With the start of the new year, some trends have been surfacing. Most of it has to do with the COVID-19 virus and how the people are currently coping with this global pandemic. The effects of this are very prevalent and in the course of the last few months, the retail landscape has completely changed. We want you to be ready for some of the effects it might have on your business, so here are some trends that you may want to keep an eye on in the coming months.
With the pandemic, the shift from brick and mortar to online shopping is a drastic change that has many companies rushing to keep up with the demand that is now occurring. Most people are now looking online first and not going to their local stores to see some of the odds and ends that they need. This has forced the eCommerce sector to go into overdrive to keep up with the global demand. This is a good and a bad thing. It is a good thing because if you have a reliable system in place it is easy to deal with a new influx of new users, but it is also driving entrepreneurs and large companies into the landscape. The competition is steadily growing as many people see this as a big opportunity to make some quick cash. The solution to this is to make sure customer retention and happiness are at an all-time high. Making sure your customer is happy should be your number one priority as the marketplace is being flooded by big corporations and hopeful business owners.
Social media has been around for multiple years and it may not seem like the most optimal thing if you are an eCommerce company, but with younger generations getting into owning businesses it is the time to stop the inevitable and join! It’s quick, fun, and most importantly free! By doing this future customers can get an inside look at your company and see some of the fantastic things that you do to make sure you are pleasing the customer at every turn.
Your website is the face of your business, with almost every customer doing some research before reaching out it is important to make sure that your website is accessible from any device, you never know when your next client will be looking into expanding their business and if they find your website clunky and unusable from their phone they are just going to go to the next site.
eCommerce is a booming industry that is growing at an incredible rate. With the pandemic occurring worldwide wide those numbers are only going to be increasing drastically, this is the perfect opportunity for you to expand your business and make sure you have the size and capacity to deal with the demand. We hope that some of these tips are helpful to you and will make sure you are ready to take on 2021 in stride!
This year has been one like no other for us at Complemar. In the past, when employees asked if they could work from home, we would wring our hands carefully weighing all the pros and cons, and then develop a strict set of rules by which to operate. When the Pandemic hit this year, we simply asked all our office employees to work from home, without thought of rules. Keeping all our associates safe became our primary objective; especially those who were working in our facilities doing the receiving, picking, packing, and shipping of our customers’ orders. We physically divided associates into small teams with separate lunch and restroom facilities limiting their exposure to the rest of us in the company as much as possible. Anyone who could work from home, including me, started doing so immediately. Our offices are mostly empty.
Surprise, surprise, no one skipped a beat. Everything is getting done, maybe even better and more efficiently and employee morale is up. Thanks to our great IT team, our technology is working well. Most meetings are now conducted virtually, and we ask our team members to turn on their cameras to help us stay socially connected.
Office employees now working from home have seen increased efficiencies and we are much better with on-time attendance for meetings. Live meetings have been put on hold until this is over. Instead, we are sending out regular video updates to keep everyone informed. When we were notified of COVID positive cases at our OKC and Sparks facilities, there were no other associates who tested positive. We believe this lack of transmission was the result of careful adherence to the CDC guidelines (Watch your distance, Wear a mask and Wash your hands) and to temperature taking and rigorous cleaning protocols.
Fortunately, many of our existing customers are growing and new customers are signing up for our fulfillment services in response to the growth of their e-commerce businesses. Thankfully we have been able to expand our hours of operation to accommodate this increased demand.
Nothing compares to the COVID-19 pandemic since the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 that killed 675,000 Americans. We could learn from history; it came in waves just like we are experiencing now. People were asked to wash their hands, socially distance, and wear their masks. There was resistance to following those simple rules and the result was 50 Million deaths over 2 years.
I know how very tired everyone is with the stringent rules we are being asked to follow, but the recent news of vaccines should give us all hope that the end is in sight. The steps that were taken early on to keep us safe have paid off on multiple fronts. Most importantly, our employees and their family are healthy. Additionally, our company has been able to receive, pick, pack, and ship our customers’ products throughout this pandemic and that keeps our company healthy. Finally, shipping our customers’ products on time and accurately has resulted in the survival and health of their businesses. There is much to be thankful for, our heroic health care workers, our brilliant scientists, our loyal essential workers all doing double duty to help the world get back to the “New Normal”. We are all in this together. Stay safe.
