Pointbid Logistics News

Black Friday is fairly new to the UK, but since it’s popularity spurt a few years ago it remains an extremely busy period for retailers and eCommerce stores and has been quite the learning experience for many shop owners. It’s huge spike in demand is an entirely different beast to that of even a Christmas or New Year sale period. Some retailers have opted to skip on Black Friday entirely, both to save the hassle of management and fulfilment and to not “degrade” the status of their brand by having rock-bottom sales. On the other hand, other eCommerce stores have embraced Black Friday sales as well as Cyber Monday.

With crunch time only a short way away, it’s never easy to predict how consumers are going to act, but its safe to say that in general Black Friday means increased pressures on stock management and order fulfilment. With that said, let’s take a look at a few simple tips when it comes to preparing for one of the most busiest sales periods of the year:

Spread The Workload

Whilst Black Friday only falls on one day, more and more retailers are opting to prolong or stretch the sale across multiple days. Some opt for a whole month, whilst others offer a week-long sale. This not only gives you more opportunity to reap the rewards of a well though-out sale, but it also spreads the pressure out across multiple days as opposed to just one frantic Friday. In turn this means less pressure to fulfil orders so you can focus on the quality experience your customers expect.

Expect New Customers

Black Friday promotions can be very effective for attracting new customers and growing your audience. Make sure you include something in your packaging or boxes to entice these new customers to be long-term buyers. Some free samples, vouchers and other welcome literature can make all the difference in promoting your brand and enticing customers to come back for further purchases. Plan this material in advance and reap the rewards of repeat purchases in the future.

Plan Your Packaging

You can’t prepare enough in this case. Packaging is one particular area where planning ahead will have many benefits. By packaging your promotional items differently, they will be far more manageable and easier to locate in the warehouse. You can also consider whether saving some costs on packaging during the promotional period is an option. In a nutshell, many customers are expecting to grab bargain products during the rush, so simplifying your packaging (within reason) will often times be perfectly acceptable to the end buyer. Of course, you don’t want to effect your customer experience and brand, particularly for new customers, but skipping on the ‘fancy’ packaging features (such as hand-tied bows) can save time and cost during pressure periods.

Communicate With Your Fulfilment Centre

Communication is key at this particular time of year. Ensure your fulfilment service is well aware of your plans for Black Friday and advise of the scale and what kind of spike you expect. This allows for plenty of time to plan logistics in advance. You will also want to communicate with your customers as to manage their expectations and advise if you believe there may be any delays during the busy period – even a simple note in any dispatch emails, explaining that delivery may take a little longer than usual, will suffice. Customers who receive prior warning are usually far more understanding!

Peak seasons, special offer trends and other busy periods can often be a struggle to deal with for eCommerce businesses, whether they have geared up for the occasion or not. Special offer trends, such as Black Friday, can result in a huge increase in demand and make in-house stock management and fulfilment particularly difficult. Not only this but the aftermath of a sale, when the dust begins to settle, can bring challenges of its own. If you are beginning to re-think your eCommerce fulfilment and have yet to consider outsourcing, there are some major benefits in utilising a fulfilment service, particularly when it comes to managing peaks and troughs in demand.

Handling Large Volumes

Specialist fulfilment centres are designed to handle large volumes of stock, have the experienced staff to manage it and most importantly the available space to store and secure it properly. Particularly for small-to-medium sized businesses, handling larger stock volumes can put a strain on efficiency and space, whereas outsourcing to a specialist will maximise efficiency for picking & packing, shipping, storage and even returns. At Pointbid, our Stock receiving process is handled by our dedicated team. The process is designed for swift, accurate receipt based around your Advanced Supplier Notification (ASN). The automated order receiving system, regardless of your sales platform, collects orders, generates the pick instructions, complete with the chosen carriers integrated delivery label. We have a sophisticated courier integration model that allows seamless order fulfilment, utilising our wireless barcoded picking system.

Staff Management

By outsourcing all of the management of stock to a fulfilment centre, you won’t have to worry about hiring more staff in order to proficiently handle increased stock and order levels; whether taking the time to interview or paying for expensive agency staff.

Less Financial Risk

If you were to handle everything in-house, you may find yourself overstaffed and overstocked when a sale or holiday period dies down. Often times a fulfilment provider will offer a flexible contract, therefore minimising your financial risk and saving you the hassle of down-sizing your staff levels. This is where we at Pointbid get to know your business profile, products and market space. Its where we help you tailor the process to provide the very best solution to your fulfilment requirements. A service that provides cost effective, focussed solutions for your business. You can leave the inventory control, picking, packing and despatch to us and concentrate on growing your business. We provide a dedicated account manager and advise on There will also be options to assist you in getting rid of any redundant and leftover stock following a seasonal sale, if you don’t want it delivered back to you.

