White Glove Fulfillment - What it is and why you need it.

White Glove Fulfillment - What is it?

White glove delivery, fulfillment, and service are common buzzwords in the fulfillment and transportation industry. So what exactly is “white glove fulfillment?” The term white glove finds its roots in the fact that posh English butlers would wear white gloves. White glove offerings are defined as providing meticulous care, attention, or service. When referring to white glove fulfillment, it implies a company or organization provides the highest level of excellence in the logistics industry. From receiving through final delivery, they demonstrates a superior level of attention to every detail. White glove fulfillment is also sometimes called “premiere fulfillment.” in this article, we will outline the minimum standards of a white glove fulfillment company and why you need them. 

White Glove Fulfillment - Minimum Expectations

Standard of Excellence in Product Handling

Premium delivery services specialize in products like artwork, furniture, antiques, and fragile items like pottery or china. White glove fulfillment companies provide this same type of attention to detail for every product they fulfill. When a shipment arrives at the distribution warehouse, teams have specific instructions on storing, staging, and prepping the items to deliver when orders are received efficiently. Furthermore, premiere fulfillment teams provide accurate and traceable pick-n-pack services that limit inventory shrinkage and product damage.

Dynamic Problem Solving

Fulfillment provides the network, staff, and resources to ensure products are accurately received, staged, stored for packaging, and shipped quickly as orders fluctuate. Logistics operations are a delicate balance between multiple carriers, manufacturers, and transportation organizations. The entire workflow is negatively impacted if any system piece is non-functioning or even delayed. Partnering with a premiere fulfillment company ensures a higher standard of problem-solving. They will leverage every available resource to iron-out kinks in the workflow. Premiere fulfillment services are game-changing when complications arise, from utilizing a broad network of routes and providers to reconfiguring a warehouse floor to stage products for a last-minute sale.

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Expert Branded Packaging and Unboxing Experiences

Nothing will elevate a brand more than a unique unboxing experience. Envision a customer who ordered a cocktail dress. That customer is probably not expecting it to come in a right-size, sustainable package, wrapped with every detail, including a personalized note and detailed garment care instructions. However, when you partner with a white glove fulfillment company, that is the experience your brand can create. Consumers have grown accustomed to the familiar “smile arrow” on every amazon box, so when a new type of box arrives, it holds a bit of mysterious anticipation! That brand is already set apart from the rest. White glove service teams are experts in utilizing unique packaging that will decrease the likelihood of damage and maintain profitability. Simply selecting the right-sized packaging can help boost profitability. 

Adept at Temperature Sensitive Product Fulfillment

Not every product can remain stored at room temperature or above. Specific products like beer, wine, and some beauty items require temperature minimums and maximums to be upheld to maintain quality. If you entrust an ordinary fulfillment company with these products, you will likely experience disappointment. There are many fulfillment companies specializing in these types of shipments. However, a white-glove fulfillment often manage these deliveries with as much care and accuracy. The bonus with using a white glove fulfillment team is that they can create a unique opening experience, as mentioned above. When someone opens their favorite micro-brew and receives a complimentary taster of the newest summer shandy, they just might become a brand advocate!

Accurate and Transparent Tracking

Sending accurate product delivery notifications greatly increase customer satisfaction. Consumers aren't content to wait in limbo about when they will receive their purchases. Top-tier fulfillment teams pride themselves on ensuring a quick turnaround on delivery being fulfilled and knowing precisely where a package is in the cycle at any given point. Premiere fulfillment companies often leverage dynamic tracking software to provide the most detailed insight on a shipment's final delivery. This is vital in improving customer satisfaction scores and minimizing missed deliveries.

Premium Customer Service

Endless loops of text-bot customer service platforms cause a higher-level of customer dissatisfaction than have a proactive customer response team. Any business owner knows that when a customer is frustrated, it is not the time to make them wait for answers. A premiere fulfillment company offers the highest standard of communication available to their clients. Whether that is a dedicated account manager or a 24/7 hotline, a person is standing by to quickly answer your questions and get your business back on track. Not only do they offer a more face-to-face customer service experience, but they also have a polite and professional manner. Like the English butler, a white glove fulfillment team member understands that how they speak is as important as what they say. 

Why Your Business Needs White Glove Fulfillment

Any eCommerce company wants to partner with a white glove fulfillment team because it can mean the difference between creating a happy customer and earning a brand advocate. Keeping customers happy is the minimum requirement of any good business. Creating brand advocates should be the goal. How would partnering with a fulfillment team like this help create brand advocates?

Faster Fulfillment and Detailed Delivery Information

Customers expect confirmation emails when they order and when the delivery is expected. Now more than ever, consumers want to be notified when a delivery is delayed, dispatched, and confirmation of the final drop-off location. This is primarily due to the Amazon effect. Not every eCommerce businesses have the network, purchasing power, and delivery resources of Amazon. Partnering with a white glove fulfillment team can help them provide a similar experience that ensures customer satisfaction without needing the same capital.