During these trying times getting your package may be the least of your worries, but order fulfillment has taken a hit. This is not like every holiday season, being this may be the worst that we have seen. With more packages being shipped out this year than previous because of the travel restrictions and the overall conscious decision to stay safe your order may be delayed weeks because of the overflowing number of packages that the shipping companies are dealing with. That example is a prime example of when crisis management can be used. A crisis management plan is one of the most useful plans that your company can come up with. Here are some tips that you can use to overcome problems in the future.
Most companies believe that the problem needs to be solved after the problem has occurred. Only 10 percent of major disruptions are truly unexpected. However, with the COVID-19 virus, we all knew that there were going to be delays, so planning is crucial to every case. The best way to go about this is once a quarter brings in a team that can come up with likely scenarios that may occur in the future. This is where you can hypothesis with the industry professionals that you have working for your company to make a small book of things that may occur and solutions that can be used to solve them. This book can be used as an outline since the exact problem may not happen, but similar situations might arise.
Being proactive comes when the crisis occurs and when trying to prevent major disruptions in day to day operations. Planning for events that might happen is very important so the crisis can be dealt with swiftly. When going in with a plan, any problem can be solved quickly and efficiently. If you think about it in a none business way, every time you get on a plane everyone has to watch the safety video where if anything does go wrong there is a plan to make sure that you can get off the plane. This is the same thing that your company should do, prepare for scenarios, and train a specialized team to deal with the problems if they ever do occur. Another important piece is when making a statement to only say what you are prepared to say. Don't say anything that you can not back-up or prove.
When dealing with crises it is important to move quickly and be transparent with your audience. Cover-ups only tarnish your name, being truthful will make sure that you are not digging yourself into a deeper pit. No one has ever been in trouble for being too prepared, but people get in trouble for not being prepared, so have a contingency plan and keep your company going the best it can go.
Every business person knows that retaining a customer is always better than going out and getting a new one. It is stated that retaining customers will increase profits by 25 to 95 percent, so that is why we need to keep our customers coming back and satisfied. It is also far more expensive to go out and gain new customers over retaining existing ones. Here are some tips that you could use to make sure you always have your customers coming back for more.
1. Make sure your customers are happy
When selling a product or a service the customer is the most important thing that you need to worry about. Taking care of the customer is crucial in having return customers who are loyal to your business. Another thing that is crucial in ensuring customer satisfaction is good customer service. If a customer is having problems with a product or service they will need to be able to communicate their concerns and frustrations. Making sure their problems are solved promptly is as important as the solution itself, so make sure that you are answering on time.
2. Communication is key
When dealing with clients, it is important to communicate what you are capable of doing, along with communicating any concerns that you may have. Another key element to this is keeping up with your customers, check in on them and see if they are satisfied and if they want to do more business in the future. It’s also best not to burn bridges when trying to get customers, you never know if they are going to become future customers. One last thing that will make sure customer retention will increase is to always be transparent, if you are having difficulties with an order they are more likely to be willing to work with you if you do not spring these problems on them after the fact and when it is affecting their business.
3. Show customers appreciation
If you show the customer that they are not just a number to you and a valued asset or partner they will be more likely to stay loyal to your company. Even the little things like sending them a hand-written card thanking them for their business can mean the world. Keeping things fresh and making them feel appreciated will make them feel like they are apart of something bigger. A cheap and effective way is sending out an email blast that thanks them every quarter or year, it is a small gesture that can make an impact. The only thing you need to keep in mind is the need to stay genuine. Doing all of these acts won’t matter if you don’t truly care. Be happy to support each other and celebrate success.
Customer retention is sometimes overlooked when getting new clients, at the end of the day we need to remember that loyal customers, in the long run, will grant you a successful and more profitable business.
Work-Life balance has certainly changed and altered a new direction for many. Now that many of us are working from home, our dogs and pets have become our co-workers.
I remember when I would hear stories of co-workers trying to balance out their lives by making the most out of their office time, and putting in long hours during the week to enjoy time on the weekend with family, sports, and hobbies to balance things out.
Now that Covid 19 has disrupted our lives and our workspace has entered our personnel space, it seems that working from home has created a new Work-Life balance conundrum. One that needs a sense of a flexible work environment as our office space and our personnel space at home has allowed many to work constantly and has thrown our everyday life out of whack.
It has also affected my life, as I typically worked from an office, and well, my day was very regimented. I would arrive at the office, get my day laid out, conduct my day to day activities, oh yeah, throw lunch in there somewhere, and finish the day strong and go home, only to return the next morning, and repeat this for the week.
