Month: December 2022
10 Reasons FBA is Still a Top Global Fulfillment Option For eCommerce Sellers
If you’re weighing up selling on Amazon, you could be on to a winner. 76% of Amazon sellers are profitable as of 2022, and 69% of brands are pure-play Amazon businesses. One of the secret ingredients to many brands’ success on Amazon is Fulfillment By Amazon, also known as FBA.
Each year the FBA service improves, and Amazon’s customer base grows, making FBA a top contender in the fulfillment industry. There are many benefits to using FBA for your eCommerce business. We’ll delve into Amazon FBA’s makeup and why it remains the top international fulfillment provider for eCommerce businesses of all sizes.
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What is Amazon FBA? And how does it work?
Amazon FBA (FBA for short) is a fulfillment service operated by Amazon for eCommerce orders. FBA works a lot like a 3PL. Once sellers send their goods to Amazon’s warehouses and Amazon unpacks and sorts them for easy picking, packing, and shipping. They also handle reverse logistics and customer service and offer value-added services.
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10 reasons FBA remains the undefeated champion in eCommerce fulfillment
Whether you want to explore Amazon FBA as a multichannel selling option or want to build an Amazon-only brand, you’re on the right track. FBA has gained worldwide acclaim for its service from sellers, customers, and even its competitors. But what makes FBA so unique? Let’s find out.
1. Expansive warehousing and shipping network reinforced by a large workforce and technology
If one characteristic sets FBA apart from the rest, it’s the global reach of its operations. Amazon has over 175 fulfillment centers worldwide, spanning over 150 million square feet. Most of them are in North America and Europe. Alongside its delivery fleet, Amazon also partners with quality shipping carriers globally to expand its shipping capabilities. These traits offer perks like a 2-day delivery window to Prime members. For example, Amazon has:
- Delivery lorries that can carry large shipments (2000 shipments at a time)
- Large capacity planes with Amazon Air for Prime orders that can carry 30 containers and fly goods to 20 airports
- Delivery drones (still in development)
2. Dedicated sortation centers and pioneering technology for speedy order dispatch
Amazon is also serious about its technology stack. They’ve already invested €400 million in robotics in the last three years. The aim is to upgrade efficiency rates in fulfillment services like sorting and packing by supporting their staff with automation. Amazon can fulfill orders quickly, no matter their size or composition, because of its strategic sortation center location strategy. Amazon distributes packages to sortation centers according to location, required delivery speed, product type, and items requiring special attention, e.g. hazardous material.
3. Hands-free fulfillment option to scale your business fast
As we mentioned earlier, once your goods are in Amazon’s warehouse, Amazon takes over the entire fulfillment from sorting to shipping, customer service, and returns. Thanks to these qualities, the Amazon FBA system is as close to “set and forget” as eCommerce can get, giving sellers more time to scale their brands. eCommerce businesses also get more sales once they switch to FBA. For example, Amazon reported a 35% increase in sales for FBA sellers. Amazon also comes with a 200 million-strong Prime membership community which acts as a conversion-boosting strategy since the Prime badge signifies fast shipping and encourages more sales. Another characteristic of FBA is its alternative, Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM), which allows sellers to fulfill orders themselves and can be used in tandem with FBA.
4. Fulfillment for less
Rising shipping costs are a huge concern for eCommerce brands. From sky-high sea shipping rates to global supply chain disruptions, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome to maintain healthy margins. Amazon is one of the retailers taking charge of their driving down costs by controlling more of their supply chains, and FBA sellers are one of the main beneficiaries. For example, Amazon hires cargo to drive down fulfillment times and control where its goods go.
Amazon’s huge order volumes, optimized supply chain, and partnerships with various shipping carriers mean FBA brands can access better shipping rates. You can pass this saving on to your customers.
5. Excellent customer service that gets you noticed
Amazon’s customers aren’t the only ones that benefit from world-class customer service; FBA sellers do too. Sellers can piggyback off the seamless customer experience to build brand loyalty and drives more sales without the work. According to Amazon, sellers saw a 35% boost in sales when they shifted their goods to FBA in the UK, thanks to the fast delivery that customers love.
When you first start selling on Amazon, the marketplace provides solutions, services, and resources to improve your odds of success. You’ll also get perks from selling under the new seller incentives solution, like a 5% bonus from your branded sales, up to £40,000, and learning resources at Amazon University.
6. FBA complements alternative online selling channels
Don’t sell on Amazon? No problem! FBA isn’t limited to Amazon selling. Amazon has a service called Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF). With the MCF, you can fulfill orders on other channels using your Amazon-based stock and the FBA fulfillment network. What makes this service even more appealing is that you can automate and control the entire process. For example, using solutions like Multiorders, Skubana, and Sellercloud, you can integrate all your sales channels and fulfillment options.
7. Sell crossborder with ease
Without the funds to set up your own warehouses and fulfillment centers or enlist 3PLs abroad, it can be challenging to offer cost-effective and quick shipping. FBA allows you to circumvent this issue through its Global Selling program.
This service grants FBA sellers access to Amazon’s top-grade international logistics capabilities and shipping costs to expand operations without breaking the bank. The Global Selling Program spans 28 countries in Europe, the United States, Australia, India, and Japan. Amazon is also working on expanding the program to emerging markets such as the Middle East, Singapore, Turkey, and Brazil.
8. Selling programs to match every brand’s needs
Amazon‘s long track record of selling online has helped it pinpoint the different needs, struggles, and competitive advantages its sellers have. Over time Amazon has developed a suite of programs to help sellers succeed, and as an FBA seller, you’re the first in line to secure a spot. Some of the most notable are:
- FBA Subscribe & Save
- FBA Heavy Bulky
- FBA New Selection program
- FBA Small and Light
- Amazon Partnered Carrier Program
- Multi-Channel Fulfilment
9. Brand protection initiatives
Brand-registered Amazon sellers also gain access to Amazon’s growing brand protection measures. Some of the initiatives and resources to help sellers stay safe while trading on Amazon include:
- Transparency barcodes: A solution that empowers sellers and shoppers to play an active role in preventing fake goods from contaminating their stock. Transparency Barcodes are 2D QR codes designed to help authenticate each product before its shipped to a customer. Shoppers can also authenticate the product via an app.
