Shipping Best Practices for Online Retailers

November 25, 2013 at 7:53 AMLeah Palnik

Businesses are gearing up for the inevitable increase in traffic that comes with the busy holiday season. Luckily for shoppers, they no longer have to face long lines and crowded parking lots to get their shopping done during this busy time — they can choose to do it all online.

In the past several years, Cyber Monday has been catching up to Black Friday in popularity, offering consumers an alternative way to get the best deals while crossing names off their —nice list.' Online retailers have undoubtedly already begun preparing for Cyber Monday by ramping up marketing efforts and making sure their websites can handle the increased traffic.

If you're one of the businesses gearing up for Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season, it's important to not forget the basics of optimizing the online shopping experience for your customers. Shipping is a very important component of the online sale process and a key part to your ecommerce success. Here are some shipping best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be transparent. Include shipping costs on the product page, instead of hiding them behind a login page, and give extended information on what the customer can expect from each shipping option.
  • Consider a free shipping strategy. You could provide free shipping at a minimum order price, offer free or reduced shipping to your best customers, or offer it for a limited time. For more ideas, check out How to Effectively Offer Free Shipping.
  • Keep your customers in the loop. Arguably one of the biggest downfalls of online shopping is the waiting game, so let your customers know their order is in good hands. Email them a receipt confirmation of their order once they place it, notify them when it has shipped, and most importantly provide them with the tracking number.
  • Make returns easy. There is an increased element of risk when shopping online. Consumers often worry What if it doesn't fit? or What if it doesn't work like I thought it would?. Give your customers the reassurance they need by presenting them with a simple and hassle-free return policy. Better yet, make that policy clear early on in the sale process to ease their nerves and ultimately help secure the sale.
  • Reduce your overall shipping costs. Work with your shipping partners or 3PL (like PartnerShip) to ensure you are saving as much as possible on your shipping. You can pass on any savings you garner to your customers or use it to re-invest in your business. 

Implementing these basic best practices for shipping will provide you with a good foundation for the success of your online sales during this holiday season and beyond. PartnerShip can help you in all facets of your shipping and logistics — not only outbound to your customers, but also inbound from your suppliers. For a free shipping analysis click the button below.

2014 FedEx Express Rate Increases

November 7, 2013 at 9:13 AMLeah Palnik

bos 1002 06 2008FedEx recently announced a general rate increases (GRI) of 3.9%, on average, for domestic and international FedEx Express services. These new rates will take effect January 6, 2014 along with the FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery general rate increases that will be announced later this year (historically, FedEx will match Ground increases set by UPS). In previous years, FedEx has had higher rate increases but offset them with a fuel surcharge reduction. This year they have not announced plans to modify the fuel surcharge indexes and instead have lowered the rate increase compared to previous years (3.9% vs. 5.9% in 2013).

List Rates
For a full listing of the 2014 FedEx Express rates, click here. Below is a snapshot of average rate increases for commonly used FedEx Express services.

FE Rate Increases

 
 
 
 
 
Source: http://www.parcelindustry.com/Media/PublicationsArticle/fedex1.pdf 

Surcharges
2014 will also see changes to surcharges and fees for FedEx Express services, with a 7.6% average increase.

  • Declared Value. Declared value charges for FedEx Express services will increase from $0.85 to $0.90 per $100 of value. For U.S. package services, the charges apply to shipments valued in excess of $100, and the minimum charge will increase from $2.55 to $2.70. For international services, the charge applies to the value in excess of $100 or $9.07 per lb., whichever is greater.
  • Delivery Area Surcharge. For applicable FedEx Express U.S. package services, a delivery area surcharge applies to shipments destined to select ZIP codes.describe the image
  • Collect on Delivery (C.O.D.). For applicable FedEx Express U.S. package services, the charge for FedEx C.O.D. will increase from $11 per package to $12 per package. The cap for FedEx Express Multiweight shipments will increase from $77 per shipment to $84 per shipment.
  • Residential Delivery Charge. For FedEx Express U.S. and international package services, a residential delivery charge applies to shipments to a home or private residence.describe the image
  • Saturday Delivery. For applicable FedEx Express U.S. package services, the charge for Saturday delivery will increase from $15 per package to $16 per package. For applicable FedEx Express international package services, the charge for Saturday delivery will increase from $15 per shipment to $16 per shipment.
  • Saturday Pickup. For applicable FedEx Express U.S. package services, the charge for Saturday pickup will increase from $15 per package to $16 per package and the maximum charge will increase from $105 per shipment to $112 per shipment. For applicable FedEx Express international package services, the charge for Saturday pickup will increase from $15 per shipment to $16 per shipment.

