Month: January 2022

MyFBAPrep Year in Review

an upward trending graph

2021 was an amazing year for eCommerce, albeit a challenging one for logistics in many instances. MyFBAPrep was fortunate to have grown our team, warehouse network, and merchants significantly each quarter.

Below you’ll find some of our top highlights, including what we’re planning next.

In 2021, MyFBAPrep…

Doubled our warehouse capacity

We expanded our warehouse network and went international with locations in Canada, Germany, the UK, Poland, Italy, Germany, and more (with APAC to come). This brings our full network to more than 3 million square feet of prep and warehouse space.

Thanks to our expanded logistics network of 50+ warehouses and fulfillment centers, we’re able to provide almost any type of service or location our sellers need. We now have space for customized machinery, a wider array of zip codes to store and ship from, and are looking forward to adding more warehouses to the mix.

In 2022, we expect to triple this capacity as we continue to expand.

Helped 60% more merchants with FBA prep, FBM fulfillment, and DTC logistics

We also grew our merchant base 60%, welcoming new names such as Perch, Noble House, Shapermint, and more. We continue to work with some of the best brands out there managing any eCommerce logistics services they need to stay competitive.

In 2021 alone, we prepped more than 3 million individual units for FBA, and based on the first month of 2022 we expect that number to 10X this year, welcoming Vital Proteins and Nestle as some of the first new sellers of the year.

Grew our team

We went from a team of 12 to 20 in 2021, adding more team members, consultants, and advisors to form and fuel our strategy. Among some of our new faces include advisor Hans Hickler, more amazing account managers, our marketing director (hello!), and other amazing eCommerce experts.

Want to join us and empower amazing eCommerce sellers to deliver and delight worldwide? View openings here.

Got connected

We integrated our proprietary FBA prep tracking and inventory management software, Preptopia, with Amazon SP API and built out a shipment creation model. That means our merchants can create shipments from within Preptopia with detailed reports and more.

We also built out some external API capabilities and are looking to add even more integration partners to our ecosystem.

2022 here we come

If you’re reading this and thinking you’d like to make logistics your competitive advantage, please get in touch!

Important Dates For eCommerce Sellers in 2022

a stack of boxes next to a calendar with some dates marked off

For most eCommerce businesses, you likely see your biggest sales during Q4 thanks to the snowball of holiday shopping events. But there are other important dates and “seasons” throughout the year that you must be aware of to cover all your bases (even the overlooked ones).

Sales seasonality is nothing new for retailers, whether traditional brick-and-mortar or eCommerce sellers. While the peaks and valleys of sales trends throughout the year are certainly top of mind as sellers plan for inventory cycles and even staffing needs, it’s important also to consider how seasonality impacts the other end of your business, namely, manufacturing, procurement, and supply chain.

North American-based sellers must pay attention to the global economy and supply chain as well as culturally significant events around the world that may impact your business on either end. If you sell internationally, being aware of important holidays in other regions can help you plan your inventory to accommodate sudden spikes in sales. Conversely, if you procure goods from international suppliers, you’ll need to be aware of holidays or events that could slow or even stop manufacturing and shipping of those goods.

From quarter to quarter, holidays, festivals, and plain-old seasonal trends all but dictate business operations. Read on to learn what important dates to be aware of throughout the year in 2022 as well as why these dates are significant and how to manage your business around potential interruptions.

Q1

Hot on the heels of a busy Q4 and holiday season, the first quarter might feel like a slump in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the final months of the year. You might think it’s the perfect time to kick back and relax, but don’t get too comfortable — the (New Year) party is just getting started!

New Year’s Day (Jan 1)

Same-day delivery for ginger candies and Tylenol, anyone? Customers recovering from a fun New Year’s Eve might find themselves scrolling Amazon mobile from couches looking for deals and trying to distract from a well-deserved hangover. Resolutioners are ready to dive into their plans for self-improvement, often seeking deals on fitness or wellness equipment, books, journals, and more.

Since New Year’s Day is a statutory holiday in several regions, shipping challenges may persist for several days following the calendar change.

Blue Monday (Jan 18)

The third Monday of January is often referred to as “the most depressing day of the year.” A British vacation company birthed it after factoring in weather and debt levels as part of a publicity campaign that academics and mental health professionals mocked, but the general public lapped up. Whether you subscribe to it or not, you can utilize Blue Monday in your early Q1 marketing efforts to spread cheer amongst your customers.

Many customers will be feeling the post-holiday slump and ready to indulge in some retail therapy to kickstart that “New Year, New You” plan, or simply to use up some of their holiday gift cards and cash.

Tip: You can apply this term to any Monday, like the first Monday of the year, which many feel is the most Monday of Mondays.

Chinese New Year (Feb 1)

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is among the most important celebrations observed in China. The festival signals the beginning of spring as well as the start of the new year according to the Chinese Lunar calendar (which is why it’s sometimes referred to as Lunar New Year).

In countries where it’s celebrated, Chinese New Year is a public holiday. All factories close and employees go on holiday for at least two weeks. This shutdown includes countries such as mainland China, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and Brunei.

In 2022, Chinese New Year begins on February 1 and ends on February 15, but activities can begin up to three weeks before. Expect factory shutdowns for about two weeks followed by demand from businesses looking to make up for the delay in products during that time frame.

Valentine’s Day (Feb 14)

In North America and the UK, the day of love tends to inspire sales spikes of romantic items — think, jewelry, flowers, chocolates, etc. — starting in early February. While the most romantic of holidays shouldn’t impact manufacturing or supply chain processes, you might want to consider your inventory of Valentine’s-related goods well in advance to make sure you’re not oversold when the big day comes.

