Month: July 2022
5 Costly eCommerce Aggregator Mistakes And How to Avoid Them
Since April 2020, funds raised stand at a whopping $14.9 billion with 47% of deals fetching between $2-$5million each. The secret is out. The eCommerce aggregator business model is now one of the hottest opportunities for making vast amounts of money online.
However, running an aggregator isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. With multiple brands on your books, the stakes are high. A simple error can lead to eye-watering bills, unhappy customers, and lackluster returns.
But before you write off this stellar opportunity, know that despite the challenges that come with scaling a brand aggregator, you can still make your goals a reality. All you need is an awareness of the landscape and strategy to make it happen.
In this post, we’ll uncover the 5 costly eCommerce aggregator mistakes and how to avoid them and grow to become a powerhouse business.
Looking for a way to level up your aggregator’s result? Get your fulfillment processes right with MyFBAPrep.
Top 5 mistakes eCommerce aggregators make
Whether you’re just starting out or a veteran in the eCommerce aggregator space, the fast-paced nature of the business makes it easy to trip up. These mistakes range from the face palm bloopers you can recover from quickly to the scary, business-altering errors that keep you up at night. So, to know what to keep your eyes peeled for, let’s dive into some common mistakes eCommerce brand aggregators make:
1. Buying the wrong brands
Some brand aggregators are distracted by shiny objects, like great publicity and high revenues, while others are lured by super-niche products. But behind the “cool” aesthetic, lie items with small markets that can be difficult to scale and weak branding that pulls down the eCommerce brand’s perceived value.
In both scenarios, the brand aggregator has picked the wrong brand based on surface-level qualities and will need to course-correct by improving the vital metrics like profits, ROI, and margin (more on this later).
2. Taking on difficult-to-market products
From having access to relevant territories to reaching your target customer, many factors go into successfully marketing an eCommerce product. Although some brand aggregators find themselves in hot water when they choose brands with offers that are challenging to market. Some issues that crop up include:
- Legal, regulatory, and cost-related issues slowing down advertising launch
- Product(s) prohibited on specific advertising channels, decreasing the brand’s reach
- Selling seasonal or highly competitive items that make reducing brand visibility
3. No fulfillment strategy in place
Perhaps the eCommerce brand you’ve chosen started small with haphazard fulfillment, like impromptu post office runs and pickups from carriers. This setup may have worked just fine in the early stages, but as the brand scales, managing orders without official processes becomes increasingly difficult. On the flip side, some aggregators pick brands that have been a little too proactive in their fulfillment setup, causing them to use many carriers daily and missing out on the structure and deals that come with 1-2 reliable shipping providers.
4. Lack of funding
Ecommerce brands are notorious for being cash-intensive for good reasons. Not only do you have to bare slow pay-outs from sales channels, but you’ll also need to cover large upfront investments in inventory to stay in stock.
Also, it takes significant cash injections to level up the brand to achieve your aggregator’s growth goals and exceed competitors’ offers. A lack of cash can result in you settling for less than top-tier strategies and processes, holding your brand aggregator back from the success it’s capable of. A great example of this capital shortage in action is aggregators putting their brand acquisition dreams on the back burner due to cashflow shortages.
5. Unprepared to navigate global supply chain issues
Although not an issue reserved for eCommerce brand aggregators, shipping delays and supply chain issues continue to rock the globe. This problem has made it more difficult to obtain goods fast without destroying their margins. Since the global supply chain chaos is far from over, every business needs a strategy to get and stay in stock quickly and affordably. Yet some brand aggregators are yet to get their procedures down, with knock-on effects on customer experience, sales, and ultimately growth.
Need a hand in building a winning fulfillment strategy? Look no further than MyFBAPrep.
How to build a successful eCommerce aggregator for online stores
If you’re stuck wondering how to make gainful returns from your brand aggregator in the uncertain market, you’re in the right place. Let’s breakdown some key steps you should take:
Make profitability a must
When deciding whether to take an online store under your wing, it’s vital you make profitability a requirement for both the business and its products. Also, look for traits like:
- Business age (at least one year)
- Solid sales volume year-round
- A handful of profitable SKUs
- Customer loyalty
- Growing brand presence
- Capital generating opportunities within the brand
- Sells on multiple sales channels
For example, an Amazon business could have high ROI items, loyal customers, and consistent subscription revenue, but its costly fulfillment strategy wipes all the profits. So, if you could make the fulfillment process cost-effective, you’d have a winner on your books.
Tip: If you’ve mistakenly bought an unprofitable brand, don’t panic. Look for places to slash costs, increase perceived product value, and build recurring monthly revenue through subscriptions to turn the brand’s trajectory around.
Secure eCommerce funding
A great hack to grow your brand aggregator is to leverage external capital to bridge cash flow shortages and increase your buying power. More alternative eCommerce funding options are available than ever before, waiting to help you achieve your biggest eCommerce goals.
So, don’t settle for traditional options like bank and government loans which can be inflexible and hard to obtain for eCommerce businesses. Instead, seek out a dedicated eCommerce funding solution. Some traits to look for include:
- ECommerce expertise
- Fair rates and fees
- Simple application process
- Provides resources and on-hand support
- Has flexible rules on funding usage
It’s time for your brand aggregator to shine. Learn how MyFBAPrep can put your business in the limelight.
Build memorable brands for each eCommerce store
A solid brand is a gift that keeps on giving. It can cause shoppers to single out your items in the online sea of offers and increase how much your brands charge for their products.
So, boost your brand above its competitors by investing in things like:
- Global trademarks
- Brand registry
- A+ content
- Sponsored brand and product ads
- Professional photos emulating the brand’s style
- Branded products and packaging
Expand your horizons when sourcing eCommerce businesses
Cross-border eCommerce is now a huge business, and as a brand aggregator, taking advantage of this trend can strengthen your portfolio and supercharge growth. In addition, looking further afield for potential brands to purchase reduces the risk of having all your eggs in one basket. So, if disaster strikes in one territory, your brand aggregator can stay operational.
For example, if your brand aggregator consists of US-based brands, look at upcoming brands in Asia, Canada, Australia, the UK, and the EU.
Streamline supply chain operations
Leveling up each supply chain within your brand aggregator is one of the best ways to save money, maximize sales opportunities, and boost profitability. To ensure your supply chain runs like clockwork, you’ll need to take a two-pronged approach. Let’s zoom in on these steps:
Step 1: Conduct a supply chain assessment
Look at the supply chains with your brand aggregator and ask:
- Which steps aren’t essential?
- What is costing us the most money?
- Where are we wasting the most time?
Once you’ve identified unprofitable tasks in your eCommerce brands’ supply chain, eliminate them or find ways to reduce them.
For example, after assessing the brands within your aggregator, you may discover you’re spending a lot of time on money labeling and packaging products with prep centers before shipping them to warehouses and Amazon. You could rectify this by asking your suppliers to complete these tasks during the manufacturing process.