Memorable and Shareable Unboxing Experiences

There is something very satisfying about watching someone unbox something. Maybe it is a nod to years of watching people open birthday presents or Christmas gifts that cause us to lean in. Premiere fulfillment teams can help create and deliver TikTok-worthy unboxing experiences. Depending on your brand product and use, you can customize the packaging, opening instructions, and shareable links to capitalize on the unboxing. With other fulfillment teams, you don’t have as much assurance that the product will not include additional marketing collateral or arrive damaged. Creating a memorable and shareable unboxing experience is another way to tip a customer over to a brand advocate.

Professional and Polite Returns and Exchange Management

A top-tier fulfillment team can manage the final distribution stages, including returns and exchanges. They manage the entire process of receiving returned goods, inspecting returned items, and accurately restocking and updating inventory. Above and beyond, they provide reports for all returns and can even help modify or update returns policies to protect and increase profitability. In eCommerce's competitive landscape, your business cannot afford to have a complicated return and exchange policy. That said, if you make it as easy on the consumer as possible, you inadvertently make it more difficult for your business. Partnering with a white glove fulfillment team alleviates the complex and time-consuming returns and exchange management process. 

White glove fulfillment organizations go above and beyond for you and your customers. eCommerce businesses with a premiere fulfillment partner can reclaim precious time and provide the highest level of logistic service without paying “English Butler” money. If you want to learn more about how Falcon Fulfillment can become your white glove fulfillment partner get in touch today. We would love to help your brand provide your customers with the highest accuracy, attention, and prompt fulfillment. 

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4 Ways a 3PL Can Help With Outsourcing Inventory Management

4 Ways a 3PL Can Help With Outsourcing Inventory Management

4 Ways a 3PL Can Help With Outsourcing Inventory Management

According to Investopedia, inventory management is the process of ordering, storing, using, and selling a company’s raw materials, components, and finished products. Inventory management requires significant resources in order to run it efficiently. Inventory is one of the most valuable components of a business; therefore, mismanaging it can be detrimental to the organization's success. Proficient inventory management streamlines the process of reducing overages and stockouts. If your company is losing time and money due to inefficiencies or staff overload, it is probably time to outsource inventory management to a third party. There are several ways a 3PL can help with outsourcing inventory management.  

Aspects of Inventory Management

Aspects of Inventory ManagementWhy would I outsource inventory management?

  • You need to improve efficiency.
  • You need more time to focus on core competencies. 
  • You no longer have the warehouse space to contain adequate inventory to scale
  • You need to improve margins on shipping and staffing.

Ways a 3PL Can Help With Inventory Management

Provide Flexible Storage

Many growing eCommerce businesses work out of their basements, garages, and attics when they launch. Eventually, these spaces are inadequate to ensure quick, organized, and streamlined fulfillment. If you're fulfilling in-house, you may be experiencing these types of growing pains. Alternatively, if you've rented a warehouse, it might be an expensive overhead cost. The jumbled mess of packaging, bubble wrap, and returns can become someone else’s problem. Partnering with a 3PL can give you flexible warehousing space depending on fluctuations in sales and seasonal needs. You can scale your warehousing resources quickly.

Faster and Cheaper Order Fulfillment

A 3PL provides expert order fulfillment services. Your business can benefit from bulk discounts by accessing their expertise and broad national network of facilities. Partnering with a 3PL allows your business to leverage economies of scale and negotiate lower shipping and delivery charges. Additionally, your company will likely see an expedited order delivery timeframe. A 3PL fulfillment team can receive an order, package it, and get it out for delivery in a single day. Provided your 3PL has multi-site distribution, you can offer 2-day delivery almost anywhere in the US. Fast delivery times make your company more competitive in the cut-throat eCommerce landscape. Outsourcing this aspect of inventory management is a life-saver. 

Advanced Inventory Management Software

Because inventory management and transparency are critical to running a successful 3PL, most use highly advanced technology. This is another cost savings because you do not have to spend money to purchase software or train staff to use it. Your business will be able to use top-of-the-line technology and receive training on how to utilize it to grow your business. The detailed reporting available includes; stock levels, automated inventory tasks, forecasting, and returns management. Here are some benefits of using an automated inventory management system, such as the one Falcon Fulfillment uses. 

Reduce Inventory and Fulfillment Staff

As your business grows, you will naturally require more staff in order to fulfill orders. If you have been running a business for more than five minutes, you understand that people are a company's most valuable and expensive asset. The more you can reduce your inventory and fulfillment staffing risk, the more you can focus on core competencies. When you partner with a 3PL, the stress of whether or not your warehouse staff will show up and get your orders out the door is eliminated. Furthermore, you do not have to bear the expense and risk of injuries from fulfillment staff. When you work with a premiere 3PL like Falcon Fulfillment, you have even greater assurance that your inventory management teams are well-cared for. 


