Author Archives: Mathew Bell

Get the Right Box for the Right Task

I have been in a whole lot of different industries throughout my career.  It has led me down many paths and some of them were revolved around manual labor and other management.  The joy of being able to be in many different industries and jobs is that you get to learn how to deal with a variety of situations.  This year I am glad for my past experiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It has led to such a change in our economy and the way that we do business that my past experiences have come in handy.  Our company has shifted to doing some extra marketing tasks in-house.  This meant that my knowledge of past shipping supplies and how to utilize them came in handy.

We ended up having to order all the products directly and put our own marketing together.  This was a task that needed some past warehouse knowledge in order to get down what we needed.  Working and managing a warehouse led me to understand how manual processes and ordering of products in bulk can be the difference between success and failure.  The reason I knew this was because I had taken a warehouse department at an auto dealership more efficient one summer while I was going to college. It was a great job for the summer and it was my goal to do such a good job that they would hire me back summer after summer. 

I learned that understanding that the way a job was done could be money saving.  This was done by watching different people do the same job.  I learned that some people did things because they were told to do them and some would do what they wanted.  I asked people than to do the job differently than normal and I tracked the type of products they used, the location they did the work, and how much time it took them.  I then found the most efficient way by seeing people with experience and those without expereince do that same job.  From there I was able to track the tape, boxes, and labels that were used and how much of each product was used.  This allowed me to figure out the most efficient way for tasks to be done.  I then created systems after seeing what worked best and had the teams follow those systems.  I walked them through how each step saved their time, and the store’s money and didn’t penalize them for doing more. 

This whole lesson taught me how to take out the marketing department in-house and work on finding the best products and best way to put our projects together.  Then I went shopping for the best shipping supplies stores and found the best deal for our company. It is not an easy task to then take what you know and justify it to a board of directors. So I had to price out local stores to see what they could give us.  Then I went on Amazon to see what deals were available for our products and the time and cost of shipping involved.  When I went to major online retailers I was able to get the best deals and costs and justify it to the board with proof.  I hope these tips help your company thrive through the pandemic as well.

Is your tape costing you money?

Knowing how to stay competitive in a market that is completely focused on eCommerce in the United States in 2020 is hard.  With the COVID-19 Pandemic, every company is fighting to stay ahead of everyone else and is using all its capabilities to do so.  It can be very hard to stay ahead of everyone and stay successful without closing down.  I think that there are lots of things you can do to stay ahead of the competition.  Some of them won’t cost you money to get either.  IT can be as simple as taking some of your time to overcome the hardships and costs that your current practices may be costing you.  So if you run an eCommerce company and are constantly purchasing shipping supplies this may be the read for you.

I think that knowing everything that is going on in your business is important to be successful.  I don’t mean being a micromanager or an overseer of everything.  But knowing what systems are in place and what is being done in each area is important.  The systems you have in place can be the difference between being successful and closing down.  But putting those systems in place is really complicated.  So I want to talk about one system our company decided to improve and show where that went in the long scheme of things and how it ended up saving us money.

The shipping department in my company turned into the most important part of our business when COVID-19 hit.  We were no longer able to use our storefront and get walk-in customers.  This meant that all of our products that were sold came from online.  Our shipping department was now responsible for getting our products safely to our customers without getting damaged.  I have to admit that this was something that we did maybe once a week but most of our orders came from inside the store.  This all changed and we had to find ways to make our costs go down.

We looked at all aspects of shipping and found that corrugated boxes were going to be the way we were able to ship out items out.  We started to count every box and every single bit of tape that we used to seal them up.  We researched labels and every aspect of the costs involved in getting our products out the door.  So we watched multiple shifts accomplish the same job and without a doubt, we saw a lot of tape being used.  This was because these groups had seen our boxes open up without 3 strips on the top and bottom before. This was 6 strips of tape per box and that seemed like a lot. 

It turns out that we wanted to check and make sure we were doing the right thing.  We didn’t really know where to turn, but someone suggests we call a shipping supplies store and ask about what we were doing and to see if they had suggestions of ways to cut down on cost.  What I found out was that we were using a tape that was not rated for the weight of the boxes.  They gave us a tape that could do it in a single strip and it ended up saving us 30% in costs between the difference.  So I hope this small tip helps your company as well.

