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.
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!
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.
In 1999, E-commerce sales accounted for only 1% of the total retail sales in the US. In 2017 it was more than 9% (a 3,000 percent increase). Over the last four years, the sales increased by 13 – 16%, which outpaced traditional retail sales, which are generally between 1% & 5%. The industry has estimated that e-commerce sales will reach 17.5% of retail sales by 2021 for the entire world.
So E-Commerce is on the upswing. How has this affected transportation and logistics in the Fulfillment industry?
It can be hard to keep up with the constant changes in the Fulfillment Industry. The most important things to remember are:
Follow these simple guidelines to help your company to stay on the right side of E-Commerce Growth.
I love shopping. When I tell people that shopping is one of my favorite things to do, they are under the impression that I must spend a lot of money. Not true. To me, “Shopping” does not mean “Buying”. For me, it means Searching, Evaluating, Comparing, Analyzing…., and yes, sometimes buying in the end. But I like to see what my options are, so I know that in the end I’ve made the right decision, and gotten the right style and fit. I’ve found that perfect item I was looking for and that I won’t regret that purchase later on. That is important. After all, who likes to have buyer’s remorse, or worse yet, have to return things to the store? And it's not fun to pack it up and ship it back. It causes a lot of extra work if you don’t do your homework on the front end. I’m not an impulse purchaser. I’m more like a “weigh my options” type of buyer. I rarely return things (unless I am buying for someone else and the size is wrong).
This same methodology can apply to a client relationship. All customers are not a good fit. We may want them to be. They may want to be. But sometimes, we should just politely decline to pursue that partnership. Is it disappointing? Yes. But the pain later on when they are disgruntled is much worse, and can cause future losses for your business. Ending on a sour note, or getting a bad review from this customer, is a terrible outcome - especially one that should never have been yours in the first place. This is not what you want to happen, and it can be avoided by some pre-planning (my version of shopping) upfront.
Find the Right Customer that Matches your Business Model
Following these guidelines will help you to avoid buyers’ remorse. More importantly, it will save you time and money. Wasting months vetting, onboarding, and executing your project plan just does not make monetary sense. If the relationship does not make both parties happy – then it is doomed from the beginning. (Customer is miserable and ends the contract = the dreaded store return)
Finding the right customer that fits your needs while matching their own is not a perfect science. It is a combination of hard work and luck. It is akin to looking for the perfect handbag- just the right shade of tan. It matches most outfits but is not boring, dull, or dowdy. You can go to 20 stores and search 50 websites, and then, bam, you find it when you are not looking.
So keep looking for the right customer – you will find them eventually and the search will ultimately pay off.
Amazon dominates eCommerce. The selling platform makes up about 38 percent of online retail sales (eMarketer, May 2020). It allows companies of all sizes to reach customers while spending a fraction on marketing that they would otherwise need to spend to get that kind of traffic. But selling on Amazon does not come without serious challenges, as anyone who has sold on Amazon can tell you. The most important decisions to make involve:
In this article, we will discuss these challenges and the solutions for creating profitable, manageable expansion of your business on Amazon with Complemar and Thor and Company (T&C). Selling on Amazon can be fun and rewarding, so don’t give up on your Amazon store!
It is important to have a strategy for selling on Amazon and weigh the options. Selling FBA only can be very costly, especially for small businesses. Selling Fulfilled by Merchant is often overlooked because it is time-consuming to pack and ship orders in house.
Actual screenshot of an Amazon account, August 2020
An FBA, FBM hybrid strategy is possible for your business.
Most businesses have a hard time keeping up with the demands of managing an Amazon account.
There are dozens of companies out there who can help you manage your seller account, but not all of them are worth the high price. If you need help with your Brand Registry, don’t ever hand over control of it. Find out how they make their money. When choosing a seller account management service, make sure they do not have conflicts of interest.
Coordinating campaigns with seasonal products, inventory levels, and Prime Day.
FBA works if you are comfortable letting Amazon handle your inventory. Selling FBM, you have the most control over your products. If your inventory is low, or you are not sure about inventory levels, you can prioritize where your products are shipped only with FBM. You can turn your FBM listings on and off whenever you want. Working with Complemar and T & C, you have control over your inventory and your promotions are managed for you.
Onboarding, where to start?
All puns aside, how you start the process sets the tone for the rest of the partnership. Whether you are moving from one 3PL to another or taking that first big step from your garage to the “big time”of outsourcing your fulfillment needs, there is more to onboarding than just moving the product to somewhere else.
Are orders flowing correctly? Are our shipping methods and services levels mapping properly? Is tracking information feeding back accurately and are orders closing promptly?