Now that I am working from home and have set up a replica office, like the one I had worked in, I had to build up a new work routine, and try to mitigate distractions, like the TV, the dog, my significant other, while she was working at home, and the constant checking for new emails, even after the day was done, knowing the computer was just 1 room away. Ironically I swear I would almost hear it calling me to check the incoming emails, send one more email out or finish up one more thing.
What did I do to elevate stress? I created a flexible work environment. I also included a regimented workout before I started my day to clear the cobwebs out and get my blood flowing to start my day. Every other day I would walk the dog to split up my day in between the calls, emails, and follow-ups to clients. There is no TV while I am in the office, so I am not limited by distraction. I also set times that I would dedicate to the office.
I set these parameters for my work environment to coral my “A” type personality, that being shared, without these parameters, I would want to work constantly. Although, I still do check my email occasionally at night, or before I go to bed, and I will plan out my next day knowing that the next day will begin in just a few short hours, and on the weekend. I do send out a random email knowing that my office is just in the other room, but I am working on the balance that I need to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and the changes that are in front of us to eke out a work-life balance.
When running a small business it gets to the point where your garage gets full and dealing with all of the orders becomes a full-time job. Don’t worry this is where Complemar can help you solve all your problems and eliminate stress. Order fulfillment will not only save you the hassle, most likely it will save you money too! Complemar can get lower shipping rates and make sure your customers are all taken care of in a timely fashion. Here are some other benefits that you could see when you outsource your order fulfillment!
When taking care of all of your orders you might be limited to the area around you because of shipping costs. This is where we can help you. We have experience packaging orders for a plethora of clients and will make sure that they will get their package faster than if you shipped it all on your own. We do this by having warehouses strategically placed around the United States to ensure that when an order is placed it will be shipped from a central location or the nearest location to the customers.
We are making sure we have all the tools for you as a business to succeed. This means that we have state of the art technology and processes that streamline the process of getting things done fast and reliably. Some things that will be provided by a click of a button is inventory management and security on your inventory. No matter if you have custom packaging or if you are shipping hundreds of things per day no order is too big for Complemar to handle
With less time spent on packaging boxes and round trips to the post office, you can focus more on your business. We are here to help you succeed and grow and we want to be alongside you to support and watch it happen. The free time that you will have will be immense, which you can put towards researching upcoming trends in your market or even just talking to prospective customers to see what the next new item will be.
There are many benefits of order fulfillment and it is a great investment because of the economic value that we bring in discounted rates on shipping. Also not to mention the opportunity cost of you being busy packaging your amazing products for your customers. We want to invite you to set up a meeting with us and see if you would make a good fit for our company. We have years of experience in the industry and are eager to help!
The Complemar Software and IT departments are a part of Complemar that keeps the process working.
At Complemar we have 5 locations that are all interconnected to each other. This has to be up and running 24/7, so our locations can process orders. We try to have fault-tolerant solutions with no single point of failure.
The Complemar IT department is helping employees and customers with multiple items and issues throughout the day. It could be a small issue as the wrong zip code on an order to the system is down. The System Administrators and Software Engineers field all of these issues.
Complemar has its own custom software solution and the software engineers are adding new features and troubleshooting issues every day.
Leading these departments makes for a busy and fast-paced day.
The day starts with reviewing emails, making sure everyone is at work.
Then the barrage starts with solving the ticket issues from the previous day that were not completed. Keeping over 140 servers and 280 PC's running is a constant job for the IT department as well as helping all of the users on the system. My team takes care of simple password resets to system down events.
Our Software development team adheres to the agile development process,
One thing that separates Agile from other approaches to software development is the focus on the people doing the work and how they work together. Solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams utilizing the appropriate practices for their context. Managers of this process make sure team members have, or obtain, the right skill sets. Managers must provide an environment that allows the team to be successful. Managers should let their team figure out how they are going to deliver products, but step in when the teams try but are unable to resolve issues. When most teams and organizations start doing Agile software development, they focus on the practices that help with collaboration and organizing the work, which is great. However, another key set of practices that are not as frequently followed but should be are specific technical practices that directly deal with developing software in a way that helps your team deal with uncertainty. Those technical practices are essential and something you shouldn’t overlook.
When you are in the IT business your day can bounce around from task to task every day. Some days you feel like you have not accomplished anything but worked on 100's of issues and tasks.
This is another hat worn here also. Making sure that all the cameras are working and managing the access control system for all employees. I am reviewing footage daily to make sure our people and buildings are safe and secure.