White Day (Mar 14)

In many Asian countries, women celebrate Valentine’s Day in February, giving chocolates and handmade gifts to significant others, but men return the favor one month later in March. If you operate in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, and/or Vietnam, make sure your customers have lots of custom-made apparel, accessories, and jewelry to choose from and consider offering bargains to sweeten the deal (and day!).

St. Patrick’s Day (Mar 17)

Whether of Irish blood or Irish at heart, folks across the world love to celebrate Ireland’s heritage and customs on St. Patrick’s Day, often holding parades, festivals, and long days at the pub. St. Patrick’s Day is a $5.6 billion market, so you should get in on the action. For example, you can offer a discount or bundle on green accessories. Also note that Irish businesses may be closed or operating at reduced capacity, as some employees may choose to take time off to celebrate the holiday.

Mother’s Day (Mar 27 in the UK)

If your business caters to a UK-based clientele, you’ll want to stock up on everything “mum” for March! Cards, books, socks, accessories, and trinkets are all hot choices for mom-friendly gifts.

Q2

The second quarter ramps up quickly after a relatively quiet Q1, and for many eCommerce professionals, the impacts of late Q4 and Q1 holidays may still be felt in manufacturing and supply chain snags.

Qingming Festival (Apr 5; Holiday: Apr 3-5)

The Qingming Festival translates to “Pure Brightness” in English and is also known as Tomb Sweeping Day. This traditional Chinese festival is an important time for most people of Chinese descent to go and sweep the tombs and commemorate the lives of their ancestors. On this day, tomb sweeping is one of the most important and popular activities to show respect to ancestors.

The public holiday in China runs April 3 to April 5, 2022. During this time, transport and business disruptions are highly likely as people observe the holiday and participate in festivities.

Easter (Apr 17; Holy Week Apr 15-18)

Easter and Holy Week are observed in hundreds of countries around the world as the most important Christian holiday (even more so than Christmas). In many jurisdictions, Good Friday is observed as a public or statutory holiday with businesses, postal service, banking, and transport disruptions, while Easter Monday is generally treated as any other day.

Between an increase in Easter-themed goodies (think chocolates, Easter bunnies, and spring-themed goods) and the potential postal service slowdown, planning your inventory and shipping timelines will be especially important.

Mother’s Day (May 8)

Of all the Hallmark Holidays, Mother’s Day in North America might be the biggest. Since it falls on a Sunday, it’s unlikely you’ll see a spike in traffic or purchases then, but you may see mother-friendly gifts flying out of your warehouses in the weeks prior.

Father’s Day (June 7)

Similar to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day can inspire shoppers to hit your store for dad-worthy goodies. In both instances, be sure to leverage the holidays through targeted advertising and marketing campaigns with gift ideas.

Graduation

As June nears its end, schools let out and parents often seek graduation or “grading day” gifts for their scholars. Graduation kicks off the opening of summer holiday shopping trends, often leaning towards outdoorsy items like bikes, beach items, bicycles, skateboards, scooters, or even electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

Other key items for graduates include personalized goods, such as digital photo frames, custom shirts and mugs, and engraved jewelry.

Q3

“School’s out for summer” and, depending on where in the world you are, everything else might be out, too. Europe is famous for having the most paid vacation time in the world, and some countries are known to be essentially “out” for entire months during the third quarter. From mid- to late June into mid-September, many organizations see peak vacation time usage, meaning you can expect out-of-office replies, delays from B2B contacts, and possibly even see a slowdown in purchases as folks are away from devices.

Canada Day (July 1)

Canada Day, or Canadian Independence Day, is a public holiday celebrating the “birth” of Canada as a nation. This public holiday is observed across the country with many businesses shutting down, including postal services, meaning packages may be delayed and contacts unreachable. Canada Day sales may include outdoorsy goods, Canadian flag-themed items, and party supplies.

Independence Day (July 4)

The Fourth of July is a noteworthy occasion for U.S.-based retailers, with customers seeking red, white, and blue items to help them celebrate this summer holiday. The celebration of U.S. independence brings more than fireworks, though: It can create shipping delays and halt business operations as companies shut down for the festivities.

Summer holiday (July-August)

The summer holiday may seem innocuous enough; it’s when most people look forward to some R&R with friends and family. But the holidays can spell major disaster for any business as vacations kick off and out-of-office replies roll in. In Europe, many workers are off for at least some or all of the month of August.

As a result of this vacation-heavy time, the summer holidays tend to equate to less traffic to your store, slower eCommerce business, and thus fewer sales. To overcome these challenges, think mobile first — most people aren’t home on their computer, but out and about with their mobile device. Use the quieter time to catch up on your pre-Q4 planning.

Back to school (July-September)

Parents begin the countdown to back to school almost immediately after school ends, but back to school shopping trends begin to surface in the mid- to late summer months. School supplies, backpacks, and children’s apparel will be in higher demand, so make sure you’re well stocked and offer unique deals to capture interest and close sales.

Labor Day

The final hurrah of summertime, Labor Day weekend in the U.S. and Canada is commonly a weekend spent outdoors with friends and neighbors celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of a new season. The holiday itself can create snags in postal services and supply chain logistics with closures and limited hours.

To make the most of the holiday, “Goodbye, Summer, Hello, Deals” campaigns perform well. Consider offering free or discounted two-day shipping over the long weekend to attract new customers and give your own end of summer one last boost!