Step 2: Optimize key contributors in your supply chain
Next, optimize critical areas in your supply chain to improve efficiency, productivity, and error rates. 3 areas to tackle are:
Technology: Use AI-backed solutions to optimize things like inventory forecasting, PO creation, and freight bundling. Also, take advantage of these tools dashboards to identify potential threats and opportunities for each eCommerce brand in your ecosystem.
Fulfillment: Create 1-3 fulfillment strategies for specific product categories, types, or sizes, then assign products within your brand aggregator to them accordingly. Unifying the supply chains within your brand aggregator will allow you to save time and take advantage of economies of scale.
To make this move without increasing your team’s workload, partner with a reliable fulfillment service provider house that can scale with your brand and has affordable rates. (Don’t forget to maintain a relationship with another fulfillment house as a backup).
Suppliers: Audit suppliers to identify your top performers and consolidate production among them. Also, work with these suppliers to increase product quality, reduce production time, and lower product costs.
The secret to huge brand aggregator wins
Scaling an eCommerce brand aggregator is an exciting opportunity with huge upside potential for ambitious entrepreneurs. But to build an aggregator that can stand the test of time and produces sustainable returns, you’ll need to be proactive.
Put profits first, create a standout brand, and ensure you have the finances for the journey to build each eCommerce brand within your aggregator’s reputation and sales.
Also, keep an eye out for rising star online stores in other territories and focus on acquiring brands in specific product categories. This way, streamlining suppliers and fulfillment processes will be easier, and you can take advantage of higher total order volumes to get better fulfillment prices.
From here, your brand aggregator will be on a solid trajectory towards consistent returns, higher margins, and massive growth.
Are costly fulfillment strategies dampening your brand aggregator’s results? Get profitable with MyFBAPrep.
How to Build A Winning Amazon Aggregator Fulfillment Strategy
The Amazon brand aggregator market is expanding rapidly and becoming one of the top eCommerce opportunities for ambitious entrepreneurs. More than 90 businesses have signed up and they’ve raised nearly $15 billion to date.
However, the expansive nature of Amazon brands means managing operations can be challenging as their aggregator. Additionally, it’s easy to believe that managing countless dashboards, strategies, and suppliers is just the way things are in the market, but there’s a better way.
In this post, we’ll uncover the top problems Amazon aggregators face while scaling, managing Amazon aggregator fulfillment, and how MyFBAPrep can help you tackle these issues head-on for great returns.
Stressed out trying to manage multiple supply chains? Discover how MYFBAPrep simplifies operations for pain-free fulfillment.
Managing Amazon aggregator fulfillment: 4 Top challenges and how to fix them
From attempting to replicate past successes to trying to accurately project each Amazon brand’s growth, scaling a profitable brand aggregator comes with its challenges. One of the most common areas brand aggregators encounter is fulfillment. Let’s take a look at some of these problems and how to resolve them:
1) Too many 3PLs, too little time
Managing operations in the early stages of your Amazon brand aggregator journey is time-consuming, but manageable, as you typically have a handful of brands.
However, many teams become so preoccupied with managing the brands on their books, that they don’t have time to prepare for the fulfillment-fueled storm ahead. Here’s where you unknowingly sign up for the looming deluge of ops-related tasks as an Amazon brand aggregator.
Each brand you add to your umbrella tends to come with a legacy of 3PL relationships, each with its own rules, procedures, and pricing. Not to mention the fulfillment requirement methods needed depending on the product.
Quickly, you can end up with 30+ 3PL relationships to upkeep. That’s 30 dashboards, 30 invoices, and 50+ meetings on a good month, assuming there are no fulfillment hiccups. This approach isn’t scalable and will drown you in admin instead of scaling your business.
How to resolve time issues:
- Create 1-3 fulfillment strategies according to a product category, weight, or size.
- Outsource all fulfillment tasks to one reliable full spec fulfillment provider.
2) You pay more for fulfillment than necessary
When your Amazon brands’ fulfillment channels and strategies are fragmented, it’s tougher to profit from economies of scale.
This setup can cause your Amazon brand aggregator to lose out on negotiating power and the most favorable deals from carriers, warehouses, and 3PLs.
Plus, you’ll drag down your brand aggregator’s margins as you pay more for fulfillment services.
How to fix overpayment issues:
- Shop around for fulfillment services with the best quality and prices.
- Once you’ve allocated a fulfillment strategy per brand, use an estimated total order volume of all the brands under that specific strategy for bargaining power.
3) Developing contingency plans becomes tricky
Having a disaster recovery plan is essential for every eCommerce business. However, it becomes more difficult to create contingency plans for each brand in your aggregators when they each have different fulfillment strategies.
Soon, this setup could leave some brands without a good backup plan, making your brand aggregator vulnerable.
How to reduce business vulnerability
- Group brands within your business based on commonalities (e.g. products, categories, or territories) and create a backup plan for each group.
- Forge a relationship with another dependable 3PL as a fallback plan in the event that your primary fulfillment service becomes inoperable.
4) Complexity breeds frustration
The more fulfillment strategies and services your team has to grapple with, the more you open your business to costly mistakes and stressful work environments.
Team morale and productivity can dip significantly, with costly knock-on effects like absenteeism and staff churn.
How to eliminate the complexity of fulfillment
- Lean on tech tools wherever possible (e.g. managing stock, creating POs, ordering freight)
- Outsource manual fulfillment tasks like prep and packing to an experienced service provider.
Say “no” to wearing multiple hats in your Amazon aggregator’s fulfillment. Team up with MyFBAPrep to streamline logistics.
How MyFBAPrep removes the hassle of fulfillment for brand aggregators
Find yourself struggling to manage your Amazon brand aggregator’s fulfillment? There’s a simple solution. Team up with a reliable, experienced, and affordable prep and fulfillment provider. MyFBAPrep ticks all of these boxes above and more. Below, we’ll outline how we can help you get ahead in the Amazon brand aggregator niche.
Agile fulfillment no matter your business’ size
Big eCommerce companies using a fixed fulfillment strategy can quickly lose flexibility as they scale. Such rigidity makes it difficult to gain a competitive advantage from strategic positioning, like distributing stock across territories.
With MyFBAPrep, you can tap into multiple locations based on current market demand, to gain maximum agility and boost your fulfillment’s profitability. For example, our company has 6 million square feet across 50+ warehouses globally, allowing us to accept and prep your items as close to their final destination as possible.
In addition, MyFBAPrep provides VIP access to the world’s best 3PLs that can scale with your brands like SEKO, Ryder, and Maersk. Typically only brands clearing millions of orders per month have access to this setup.
With MyFBAPrep’s expansive client base and business network, it allows us to leverage economies of scale to secure these game-changing deals for our merchants.
Simplify fulfillment to reclaim time
Another benefit we provide merchants is warehouse consolidation into one easy-to-control network. We’ll streamline your process down to one invoice and one dashboard, making managing fulfillment swift and painless while saving time and energy.
For example, if you decide to keep multiple 3PL partnerships, we can absorb them and manage them within the MyFBAPrep ecosystem. You’ll also have the option to branch out to the big 3PL players to build a new, profitable supply chain system.