- Project Zero: The initiative combines Amazon’s state-of-the-art brand protection tools, self-service counterfeit listing removal capabilities, and automated protections, for a multifaceted approach to defense. For example, the automated protections tool is powered by machine learning which sifts through listings and removes suspected counterfeits. The sellers provide key details about their company, brand, and products. The solution scans 5 billion listing update attempts and blocks any suspicious activity.
- IP Accelerator program: This program speeds up the timeline for brands to obtain IP rights and brand protection on and off the Amazon marketplace. IP Accelerator enrollees also gain access to a large network of reputable IP companies at fair rates. The program is growing and is now available in places such as the US, EU, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, and Australia.
- Brand Protection Report: Amazon also launches a yearly report breaking down its efforts to keep the marketplace counterfeit-free and shield sellers’ intellectual property.
10. Amazon offers business intel to make informed business decisions
Accessing accurate data on your Amazon business’ health is crucial to make the right strategic moves to scale. As an FBA seller, you can tap into the analytics, and data Amazon provides on your business to adjust and improve your results.
- Listing health
- FBA costs
- Inventory levels
Top tip: for best results, combine the insights Amazon provides with information from solutions like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout for a more well-rounded view.
Grow with Amazon FBA
Using FBA as part of your eCommerce fulfillment is an excellent way to lower operating costs, drive customer satisfaction, and maintain competitiveness. But the service isn’t perfect. To ensure your business is profitable, keep informed on Amazon’s charges and examine the FBA fees for your products to decide which items are suitable. Finally, reinforce your FBA efforts with FBM via a reliable 3PL, so you stay in stock and selling no matter what. Tweak your approach based on the results you’ll be on your way to building an Amazon selling machine.
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eCommerce KPIs: What are the most critical analytics to look at?
Did you know you’re twice as likely to hit a business goal you track? Whether it’s a goal you want to hit next week or in 5 years, monitoring your progress can be the difference between success or failure.
From this logic, observing your eCommerce business performance can position you for huge wins. Yet just 1 out of 10 small to medium-sized businesses with growth targets track them in real-time. It’s time to turn over a new leaf. To get you started, we’ll share the essential eCommerce to follow and when. Let’s dive in!
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Why tracking KPIs and metrics is essential for growth-focused eCommerce brands
Right now, you’re probably tracking areas in your business, like outbound shipments and great customer feedback. But tracking KPIs and metrics is necessary to move the needle in your business growth. Let’s cover some reasons why:
- Get and stay on track: There’s nothing like knowing what you want and establishing a plan to get there. KPIs and metrics help you gain clarity on whether the actions you’re taking are edging you closer to your goals.
- Spot developing opportunities and issues: If there’s a problem in your business or potential troubles on the horizon, tracking metrics will allow you to pinpoint and course correct sooner. This perk minimizes losses and disruptions.
- Make your store more profitable and efficient: Efficiency across the board is critical to driving profits. Tracking KPIs helps you move each business area closer to its optimal levels strategically.
Essential eCommerce KPIs to track monitor
Now we know why tracking KPIs is critical. It’s time to take your eCommerce business to the next level with the right intel. Let’s jump into the top eCommerce KPIs and metrics to keep tabs on:
KPI and metrics to track annually
Product category performance
Product category performance is a metric that analyzes how a product category is performing in terms of its sale. You can compare past performance or different product categories.
How to check your product category performance
- Create reports from your store analytics for each product category you sell.
- Find product category performance results from competitors or on marketplaces to use as benchmarks.
- Compare the results.
Why tracking your product category performance is important
- Monitoring product category performance Drive business growth by gaining data on which product categories are the best investments and which ones to cull.
High gross margin items
Tracking high gross margins identifies the top-performing items in terms of margins. For example, products with a 50% margin. What counts as a high margin will depend on your product type, niche, and business circumstances.
How to find your gross margin items
- Run through your product portfolio and organize it by margins
- Highlight the items with the highest margins
Why tracking your product category performance is important
- You can use the information to guide your sales and marketing strategies, such as which products you can afford to use paid search and influencer marketing.
- Know which customer types or audiences you should prioritize investing into by assessing the products bought.
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KPIs and metrics to monitor quarterly
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Customer Lifetime Value measure how much a buyer is worth in net profit to your business on average throughout their time as your customer. For example, a buyer could be worth $4000 over the 7 years they shop with a brand.
How to check your CLV
Average transactions each month x Average Order Value x Average Gross Margin x Average customer lifespan in months / Number of buyers in a specific timeframe
Why tracking your CLV is important
- CLV gives you insight into whether you’re retaining customers and, if so, how successfully. From here, you can act to improve customer retention and double down on what’s working.
- Once you have your CLV figure, you can gauge how much profit you can anticipate in a certain period. This information helps you plan business investments.
Gross profit margin
Gross profit margin is a KPI assessing a business’s financial health. It highlights how much cash you have left once you’ve paid off the fixed and variable costs from inventory manufacturing.
How to calculate Gross profit margin:
Revenue – COGS / Revenue = Gross Profit Margin = Gross profit margin
Why tracking gross profit margin matters:
- This KPI provides a simple way to monitor your store’s financial health. You’ll know very quickly whether your store’s revenue exceeds its costs.
- Gain insight on stock-related trouble so you can course-correct. For example, if you’ve got a history of shakey gross profit margin results, it could indicate poor market fit or insufficient inventory management.
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KPIs and metrics to measure monthly
Cart Abandonment Rate (CAR)
Your store’s Cart Abandonment Rate reveals the percentage of shoppers that add to cart on a website but don’t complete their order and exit.
How to check your CAR
1 – Number of completed transactions/ orders started but not finished x 100 = CAR
Why tracking your CAR is important
- High CAR can indicate issues in your shopping experience, e.g., a lack of product information or on-hand assistance.
- Abandoned carts don’t just represent lost sales but also potential growth. So tracking CAR and taking corrective actions can help you lessen the blow.
A conversion rate measures how many visitors turn into a conversion n a percentage. A conversion can be a sale in your eCommerce store(s), but it can also represent a lead generated from a marketing campaign.
How to calculate your conversion rate
Number of conversions/ total number of visitors = conversion rate
Why tracking your conversion rate is essential
- Low conversion rates could highlight friction in your store’s buying experience.
- Improving conversion rates will directly improve your store’s revenue.