We are always looking for new solutions to address issues and requirements.
Our main facility is located in NY State and with COVID19 there were a lot of regulations that we have to address. Each person that enters our buildings have to have their temperature taken and they have to fill out the required questions for the state. We have set up an infra-red system that takes your temperature and also a simple web page solution to record the required question for the state.
We are currently in the development of a few solutions to make our fulfillment line more productive and error-free. These solutions will use AI to help the operator process orders remembering similar order types to speed up the process.
We are also updating systems and software daily to keep up with ever-changing technology.
If you like a busy and changing work environment then IT work is where it is. Just remember that in an IT job it is a 24/7 job so be prepared.
Everyone has a story, with experiences that shape their values and views on life.
I have been an Operations Supervisor/Manager for 20+ years in the Logistics and Warehousing industry. I was fortunate to serve my country in the U.S. Army where I began to learn the importance of leadership and teamwork. I am also a father of two and a husband. I have coached little league sports for nine years while my son and daughter were growing up. These life experiences helped me to understand that teamwork is essential for everything in life. Whether it is dealing with a family situation, participating in a team sport, hosting social functions, or even in the workplace, teamwork is at the center of success and growth. That is not to say that an individual cannot achieve greatness, but that foundation of teamwork and the essential support of a team is what helps them to succeed. I have been very fortunate in my years to be a part of many great teams, whether as a participant or leader. It is the ability to succeed and push through conflict that often helps draw out some of the best individuals and teams.
Key Pillars to Teamwork:
Communication is the most important pillar in any relationship, whether it be personal or professional. Communication in principle needs to go both ways – or in business, up and down the ladder. A common mistake that individuals in leadership roles make is that they assume that delegation is communication. The misconception is that if they need a task to be done, then all they need do is tell their subordinates to complete said task, and the task will be completed. That is not the case in most situations, as a leader should explain not only the expectations of the request but also the purpose of it. The more information that a team member has, the more valuable and invested they become. The reverse can be said for communication up the ladder, as more common than not individuals feel uncomfortable or afraid to ask for more information from their leaders. In this case, the result is they do not meet the expectations of the request due to a lack of clarity. By getting clarification on any tasks, it helps open up a dialogue with their leaders and create a more open path of communication for future projects and thus strengthening that relationship. The same can be said with your peers, as open communication helps build teams.
Understanding is needed between all parties that are involved in any venture. We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, and to work together we need to have a basic understanding of (and respect for) each other. That is not to say that we all have to “like” each other and get to know everyone on a personal level, but it does mean that we need to have a better understanding of our teammates. This understanding will also assist leaders in communicating with their teams and ensuring the message is delivered via the best method possible. In turn, the team members will gain an understanding of their leaders’ methodology, reasonings, directions, or requests. Understanding each other will also help resolve the conflicts that could arise in a productive and respectful manner.
Accountability is the one pillar that everyone agrees is needed, and yet no one wants to enforce or have it enforced on them. Accountability is essential in any team, and for all team members. The key to accountability is to eliminate favoritism in all forms and ensure there is a clear understanding of the task/rules/policies/expectations. A company’s attendance policy is a common point of contention within a team. As with all policies, any exception sets precedence. You can make exceptions on an individual basis as long as you make those exceptions available to ALL members of the team. Situations happen unexpectedly and being flexible helps strengthen the team. However, something like this needs to be controlled to be effective. Individual team members also need to do a better job of holding themselves accountable in instances like this, as not being there for your team when expected is not being accountable to your team. Teamwork helps foster accountability on many levels, as you commit to your team.
I say learning instead of training because anyone can train - but to be a great team member, you need to want to learn what is needed and why. Often training is completed more out of necessity or policy and is always someone else’s responsibility. Being part of a team means taking ownership of yourself and making sure that you learn everything you can to be an asset to the team. You should not only want to learn your role but those of the team members around you. Team members that understand the impact they have on other team members, the business, and your customers are the team members that stand out. Knowledge of the process, flow, or purpose will make the team stronger.
If you aren’t having fun then why bother? When participating in a sport or social engagement you try to enjoy yourself. Why not do the same in a business environment? Not everyone gets along all of the time and the definition of “work” is not necessarily thought of in the same terms as fun. Sometimes to just attempt the interjection of a little levity in the workplace will brighten those around you and help improve the team’s engagement. “Time flies when you are having fun”, so why not try to have some fun? This is also a case of “Lead by example”, regardless of your position on the team encouraging others to do the same. Morale goes both ways in a team, so try to bring your team(s) up and not down. They say a smile is contagious.
