Category Archives: Fulfillment

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EDI and How it Helps Service You and Your Clients

What is EDI?
EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange. This is the idea of businesses electronically communicating information verse what used to be communicated through paper. The typical data interchange is based on purchase orders and invoices.

Retailers require all data to fit their standardized format. If not done properly, it can cost you precious time and create unnecessary chargeback fees. Fulfillment Plus accurately interprets and then translates all data so that it is formatted properly. In fact, just about all larger retailers such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. require EDI be used for each order regardless if a fulfillment company is used or not. If you’re looking to work with the bigger retail chains than EDI is a system you can’t avoid.

The Benefits of EDI
EDI is standardized. It is a universal (though very antiquated) system. Thereby making it much more efficient as the steps are the same no matter what retailer. Not only does it save time because all transactions are standardized, but it decreases the margin of errors.

Requirements for Being EDI Compliant
EDI compliance involves either buying or outsourcing the following components*:

  • Software for communications
  • VAN service for EDI transmission
  • Mailboxing of EDI transactions
  • Mapping and translation software
  • Installing upgrades to software as needed
  • Mapping labor
  • Testing with EDI trading partners
  • Upgrades for new versions required by trading partners

How EDI Works
A buyer prepares an order within the retailer’s purchasing system and has it approved. Next, the EDI order is translated into an EDI document format called an ‘850 purchase order’. The 850 purchase order is then securely transmitted to the supplier either via the internet or through a VAN (Value Added Network). This is all done without human interaction.

This will ensure speed and accuracy in all transactions, all while saving money usually spent on labor. Errors due to illegible faxes, lost orders, or incorrectly taken phone orders are all eliminated, saving your staff and company valuable time from handling data disputes. Not only will labor costs decrease, but other costs associated with paper, printing, reproduction, storage, postage, and document retrieval are all reduced or eliminated when you switch to EDI.
In conclusion, EDI is a very valuable and resourceful system to work with. It not only helps you acquire leads but also makes your transactions run much smoother. Fulfillment Plus offers EDI along with many other benefits for our clients such as; assembly work to packing and shipping your product anywhere in the world, as well as promotional programs and social media. Whatever your business needs, we have the knowledge, expertise, and contacts to make sure your job gets done right the first time.

 

* Source of information here

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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.    

 

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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.

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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!

*Citation here 

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Looking to Expand Your Product Line? We Can Help!

Adding additional product or service to your current stable business can be tricky, but if done correctly it can transform your business and create exponential growth opportunities. With our help, and the simplified steps below, you can successfully bring new opportunities to your clients.

First: Do Your Research
You may have a great idea of a new product or service, but does it fit within your current business model? For example, you wouldn’t expect to go to a McDonalds for a car wash. On the other hand, a better example is HelloFresh who expanded their line of product to include kitchen utensils. This company already has a clientele base that is interested in how-to-market-a-new-productmaking their cooking experience better and easier. What better way to help that process along, than providing them with the right tools to do so. A great way to research, is ask your current clients what they feel your business is missing and what they need/want.  

Second: Find the Resources
One of the biggest problems companies face, is the implementation of a new process/product. Everything may look great in writing, but do you have the people and resources to execute? The best plan is to have a dedicated staff to roll out the new product. That way they can be attentive to all details and issues that may arise. You don’t want to overload an employee with current responsibilities and then implementing a whole new product (depending on size), that may lead your new product development to suffer.  This is one area we can help! A lot of companies find it cheaper to outsource their services, and we specialize in handling all projects big and small. This gives you comfort of mind knowing that the production of distributing is taken care of.

to-do-list-toolsThird: Create a Plan
Establish a timeline, this is important so you can stay on track and have attainable goals. Next in the plan is to create a budget. Implementing a new product/service can be very expensive (time, people, materials, marketing, etc) and you want to make sure you are not wasting money or resources so it’s important to stick to your timeline!

Fourth: Test Your Product/Service
Before your big launch, you want to incorporate a soft launch into your timeline. This is the best way to test your new product and work out any kinks there might be. Depending on your new concept, try it out on close family and friends or gather a select group of loyal customers that will be honest with you, but you’re not scared of losing their business. Once you receive the feedback you can incorporate that into your new product line and when you officially launch, have ease knowing that it will be implemented flawlessly.Tested

Fifth: Market Your New Concept
How are you priced among competitors? If there is similar product in the market place you are competing with, you might want to launch yours at a slightly lower price, or offer “introductory pricing” to get the customer hooked. But, important to keep in mind, you don’t want to be priced so much lower that your brand is looked upon as “cheap”. Next, if you have a sales team, they should hit the ground running. If not, or in addition to your sales team, blast it out on social media, put out direct mailers and find your key brand advocates. In addition to our services we can also provide social media help and implementation of your blogger kits which is the newest trend and a must for your company’s product! Blogger kits can be compared to your company’s resume. This can take form of a pamphlet, images, audio, video, product samples or a combination of all. The importance of creating an impressive Blogger Kit, is not only will you spark the interest, but you’ll be perceived as a company who is credible, and trustworthy. Taking the time to invest in this, will in result create the consumer to invest their time and money in you. First impressions are everything, so now is the time to shine!

In addition to the above steps, continually improving your products is the last and final step. Nothing in business is ever completely done, so always pay close attention and continue to keep everything up to date. Staying stagnant for too long can sometimes be a death sentence to a company. Clients are always looking for the “newest, and best” so you should strive to be top of their list and Fulfillment Plus Inc. is here to help you do so!