Q4

For eCommerce professionals (and anyone else in the retail space), the fourth quarter is the busiest time of the year. Early-bird shoppers begin trickling into your online store at the start of the quarter to prepare for their holiday gift-giving needs, so make sure you’re ready!

Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct 10)

Canadian Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the last quarter’s holiday run for residents and businesses in the Great White North. This public holiday sees many businesses and all postal service, transport, and banking services closed, which means orders may be stuck and contacts unreachable during this long weekend.

Halloween (Oct 31)

This spooky holiday shouldn’t create any snags in your manufacturing and supply chain logistics, but it can be tricky if you don’t plan in advance for all of the treats your customers need.

Halloween shopping can begin as early as the late second quarter, with die-hard Halloween fans picking up costumes and decorations well in advance. Offering bundled goods for costumes, decorations, or even candy can help you carve out an edge over the competition and rack up additional sales early in your last quarter.

U.S. Thanksgiving (Nov 24)

U.S. Thanksgiving kicks off the beginning of Cyber Week, just one month before Christmas. This marks the real beginning of what many consider the holiday season in the U.S. Traditionally, Cyber Week is among the biggest shopping weeks of the year, though 2021 saw a decline in sales.

Black Friday (Nov 25) & Cyber Monday (Nov 28)

Black Friday’s historic roots are well-known in retail, but the younger Cyber Monday began more than 15 years ago to encourage folks to head online to do their holiday shopping. These two significant dates are the big wigs of Cyber Week. Throughout the entire week, beginning on November 24 with Thanksgiving, you should expect higher sales volume and greater traffic to your eCommerce store.

To prepare for a smooth and successful week, preplan your campaigns and inventory cycles to ensure you don’t sell out of must-have items, and create bundles and other deals to differentiate your offerings.

Remember, too, these are important cultural holidays in the U.S., and many people will take vacation time or otherwise be out of the office, meaning business contacts may be unreachable and postal delays probable.

Super Saturday (Dec 17)

Sometimes called Panic Saturday, Super Saturday is the final Saturday before Christmas Eve, a major day for retailers in North America. This date (or just before) is commonly seen as the last chance to order online to receive items with enough time to wrap them and place them under the tree.

Since Christmas 2022 will fall on a Sunday, shoppers who wait until Super Saturday to hit your eCommerce store may find themselves out of luck for any online shopping, but you can still capitalize on the date. Email customers special offers like free or discounted two-day shipping to increase interest in your store for last-minute shopping needs.

Hanukkah (Dec 18-Dec 26)

Hanukkah gift-giving rarely extends beyond children, meaning you probably won’t want to get too busy promoting gifts to consumers. Hanukkah can, however, impact your business in a big way if you operate in a region with a large Jewish population. You may experience less traffic, fewer purchases, and if you work with organizations in these regions, you might also see reduced staffing or delays as employees enjoy time off with their families.

Christmas (Dec 25)

Folks have barely finished unwrapping their gifts by the time the Christmas offers begin rolling in. In many countries, Christmas and Boxing Day are considered public national holidays, so everything outside of essential services will grind to a halt. While the weeks and months leading up to Christmas will no doubt be your busiest of the year, Christmas certainly introduces new challenges for manufacturing, procurement, supply chain, and delivery processes and timelines. Preplanning your inventory and ensuring you’re set up for success well in advance of Santa’s arrival can help you avoid oversold situations or limited access to goods.

Boxing Day (Dec 26)

Boxing Day lands on December 26 each year and in many jurisdictions, it’s a public holiday observed by all businesses. Boxing Day (or Boxing Week, as it’s rapidly becoming) helps ensure customers get what they really wanted over the holidays, with fantastic deals on must-have products.

New Year’s Eve (Dec 31)

New Year’s Eve marks the end of the year and one of the biggest party days worldwide. Hot on the heels of the Christmas holidays, New Year’s can see a surge in online shopping activity as people plan for their New Year’s resolutions (or just really wanted an item that wasn’t in their stocking).

Often, postal services are still burdened by the volume of packages over the holidays, and warehouses may experience staffing shortages due to holidays and time off. Be aware of such delays in between planning your own celebration bash!

Before you go…

Don’t forget to check out other similar resources in the industry. These blogs cover some of the same dates and a few others, too. Check them out for a complete list.

Key Dates for Ecommerce Businesses to Know: Your 2022 Calendar (Jungle Scout)

Retail Marketing Calendar 2022: Key Dates, Campaign Ideas & Ready-to-Use Templates (ConvertFlow)

2022 Ecommerce Marketing Calendar (Ecomdash)

Wrapping up — Mark these dates on your calendar to cover the big events and easily overlooked holidays

While this isn’t an exhaustive list — there are simply too many holidays around the world to count! — these are some of the most important dates to consider as you plan for 2022. Remember that culturally significant holidays in other parts of the world may impact your big or small eCommerce business in the U.S., Europe, or Canada. Take the time to educate yourself, plan ahead, and respect these important traditions to keep your business running smoothly.

How to Select A Freight Forwarding Partner For eCommerce Success

a screen showing freight and a crane holding the freight

For eCommerce professionals wanting to scale up, it’s imperative to find ways to build out your business to reach new customers and expand into new territories. One of the most important considerations when moving beyond your current geographical area is finding a partner to support your logistics to ensure your goods make it to other areas.

This is where freight forwarding comes in.

What is freight forwarding?

Freight forwarding is the coordination and shipment of goods from one location to another via one or more carriers. It can include air, ship, rail, or highway carrier options. Freight forwarders essentially act as an intermediary between the company that makes or sells goods and their customers, shipping items to their final destination.