How to Save money this Quarter Letters and Wax and Tape

Our company has had to make that 2020 pivot.  If you don’t know what I am talking about let me tell you a little about 2020.  This year we had the COVID-19 Pandemic and our entire economy went nuts.  The majority of states went on a house arrest lockdown and shut down all non-essential workers from working.  Yes, it sounds a lot like communism just happened and well it did. But this is more about how our company survived the freedom sucking economy collapsing event.  We decided to use our own ingenuity and purchased a bunch of packaging supplies and took all of our own marketing in house.  We decided to instead of pay thousands of dollars for a marketing company to do work that we know cost about half that we would instead do it in house. 

Our first task was to go through all the numbers.  We had to track all the purchases and sales that were made from previous marketing and find out what was actually making us the most money because we have to be fragile and fast in this market.  Our goal was to hunt marketing out like a panther and that is what we did.  We researched hard on what was landing us our money and pounced on it.  It turns out that our packaging supplies idea was right and that direct mail was the answer.

our most popular and money-making marketing item was a direct mail campaign.  There was no point in spending money on anything but this and well emails.  It is easy to follow up on the direct mailers with emails in order to give the 1 two punch to make our marketing work.  So with this in mind, we had to find a way to make our company capable of doing direct mailers.  Most of us are technologically savy so we figured we could write out our letters and then put them into a nice looking format.

Formatting turned out to be a hard part because of looks matter.  We wanted to make sure these looked professional because even if we did them cheap if they look cheap they won’t work.  Perception really is a reality so we decided to step up our game.  We used color copies for our letters and had the look of it to be very professional and branded.  Then we had to go ahead and buy a bunch of good looking letters.  Buying letters, paper, and inc for this project was part of the expense. 

We tracked every single cost, from letters, labels, stamps, and paper.  Then we put on a special sauce wax seal to finish off the letters.  By the time we finished, we found out that the cost of each one was about 1 dollar when done in mass production.  We had to call up big companies and order all of our items in bulk in order to cut down on costs.  Going to Amazon was not going to work for costs if we are going to make money doing this.  So the next part was to get our team together to make these happen.

We ended up taking shifts each week and spending a three-hour shift to accomplish all the letters we would need for the week. Everyone pitched in, even our CEO and we all have had a good time doing this on our own.

Moving Safely with the Right Boxes

This time of year is usually filled with people thinking about housing.  The weather is nice and moving is in the air.  But in 2020 everyone stopped thinking about it and decided to move.  The interest rates dropped to the lowest of all time and even my wife and I decided to move.  What we didn’t expect is that all of our friends and family would do the same and we found that we were asked to help move a whole lot.  It was incredible the amount of moving we did and we learned a whole lot of lessons.  Since we learned a lot and it is of no gain to us not to share the information, here are a few tips on how to move safely.

The first thing we noticed was that everyone was always doing the same thing.  We all started our plans for moving to the same place.  We were all looking for free labor and free equipment to use.  I don’t know why but no one wants to spend any money on moving if they don’t have to.  This comes right down to the cheap moving boxes we all try to find and use too.  It really is incredible.  Some of my family went to local big box stores to try and find free cheap moving boxes.  We ended up moving a few families that used packages that had been used many times over.  And what we found was that those were not safe. 

We saw many times that the used boxes would flex and shift due to how old they were.  It was something that happened to me too.  I pulled a muscle in my back because my box flexed and it shifted my weight forward.  It made me injure myself.  I also saw a friend fall down a few stairs due to the same exact thing.  This was a lesson to me and to the rest of my family that using that kind of package was not smart.  We needed to be safe and spend a few bucks in order to get the right tool for the right job.

What I found was that there are packaging supplies companies that sell whole moving packages.  They come with cardboard boxes rated for moving.  They even have tape and markers included.  This was a big game changer and it allowed the future moves to be much safer.  Not only were they safer but some of the boxes were created for specific needs.  There were hanger boxes for closets.  I mean you literally took all your closet items on hangers and put them in a box that had a rod in it.  Then you closed the box and it protected all your closet items.  It was a great way to move to multiple homes while not rueing any closet clothes.  Many people keep their best clothes hung up and in this case, they didn’t even get wrinkled.  Talk about a happy move and a great way to help keep everyone involved safer.  The best part was the cost.

These packages when all said and done were about 30 bucks each.  That was a really awesome way to move safely and get some extra supplies along with it. I highly suggest moving this way in the future!

Don’t let Shipping Hurt your Boxes

It is a strange world we are living in and the economy keeps on changing.  The United States has made many fundamental shifts in how it does business as of 2020.  This is all because of the COVID-19 pandemic and many companies are having to make drastic changes to the way they work.  From shipping departments doubling in size overnight to floor sales staff being let go.  The changes are really happing on the back end of many companies and what is happening is that shipping departments have become the most important parts of companies.  This is happening in many different ways and this year they must stay competitive in order to survive.

