grow exponentially. We are creative in how we became a more cost-effective solution than our competition. We do this through:
1) No fixed monthly storage fees
Why pay for storage if you have no more inventory in the warehouse? That is not fair to you, and we consider it bad business practice for 3pl’s who still use this model. We offer competitive pricing for the time your inventory is stored, but that’s it. When your product is gone, there are no more fees. As stock levels rise with new supply and fall with effective sales campaigns so too will storage costs. Keeping our structure and your operation closely linked has allowed for up to 40% cost saving for some partners.
2) No contracts
As standard, we don’t require contract commitments from our partners, why? Simple – we believe in our platform and the power it gives sellers. We know that once onboard, the time gained and additional capital you’ve saved will validate your decision to join over and over again.
We calculate costs based on the time taken and space used. Our warehouse operations are timed down to the second, so there are no hidden fees. The Selazar billing system allows you to see every step of the process to plan for your future. We offer some of the most competitive and lowest rates in the industry. For full details or a quote, speak with an expert today.
Maintain Brand Control with our custom packaging
Branding is highly important because it is how a company is perceived by the public. It not only identifies your product but distinguishes it from other products. You want to make a memorable impression on your customers and allow them to get to know you. At Selazar, we understand this. This is why we have custom branded solutions at our warehouses.
Giving up your brand control to another company (like Amazon sellers do) can be a scary process. You’ve spent so much time contemplating, organising, executing, and carefully designing your personalised packaging. You may have specific types of customised boxes, a particular kind of wrapping, or packaging inserts. You want the customer to receive an exceptional “unboxing experience.” We understand this critical task. When you transition to Selazar, you simply give us all the details, send your boxes and inserts to us, and our workers fulfil every detail. Should you want to make any changes, any updates to this process can be updated automatically via your Selazar dashboard and will take effect the same day. How easy is that?
Brand control is an important marketing tool. That’s why we have dedicated time and attention to it. Our warehouse operatives will carefully complete all the necessary components of your request so that your brand thrives the way you want it to. Your brand is an extension of our brand; therefore, it is handled with the utmost care and attention.
Warehouse storage and handling your inventory
Outsourcing all your products is exciting! You’ve come to a level of success where you finally have the capability to allow someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. We make this process as simple as possible for you so you can get on with growing your brand.
When we absorb partners into the Selazar 3pl fulfilment network, we work with you to transfer inventory to our fulfilment centre. We will walk you step by step through a process called Product Absorption. After your store has been absorbed into our system, we simply send you the printing labels for your inbound inventory so that when the products arrive at our warehouse, they will be scanned and made ready for processing, typically within 24 hours. These are the labels that will be used to manage your inventory for its life with Selazar. This is known as Inbound Stock Processing (ISP) and is seamless and easy to do.
When your products arrive at the warehouse, you can rest assured that your product inventory is safe and secure. Selazar offers 24/7 secure storage facilities. No more boxes stacked 5 meters high in your garage or place of business. No more worrying about managing what products you do or do not have. All you have to do is sit back and let Selazar’s innovative tech and strategic warehouse operations do the work for you. You can follow all updates via your Selazar portal.
3PL Pick and Pack services
Picking and packing are important procedures that a 3pl like Selazar has created into a flawless process for accuracy and efficiency. When it comes to order fulfilment, it’s crucial that the products are chosen correctly and dispatched not long after the customer places the order online. This process is one of the biggest downfalls for many online business owners who fail to get their products delivered rapidly. Failing to get customers packages to them quickly will affect your bottom line. Slow service leads to cancelled orders, affecting repeat business. You’ve done all the hard work building a journey and converting content, images, copy, and using ads to grab their attention. Then, after all that capital and time investment, a poor fulfilment partner can still make you lose customers for life. With Lifetime Value (LTV) being a key metric for growth and investment, partnering with the right fulfilment partner is unavoidable and a critical element to your business.
Ecommerce warehousing saw an explosive boom in online orders during Covid with an 18% growth rate in the UK, and most experts project that it won’t slow down even after the pandemic is over. In a highly congested online marketplace, dispatch speed is your competitive advantage.
Selazar’s turnaround time for orders is 27 minutes on average, with a 99.9% pick accuracy rate. The entire process is updated through our online portal so that you know what is happening with your products. You will see notifications that read “your parcel has been dispatched” alongside tracking information all from your portal.
