Tag Archives: warehouse

Black Friday Returns – Are You Ready?

downloadBlack Friday Returns Management – A Horrifying Prospect?

The real drama for Online Sellers will come in the days following the mega sales and fist fights, as consumers return a potentially incapacitating volume of purchases for retailers to deal with.

Industry experts predict that over £5billion of goods will be sold within the period of 24th to 28th November – but how many of these will be returned? And are retailers paying enough attention to returns processing?

It’s difficult to predict how Black Friday 2016 will compare to previous years, however, what we can say with certainty is that shoppers will turn to online and mobile platforms to make their purchases. Unlike America, where Black Friday encourages consumers to go out to physical shops to grab their bargains, UK retailers are focusing more and more on attracting consumers through their online platforms.

Fashion is particularly big in online and mobile shopping, and Black Friday will be no exception.

On average, of all online clothing purchases made, 40% are returned. So, for retailers to be the true winners this Black Friday, they must consider the scale of returns, which could add immeasurable pressure to their logistics operations, have a lasting effect on their customer relations and, ultimately, impact retailers’ bottom lines.

Returns processing has been amongst the Black Friday nightmares seen in the past few years –  getting money back to customers, and ensuring stock levels are at the right level in time for the second wave of Christmas shopping has caused hell on earth for some retailers. Those that have learned from being close to collapse will be the leaders – both in profit margins and in customer service.

Certain items that will not be accepted back into prime stock – if retailers have prepared for returns, they will be able to approach this strategically, and will already have plans in place to make deals with this stock elsewhere, without writing the returns off.

A lot of consumers who will be shopping during the Black Friday sales are especially savvy. This means that when they are looking to purchase online, they will look at the returns policy before pressing the buy button. If retailers aren’t aware of this, they can lose strength in their position within the market; returns really do matter to consumers

By preparing with an easy and efficient returns policy for customers, and making this work as prescribed, retailers will be able to retain custom way beyond Black Friday. A clear policy will also help retailers forecast likely demand on returns, so they can prepare when it comes to stock levels and back end logistics.

We help retailers take an intelligent logistics approach to peak. If forecasting and planning has been backed up by a ready to rock IT infrastructure , ‘Black Fiveday’ should be a time for retailers to delight customers, improve their inventory for the festive period and rake in revenues.

There will be much debate and post-event analysis from retailers and across the industry once ‘Black Fiveday’ is done. But, by this point, retailers may already be feeling like they are playing a leading role in a horror film with no way out. Sadly, if you are reading this and can feel a sense of gloom encircling, it may already too late! 

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Four lessons UK retailers can learn from China about mobile commerce

china-m-commerceMobile commerce in China is at an all-time high. Estimates for 2016 predict it will account for 55% of online sales and it looks set to become the most important channel for all retail sales over the next few years. Dominated by commerce giant Alibaba, the mcommerce market is fiercely competitive and retailers wishing to endure in this environment have had to create mobile products that glitter – the younger generation of Chinese consumers shopping on their mobiles are digitally savvy, fickle and expect a high standard of service.

WeChat has provided the ultimate gateway for retailers to reach consumers via smartphones. A combination of online browser, messaging app and social media platform all under one virtual roof, ‘super app’ WeChat is life for 700 million users accessing over 10 million internal apps (known as official accounts). It’s one of the most important multichannel portals for businesses – both in China and overseas.

While the WeChat framework doesn’t exist in the UK just yet, the tactics employed to enhance user experience, achieve sales and convert customers into loyal buyers in China via mobile can be adopted by UK retailers using available technologies and channels.

Personalise the shopping experience with an app

A mobile-friendly site is imperative, but an app will be even more beneficial. It personalises the shopping experience and streamlines the path to purchase with its layers of functionality and engagement, which are proven to drive conversion and revenue.

In China, traditional marketing channels are gradually losing their ability to attract new users, and standalone retailer apps no longer have the same clout as an account on WeChat. The same goes for retailer’s own mobile sites – WeChat can reach a far larger target audience.

A lesson for retailers in listening to the market and placing investment where customers spend their time – 94% of users log in to WeChat every day.

Care about content: engage and entertain your customer

Social media and mobile marketing strategies need to be dynamic, engaging and, most of all, relevant. Posting audio and video content, news and promotions are proven methods of adding value to a brand and building positive relationships with customers, but it’s also important to keep exploring new, interactive channels that appeal to the demanding consumer.

In China, endorsement by online influencers is creating new marketing opportunities for sellers. Online beauty retailer Feelunique not only has its own official WeChat account but has cooperated with other WeChat influencers whose followers are interested in cosmetic and personal care, and regularly share Feelunique’s content and product details. Feelunique can benefit many times over by providing a better mobile purchase experience; converting customers from other sources into followers, engaging them with useful content and stimulating sales directly. In the UK, forming partnerships with influential bloggers offers the same potential.

