How Retailers Are Evolving With Their Customers

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There is often a correlation between customer satisfaction and company profitability. To be more specific, if businesses aren’t able to find the balance between giving customers what they want while still making revenue, they risk losing business to competitors or simply go out of business. Billionaire and businessman, Mark Cuban, says it perfectly, “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.” With millions of customers looking towards online retailers to satisfy their needs, it is up to each eCommerce business to understand what their customers want and how they can best fulfill it. As customers continue to change their preferences and demands, retailers must be able to adapt and exceed customer’s expectations in order to continue to have a competitive edge and keep their business alive.

When online shopping, customers first and foremost want a seamless buying experience: a process that is both user-friendly and instantly gratifying. This means that retailers must ensure that their websites are easy to use and can instantly deliver, both with their products and their service. There are many aspects to consider in order to ensure quality service- fast and free shipping, transparent shipment tracking and efficient order management to ensure smooth delivery. By deciding to order an item online versus shopping in person, customers want to be guaranteed that their purchase will take less time and effort than it takes to go to the store.

Once one company is able to deliver on those customer’s needs, competing retailers must also comply in order to retain customer loyalty. For example, with eCommerce giants like Amazon, setting the precedent of free shipping, companies must also offer the same services in order to avoid consumers switching to a competitor site that offers the same item without extra shipping fees. An extra $10 shipping charge can be the reason for in-cart abandonment and overall company revenue loss. Furthermore, customers expect their items to come quickly and want to be constantly updated on where there item is, without needing to call customer service or engage on external sites. While both of these services are necessities for online retailers, subsidizing shipping costs and constantly providing shipment updates can take away additional margins that businesses make on their products, as well as increase time spent on customer service.

Engaging in competitive pricing and service can turn out to be very costly for businesses. However, there are a couple of areas where businesses can tweak in order to avoid losing profit margins on their product. One solution is to minimize shipping costs by utilizing packing optimization and picking the cheapest carrier available for your specific service type and delivery speed. Another way to improve customer satisfaction is by improving the technology used on your platform. With no physical sales representative, user experience takes the place of in-person customer service. By finding an efficient system to constantly track and manage orders while constantly updating customers on their package, customers will not only call customer service less, but also be more satisfied with the delivery of their items.

While businesses can engage in many different solutions and strategies to satisfy these needs, there is also another option: integrating a shipping API like ShipHawk into your website. Not only does ShipHawk’s multi carrier rating and packing optimization software reduce overall shipping prices, but ShipHawk’s fully transparent tracking system leads to superior customer service. Instead of directing customers to third party sites to track their packages, ShipHawk integrates all carrier tracking systems into one platform, so that customers can directly track their shipments on your website. Furthermore, instead of having to request shipping updates from carriers, ShipHawk pushes these updates in real-time so less time has to be spent inquiring carriers. By both streamlining your business’s shipping process and improving end-to-end customer buying experience, ShipHawk is able to increase company revenue through both customer conversions and operation costs.

In conclusion, no matter what solution your business chooses to implement, retailers must face the facts. As the eCommerce market becomes more advanced and technologically advanced, customers will continue to increase their demands and expectations for online retailers. While there may be many things that retailers can do to improve, one thing is clear. If retailers do not adapt and evolve with their customers, it will be very hard to maintain a successful business.

Defining Blanket Wrap and White Glove Services

What is Blanket Wrap and How Does it Work?
Blanket wrap is a type of service where carriers wrap items in blankets to protect them during transit, generally used for larger unpacked items such as furniture. This type of service is exactly how it sounds: items are wrapped in blankets, strapped securely inside the truck, and transported onto a truck with other items wrapped in the same way. Each truck is staffed by two drivers who make all of the pick-ups and deliveries.

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Blanket wrap providers usually have multiple warehouses around the country. The closest office will first contact the shipper to arrange a pick up. Once the item is picked up, it is then brought back to the closest warehouse. From there, the item may be transferred on another truck to the terminal closest to the destination. When the item arrives at the closest terminal to the destination, that office will then contact the recipient to arrange delivery.