Insight & Management From Specialist Software

Fulfilment companies such as Pointbid Logistics offer use technology to maximise order picking productivity, boost accuracy and provide an efficient and flawless customer experience. We continually review and develop key technologies that integrate and work together, investing in development to create systems that all departments use consistently. Pointbid offers effortless multiple channel integration to many, sales channels as well as your own site. We work with you to achieve flawless and error free data transfer. This approach provides a flexible and controlled approach to fulfilment management.

Particularly in the UK market, free shipping is rapidly becoming an expectation. According to research at least 73% of people shopping online say that free shipping is critical to their purchase decision. As a business owner, meeting the expectations of customers is extremely important, however so is ensuring your business is profitable and that it can cover shipping costs no matter the scenario. Fully calculating and keeping track of both your postage and packaging can be tricky if you are tackling order fulfilment by yourself, or far easier if you are using an e-fulfilment service. Either way it’s important to factor your overheads into making the decision of offering free shipping to your customers or not.

Lets take a look at some of the most common scenarios where free shipping is utilised, and the pros and cons for your eCommerce store for each of them:

Free Shipping Across the Board

Research shows that a whopping 93% of shoppers online are encouraged to buy based on free shipping being available on all orders. But the financial feasibility will depend on what products you are selling online. A general rule of thumb is to only offer free shipping if your products are over £30 each and you have a good margin. If, for example, you are only selling small £2 items, then free shipping will likely result in a loss.

If you are offering competitive items where the cost of free shipping is easily absorbed into the price of the item then free shipping is certainly a good option for you. It’s important at that point to ensure that you are making your free shipping clear, so that online shoppers who are likely to compare your prices to a competitor may prefer you if the competitor charges for shipping plus the cost of the item.

Free Shipping Over £xyz

You can enjoy the benefits of the above strategy whilst also limiting your financial commitments by only offering free shipping for orders over a certain amount. The thought of free shipping will often encourage shoppers to spend more in order to achieve it. A good strategy is to introduce free shipping for an order value 10% over your current average order value. To make sure you are covering all bases however, you will want to check that if a customer was to purchase a large quantity of your lower value items that breaks the free shipping threshold, that your free shipping is still going to make a profit.

Flat-rate Shipping on All Orders

Another popular and effective option is to charge a clear amount of shipping no matter the size of the order. This gives customers a clear view of what they will be paying for delivery even before they have arrived at the checkout process. This method often encourages customers to purchase more items at a time, as they are more likely to purchase a large amount, but return to you regularly. Again, what you should charge as a flat-rate depends on the products you are selling, their value and their weight, so ensure that you calculate this correctly to cover yourself whilst still being enticing and cost-effective for customers.

Free Shipping Via Membership

Some large websites that have regular online business have implemented successful membership systems that give their customers free shipping (and other benefits) for a monthly or annual fee. Whilst this may generate a lower margin in comparison to some of the other methods mentioned, you may benefit from a large turnover increase. An excellent example of this is the hugely successful Amazon Prime!

Promoting and Fulfilling Free Shipping

Regardless of the shipping strategy you choose, the most important step is to ensure that your customers are aware and understand your delivery and returns information. Your shipping promotion can encourage customers to purchase more, or return regularly to your eCommerce store and make them less likely to abandon their shopping basket before completing their purchase. It’s just as important, of course, to fulfil your shipping offerings. If you’re struggling at that stage, outsourced eCommerce fulfilment may be a great choice for you.

In the early stages of having an ecommerce store, having a small selection of products and a few orders a day is the norm. However as your store grows in popularity and increased traffic you’re likely to expand your product range and (hopefully!) you’ll be handling hundreds or more orders each day. As your store grows to this level, it’s important to take a look at how you manage your stock and inventory as to keep your online business as efficient as possible.

The Impact of Stock Control

A huge percentage of start-up businesses end up failing, with the main reasons for failure including:

  • The product not suiting the needs of the market
  • Restricted growth
  • Poor money and resource allocation
  • Poor customer service

When it comes to ecommerce businesses, the above issues have a strong tie to stock control and inventory management. Getting your processes for stock control efficient and correct will assist you in:

  • Understanding the market; what products are successful and serving the need of the marketplace
  • Grow your business by having the right stock and systems in place
  • Correctly allocating your money and resource into products that will be successful
  • Allow you to always have the right products in stock and thus serving customers efficiently

Having the right inventory management in place isn’t always easy, but with the right planning and resource in place it is more than achievable. Lets take a look at why stock control is so important when aiming for a successful ecommerce business;

Improving Your Sales Forecasts

Knowing what products to have in stock, and when, is one of the most vital aspects of a successful ecommerce store. On one hand, you want to have stock in to serve customers as quickly as possible, but on the other hand ordering in too much stock will only raise your storage costs. By utilising forecasting software (which surprisingly only 15% of small businesses use) you will already be heading in the right direction.  By outsourcing your ecommerce fulfilment, you will have access to range of statistics that will keep your stock management efficient.