KPIs and metrics to track biweekly
Average Order Value (AOV)
Average Order Value is the typical amount a shopper spends with a store per transaction. To get a well-rounded view of your eCommerce store’s results, it’s critical to look at this metric in tandem with your conversion rate and Lifetime Revenue Per Visitor metrics.
How to check your AOV
Revenue / Number of purchases = AOV
Why tracking your AOV is important
- AOV helps you understand whether your store’s pricing strategies align with your store’s revenue goals and are driving growth.
- Tracking AOV gives you insight into where there’s room for improvement. Once you optimize your AOV, it can have positive knock-on effects on your store’s takings and gross profits.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)/ Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
CAC (or CPA as its also known when conversion symbolizes an event, e.g., email signup) reveals how much cash it takes to acquire a new customer for your online store.
How to calculate CAC:
(Total Cost of Sales + Total Cost of Marketing) / New customers secured = CAC
Why monitoring your CAC is important:
- Tracking your store’s CAC reveals whether your sales and marketing strategies are productive in getting new customers.
- Your CAC can guide your marketing investments for better results. E.g., spotlighting campaigns that perform well.
- Reveals your true marketing costs so you can plan budgets more accurately.
Metrics to track weekly
Revenue, also known as income, turnover, or sales, shares how much capital your business brings in over a certain period, e.g., week, month, or quarter. It’s also a good idea to look at sales per product, per channel, and velocity compared to the week and month prior.
How to check your revenue
Pull a sales report from your store’s data. It should account for all completed sales on every channel.
Why tracking your revenue is important
- Cashflow is the lifeblood of every business. Tracking your revenue will keep you informed on whether you’ve got enough capital coming through the doors to cover your obligations.
- Revenue figures indicate whether your marketing and sales initiatives are viable.
This metric tracks how many visitors your store gets over a certain timeframe. It’s important to consider the niche and channel average traffic to benchmark and understand your store’s performance.
How to monitor website traffic
- Use analytics software like Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, or Kissmetrics.
- Note: there may be some slight variations in results due to data lags and differences in interpreting information.
Why watching website traffic is important:
- The more visitors you can get on to your store, the more opportunities you’ll have to convert them into pay customers.
- Know whether your marketing campaigns are driving sufficient traffic.
A return rate is the percentage amount of orders sent back to you from a customer.
How to calculate your return rate
(Quantity of returned items / Total completed orders) x 100 = Return rate
Why analyzing your return rate is important:
- You can single out problem items and eliminate the stock. Conversely, you can see which customers rarely return and mimic their qualities for even better results.
- A high return rate can signal you to take a closer look at your product portfolio.
Beat the pack with eCommerce KPIs
Your eCommerce store’s dashboard and analytics may look like numbers on a page, but the opportunity lies in the data. Keeping an eye on eCommerce KPIs gives you an objective view of your eCommerce marketing, sales, and product performance. Executing optimizations based on hard facts can power growth, customer satisfaction, and profitability. So take steps now to track eCommerce KPIs to make your eCommerce business more efficient and fruitful.
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How to Optimize Your Fulfillment Strategy With Zone Skipping
Whether you run a marketplace behemoth or an up-and-coming eCommerce brand, there’s one thing you can’t avoid. Shipping costs.
Rising fulfillment costs remain a cloud over eCommerce businesses, sapping up as much as 18% of every dollar earned. To make the situation even more complex, 62% of shoppers expect fast, free shipping and are willing to back out of purchasing if they consider fulfillment too slow or expensive.
Consequently, the hunt is on for a consistent way to drive down fulfillment costs without sacrificing quality.
Depending on your business circumstances, your solution could come in the form of zone skipping. In this post, we’ll cover the ABCs of zone skipping and how to implement this shipping strategy to workaround sky-high fulfillment fees and drive your business forwards.
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What is zone skipping exactly?
Zone skipping is the process of delivering large amounts of packages (either a truckload (TL) or less-than-truckload (LTL)) to a carrier’s parcel hub, bypassing specific zones on the way. The parcel hub is nearby to the packages’ end destination, making it an efficient parcel delivery option.
Many retailers and eCommerce brands engage in zone skipping because the practice of skipping carrier zones allows them to save cash on shipping expenses and get goods to customers faster and easier with less product damage.
How does zone skipping work?
Each carrier will have its rules and processes for zone-skipping services. However, there are some typical steps you can expect. These are:
- The carrier maps each territory’s zones. The cities and towns will fall into these zones based on their postal code.
- With zip code data. the carrier creates shipping routes to “skip” certain zones, consequently stop-offs to create the fastest and most economical route.
- The carrier then combines packages bound for the same zone into one load destined for the carrier’s local parcel hub, allowing it to get goods from point A to point B as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
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Is zone skipping right for us? Here’s how to know
Zone skipping can be a great way to increase your store’s fulfillment capacity, speed, and profitability. However, it’s not for everyone. Let’s run through some instances when zone skipping makes sense and when it’s best to seek an alternative fulfillment approach:
When to consider zone skipping:
Your store has a high order volume
If you process hundreds of orders or more daily, zone skipping could work for your business. This is because the more orders you can send to a zone in one shipment, the more you can save per parcel.
You receive orders from concentrated locations with a territory
Zone skipping works best for businesses whose orders come from a set number of regions with a country rather than dispersed across the territory. This setup allows for bundling parcels into a TL or LTL shipment bound for a specific carrier station. For example, if you sell in the UK and receive orders from Manchester, Birmingham, London, and Cardiff so you can ship to hubs in these areas near your customers.
You want to find and test new carriers in various regions
If you’re hoping to test more carriers, zone skipping can help you do it. You can use a different carrier for each zone you serve to assess their capabilities, making zone skipping a quick and easy way to find your match.
Zone skipping isn’t a good idea if:
You need more than the usual tracking updates
Zone skipping provides opportunities to monitor parcel movements efficiently. But depending on the route length and carrier used, parcels can go days without being scanned once split according to their zone and in transit. Also, some carriers don’t provide updates on the first part, “line haul” of the zone-skipping journey, reducing your visibility. So, if you need updates on the hour, every hour zone, or very regular notifications, zone skipping won’t meet your needs.
You’ve got unstable sales
Peaks and troughs in your sales are normal, but if you have huge, unpredictable slumps, zone skipping may not work out. This is because you need a significant shipment size to fill a TL or LTL continuously. So when your store can’t make the order volume your carrier has agreed to ship, you’ll have to wait to fill it, which could cause delays.