The easiest way for a company to go bankrupt is to not be competitive.  This year most brick and mortar companies are changing into more e-commerce based businesses.  The transition is truly complicated but one simple way they are losing to the competition is through lack of proper quartermaster purchasing.  When you are overspending on packaging supplies the whole shows starts to collapse.  If you end up buying boxes at twice the price of your competitor then it is hard to lose several percent on every single sale.  What happens if your tape and labels are also being sold at higher prices?

The answer is to shop well.  This means finding a great packaging supplies company and get better deals.  If you can go direct and buy in bulk, I have found that you can at least stay competitive and maybe get a competitive advantage over a rival.  That is the easiest, simplest, and yet most overlooked area.  It is because the shipping department seems small and there are bigger fish to fry, but if you do not look out this area will sink your e-commerce company.

The next area that can be difficult is staff changes.  In order to make your shipping department thrive, you may have to change who is working for you or hire new people while letting old ones go.  I find it better to retrain if you can.  The sales department workers on the flood who are now no longer needed can be great shipping department workers.  I know it is a job shift, but they know your products and can help get it out to new people.  They can also help with the customer service side of your company that may have not existed the week before.  The new transition will mean lots of more calls coming in about fixing issues. Sometimes it is best to have your best salespeople on the phone to keep people happy.

Another area that may get your company into trouble is not having a big enough work floor. This may be because you are shifting to an e-commerce company.  The shift I have been seeing is for companies to start eliminating the sales floor or brick and mortar sales sections and put them to use for storage and shipping.  This can be done with a simple shelving system and a good labeling system that you already have in place.  If you don’t have one I suggest using the ABC’s and numbers to order your new warehouse.  I also like the use of cardboard boxes on shelves to hold products instead of expensive alternatives. Hope these tips help your company in these hard times.

Starting a business and the supplies we needed.

This year has been a crazy year. The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought on many changes in our lives.  For my family, my wife and I now work at home.  This means we have more time for our selves and it also means that we are working on our life the way we want it.  By working at home we have seen that we like to be independent and work on our own lives.  What this really led to was the fact that we wanted to start our own company.  Products and supplies started to run through our heads and we knew we were going to need a lot of capital to purchase all the items we need to start this new venture.  The fact was that we were going to start an eCommerce company and that shipping was going to be key.  There are so many items that we needed it was actually a little staggering at first. But I think we found a good way to go about purchasing all the Shipping Supplies we would need.

We knew that we were going to need lots of items for our company.  Not only was this going to be many online items and paperwork but mostly things to move product. This meant we had to find the right place to purchase boxes and bags for each of the items.  We also had to then work on what to keep our products safe and secure with.  So we needed to find lining for each of these products and they find the best way to seal them while looking cool.  Tape was going to be a big expenditure and we didn’t want to pay full retail prices.  Our search began working on locating each of these items at the best location and price.

Location really mattered to us because we have both been in business for many years and understand that rush items and ordeals happen and matter.  We wanted a place that could replace an item within the same day or preferably an hour.  So if we ran out of boxes, tape, or bags we could go and pick up one that worked with our brand.  This led us to first going to the big box stores right next to our home.  We looked and priced out all the items and tried to find bulk discounts.  If you are shipping 100 items in the same box each day you want to be able to get a bulk discount for 1000 boxes.  Unfortunately, the discounts were not there and the quantity we needed in almost every item except tape was not at the stores.

This led us to search online.  Of course, we went to Amazon to price it all out and found slightly more discounted products.  Not all the deals were prime shipping though. So we would have to order extra due to the week long expected shipping dates.  This meant we would have to purchase more but not at much of a discount and this was a bit of a letdown.  We still continued our online searching. We found that shipping supplies were best to be purchased from the maker of the products.  These companies gave bulk discounts and even advice on which products were better because we called in to order.  This was the answer and it was worth buying a larger quantity to cover the lack of convenience because the price was about half.  So just a heads up, shop around before you buy.

Understanding How To Package Shipping Products: All You Must Know

The internet growth has incredibly improved to make the world become a digital global village. Many people are conducting their business online. You can easily get a customer anywhere on the earth. Proper packaging has become today’s norm and it is an essential variable you should consider when you are fulfilling your clients’ orders. So, if it was you, how will you feel receiving a damaged package?

