Outsourcing your order fulfillment operations is a great way to make the operations side of your business shine while you concentrate on the sales and marketing. However, letting go can be a little worrisome for some businesses. How do you know that your fulfillment partner understands what your customers want? Here are 3 ways to make sure your they know your customer just as well as you do.
Brand Training: In-depth brand and product knowledge is a must to understand your audience and to communicate better with you and your customers. Your fulfillment partner needs to know what your business is about and what your brand stands for. Educate them on the nuances of your market, your product and your business strategy. Share the type of tone and style needed for interacting with customers to ensure the experience feels seamless.
Good Communication: For any supply chain to work well, there needs to be constant communication and prompt response. Your procurement, marketing and contact center teams should be aware of inventory levels and accounting in the warehouse so that they can plan and execute their roles better. You need to know the state of affairs at the back-end in order to forecast better and talk to your suppliers.
Client Success Manager: It also helps to have an in-house ‘point-person’ or manager whom you can talk to regarding any changes you want or concerns you have. Keeping one person in charge makes communicating with the rest of the order fulfillment team easier, creating less chances of errors. You can also keep yourself updated on the daily happenings in the warehouse.
At Fifth Gear, we treat your customer as our customer. Being the business of catalog and online retail for 30 years, we understand what it takes to keep customers happy. At Fifth Gear we understand what your brand stands for beforehand and train our staff to handle queries and operations accordingly. Each client is assigned a dedicated client success manger, to foster open dialogue on the day-to-day happenings of your business from inside the warehouse. We take the trouble to understand your long term goals and strategies and incorporate those goals to achieve operational efficiency.
Posted in Order Fulfillment
Shopping online comes with the benefits of being able to shop whenever you like, from wherever you like, and have the product delivered to your doorstep at a convenient time. But one aspect of online shopping that retailers are vulnerable to- and customers are also wary of – are returns. For retailers, it means the added effort and expense of handling the return or exchange, while for the shopper it is an unwelcome inconvenience. A recent study by Internet Retailer points to some interesting data: web-only retailers actually have the lowest return rate amongst the Internet Retailer Top 500. Web-only retailers had a return rate of 3.47%, over a percent lower than the Top 500 average of 4.96%.
- Merchants within the study who reported lower return rates offer their customers more useful information that helps make a purchase easier. Availability of the product is mentioned, as well as shipping times and charges- customer expectations are set upfront.
- Product reviews and comparisons were also made available on websites that reported lower return rates.
- The highest return rates were reported by apparel retailers, since size, fit and color often act as an impediment when shopping online.
What It Means:
To combat returns and reduce their levels, merchants can adopt a few measures to increase customer satisfaction.
(i) Quality controls: Invest in strict quality controls and stock higher-quality items. Be strict with your suppliers and run enough thorough checks to make sure no defective products get in. The more faulty products you have, the greater the returns.
(ii) Product descriptions: Provide detailed product descriptions with sizing, color and dimensional details. Give your shoppers enough pictures from as many angles as possible so that they get a clear idea of what to expect.
(iii) Move quickly: Process your orders, update inventory levels and ship items out as soon as possible. The chances of return are more when you have a longer turnaround time.
When your orders are processed correctly and your inventory is organized well, the chances of errors and possible returns are reduced. Fifth Gear offers custom fulfillment services that takes care of your order processing, warehousing and fulfillment needs. With over 500,000 sq feet of expandable warehouse space and a dedicated team which has been serving the catalog and ecommerce industry for over three decades, we have what it takes to ensure smooth transactions that result in low return rates. Your business grows, and you build trust with customers too!
Posted in Order Fulfillment
Since the move to Google Shopping late last year, there has been plenty written about how to transition from the previous model to the new product listing ads. But how do you gain more visibility and place your brand ahead of the competition in search? Here is what you need to know.
BREAKING IT DOWN
The advantage of Google Shopping is that it acts like a comparison shopping engine, with the built in power of search. Here are the basics you need to know about Google Shopping.