If you ship small packages these rate increases will likely affect your business. When FedEx announces their FedEx Ground rate increases, you can count on PartnerShip to provide you with a breakdown of what these new rates will mean to you and your business in 2014. In the meantime, it's important to start evaluating how you can combat these rises in shipping costs. Through a PartnerShip-managed shipping program, you receive significant discounts on select FedEx services - resulting in savings that can offset these general rate increases.

If you're not sure if you qualify for one of our small package shipping programs Contact Us and we'll find the solution that's right for you. Also, if you click the button below, we can provide you with a free, no-obligation shipping analysis to determine how much we can help you save on your small package shipping.

 

Dayton Freight Added as a PartnerShip Core Carrier

November 4, 2013 at 12:59 PMMatt Nagel

PartnerShip has created a new, core carrier alliance with Dayton Freight to provide LTL freight services to our customers located in the Midwest United States. Dayton Freight provides direct delivery to eleven midwestern states with 44 service centers. Founded in Dayton, OH, Dayton Freight has provided freight services since 1981 and built a long-standing tradition of next- and two-day delivery services.

Through our partnership with Dayton Freight, customers will enjoy competitive LTL freight rates as well as the ability to print bills of lading, print labels, and track shipments on PartnerShip.com. Through PartnerShip, along with the competitive freight rates, our customers have access to:

  • The Dayton Freight On the Double program, which is a great way to guarantee delivery of your mission-critical freight for specific delivery dates or times.
  • Additional Special Services, including deck trailers that are designed to ensure the safety of freight shipments and the ability to deliver to residential areas, and liftgate trailers throughout the system.

At PartnerShip, we are confident Dayton Freight will be a valuable addition to our group of world-class, LTL carriers, and will provide our customers with yet another option for their LTL freight shipments. If you have any questions regarding Dayton Freight services, or special LTL freight shipping needs that Dayton Freight might be able to address, call your dedicated PartnerShip sales representative at 800-599-2902.

If you are interested in receiving a Dayton Freight rate quote for an upcoming LTL freight shipment, log on to PartnerShip.com, or create a web account if you haven't already done so.

How to Effectively Offer Free Shipping

October 17, 2013 at 7:35 AMLeah Palnik

If you've ever done any online shopping, you're probably familiar with those two little magical words — —free shipping!' As a consumer, it's great — who doesn't love free? But as a small business trying to find your place in the wide world of e-commerce, it can be a little intimidating. As free shipping becomes more common, many customers are now coming to expect it; creating a wide range of costs and benefits for retailers. However, many retailers have experienced benefits, including increases in sales and customer retention, that outweigh the costs.

There are several ways you can offer free shipping to your customers without sacrificing profits. Here are some options to consider:

  • Provide free shipping at a minimum order price. Try providing free shipping at a minimum price point that's above your average order size. If you offer free shipping on orders over $50 for example, a customer who has $49.99 or less in their shopping cart is likely to purchase an additional item to reach that benchmark for the deal.
  • Offer free shipping on orders for a limited time. With the holidays fast approaching, customers are looking for the best deals. Providing a short window of time for free shipping could be just the right trigger for a sale.
  • Target your best customers. Instead of presenting the masses with free shipping, target a select group of customers you can email to increase lifetime value.
  • Create a flat shipping rate. Customers like knowing what costs to expect when shopping online. There's nothing worse than filling up your shopping cart, expecting to pay a certain price, and getting slammed with higher-than-expected shipping costs at checkout.
  • Use a one-time fee. Shipping clubs with an annual fee can be a great way to entice customers and drive customer loyalty. A good example of this is Amazon Prime. Customers pay an annual fee to shop on Amazon.com and receive unlimited free two-day shipping.
  • Offer free shipping on special products. You can offer free shipping on products with higher profit margins, on products where you have excess inventory, or any special item you're looking to promote.
  • Reduce your overall shipping costs. Work with your freight carriers or a 3PL (like PartnerShip) to ensure you are saving as much as possible on your shipping. Any additional savings you can garner will ensure you're overall profit margin is not negatively impacted by any free shipping promotions or offers.

Once you've decided how you want to offer free shipping to your customers, it's important to promote it. Use email marketing to announce it to your customers and advertise it on your website so when your customers are shopping, they can't miss it. Also, be sure to be very transparent about how to receive free shipping if you're not offering it on everything outright. If the customer has to complete an action (i.e. order at least $50, sign up for a shipping club, etc.), make it clear in the beginning what that action is.

Once you've implemented your free shipping strategy, make sure to measure it. Take a look at the costs including increased IT expenses, customer service issues, and your shipping expenses. If these costs outweigh the benefits (increased revenue and an increased customer lifetime value) you should re-evaluate. You may need to experiment with your tactics to find the one the works best for you.  

