The Evolution of Fulfillment

In the past, it used to be that ecommerce fulfillment was almost 100% retail and etail businesses.  Slowly but steadily, B2B enterprises are jumping into the market and are becoming a much larger part of the fulfillment world.

Historically, fulfillment has been considered to be the “back-end” of an operation, a necessary cost after everything else has been decided.  That old-fashioned approach changed drastically during the E-Commerce era. It started to put a huge toll on companies because they could not keep up with the volume of orders or had limited space to house the inventory. This in result also puts a strain on other parts of the business. In addition to solving these issues, the realization that fulfillment is indeed a place where other strategic imperatives, such as brand building, maintaining a relationship and driving down costs, can be achieved.  Once this message started spreading, it did not take B2B companies long to realize that the exact same imperatives are applied in their business model.

Many astute marketers from both B2B and B2C, now consider fulfillment to be just as important as any other component of a marketing initiative.  An obvious example of this is how the use of the internet has been incorporated into the fulfillment processes, resulting in strategic or integrated fulfillment systems.

The client who sells direct to the consumer and the client who sells to other businesses, each demand a high level of service, along with specific technological and reporting needs.  But, it is the fulfillment partner that can create the exceptional customer experience (either consumer, or business) that gains the competitive advantage.

Over the years, consumers have evolved from a product-led to a consumption-driven economy.  In today’s competitive environment, it is the fulfillment provider’s responsibility to create an exceptional customer experience for their clients.  The way in which products are received, whether by a consumer, or a business, is the VERY first impression the recipient has of a business.

Fulfillment, by definition, is that part of the business process that plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverse flow of goods, services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption in order to meet customer’s requirements.  What is important to recognize is the means by which the B2B client demands satisfaction, are very different than those of a B2C company.

Whether Business to Business or Direct to Consumer, achieving a great client experience is the cornerstone of client satisfaction.  Fulfillment Plus Inc. not only exceeds its reputation in client satisfaction, but we are also top of the line when it comes to our in-house technology and the ability to handle requests of any nature. We are not your typical “cookie cutter” fulfillment center, but instead the fulfillment center that caters to your needs and demands.    



Preparing for your Holiday Rush!

Everyone can get a little crazy around the holiday season, especially in the business world. In the fulfillment industry, we are the ones to help make it easier for other businesses. For a fulfillment company, maximizing holiday work time can be tricky. One of the main responsibilities is deciding what is right process and procedure for one client—or even one product. This can be hard because what works for one company may not necessarily work for another company, or product. Below are some useful ideas that can help reduce time and in some cases, expenses. They include the following:

1. Use advanced shipping notification. Companies would do well to remember that if they have specific items being delivered somewhere, call the recipient. Give them the PO number, or order number, or at least an email to let them know what’s coming their way.

packaging2. Implement a vendor compliance program. You want notification ahead of time, and you also want to communicate with vendors exactly how their product should arrive. For example, include specific labeling requirements, and standard case quantities for each individual item when ordering from a manufacturer.

3. Integrate your operations with your suppliers. This way, suppliers can help you achieve maximum efficiency. Make sure your suppliers include your PO number and item codes into their packing list. This makes it easy for your fulfillment partner to recognize and receive your inventory.

4. Pre-Plan whenever possible. This includes staying organized which will help you fully prepare for the holiday season. Have a process in order that is flexible and scalable. If needed, change it up or eliminate unneeded steps if you see that it’s not working for you. By doing this in advance it gives you time for any errors needing to be fixed.

5. Continually evaluate requirements. You can’t design an operation and walk away for holiday_rush_image_1five years before you look at it again. Customer requirements keep changing and accelerating. That means you need to be looking at your customers’ requirements every few months to see how they are changing.

These are just a few reminders to help you out this holiday season. The most important thing to remember is to keep the customer happy, which includes keeping the orders on time! By following the steps above, it will ensure everything goes smooth for you AND your clients. Happy Holidays!


Brand Advocacy Incognito

Starbucks revealed their NEW holiday cups this past week and everyone is talking about it. For the first time in what people can remember, the holiday cup is NOT red but instead white with pops of holiday flair. According to Starbucks they did this intentionally so consumers can use their creativity and draw in their interpretation of what the holiday Sbucksseason means to them. “This year’s cup is intentionally designed to encourage our customers to add their own color and illustrations,” said Leanne Fremar, executive creative director for Starbucks. “We love the idea of everyone making this year’s cup their own.”(1)

Pure genius or huge flop? It depends on who you talk to. While some people love this idea and fully support it, others are disappointed again like back in 2015 when Starbucks released just a red cup with no holiday trademarks. Whether you’re on the pro or con side, Starbucks is still at the top of consumers minds. Their iconic holiday cup is the talk of the town, and everyone has something to say. Starbucks is creating brand advocates without consumers even realizing, and that is effective marketing.