If you’ve previously not heard the term “freight forwarder,” you might wonder if it’s a shipping company, a distribution manager, or an import/export partner. A freight forwarder is none of these, but takes on many of their responsibilities.

Freight forwarders can support you in a number of ways, including:

  • Warehousing or storage
  • Getting your goods ready for shipment (by sea, air, road, or rail)
  • Preparing any required documentation
  • Purchasing cargo insurance as needed
  • Booking transportation and making sure the transporter has all the necessary information and documents (such as bills of lading)
  • Negotiating prices, routes, and schedules on your behalf to find the right balance between speed, cost, and reliability
  • Tracking the shipment from dock to door
  • Upon arrival at a warehouse or storage facility, breaking down the shipment into smaller shipments for delivery to various destinations in the market such as fulfillment centers
  • Filing claims on the cargo insurance on your behalf should anything wrong
  • And much more

Freight forwarding is an important part of the global trade economy, enabling goods to flow in a timely and systematic manner across borders and overseas. This is especially important for growing eCommerce businesses seeking to expand their target audiences on a global scale.

The principles of freight forwarding are based on the efficient and cost-effective transfer of goods, maintained in proper condition throughout their travels. To accomplish this, freight forwarders become experts in managing the logistics required to move goods to their destination on time.

Freight forwarders also negotiate tariffs and customs regulations, and are fluent in the requirements for shipping by land, sea, rail, and air. With this knowledge, they can manage the risks and benefits of shipping both nationally and internationally using the latest advances in information technology.

When to use freight forwarding

A freight forwarder isn’t necessarily required for importing or exporting goods, but it’s not a bad idea to partner with one if you participate in these activities. Why? Freight forwarding partners are experts in handling the mountain of documentation and regulations, which differ from county to country.

Could you simply use another logistics partner? Of course. But there are many advantages to using a freight forwarding company, especially if you don’t have in-house sources who are well-versed in international shipping procedures.

A freight forwarder handles ancillary services that are part of the international shipping business like insurance and customers documentation and declaration. They also provide support with:

  • Non-vessel Operating Common Carrier documentation
  • Bills of lading
  • Warehousing
  • Risk assessment and management
  • Methods of international payment

According to Export.gov, “whether a firm is large or small, the weight of the cargo light or heavy, the freight forwarder will take care of cargo from ‘dock to door’ if requested to do so.”

For small to medium-sized businesses, a freight forwarder reduces the burden of managing export and import logistics details, which is especially beneficial for lean teams. And, since freight forwarders often charge modest rates for their services and have access to shipping discounts, freight forwarding can produce a great return on investment in addition to delivering your goods to their destinations. Plus, there are lots of ways to further drive down those costs.

How to choose a reliable freight forwarding provider

Choosing a freight forwarder to support your business is a serious undertaking. This is a partnership that could potentially make or break your business, particularly as you seek to expand beyond borders. Think of a freight forwarder as a key business partner. You’ll need to be transparent with them, explaining your strengths and weaknesses so they can best support you. Remember, you need to trust this partner to oversee your money and care about your customers the way you do.

Research and compile all your options

Before you determine the right freight forwarder for your business, examine your business needs carefully. You have to know your transportation needs, the services your business will require, and the volume of goods you intend to ship. The right forwarder will help you grow your business while maintaining a personal level of contact with your end-users. By stating your unique needs to potential partners, you’ll quickly gauge who is the best fit for you.

A great partner will ensure you get the exact support you need and avoid paying for the services you don’t.

Consider industry experience

Does the freight forwarder you’re investigating have experience (or better yet, expertise) in your industry? All freight forwarders are able to move cargo, but they might not have specific expertise in your market or with your category of goods. Partner with a provider that has experts in your field so they can best serve your needs.

Measure their reach

It’s all well and good to find a partner who operates in your local area, but if they can’t access the regions you want to expand into, they’re of no help to you.

Your partner also needs to be located close to suppliers and customers, as well as be able to grow alongside your business.

The freight forwarder you choose should have global reach should you decide to scale your business, even if you don’t have an immediate need for international support.

Look for a variety of services

Put simply, you don’t want a one-trick pony. Discuss all aspects of your supply chain with potential freight forwarders to ensure they’re able to provide support on all the services you require.

This could include air freight, sea freight, road transport, and other logistics solutions like warehousing.

If a potential partner is exclusively local, they may also limit your customer range. If they have a narrow scope of services, they might not be flexible enough when it’s time for you to grow or expand your business.

Look for communication and customer service

Logistics can be a convoluted and tricky business, which means communication is key. Your provider should offer online tracking, timely notifications, and an account manager you can contact when you have questions or concerns or if anything goes off the rails (no pun intended).

You need to know, too, that your provider is prepared to make things right and work with you on solutions in the event things don’t go smoothly.

Don’t take any risks with risk management

Worldwide transportation can be unpredictable; many forces can impact your success, from natural phenomena to man-made situations. As such, you’ll need a freight forwarder that can mitigate risks and has the knowledge and contingency plans required to handle issues should they occur. Look for a partner who is proactive and will offer solutions in a timely manner.

One risk mitigation strategy is cargo insurance. Exposing your company to standard carrier liability could be a costly mistake, so ask what kinds of cargo insurance a freight forwarder offers.

Ask for references

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for references from current or past customers. In a world where word-of-mouth still beats most other forms of marketing, obtaining references and gathering social proof on your shortlisted freight forwarders can help you find the best fit.

You’ll hear first-hand from other business owners exactly what works well and what doesn’t, and thus identify potential gaps to address before the paperwork is signed.