Through a PartnerShip association shipping program, you can save on select FedEx® services for small package shipping and with LTL freight carriers for large shipments — savings that can be used to fund a free shipping offer to your customers. Want to learn how another business used free shipping to improve their bottom line? Click here to read a case study featuring a PartnerShip customer that used its PartnerShip savings to implement a free shipping strategy. To find out how PartnerShip can help you save on your shipping costs, click on button below for a free, no-obligation shipping analysis.

PartnerShip Supports National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 9, 2013 at 7:50 AMScott Frederick

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the employees of PartnerShip are once again supporting the cause by making voluntary donations in exchange for the now universally recognizable pink ribbon.

The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services.

Although October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, NBCAM is dedicated to raising awareness and educating individuals about breast cancer throughout the year. It encourages you to learn more about breast cancer, breast health, and the latest research developments. The few websites shown below are great sources for additional information on breast cancer.

www.nbcam.org/

www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month

www.pinkribbon.org/

www.cancer.org


Happy Manufacturing Day from PartnerShip!

October 4, 2013 at 9:35 AMScott Frederick

To all of our manufacturing customers, including those that are members of groups we support such as NTMA, NATM, ICMAD, MAPP, PMPA, Wire-Net, and many others ... we'd like to wish you all a Happy Manufacturing Day! Without the products you manufacture, we'd have nothing to ship!

Supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers, Manufacturing Day is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, Manufacturing Day empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.

To learn more, please visit www.mfgday.com where you'll find cool resources and videos like the one shown below from the folks at Manpower.

 

13 Shipping Tips for Small Businesses

October 2, 2013 at 6:48 AMScott Frederick

Over the past year, we've written and shared a number of articles that contain tips and suggestions for those of you that are new to shipping. Since many of our current and future customers are owners or managers for small businesses, we know that shipping is just one of many responsibilities that you juggle each and every day. If you're new to PartnerShip, here is a "baker's dozen" collection of articles that may help you get started:

How Commercial Trucking Changed the World

September 30, 2013 at 10:12 AMScott Frederick
The following guest blog post is being published compliments of Steve Updike Vice President / Principal at Updike Distribution Logistics, LLC, a Phoenix, Arizona-based distribution company.

The commercial trucking industry revolutionized the transportation of products when it arrived on the scene. Before trucks were used for transport, America's goods were shipped via railroads. However, trucks would soon prove to be faster and more efficient.

Advancements in technology

The combustion engine was invented in the mid-1800s, making trucking a viable alternative to the railroads. Solitary trucker-owners eked out a living, before even the invention of closed containers to protect goods. Roads were cobblestone and tires were solid rubber, making the journey a precarious one.

Economic prosperity in the 1920s, along with advancements in wheel technology, brought the first real boom in trucking. The advent of covered containers on trucks also helped to protect goods during transit and expanded possibilities for the nascent industry. Soon, however, the Depression put many growing companies out of business and essentially paused the industry until the economy rebounded after World War II.

Diesel engines expanded opportunity

Through the 1950s and 60s, diesel engines came into use, making longer journeys possible. Other technological advancements, such as multiple axles that allowed trucks to carry heavier weights, increased the trucking industry's capability to meet rising demands for consumer goods.

New laws spurred commercial trucking growth

interstate highway system tIn 1956, the federal government authorized an interstate highway system, which would make long-haul trucking faster and more cost effective than other methods of distribution. The development of the interstate highway system coincided with the rapid growth of suburbs, making truck transportation even more vital because railroads stopped mostly in major cities.

Market complexity prompted innovation

Over time, as trucking emerged as the most common method of transporting merchandise, trucking companies became larger and more complex. Third party logistics (3PL) providers would ultimately work with companies to navigate those complexities, helping businesses find the most efficient ways to distribute products.

Starting in the 1970s and 80s, the trend toward outsourcing to 3PLs gained speed. Congress passed the Motor Carrier Act in 1980, which deregulated the commercial trucking industry. This deregulation paved the way for companies to begin providing multiple services across transportation sectors.

Before 1980, for example, companies mostly provided trucking services, operated on the railroads or stored goods. Companies entering the market were required to prove their entry didn't financially harm an existing company. Deregulation removed the barriers to entry and companies began offering multiple services and expanding their reach into the supply chain.

As technology became even more advanced in the 1980s and 90s, possibilities for tracking products and analyzing routes became even more complicated. The technology side of 3PL became one of the industry's main selling points for companies looking to become more efficient in an increasingly competitive world.

Today, with the supply chain so complex and with so many variables, many companies turn to third party logistics providers to manage their supply chain distribution.

Trucking has come a long way since its inception, and continuing advances in technology, including fuel efficiency, mean that it will likely stay an important part of how goods get distributed across the nation.