(i) You are not bidding or optimizing based on keywords- instead, you are optimizing for products.
(ii) BIdding higher does not necessarily bring you better search results.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND
Get Your Data Feed In Order: With version 1.0 Google Adwords, search marketers would bid on the keywords they felt would bring more people to their site- and would pay more for those keywords. With Google Shopping, you tell Google which
products you are willing to pay more for. To do this, you set up a data feed, label products within that feed and divide them into ad groups. Google combs through your feed when a search query comes in, and determines which products are more relevant based on the information you have provided. By creating great product descriptions, with titles and images that truly reflect your product, you stand a better chance of showing up in relevant searches.
Avoid ‘All Products’: The ‘All Products’ ad group is available at lower bids. This ad group allows you to list the entire gamut of your products, allowing them to show up in long tail searches as well. Keep your bids low in this group. Not only can it lead to bid overlaps, it could also lead to out-bids in other categories.
Monitor Search Terms:Since your data feed is the nerve center of Google Shopping, you need to know what your search terms are and what you need to bid higher on. You may not be able to control which search queries your products line up with, but you can uncover what isn’t working for you. Search query reports can point out which of your seach terms are losing money- by sifting these out and adding them to a negative search terms list, you can get rid of unprofitable clicks that do not convert.
Have you made the switch to Google Shopping? What has your experience been so far?
Posted in Ecommerce
Order fulfillment simply put is the way to have your products delivered to your customers via a third party provider. In broader terms order fulfillment can encompass every step from the moment the order is placed to the product arriving successfully to the customer’s doorstep. Your fulfillment partner also stores your inventory in their warehouse and can handle customer care operations as well. Complex order fulfillment can help online retailers both big and small to grow and expand while connecting with their customers.
Combat Seasonal Spikes: Not all months are created equal, shopping-wise. And some products may not have any takers during some seasons. (Halloween decorations, for instance.) Outsourced order fulfillment helps combat these seasonal spikes in volume. You do not have to re-negotiate with carriers because you are shipping out lower volumes, your fulfillment partner handles that on your behalf, while you can plan ahead for the next seasonal spike.
Create Happy Customers: When you outsource, your fulfillment partner can handle contact center operations for you. They live and breathe your brand. Since they are aware of inventory levels, handle orders and shipping and have easy access to everything that happens after an order is placed, they can easily help customers with their queries and problems. When the contact center works in tandem with order management, the process is smoother and customers get a seamless shopping experience.
The Market is Competitive Enough Already: You have probably heard enough marketing fluff about how you need to find your niche, offer tailor made shopping experiences, source the most unique products and create compelling content that keeps customers coming back. The market is crowded and the stakes are higher now. With an increased focus on holiday sales and greater emphasis on promotional buildups to the holiday shopping season, you need to be connecting with your customers on all levels and across channels to make sure that you stay on top of their mind when it comes to purchasing their holiday gifts. Creating marketing material and bringing in new inventory, coupled with handling back-end operations and customer service can get overwhelming. With outsourced order fulfillment, you can focus on the more pressing aspects of growing your business and leave the operational aspects to an experienced fulfillment partner. Focus on what you do best and outsource the unfamiliar tasks.
For more , check out our published article about managing the complexities of order fulfillment.
Posted in Order Fulfillment
The Fifth Gear crew just returned from their fourth trip to the Internet Retailer Conference and Exposition. As for me, attending for the first time was an eye opening experience! The exhibition hall was enormous and the show floor was packed with vendors from every corner of the internet. It was exciting to hear everyone’s story and get their 30 second booth pitch before you walked away with candy, pens, collateral, or whatever gifts they had to offer. My favorite part of the show was working the Fifth Gear booth and explaining to everyone just what order fulfillment was all about. You really get a chance to meet so many entrepreneurs and hear how they took an idea and turned it into a successful ecommerce business.We have so much information to share with you about our speaking session, new friends, top stories and more – but we will share all of that next week. Right now I need to finish unpacking my bags.
Have a great weekend!
