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Monthly Archives July 2020

How a Global Pandemic Impacts Ecommerce Shipping

covid-19 ecommerce shipping

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The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has already altered the entire retail industry in a matter of weeks, and many business owners are reeling from loss of foot traffic. Ecommerce is surging, which is putting further strain on already-stressed supply chains and causing shortages of most household and medical items. The growth of online shopping as people practice social distancing is good news for anyone selling on Internet marketplaces and platforms, but it is safe to say that the pandemic is affecting ecommerce shipping. This guide will outline the impacts on global supply chains at the time of writing as well as offer solutions for times of crisis and improvements to your own operation.

As for coronavirus prevention, keep up to date with the CDC’s recommendations and be sure to wash your hands, sanitize all surfaces, stay home if you’re feeling sick and limit in-person social interaction whenever possible. This too shall pass.

 

Communication is Key

Although creating a communication plan is one of the first steps you need to take, it deserves its own emphasis because it is one of the most important steps. Your initial communication needs to be to your team and include the business continuity plan and the steps you’re taking to protect their health and wellness. Many retailers are having to furlough their employees at this time, which is something that must be communicated immediately if it is an unfortunate part of your plan. Do not delay in telling your staff the status of their employment. For those who will be transitioning to remote work, communicate when they are expected to be available and which meetings they should plan to attend.

Once your team knows what is going on, you can turn your focus toward external messages. Work backward through your supply chain and have honest conversations about logistics and financials so you have full transparency and more data with which to make decisions. You’ll have a clearer picture about how to move forward and what your customers will want to know.

This leads us to the dreaded COVID-19 response emails. By the time you read this, you’ll have likely received dozens of messages from businesses you forget had your contact information. The bright side is that now you can unsubscribe and get rid of inbox clutter. The downside, however, is that you don’t want to become a cliche. Our advice: post a business response announcement on your website, and update your social media channels with posts linking to the response and then move on. Your most involved customers will appreciate the information, and you’ll avoid bombarding everyone else.

 

The State of US Supply Chains

Your business has reacted to the changing retail landscape, and your entire team and supply chain is in the loop, but what about everybody else? As it turns out, most operations are continuing as normal—the supply is on par, but the demand is outpacing it. The shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other products will be a short term problem because the major supply chains are designed to meet normal demand for these items. Right now we’re seeing unusual buying patterns, but analysis will be able to reveal a restocking schedule on par with the current demand. In fact, with truckers having far less traffic on the roads, these items should be able to be restocked more quickly.

Those experiencing the worst broken links in their supply chains are businesses that rely on international suppliers and Amazon FBA. Amazon in particular has deprioritized all products deemed “non-essential,” which covers basically everything except for household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand items. Sellers and consumers alike can expect major delays with deliveries estimated more than a month from order placement.

Overall, aside from expected delays out of quarantined areas in China and Italy, major shipping carriers have reported business as usual. This is certainly good news, but shipping is only one link of your supply chain. What about the rest of it?

 

The Importance of Supply Chain Mapping

Supply chain mapping is the process of auditing each product’s entire roadmap from the raw materials stage to the delivery on the end customer’s doorstep. It is a costly and laborious process, yes, but it is worth the investment because it gives you the information you need to identify high-risk suppliers, parts and sites and alternative sourcing methods in case a crisis strikes. Then, you’ll be first in line with these alternative providers—proactive while everyone else is reactive. According to Forrester, 94% of the Fortune 1,000 have experienced coronavirus related supply chain disruptions, which shows a huge majority of companies are scrambling to react.

Companies often find the value of a supply chain map far exceeds the cost of its creation, and it is the best preparation for events like natural disasters, financial market downturns and even global pandemics. Sometimes, it also reveals a need to switch suppliers in order to avoid the impact of a global catastrophe.

 

Why You Might Need to Switch Suppliers

Increasingly in the last year, economists have been advising businesses to start localizing their supply chains in order to avoid Chinese tariffs. A recent BizBuySell survey found that as of February 2020, the cost of doing business had increased by 37% for U.S. small businesses, and 46% of them were losing customers. There was a clear price to pay, even before the coronavirus outbreak, and now the stakes are even higher.