Check licenses, certifications, and permits

Freight forwarders require specific permits and documentation to handle your cargo, as well as special licenses for carrying sensitive and/or dangerous products. Make sure your potential provider has the appropriate licenses for you and that they’re up to date and posted publicly.

Permits and licenses mean a freight forwarding partner is legally authorized to move cargo and that the organization and its employees have met their through training, regulation, and more.

Licenses to look for

And here are a few certifications and other requirements we’ve heard more often:

FIATA certification

FIATA is the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association and offers two certification programs: one for freight forwarding and another for supply chain management.

FDA-certified warehouses

If you work with a freight forwarding company to move your FDA-approved items, it’s imperative you ensure your partner can support you throughout the entire process with FDA-certified warehousing for your goods.

An FDA-certified warehouse is a storage location, food facility, or fulfillment center that’s registered with the FDA to store food, dietary supplements, drugs (prescription/medication), and other goods regulated by the FDA.

Worldwide Environmental Regulatory Compliance Solutions (WERCS)

WERCS serves as the bridge between manufacturers, regulators, and retailers. It collects the information you submit and tracks and matches it to various regulatory needs and other critical parameters. WERCS is required for handling consumable products (foods, vitamins, supplements, etc.).

Necessary insurance

Making sure your freight forwarding partners are up to date on all necessary insurance is just good business. Because freight forwarders are subject to the Carmack Amendment, they’re required to have special insurance permits to operate.

Good to know: The Carmack Amendment was first enacted in 1906 as an amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act and governs the liability of truckers and other carriers that transport interstate shipments and shipments between the U.S. and a foreign country. Carmack also supersedes any state law respecting carriers’ liability.

Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics about what your potential freight forwarder is insured for, and understand where their responsibilities end and yours begin to keep you and your cargo safe.

Top global freight forwarders

Countless freight forwarding companies are out there, which can make it challenging to narrow down a list. Nevertheless, we’ve gathered some of the top freight forwarders in the market today to help get you started.

Agility Logistics

Self-proclaimed supply chain experts, Agility Logistics has it all, with subsidiary companies offering airport services, eCommerce enablement, customs digitization, remote infrastructure services, fuel logistics, and even commercial real estate options to support customers in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Apex Logistics International

Apex taps into breakthrough technologies and powerful trade lanes to enable you to focus on your customers instead of trying to navigate the logistics process. This full-service freight forwarder can support any and all of your cargo needs on your behalf, moving your cargo via air, sea, and road, and providing supply chain management and warehousing/distribution services nationally and internationally.

Bolloré Logistics

One of the top 10 transport and logistics companies in Africa, Bolloré provides transport, global supply chain, eCommerce, trade compliance, contract logistics, and even industrial project support in over 100 countries across five continents. The organization also prides itself on customer care and technological innovation through its proprietary LINK platform and integrated information systems.

CEVA Logistics

Analyst firm Gartner called CEVA Logistics one of the most prestigious leaders in the logistics field. The firm provides air, ocean, and ground freight in addition to project logistics, customers brokerage, and more. Their specialized services are tailored to fit a variety of unique needs, including marine logistics with strategically located hubs worldwide, and the ability to move pharmaceutical and other products with stringent carrying requirements.

DACHSER

DACHSER’s 387 global locations mean their logistics capabilities are integrated along the full supply chain in efficient, intelligent ways. The company offers worldwide transport and warehousing networks so you can establish a strong presence in the most important procurement and sales markets in the world.

DB Schenker

The logistics division of the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG, DB Schenker provides a variety of logistical and supply chain consulting services. These include eCommerce solutions, fulfillment and logistics, lead logistics services, and intermodal transport.

DHL Supply Chain and Global Forwarding

DHL offers a variety of services across the Asian Pacific, Europe, and North America to track cargo and provide customer service for its clients. You can rely on them for everything from eCommerce solutions and parcel shipment to global forwarding, freight, and supply chain solutions.

DSV Global

Denmark-based DSV provides worldwide warehousing and transportation solutions for North American and European companies seeking global supply chain solutions. Services include full or less-than truckloads, warehousing, order fulfillment, intermodal, air, sea, and train shipments, and supply chain innovation. DSV and Panalpina have joined forces to ensure greater efficiency for their customers.

Expeditors

Expeditors is a U.S.-based logistics company providing highly optimized and customized supply chain solutions. With a global network of more than 350 locations across 100+ countries on six continents, there’s nowhere you can’t reach with them. 

GEODIS

GEODIS offers a variety of freight solutions for all types of national and international shipments, from air and ocean to overland freight carrying. The company has over 100 years of experience in cross-border trucking, short-distance solutions, barge and sea containers, and innovative flow management/control tower solutions.

Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

One of the largest international logistics providers, Hellmann offers airfreight, sea freight, road, and rail as well as contract logistics solutions. Founded in 1871, the organization prides itself on having the best-fitting solutions, relying on future-oriented digital services that enable transparency and increase supply chain efficiency.

Hitachi Transport System

Japan-based Hitachi Transport System provides a comprehensive solution to its customers, with the ability to accommodate every type of cargo and merchandise. For more than 25 years, Hitachi has offered international freight forwarding, international ocean consolidation, domestic transport, customers house brokerage, warehousing, and much more.

Kintetsu World Express

Based in Japan, Kintetsu World Express (KWE) specializes in freight forwarding — air, sea, and other types — customers brokerage, logistics, and related business. In 1978, KWE was the first company in the Japanese logistics industry to implement IT-based export operations. Their self-developed, technology-powered solutions enable them to transport cargo seamlessly around the world and to provide data analysis and ongoing process revision to move freight as efficiently as possible.