You don’t have the budget for additional tech solutions
If you don’t outsource your fulfillment, there may be some set-up costs to implement the appropriate transport management solution and IT integrations with partner carriers to track parcels and monitor operations.
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How to upgrade your fulfillment strategy with zone skipping
If you decide zone skipping could be a profitable shipping method for your business, the next stage is to get your set up right for maximum efficiency and productivity. Let’s break down the steps to take:
Assess your business for zone-skipping opportunities
The first task on zone skipping to-do list is to identify all the areas you ship to and consider which ones lend themselves to this fulfillment method. Don’t forget to run each potential region the criteria (high order volume, steady sales, and order origins concentrated in certain regions). Remember, you not only be able to fill a TL or LTL but also ship to a particular town, region, or city as a load should be cheaper than shipping the parcel solo.
For example, say you sell from the East coast in the US, and many of your orders come from the West coast; it could be a zone-skipping prospect. If you have sufficient order volume and the cost of using zone shipping is considerably less than shipping the product individually.
Top tip: The more zones you can skip, the larger the cash and time savings you stand to make. So, double-check your potential routes.
Upgrade your parcel sortation system
Your sortation system will play a critical role in how smoothly your zone-skipping strategy plays out. So put your best forwards.
Analyze past sales and customer data to understand how many orders you expect to process per hour. Once you have this information, implement sortation tools that’ll allow you to sift through to goods quickly, even during peak times. For example, some equipment that can help you sort through high-order volumes include:
- Conveyor belts
- Push tray sorters
Explore and test different carriers
The good news is there are more carriers in the market than ever. But to find those well-equipped to execute zone skipping and has experience in handling eCommerce orders, you’ll need to do some digging. Speak with existing carriers to understand whether they offer this service. Also, explore to help filter through the options, only entertain carriers that:
- Ship to the zones, you fulfill orders in now and anticipate you’ll ship to in the future.
- Offer cost-saving that make zone-skipping worthwhile.
- Have good performance stats for their zone-skipping services.
Equip your warehouse to process zone shipping parcels
If you choose to execute zone skipping in-house and partner with carriers, having a fulfillment process and station built for speed and efficiency is essential. Here are a few key resources to have:
- A door dock and conveyor lane: To streamline your operations and accelerate pickup processes, set up this duo for each zone skipping carrier you work with.
- Trained staff: Cross-train staff on the requirements for each carrier you work with and the packing requirements for your products and sales channels to keep errors low and output high.
- Labeling and packing solutions: Set up stations with all the equipment and material you need for labeling and packing, e.g., laser printers, dunnage, and parcel boxes in multiple sizes.
Outsource to a 3PL to execute zone skipping efficiently
Perhaps you’ve looked at the costs and work involved in executing zone skipping in-house and don’t find them appealing. No problem, there’s a workaround. Outsource your zone skipping activities to a 3PL to cut the learning curve and lengthy setup. As a standard, the 3PL you choose should have:
- Finetuned prep and pack capabilities.
- The ability to integrate their solutions with carriers and your tech stack.
- A sortation system optimized to handle large orders.
- Reliable and cost-effective partnerships with carriers that use zone skipping.
- Door dock systems for their main carriers with conveyor lanes help sort and dispatch goods fast.
- Technology to manage multiple carriers and zones simultaneously and improve routes.
- Analytics to track order volume, goods in transit, and drop-offs.
Harness the power of zone skipping to accelerate growth
Zone skipping can be an excellent opportunity for high-growth eCommerce businesses to save cash, simplify operations, and drive efficiency.
However, remember, zone skipping isn’t right for every business.
Before you dive in, get familiar with the traits needed to do well with zone skipping and explore other fulfillment options to make a solid assessment.
If you decide to proceed with zone skipping, only use it in the areas that make sense, considering the cost-saving vs. time and effort required. And if you’re in a hurry to see results without placing pressure on your team, outsource! An optimized fulfillment strategy awaits, so get started today and watch your business transform.
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The Importance of Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) and How to Calculate It
Managing inventory is one of the most important aspects of a thriving eCommerce business, but most entrepreneurs have little experience in it when they launch. Effective inventory management can help you optimize how and when you order inventory to reduce overhead, risk, and thus total costs.
The calculation most inventory managers rely on for this is economic order quantity (EOQ), which is the order size you need to minimize risks and costs such as holding/storage, shortage, order processing, and waste. You need a considerable amount of data for this calculation, including actual costs associated with holding inventory, the likelihood of risk, and more.
Why use EOQ
Although there are dozens of inventory management equations, EOQ is a crucial one. It calculates figures such as the rate of sale, the cost of placing an order with your wholesaler or manufacturer, and delivery, processing and stocking, holding, overstock, and overselling expenses to set ideal timelines between orders.
Once you tweak the formula to fit your business, you’ll be able to minimize the amount of inventory in your warehouse at any given time. This frees up floor space and lowers the possibility of damage or being stuck with dead stock. It also cuts down the number of people needed to manage, track, and audit inventory, while making room for other types of stock.
At the same time, EOQ should balance the costs it computes with those of delivery so you reach an equilibrium. For example, if you place an order and it’s more expensive than placing a larger one and simply storing stock for longer, you need to increase the order size.
The EOQ formula
The most common EOQ formula is:
The square root of [(2 x Demand) (Sales) x Cost per order / Holding costs]
In this equation, the terms are defined as:
- Period – The span of time the calculation covers. The EOQ formula above is based on annual demand. However, you can calculate using monthly or quarterly demand as well.
- Demand – The total movement of product on a unit basis over the established time period, with calculations for peak periods, sales growth, and new business endeavors. For example, if a business has historically seen an increase in sales between 1.5% and 4% per quarter over the last five quarters, you’d calculate a 4% increase in total sales. If you know 35% of total sales occur during the holiday season, you can recalculate on a quarterly basis to adjust for it. If you’re expanding to a new channel, you can buy excess stock based on predictions for it.
- Holding costs (for the period) – The cost to store inventory per unit (carrying/storage costs, including capital, warehouse space, refrigeration, insurance, etc.). Holding costs normally increase proportionally to the quantity; for example, if you store through FBA, it’s a direct, linear rise; if you have your own warehouse, holding costs plateau at certain levels and increase at others. Actual holding expenses include computers, paperwork, software, warehouse rental, and wages. It’s important to look at the cost of warehousing per square foot and then break down inventory based on that number. If you have lots of empty space, these costs will be low. But, if you use FBA or some other third-party provider, your expenses will be significantly higher.