Product Bundling 3pl services
Growing your business, regardless of size, can be costly. Our system allows you to scale the way you want, giving you the confidence that we can support you no matter how you grow. Offering carefully curated product selections from your online store is simple to handle with our intuitive software.
You can increase AOV (average order value), clear slow-moving stock and gain efficiencies in shipping through multi-item fulfilment. Combine your hottest sellers with those less frequent sellers at a discounted rate and reap the rewards of more profitable fulfilment.
Creating and editing different bundles for your products is managed from your Selazar dashboard. Group two or more items together into a bundle, and they will automatically be shipped together. You will see all physical products that were shipped together with each order you receive.
Expanding your business operations
We are growth-focused. We know the limitations of inferior systems when business is thriving. Businesses need rapid solutions for scalability that alleviate the stresses of packaging and sending parcels. If sales are skyrocketing, this will only be good if companies can keep up with demand. Otherwise, the long tail curve will slope downwards due to cancellations or refunds. The long-term impact to brand will out way the short-term cost savings of self-fulfilment. Without the aid of technology in fulfilment, the time invested to process orders will grow exponentially until service falls through the floor.
Outsourcing your fulfilment to a company with quick turnaround times like Selazar can get you up and running within a few days. The onboarding process is simple with us. Book a free consultation.
Not everyone is as aware of eco-friendly packaging as we are. As a value-driven company, we believe in responsible sustainability, a factor that is not only more cost-effective, safer, but more popular as well.
Being socially responsible is not only good for business but good for the environment. That’s why we use only green fulfilment practices such as recyclable materials and refrain from using plastic packaging. You can rest assured that you’re partnering with a company utilising eco-responsible solutions.
Reliable Shipping Network
A shipping network is only as good as the ones who are doing the shipping, right?
As a 3pl fulfilment house, Selazar has partnered with the most reliable shipping companies for both domestic and international deliveries. Our trusted courier network can get packages in customers’ hands domestically within 24 – 48 hours. International delivery will range from 1 day (with UPS EU next-day air service) to a week. Same-day dispatch service is offered as a standard with shipping rates that are as low as £1.12.
As a 3pl, we proudly endorse UPS, Hermes, and Yodel.
Our Services in full
Why partner with Selazar 3pl?
As shown, there are many reasons to partner with a 3pl like Selazar. However, to narrow it down for you, we have chosen the top 3 following reasons below to partner with Selazar.
Are you adding employees to help you with the fulfilment process? Do you have to pay for your own storage space? Are you paying hefty delivery fees? These are all typical costs for B2C businesses. You save money when you use our fulfilment network, our warehouse, and our workers. We can break it down for you line by line if you wish in a discovery call.
3) Grow Your Business
So, you’re saving time, and you’re saving money. Great! Where do you invest that extra time and that extra money? Well, that’s up to you, of course, but marketing would be a smart move. Your business will be better off if you can focus all your energy on growing the business rather than handling mundane day-to-day tasks. The quicker your business will be able to grow and prosper.
Got any questions? Contact us today so we can help your business to thrive. No fuss, no headaches, just stream-lined intelligent automated 3pl operations.
Shipping logistics is a compounded process with several moving parts. The demand for logistic services soared at an all-time high in 2020, nearly doubling its 10-year value. Logistics Business’ report on the demand for UK logistics showed that about 40% of all take-up from 2020 is accounted for by e-commerce, another fast rising industry that’s set to earn a 22% increase by 2023.
Moreover, the pandemic response has created a bigger surge in demand for logistics and an even faster dispatch speed, as previously discussed in our ‘Dispatch Speed is Your Competitive Advantage’ article, as meal kit operators, parcel delivery and fulfilment, and medical suppliers have expanded operations.
The logistics process involves planning, sourcing, and transporting products, among many other things. Indeed, it would be a very complex line of work without technology. You’d have to contend with rapid changes, non-stop operations, and, not to mention, you’ll also have to factor in human error.
Fortunately, the increasing demand for logistics is happening alongside the rise of new technological innovations to help speed things along and simplify the process.
Blockchain technology started as a technology for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and it has made its way into the logistics and supply chain industry. It allows data to be stored on a shared global network, giving multiple companies and stakeholders real-time access to valuable information without letting them alter any of it.
It helps streamline the flow of operations and improve transparency throughout the entire supply chain network. Tech expert Vitaly Kuprenko’s write-up about the pros of blockchain emphasises how blockchain technology reduces operational expenses too. He attributes this to blockchain’s ability to eliminate the need for intermediaries, thereby diminishing commission expenses.