Kuehne+Nagel

Kuehn+Nagel provides transportation and fulfillment, supply chain management, and digital support in the aerospace, automotive, consumer, high tech, industrial, perishables, and pharma/healthcare industries. Their global network of more than 800 locations ensures your goods will make it anywhere in the world you send them.

Maersk

With a heavily digitized offering, Maersk fits right into the eCommerce world with a suite of digital solutions including the Maersk Logistics Hub, a customized app, Maersk Flow (a supply chain optimization platform), and more. The company has developed solutions that meet customer needs from one end of the supply chain to the other. Their shipping services reach more than 300 ports around the world to connect businesses globally.

Nippon Express

Nippon Express offers full supply chain solutions, freight forwarding, warehousing, and logistics support for customers around the world. Their one-stop business solutions integrate a variety of modes of transportation globally so clients can grow their businesses across borders.

Sinotrans Ltd.

Sinotrans is the second-tier subsidiary and single logistics platform for China Merchants Group. It aims to build a world-class business platform with intelligent logistics services. Sinotrans offers transportation solutions from warehousing to delivery.

UPS Supply Chain Solutions

Your neighborhood United Postal Service provides a full-service model, offering everything from day-to-day management of freight and logistics to unique solutions and critical insights that enable you to make more informed business decisions. With the ability to deliver nationally, internationally, and leverage multimodal transportation, UPS Supply Chain Solutions can meet virtually any business need.

Wrapping up — Find the right partner to oversee your freight forwarding

A freight forwarding partner can help you expand your business by providing cross-border servicing, warehousing support, cargo tracking, and so much more. Freight forwarding companies have extensive knowledge of and experience in moving a variety of cargo types around the nation and world so you can focus on your expertise: building your business.

Want help choosing the right freight forwarder for your business? MyFBAPrep are experts in eCommerce logistics, having built up eCommerce businesses ourselves. Get in touch today to see how we can help.

2021 eCommerce Holiday Recap

the numbers "2021" surrounded by a wreath

For many eCommerce professionals, the early days of January bring a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. For weeks, if not months, you and your team have fulfilled orders, managed customer inquiries, and navigated the rocky supply chain of our Covid-19 reality. It probably feels like as good a time as any to put up your feet and revel in some well-earned quiet time — and after this year, it’s no wonder you might be feeling a little more tired than usual!

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, eCommerce has exploded. With stores closed and travel restrictions impacting consumers’ ability to get out and shop worldwide, eCommerce businesses saw a massive boost to the tune of 77% year over year (YoY) growth by May 2020 alone.

And it shows no signs of stopping. Forecasts estimated that U.S.-based eCommerce sales would surpass $1 trillion for the first time ever in 2021 as a result of lasting impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. But, as vaccine rollouts took place over the course of the year and regions moved towards living with Covid-19, consumers began to venture out again, marking a return to in-store shopping in numbers not seen in over a year.

So, did 2021 turn out to be the biggest holiday eCommerce spike as forecasted or not? Yes and no. Here’s how eCommerce in 2021 and the recent holidays shaped up.

2021 end of year

If you look at eCommerce trends over the past decade, there’s a clear line that delineates the times before and after COVID-19. The data for this phenomenon is appropriately stark: In 2019, only 13.6% of sales were made from online purchases while early 2021 projections expected to see that number rise to 19.5% by year’s end.

The year kicked off with huge YoY growth following a big Q4 2020, but the growth did slow over the remainder of the year, with 2021 Q3 ending at a modest 6.8% growth, down from 36.3% during the same period in 2020.

B2B trends, numbers, and audiences shifted

It wasn’t only consumers who went to their search bar instead of the storefront over the past 24 months; many firms shopped online for goods and services necessary for their own businesses to overcome pandemic-imposed constraints and challenges. The pandemic saw the majority of business-to-business (B2B) sellers realizing 25% sales growth or greater.

At the onset of 2021, about half of B2B buyers were millennials, forcing the B2B sector to evolve to meet its largest growth market: younger buyers. Prior to 2020, the B2B audience predominantly comprised baby boomers and Generation X — audiences who sought spreadsheets, sales literature, and product trials or trade shows, conferences, and print ads. Millennial buyers, on the other hand, are heavily digitized in their behaviors, meaning more B2B sales are taking place online than ever before.

New types of commerce emerged

While 2020 was all about survival for many eCommerce brands, 2021 opened up an opportunity to expand and take advantage of increasing appetites for new commerce varieties.

A growing trend in commerce, Live commerce, is similar to the Home Shopping Network of the 80s and 90s and provides customers with an engaging experience. Shoppers can tune in to livestreams on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to learn about products and connect with influencers and brands while shopping in real time.

Social commerce allows customers to shop directly on their favorite social media platforms while simultaneously bringing your brand into their lives through engagement activities.

Finally, quick commerce has made it possible for shoppers to buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), or use services like DoorDash to receive their purchases within hours (or less), building on the two-day shipping or next-day delivery that previously shook up the eCommerce world.

Consumer behaviors changed

As quick commerce rose in popularity in 2021, consumer behaviors shifted to match. Even as storefronts reopened and the world resumed a sense of normalcy, 60% of shoppers said they prefer online grocery shopping, compared to only 45% in 2020.  The convenience of click-and-collect purchasing via BOPIS also encouraged more consumers to shop online and then retrieve their goodies from stores, avoiding lines and saving time.

