Monthly Archives: August 2020

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.

How Shipping Supplies Helped our Q3

This year we had a pretty good year. Our company is based online and most of our work is ecommerce or services done for ecommerce companies.  This allowed us to be very efficient and relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many companies moved into this area as well and it was a wonderful boost to us.  But even though our company does most of our work online we also benefited from some in person work.  The surprise for us was how much money we were able to save on our own shipping costs by buying the correct quantities of shipping supplies and from the right locations.

The first thing to know is that we ship different products out for our clients as a part of our company.  We even do it for our own marketing a little as well.  This is a small part of what we do but we found that it does take up a good amount of some budgets we have set aside and looking back on our previous purchases we learned a few things.

We learned that our company was spending more on letters, boxes, and especially tape then we ever thought we would.  The quantities were a bit sporadic and we decided to really focus on the quantity of each item we used and the cost involved.  We then took two months of data and planned out the amount of tape we would need.  We started to look at the amount we used per box and label.  The extra tape we used for each label was actually just as much as each box.  When it got down to the cost of sticky labels vs tape the labels were much cheaper.  We then looked at tape and saw that we were taping each box multiple times on each seam.  This showed us that the tape we were using was not effective on its own.  So we then found out that there are different thicknesses of tape which equates to strength.  This was interested because we talking to a shipping supplies store which told us the difference and the price of the thicker tape was not nearly as much as using twice as much of the thinner tape. Just this little tip alone saved us thousands off our marketing budget each month and that is a pretty penny over a year.  Then we found out another quantity which helped us.

The boxes that we were using were actually not the correct size or the thickness we needed.  Our products we were shipping were very light and the boxes we had were rated for much more than we needed.  Now since we had two months of data we took the number of boxes and bought a big bulk amount of a thinner less expensive corrugated box.  This allowed us to get a better looking package at a much discounted rate per box.

The big deal was knowing. The knowledge of cost of what we were doing and the reason why we were using each product really added up in the end and now our past q3 was much more lean and fiscally responsible.  Plus we took all that extra savings and gave a bonus to all those people involved. Yes it was our entire department, but it was still a big thank you to the people who took the extra time to learn why we were spending more.  Now for the next quarter that will all go to savings and be reinvested in our company.

Business and Ecommerce Shipping

This year has had an unprecedented effect upon the way we do business.  The economic shutdown of 2020 was a rude awakening for the brick and mortar stores across the United States.   We were shown that unless you had a big box store that sold essential items that you were likely going to be closed down.  This happened in States that no one ever believed would do such a thing.  Rather it was legal or right is not the question.  The fact that it can happen has shown business people to always be flexible and be prepared to find a new way to do business and stay relevant.  Ecommerce was the answer for many companies and the difficulties that struck them the most was the cost of shipping. I want to go over a few things for the ecommerce world that may end up helping in the long run for these companies.

The first thing to know is that shipping is expensive.  It can be a 10% cost on average for products and that can eat into anyones margins taken into effect that it occurs on almost every sale. This is indeed a very big deal and many companies need to be prepared for the consequences.  This may mean you put that cost onto your customers.  But how do  you convey the cost for shipping supplies to your current customer base?  To be honest, honesty is the best policy.  Many professionals prefer to let the customer base know that prices are going to rise due to costs of business.  A good way to get your customer happy is to give them a discount before it happens.

So the week before you plan to increase prices by say 6-10% give your customer base a deal.  Let them see a 10% Discount and free shipping before things go up do to covid-19. Be honest and let them know they can take advantage of this deal now.  It is a way to win your base over and let them know what is happening and why.  They will usually respond positively in the long run by doing this.  Now once you get extra sales from the sale you can then spend that money to purchase shipping supplies to cover the future sale of products you are about to have.

Once you have the sale done and your customer base knows you are going to raise prices it is time to decide how to ship all of those items.  I really like packaging supplies stores that specialise in only that.  They usually have the best prices especially in large quantities and can give deals that other companies simply cannot.  10% off a already discounted item sold in bulk is a great way to join the e commerce ranks.  It is really important to go overboard in quality in shipping because it will cut down in other areas as well.

The lack of returns by having good materials is worth a little extra money. Remember bad reviews and returns eat away at margins like a leprosy.  That can be avoided by having good materials and getting the product safely and quickly to your customer. Remember you are shifting the cost on to them, so give them really good service for it! No go out and dominate your market!