Use our Amazon knowledge to gain a competitive edge
Without extensive FBA expertise and experience, many 3PLs make costly mistakes. Soon you could find yourself with a hefty bill or worse, without an Amazon account.
MyFBAPrep stays updated on Amazon’s ever-changing rules and platform product requirements, from its specific pallet type specifications to shipping box size limits and IPI score requirements.
As a result, our actions will keep your brands within Amazon Terms of Service and avoid getting in Amazon’s bad books (which, trust us, is somewhere you don’t want to be). Also, our processes and knowledge allow us to get items into FBA quickly, maximizing selling time and avoiding stockouts.
High-quality fulfillment without breaking the bank
MyFBAPrep is on a mission to provide high-quality fulfillment services that don’t destroy margins. We believe in keeping our processes and pricing simple and transparent. Many aggregators are used to getting 3 pages of invoices per 3PL, not to mention those unexpected charges.
To give you an idea, we quote prep and fulfillment services based on just three things:
- How many cartons do you intend to send in per month, for example, for inspection, counting, or dock-to-stock?
- Quantity of product you want to store in our warehouses?
- How many cartons you’d like us to send out per month, for example, outbound out to Amazon and omnichannel fulfillment?
Spot growth opportunities with tech-powered fulfillment
At MyFBAPrep, we understand your supply chain’s success relies heavily on your tools to operate it. That’s why we offer access to our trademarked solution, Preptopia.
Preptopia will take the pressure off your team to achieve growth targets for each brand within your aggregator. For instance, you’ll have access to this information for each on one easy-to-digest dashboard. Here are just a few ways Preptopia can help your Amazon brand aggregator get and stay ahead of the pack:
- Understand each brand’s inventory and order statuses
- Identify scaling opportunities
- Calculate profits with ease
- Make sending goods to Amazon a seamless process
Build a lucrative Amazon aggregator headache-free
Whether you’re in the beginning stages of scaling an Amazon brand aggregator or have many years under your belt, your fulfillment strategy is a defining factor in your success.
Build a simplified ops strategy to handle every stage from product manufacturing to fulfillment so your business can support brand acquisitions at scale. Ensure the method you choose has opportunity spotting built into it, so your business always has the finances lined up to help it thrive.
Soon managing multiple supply chains and strategies will be a walk in the park. Your team will have more time to focus on business scaling tasks, positioning you to take your Amazon brand aggregator market by storm.
Don’t settle for chaotic fulfillment strategies and services. Build your winning ops strategy with MyFBAPrep.
Benefits of a 3PL: Why To Outsource Your eCommerce Logistics
Over the past few years, with a pandemic thrown in the mix, consumers have heavily transitioned to online shipping. With large eCommerce businesses making shopping so convenient and enjoyable for the consumer, this transition is here to stay.
However, despite the bulk of orders being made online, the fulfillment of these orders still requires a notable element of physicality.
Along with many other moving parts, the ability to delegate systems and processes allows you to focus on the high-level tasks that elevate and grow your business. This is where third-party logistics (3PL) steps in.
In this article, we will share how a 3PL can benefit your eCommerce business.
What is a 3PL?
A 3PL provider, which stands for third-party logistics provider, refers to an outsourced partner that handles eCommerce logistics such as inventory management, fulfillment and warehousing.
This partnership can immensely help your business, especially as 84% of consumers won’t shop with a brand again following poor delivery service, even if all the other purchase points are spot on.
How a 3PL benefits your eCommerce business
In addition to customer satisfaction, a 3PL can benefit your eCommerce business by helping to…
1) Reduce your overhead costs
Partnering with a 3PL provides several cost-saving advantages that can benefit to your business.
For example, storage is one of the largest costs associated with retailers. With a 3PL, these overheads can be drastically reduced.
A 3PL removes the need to rent or buy warehouse space. This eliminates the cost and need to oversee operations, labor and technology associated with in-house fulfillment.
In addition, 3PLs use their expertise to streamline processes which leads to reduced expenses. For example, many 3PLs have multiple locations which enables them to ship from the location closest to the customer, reducing shipping costs.
Furthermore, 3PLs have partnerships with shipping carriers, resulting in discounted shipping prices which you can pass on to your customers.
In conclusion, the reduced costs by partnering with a 3PL, by eliminating the cost of overheads required to run an in-house fulfillment center, labor, management, technology and shipping costs, far outweigh the long-term savings compared to trying to tackle all of the above alone.
Not to mention these savings can be passed onto your customers along with higher customer satisfaction which can, in turn, increase your customer lifetime value (CLTV) and average order value (AOV).
2) Broaden your reach
3PL partnerships can broaden and expand your business’ reach with their extensive network of both national and international fulfillment centers.
This distributed network is an important factor to note and compare when choosing your 3PL provider. Expanding your reach not only opens the flood gates to the global digital buying market, amounting to over 2 billion buyers, but it also opens up reduced shipping costs. This is particularly important for international orders.
On top of higher shipping costs, customs duties and taxes can be costly and add on extra transit time. The expansive network of centers helps keep costs down, shipping times fast and customers happy. The world really is your oyster.
3) Streamline growth
Growth and expansion is the goal of most businesses. However, to facilitate this growth, you need to ensure that you are equipped with the resources to sustain the demand.
3PLs are experts at handling logistics associated with company growth and, as mentioned above, can help your business broaden its reach with their extensive network of fulfillment centers.
In addition, outsourcing repeatable tasks, like fulfillment and inventory management, frees up time to allow you to focus on the tasks that will directly facilitate growth in your business.
4) Access industry expertise
With logistics and shipping professionals who are experts in their field and knowledgeable on the latest trends in the industry, 3PLs allow you to tap into their expert knowledge.
Not only do they have the expert knowledge, but they also have the partnerships, resources and networks required to constantly improve efficiency, reduce costs and optimize processes.
Factoring in decisions like business size and direction, pricing, warehouse locations, shipping requirements, product requirements, and business objectives, it’s important to carefully choose a 3PL that can meet and support your business goals.
The right partnership can excel your company’s growth, broaden your reach and drastically reduce your costs.
Learn more about how MyFBAPrep can make logistics your competitive advantage.
掌握你的履行业务会使投资回报率直线上升。了解 MyFBAPrep如何 帮助你获得应有的利润率。
(收入-投资)/投资 x 100 = 投资回报率
LTV x 利润率 = CLV
- AOV: 50美元
- LTV：50美元 x 6 x 4 = 1200美元
- CLV: $1200 x 0.35 = $420
($20,000 + 15,000) / 1000 = $35
你的投资回报率是否让你捉襟见肘？了解 MYFBAPrep如何 帮助你纠正方向。
6 eCommerce Slack Communities To Join
Whether you are an eCommerce newbie or a seasoned professional, it’s imperative for business owners to connect with other professionals, experts, and potential partners. These connections and opportunities to network are invaluable when it comes to learning more about the industry, seeking or sharing advice, and growing your business.