- Ordering cost (per order) – The cost to place an order with your supplier, including paperwork, man hours, setup, shipping costs, etc. This should be in total, not per unit.
In practice, your EOQ equation might look like this:
(2 x 1,000) x $27 / $1.12 = $219
You can then round up to $220 or down to $200 based on how your supplier sends shipments. Order frequency is simply your EOQ divided by your demand.
Challenges of EOQ
While EOQ can help you optimize total costs, it’s not perfect. In fact, it introduces complications at multiple points, including:
- Business growth – Most EOQ models incorporate the projected rate of growth into demand, usually as a sliding scale based on historic growth. That’s difficult in the early stages of scaling. Even if your business is well established and has plenty of data, making accurate projections can be complex. EOQ also has trouble predicting new growth because of market shifts, new marketplaces, competition, ad campaigns, etc. Whenever you add something new to the equation or the market shifts, your EOQ falls. So, it’s important to pay attention to real-world market behavior whenever you calculate it.
- Sales peaks – Sales peaks (normally driven by the holiday season), weather changes, and other acute events are common, but EOQ calculations usually occur on an annual basis. Taking these peaks and other unstable demand factors into account can prevent you from overstocking for most of the year and understocking during a peak period. If you have historical sales data, map expected peaks and adjust your EOQ accordingly. Peaks may be seasonal, campaign or competitor related, or due to other irregular occurrences.
- Data accuracy – You need reliable data to make reliable predictions. If you lack basic automation in your warehousing, inventory management, and order processing, you’re almost certainly missing data (for example, scanners that automatically enter SKUs into and out of inventory and consolidated data streams where stock is synchronized on a central management platform). This also holds true for supplier data, where changes in order fulfillment time, delivery availability, and other factors can greatly impact your supply chain. Having that data in real-time ensures you maintain accurate EOQ and reorder points.
Optimizing EOQ With Automation
While many organizations traditionally calculate EOQ manually, you can let technology handle the math instead. An intelligent inventory or warehouse management system will track EOQ and other calculations in near real-time. For example, JIT (Just-in-Time) inventory is an extreme form of EOQ where you minimize in-stock inventory at any given point, scheduling reorder points to arrive exactly when you sell out.
Keeping up with those numbers is all but impossible without real-time data. The algorithms make up-to-the-minute calculations based on both the current (exact) rate of sale and long-term forecasts. That’s possible when you have all of your sales points and marketplaces linked to a central inventory management system, because you see the actual rate of sale per location or warehouse, per channel, and per product. You can then track the actual rate of sale and update your EOQ on a per-order basis with the supplier.
Often, this allows you to automate reorder points either by flagging an administrator when the stock reaches a critical level or by automatically submitting the order.
Calculating EOQ for Optimal Inventory
A credible EOQ calculation takes data from every part of your business to align metrics like rate of sale, sales forecasts, and historic data with demand. Then, you can determine how many times per year you have to order and update that frequency as data changes. Granted, you’ll still have to calculate reorder points, which rely on supplier data and shipping timelines, as well as the time required to process incoming orders.
However, EOQ isn’t infallible, so you should regularly update your calculation or your order based on current, real-world data. While EOQ can be complex to figure out at first, in the long run, it can greatly reduce the inventory you have in your warehouse at any given time while preventing you from selling out.
How to Measure Profitability Across Channels
In 2021, almost 20% of global retail sales came from eCommerce, and that figure is expected to grow to nearly 25% by 2025. This highlights the major role that eCommerce plays in business.
However, its profitability poses a challenge: 70% of surveyed businesses said they took a hit trying to boost their eCommerce elements during the pandemic (and were unable to do so optimally).
To help you stay in the black, we’ll discuss how to measure eCommerce profitability across your different sales channels and why it’s crucial to your company’s success.
What Does eCommerce Profitability Measure?
Each product category and online sales channel behaves differently, and measuring eCommerce profitability helps you to understand them. It quantifies:
- How well do certain products sell on specific channels
- How each eCommerce channel behaves
- How expenses for selling, marketing, and fulfillment affect their profitability
With the data you gather, you can make information-driven decisions and adopt measures to improve your business.
Why You Need to Measure Sales Channel Profitability
Tie Everything to Unique Sources of Truth
Measuring profitability involves mapping invoices from various suppliers to your sales channel data. It typically looks like this:
- You have to reconcile all of the invoices you receive from suppliers and manufacturers.
- You need to tie each manufacturer/supplier SKU to your own internal identifier, which should be a unique ID.
- Lastly, you connect that unique ID to a respective sales channel SKU (which could be an ASIN, UPC, ISBN, or EAN).
Your unique ID becomes the source of truth, which you can then use to calculate how much you make per sale across various channels.
Gain a More Detailed Look at Your Business
Finding the profitability of each channel lets you understand not just the bigger picture, but also how each channel performs relative to one another. You can thoroughly compare and analyze their behaviors to determine which channels perform better and which deserve more of your attention.
Control Your Costs
With a detailed examination of your business, you can allocate your expenditures correctly. For instance, identifying poorly performing items on a channel allows you to distribute them strategically and control your inventory costs.
Additionally, if you see items aren’t selling well despite a high ad spend, you can cut back on expenses.
Assist With Creating Targeted Initiatives
Calculating profitability also helps you develop and implement corrective measures. Let’s say you pinpointed an underperforming channel—you could then decide to shut it down or conduct more research on its consumers’ behaviors.
As a marketing example, imagine you learn specific items sell better on Walmart as you advertise. Increasing your ad spend should then be your focus. Leverage your profitability data to hone initiatives that’ll improve business operations.
Identify the eCommerce Sales Channels Worth Scaling
Profitability also indicates which online channels deserve further investment. Note that, depending on your products’ categories, your initial margins may seem slim, but that can be improved through scale.
Online, some consumer packaged goods are more profitable than others. Factors like a retailer’s strategy can affect the performance of certain products. By scaling, however, your margins can increase proportionally.
How to Measure eCommerce Profitability
We previously outlined how to map invoices to unique IDs and then tie them to respective channel SKUs. Here’s what to do next.