 

Localizing your supply chain can mean either finding US-based suppliers or building a new factory here in the States. Either way, you’d be taking advantage of the diverse American resources and being better prepared for a disaster because you’re not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Furthermore, making the switch would boost our economy by revamping the manufacturing, farming and other blue collar sectors whose work has been suffering due to outsourcing and automation. A return to an all-American supply chain would create jobs, train employees to be highly skilled workers and even reduce carbon footprint because of shorter transportation distances.

There are other benefits to localizing your supply chain: saving on energy costs, moving away from ethically questionable labor practices in third-world markets and being able to keep up with an ever-quicker trend cycle because you don’t have to wait for overseas shipping.

 

How to Leverage New Ecommerce Technology

As the ecommerce landscape evolves, so too does the technology that helps online retailers realize their full potential. There are software solutions that offer everything from CRM to accounting automation to logistics and order fulfillment specifically tailored to ecommerce sellers. This makes it easier than ever to update existing shopping carts, point of sale, payment processors and other systems in favor of multipurpose solutions.

For example, with Visible, we work with many different software providers to deliver our rates and savings to shippers, we operate our own pick/pack/fulfill warehouses, multi-carrier freight brokerage services and even tailored custom, on-demand packaging materials. All of these activities work together in a supply chain, so why risk a disjointed process with multiple software systems having to integrate with each other when you could get it all in one?

The idea driving Visible is to connect shippers with all of these resources using strategic partnerships with shipping industry leaders who can help you optimize your business. As a result, you have a more streamlined supply chain, happy customers and the weight of potential logistics nightmares off your shoulders.

 

Choosing a Shipping Carrier

When you’re getting started building out your ecommerce supply chain, one of the most important partnerships you’ll have is with your shipping carriers. The overall theme is to choose a carrier that will give you the best rates for the products you sell, but there are important questions to ask yourself that should factor into your decision. Here are some ideas:

  • Where are you shipping? This will affect if you choose a local, regional, national or international carrier.
  • How granular do you need your tracking info to be? If you want your customers to be able to track their orders, you will want to take this into account.
  • How big and heavy are your packages? The weights and dimensions of your shipments will determine your rates.
  • What is the extent of the carrier’s insurance? This can affect cost, as well as your need to source additional insurance.
  • What is the pickup schedule and minimum? Where you are on the carrier’s route is the difference between same-day shipping and next-day shipping, and you might have to pay additional fees if you don’t meet the minimum.
  • Speaking of fees, what are the additional fees? Some carriers charge extra to deliver to residential addresses, to provide shipping supplies or to deliver on weekends.

There are several factors to consider, and it can be a headache to sort through all the information. That is why it is wise to invest in a shipping software that can do the work for you and ensure you get the best rates every single time.

 

Save on Shipping Costs

Visible’s “inverted dimensional” shipping rates take each package’s measurements and automatically determines whether it would be more cost effective to ship it based on weight or based on dimensions. By leveraging our unique postal partnerships, expertise and high-volume shipping rates, we help clients save an average of 20% on e-commerce shipments. How do we do this? We employ a multi-carrier strategy to get you the best rates every step of the way and then apply the savings on top of an already-optimized price point. This helps you avoid the “accessorial costs” that can be accrued by sticking with one carrier, and those fees add up. As a result, Visible helps companies such as Stamps.com, Endicia, Pitney Bowes and 25,000 others save millions per year on shipping.

 

Contact Visible Today

Visible Supply Chain Management has thousands of satisfied customers and clients that rely on our company for their various shipping and logistics needs.  We’re here to help you today.  Contact us at 877.728.5328 to start the conversation about how we can help your company.

 

pandemic impact on supply chain cta

Don’t Ignore These 12 Statistics on Ecommerce Shipping; They’re Priceless

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ecommerce shipping stats 2020The continued rise of online shopping has boosted ecommerce shipping alongside it. Just in the last decade, the industry saw 48% growth over two years and is projected to rise between 17% and 28% each year through 2021. This is not a surprise, as ecommerce itself is a $3.5 billion industry that is experiencing a major uptick in 2020 due to store closures amid the COVID-19 global pandemic.