Peer-to-peer recommendation carries weight and sharing new purchases on social media is second nature to the Chinese consumer. Encourage sharing by UK consumers on social media by offering incentives such as samples or coupons. It will increase trust towards the retailer and helps to increase conversion rates.

It’s crucial to speak your customer’s language. For example, Chinese consumers have nicknames for popular branded cosmetic products they refer to when discussing beauty issues within online communities. To help customers find the right product through search engines or on-site search, online retailers add these nicknames alongside the actual product name.

Make payment painless

Mobile shopping requires a convenient payment system. Nobody wants to spend ages on a tiny keyboard typing in their card details each time they purchase an item. Since 2010, the People’s Bank of China has issued over 200 licenses to non-financial institutions to provide third-party payment services and declared a national mobile payment standard. This has led to explosive growth in the Chinese mobile payments market – increasing by almost 25% in the past 12 months.

There are plenty of convenient mobile payment solutions available in the UK, which retailers should embrace. Apple Pay and Google Wallet are leading the way and it is will be interesting to see how well Android Pay, which launched in the UK in May 2016 takes off. If retailers want to encourage mobile commerce, it’s essential they offer one-touch payment options.

The next step is to integrate mobile commerce with offline. Many retailer apps on WeChat include a barcode scanner function, allowing users to quickly scan the label on a physical product instore and compare prices or choose to purchase on their phone. An idea that UK retailers can easily implement.

Don’t dismiss older technology

QR codes are ubiquitous in China – one of the main reasons for their success is that QR codes contain URLs and Mandarin is fiddly to type. When WeChat made a QR code scanner a built-in feature it brought the technology to millions of users, and is proving a particularly useful tool for marketing incentives such as discounts and VIP cards, both offline and online. Purchases can be paid for on their phone via QR code.

The QR code may have been ahead of its time when it was first introduced in the UK in 2011, and the subsequent years represent a lifetime in the mobile commerce development world. A whole new generation of people shopping primarily on their mobiles, plus more people willing to do so have emerged, so the value of the QR code should be re-examined.

China has a highly developed and integrated approach to mcommerce, but the UK has inherent advantages Chinese retailers can only envy. Mature multichannel infrastructure is pioneering while geography is on your side in terms of logistics.

It’s all about streamlining the experience.

China’s infamous Singles Day on 11 November had just recorded that 90% of its sales these years comes from mobile, with Black Friday upon us, my guess is that the percentage of purchases made by mobile will continue to break records.

3P Logistics and Black Friday

Are You Ready For Black Friday 2015?

3P Logistics Black Friday

For those who don’t know that Black Friday is this Friday, where have you been? Yes, Black Friday is this Friday, the 27th of November.

Certain analysts predict British shoppers alone will spend up to £1bn on tech, games, clothes and other goods in 24 hours, whereas Visa Europe believes that shoppers will spend up to £1.9bn during the consumer holiday. The consumer holiday being the whole weekend, which ends with Cyber Monday on November 30.

Third party logistics businesses and order fulfilment providers are ready for the sales weekend that starts with Black Friday and ends with Cyber Monday. Here at 3P Logistics, as an E-commerce fulfilment provider, we are in close contact with our partners, especially over this period. The warehouse will be full of products ready to be sold online at discount prices. Stock has been moved to premium locations for ease of packing, in order to cope with the high demand that comes with the largest sales event of the year.

Of course, we’ve all heard of boomerang Thursday also. No? Well, boomerang Thursday is given its name due to the amount of returns of products from customers that businesses like 3PL have to deal with. It’s just as important to be able to process these returns smoothly and efficiently, as it is to get orders out on Black Friday itself.

Amazon have decided to take the sting out of Black Friday and list certain products at marked down prices all week on the run up to Black Friday. 7,000 deals were available from yesterday – five days earlier than the official sale day falls. Customers will be able to get their hands on new offers every 10 minutes for the entire week, with items ranging from the Amazon Kindles to a Withings smart-watch. Retailer’s lightening deals are back. Limited items are available for a short period of time with Prime members having the ability to see these deals before other shoppers.

In the US, expenditure is set to be far higher than that of the UK because of how much it is established as a big sales event. For America Black Friday marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping period, and takes place strategically on the first shopping day after Thanksgiving.

It is clear for everyone to see what the rewards of online retailing actually are, but having to deal with customer demand during the spike that is Black Friday, during the increasingly demanding period that Q4 is, can make it a minefield. Luckily enough, 3P Logistics Ltd are the perfect fit for you online retailers.
Nonetheless, the one big question surrounding Black Friday is whether or not your business can afford not to take into account every essence of making a Black Friday sale. There really is no accounting for the way in which shoppers adapt their spending habits for retail events like this so it’s really important that retailers have every box ticked. Therefore it is good that retailers have grown up recently, most specifically in terms of managing customer expectations.