These packages travel for a long distance and sometimes these shipments are fraught with problems on their way. For example, accidental dropping, mishandling at warehouses, moving via areas with extreme heat among others.

So, to ensure the client gets an excellent unboxing, ensure their packages will arrive in a mint condition as that will help to achieve your brand’s loyalty and repeated business.

To achieve the correct protection to eliminate shipping damages, ensure your product packaging process will align with the best standards. For example, consider Amazon’s guidelines to get SIOC and user-friendly packages.

Next, consider protective packaging materials like cardboard, packaging peanuts, air pillows, or any recommended packaging material option.

Sometimes, the packaging might seem complicated, don’t complain. It might be true, but your business success will be in a critical position.

Here we shall discuss some vital questions you have in mind to help you understand better.

What Causes Product Damages?

In the world, it is saturated with technology and it becomes easy for anyone to purchase a product online. However, the product will pass at brick and mortar locations.

With an increased demand for online purchases, there is a need for protective packaging. If the speed to market will be highly emphasized, unwanted repercussions will be in the form of damaged goods.

Regardless of the carrier’s best intentions, unintentional damages or accidents might occur. When you are aware and hold the third party accountable, it will be a critical practice when dealing with shipping damages.

How Will You Evaluate Damages?

If you want to understand the damages of your packages, there are common mistakes that might have resulted in the damages.

Here are some of the commons mistakes you can identify:

● Excessive Empty Space

 When you have a container larger than the item you want to pack, most likely, the product will bounce in the container. That will easily result in damaged products because of a lack of padding inside.

● Unprotected Packaging

All products are not equal, in terms of make and quality. Some packages don’t need protective packaging (like the air pillows or foam peanuts). If you need to prevent damages, use enough padding on such products.

● Bad Handling Practices

After you send a package to your client, it will move throughout a supply chain. Within the chain, it will be handled by different people. Despite adding “fragile” or “handle with care” label, sometimes the box might get man-handled on the way by accident or intentionally. That will result in damaged products.

● Water or Humidity

Exposure of packages to extreme conditions such as an extreme cold or intense heat results in unwanted damages. It is not something to control easily, because the parcel will be left unintended outside the house, the rain will compromise packaging and potential damages may result in the product.

Bottom Line

The above tips will help you to identify common mistakes to help you reduce damages. Industrial packagings have improved on its packaging to help reduce damages throughout the supply chain. You should aim to protect products, clients, and your brand and that is possible with the right packaging practices.

Interest Rates Moves Us Again

It is 2020 and putting all the COVID-19 aside and the rioting the housing market has gone wild.  It has been the best housing market and interest rates that the country has ever seen.  So even though the world seems to be going crazy the housing market is booming.  I have seen more people move then I have ever seen before.  This ended up getting my wife and I into looking at moving ourselves.  So we looked at what mortgage loan we could get and what rate we could get.  It turns out that we could afford a much larger house for the same price we are paying for our current home.  We looked around and neighbors who moved had sold their homes for so much more than they paid for it.  We decided to move up in the world.  So I ended up calling around and looked for some cheap moving boxes because we were home shopping.

We looked for one week and found a home that we really wanted.  We worked a deal that our home had to sell first and then we would end up moving.  It was the fastest house swapping deal I had ever been apart of.  It was 7 days and all was done.  The home was purchased and the house was sold.  It was such a fast thing that we had to struggle to find help to move.  So we ended up with a 3% interest rate on our mortgage and bam we were out of our old neighborhood.

So I ended up calling my family and telling them the story.  Then I started asking for help pretty quick.  We ended up getting some help and then I decided to not use my old method of moving. Usually, I just go to a  big box store and asks for some cheap moving boxes but this time I decided to do it right.  Instead of getting old flimsy boxes I went to a packaging supplies store online and ordered a moving package.  It was only 40 bucks all said and done but I got thick boxes, tape, markers, and labels.  It was a really great set up and the best part was the closet boxes. 

There are literally boxes that have rods in the to hang your closet clothes on and then it seals up.  These were so cool that even my wife was happy I spent the money.  Our closet clothes were safe and not folded.  Instead of hanging in a really cool box that we could carry and not worry about dresses or suits getting damaged. It was something that I wished I had done before.  Never before did I know that such advanced boxes existed.  I decided to tell everyone who helped me move and they all thought I was crazy till they saw it.  They said it was the easiest move they had ever had.  We ordered a trailer to rent and did the whole thing in two trips.  No one pulled muscles and no one broke anything because the boxes were so good.