2. Cut Your Storage Costs

It can be tempting to expand your product range when your store begins to take off, but don’t fall into the trap of having a lot of stock in storage whilst only 20% of your products are making you money. Stock control can help you know which products are successful and which are just “dead weight”. By cutting out stock that isn’t selling, you’ll be able to:

  • Reduce your storage costs by eliminating required space
  • Make picking and packing easier
  • Minimise your financial losses

3. Efficient returned orders

Unfortunately returns are inevitable when it comes to ecommerce, and whilst they are unwanted, how you handle them has a huge impact on the success of your business and your customer experience. Stock control steps in to save the day here once again. By utilising inventory management correctly, you can keep your product range relatively small but successful, which will make picking & packing far easier therefore minimising customers receiving the wrong product in error! By also have a clear and concise returns process in place, you will save money by repackaging or replacing products as swiftly as possible.

4. Improve Fulfilment Accuracy

Ultimately good stock control will result in easier storage management, meaning that products can be located, picked and packed efficiently as delivered to customers as quickly as possible. In addition, a warehouse management system will sky-rocket your pick and pack accuracy to 99.999% (quite the improvement on 97% human accuracy!). By outsourcing order fulfilment, you will gain these benefits along with all of the above.

 

You may have heard about outsourced e-commerce fulfilment services, but you may not fully understand what it is and whether it’s of any benefit to you and your business. But don’t worry, take a look below where we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about outsourced fulfilment, so you can decide whether it’s right for you and when and why you should consider utilising it.

What is E-Commerce Fulfilment?

Outsourced order fulfilment is the process of instructing a 3rd party company to handle all of your receiving, picking & packing and delivering of online orders to your customers. Businesses, such as ourselves, that handle your e-commerce fulfilment are often referred to as third-party logistics providers, fulfilment houses or fulfilment centres. Generally the flow of outsourced order fulfilment will look like the following:

1. Storage of Goods

Your stock is shipped to a fulfilment centre / warehouse where it is securely stored

2. Integration

So that orders can be processed as swiftly and efficiently as possible, your ecommerce platform (such as eBay, Shopify, Amazon) is integrated with the fulfilment centre’s software. This means that any orders are automatically passed on to the fulfilment centre. Our end to end solution provides data to our cloud based Ecommerce platform offering 24/7 access to your order and inventory information.

3. Picking & Packing

Orders are picked by the fulfilment centre staff and packaged appropriately in preparation for dispatch.

4. Shipping

Courier services (such as Royal Mail, DPD, Parcelforce) as utilised for delivery to the customer

5. Returns

Returns are handled by the fulfilment centre as per your instructions. Unwanted items can be put back into storage, damaged items can be returned to you, for example.

Are E-commerce Fulfilment Services right for you?

The benefits of utilising a third party logistics company are vast and varied, however when you are first starting out on your e-commerce journey, it may not be financially viable for you. However, if you are taking volumes of orders online, running out of storage space or finding it difficult to handle returned orders efficiently, it may be time for you to consider outsourcing.

If you are taking a lot of time picking and packaging your products for dispatch, why not reclaim that lost time by letting a fulfilment centre handle all of your picking and packing. Not only will the physical act of packaging be taken off your hands, so will the lost time waiting in Post Office queues and handling any customer complaints. Your time will be far better spent growing your business and developing new products!We don’t just do e-fulfillment. Pointbid provide a wide array of services that give you the confidence to grow your brand. Whether B2C or B2B we will have something to offer.

If you are looking for customised packaging and labelling – Whether your goods need re-labelling or completely re-packaging, we conform to your requirements thus ensuring your products meet the needs of its intended market, first time.

A professional fulfilment centre will also have access to preferred rates with various courier services, meaning that you will in turn have access to a wide variety of affordable international shipping options. Wherever your order is going, if it gets to us before your agreed cut off time, it will leave the same day.

We guarantee a Great Customer Experience, through same day despatch, late cut off and extremely accurate pick and pack operation, meaning your customers will reap the benefits of a fast and efficient service.

Interested in Outsourced Fulfilment?

Whatever the size of your business, there are no management fees, no integration fees and cost efficient distribution solutions ensuring a value for money service. Get in touch with us today and start growing your online business even further.