Tesco are a great example of this. They have taken a completely proactive approach to Black Friday this year and released a message online that warns Black Friday and Christmas shoppers that there will be delays with their next-day click-and-collect services, as one can imagine. It’s not just the smaller online sellers, big supermarkets and other multi-channel retailers have to set expectations within their customers. This is what gives you an edge on the lesser prepared retailers, can you really afford to give THEM the edge?
We will see, this Friday, the 27th November.

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Brands Look To Fulfilment Houses…

Brands look to fulfilment houses for distribution of goods to consumers.

As e-commerce is becoming a viable platform for most businesses, an increasing number of brands are looking to fulfilment houses to support the distribution of their goods to consumers according to leading UK fulfilment house 3P Logistics.

Brands are discovering that utilising outsourced warehousing for fulfilment and distribution can increase their profit margins and likely to increase sales.
E-fulfilment, by definition, is what happens between the time the customer buys the product from a webstore and the moment they receive the goods. From a customer perspective, this process reflects how the brand performs. By using specialist fulfilment warehouses, brands can focus on their core business activities, such as planning, marketing, developing product and consumer relations.

Using e-fulfilment can level the playing field for smaller companies and marketplace sellers allowing them to compete with big-named brands.
John Scully – Development Manager at 3P Logistics says

“Using outsourced warehousing and fulfilment, sellers effectively lower their operating costs and scale the business. Brands can leverage our resources without having to directly invest in property, technology, personnel and the time required to set up warehouse. Cash is key in any business and should be used to source goods and take them to market as opposed to taking on a whole range of overheads associated with an in-house solution.”

It Seems Like Yesterday

WOW! – How time flies?

Yes It`s been a whole year since we entered our shiny new order fulfilment depot in the North West – and my what a whirlwind of a year it’s been!
In the space of just 12 months, our 75,000 square foot warehouse and call centre facility carries over 30,000 unique product lines and over 3.5 million units and the extra space has certainly been put to good use.

3P Logistics Racking

In keeping with the growing demand for outsourced logistics services the depot has seen a wave of investment over the past 12 months which has enabled both existing clients to grow and for new business to join us. Since relocation, three additional phases of racking have been installed catering for over 3000 pallets of storage. In addition, a 3,000 sq ft mezzanine floor was installed and is now in full flow with phase 2 imminent. With an ever increasing demand for pick and pack services our packing stations appear to be breeding and at the last count some 15 workstations were in action.

3P Logistics Packing and Storage

Our 5,000 sq ft of head office space has also undergone some exciting changes, too. In addition to the 8 seat call centre, a web photography studio and staff shop is now housed within and adds real value for our clients.

If 2014 was great then 2015 promises to be a landmark year for everyone associated with 3P Logistics.
If you`ve ever considered outsourcing your warehousing and logistics to a third party then now could be the ideal time.

To find out how an association with 3PL can help support your business on the journey of “good to great”…

Chat to us: 01942 720 077
Email us: enquiries@3p-logistics.co.uk

Speed Up Your Order Picking And Packing Process!

As your business grows, you will expect an increase in customer demand. This means that your distribution center has to work harder, faster and even smarter to meet the demand. In order to stay competitive, you should really look into your order picking system to make sure you can ship faster, and store new products faster than your competitors. It’s all about efficiency, and you should also look into reducing your operating and labour costs at the same time if possible.

3P Logistics Fulfilment Process

Usually, an online seller would start off with the most basic picking method – discrete order picking. When an order is received, the picker will go and pick one order at a time. The picker will then have to move around the whole warehouse to retrieve the products to finish the first order, then move onto the second order. This method is accurate but it is very time consuming. Imagine if you have 50 orders – you would have to walk around your warehouse 50 times!

This is why people outsource their order fulfilment. Basically, we increase efficiency by picking orders in batch. After receiving the orders, our automated system will categorize the orders into type and pick location. The picker will then retrieve the products according to the pick list, handling multiple orders at the same time. This can greatly reduce the travelling time between different locations and make things more productive. According to Fastpick, nearly 70% of time is wasted on travelling between product locations!

However, batch picking can be rather confusing and more mistakes can be made compared to discrete picking. This is why we have invested in technology and applied a bar-coding system. Each product types, sizes, colours, and any other variation, has its own unique bar code. After the picker has picked the products, the packer will scan the products and make sure everything is correct before packing and dispatching. Upon recognizing the order, the system will also print the corresponding address label. This can ensure a near 100% accuracy.

Improving your order picking can save you time, money and also improve customer satisfaction (imagine how many customers you could lose with picking errors!). Alternatively, consider outsourcing to us – with our bulk buying power we will certainly be the cheaper option!