Additionally, three out of four consumers said they made purchases directly from their mobile devices because it saved them time. In short, the overall landscape of eCommerce and consumer purchasing has continued its trend towards digitization — and then the holidays hit.

The 2021 holiday sales season

Sales seasonality made no exceptions in 2021. Retailers saw the usual peaks and valleys in sales volume around annual events, but the year also delivered some unique surprises. In early Q4, Deloitte forecasted that Canadians would spend more this holiday season than in 2020 — a return to pre-pandemic spending — while Americans were predicted to spend the most they have in 20 years with an average of $886 per person.

For the first time, Black Friday sales took a nosedive in spite of record levels of early holiday shopping. The reason? Perhaps the shift from single behemoth sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to full-fledged weeks (or is it the whole month now?) of deals via “Cyber Week.”

According to Adobe, 2021 Black Friday sales narrowly missed the 2020 $9 billion record, coming in at a still impressive $8.9 billion. Cyber Monday outshone its weekend counterpart with an incredible one in three U.S. residents making a purchase on Cyber Monday, resulting in an additional $1.8 billion in sales. By the end of November, U.S. holiday spending reached $109 billion — up from $90 billion in 2020, but still shy of Adobe’s forecasted $111 billion in spend. In total, Cyber Week performed more poorly in 2021 than 2020.

What about shopping beginning sooner in the long lead-up to the holidays?

Supply chain bottlenecks and media reports of shortages and long shipping times created the perfect storm of early shopping behavior among consumers, leaving many retailers scrambling to find creative solutions to meet customer needs. But, Thanksgiving sales still fell flat, with no significant increase in the U.S. from 2020 to 2021.

For the first time in two years, consumers were back to in-person shopping on a larger scale as the anxiety about leaving their homes eased by mid-Q4 with 64% of consumers planning to head to stores to shop in 2021, up from 51% in 2020.

Another big trend during the 2021 holiday shopping sprees was buy now, pay later plans, paying homage to the old days of layaway, but now in an easy, consumer-led digital world. These payment plans require an early start to shopping and allow consumers to pay for their goods over a predetermined time frame, with lower impacts on credit ratings than traditional loans, which require more significant credit checks.

Keep the momentum going

Although the temptation to get some quality R&R during the quiet days of January is strong, the adage “strike while the iron is hot” is especially true now. Statistica forecasted eCommerce sales would grow about 14.4% in 2021 and, if this is true for your business, it’s likely at least some of that growth came from new customers.

If so, it begs the question: How can you continue to see regular growth in the weeks, months, and quarters ahead? The following tactics can help.

Maximize momentum through targeted advertising

One of the most effective ways to remain top of mind and capture additional revenue opportunities is to target your past customers with products commonly purchased by that demographic or that complement their most recent purchases . Retargeting existing customers also costs less generally than attracting new ones, meaning your customer lifetime value (CLV) will increase faster than your customer acquisition cost (CAC).

Your CAC calculation is a simple matter of division. To understand your business’ CAC, take your total promotional costs for a given period of time and divide those costs by the number of new customers. Then, compare that number to your average CLV or your average order value. If you can increase your CLV or average order value with existing customers, your CAC-to-value ratio will be far stronger and your business, as a result, will grow faster.

Encourage social promotion + UGC

User Generated Content (UGC) is content your customers or users of your products create. Implementing a UGC strategy can help you avoid a sudden drop in sales following busy periods like the holidays, and gives you a great excuse to reach out to those customers again. Here are some easy ways to use UGC to continue propelling your business forward.

Plus, UGC and social promotion act as free advertising for you and produce strong marketing messaging and collateral you can use in your own efforts — like that targeted advertising above.

Build relationships with customers new and old

We buy from brands and people we feel connected to, so it’s especially important to focus on relationship-building activities. Thank-you emails, holiday wishes, or Happy New Year notes are easy to send to establish quick touchpoints. Inviting your customers to share their feedback or experience, offering them great deals, or simply introducing them to your newest products makes them feel valued and further builds loyalty.

Meet customers where they are (in particular, mobile)

Is your eCommerce site and/or your product listing optimized for mobile? If not, you’re missing out. A whopping 79% of consumers used a mobile device to make a purchase in the last six months, and more than half of all internet traffic is shopping from a mobile device.

Streamline the customer experience

No one likes a complex shopping experience, which is why streamlining it is an absolute must for any eCommerce business. From optimized product listings and websites to well-written descriptions and transparency in policies and beyond, creating a customer experience that’s smooth and easy to navigate ensures your customers will come back again and again.

Create appealing deals and bundles

Take stock of more than what’s in your warehouses now that the holidays have passed and analyze your sales data in depth. Were any individual products commonly purchased together? If so, you can craft appealing deals for your customers to take advantage of throughout the year, making it both easier for them to shop and more profitable for you.

Looking ahead

Nobody can predict the future, especially in these unprecedented times, but it’s safe to say certain trends will continue into 2022 (and beyond). As you plan for your upcoming year and — dare we say it? — the next holiday season, you must keep leading trends in mind to stay on top of them.

Omnichannel operations will continue to expand for eCommerce stores worldwide. The multiple contact points businesses now have with their customers is here to stay, connecting on their eCommerce platform, social platforms, email, and more. During the course of the pandemic, Square and Atlantic Brand Partners found 45% of survey respondents added new channels to their businesses.

As Artificial Intelligence becomes more commonplace, so, too, will the prevalence of voice shopping through tools like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and more continue to shape the future of eCommerce. Wondering what voice shopping is? It’s the use of your virtual assistant like Amazon Alexa or Apple Homepod to order products (“Hey Alexa, order XYZ”).