While we have only discussed four ways a 3PL can help with outsourcing inventory management, there are many more. A 3PL can save you money from reducing shipping costs to staffing. The most valuable resource any entrepreneur has is time. Outsourcing your inventory management to a 3PL gives you back a little more of this precious commodity. With more time, you can focus on what your business does best and leave the inventory and fulfillment piece to the experts! Are you interested in learning more about how Falcon’s proprietary inventory management software could help your business? Get in touch today.

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Improving Supply Chain Resilience with a 3PL Partner

Improving Supply Chain Resilience with a 3PL Partner

Improving Supply Chain Resilience with a 3PL Partner

The supply chain is often taken for granted until it is broken. The supply chain revealed some critical areas of weakness thanks to COVID-19 and the dominoes that toppled afterward. Improving supply chain resilience became an instant focus. Mike Jackson, executive director at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association (OESA), says, “Supply chain risks spiked on a number of fronts, fueled by workforce constraints, input shortages, and liquidity issues, due to the slashing of production volumes and future forecasts.” Companies scrambled with little or no notice to meet growing customer demands and plummeting supply.

During one of the biggest eCommerce booms, the businesses that thrived deployed partnerships and processes that improved supply chain performance. Delays, disruptions, and ongoing issues in the supply chain will not be dissolving anytime soon. This article will discuss why partnering with a 3PL is critical in improving supply chain resilience.

What are the supply chain risks?

Long Lead Times

The time it takes from an order placed to an order delivered to the consumer dramatically increased in 2020. According to a report by Anvyl, the top five reasons for the long lead times were: 

  • Lack of containers
  • COVID-related issues (shutdowns, outbreaks, curfews, sick workforce) 
  • Vessel space constraints
  • Raw material delays
  • Awaiting information from buyer (mostly payment delays) 

Longer lead times cost many eCommerce customers. Even global conglomerate Amazon struggled to meet its “prime effect” two-day shipping. When a customer makes a purchase, they want it on their doorstep in hours or days. With the pandemic easing and the supply chain recovering, customer tolerance for delays is eroding.

improving supply chain resilience - raw materialsRaw Material Shortages

Several ongoing factors are still contributing to a raw materials shortage, including geopolitical issues, continued zero COVID policy in China, and an upsurge in prices for raw goods. The Russian-Ukrainian crisis increased fuel costs and limited mobility of materials to major export partners. The dramatic knock-on effect left global and domestic manufacturing plants scrambling to source new suppliers. A few key industries have been hit the hardest, including; textiles, footwear, electronics, and agriculture. 

Lack of Diversification

Diversification is crucial in improving supply chain resilience. From suppliers to consumer delivery routes, a diversified supply chain will increase the likelihood of success. The most pronounced areas are suppliers and manufacturing, transportation, and distribution.

Lack of Visibility

Do these phrases sound familiar, “Out of stock, back ordered, delayed shipment, delivery canceled?” The likelihood you have received this as a consumer is high. If you are an eCommerce business owner, the possibility you just had a moment of anxiety reading those is higher. Once the supply chain dominoes began to topple, the transparency of how goods were moving through the supply chain became uncertain and imprecise.

Customer service teams were overwhelmed with calls from frustrated consumers who just wanted to know WHEN or IF the product they purchased over ten days ago would arrive. Unfortunately, many businesses didn’t have a confident response. The limitations in supply chain visibility became evident. Companies that leveraged person-to-person communications and technology to illuminate issues within the supply chain could give consumers more details. Even though they may have had significant delays, they could communicate with customers proactively.

How to Improve Supply Chain Resilience with a 3PL Partner

Supply Chain ManagementImproving Long Lead Times

While a 3PL cannot make your manufacturer produce products any faster, they can assist with the long lead times by offering flexible warehousing. Even though lead times from international manufacturers might still be 6-8 months, the lead time from order to consumer can become significantly shorter. Having a scalable amount of storage based on fluctuating consumer demand allows eCommerce brands to pre-order products. 

Improving Diversification

This is where a 3PL partnership can make the most significant improvement in supply chain resilience. Third-Party-Logistics providers are experts in transportation, manufacturers, and distribution. Where an individual eCommerce may have relationships with a few van lines or shipping suppliers, a 3PL has a vast network of connections across the transportation sector. A 3PL poised to improve your supply chain resilience will have relationships spanning air, ocean, and land. This is critical when one transportation supplier cannot deliver based on illness, staffing shortages, or border/port closures. A quick pivot can be managed by your 3PL partner, which will reduce delays. 

Second to transportation is the manufacturing sector. A solid 3PL can make introductions across suppliers in order to diversify. eCommerce companies reliant on one manufacturer were at their mercy. 3PLs can help locate and work with suppliers to mitigate the risk of stockouts. 