As the growth continues and ecommerce becomes even more integrated into daily life, shipping professionals should stay up-to-date with the latest statistics so they can be better prepared for the future. Don’t ignore these statistics on ecommerce shipping; they’re priceless.

 

1) On average, 41% of US consumers receive 1-2 Amazon packages per week.

According to this report, that percentage is even higher for younger consumers. Half (50%) of those aged 18-25 receive at least one Amazon package per week, and it’s 57% of those aged 26-35.

 

2) Free shipping entices 79% of US consumers to shop online.

Consumers don’t want surprise fees to appear in their shopping carts, and they include shipping costs in that category. They don’t assign value to shipping because they are not getting anything tangible by paying for it. This is easy for e-tailers to get around—simply build shipping costs into the price of the product or set a minimum spending threshold to access free shipping.

 

3) Consumers under 25 are driven by same-day shipping.

Specifically, 54% said it is their number one purchase driver. Because Gen Z has grown up in the age of instant gratification, it should come as no surprise that they value same-day shipping so highly.

 

4) Only 15% of US consumers have their delivery speed expectations met.

Online retailers simply aren’t meeting the expectations of their customers. Only 15% of respondents said that e-tailers “always” offer shipping options that meet their delivery speed expectations. That number doubles when asked about Amazon, meaning even the ecommerce behemoth falls short.

 

5) More than three-quarters (83%) of shoppers expect regular communication about their orders.

It is safe to say that most shoppers want to be updated about their purchases, and this is easy to accomplish. Be transparent about any changes or shipping delays (due to coronavirus or otherwise) and provide tracking information so the customers can get an on-demand look at where their orders are.

 

6) At least half (53%) of shoppers won’t make a purchase if they don’t know when it will be delivered.

Consumers want transparency when they’re shopping online. Even if the product in question is on backorder or will not be restocked for a long time, it is important to make that clear so shoppers can decide if they want to move ahead with their purchases.

 

7) Shopping cart abandonment is largely driven by high shipping charges.

According to a recent PayPal study, 43% of shoppers abandoned their carts because of high shipping charges. Again, they’re expecting free shipping and don’t want to see surprise fees in their carts right before clicking “Order Now.”

 

8) 70% of retailers are working to improve “bidirectional” communication with customers about their orders.

Online retailers are working to meet consumer expectations regarding communication about delivery expectations, package tracking and resolution of delivery options, which are all part of the post-purchase experience.

 

9) 96% of consumers expect package exceptions to be resolved while in transit.

People are not pleased when unexpected obstacles appear, especially when they were promised a smooth process of placing an order and receiving the item(s) that were ordered. Package exceptions are shipments that have an impacted—typically delayed—delivery, and nearly all consumers expect retailers to resolve these exceptions while the packages are in transit.

 

10) Retailers are concerned about shipping time and cost expectations.

Specifically, 38% of retailers have concerns about how quickly consumers expect orders to be delivered. Additionally, 36% are concerned about the expectations surrounding free and low-cost shipping.

 

11) 24% of shoppers would spend more to access free shipping.

Setting a spending threshold is a great way to keep total shipping costs low and increase your average order value. It also appeals to consumers, who, as it’s been established, want and expect free shipping. If they must spend more to access it, nearly one-quarter of them will.

 

12) Half (53%) of retailers say delivery/fulfillment logistics pose a “significant” challenge.

The shipping, fulfillment and logistics landscape is becoming ever more complex and expensive for ecommerce sellers who are trying to manage it all on their own. Instead, leave it to the professionals so you can focus on other areas of your business.

 

Contact Visible Today

Visible Supply Chain Management has thousands of satisfied customers and clients that rely on our company for their various shipping and logistics needs. We’re here to help you today. Contact us at 877.728.5328 to start the conversation about how we can help your company.