The software integrations, or communication between systems, should be top of the to-do list. If the information doesn’t flow from your shopping cart, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, or OMS (Order Management System) to your fulfillment house’s WMS (Warehouse Management System) your orders won’t get out the door. This is vital for third party integrations too; each marketplace or selling platform has its requirements and technicalities. It is crucial to take the time to properly understand the integration requirements of each system, to know the capabilities as well as the limitations, and to test, test, test.
The most effective physical onboarding happens when there is clear communication around, and execution of, receiving requirements. The importance of having your product labeled and packaged as per your new 3PL’s Inbound Routing Guide cannot be understated. The receiving department will be able to process your inventory efficiently and accurately when the product arrives as expected. All requirements set by the 3PL serve a purpose: specific labeling enables receiving practices; carton contents and pallet stacking aid put away; barcoding enables verification at the pick and pack stations. Be sure to pass along the 3PL’s Inbound Routing Guide, or at the very least the relevant portions, to your freight forwarders and brokers, to your vendors, and insist your vendors share the information with their freight carriers so all can adhere to inbound product and dock appointment requirements.
Once the product is in house and the systems have been integrated the final step is training or communicating with all interested parties. Take the time to learn the systems and processes of your new 3PL. Request demos. Ask questions. Introduce all team members from both sides and get to know each other. Have clear conversations with your account manager to determine expectations, who will be doing what, when, how. What is the best way to communicate with the 3PL after you go live; how do you reach the Customer Service team?
Internally, the 3PL will communicate all your account specifics and outbound expectations to Operations, Fulfillment, and Quality. Do the items ship as master cases or eaches? Is there any branded packaging or specific dunnage used? Is the product fragile, perishable, serialized? What is the order cut off times and priorities?
In a nutshell, good communication is the cornerstone of a successful onboarding process. From the start, expectations from all sides must be shared and understood. 3PL’s onboarding process will determine the success of the partnership.
In the past, when you had a large print project, you went to a commercial printer. When you needed to bulk mail the project, you went to a mail house. If you needed a short-run print, you went to a digital printer. If you need fulfillment, etc, etc, etc.
Printers who did not diversify themselves, are no longer. The average commercial printer can now take your product from design to mailing. The average printer also has you covered, if you want to print 100 catalogs or 10,000 catalogs. To make it cost-effective for the consumer. Printers today equip themselves with a combination of digital presses for short one specialty pieces to offset presses for long run projects.
The print industry has also become very “green”. Offset Inks are produced with vegetable oils, Digital press toners are plant-based biomass material to reduce environmental impact and paper trimmings are sent back to the paper mills for recycling. Also, the paper purchased is FSC certified. This certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests.
We believe that this market is ever-growing and if you do not change with the times you will get left in the past. That is why at Complemar we are growing with the competitive landscape to make sure we stay relevant and up to date with all of the new technology that is getting discovered.
At Complemar Print, we have you covered from all angles. From our high-end digital presses that can print up to 29”, to our high-speed Black & White printers to our offset multi-color press, we have you covered from the short run to long run projects. If it has to mail as either a standalone or inserted into an envelope and mailed, we have you covered. Need it die-cut, UV Coated, Shrinkwrapped, and much more; we have you covered.
We are FSC Certified, G7 Master qualified and ISO 9001 Compliant
With the progression of the digital age, the printing industry has undergone an evolution. For the past 25 years or more, the demise of printing has been predicted with the rise of the internet and a forecast of a paperless society. The reality is that the print industry is very much alive! While order quantities have gone down and some businesses have shifted their print collateral to online access only, there have been tremendous opportunities for printers to thrive. Companies with well-rounded marketing campaigns realize that multiple platforms are necessary to effectively interact with customers and prospective companies.
Print is a valuable tool in reaching those businesses. With email saturation, there’s no guarantee that the correspondence will be opened and read. A well-designed direct mail piece is highly effective in reaching the intended target and generating a response. Print literature can also be used to drive traffic to a company website for more information.
Complemar Print, the printing division of Complemar Partners, has successfully navigated the changing times. In addition to supporting our parent company’s core fulfillment efforts by producing related print items such as inserts, product cartons, instruction sheets, etc., Complemar Print is also a full-service commercial printer servicing clients such as advertising agencies, marketing firms, colleges, and private companies. We strive to become a true partner with our clients by understanding their business needs and developing print solutions that help them achieve their goals.
Through the years, Complemar Print has invested in technology and equipment to grow our business and become a leading printer. We are a G-7 master printer, ISO 9001 compliant, and FSC-certified. Complemar Print has augmented its traditional offset press equipment with state-of-the-art digital presses, offering clients a wide variety of print services including:
Along with our press equipment, Complemar Print offers complete bindery, mailing, and fulfillment capabilities to handle projects, from simple to complex, for our clients such as:
Please visit our website: www.complemarprint.com for more information or contact us at 716-875-7238 if we can help with your next project!