Lastly, ensuring multi-site distribution and warehousing is key in diversifying your supply chain. The best 3PL partners offer multiple warehouses where products are received, pick-and-packed, labeled, and shipped. During the worst of the slow-downs in the ports, there were certain products that were moving through West coast ports better than East coast ports and vice versa. It was highly beneficial to have a partner that could receive products from either coast. Furthermore, having a distribution warehouse near domestic manufacturers was a game-changer.

Inventory VisibilityImproving Visibility

Communication failures, confusion, and limited insight from the supply chain became commonplace. However, 3PL teams are adept at reading insights and proactively determining when supplies would become critically low. Partnering with a solid 3PL allows for detailed reporting on inventory levels, forecasting, and even managing customer returns. From receiving to final delivery, a 3PL can provide almost real-time insight into your business. Premiere 3PL providers will also offer a personal approach with dedicated account managers you can contact directly. Having insight into when, where, and how your products are being managed equips your team with the information they need to appease frustrated consumers. 

 

The supply chain is improving slowly. Businesses that stand to survive and thrive as disruptions continue to leverage every asset they can to improve supply chain resilience. By partnering with a solid 3PL, you can improve visibility, diversify transportation and distribution, expand manufacturing relationships, and decrease lead times. 3PL partners are logistics experts that can leverage their relationships to improve your business's supply chain resilience. Want to learn more about how Falcon Fulfillment can improve your supply chain KPIs and create a more resilient process? Talk to one of our agents today.

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6 Indicators you should stop dropshipping

6 Indicators You Should Stop Dropshipping

6 Indicators You Should Stop Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a great way to start an eCommerce. It is a direct partnership between suppliers and manufacturers to accept orders for their goods or products. The startup costs are minimal, and it is an easy way to test products in a new market. There are several drawbacks to dropshipping and some significant limitations. Here are six indicators to stop dropshipping and consider fulfillment alternatives.

Product Delivery Times Don't Meet Customer Demand.

Indicators you should stop dropshipping (1)Suppliers and manufacturers are not agile in servicing and fulfilling individual orders. Their primary focus is producing and fulfilling large wholesale purchases. The bulk of their profit is made through large-scale orders. Dropshipping and any DTC sales will always be secondary. Therefore, you can expect far longer delivery timelines using dropshipping than meets consumer demand. According to Medium.com, the average dropshipping delivery time is 12-60 days.

Lower Margins

Dropshipping is essentially marketing and selling for the manufacturer. As the eCommerce owner, you can expect lower margins. Without the benefit of negotiating a larger volume order price, each sale you make will be slightly less than if you fulfilled in-house or through a 3PL. It is crucial to evaluate the entire cost of dropshipping. Even though you may save initially, it could cost you more than you think. 

Communication Failures

Communication FailuresThe eCommerce brands that thrive have a proven customer service track record. When something goes wrong with an order, the customer will call you, not the manufacturer. Therefore, you need to have the ability to problem solve quickly. This is easier if your supplier is domestic but becomes exponentially more complicated with an international provider. From language barriers to time zone differences, getting an answer could take several days vs. hours. Even if your supplier is located in the US, communications can fail. If you have experienced this frustration, it might indicate that you should stop dropshipping. 

Inventory Control is Out of Control

When you dropship, you have a 0% say in how much inventory the supplier creates. Furthermore, you are stuck when a more prominent company places a larger order and buys out all YOUR stock. Your business and revenue are at the mercy of your manufacturer. At any moment, the supplier could decide to discontinue producing your product. One way to avoid this is by diversifying your manufacturing and sourcing multiple locations that can fulfill your orders. Quality control gets tricky, but you would be far less likely to have a complete inventory blackout. 

Quality Control is Unknown

Unless you receive product orders regularly, you have very little assurance in what ends up in the shipped box. The unboxing experience for your customer is out of your hands. Damages and returns are more common with dropshipping, which means that your customer service teams might be busier than if you chose a fulfillment alternative. 

You Need to Scale

Indicators you should stop dropshipping - ScaleDoes this sound familiar? Your sales are up, and your market test confirms there is still room for growth. However, you are concerned if you run a campaign to boost sales, fulfillment would falter. Your business is probably feeling restrained, indicating that you should stop dropshipping. When you have been accepting lower margins, but the numbers show you could maximize earnings by buying wholesale, managing inventory, and fulfilling, it might be time to switch. 


Fulfillment Alternatives for Dropshippers

Check out our post on the differences in “Logistics Providers Explained: 1PL, 2PL, 3PL, 4PL, and 5PL.”  There are many fulfillment alternatives, but we have found the sweet spot for eCommerce businesses seeing indicators to stop dropshipping benefit considerably from a 3PL relationship. Here’s why:

Benefits of working with 3PL

Working with a 3PL can help to ensure faster delivery times, accurate tracking for those deliveries, and even manage returns when something goes wrong. Furthermore, you will have more inventory control when working with a 3PL. Falcon Fulfillment can offer flexible inventory storage based on demand, seasons, and space. This gives you more control in ensuring adequate product levels and minimizing backstock. If you are witnessing any indicators that you should stop dropshipping, chat with us to see if we can help. Get in touch today. 