However, reaching the right people can be challenging. Social networking apps like LinkedIn make it easier to meet and connect with new people. However, these platforms don’t always make instant messaging easy and it’s more difficult to communicate at scale. Then, there are in-person networking events, workshops, and conferences, although these can be costly and time-consuming endeavors. Fortunately, in today’s ever-digital world, there are platforms like Slack available to help you get better connected.
If you aren’t currently using Slack, here’s what you need to know along with 6 eCommerce Slack Communities to join.
What is Slack?
Slack is a messaging app for businesses that connects professionals to the information they need. It’s faster, think instant messaging, better organized, and even more secure than email. This makes it perfect for communicating with your team, vendors, or like-minded business professionals.
At its core, Slack is a tool for collaboration and conversation. This enables people to exchange instant messages privately, in group settings or “channels”. Similar to email, you can attach files, share photos, and, perhaps best of all, you can communicate entirely with GIFs. What more could you ask for?
Unlike social media and social networking platforms like LinkedIn, Slack is designed with communication in mind. Think of it like ICQ, but for professionals. When Slack first came onto the scene, it was used exclusively by teams as an intra-office communications platform, but the technology has evolved in recent years. Now, Slack can be used for both intra-office communications and for external communications, such as Slack Communities.
What are Slack Communities?
Remember the old-school forums? Slack Communities are similar, except better and more engaging.
Slack Communities are digital congregations, similar to Facebook Groups but with an instant messaging component. Unlike Facebook Groups, Slack enables file transfers and direct peer-peer calling (which, of course, you can do with Facebook friends via Messenger). There are hundreds of Slack Communities dedicated to every topic under the sun.
Within Slack Communities, you’ll find #Channels which are group discussions with dedicated topics (like General, Marketing, Advice, Water cooler/random chats, and more). When you join a Community, you have the option to join all or some of the channels available. Most communities will request that you not add new channels without prior consent from Community Managers. These managers are usually available to help you find the channels best suited for your needs.
Why join Slack Communities?
Slack’s eCommerce communities are perfect for gaining practical knowledge and connecting and networking with other eCommerce professionals. Through these communities, eCommerce merchants and developers can engage with one another to learn, share, and celebrate successes.
In many Slack communities, events like Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions are held featuring experts who can answer questions, share experiences, and offer up useful advice. These events provide an up-close-and-personal look into the lives of industry experts and leading eCommerce professionals to help you expand your knowledge and grow your business.
If it’s advice and opinions you’re seeking, Slack communities are a great place to poll your peers.
Reasons to use Slack Communities include:
Slack Communities can be a great way to find new hires for your growing eCommerce business or to find companies or individuals, with whom you can partner for specific business needs like marketing, logistics, or even HR.
Give a little, take a little. Slack Communities are a gold mine for eCommerce professionals seeking advice for all manners of things related to running an online business. In fact, there are Slack Communities designed solely for sharing best practices and advice on everything you need to know about eCommerce!
From peer-to-peer marketing amongst community members to staying on top of current marketing trends, content creation, or learning more about marketing in general, Slack Communities are a great place for all of the above and more.
Finding new ways to add value to your existing customers can be a full-time job. Fortunately, collaboration is made much easier with Slack Communities. From joining forces for unique digital shopping experiences to co-hosting pop-up shops in local communities, Slack Community networking can lead to an abundance of collaboration opportunities.
When you’re considering expanding into new markets, either geographically or in terms of products for sale, it can be daunting to determine your next steps. Slack Communities can be a wealth of information about different markets and can help you find support in new areas too.
Suppliers/Vendors or Partners Discovery
If you’re looking for new partners, Slack Communities might be the ticket. Connect with suppliers, vendors, third-party logistics partners, marketing firms, and even influencers through the myriad of Slack communities specific to eCommerce.
6 eCommerce Slack Communities to join
Now that you know why you should consider joining a Slack Community, you might be wondering where to begin. If you don’t already have a Slack account, that will be your first step! Get signed up for Slack by signing up with your business email (or use their Single Sign-On with Google or Apple).
There are a lot of Slack Communities out there and deciding which ones to join can be overwhelming. Here are a few of our favorites:
Drip is a marketing platform that enables eCommerce brands to run multi-channel marketing campaigns quickly and easily by gathering and organizing customer data. The product allows brands to make personalized, omnichannel customer journeys at scale to improve conversions, boost sales, and grow revenue.
The Drip Ecomm-unity is a curated community of Drip experts, eCommerce industry professionals, founders, and international operators from some of the coolest eCommerce brands, email, SMS marketers, and creative thinkers. The Ecomm-unity features several useful channels including:
- #EcommEssentials: everything eCommerce-related
- #Troubleshooting: the place for Q&A, support, and more
- #ChitChat: a space for conversation – casual or otherwise!
- #EmailMarketing: a space to discuss email workflows, bounce rates, abandoned carts, and more
- #SMS: a place to talk text marketing
Shopify Partners Community
Arguably no one knows eCommerce quite like Shopify. If you aren’t familiar with Shopify, it’s an eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. It’s cloud-based and hosted and provides a seamless, all-in-one platform to support eCommerce businesses from the creation of an online store, right through to the close of a sale.
The Shopify Partners Slack Community is for app developers, theme developers, Shopify agencies, and other ecosystem partners who work towards enabling merchants. This is a huge community that’s very active and includes members from all over the world. It’s also the official channel for Shopify Partner Townhalls. To join the Partner Community, you must have an email registered with an official Shopify Partner.
Not a Shopify Partner? Don’t sweat it. There’s the Shopify Community too! The Slack Community brings together fellow Shopify store owners, partners, Shopify team members, mentors, and educators. It’s a space to share ideas, learn from one another, brainstorm, and just connect. You can apply to join the Shopify Community using your personal or business email, with business being preferred. There are no anonymous members, so be sure to include your business name and your full name when you request. It’s also important to include all of this information on Slack when you join.
eCommerce Academy Community
The Slack eCommerce Academy is a global community of founders, entrepreneurs, and eCommerce professionals that learn how to build, grow, and scale eCommerce businesses together.
The most popular channels include:
- #General: The Marketplace Academy, where founders, entrepreneurs, and fans of marketplaces get together and discuss everything there is to talk about when it comes to online marketplaces.
- #Founders: A channel dedicated to learning, teaching, discovering, and sharing tips, articles, and experiences as it relates to founders’ experiences.
- #Hiring: If you’re looking to build or expand your team, learn about hiring, or simply network, this is the eCommerce Academy channel for you.
- #Pains: We’ve all got them! This is the channel for airing your woes and troubleshooting solutions.
- #GrowthHacking: The channel for anyone seeking to grow their business.
eComm Talk Community
eComm Talk is a Shopify lovers’ community where Shopify users and enthusiasts can connect, ask and answer questions, and make lasting relationships with colleagues.
Some of the channels you’ll find include:
- #AMA: The Ask Me Anything space where AMAs are held periodically, featuring Shopify experts.