These five pillars are what I believe help a team grow and become more successful. Those that have known me both personally and professionally know that I have tried to live by all five, regardless of whether it was in my personal life, sports, or business. Knowing that I am not perfect, and these five pillars are not always easy to follow, but by continuing to try to foster these concepts - I believe that I will grow as a team leader and teammate in all that I do.
This past year has been challenging for all as we try to deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic across the globe. Businesses being forced to shut down either temporarily or permanently have put stress on the economy and individuals’ personal lives. Everyone has an opinion on how things could have or should have been handled. However, that is not what I want to touch base on. I want to call out how proud I am of the team that we have here at Complemar. We have had to endure the ups and downs of the Pandemic, inside and outside the workplace. Their continuous efforts and dedication as a team makes me want to push through and be a better team member. I want to continue to provide excellent service not only to my external customers but also for them… the team that makes it happen every day! The Complemar TEAM.
People tend to use the term “Quality” as a catch-all for any function that makes sure we get things right. Under that umbrella, Complemar uses different kinds of Quality methods.
Quality Assurance is the term used to describe the maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product. That is, we make sure that the process is set up to produce the desired outcome, especially by means of attention to every stage.
Quality Control is a system of maintaining standards by inspecting a sample of the output against a specification. For example, QC is used when we get first-piece approval, or when we check incoming materials for the right quantity and condition, or when we check that outgoing materials have the right paperwork.
Quality Management System
System Quality is an organized effort to manage how businesses provide products or services they sell. Its primary goal is to ensure that companies act responsibly and have the organizational structure, procedures, processes, and resources in place. That’s what Complemar talks about when we mention “ISO.” ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 are sets of stringent quality management system requirements that we comply with.
In our business, we also look at how well we control our inventory. It’s vitally important to our customers (and to their customers) that we know exactly how much of their stuff we have on hand for them to sell. We ensure Inventory Quality by carefully keeping track of where we put things away and where we pick them from (Quality Assurance). Additionally, we perform cycle counts and random location verifications to double-check that customer property is where it’s supposed to be (Quality Control).
These quality functions are in place to make sure we satisfy our customers.
When it comes to increasing the size of your social media audience, one usually thinks that the higher the number the better the outcome, that is false. That number may seem better and it will increase the reach on your posts but the real metric that matters is engagement. Engagement is when your customers like, comment, or share your posts, and here are a few tips for you to increase your social media engagement and some of the benefits it might have on your company.
Post content that your audience will enjoy
For this, you have to put yourself in your consumers' shoes and ask yourself, is this something I would enjoy? Is this something that would catch my attention and entice me to comment and like? These are all thoughts that you should be thinking about when creating content to post on your social media accounts. You want to create content that people will want to interact with and would drive a response from people, even if that response is just a double click on a picture. One thing to stay away from is posting content that might drive potential customers away, so if you have a post that you think is controversial it is best kept in the drafts. Lastly, on every post encourage your audience to like, or click a link, people are more likely to interact with your postings if you ask them to.
Have a set schedule
This one will require some research. As a business, you need to see when your customers are most active. You can do this by using a set schedule for two weeks and slightly change the time and compare the two to see which one is best. Doing this will require patience, but it will increase the number of likes, comments, and shares that each of your posts will have. Before the tests secondary research is essential. One can look online and see when most people are on certain apps with a quick google search. You could use those times and days as a baseline and work from there. Because posting on a set schedule, mostly when posting multiple times a day is hard using an automated system where you can create the post-before-hand can be life-saving. One social media tool that is affordable is Buffer. This site allows you to create multiple posts before-hand and schedule when you want them to be published.
No matter the platform images capture the audience's attention. According to Buffer.com, tweets that include images tend to gain 150% more retweets than tweets that don’t include them. No matter the platform, if it is Twitter or LinkedIn a picture that is related to what you are writing about is crucial to getting the person to stop on their feed and read what you have written.
Over time using these steps and others will help you garner more attention to your page that will result in a loyal following and when offering a product, more sales. There is a saying that says it is about quality, not quantity, these are words to live by, if it is about the post that you are creating, or if it is about the followers that you are gaining. You do not want to clog someone's feed. Creating unique and attention-grabbing posts will make them more inclined to interact with your content and when attracting an audience, having a customer base that will support your posts will have a greater effect than the number of followers on your account.