Step 1: Identify Your Functional Expenses
First, determine your sales channels’ expenditures. You can incur them through business activities such as:
- Selling, marketing, and advertising
- Packing and distribution
- Billing and collection
After recognizing where money is spent, you should categorize them correctly. For instance, if you spent X amount on a certain ad campaign or used X dollars for the fulfillment, list each expense accordingly.
You should also map out your employees’ salaries according to their functions. If your advertising manager took care of an Amazon campaign, their pay should be categorized under ad spend.
Step 2: Assign your expenses to the appropriate channel
Next, properly identify which channel the categorized expenses belong to. By accurately tracking each channel’s costs, you can compute its averages. For instance, if you sell on Amazon, you can compare your fulfillment costs to the number of orders you’ve received.
For marketing, meanwhile, simply set your total number of ads and ad spend side by side, then calculate the average amount you spent.
Step 3: Prepare profit-and-loss (P&L) statements for each channel
P&L statement lets you concretely measure every sales channel’s financial performance. When putting them together, remember to allocate your expenses proportionally.
For instance, your cost of goods should be distributed based on your channel’s total sales. Let’s say you sell on Amazon and Walmart. If 70% of your sales are from Amazon while the remaining 30% is from Walmart, you should assign the cost of goods accordingly.
Doing that shows you your gross margin. Next, deduct the proper share of functional costs from each channel to find your net profit. Your net profit shows you each channel’s true performance, which means a high gross margin doesn’t indicate actual profitability.
Step 4: Formulate proper corrective actions
After seeing your channels’ profitability, you can then develop strategies and appropriate measures to counteract any underperformance.
You may discover that specific products aren’t selling on certain channels due to a lack of marketing. You could even find you’re overspending on advertising without improvements in sales. Then, you can consider dropping such channels or initiatives.
For productive channels, meanwhile, you can choose to grow them further. But before making a decision, don’t forget to consider different factors like:
- Consumer behaviors
- Market trends
- Sales strategies
Wrapping up — Measure profitability across channels to determine your best business strategy
Simply put, eCommerce has become paramount to any business’s success, but achieving real profitability is challenging. Also, remember that every product and online sales channel will act uniquely.
By properly measuring profitability, you can get a better grasp of those behaviors and adapt accordingly. Just remember what we’ve discussed and you’ll be good to go.
Why 2023 Will Be The Year of Influencer Marketing And How to Maximize It
Can you guess how long the average person spends on social media?
145 minutes per day. That’s over a month each year (36.75 days, to be exact!).
With people increasingly glued to their influencer marketing’s meteoric rise was inevitable.
Creator collaborations play a huge role in driving leads and sales for many businesses, especially eCommerce and retail brands. So much so that 80% of shoppers have made a purchase after an influencer recommended the product.
Like social media apps, the influencer marketing world is constantly changing. Therefore to run engaging and profitable campaigns, you’ll need to keep a keen eye on the trends shaping the industry and use them to adjust your strategy.
To help you get a head start, we’ve compiled the hottest trends set to brace 2023 and some expert tips to hit a home run with your influencer marketing strategy.
Let’s dive in.
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Top influencer marketing trends to watch for 2023
To set your brand up for success with creator collaborations, it’s essential to study the road ahead to create a fitting strategy. Let’s run through the most significant influencer marketing trends for 2023:
Customer acquisition costs continue to rise
Thanks to rising costs, you now need to pay more to play and even more to win in ad channels like pay-per-click. This is clearly bad news for eCommerce brands that use such marketing strategies as their bread and butter for customer acquisition.
Luckily, the influencer marketing industry is not only cost-effective but is still growing and is expected to reach $16.4 billion in 2022. Also, the vast size and variety of the influencer marketing industry can fit any budget. These characteristics make influencer marketing an excellent alternative to get more eyeballs on your products and acquire new customers.
Consumer trust in traditional ads will continue to wane
Fatigue and distrust towards traditional ad channels like celebrity endorsement is fast becoming the norm. Why? People value authenticity and trust suggestions from those they like and trust, which happens to be their friends, family, and influencers.
To put this into perspective, 70% of teens place more trust in creators than in TV personalities and celebrities. To succeed in 2023, you’ll need to pick influencers with great reputations and engaged audiences.
eCommerce platforms get involved in influencer marketing action
We aren’t the only ones who noticed the rise of influencer marketing; leading eCommerce solution providers have caught on too. Shopify and Walmart Marketplace have created influencer connection platforms to make finding and working with the right influencer simpler.
So, if the potential workload had you postponing giving influencer marketing a try, there’s never been a better time to get involved.
Learn more about how to leverage Shopify Collabs to boost your marketing.
Video promotion goes viral
With apps like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube gaining a global reach with innovative video-led content, creators are finding new ways to bring products to life through video. From short and engaging inspirational reels to engaging and informative unboxing videos, the options for developing a strong brand and showcasing offers are plentiful.
60% of millennials are more inclined to take advice from a YouTuber than a traditional media personality. So tap into different video formats and channels to capture your target customer’s attention in 2023.
Social commerce is on the up and up
More shoppers have started to interact with social shopping opportunities, with avenues such as live shopping and social stores gaining ground fast. As a result, social commerce rakes in $89.4 billion each year worldwide. Brands that can blend their social selling initiatives with influencer marketing will fare well in 2023. Put the social selling trend to the test in 2023 with social selling features on your pages or setting up events and stores with influencers.
What are the benefits of influencer marketing for eCommerce brands?
When you’ve seen success with tried and tested marketing options like pay-per-click ads and email marketing, you may wonder whether you really need to give influencer marketing a try. But influencer is in a league of its own and is a worthwhile investment when executed correctly. Here are some benefits you can look forward to:
- Accelerated sales: Influencer content’s viral potential allows you to turn clicks and likes into sales fast. And with the right strategy, you can produce profitable campaigns time after time.
- Maximize your ad budget: The diverse range of influencers available means you can split your ad budget among different creators, from micro-influencers to celebrities, allowing your cash to go further. This means more cash left over for other campaigns and projects too.
- Make your products more discoverable: 86% of shoppers flock to Instagram to find new products. Influencer marketing campaigns can explode your brand’s reach and give you more chances to convert.
- Unearth new profitable audiences and niches: Influencers cover many niches, industries, and topics. As you work with different influencers, you can find lucrative sub-niches to scale your business.