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Expand your network with a 3PL

Expanding Your Network with a 3PL

Expanding Your Network with a 3PL

3PL partners offer logistics services and supply chain management. They are logistics experts, specifically; warehousing, picking and packing, inventory management,  transportation, fulfillment, packaging, and returns management. Because of the focused nature of a 3PL, they typically have a broad network of partners related to all aspects of the logistics industry. How can you expand your network with a 3PL?  

Transportation Network

expand your network with a 3PL
Photo by Daniel Lee

3PLs have relationships with multiple carriers across the transportation industry. They have partnerships with various van lines, shipping, freight carriers, and rail lines. While an individual eCommerce business might have a personal connection to one or two carriers, a 3PL has numerous. What this means for your business is that you instantly access this broader network of transportation providers. Why this is important: If flooding in Missouri prevents travel through a crucial interchange, your 3PL can pivot to other providers and routes to ensure the shortest delay possible. 

Legal

Expand your network with a 3PL
Photo by Cytonn Photography

A viable rats nest of legal concerns surround logistics, especially when you involve international shipments. This includes complicated issues like documentation, import and export regulations, as well as economic regulations. Hiring or investigating the nuances of international logistic law is time-consuming and expensive. One of the most cost-effective ways to expand your legal network is through partnering with a 3PL. A 3PL already has the expertise and relationships to comply with local, federal, and international laws. Your 3PL will have a pulse on the ever-changing legal fulfillment battles—especially those tricky wine and beer fulfillment issues.  

Expand to New Locations

Expand your network with a 3PL
Photo by GeoJango Maps

Expanding your eCommerce reach to new locations is daunting when you don’t have an on-the-ground expert helping you. When you consider trying to expand to new locations, you start by evaluating the market, estimating inventory needs, training staff, and sourcing suppliers and distributors. It is a very involved process. A 3PL expands your network by aiding in providing staff, multi-site distribution space, and flexible warehousing space as your reach grows. Not only that, but 3PL companies have a broad network of suppliers they work with and can make mutually beneficial introductions.

Returns Management

returns management

One of the greatest deterrents to gaining loyal customers is a lack of responsive customer service or a complex returns process. While most businesses would like to avoid returns altogether, having a solid return management process is crucial. Some of the best 3PL partnerships help manage the returns process, including receiving, returning items to the inventory management system, and disposing of damaged goods. 3PLs are experts in streamlining the returns process and ensuring a good customer experience. 


Expanding your network with a 3PL is one of the most cost-effective ways to scale a growing eCommerce. From helping streamline transportation to ensuring legal compliance, a partnership with a 3PL will be crucial if you don’t already have a broad network of relationships in those industries. Falcon Fulfillment has established relationships across transportation, legal, marketing, and a multi-site distribution framework. We are poised and ready to help you expand your network and business! Get in touch with one of our agents today.

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6 Fulfillment Lessons from 2021

6 Fulfillment Lessons from 2021

Fulfillment Lessons from 2021

eCommerce hit record numbers in 2020 despite the pandemic. The spike in online shopping continued through 2021, even as the lockdowns loosened. Those businesses that outperformed others were strategic in their investments and partnerships. Fulfillment partnerships were crucial in sifting the success stories. Here are a six fulfillment lessons from 2021.

#1 Diversification is Critical

The supply chain backlog will continue to be an issue through 2022 based on lockdowns and shortages coming out of Asia. The most successful eCommerce brands diversified their logistics plans by expanding relationships with suppliers, vendors, import/export partners, and fulfillment companies. Businesses can no longer have solitary partnerships within their logistics framework.

Manufacturing

Sourcing multiple manufacturing partners will be a strategy to continue to explore and employ during 2022-2023. Parts and products were hard to source in 2021. The main issues were the lack of products exported from Asia, which caused many eCommerce businesses to turn to domestic providers. Look for multiple manufacturing partners, both global and local. This can help hedge unforeseen delays, tariffs, or political regime shifts that might halt production. 

Fulfillment Partners

In addition to manufacturing, expanding fulfillment partnerships is another key to maximizing sales and minimizing delays. Choose a fulfillment partner that has multiple distribution centers. Multi-site fulfillment partners will be the most effective as they provide an additional layer of diversification. The best fulfillment partners will also have working and healthy relationships with other logistics-related organizations. E.g., Suppliers, shipping carriers, and shipping supply manufacturers. 