Posted in Fifth Gear
When it comes to fulfillment, it’s surprising to many outside the industry that there are several different strategies that retailers can use to get orders from the warehouse to the customer’s house. Fifth Gear’s Director of Business Development, Carol Smith, recently shared her insight with Web Wholesaler magazine about the three types of order fulfillment that online retailers can utilize for their back-end operations. In the article “Order Fulfillment Strategies for Online Sellers”, Carol describes the pros and cons to each of the scenarios as well as helpful tips for choosing which model could work best for you. (Hint: it might be all three!)
The three types of fulfillment covered:
In-house fulfillment is just that – done by the retailer in its own facility, by its own employees. Everything from inbound freight to packing the shipment to getting it into the customer’s hands is done by the retailer. That’s a whole lot of work if you ask me!
Outsourced order fulfillment involves selecting a warehousing vendor that provides pick, pack, and ship operations on behalf of the retailer. (If you’re on our site, you probably know a vendor like this!) Outsourced fulfillment providers work to provide a seamless experience so that the retailer’s customers don’t realize that the package came from anywhere besides their retailer of choice.
If a retailer decides to dropship any or all of its inventory, orders are sent to the product’s manufacturer who then picks, packs, and ships the product directly to the retailer’s customer. The retailer never sees or touches the product after the order is placed – and most of the time the customer doesn’t know that it came from somewhere else, too.
Have I piqued your interest yet? Click here to read the article “Order Fulfillment Strategies for Online Sellers”.
Posted in Fifth Gear, Marketing, Order Fulfillment, Retail, Warehouse
Exciting news from the technology department here at Fifth Gear: we have developed integrations between our proprietary order management system and three of the ecommerce industry’s top ecommerce platforms! Our software now has connections with Magento, BigCommerce, and Kalio, meaning that retailers using these platforms can now take full advantage of our outsourced fulfillment and contact center services. For our clients, it means more options for their online stores – whether it’s more intuitive design, more powerful front-end capabilities, or a more reliable hosting environment that they need.
Just a few of the key features of our integrations:
- Order processing
- Inventory syncing
- Status tracking
- Relationship building
Each of these platforms brings unique features to the table, so direct-to-consumer retailers of all shapes and sizes can capitalize on these integrations. Really cool!
For more information about these integrations, check out the news release here. If you want to talk to a member of our team about how integration with Fifth Gear’s technology can work for you, give us a shout!
Posted in Ecommerce, Fifth Gear, Order Fulfillment, Retail, Technology
The ecommerce space is growing globally- with worldwide sales touching a whopping $1 trillion for the first time in 2012. And going ahead, North America alone is expected to generate sales of over $409 billion this year. With so much activity and potential in this space, shouldn’t you look to put your business in a more favorable position and sell more? You can join us along with other attendees at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition from June 4th to 7th in Chicago.
Why should you attend? Because this year IRCE is putting the spotlight on how to do business in the new online retail environment. With the expansion of web-based technlogies, internet accessibility and online retail strategies, ecommerce is now redefining the shopping experience and putting the customer in control. IRCE will equip you with the tools you need to propel your business forward. Here are a few more reasons to consider attending:
-9500 attendees from every segment in the online retail market
-570 vendors present, making it the largest display of ecommerce technology
-There will be 5 day-long workshops to choose from (June 4th and June 7th) that will cover trending topics in ecommerce delivered by experts
-Special focus on B2B and Non-Profit businesses
-Unparalleled networking potential
And of course, we will be there too!! This year, Fifth Gear’s President, Matt Konkle, will be speaking at IRCE June 6th, 2013, at 1:45 pm. He’ll be giving you 45 tips in 45 minutes on how to enhance customer experience and boost sales, from faster order fulfillment to providing great customer relations services. We will also give you real-life examples based on experience to help you create a standout shopping experience. And you don’t have to wait for the day 3 of IRCE to get in touch with us- we will be there on all days interacting with the rest of the industry insiders. Visit us at Booth #1821. If you haven’t registered already, register now!
Posted in Ecommerce, Fifth Gear