- Access more user-generated content (UGC): UGC is huge for winning buyers’ trust and building. Influencer marketing provides the ultimate opportunity to build a portfolio.
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How to dominate the checkout with influencer marketing?
To succeed at influencer marketing, you’ll need a realistic budget, some creativity, and a curious spirit. Once you’ve checked these off your list, it’s time to put together a winning strategy. Let’s cover some steps to take:
Choose your social media channels and influencers wisely
If you want to hit it big with influencer marketing, you must get two things right: your platform options and influencer selections.
But don’t stop at Instagram. Research other platforms your target customer spends time on and test them with small campaigns. Double down on the niches, audiences, and stories that work and cull those that don’t resonate. Some social media platforms you can experiment with include:
Who you work with will play a huge role in determining whether your influencer campaigns are a hit or miss. Some areas to ensure you and the creator are the right fit are:
- Brand look and feel
- Mission and beliefs
- Audience members
Tell great stories to increase engagement
People learn and connect through stories. So, naturally, the best influencer campaign has a captivating storyline that hooks viewers in and encourages them to learn more. To craft your own scroll-stopping storylines, use your product’s unique value proposition as a guide and expand from there.
For example, say you own a vegan, celiac-friendly snack line. You could share your customers’ stories on how their quality of life has improved by having access to more delicious snacks that won’t harm their health. You could also use any charitable initiatives you’re involved with to share how your products are making a positive impact.
Repurpose influencer and UGC content into ads
Mixing influencer and customer-generated content from your campaigns into a PPC ad is a fantastic way to increase your reach. It also maximizes your influencer content utilization to help you squeeze more conversion out of them. There are many content formats you can request from customers and influencers. For best results, start with:
- Videos (Short, Reels, and long-form)
- Testimonials and reviews
Test collaborations with micro-influencers
When it comes to who makes up influencer marketing space, micro-influencers take the top spot, with their market share hitting 91% in 2021 and still growing. So, take this opportunity to find creators that match each of the customer personas you target.
You can also find micro-influencers in niches you’re eager to break into or have products launching in soon. For instance, if you have a fitness brand but hope to break into swimwear, you can find micro-influencers in these niches and test them simultaneously.
Mesh influencer marketing content into your social stores
Social stores are growing in popularity and are the perfect place to house some of your well-crafted influencer content. You can even take things up a notch by working with creators to be the cover of a collection or item in your portfolio and share the news via the influencers page to drive even more eyeballs to your social shop.
Leverage influencer marketing tools
Whether you aim to stay local or want to deliver multi-territory campaigns, there are tools available that help you find and monitor the influencer partners, store contracts and agreements organized, payouts, and more.
Examine what areas you need help with and use tech solutions to fill the gaps. Here are a few to help set up and run your first campaigns:
- Discovery and collaboration platforms: Shopify Collabs, Pixlee, Phlanx
- Campaign design and management: Grin, CreatorIQ, AspireIQ
Make the cash register ring with influencer marketing
In 2023, a new breed of influencer marketing is coming to a screen near you. To ensure your campaigns are relevant and engaging, get up to speed on developing trends now, tweak your tactics, and start testing.
Remember, people flock to social media to engage with their network and find new and interesting things. Keep these reasons at the forefront of your mind when planning campaigns, so they feel authentic and people-centered rather than sales-y.
Finally, involve your target customer in your influencer campaigns to drive reach and engagement and make it easy for potential buyers to take the next step, whether it’s signing up for an email list or buying your products.
Soon you’ll have another profitable marketing strategy you can depend on to scale your business to new heights.
A new year is approaching. Get a fresh start in your fulfillment with MyFBAPrep.
Value-added services from MyFBAPrep
Do you know how many stores are on Shopify?
As the online selling world becomes increasingly crowded, some brands have learned a hack that gives them a much-needed edge. Efficient fulfillment.
But as a scaling brand, completing all the fulfillment-related tasks to a high standard consistently can be challenging. That’s where an experienced prep and pack service provider like MyFBAPrep takes the load off your shoulders and builds an optimized fulfillment process.
Many services fall under the “fulfillment” umbrella that can take your prep process and customer experience from good to great. In this post, we’ll cover why partnering with a fulfillment provider to secure value-added services is a worthwhile investment. We’ll also share some of the most impactful services for growing eCommerce brands and the rewards you stand to reap by using them.
Struggling to manage fulfillment in-house? Learn how MyFBAPrep makes outsourcing easy.
Why invest in fulfillment services?
From prep and pack services to prep to 3PL and 4PL solutions, investing in your fulfillment processes can pay huge dividends for years to come. Let’s take a look at some benefits you can get when you pick the right provider:
Enhance your end-to-end fulfillment with the perfect details
Whether you need items securely shrink-wrapped for transporting to your retail stores or want some finishing touches added to your show-stopping bundles, the right value-added service provider will be right on hand. As you polish your fulfillment, you can expect lightning-speed efficiency and productivity that’ll upgrade your eCommerce selling results.
Make your resources count
Time and money are two of the most important resources you can have as a growing eCommerce brand. Using fulfillment services will not only help you maximize your budget but it’ll also make your processes more streamlined and profitable.
Set a high bar for customer happiness to accelerate growth
One of the great things about using value-added services is that phenomenal customer experience will become your standard. As swift fulfillment becomes your signature and you can attract even more business into your store, boosting its growth.
Feeling overwhelmed by your fulfillment duties? Let MyFBAPrep do the heavy lifting.
Value-added services: Top picks for eCommerce brands
When it comes to value-added services, the world is your oyster. You can pick and choose from a wide variety of services whether you have a fixed or flexible logistics setup. As an eCommerce store, there are some core fulfillment services you should consider. Let’s break them down:
Re-labeling at scale
Relabelling involves taking products with premade labels, e.g., barcodes or printed packaging, and attaching new labels in line with the requirements of your sales channel.
If you have unlabelled goods from manufacturers and suppliers, you can also use this service to attach labels such as QR codes, Stock Keeping Units (SKU), or product name tags to your goods.
The perks of relabelling services
- Create compliant labels without exploding your workload: Sticking labels onto boxes may seem manageable, but as your order volumes and SKUs increase, it’s easy for things to go haywire. A relabelling service will ensure labels are accurate, organized, and uniform.
- Keep costs low: Relabelling can be a time-consuming and intricate process. If you depend on an eCommerce marketplace’s fulfillment service to carry out this task, you could be left with an eyewatering bill. Outsourcing this task to a 3PL will help keep your costs in check.