I honestly, never thought that moving could be so simple.  So I suggest next time spending just a little bit of money to keep everyone happy and all of your gear safe. Happy moving!

Growing Your Shipping Department

This year has been a complicated mess for most companies working in the United States.  Due to the massive amount of different regulations from state to state companies are struggling to keep up with the change.  Many companies have moved from a brick and mortar store to a more e-commerce focused business almost overnight. This has changed the backend and in many cases the front end of many stores.  If this change is happening to your company or you are pondering moving to a larger e-commerce focused business then I want to go over a few areas that have impacted our company that may help you out.

The big thing we noticed with all the regulations is that our staff and also the number of people allowed in our store had to be limited.  In our business, this meant a total revamp of our company.  We ended up moving many of our staff into different positions and at different times in order to allow us to keep our staff. Since our front end staff was no longer needed to sell directly to customers we transitioned them into working on our newly focused e-commerce section.  This was not as easy as we imagined it would be.  We have to not only train these employees to do shipping, but also we had to make the appropriate space for them to work.

The space issue was something that took time to overcome.  We now moved from 80% inside sales to 80% e-commerce sales.  This big switch meant that we needed to move our front end store into a much smaller section.  The easiest way was to get a hold of the landlord and make sure it was fine to put in a temporary wall which took the floor space on the front end and made it much smaller.  We lowered the floor space by about 60% and started to create more space for staff and storage.

Our goal was to be able to store the products more efficiently and be able to find and move them in and out of our system more reliably.  See with a brick and mortar store display and showing products correctly takes priority.  The other thing to think about is to eliminate inventory issues such as theft.  That can ruin your number fast.  So in order to do this, we ended up ordering lots of shipping supplies in order to organize our new back end store better. We looked up some articles and other staff remembered that most big box stores simply use cardboard bins that they ordered as shipping supplies.  This was a super-easy way to move products into a new aisle system.

We move the back end of the store into aisles that allowed us to use a numbering and letter system to categorize each product in more detail.  We had a good system but since our inventory was going to double and need to be a bit more efficient it was necessary.  The staff understood the system really quickly.  This was a wonderful thing because the ABS aisles and numbers for each shelf sped up each order gatherer in finding a product.

I hope these small steps ended up giving you an idea of what you can do with your store.  If you are moving into more e-commerce then space will be more important then looks.

Are your tape decisions costing you?

This year has been quite the learning experience for myself and even my company.  We are starting to do a lot of our own marketing in house and it has been a huge change in all the different types of boxes, bags, and tape we have needed. In all honesty, I never imagined we would be doing so much manual labor, but it is saving us lots of money on our marketing budget.  So some of the things we have learned have been on the basis of manufacturing or warehouse work instead of what we normally do.  Today I want to go through some of the things that we learned when getting into the whole self-marketing area and some of the products we ended up needing and how to get them.

Luckily, we have some very detail oriented people on our staff and that helped us save thousands of dollars this year. That is a big deal especially when our marketing budget had some cuts due to covid-19 and our economy.  Having people count and take note of each process was key to us.  We wanted to learn how to take a marketing gift and put it in a box or bag and put the best amount of tape, bubble wrap, and labels on it to send efficiently.  The last thing we wanted was to end up needing to buy double the amount of shipping supplies to send a marketing gift.  This really was a big part of how we saved money because we had a contest of who could do the fastest job, with the least amount of product possible. 

What this all told us was how much product we need per project and it allowed us to project our costs for each marketing endeavour.  This really is a big deal because the cost of thousands of boxes, leters, stamps, and tape adds up fast.  Our first major hurdle was the tape problem.  We started and most people are used to putting lots of strips of tape on boxes and not even thinking about it.  I know I was one of those people, but when it takes 3 strips per side and then 3 strips per label.  We were using 15 strips of tape when we could in reality use 3.  The problem was not necessarily the fact we were putting so many strips on the box.  In reality with the packing tape we were using that was what I needed. We ended up calling a shipping supplies company and finding out that a different type of tape was what we needed.

There are actually lots of different kinds of packing tape available.   This was at the time far beyond my thoughts when working on simply taping up marketing packages.  So when they told us that we could use a little thicker type of tape and use only one strip per side we started to get excited. But the price had to be right. It turns out the cost was 10% more but using 200% less saved us so much money. It was such a small thing, but taking a few minutes to ask questions and learn good advice sold us on a company to buy things with.  Plus they gave us discounts for the quantity of items we bought, so it was a win all around.