- #Development: A general chat channel dedicated to the topic of development. Expect to see questions and discussions related to dev work and get answers to your dev questions here.
- #Marketing: If you want to discuss your marketing efforts and how to level them up, this is the channel for you. Learn how to better market your stores/apps, share your best tips, and boost your sales.
- #Themes: Shopify themes deserve their own channel! Join this channel if you want to talk about theme creation, selling themes, or troubleshooting theme development.
- #Jobs: Hiring? Looking for a new role? This is the channel for you!
CRO Growth Hacks Community
OMetrics is a leader in affordable AI chatbots and conversion rate optimization tools and services specializing. The company specializes in chatbots, lead bots, business lead generation, and A/B conversion optimization testing for eCommerce sites. In short: they’re in the business of helping you grow.
It’s no surprise, that the OMetrics CRO Growth Hacks is a Slack community dedicated to all things growth via CRO, SEM, SEO, email, business strategy, and everything in between.
You’ll find channels like:
- #General: The everyday, general conversation space for team-wide communication and announcements.
- #CRO_hacks: Conversion Rate Optimization is the name of the game here. Learn about CRO hacks to level up your landing pages, email campaigns, and website.
- #SEO_hacks: Ready to take your search engine optimization even higher? This channel is for discussing SEO best practices and hacks, sharing wins, and asking questions.
- #Business_hacks: From business strategy to pivoting your company, questions about employee management, and even more, this is the channel for all of your overall business needs.
- #Site_Critique: Want some constructive criticism? You can drop your website’s URL in this channel to request insights and feedback from peers and experts.
Online Geniuses Community
If you’re unfamiliar with Online Geniuses, they’re one of the biggest SEO and digital marketing Slack communities out there! This community is dedicated to helping members improve their SEO and digital marketing to realize a greater return on those investments and grow their businesses through sharing and connection.
Online Geniuses has more than 35,000 vetted members of its global community including VPs, CMOs, freelancers, consultants, and agency owners from every corner of the digital marketing ecosystem. They regularly host Q&A sessions with industry experts to deliver valuable information to members on topics of interest running the full gamut of digital marketing.
Slack Communities are an effective way for eCommerce professionals to connect with and learn from their merchant counterparts, industry experts, developers, and other professionals involved in the various areas of the eCommerce ecosystem. You can join as many or as few Slack Communities as you choose, based on your unique interests and business needs.
By joining Slack Communities, you can build your skills, grow your business, and even make some friends along the way.
The What, Why, and How of Shopify Audiences
Updates like cookie opt-ins, iOS14, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are creating smaller audiences for advertisers to work with. As a result, eCommerce businesses and retailers with an online presence have to find newer, more effective ways to reach their target customers.
Smaller returns, audience pools, and ad budgets continued on popular advertising sites, with platforms like Facebook seeing a drop in average daily uses for the first time in 18 years.
Enter Shopify Audiences.
With its growing data pool and next-level targeting, Shopify Audiences is the saving grace brands have been searching for to reach new buyers.
In this post, we’ll dive into Shopify Audiences and reveal how it can help your business craft higher-converting ad campaigns. We’ll also offer practical guidance to make the most of a Shopify Audiences integration.
What is Shopify Audiences?
Shopify Audiences is an insights exchange network that gathers conversion-related insights from merchants on Shopify who have opted into the program.
From this data, Shopify employs machine learning to craft audience lists of U.S. and Canada-based customers for use on digital advertising platforms, like Facebook and Instagram (and more to come). You can also select items from your product catalogs to showcase in ads and gain an edge over pure-play Facebook and Instagram ad targeting.
Tapping into insights from the millions of opted-in Shopify merchants, allows brands to optimize their marketing campaigns’ targeting in ways that weren’t previously available on ad platforms. Plus, Shopify Audiences operates with trust and transparency at its core, boasting features like an opt-in/opt-out setup and a fair order attribution model (more on that later).
How Shopify Audiences works
It’s easy to implement Shopify Audiences as the next step in your marketing strategy: Create an audience list, then export it to your chosen ad platform (currently, Facebook or Instagram). You can then launch ads based on the list.
For instance, say you sell outdoor equipment like lawnmowers. Once you opt into the solution, Shopify Audiences can gather data on your shoppers. It’ll then create a custom audience of people interested in lawnmowers and related tools, like sprayers and shovels. If shoppers from the custom audience engage and purchase, Shopify will attribute that sale to the campaign.
You first need to check your eligibility to use and install the Shopify Audiences app. You must be:
- A Shopify Plus user
- Located in the U.S. or Canada
- Use Shopify Payments
Once you meet these requirements, sign up for the app to opt into the network through the following steps:
- Head to your Shopify admin and click Apps.
- Go to the Installed apps section and select the Shopify Audiences app.
- Click Set up audiences.
- Choose to turn on the data contribution and consent to Shopify Audiences’ terms and conditions.
- Link the Facebook account you want to use for advertising by clicking Set up.
Once you’ve linked your store to Shopify Audiences, you’ll start contributing data to the Shopify Audience data pool and can craft custom audiences.
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The perks of Shopify Audiences
Shopify Audiences has opened a world of revenue-generating opportunities to online retailers. Below are some of the advantages you can gain from this innovative tool:
1) Improve top-of-funnel marketing campaigns
While you can’t add existing customers to your lists, Shopify Audiences makes up for this by helping you find high-intent buyers. The custom audiences sharpen your targeting and drive more brand awareness.
2) Gain the upper hand in targeting U.S. and Canadian markets
Shopify Audiences is currently a location-specific tool serving the U.S. and Canada, which gives sellers in these countries a competitive advantage over businesses covering other territories, like Europe.
3) Access secure and privacy-compliant data sharing
Data sent to Facebook is used for data matching and then deleted. Also, audiences sent from Shopify to Facebook go through a secure method that you can’t download, which keeps your customer data top secret.
4) Attract and retain more customers for less
Refined targeting and growth-powering reports obtained through Shopify Audiences lead to faster research and higher return on investment (ROI) on ad budgets.
Each custom audience is based on previous buying behavior, so you’ll have the knowledge necessary to craft ads that resonate with your target customer to increase conversions. You’ll also receive live, accurate data on shoppers’ current wants and needs to keep them coming back for more.
5) Fair order attributions for reporting accuracy
Unlike other marketing tools, Shopify Audience isn’t quick to take credit for an order simply because you use the platform. The program’s attribution model accredits an order to an exported audience when a buyer purchases while your ads are live and up to a week after the campaign ends.
Also, if your customer is in more than one audience when they buy, Shopify Audiences will split the order and its total amount equally between the audiences responsible for generating it.
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Best practices for producing profitable ads with Shopify Audiences
To succeed with Shopify Audiences in the long term, it’s vital you adopt a winning strategy and maintain an inquisitive mindset. We’ll help you get started with some top practices that’ll see huge wins with Shopify Audiences.
1) Keep your data fresh and accurate
The quality of your data pools relies on the information you put into them (remember, you can’t update or download an audience once you’ve exported it to Shopify Audiences).