Another feature of the technology that Kuprenko talks about is the security of transactions made within the blockchain; it’s impossible to change or edit a transaction once it’s documented on the network—leading to a reduced chance of fraudulent activities.
Telematics, or telecommunication and information technology, has been used in several industries for many years. Although the logistics industry has certainly benefited from it in recent years. Telematics streamlines the management of various warehouses and large fleets—and as the logistics industry will continue to grow this technology will become increasingly important.
Two of telematics’ principal contributions to logistics are product transparency and traceability. When integrated well into logistics operations, telematics technology lets companies track where a given shipment is in real-time. What’s more, future fleets are projected to be made up of connected vehicles, making them ready for telematics.
In fact, Verizon Connect’s post on connected technologies highlights how the connected truck industry in the European market will reach £9.70 billion by 2023. This is at a year-over-year rate of 12% from 2018. With a mix of built-in tracking devices and connectivity features in future fleets, it’s incredibly beneficial to start including telematics in your fleet management now. This gives you a competitive edge and a smoother operations chain.
It’s said that the logistics automation market is expected to reach £88.24 billion by 2027, from £23.5 billion in 2018. This makes it one of the leading logistics and supply chain trends.
From self-driving vehicles and warehouse automation to industrial robotics, automation is set to dominate the logistics industry. For one, giant online retailer Amazon is using Kiva robots to automate the warehouse selection and packing processes.
These robots fulfil “one-click” orders in less than 15 minutes, a mere third of the total time it would otherwise take a typical human employee to perform the same task.
Another way to incorporate automation into your business is through using a cloud-based fulfilment hub like our End-to-End Fulfilment Service, where you can manage your eCommerce business through an easy-to-use portal. We’ll help you come up with a fulfilment solution from the warehouse down to last mile logistics. It allows for a hands-free approach to eCommerce while still letting you track all transactions and enjoy full transparency.
This may be the next step after using smartphones and tabs, but it’s seeing a surge in the logistics industry since it frees up more hands. Using wearable technology, employees are able to access data and information almost instantly without having to review and create paperwork. This maximises manpower and time.
One example of how wearable devices are used according to Food Logistics, is the integration of voice technology with wearables: A warehouse associate could drop a cart at the end of an aisle and then speak a command into their wearable device, which would then trigger an automated machine to pick up that cart for the next step in the shipping process.
In addition to that, wearable devices can be used as safety and health tools as they can help monitor employees’ vital signs. However, it must be said that companies could face an initial challenge when they first adopt wearable technology. Employees may not be adept at using them immediately. It requires a seamless onboarding process and workflow to see significant efficiency improvements.
“Green” or environmentally-friendly logistics isn’t just a trend; it’s part of a global movement. Fortunately, this move to help conserve the planet is cost-effective and one that can even help with customer retention. Contrary to popular belief that going “green” costs more, opting for a more sustainable route actually saves you money. It pushes you to reduce waste and increase the efficiency of warehouses, vehicles, and machinery, and this can reflect in leaner expenditure. A great example of this is UPS’ investment in 10,000 electronic delivery vehicles, decreasing their expenditure on gas and maintenance.
Another reason to make this change for the planet is to enjoy an improved reputation. Roughly 81% of consumers believe that businesses should participate in earth conservation efforts—which could very well factor into their buying decisions.
Logistics as we know it will continue to evolve as technology develops, and it will help create a more connected, sustainable, and integrated global community.
A third-party logistics provider or 3pl is an external provider of eCommerce fulfilment services. The service provided can vary depending on the type of 3pl you’re working with. In most cases they handle warehousing, picking and packing, and connect with a courier for shipping. Couriers are also technically 3pl’s but tend to specialize in the physical movement of parcels from one location to another.
Where did this type of service originate?
3pl services arose in the 1970s and ’80s but were spin-offs from military logistics networks used in the mail order catalogue business, niche to say the least. It wasn’t until the rise of the internet and subsequently online shopping in the mid to late ’90s that brought about the data-driven intelligent systems we see today.
Brick & Mortar offers an opportunity for customer experience not possible online. Smart business owners understand customer satisfaction leads to repeat business and strive for innovative ways to achieve positive reactions from customers. With the current state of affairs and the e-commerce boom underway here is an outline of one way you can improve your customer satisfaction – Using the right 3pl.