(1)“Starbucks Holiday Cup Comes with a Message to ‘Give Good’.” Starbucks Holiday Cup Comes with a Message to ‘Give Good,’ Heidi Peiper, 1 Nov. 2017, news.starbucks.com/news/starbucks-holiday-cup-2017.


Effectiveness of Gift with Purchase, and How to Execute

Gift with purchase is one of the more effective marketing tactics that companies use. Who doesn’t love “free” items? It’s a great way to up-sell customers, or get them to your site and/or in the door to purchase an item. We’ve all seen the promotional offers of “with a $75 purchase, you will receive a free (insert product here)! So as a customer is checking out, and they are only $5 away from that free item, most of the time they will go back and purchase additional products to get that freebie.

The most important part is to pick the right product to advertise as your gift with purchase. As a business, you should know your clientele best and what will entice them. You also want to keep in mind that this complimentary product should support and improve your business. For example, DSW came out with a promotion that you receive a free virtual DSWreality headset with purchase of any women’s, men’s or kids’ New Balance shoes. In this partnership (DSW and New Balance) they are targeting a specific clientele; active wear and those interested in an active lifestyle, but also appealing to the new generation of the electronic world with the Virtual Reality Headset. Other companies such as Victoria Secret, were recently giving away a free tote bag with any $75 purchase.

Once you’ve established the ideal product, next is to pick the right time. Some business choose to promote these offers during their busy seasons; holiday shopping, back to school, etc to help increase their sales. But if you’re a company that does really well during those times, why give free items to consumers who are already going to be purchasing? Offering gift with purchase during your slower season, will help increase your business because you’re giving consumers an extra incentive to buy.

Now you have your product and when you’re going to advertise, the next step is how to properly market and execute the promotion. The most important step here is to make sure inventory_managementthat you have enough inventory. There is nothing worse than a dissatisfied client, and even though the item might be free, this might have been the sole cause of the initial purchase. This is an important step where your fulfillment company can help. Fulfillment Plus Inc. can help you plan how much you need, and make sure it gets shipped quickly and efficiently.

In addition to ensuring there is enough product, it’s also important to market it accurately. You want to make sure that the directions are very clear, and that it’s stated “while products last”. Other details to include are how long the offer is valid for, and exactly what the consumer needs to obtain the gift with purchase. Another aspect in marketing your product is the packaging and branding, this can make all the difference between a successful campaign vs a failed campaign. A good idea is to include your branding or something that will remind the consumer of where they received the free gift so they will be a repeat customer!

Finally, if you employ a sales staff, offering sales incentives or employee incentives are very popular during the 1st and 2nd quarter of the year. Now would be a great time to time to plan for 2018. These campaigns are used to incentivize employees/sales people to strive to hit personal goals and beyond in order to achieve a certain prize being offered on an internal intranet that only employees can see. This can be as simple or as complex as you like.

Everyone loves a good competition and employees (especially sales people) love the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction of achieving business goals.


UPS Increases Charges for Holiday Shipping

Start saving your pennies now, in a few months you may need the extra cash to ship your holiday goods! UPS is adding yet another surcharge to packages shipped between Black Friday and Christmas. The surcharge will be an additional 27 cents for each ground shipment, 81 cents for next-day air and 97 cents for two- or three-day delivery. It may not sounds like a lot, but it will certainly add up especially from a business standpoint.

Businesses now have to decide what their best option is during this holiday season. They can either, eat the cost, have the consumer pay for the shipping, or increase the cost of the goods to compensate. None of these are very opportune situations and may leave the consumer dissatisfied. Another option could be for the retail stores to promote their “holiday” deals a different week. These peak surcharges won’t take place the two following weeks after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but will pick back up again from December 17 – December 23. There is a slight grey area to this new development; the surcharge is only applied for residential shippings. Meaning, retailers and shoppers can have the item sent to the store for pickup to avoid the extra costs.

The reason for UPS doing this isn’t necessarily to make more money, but to stay profitable and meet their margin. During these busy times of shipping, they have to increase labor, and add on more transportation to get the high volume of packages out. As quoted in the Wall Street Journal from Sanford C. Bernstein*, “Without them, Christmas kind of doesn’t happen.” With a huge increase in online shopping, there is truth behind what Bernstein says.

If you are interested in learning more and how this might affect you, please contact your client service rep at Fulfillment Plus, Inc!

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