What is White Glove?
White Glove describes a delivery service level. It includes delivery inside the home, placement in room of choice, all packing materials removed, and basic assembly if necessary.

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Is There a Difference Between Blanket Wrap vs. White Glove?
Yes. The terms “Blanket Wrap” and “White Glove” are often used interchangeably, although there is a slight difference. Blanket wrap is the method used to transport goods throughout the whole shipment. On the other hand, white glove describes the type of service offered at the final delivery to the customer.

Since blanket wrap providers transport unpacked items, all blanket wrap shipping includes white glove delivery. However not all white glove deliveries are necessarily transported by a blanket wrap carrier. For example, the freight could have been palletized and shipped to a delivery agent, who unpacks the freight, inspects it, and delivers it “white glove” to the customer.

Why Choose Blanket Wrap?

  • Most economical way to ship used goods or unpacked items.
  • Great fit for fragile items, unpacked freight or oversized pieces. The transit is far less turbulent since there is less movement of each item and shipments travel within their own vehicles.
  • For highly fragile items such as chandeliers, mirrors and art, most blanket wrap carriers can provide packing and crating services in addition to wrapping in blankets.

Expectation Setting for Blanket Wrap Shipping

  • Since carries only use their own vehicles, they schedule their routes as efficiently as possible based on their capacity.
  • Transit (pick-up and delivery dates) varies greatly compared to traditional freight transit. Typically you should allow 1-3 weeks for pick-up to be arranged and an additional 2-3 weeks for delivery. Remote areas could take longer. Thus, we suggest setting customer expectations for a 3-8 week transit time. Depending on the location, a more precise time frame can be provided.
  • Appointments are based on the carrier’s availability, not the customers. The carrier will contact the customer a few days in advance to provide a date and time frame of 2-4 hours. Similar to following a bus or train schedule, the customer will need to make themselves available to meet the carrier to make the pickup or delivery. In high density metropolitan areas such as New York City, carriers often have dedicated trucks to accommodate customer’s schedules, but generally both shippers and recipients need to be flexible to accommodate the driver’s schedule.
  • Pickup and delivery dates are not guaranteed. Weather, traffic, and mechanical issues can interrupt scheduled routes. However, carriers make an effort to communicate directly with customer as quickly as possible to inform them of any changes.

Exceptions to the Rule and Additional Charges

  • The weight limit for two movers is approximate 150 lbs. If the item is extremely heavy, there will be additional charges per additional mover.
  • Quoted prices assume that there is a clear path and no stairs at both pickup and delivery. If a delivery location is difficult to reach or if there are stairs at either end, there will be additional charges for labor or time.
  • Chandeliers need to be disconnected by an electrician prior to pick up. Movers will not install them for safety reasons.
  • There are additional charges for disassembly or assembly of beds.
  • Depending on the carrier, the drivers may be willing to roll a rug and pick up and unroll at delivery, but they do not move pre-existing furniture for liability reasons.

Which Blanket Wrap Providers Do You Offer on ShipHawk?

  • Plycon
  • Team WorldWide
  • Ukay
  • Vintage Transport
  • B Cubed
  • Justo
  • AirSea
    +we can add your tariff!

Why Packing Optimization Matters

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The traditionally thin margins that are often associated with eCommerce must be protected at all costs. But what if there were actually areas that could not only be optimized to maintain margins, but also grow them? This is where shipping strategy and packing optimization comes to play.

Most people see shipping as a necessary evil and an unavoidable added expense. However, on the contrary, the most successful eCommerce companies actually use shipping as a differentiator and growth mechanism. One place we can look for low-hanging fruit, ripe for improvement, is packing optimization. So, what is packing optimization? It is the simple practice of using the smallest possible box for shipping of any order, regardless of piece count and size. By  leveraging hardware-free dimensional pricing mechanisms, your company can use this as a means to mitigate shipping costs and even increase profit margins.