Technology

Lastly, it was a massive year for technology. When tech works, it’s fantastic; when it crashes, it is devastating. eCommerce companies that had tested and tried their technology and expanded their tech investment rose to the top of the food chain. The global pandemic brought a massive need for technology infrastructure for fulfillment and logistics. Some key areas where tech made all the difference were inventory management and real-time transportation tracking. 

#2 Offload Inventory

Offload Inventory - Fulfillment Lessons from 2021If 2021 didn’t bring massive sales of specific SKUs, it is time to liquidate those assets. Besides paying for unnecessary storage, having slow-moving or dead stock is also a symptom of overbuying or poor forecasting. Revisit your inventory management tools and determine what products are moving and are projected to continue to do well. Then off-load product that is no longer moving. One of the best benefits of using an automated inventory management system is accessing perpetual tracking. Leveraging this kind of technology can help strategically run marketing campaigns like BOGO when slow-moving stock needs to make way for higher-selling products. Some ideas to help with liquidating inventory include: 

#3 Automate Customer Service Communications

The post-pandemic consumer expects a higher level of communication. Confirmation and tracking emails to consumers have a 60% open rate. eCommerce customers want to know their order was processed, when to expect it, and if any delays occur. Ensure that your fulfillment communication strategy is as automated as possible. From confirmed order, to final delivery and satisfaction surveys, everything should be as seamless as possible. Invest in building out workflows that alleviate customer support tickets. 

#4 Build Out Longer Timelines

One fulfillment lesson from 2021 that stands above the rest is the likelihood for delays. From manufacturing to supply chain, delays were one of the single greatest problems and frustrations for eCommerce businesses. Those companies that rose to the top had contingency plans that built out longer timelines. They preemptively ordered parts and components before they actually needed them. Furthermore, they extended delivery times when they knew it wasn’t likely they would meet the 2-day shipping expectation. Building out a longer timeline will help hedge unavoidable lags in receiving, production, and final delivery.

#5 Social Proof Sells

social proofNo matter what type of eCommerce you run, social proof selling is here to stay. More than ever before consumers are consulting reviews, star ratings, and social media popularity that a brand has before making a purchase. This idea will continue to grow and become more immersive, especially as eCommerce and the metaverse converge

#6 Adapt for Continued Supply Chain Issues

The supply chain is slowly recovering but it is not in a place of strength. eCommerce has to be prepared to pivot at any moment in order to accommodate for ongoing supply weaknesses. Take into consideration the entire fulfillment journey. Falcon Fulfillment provides a full supply chain management suite. However, if you choose to manage your supply chain in-house or with another fulfillment partner ensure they can manage flexible shipment handling from your manufacturer as well as streamlined delivery logistics. These two components allow you to receive products in varying packaging and provide end-to-end communications on orders. 


We learned a lot of fulfillment lessons from 2021. The insights and strategies employed by the most successful eCommerce businesses are crucial in 2022 and beyond. Diversifying everything from manufacturing to technology helped companies overcome demand and delays. Offloading inventory, automating communications, and leveraging social proofing improved the bottom line. Lastly, building out longer fulfillment timelines and being prepared for continued supply chain weaknesses will separate the prosperous from the pitiful in 2022. Falcon Fulfillment can help implement all of these lessons. We are a people-first business that succeeds when our customers succeed. Get in touch with one of our agents today. 

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preparing for peak season fulfillment

9 Ways to Prepare for Peak Season Fulfillment

9 Ways to Prepare for Peak Season Fulfillment

It’s July, so why are we already discussing ways to prepare for peak season fulfillment? Because now is the time to start planning. The eCommerce peak retail season begins in October and runs through early January. Summer is the time to review your fulfillment process, inventory management, forecasts, and data to make informed decisions. eCommerce sales dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t slowed much. To prepare for peak season fulfillment in 2022, we need to start now. Planning Christmas in July will set your eCommerce apart when the tidal wave of purchases starts. Here are nine ways to prepare for peak season fulfillment. 

#1 Create Data-driven Demand Forecasts

It is crucial to review the most recent data you have regarding projected peak inventory demand. Delve into the data from the most recent peak season and quarter-over-quarter sales fluctuations. Dissecting the data is the best way to forecast accurately. Data points to focus on: 

Peak Season Fulfillment

Digging into the data is the most tedious and critical task when preparing for peak. eCommerce businesses typically have multiple systems collating their data. If you partner with a 3PL like Falcon Fulfillment, they can provide a baseline report for fulfillment-focused data. Start now so that you won’t be scrambling to capitalize on consumer spending by the time peak season begins. 

#2 Prepare Inventory

Based on your forecasting, begin to work with suppliers and manufacturers on projected sales during peak season. This helps to mitigate stockouts, backorders, and losing customers. The more information you can provide to your partners, the more likely you will have a triumphant peak. Pre-order stock where possible and negotiate with warehousing suppliers. This will help circumvent supply chain issues. Ensure you have accurate reporting for inventory levels. Several benefits of using an inventory management system include; accurate tracking, limiting human error, and full inventory transparency. Now is the time to implement new inventory management software and test for accuracy. 