Now, as a business owner, you understand the terminology and what they entail at the highest level. Let’s dive a bit deeper and build a clear picture of the logistical operations a 3pl provides.
Some work from paper and others work from QR codes but essentially the components any fulfilment operation will need to handle are:
Receiving is just that, the receipt of inventory into the warehouse. Your orders can’t be fulfilled without the product to do so. Most 3pl services will have some process or form to do this. Each form is unique, but they will all need certain types of information to handle your inventory correctly. Product SKU’s, box dimensions and weights, the total number of items, expected arrival date, fulfilment shipping begins to date. How this is handled is down to each company and they’re warehouse.
Remember, during receiving large volumes of products are in motion. Moving items once could take hours, moving them multiple times could take days!
It is extremely important to understand your warehouse intake process as mistakes here can incur series fees. Especially in a time when the tracking and tracing of items are of critical importance to world health, you need to be on top of your game.
We all want fast service, your customers and you included, getting the right labels on the right boxes can save you hundreds, potentially thousands of pounds. Don’t let your inventory be quarantined and your supply chain distributed over avoidable errors. For more info on avoiding hidden intake fee’s check out our article here.
Remember your service provider is your partner – speak to them when tricky situations present themselves, create an action plan to resolve the issue – ACTION THE PLAN!
Storing your products safely and in an easy to process way comes next. There are many different systems and practice’s used, but the aim of the game here is to make the most popular items easily found and easily replenished. Hiding your #1 seller in an attic for safekeeping might sound like a good idea but the practicality of climbing your loft ladder every time it sells is a lot worse.
How your products are stored depends entirely on the products themselves. From a legal perspective, we have the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 for guidance in the UK. Common sense dictates that smaller lighter items be placed higher and conversely heavier items closer to the floor.
Some warehouses are fully insured or bonded, some have refrigeration or heat rooms. The diversity of warehouse setups matches the variety of products sold online. More specialised solutions will have higher costs. If you’re starting a new product line, consider how it will be stored and handled and the associated costs before launching it. A good 3pl partner will be able to give you some insight during your planning phase.
The most important thing to understand is: Will this 3pl have the capacity for me now and into the future? Don’t partner with people who will hold you back later. Gear up for growth.
Picking is the act of collecting products from storage locations and delivering them to a packing station. Lots of 3pl services use barcode scanners to digitally track inventory as it moves through the warehouse, however, we’ve found this to be limiting and slow. QR codes are the next evolution of this technology, holding a significant amount more information combined with a faster read time makes for an overall more efficient pick process.
Some warehouses break up their space by a vendor, or by zones or by frequency of items picked. Selazar, being the innovators we are, has digitally mapped our entire warehouse. This allows our system to generate pick routes for staff, creating an extremely accurate and fast-passed warehouse. Not only that but we know exactly where every item is as they move through the multiple scan points in our operation.
Sounds simple but if miss-handled can lead to costly returns, slow order processing and unsatisfied customers. Not the headaches an expanding business need. Partner with the UK’s most accurate fulfilment service provider – US! 🙂
Once delivered by the pick team to the pack station, customers’ orders are ready to be packaged up and prepared for shipping. Here is where additional inserts for customers can be included. As a savvy eCommerce operator, you’ve been wrestling with creating an amazing unboxing experience for your customers, this is where you need to drill down with your provider and see if they can handle your perfect package. Not only can the handle it but can they handle it at scale and full speed.
There are many ways to pack orders depending on the materials available, the price point of your product, how fragile it is and its final destination. Some vendors see the value in ECO-packaging, others need their products delivered in exquisitely made branded boxes. Whatever your requirements are make sure they can be achieved. More importantly than that, find out what it takes to modify them at a later date! Ecomm is all about iteration and optimisation, don’t be hamstrung by outdated operations.
There is a practice of optimizing your shipments based on dimensional weight. Dimensional Weight (DIM) is the calculations carriers use to figure out the cost of each parcel shipped. Our partner Yodel has built this calculator which you can use to get an estimate of your shipping weights.
At Selazar, we work with clients to reduce their DIM and cut costs all along the supply chain. We’ve reduced shipping costs by a further 12% for clients by optimising their packaging size. We are happy to share our big picture expertise with our clients. For more information about packaging and the true value of inserts, click here.
The last leg of order fulfilment is the shipping process. Third-party logistics providers typically purchase and print shipping labels for you. Some compare prices from all available carriers while others have pre-established partnerships and negotiated discounted rates on your behalf.