A common way to calculate packing optimization is to use a hardware-free dimensional pricing calculator that finds you the most cost effective service and box size to minimize business expenses. By doing so, businesses can then provide optimized in-cart pricing directly to buyers, which reduces shipping costs while also increasing conversions.

While using a dimensional pricing calculator gets the job done, just imagine if your software could automatically determine the optimal packing for a mix of items without any human intervention on your part.  Not only would you save money on shipping, time, and labor costs, but you would also eliminate the chance for human error. That’s what hardware-free dimensional pricing and packing optimization software is all about!

If you choose to use shipping software to utilize packing optimization, the next question is, which shipping software should you select? There are many factors you must consider, but the very first step is determining what your needs are.  Do you ship parcel, LTL or both?  Do you need software that is able to rate shop both parcel and LTL options? Do you need software that determines when a large quantity of boxes would be better suited for LTL shipping or when a pallet would be more cost effective to ship as loose boxes?

While there are a number of ways to achieve dimensional pricing optimization for every need, not all options are hardware-free. Some 3rd party softwares require hardware and software to provide packing optimization, so it is critical to spend enough time determining what your needs are and how you need the software to work.  It may be helpful to visualize how you currently fulfill orders and try to pinpoint where you would benefit from such efficiencies, which often includes removing a step or two from your current fulfillment process.

Another thing to keep in mind is carrier flat rate boxes. Through packing optimization methods that include hardware-free dimensional pricing calculations, you can implement a system that determines when it is more cost effective to leverage a carrier flat rate box instead of a standard box.  By using software capable of making these decision on an order-by-order basis, you will ensure that every shipment is priced appropriately and can be confident you are not giving your hard earned profit to the shipping companies.

Regardless of whether you choose to go with a hardware based solution or hardware-free, the sooner you implement a packing optimization method into your fulfillment processes the better.  This will allow you to reduce costs, increase business, and free up resources to focus on what matters most: continuing to grow your business.

Shipping Strategy Diagnostic Calculator

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How does your shipping strategy stack up against your competition?

In 2017, if you don’t have a good shipping strategy, competitors will eat your lunch. Amazon continues to invest in their fulfillment strategy and it is crushing its rivals. Delivery expectations are going up, but cost control is more important than ever. Where do you start? Can you leverage shipping automation to improve your ability to scale? There are so many factors to consider such as pricing strategy, fulfillment locations, shipping software and technology, personnel, customer experience, and more.

To determine how you stack up in key strategic areas, use our simple calculator that diagnoses your process maturity and identifies the key areas where you can improve.

As we gather more data we’ll be able to give you comparisons against other companies similar to you in size and freight profile.

Get started on the survey and if you have feedback just let us know.


Why Dimensional Pricing Software Matters

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Ever since 2015, the process of weighing your best shipping options for ground delivery no longer included taking into account a package’s actual weight. Why do businesses no longer factor in actual item weight when shipping anymore? This change occurred two years ago when major carriers, such as UPS Ground and FedEx Ground, stated that packages were no longer charged based on item weight but rather off of dimensional weight. Dimensional weight is defined as the amount of space a package takes up, not the actual weight of the item. You can calculate your package’s dimensional weight by multiplying the length x width x height and dividing it by your carrier’s specific dimensional divisor. Always make sure to round up to the next whole number as well.

Ex. Dim weight (1,728 cubic inches)/166 (UPS Dimensional Divisor) = 10.40 → 10lbs . Based off of dimensional pricing, you would then pay to ship a 10lb package.

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Seems like a pretty simple formula. Package your item in the smallest possible space to avoid spending the maximum amount of money. However, even though your item’s metrics will never change, that doesn’t mean that carriers can’t change their dimensional divisor sizes. In fact, as of January 2017, FedEx decreased the size of their dimensional divisor, thus increasing overall shipping prices. As a result, no matter how you package your items, because of the lower dimensional divisor size, packages will begin to be weighted as “heavier”, and therefore be more expensive to ship. With leading shipping companies increasing shipping prices, it is only a matter of time before additional companies follow their suit.

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