So, ensure the data you feed into your audience list is current and correct. To obtain the best insights on quality and performance, be sure to:
- Schedule time to check your order and customer data regularly (including removing anomalies, duplicates, and errors)
- Use robust tools to manage your inventory and organize store-related information on a clear dashboard
- Create and launch your ads on the same day you send the data to Shopify Audiences
2) A/B test with intent
A/B testing has become a buzzword in the marketing world, with some brands randomly split testing in hopes of finding their golden ticket. But to gain better results from Shopify Audiences, you must approach A/B testing strategically and with a clear purpose. Here are a few testing tips to remember:
- Keep your ad budgets in line with each ad’s audience size.
- Only A/B test audiences on Facebook.
- Consider audiences with U.S. and Canada-based buyers only.
- Exclude your current customers from the campaign you’re comparing it against.
3) Let insights guide you
Use Shopify Audiences’ reporting tools to understand campaign effectiveness and gain relevant, actionable insights from your results. You can then make data-backed adjustments to your ads to improve conversions. Shopify Audiences generates two types of reports:
1) Overview reports provide a bird’s-eye view of how Shopify Audiences campaigns impact your store. You’ll see information like:
- Total orders — Combines all orders from your audiences, including those you’ve archived
- Total sales — Aggregates the number of purchases from all buyers in your audience lists
2) Detailed reports zoom in on more granular metrics like:
- Average order value — The typical amount buyers spend in your store per order, calculated as Total revenue generated / Total number of orders
- Top products sold — The items shoppers in the audience list bought the most
- Orders — The approximate items customers in an audience list purchased
- Sales — The estimated cash earned on orders from an audience list, calculated as Gross Sales (excluding gift card transactions) – Discounts – Financial Refunds + Taxes + Shipping Costs
- New customers — The approximate number of people in your audience list that have become buyers
Tip: Analyze reports on ad campaign spend impressions and clicks on Facebook to gain a more well-rounded view of your campaign’s performance. This will reveal where to double down your marketing efforts to skyrocket leads and sales.
4) Optimize your ads
Although Shopify Audiences is an ad network, it’s not an ad platform. This means you need to nail the essentials of a winning ad for your targeting to succeed. Here are some ways you can upgrade your ads:
- Create eye-catching images and videos (avoid stock photos and videos).
- Use engaging storylines and tone of voice.
- Build sales funnels with optimized landing pages and offers for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
If optimizing Facebook and Instagram ads isn’t your expertise, don’t sweat it. Get help from a Shopify expert for faster results.
5) Remember your other marketing channels
No matter how well your campaigns perform with Shopify Audiences, you also need to nurture your other marketing avenues. Leverage the Shopify Audiences tool to strengthen your Facebook and Instagram ads and diversify your marketing. Once you’ve mastered your Shopify Audiences targeting, some other channels to focus on include:
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
- Organic social media marketing
- Pay-per-click ads
- Inbound marketing
Wrapping up – The path to success through Shopify Audiences
If the numbers are falling short in your current ad campaigns, there’s still hope. Shopify Audiences has cleared the path to sharper targeting and higher conversions for eCommerce businesses, both large and small. While it’s still a young tool, you can use Shopify Audiences to gain a competitive advantage, build your customer base, and grow your revenue.
Ensure the data you feed Shopify’s algorithms is current and accurate and split test purposefully and often. Finally, optimize every element of your ads and combine your existing marketing strategies with Shopify Audiences’ powerful network of information. With these tips and best practices, your marketing efforts will soon drive your store towards huge paydays and supercharged growth.
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Shopify vs Magento: eCommerce Platform Migration Basics
This is a guest post from Kate Parish, chief marketing officer at Onilab, who has 8+ years of experience in digital marketing and eCommerce web development promotion.
One of the unexpected downsides of managing a successful eCommerce store is outgrowing the platform it launched on. Your business, like a living being, transforms along the way; what covered your needs earlier may no longer be reliable, flexible, and scalable.
Take Shopify and Magento as an example: They make frequent appearances on lists of the most popular eCommerce platforms for thousands of stores. However, they’re very different.
Shopify is the better option for small and medium-sized stores. It lets you set up an eCommerce website without having to think about hosting or hiring an IT team. Magento, in turn, outperforms Shopify in power, customization, and functionality, which is crucial for bigger and fast-growing companies. So, if you’ve been a Shopify client for a while but need to take your store to the next level, consider a platform migration to Magento.
The migration process may seem complicated, so we’ve divided it into digestible pieces for you to understand and make it easier to decide. This article will examine the two competing platforms, the reasons to switch from Shopify to Magento, and the step-by-step migration process.
Magento vs. Shopify
Magento is an open-source website builder based on the PHP scripting language. Its customers include Christian Louboutin, Agent Provocateur, Land Rover, Ahmad Tea, Nestle Nespresso, and more big names.
Magento ensures its clients receive the best functionality and security for every dollar spent. In keeping with this philosophy, the company recently released the Magento 2 upgrade and stopped supporting M1, encouraging merchants to follow their Magento migration steps for the most up-to-date experience. The Magento 2.3 version supports a headless commerce approach to build progressive web apps with an impeccable UI/UX on mobiles and desktops.
Creating an online store on Magento is challenging if you have no IT team or lack the means (or desire) to hire one. But once your store launches on the platform, you can enjoy the limitless capabilities that surpass Shopify’s offerings.
The platform has its downsides, however. Although free to use, most extensions will cost you $60–$600. You’ll also need to pay for hosting, third-party services, and developers. If you require more functionalities and tools, Magento offers a Commerce edition, which starts from $22,000 per year and may rise due to increased customer Gross Sales Revenue (GSR).
Shopify is one of the most popular solutions for eCommerce businesses. Apart from SMBs, major brands like Heinz, Nestle, Rebecca Minkoff, and KKW Beauty also use it. Its popularity is attributed to the ease of setting up a store on the platform.
Shopify charges $29–$299 per month, plus transaction fees for 24/7 support, hosting services, and seamless themes. It provides indispensable elements for stores, including:
- A payment processor
- A blog
- Email marketing tools
The platform’s multi-tenant architecture can slow website performance during traffic spikes though, so an expanding store may struggle to provide a polished user experience.
Although you can use custom code in the back end to change your store, if you need to go beyond Shopify’s basic functionalities and features, you’ll have to leave Shopify for adaptable solutions like Magento.
Why migrate from Shopify to Magento 2
Magento is a free (to use) and customizable constructor, while Shopify is a paid, ready-to-use eCommerce platform.
This difference gives Shopify various limitations, while Magento offers expanded capabilities. Below, we’ll outline the reasons to migrate from Shopify to Magento.
1. Website performance
Fast loading speed is a prerequisite for an eCommerce store’s success. It ensures a better user experience and higher rankings on search, improves online store metrics, and prevents visitors from leaving the website in irritation due to long loading times.