What to do Once Your Freight has Arrived at its Destination

September 24, 2013 at 8:26 AMMatt Nagel

PalletsYour freight shipment has been created, shipped, and tracked. The shipment has now arrived at its destination and you're ready to complete the final steps in the freight shipping process.

As you know from my two previous posts, PartnerShip has tailored its website to assist customers before and during shipping. We'll now provide you with some steps for after-shipping best practices.

Step #1: If the shipment was inbound, check for damaged or missing items.

As rare as it may occur, it's always a best practice to record and check shipments for shortages, damages, and concealed damages immediately upon delivery.

If you find an issue with your shipment, here are some guidelines for making sure the problem is properly documented:

  • Always notify your vendor of short or damaged shipments
  • Have the driver precisely document all exceptions on the delivery receipt
  • Contact the carrier within 15 days of delivery date to report concealed shortages or damages
  • Never pay for merchandise not received
  • Always try to have your vendor file the LTL freight claim
  • Claims must be filed within 9 months of delivery date (claims forms for PartnerShip carriers are in the Shipping Forms menu)
  • If you have any questions, call your PartnerShip account representative and they will gladly help you with the freight claims process

Step #2: Pay your freight invoices.

If your shipment was sent 3rd party billed through PartnerShip, you have the time-saving option of using PartnerShip.com to view, track and pay your Invoicing online. We've organized your open invoices for easy reference. The Invoicing tool allows you to view invoices by invoice number and pay invoices immediately with a credit card.

Once your invoices are paid, you can use Payment History to see all of your past invoice payments and transactions.

Step #3: Keep track of your freight shipments.

In my last post, you learned that using Shipment History on PartnerShip.com is a great way to view all shipments that are in transit. Now that your freight is no longer in transit, Shipment History is a great way to get a consolidated view of all shipments sent in the past. By using Shipment History as a reporting tool, you're able to search shipments by date and keep track of your shipment frequency and details in one report - no matter how many different freight carriers you may have used through PartnerShip.

You can also request a personalized Savings Report from PartnerShip.com for your company. Simply choose a monthly or yearly report type and click —submit. A PartnerShip representative will then provide you with a customized report showing you how much you've saved off of the carrier's base rates during that period of time.

There you have it! You've completed the shipping process and are ready to send another one! Remember, PartnerShip is always here to help you at any stage and with any type of shipment you may need to send. If you haven't already, be sure to click the below button to subscribe to the PartnerShip Connection Blog so you get future updates and tips.

PartnerShip Honored with 5th Consecutive NorthCoast 99 Award

September 19, 2013 at 8:23 AMScott Frederick

NACS, Inc. (and PartnerShip as one of its subsidiaries) was officially honored yesterday evening with a fifth consecutive NorthCoast 99 award. NorthCoast 99 is an annual recognition program that honors 99 great workplaces for top talent in Northeast Ohio. The program was developed and is presented by ERC. ERC is Northeast Ohio's leading and largest professional organization dedicated to HR practices, programs and services.

Prominent Northeast Ohio organizations were honored at the Westlake, OH banquet last night, including some very familiar names such as the Cleveland Indians, Great Lakes Brewing Co., Majestic Steel USA Inc., University Hospitals, Avery Dennison, Panther Expedited Services, FedEx Custom Critical, and 15-time winner Shearer's Foods Inc. Joining representatives of these prominent organizations was a small, cross-section of NACS, NACSCORP and PartnerShip employees who proudly accepted the award.

Fifteen years ago, NorthCoast 99 was started to showcase organizations that understood that building and enhancing workplaces for top performers was the key to success. It has since transformed from a workplace competition to a movement - with more and more CEOs shifting towards a great workplace strategy. Here are some interesting facts about this year's NorthCoast 99 companies that were shared at the event:

  • 99% sponsor fundraisers, charitable events and/or scholarships
  • 50% coordinate an organization-wide day of community services
  • 83% provide ongoing coaching and feedback to employees at least quarterly
  • Fill open positions with internal talent 32% of the time
  • Provided, on average, 47 hours of training and development to employees in 2012
  • 86% offer wellness incentives to employees, and 83% conduct wellness challenges or competitions
  • 76% of the leaders hold small/intimate group gatherings with employees at least monthly
  • 89% offer financial planning assistance

To end the evening, Craig Keilburger, co-founder of Free The Children, gave a very inspirational speech. His message included examples of how one person can make dramatic, positive impacts on the lives of others - a message taken to heart by the NorthCoast 99 companies that strive each and every day to help their employees be successful.

Congratulations to all of this year's NorthCoast 99 winners. Thank you for all that you accomplish, and for building great workplaces along side NACS, Inc. in Northeast Ohio!

Scott G Frederick