Shipping comes down to delivery speed offered by your store in combination with the selection of the consumer. As eCommerce has developed and grown over the year’s customers are expecting high-speed accurate delivery. Some carriers are offering, in limited circumstances, next hour delivery alongside same day, 24hour and 48-hour services. The major drawback form online shopping is the delay from purchase to the receipt and the desire for instant gratification has driven the rise of these high-speed services. 52% of UK shoppers say that Next-Day delivery is the fast service they prefer.
While most wouldn’t consider returns to be part of the order fulfilment process, we know this just isn’t true anymore. 30% of all eCommerce purchases are returned in comparison to less than 10% of brick and mortar purchases. As a result, returns can pose a major headache for online retailers. Not all 3pl’s can handle returns and even fewer can handle the complete process of prepping and reinjecting your inventory ready for re-sale. Make sure you understand exactly how your 3pl will handle returns, what are their limitations? This is especially important for fashion retailers as even higher than 30% of returns are common.
The Pro’s and Con’s of Fulfilment Services
Reliable and hassle-free. Once set up your logistics headaches are no more. Let trained professionals deal with it. The right provider can save you money and give you the ability to enter new markets easily. Monitor your sales data in interesting ways and leverage industry-wide information to provide actionable insights. Other benefits include accurate inventory control and high-quality unboxing experience for your customers.
If you’re not at a scale sufficient enough to use a 3pl and you are, then wasted capital is a major concern. Having a bad 3pl provider can lead to headaches beyond control. Delivery windows are an important part of the online shopping experience and if you’re 3pl can’t handle your orders your customers and your business suffers. There also needs to be a high level of trust between you, the business owner and the 3pl service provider. Inventory is expensive and you have to trust in your third-party logistics provider to securely store that investment for you.
Critical Decision – Finding the Right Partner
With so many options and setups available choosing the right partner is the hardest part of any 3pl journey. You need to make sure the provider can handle your needs in the manner you wish. This takes communication and time. For a deeper dive into how to find the right partner for you check out – Finding the Right Fulfilment Partner
Critical Decision – When to use 3pl services
When considering if a 3pl is the right move for your business there are some important questions you should ask yourself.
Are you fulfilling 20+ orders per day?
Volume is a blessing and a curse. Obviously the more you are selling the better it is for your business. On the other hand, the more you sell the more you must fulfil, this can become overbearingly time-consuming and result in a negative effect in other areas of your business. If you don’t have time to run new campaigns, enter new markets and handle customer service requests your business will plateau and potentially decline. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste by not outsourcing at the right time.
Do you have space to continually store your inventory, is it cost-effective?
It’s all about the numbers, here again, volume, that sweet cruel mistress. No one wants to jump over box’s to make a cup of tea in the morning, even less so if those boxes aren’t yours. Home storage, while cheap isn’t great. Liability and accident insurance may not cover the cost of your inventory should the worst happen. On the other hand, if you’re using a warehouse or office space to store product, how much is it costing you? Do you have the benefits of fulfilment to go along with that storage cost? Is it fully insured and secure? After investing hard found capital in inventory, improper storage could be the unravelling of your business. Protect your investment and ensure it’s stored safely and securely.
Does your growth plan incorporate the increased demand put on your current fulfilment solution?
As you grow and sales increase are you going to be;
1. Keeping enough stock on hand in your current storage solution?
2. Process orders quickly enough and at your high standard to keep customer expectations and experience the best they can be? If you are personally picking and packing 20 orders a day, how long does it take? What happens when you’re doing 40, 60 or 100? At Selazar after talking with our amazing clients we’ve calculated approximately 5 hours saved each week. 5 hours a week, what would you do with an extra 5 hours? Get some much-needed sleep? Get that new product online? Diversify into a new market? Get your globalization action plan implemented? Have a date night with a significant other?
Things you need to know before choosing a 3pl
Intimate product knowledge is essential for effective operations. The specific details of products can have far-reaching implications. From where and how the product is stored through to which carriers can deliver your products all depends on the product specifications themselves. From a price point, the DIM mentioned above is an essential piece of information that will give an accurate picture of the costs associated. For operations, understanding your desired unboxing experience and how your products are shipped from suppliers let’s good partners find cost-effective solutions that work for you.
The number of SKU’s and order volumes is also important figures for consideration. Providing this information upfront will encourage potential partners to act quickly and secure your business, potentially with more favourable conditions than otherwise offered.