 

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How Supply-Chain Managers Are Reevaluating Best Practices

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Visible President Casey Adams shares invaluable insight into how COVID-19 is changing the landscape of supply chain management, spurring companies to return to best practices, and creating opportunities for innovation (article also featured in SupplyChainBrain’s Think Tank blog).

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt business around the world, many contemplate how it will affect the future of supply chains — and how to survive during uncertainty and build new capabilities to deliver continued value to customers, partners and shareholders.

The most significant impact on supply-chain management has been a return to the best practices and disciplines — disciplines that good supply-chain managers have been pushing for decades. Responsible managers have multiple vendors — at least a primary and a secondary vendor. To chase profits, many suppliers had their entire stock of a product coming from a single source, putting them at high risk when there was a shock to the supply chain.

Spring’s toilet paper fiasco is an excellent example of that principle. Why did the toilet paper depart from all the shelves? Consumers bought rolls at an unusual rate, leaving suppliers scrambling without a Plan B. Retailers relied on two or three suppliers that were actually brokers, not manufacturers, and those three suppliers were all buying from the same manufacturer.

My partner often says: “People don’t believe something that didn’t happen in their lifetime.” He means that a life lesson is much sharper if it happens to you personally, instead of just reading about it in a textbook. Going forward, we will see upward trends in on-shoring, near-sourcing, safety stock and bringing suppliers back to the U.S.

When selecting a secondary supplier, companies will look beyond suppliers who are merely brokers and choose a supplier who also manufactures. Going the manufacturing route is expensive without a doubt, but retailers now see that cost as insurance for future emergencies. Now, retailers will pay the extra 10% for the same item, knowing that in the event of a shutdown of their primary supplier, they’re still in business. They may even inject capital into their vendor to stay in business. Recent events are ample evidence to justify the expense to CFOs. This shift calls for an increase in U.S. manufacturing.

 

E-Commerce Expansion

For many, the right decision is the expansion of e-commerce — even for businesses that have previously resisted it. Companies that have never considered themselves e-tailers are moving online as a secondary protection against complete collapse. My children are taking their piano lessons via video conferencing during the pandemic. This is e-commerce and supply-chain agility in its purest form! Whether you are mountain climbing or running a business, you have to have a backup plan — Plan B for when Plan A fails. My children’s piano teacher can work through quarantine because she identified an alternate path to get her product to consumers.

Retailers and restaurants have used digital platforms like ride-sharing and food delivery apps to stay in business with curbside pickups and at-home deliveries. Perhaps the current climate of social-distancing and the stay-at-home order will slowly propel these businesses on the path to profitability.

Having supply-chain agility is crucial to protecting the business — pivoting quickly and making informed decisions. Using a transportation management system (TMS) or KPI reporting dashboard with real-time data for visibility, concurrency and collaboration also are essential.

 

Long-Term Changes

Going forward, companies will be more risk-averse. At Visible, we track both short- and long-term trends in supply-chain management and we believe actively managing risk will be increasingly important as we move through the impacts of the pandemic.

In the last 15 years, to reduce supply-chain costs, American and European businesses have outsourced manufacturing primarily to China — and consumers benefited from lower prices. The pandemic has led hundreds of U.S. manufacturers to re-shore operations back to the US. According to a survey of over 1,000 of the continent’s manufacturing and industrial suppliers by Thomas, nearly two-thirds of North American manufacturers say they are likely to bring production and sourcing back to this continent.

To appease consumer expectations of quick and free shipping, we believe there will be a shift toward domestic, intermodal freight as manufacturing expands within the U.S. This will have a positive impact on freight brokers and put pressure on large sea carriers. Currently distressed, large sea carriers won’t be able to rebound due to the movement toward regional, local and country-level supply chains.

 

Supply-Chain Technology 

Multibillion-dollar supply-chain companies, venture capitalist and private equity firms don’t need a pandemic to validate investments in supply-chain technology. For decades, investors have poured billions of dollars into logistics technology such as automation and AI. I don’t see that slowing down.