- Consistent labels no matter where your goods come from: When you use multiple manufacturers or suppliers, maintaining consistency in your labeling can be costly and get any safety or branded stickers added at scale.
MyFBAPrep works with brands to develop labeling and sticker guidelines to ensure uniformity in your labels every single time. Staff execute the labeling service based on the guidelines, and relabelling work is inspected for quality and consistency before sign-off.
Co-packing involves taking goods from their raw and packaging them into finished products. While often used in the food industry, co-packing is also great for eCommerce brands with multiple SKUs and sales channels. Co-packing services can also include inventory management, packaging design and production, product assembly and warehousing, and distribution.
The perks of co-packing services
- Increase your supply chain output: Taking an item from freshly made to packaged products can be a messy labor of love, requiring expertise and space to get the job done efficiently. A co-packing service will help you access the necessary tools, space, and workers to maximize productivity.
- Prep goods fast no matter what: When you’ve got a small team working on everything from customer service to prep and fulfillment, it’s easy for important tasks like prep to get bumped down your to-do list. By using sorting and segregation, you can prep and send goods quickly no matter what your team’s obligations look like
- Slicken your prep process: By taking the prep and shipping off your hands, a co-packing service can help you gain more flow in your fulfillment process while executing multiple packaging specs. This will help you avoid issues like stockouts and non-compliant goods.
MyFBAPrep will work with you to craft product and shipment outer packaging guidelines for every product and sales channel. We will receive your goods in any state, then we brief and assign team members to a station and task to speed up workflow.
For example, At MyFBAPrep, we recently received 50,000 dog bones that we needed to put on individual J-Hooks and hang tags. We made custom plywood tools to accelerate work output and keep our workstations and product handling hygienic.
Within 24 hours, we got the bones ready for sale with the right labels and packaging. We also boxed and palletized them to keep the shipment organized.
Bundling is when you batch similar products together to an offer. You can use them for promotions, holidays, and even as a way to shake up your existing product without creating new items.
The perks of bundling services
- Increase average order value: Bundling is one of the few services that can visibly impact your bottom line. Since you can earn more per order, bundling is a fantastic way to boost your store’s return and make your marketing campaigns more cost-effective.
- Optimize your items’ perceived value: Be it saving time, creating a memorable gift, or an easy kit, shoppers love bundles and the value they provide. For instance, by putting together products your customers often buy together at a discount, your offer can become more appealing despite not offering new products.
- Save space and simplify replenishment: With rising costs and continuing supply chain chaos, warehouse space is precious, and filling it with your most important goods is essential. Bundling helps you get goods into stock more easily and can even serve as backups for single product purchases by tearing them down when necessary.
MyFBAPrep can take individual items and package them as one unit. Alternatively, we can prep singular products into one order at the fulfillment stage.
Pallet bag packing
Pallet bag packing allows you to bundle and attach outbound shipments to a pallet in one swoop. Choose from different-sized bags and purchase in bulk to fit your need.
The perks of pallet bag packing
- Give your goods a safe ride to their destination: Pallet bag packing allows you to you lock the goods into one solid unit for transportation. This improves the pallet density and stability so you can ship them worry-free.
- Reduce inventory loss: With pallets secured using pallet bags, you can reduce the risk of product damage from things like mobile goods, dust, and moisture during transit and unloading and so protect your investment.
- Quick, easy, and cost-effective prep: If you’re looking for a fuss-free solution for your outbound shipments, pallet bag packing is the answer. You will add the finishing touches to your outbound shipments fast and easily without breaking the bank.
A variety pack service allows you to package individual items into one unit. You can vary the assortment by size, product, or quantity.
The perks of variety pack services
- Switch up your offers to skyrocket sales: From assorted chips to face mask multiple packs, variety packs are a staple in the retail and eCommerce worlds. Using a variety pack service can help offer more choices to shoppers and increase conversions.
- Keep inventory costs manageable: As a growing business, it can be challenging to cover inventory costs with variety packs alongside your regular stock needs. Using a variety pack service will give you the option of creating variety packs on demand from one inventory pool.
- Hit the gas peddle on laggard items: Variety packs services offer you a great way to reposition slow-moving products to clear your inventory quickly and get higher margins per sale.
Shrink wrap involves tightly wrapping boxes or products with a polymer plastic film that “shrinks” around the object.
The perks of shrink-wrapping services
- Save on product packaging: Not every product needs a box or a tag, sometimes shrink wrap will do the job. Using a shrink wrap service will help you keep costs packaging, storage, and shipping costs lower.
- Add an extra security layer to your shipments: Got a shipment of valuable goods? Shrink wrap can offer a layer of protection by making it harder to access its contents.
- Make your pallets more: As the saying goes, “there’s strength in numbers”. A shrink-wrapping service will help you tie boxes together, wrap shipments to pallets for more, and put individual items into one bundle for more sturdiness.
Sort and segregation
Sort and segregation, a.k.a. sort and seg, involves your fulfillment provider handling unloading and sifting through shipments. This involves stock counting, quality inspection, packaging, and repacking.
The perks of sort and segregation services
- Get goods ready from sale easily: Purchased a liquidation pallet you want to rebrand? No problem! A sort and segregation service can help you prep goods for sale with minimal fuss.
- Get faster prep: Since you can send goods exactly as they are from your suppliers, you can speed up your prep and pack for faster restocking and fulfillment processes.
- Access specialized skills no matter your budget: Things like quality assurance and packaging take specific skills to execute, and with limited resources, it can be difficult to maintain high standards. A sort and segregation service will allow you to tap into these skills without needing to develop them in-house or sign up for lengthy contracts.
MyFBAPrep can handle the entire process from receiving goods from manufacturers to sorting and segregation of your SKUs according to your spec.
Get ahead with optimized fulfillment
Value-added services offer an excellent opportunity to streamline back-end processes and make your fulfillment hassle-free and cost-effective.
No matter your budget, product portfolio size, or packing requirements, there’s a service out there for you. So pick the areas you need help with the most now and get started.
The sooner you sharpen your fulfillment process, the faster you can start seeing results in your customer satisfaction and sales.
If you’re looking for a prep and pack partner, MyFBAPrep is ready and waiting with the services and tools needed to set your brand apart. Get in touch to learn more.