While Shopify has a better overall performance than Magento, it may not handle the needs of a growing business. The bottom line is, you can’t improve the speed of a Shopify store. You operate on what the company offers to you. It’s also impossible to reach the perfect mobile or desktop Google PageSpeed scores.
The self-hosted Magento option provides the opportunity to choose the most suitable hosting provider and boost your store’s performance. It’s especially relevant for huge loads when the proper hosting can save you from other websites affecting your resource. Shopify, however, is unable to provide hosting controls. So, even though Shopify’s performance is initially better than Magento, you have more chances to fix the latter’s issues.
2. Full customization
A Magento store requires solid technical skills, but is customizable. As a self-hosted platform, it gives you complete control over the server and hosting environment. On the other hand, Shopify only needs beginner-level development knowledge for hosting configuration, but it limits access to fundamental performance and customization opportunities. For example, it requires merchants to use its own payment gateway, has a basic category structure, and lacks advanced search functionality.
A point in Magento’s favor is its flexibility and high customization as you gain access to the code. The layered architecture, which separates business logic from presentation logic, lets you tweak the look of your storefront without changing the core business logic.
Magento enables you to configure numerous languages and currencies, as well as different prices for various customer groups. Furthermore, the store owner can manage several stores from a single admin panel.
3. Available features
Magento boasts many extensions, giving it the upper hand in this comparison. The most popular ones (to name a few) are:
- Facebook Business Extension
- Google Shopping by Magenest
- SimiCart Mobile App Builder
- Follow Up Email by Amasty
The extensions allow users to add features to their stores right out of the box. A case in point is Follow Up Email by Amasty: This add-on streamlines sending email notifications, launching campaigns, and specifying coupon rules. Shopify also has various add-ons, but not to the same extent. For example, Magento provides more than 5,000 extensions as opposed to less than 4,000 in Shopify. Plus, Shopify’s are less adaptable, have fewer features, and are more constrained.
4. Options for international trade
The multi-site capability with Magento allows store owners to maintain a single codebase for several websites. As a result, you can have a separate domain for each country and localize websites according to local regulations, taxation, shipping partners, and payment methods.
Magento is also beneficial for running many online stores, which is crucial for taking country-specific localization to the next level, including:
- Local currencies
- Translated text
- Local SEO
- And more
Magento’s multi-warehouse capability assists in managing scattered warehouses from a single source. It boosts operational efficiency, enhances global inventory management, and streamlines resource allocation.
Before opting for Magento, determine if you plan to grow your company. Should the store cover a considerable turnover? Will you need to launch the store at the international level? If you have no intention to scale, you’ll pay extra costs for unnecessary functionalities.
How to migrate from Shopify to Magento
Magento is the upgrade you need to help your growing business continue to flourish. You can migrate from Shopify to Magento manually, with automation tools, or by hiring specialists to do the job for you.
Manual migration is possible for stores with fewer data arrays. However, if each CSV file contains more than 9,000 rows, you’ll need to employ automated tools like LitExtension or Cart2Cart.
Preparing to migrate
Whether you choose to migrate manually or through automation, you have to set up the environment and build a Magento store:
- Install the software, including MySQL, PHP, and Apache, and review the system requirements.
- Install the Magento program on your computer.
- View your storefront and the Magento Admin to confirm the installation and see if you installed the Magento software correctly.
Before changing Shopify, back up crucial files and export data from your back end to CSV files. A CSV file stores data in a table-structured format, which you can use to import and export product, customer, and order information to and from the store.
1. Manual migration from Shopify to Magento
It’s relatively easy to migrate from Shopify to Magento manually: Determine the data to move from the Shopify store, download it, and transfer the Shopify CSV files to the Magento store. Navigate to the Magento admin panel and select “System” => “Import/Export profiles.” It supports data such as:
- Customer main files
- Advanced pricing
- Customers and addresses
Unfortunately, exporting themes is impossible; the only option for moving unsupported data is copying and pasting it from your old website. Be aware, though, you may lose the relationships between the data tables after importing.
2. Automating the Shopify to Magento migration
Automation tools ensure a smoother transfer. We’ll illustrate this migration method using LitExtension. This is a Magento add-on to move your data from one platform to another without the need for coding experience. Its price depends on your store’s number of customers, products, and orders and starts from $29 (the tool conveniently provides a cost estimator on its website).
Set up an account or sign in with Facebook or Gmail, then click “Create New Migration” on the admin board.
Specify the source (Shopify) and target (Magento) stores. Then, insert the store’s URL and API password in the lines shown below.
Download LitExtension Connector to receive a zip file named “le_connector.” You’ll need to upload this to Magento’s root folder and insert the store’s URL as in the source cart step.
The next stage involves selecting entities to migrate, such as products, customers, coupons, pages, etc. You can choose to move all elements or only the necessary ones, and there are extra options to configure the store and map the language or order status as well.
Click the “Next: Start Free Demo Migration” button or skip it and proceed to the “Start Full Migration” button.
After the full migration, you’ll receive an email notification. Hit the “Check result” button to see if everything moved successfully. You can go to the Catalog section to review the imported products.
Dealing with the transferred data
Clear the cache and reindex the data through the following CLI commands:
- php bin/magento indexer:reindex
- php bin/magento cache:clean
Check whether the out-of-stock products are activated and visible from the front end. Install a free or paid Magento theme or develop a new one to restore your storefront’s previous design.
On a regular basis, migrate recent data while the store operates after the full migration. New orders and customers will arrive, which you’ll need to transfer to your new resource. Take advantage of LitExtension Recent Data Migration to update data three months after the complete migration.
Purchase and customize one of the Magento templates for higher quality design and functionality to make your store stand out. Lastly, finalize the migration by changing DNS and switching the domain to your new Magento 2 store.
3. Hiring specialists to handle the migration
Because Magento is a knowledge-intensive platform, you may need experienced programmers to transmit the files to a new platform and obtain the best results from the migration. Budget roughly $18 to $40 per hour for each team member needed for your migration.
Migration specialists will study your needs and budget to determine how best to help you. The team will eliminate issues while keeping you up to date, customize the design, and ensure smooth operations so customers have a seamless shopping experience.
Programmers will also take care of your website’s marketing. This includes configuring the proper redirects, optimizing the home page, and notifying existing customers about the new store.
Platform migration is about transferring an online store and its data, content, and systems from one platform to another. The reasons to change the platform vary as you’re forced to adapt to customer needs, trends, and an expanding product range.
A migration opens up opportunities to manage more orders, customize your store to changing needs, and download advanced features. We focused on comparing Shopify and Magento, examining their pros and cons, why you should switch to Magento, and the migration options.
If your store is rapidly scaling up and requires more customization, Magento is an excellent choice. It’ll boost your website performance, allow you to deal with large, complex orders, and make the store an international selling point.
How to Use Section 321 in eCommerce: A Quick Guide
Improving your profitability by minimizing fulfillment costs and streamlining logistics is vital for any eCommerce business. On the other hand, when shipping your goods from overseas, such initiatives can become difficult.