 

Consumer Trends

With fewer commuters making their everyday coffee runs, we saw a massive surge in Nespresso and Illy beverage products. Sustained over ten weeks, they reached double and triple average volume — a 200-300 percent increase.

In other markets where Visible is active, B2C vitamins, health and wellness products and luxury clothing have also done exceptionally well during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

 

A Silver Lining 

Several of our clients have been running at peak, or higher than peak volume for the last ten weeks — nearly Black Friday volumes.

There is also a silver lining for small parcel carriers. UPS, FedEx, DHL and the U.S. Postal Service only have the capacity to manage the two weeks on either side of Black Friday successfully in a B2C environment. Extended longer, the demand strains their systems. Smaller and regional carriers have the opportunity to pick up the slack as big players turn away volume. This gives secondary players in small parcel the chance to increase their infrastructure. This also benefits e-commerce shoppers — with more competition comes cheaper or free shipping.

I had an insightful conversation with the Utah Manufacturers Association when the pandemic first hit. We agreed that supply-chain chaos breeds opportunity, and the ultimate silver lining is the ingenuity that follows disruption. For businesses experiencing degradation, this is a chance to pivot into a more secure and long-term business model, and for qualifying businesses, receiving financial assistance from the government to achieve that.

 

Contact Visible Today

Visible Supply Chain Management has thousands of satisfied customers and clients that rely on our company for their various shipping and logistics needs.  We’re here to help you today.  Contact us at 877.728.5328 to start the conversation about how we can help your company.

 

pandemic impact on supply chain cta

Leading with Visible Packaging is a Competitive Advantage for Your Ecommerce Business

Leading with Visible Packaging is a Competitive Advantage for Your Ecommerce Business

blankPackaging leads the way into most new customer opportunities, from making your business more efficient and sustainable to providing an elevated customer experience that has them placing follow up orders. Yet, many companies dismiss custom packaging supplies as an insignificant detail instead of understanding its impact and taking the time to invest in this key element of ecommerce supply chains. This is where Visible comes in.

Are you experiencing longer lead times? Are your vendors taking too long to even provide a quote, and are they living up to committed volume? These questions can easily reveal where there may be room for improvement—there are several pieces of the supply chain puzzle, and it can quickly become overwhelming. Visible packaging can step in and help.

When you lead with Visible packaging, you have a competitive advantage for your ecommerce business. We beat the competitors’ lead time on manufacturing, consistent quality of our packaging products, and the delivery time from order to arrival. Here are the key differentiators of Visible Supply Chain Management and our custom packaging solutions.

 

Competitive Pricing

Here at Visible, we are strategic about our purchases and have significant buying power. We have built relationships with top tier manufacturers and buy stock packaging materials by the truckload from them, and that translates to bulk discounts—savings that we can pass along to customers. We’re committed to working with businesses and budgets of all sizes, and this helps us achieve our goals.

The result: Visible offers low-cost stock and custom packaging solutions so your company can keep its supply chain costs down and allocate funding toward growing the business, but you don’t have to sacrifice service level and reliable access to all the custom and stock packaging supplies your business needs at any time of the year.

 

Turnaround Time

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Today’s fast-paced business world has made businesses and consumers alike place high value on speedy deliveries and lightning fast turnaround times. However, nobody wants to sacrifice quality along the way. That’s why the competition boasts about the quality of their products but will take weeks or even months to deliver on their promises. Capacity issues plague the packaging industry as major companies like Amazon and Walmart buy up all the packaging supplies they can in any areas they service. Their large orders and buying power can lead to delays on the delivery of your essential custom and stock packaging supplies. Visible has strategically invested in increased manufacturing capacity so we’re able to address your needs quickly and cost effectively.

Visible Packaging beats the competitors’ lead time on manufacturing and delivery times while still providing an extremely high quality product. You can also request production-quality samples to ensure we can provide exactly what you need. The packaging is created and delivered within 5-7 days from the time the purchase order is created, so you will be all set in a week or less. We even have some stock supplies that can be delivered within 24 hours.