Subscription models like Amazon’s Subscribe and Save will continue to grow in popularity, thanks in part to the world’s shift to other subscription services like Netflix. Subscription models ensure repeat business while delivering added value to your customer when you provide cost savings for subscriptions.

Read: Start a subscription box business: 15 Subscription boxes to create today

Expect to see increased demand for buy now, pay later options like Affirm, Afterpay, and Zip. These payment options accounted for 2.1% of all global eCommerce transactions in 2020.

Finally, be ready for even more mobile customers navigating to your product listings. The rise in demand for mobile-optimized eCommerce sites is anticipated to continue into 2022 and beyond, especially as consumer appetites increase and people become more comfortable leaving their homes.

Wrapping up – Be prepared for an amazing 2022

As we all head into 2022 with high expectations for eCommerce, ensure you are primed to meet customers wherever and however they want to shop.

Utilize MyFBAPrep for your DTC fulfillment, to replenish your brick and mortar locations, and prep your goods for Amazon in record time to cover all your bases.

Open role: Business Development Representative

Our mission:

MyFBAPrep is the largest Amazon prep and e-commerce fulfillment network in the United States. We are on a mission to flatten the supply chain learning curve in eCommerce. As the entire world is going more and more online, we are changing how sellers, brands and companies look at e-commerce from a fulfillment perspective. We offer a complete set of tools companies need to get their goods at scale to a marketplace or to a customer. We do Amazon FBA prep, FBM fulfillment, direct-to-consumer fulfillment, bundling, kitting, returns processing…you name it. We’re looking for an killer sales professional to add to our sales team. The pipeline is full … time to get to work. Did I mention you can do this job from anywhere?! Yes, we are a 100% REMOTE company…you’ll only come to see us during our quarterly meet-ups and you won’t want to miss those!

Your role:

  • Continuously optimize your sales process and workflow and share your best practices with other members of our team.
  • Take pride in understanding customer needs and being a trusted consultant on their company’s journey to find the best prep/logistics/fulfillment solution.
  • Be personally responsible for managing the sales pipeline, developing new opportunities, nurturing existing leads and closing deals.
  • Hold intelligent, interactive sales calls including product demonstrations of Preptopia™ 2.0, our SaaS-based platform.
  • Be hyper-responsive to all product inquiries, prepare and deliver quotations, proposals & presentations to support closing business.
  • Close lots of deals – FAST in 30-60 days while meeting / exceeding monthly / quarterly targets.
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Required:

  • An unwavering passion to build a sales career in a fast-paced technology company. We are creating a new solution for companies to get their goods to marketplaces and in the hands of customers – we want you to be excited about that.
  • Strong interpersonal skills with an ability to build relationships, establish rapport quickly and be recognized by the prospect as a subject matter expert and trusted consultant.
  • 3+ years of experience in a sales role with a proven and demonstrable ability to exceed sales targets of an enterprise-class software product selling into companies of various sizes and verticals.
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Would love to know about you:

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  • Do you have an understanding of e-commerce, Amazon, FBA or FBM selling, 3PL’s, direct-to-consumer delivery.

What we offer:

  • Great work environment – this is a REMOTE SALES JOB
  • Stock options/equity
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To apply, please email your resume to hello@myfbaprep.com and use the subject line: Business Development / Sales Rockstar applicant.

Open role: Software Application Engineer

We are looking for a strong engineer to lead integration efforts, including API, EDI and other methods of data transfer. The ideal candidate will have familiarity with the warehousing and logistics space and a passion for building best-in-class, user-friendly software.

The Preptopia platform is built on a robust API that enables connectivity and scalability for both our customers and warehouse partners. The Engineer will manage partnership engagements, assist warehouses and customers with connectivity, trouble-shoot issues and build and maintain our developer documentation. This position will be critical for increasing adoption and scalability as well as establishing a leading position in the logistics software space.

The scope of work:

  • Communicate clearly and effectively with internal and external customers to solution, document and deliver integrations.
  • Proactively look for opportunities to automate / reduce manual work or error handling, building robust processes.
  • Effectively manage assigned projects, ensuring all documentation, project updates, and deadlines are appropriately managed.
  • Drive a culture of automation, repeatability and scale in integrations.
  • Maintain a customer-focused outlook.
  • Ensure that all technology practices adhere to regulatory and security standards.

We’re looking for:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Information Systems (or similar field) or applicable experience
  • 4+ years hand-on-cloud-based software application development
  • Experience facilitating requirements gathering workshops, defining and documenting integrations solutions, with the ability to communicate requirements to various stakeholders
  • Experience Reviewing, interpreting, and mapping EDI messages
  • Experience using API clients (ideally Postman) to test and troubleshoot API endpoints
  • ETL / Middleware tool experience (using on a daily basis or in previous role): Dell Boomi, Celigo, or Mulesoft
  • Database integration experience using any structured database
  • 2-3 years of experience with React.js, Node.js, Nuxt.js, and Express.js and other JavaScript libraries
  • Cloud or AWS experience
  • Experience with MongoDB or other NoSQL databases
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  • Experience with Build and Deployment automation (CI/CD)
  • Experience with Git, Jira, Asana and other development/project management tools
  • Experience in a warehouse or logistics operation environment a plus
  • Knowledge of the Amazon logistics ecosystem, especially Seller Central, FBA and FBM a plus
  • Strong soft skills, including attention to detail, problem-solving, and communication skills
  • Positive attitude and a strong commitment to delivering quality work

To apply, please email your resume to hello@myfbaprep.com and use the subject line: Software Application Engineer applicant