These challenges can be attributed to customs duties and taxes, which make cross-border shipments much more costly. However, with Section 321, a law by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), these issues can be avoided.
What is Section 321?
To start, Section 321 is a law by the CBP that allows low-value shipments to be cleared through customs free of any taxes and duties, with less paperwork.
It states the de minimis value, which is the worth of a shipment of goods imported by a single person in one day that may enter the US free of any levies. This de minimis threshold was changed by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA) from $200 to $800.
In short, Section 321 is a shipment type that allows your business to reduce the cost and increase the speed of cross-border shipping into the US, as long as it meets the following criteria:
- First, your imported items should have a fair retail value below $800.
- Next, your shipping country should be covered by Section 321.
- And lastly, all of your shipment’s paperwork should be in order.
Benefits of Section 321
As for its primary benefits, we’ll quickly walk you through them.
Reduced business expenses
As it allows you to import products from overseas into the US duty-free and tax-free, Section 321 greatly reduces your international shipping costs. It also benefits your business as a whole, since it makes it more practical to produce or source your items from countries where the costs are less.
Streamlined international shipping
International eCommerce is huge. 57% of consumers, in fact, say that they have made an international online purchase online in the past six months. With Section 321, shipping for such purchases will be better optimized.
Section 321 lets you import your items and have them cleared through customs with less paperwork. It speeds up the cross-border shipping process, minimizes delays, and allows you to get your products to customers quicker.
Having all of the necessary details ready, like proof of value and consignee information, for your shipment is one way of ensuring a smooth trip through customs. Section 321 is also able to streamline the shipping process thanks to its Entry Type 86 Test.
Entry Type 86 Test
This is a voluntary test that allows entries qualified for de minimis to be filed through an Automated Broker Interface (ABI). This ABI permits qualified participants to electronically file and import their data with CBP.
The advantages of the Entry Type 86 Test are:
- Predictable, same-day, automated customs clearance
- Data is provided through a manifest template via API or manual upload
- It’s ideal for low-value items (especially for imports from China)
- It has fewer requirements
- As long as they’re sent to a fulfillment center, your “unsold” DTC parcels under de minimis can be cleared without duties and taxes
Plus, with data and transactions being processed electronically, the Entry Type 86 Test accelerates the release of goods for its users. Messages about current information and issues are also sent to participants. Currently, more than 96% of all data entries are filed through ABI and it’s available to:
- Port authorities
- Independent service centers
The previous benefits allow you to easily cater to the US market. It won’t cost as much and, as you can also speed up cross-border shipping, you can provide your customers with more affordable and faster shipping options.
Limitations of Section 321
It’s important to note, that Section 321 has various restrictions you should be aware of.
Every person is limited to one shipment a day
This limitation means you can only claim one Section 321 shipment per day, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t receive more than one shipment on the same day. Just make sure, that if you’re doing in-house shipping, you or your freight partner don’t make multiple claims on the same day.
A key point you should also remember is that shipments to business addresses aren’t covered by Section 321, which means you can’t make claims for anything similar.
It doesn’t cover every item under $800
The exemptions to duties and taxes that Section 321 provides are for goods with a fair retail value of less than $800 in the country of shipment. However, some goods aren’t covered. Here are some examples:
- Products that are covered by Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD)
- Alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and cigars
- Items that require customs inspections (Like harsh chemicals and agricultural products)
- Goods that are regulated by US government agencies (Such as the FDA, FSIS, USDA, NHTSA, and CPSA)
Don’t forget that you must provide proof of your products’ retail values. Also, to comply with Section 321, each shipment must also have consignee names and addresses.
Importing from China
Due to their economic trade war, the US has imposed import duties for products specifically from China. These Section 301 tariffs have increased levies on various items such as:
- Household products
- Sporting goods
- Food and beverages,
- Personal care items
However, your shipment can qualify to be covered by Section 321 and exempted from Section 301 tariffs, so long as your products meet the de minimis value.
How to use Section 321
As for how Section 321 can be utilized, we’ve outlined various examples below.
Offer affordable international shipping
Duty-free and tax-free customs clearance effectively reduces your cross-border shipping costs. This allows you to offer your customers cheaper shipping options, which is a vital aspect of eCommerce.
It plays such a huge factor that, in fact, 87% of online shoppers indicate shipping is the 2nd most important deciding factor for them when making a purchase, immediately after product price.
Provide faster shipping times
Section 321 shipments require less paperwork, minimizing any delays at customs. In turn, this means you are able to offer options where customers receive their orders much quicker, which can greatly benefit your business.
Speedy shipping also makes it easier for your business to land more online shoppers, especially with 27% of them saying they abandoned their online purchases because their orders wouldn’t be delivered quickly enough.
Minimize manufacturing or production costs
Not having to worry about duties and taxes allows you to manufacture or source your products overseas, for a lower price. In fact, compared to the US, manufacturing labor costs in countries like Mexico and China are significantly less.
Strategically locate fulfillment hubs
Doing this streamlines your supply chain, allowing you to move your items quicker. For example, you can locate your warehouses and distribution centers:
- Near your manufacturers
- Near your suppliers (for packaging or raw materials),
- In countries where manpower is abundant, yet cost-efficient
- In regions with less-congested ports
- Areas within reach of US borders (Like Canada or Mexico)
With fulfillment taking place over shorter distances and manufacturing in cost-effective regions, you significantly reduce your expenses and shipping times.
How to claim Section 321
Lastly, we’ll briefly take you through what a Section 321 claim typically looks like.
Step 1: Your US-based customer places an order
To be entitled to Section 321’s duties and taxes exemption, your customer’s order should have a fair retail value of $800 or less. Once their order is placed, it will be sent out for shipping.
Step 2: Then, their order is sent across the US border
If the shipment meets all of the requirements and has its details and paperwork in order, which the carrier will present to the border officer upon request, it should encounter no customs delays.
It should be able to enter duty-free, without formal entry, and will then be delivered to your customer’s chosen domestic carrier.
Step 3: Afterwards, the customer receives their purchase
Finally, the domestic carrier is then responsible for accomplishing the order’s delivery. Afterward, you should receive a confirmation once your customer has received it.
Wrapping it up — Experience seamless Section 321 shipping with SEKO Logistics and MyFBAPrep
Minimizing your costs and streamlining your shipping can make a huge impact on your business. Utilizing international shipping and trade laws like Section 321 is a great way of doing that.
It may get complicated, or sometimes daunting, but you don’t have to traverse it alone. MyFBAPrep works with SEKO Logistics to get our customers access to end-to-end services from Asia to the US — making Section 321 shipments so much easier.
MyFBAPrep customers can leverage Section 321 through SEKO thanks to the following:
- Its acquisition of AIRCITY Inc., a New York-based freight forwarder which is a leader in Entry Type 86 Customs
- Its US-customs-integrated SEKO-AIRCITY systems
- Its experience in Type 86 is a huge advantage for sellers and consolidators
What’s more, SEKO Logistics has a powerful compliance program at origin and destination. To learn more, get in touch!