 

Collaborative Business Partnership

We know you don’t want to feel like just another cog in the machine, which is why we collaborate with our customers wherever possible. Visible is a top packaging provider, yes, but more importantly, we act as a business partner. Problem solving is a key component of what we do, so you can count on us to work with your best interests in mind and find a resolution if any issues arise.

There is no one-size-fits-all packaging strategy, so we don’t expect our customers to fit into a box—pun intended. Here at Visible, we listen to your needs, explore options and find the right solutions, just for you.

 

Easy and Affordable

Finding business partners for any of your endeavors can be an arduous process of requesting and waiting for quotes, reworking your budget numerous times and scouring the Internet for reviews. You want to work with a company that is reliable and has provided positive experiences for past and current partners, but you also have to keep pricing constraints in mind.

Visible makes this process simple. Whether you prefer to reach out via phone, email or automated form, we can work together when it’s convenient in your schedule and determine how to be as cost effective as possible. Once you’re onboarded, it’s an easy, affordable end-to-end solution for your custom and stock packaging needs.

 

Stop Worrying About Your Shipping Supplies

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Managing a supply chain means juggling several different moving parts, and sometimes packaging falls toward the bottom of the priority list, until an actual issue arises. We get it, which is why we’re happy to take over. With Visible, you’ll never worry about having the shipping supplies your company needs to deliver to your customers.

In fact, we even made some recent upgrades to our operations and have a more high-quality and high-output box-converting facility than ever before. Our latest flexographic printing technology gives you a competitive edge so your business does not get left behind in today’s commoditized economy. Even better, you’ll have the power to print high-quality custom packaging without relying on yet another third-party solution.

 

On-Demand and Emergency Packaging Needs

It takes multiple parties working together and minimal disruptions for a supply chain to perform smoothly, but sometimes curveballs and real emergencies happen. In these instances, you shouldn’t have to put your operations on hold just to wait for packaging supplies to arrive.

Visible to the rescue: We’ve optimized our to-market lead time and increased speeds by 50%, so we can fulfill any on-demand order as well as can manage all your emergency packaging needs. Also, maintain optimized “just-in-time” product inventory, while reducing lead times.

 

Packaging Done Your Way

Turns out, the box matters just as much as what’s inside it. Packaging is an excellent branding opportunity that can solidify a customer’s decision to shop with you again. It’s the nice, neat bow that ties that post-purchase experience together and is a subtle reminder of your brand identity.

Visible offers true customization and branding of packaging, so you can get the most value out of your spend. We can even help your business understand how cubic pricing and DIM factors can significantly impact your shipping costs. We can help your company use the smallest packages possible for your shipments. You can come to our team with your vision, and we will rise to the challenge to create unique custom packaging and designs.

Better yet: Visible is committed to sustainability, so our packaging is green and eco-friendly. Excessive packaging is out of trend, but more importantly, it is harmful to the earth. Our team can help you minimize the volume of packing material used by your company and optimize the design of your packages for branding and dimensions. Most importantly, Visible never compromises on packaging quality. Our high-quality materials are heavy duty and can stand up to the rough transit of a supply chain.

 

See Visible in Motion

Get a behind the scenes look at the Visible Supply Chain Management packaging plant in this video featuring Jeff Bean, Visible’s President of Packaging Division, and Casey Adams, President of Visible. The plant shows clients a tangible operation in motion and lets them develop an emotional attachment to the packaging that is being created for them—like “Christmas in the middle of the year.”

 

Our Care Means a Personal Touch

While we love packaging, that’s just the start! We are part of the bigger Visible Supply Chain Management network. Visible is a one-stop-shop for all of your parcel, fulfillment, packaging and logistics needs. We help companies reduce stress and save money by meeting their logistics, warehousing and product fulfillment goals.

Visible has you covered with best in class shipping rates, a national warehouse network, can help manage ground operations, and is your partner in finding the most efficient and innovative way to get your product to customers. This is all wrapped in our signature customer service so you have what you need when you need it.

Contact Visible today at 385-213-5550 about any of your custom and stock packaging supplies. Our team is here to help your business ship like an industry leader.