#3 Utilize Distributed Inventory

To prepare for peak season, start leveraging multisite distribution. If you are fulfilling in-house, partner with a 3PL that can add multiple fulfillment centers. Leveraging distributed inventory enables you to offer lower shipping costs and increase conversions. eCommerce businesses can take advantage of 2-day, expedited, and free shipping with a minimum spend threshold. This can increase your average order value and reduce cart abandonment. 

# 4 Streamline Internal Communications

Successful fulfillment relies heavily on clear, transparent, and consistent communication. This is never more true than during peak when it can be exponentially difficult to get help or responses from fulfillment teams. Start now by reaching out to suppliers, manufacturers, 3PL partners, and other distributors that can make or break your peak season sales. Determine what worked well in past years and highlight problem areas. Set protocols in place now for who will be handling what aspects of the fulfillment process. Inform in-house teams of these plans as well as vendors and suppliers. Ensure that your eCommerce staff knows who to contact when situations arise. Have discussions with marketing and sales teams to review inventory levels regularly. This will improve efforts to push “in-stock” products and reduce “out-of-stock” disappointments.

#5 Automate Customer Communications

Communication is vital in establishing expectations for your consumers. Automate every aspect of customer correspondence that you can. When you have more orders than you know what to do with is not the time you want to have to send out 5000 individual delivery delay emails. Invest in email automation that can inform customers when key trigger events occur. Some examples are; processing delays, shipping and tracking information, back orders, etc. Wherever you can, automate customer communications to save valuable human resources. Save your customer service teams for complicated returns, customer satisfaction issues, and the inevitable “Karen’s” that peak season brings. Do your very best to under-promise and over-deliver. 

#6 Implement and Test IT Infrastructure

Nothing is more stressful than when your entire IT infrastructure crashes, especially during the greatest profit-making season of the year. Start today by researching, selecting, and implementing new IT infrastructure. From inventory management systems to email marketing efforts, ensure all the systems are tested and implemented early. These early tests will help iron out the kinks to ensure a smooth and seamless peak season. 

#7 Prepare for Returns

Simple Refund ProcedureReturns are annoying any time of the year, but they can cripple your peak season fulfillment. Returns eat up resources like no other aspect of your eCommerce business. Most eCommerce owners would like to avoid returns altogether, and there are ways to reduce returns.  However, avoiding returns 100% of the time is unrealistic. Now is the time to prepare a procedure to manage and minimize returns. How will a customer start the return process? What can they expect to happen next? It should be easy, straightforward, and exchange-driven. The work of processing returned products and updating inventory is often handled by your 3PL partner. Ensure every aspect of the return process is clear to customers and fulfillment partners that will be receiving returned products. 

#8 Plan to Launch Big Sales Early

When the Pumpkin Spice Lattes start rolling out, it is an excellent time to release your biggest sales for the peak season. It may seem too early for some, but this is the best way to encourage early purchases. Launching early promotions will help spread out the crush of orders in mid-December. Retail giants like Walmart and Target extend Black Friday deals throughout November and December. If they do it, why shouldn’t you? Encourage early shopping with loyal customers by offering early sales release dates that are exclusive to them. If you want to train your consumers for next year, limit it to October only! Train your customers to purchase early. Even if they miss it this year, they will not want to miss out next year. 

#9 Select a Reliable 3PL Partner

FALCON FulfillmentA good 3PL partner can make or break your peak season. 3PLs are fulfillment experts that help with a myriad of crucial aspects to prepare for peak season fulfillment. A 3PL like Falcon Fulfillment can help balance your inventory, leverage their multi-site distribution channels, help with return management procedures, prep goods, and staging spaces, as well as offer reliable and accurate inventory management. The services of a top-notch fulfillment partner don’t end there. However, don’t wait until you NEED a 3PL to begin the partnership. Start the conversation today so that your peak season fulfillment is seamless.  

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eCommerce headed toward a recession

Is eCommerce Headed Toward a Recession?

Is eCommerce Headed Toward a Recession? What to Know + What to Do

Is eCommerce headed toward a recession? Is the country? Globe? All signs are pointing towards a shrinking economy. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is the official entity responsible for determining when we are in an actual recession. There are a few different definitions of what constitutes a recession. For this article, we will use the same criteria used by NBER. According to them, a recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread throughout the economy. The primary identifiers include economic productivity and employment. Is the United States and, more specifically, eCommerce headed toward a recession? 

Consumer Spending

eCommerce headed toward a recession
Photo by Towfiqu-BarbHuiy

For this article, we will use statistics involving consumer spending habits (eCommerce sales and productivity) as our first criteria in determining whether we are in or headed for a recession. According to McKinsey, consumer spending is up more than 18% over projections based on pre-COVID statistics. Despite inflation rising to 8.5% in March 2022, US consumers are still shopping online at higher than expected rates. Economists attribute this to the savings stockpiled during the pandemic. 