No matter which partner you choose, your products are still subject to the laws of the land. In the UK all carriers must adhere to Safety Data Sheet (SDS) formerly MSDS for shipping chemicals. At first, you might not think this applies to you but most cosmetics, alcohol/liquids and electronics (batteries) are covered by these regulations. For more in-depth information check out the HSE chemical classification guide here.
Author note* Have you ever wondered why batteries were not included with your Christmas present? This is why.
What service do you need to meet customer expectations? Good 3pl’s will have multiple service types and speeds available. The pricing for which will depend on the speed of service and shipping destination. If you want accurate pricing quotes, know what you want before engaging a potential partner.
The more prepared you are for onboarding the smoother it will be. Smooth is fast and fast saves money!
The Innovation of 3pl
The amazing transformation of logistics into next hour delivery systems and we haven’t even got drones working yet (Read Author Observation, below if you want to know how drones are helping save lives through innovative logistics). The possibilities are endless and for the next-level customer experience, you need next-level customer service in addition to your products. Fulfilment is a factor in customer satisfaction. Ensure good results by using the right 3pl.
If you’re interested in more about how Selazar is the dynamic partner you’re looking for click here and choose how to contact us – email, phone or chat your choice.
Dispatch is defined as “send off to a destination or for a purpose.”
In a fulfilment sense dispatch is the point your package is handed over to your carrier for network injection and final mile services. After your orders have been picked and packed, they are labelled and made ready for collection. This is the process of dispatch.
Depending on your partner dispatch speed, cut off times can widely vary. Cut-off times are the latest time in a day that an order can be injected into a carrier’s network. The later the cut off the more orders you can dispatch in a day.
In addition to this, dispatch speed is the amount of time it typically takes for an order to be processed. With Selazar’s innovative system, orders are dispatched typically within 28 minutes of receipt. Short order processing and late cut-off, leads to a higher service level for your customers.
We now know what the process is, in its simplest form. Let’s imagine now, what this might look like at a peak period, say Black Friday.
Last year the British public spent an impressive 8.57 Billion Pounds over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday (BF/CM) weekend. That’s an awful lot of packages being dispatched all at once. From our research, the mean dispatch time offered by retailers is between 12 and 2 pm.
If that’s you, be worried.
Stand out from the crowd. Give your customers exceptional service when all others are lacking. Doing so will give your customers memorable, positive experiences. This will increase repeat business.
Starting in the middle of the pack doesn’t often lead to race wins. Pole position is strived for by the most competitive teams because they understand that timing is everything.
If you are in the middle, your orders will be swept up with everyone else’s, making standing out from the crowd even harder.
Good timing enables headache-free fulfilment. Your final-mile services are secure and ready to deliver high-quality service to your customers. With so many options available to consumers, grabbing attention has never been more difficult. Stand out from the crowd with high-speed service during peak periods.
Push your 3pl partner for later cut-off times to keep your orders moving. Your customers deserve the best possible service.
83% of consumers want fast delivery. From our research, that means Next-Day Delivery for 53% of UK respondents and Pre-Noon Next Day for an additional 17%.
That’s 70% of respondents looking for Next-Day Delivery in some regard. 70%!!!
By injecting later than everyone else your orders will be in the network before everyone else’s. Conversely leaving half your orders to be processed until the next day means your customers won’t receive the fast service they are looking for. Instead of actually arriving within 24 hours of confirming their order it’s more likely to be 48 to 72 hours before delivery is complete.
This is especially true on Friday’s. Couriers do not accept 3pl injections over the weekend as standard. This knock-on effect could leave an order placed at 3 pm on Friday, not dispatched until Monday at 2 pm. Only then will the next-day service kick. That could make a 96 hour or longer delivery window for what was supposed to be “fast service”. Something your customer most likely paid extra for.
With so much information available to retailers in our data-driven e-world it seems obvious to say but nevertheless,
USE ONE PEAK PERIOD TO LEARN FOR A BETTER NEXT ONE.
Think about it; the concentrated volume of business allows you to flesh out ideas, landing pages and customer journeys in a relatively short time frame. Look at the data feedback, identify what works and whats’s a waste of time. Use that info to better position your store ahead of your next big push.
Increase sales, save time, learn from experience rinse and repeat for each campaign.
Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Gain new business now using dispatch speed as your competitive advantage.
Impress those customers with quick service, high standards and watch your positive reviews roll in.