What happens once that savings buffer gets used up? No one knows, but shrinking consumer spending is expected if interest rates and inflation continue to rise. For the time being, consumers continue to purchase goods online at a higher rate than in previous years. 

Unemployment

eCommerce headed toward recession
Photo by Eric Prouzet

The second indicator that eCommerce could be headed for a recession is seeing an increase in unemployment. If you have visited a fast food restaurant in the last seven months, you are well aware that companies still need employees. David Wessel, head of the Hutchins Center, states that there are at least two vacancies for every person currently unemployed and looking for work. That certainly doesn’t feel like a recession. 

With unemployment sitting at 3.6%, the lowest in decades, it appears that jobs are still plentiful. That being said, many financial experts, including lead economists for Bank of America, predict an increase in unemployment as inflation and interest rates rise. 

Considering these two elements, we might be satisfied that eCommerce is not headed for a recession. However, due to the economy's instability, raising concerns about inflation and long-term unemployment equal to the Great Depression, now is the time to prepare for a recession. Here are some tips to help eCommerce businesses ride out a recession. 

eCommerce Recession Proofing Tactics

Back to the Basics

Finding yourself in a recession without a cash flow plan or balanced budget will make enduring the economic downturn 10x more painful. Here are some of the critical basics to help recession-proof your business.

Recession Proofing - Basics

Cash is king. This is never more true than during a recession. Take stock of your business's cash flow and ensure you have a good handle on your monthly burn. Use your cash projections to modify and update your operating budget accordingly. Evaluate your current workforce needs and identify gaps or overages that would be the first to change if times got tough. In addition to determining workforce needs, spend time cross-training employees. Upskill them in such a way that should you need to reduce employee overhead; you have people who can step in to keep the business running even if productivity is slower. Measure, measure, measure your marketing! Make sure your marketing efforts are working, and modify them now if they are not! Lastly, focus on what you do best. Going into recession is painful, but concentrating on your niche can set you apart. This is never more critical than when wallets and purchasing power tightens. 

Manage Debt and Secure Capital Sources

Before you need the money, get the funding. The worst possible time to ask for money is when you are desperate. This is true in personal finance and business finance. Recession-proof your business by exploring capital resource options now. Get pre-approved for short-term business loans or lines of credit. Research and begin building relationships with capital investment firms that could have the ability to throw you a lifeline if a recession lasts longer than cash flow and savings can sustain. 

The other financial focus should be getting out of debt. Having high debt in a recession is an albatross. Paying high debt premiums will slow down momentum and tank your business. Work on paying down debt, so you have more margin to work with during a recession. 

Keep Current Customers Happy

Did you know? According to a marketing metrics study, the probability of landing a new customer is only 5%-20%, while selling to an existing one has a 60%-70% success rate. Best practices before, during, and after a recession include exclusive opportunities for loyal customers. Providing them with discounts and sneak peeks at new products. Involve your customers in your marketing efforts by interacting on social channels and offering customized deals and promotions in exchange for reviews, shares, and likes. Let your customers sell you! Invest in memorable unboxing experiences and curated add-on products. Throw in freebies, especially if you have some underperforming inventory you need to liquidate. 

Double Check Inventory Management Processes

The number one reason customers leave their brand of choice is when a product is out of stock or unavailable. Now is the time to review your inventory management processes and ensure adequate inventory levels and accuracy. A trusted inventory management system will help forecast sales and minimize low stock or out-of-stock situations. 

In addition, invest in flexible warehousing options when possible. Do not pay for the storage you don’t need. If you are being charged a flat rate, it is time to find a new partner. 

Nurture Partner and Supplier Relationships

Relationships will make a big difference if eCommerce is headed toward a recession. Spend time and intention reaching out to critical partners, vendors, and suppliers. Offer them flexible terms if the economy declines. Focus on building stronger ties to those who will make the most significant difference to your business in a recession. Whether it is suppliers or partners, ensure they have heard from you and have an open line of communication. Recession-proofing your eCommerce can also involve leveraging relationships your partners may have access to. Start asking which key vendors to contact to ensure you are in a great position if and when a recession hits. 


Falcon Fulfillment is a crucial partner when facing a recession. We offer flexible warehousing based on season, stage, or sales and frequently leverage our network of vendors, suppliers, and partners to help bolster our eCommerce clients. Whether or not eCommerce is headed toward a recession, Falcon Fulfillment is here for you.

We can provide fulfillment expertise, inventory management guidance, and accuracy through our state-of-the-art software. Furthermore, we can help deliver and design customer-wowing unboxing experiences. We would love to help with some of the most critical elements of recession-proofing your business. Let Falcon Fulfillment help get your eCommerce recession ready. Get in touch with one of our agents today. 

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