Category: Retail Planning
10 Tips for Streamlining Warehouse Efficiency
Shipping is the number one cost in the fulfillment arena, and without a comprehensive plan for cost monitoring and optimization, retailers can easily end up being charged much more than anticipated. Fortunately, there are many ways that retailers can improve warehouse efficiency to reduce costs; one way is to control inbound and outbound freight. Click here to read the rest of the article on MultichannelMerchant.com.
Selecting the Best Freight Forwarding Software in 2016
The freight forwarding industry must deliver quality services at narrow profit margins. A large part of this requires companies to choose the most cutting-edge and updated technology and software to ensure operations are as streamlined as possible. Click here to find out the 10 questions you should ask when selecting the best freight forwarding software for your business.
What a Successful Retail Procurement Team Looks Like
Continuously finding ways to improve and run a business more efficiently doesn’t apply only to those in manufacturing or logistics. Retail companies need to consistently look for more ways to innovate how they procure and work with suppliers, in addition to keeping stores full of the items customers want the most.
Optimizing expenditures, both direct and indirect, can help retailers reduce costs and improve services offered by suppliers.
The successful procurement team and their habits
- Support company strategy – The leadership team works to create a strategy that can be followed by everyone in the company, from the CEO to the newest employee. A great procurement team will use that strategy to drive decisions and support the organization. Pushing the strategy forward unifies the procurement team and the entire company.
- Implement continuous improvement strategies – No strategy is worth following if it doesn’t somehow emphasize continuous improvement. The procurement team should work toward improving the quality of products while reducing costs. It’s that simple.
- Ensure better service – Procurement teams can improve quality and cut costs, even if the products themselves continue to be more expensive, by negotiating for improvements in services offered by the supplier. As the cost of goods increases, prices for the consumer can be maintained if services such as shipment tracking work efficiently or if the goods consistently reach store shelves without damage. Often procurement teams can find room for improvement in last-mile deliveries. Suppliers help the retail company reduce costs and customers benefit from better prices.
- Test the market – As much as relationships matter, a great procurement won’t simply accept that their current supplier is the best for the business. Consistently researching vendors and making changes if necessary is crucial to an efficient procurement organization. A supplier that just didn’t fit a few years ago may be the best for the business today. Staying on top of development within the industry and supplier infrastructure enhancements can make a big difference. It’s up the procurement team to stay on top of changes with suppliers. We all know the business world moves fast and procurement teams need to be nimble and ready for change when an opportunity presents itself.
Keeping the customer first
Sitting in an office and constantly working to improve the bottom line can make it all too easy to forget what matters most to a retail business – the customer. Hopefully, the company strategy focuses everyone on the customer, but if not, it is essential for procurement teams to base decisions on how they will affect the end customer. If changing the way products are delivered to stores only helps the team working from the corporate office and not the folks working at the store, you could be damaging customer relationships or product availability.
A few pennies saved from the bottom line won’t matter if the change drives customers away. Great procurement teams can see the effect of changes all the way through the supply chain and into the store. The customer is still king – that much about business hasn’t changed.
Working with a 3PL Provider
Successful procurement teams work with logistics management providers who implement the latest technology and offer services that are a complete turnkey solution. The latest technology supplies your procurement department with the vital information needed when organizing build outs or remodels, whether for one store or hundreds.
STC Logistics will work directly with your procurement department or with your individual vendors. As a complete turnkey solution, in addition to our direct logistic management and supply chain management services, we also provide white glove service, sort & segregate fulfillment and installation services nationwide. To learn more about our 3PL retail logistics services and expedited shipping, click below!
Using Social Media to Boost Fragrance and Cosmetics Retail Sales
The cosmetics and fragrance industry enjoys success with a well-established foundation built over decades. As other well-established businesses struggle through the internet age, cosmetics and fragrances can take advantage of the opportunity to actually thrive. And they are thriving.
Cosmetics and fragrances typically enjoy high margins and low ship-to-weight ratios, making this a great industry for e-commerce and that’s the end of the funnel as companies work to pass customers through social media, right?
Retail fragrance and cosmetic companies are aware of the value of social media and must continue to evolve with the ever-changing platforms to keep ahead of competition.
Social media, research and decision making
Don’t think about research in the same boring way a scientist in a lab might approach the topic. Buyer research in the cosmetics industry (and many others) takes place in the form of simple conversations. The ability of a cosmetics or fragrance company to provide and respond to a channel can have a huge affect on sales.
Feedback forums and social platforms offer customers a place to go if something is not right or if they have a question. While this may not be directly transactional, customers who use responsive forums will feel more secure with their purchase knowing they can ask questions. This can play a critical role in shaping the transactions going forward.
Extending reach with product endorsements
Another age-old and successful strategy for the cosmetics industry involves the product endorsement. Long ago movie stars, singers and other beauties have endorsed makeup and fragrance to boost sales. This strategy continues to work well.
Social media only serves to amplify the product endorsement as now the company can leverage their own media channels in addition to the channels owned and updated by the superstar endorser. The online audience can quickly expand by millions with the addition of the right person.
Those imminently recognizable figures have also helped extend reach through video channels such as YouTube. Those classic television spots still matter, but again, successful companies such as L’Oreal see no reason to stop with traditional commercials when they can keep extending their reach and start a conversation with potential customers while they watch videos.
As annoying as it may be to some, there’s even the potential to gain the endorsement of the “social media celebrity.” Yep, we’re touting the value of the Kardashians and it makes sense. Celebrities with an excess of 16 million followers on their social media channels offer an attractive endorsement. Kendall Jenner and her famous sisters give big companies the chance to simply buy followers (and a lot of them) rather than jumping in and competing in the same crowded space. It could take years for a cosmetics brand to drum up that type of following.
Utilizing Paid Advertising Opportunties
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer user-friendly paid advertising opportunities to businesses of all types—but these opportunities are especially effective for the retail world. Fragrance and cosmetics retailers can use paid ads to increase their following on social platforms, drive traffic to their websites, build buzz about a product or sale. These platforms allow you to run ads based on detailed demographic information to ensure the ads are reaching the right audience—and then gives you insight as to how ads are performing to continuously improve campaigns.
STC Logistics specializes in logistics services for retailers such as fragrance and cosmetics companies. To learn more about our retail logistics services, click below!
Up and Coming Retail Logistics Trends for 2015
Up and coming retail logistics trends show a global shift in the movement of goods and services. Developing countries are now challenging countries that were once recognized as leading the world in consumers spending and consumption. Here are retail trends that are expected for the remainder of the 2015:
1) Heavier Competition
Developing markets offer goods and services for developing lands. Goods are in demand by countries once unable to afford durable goods. Manufacturers are courting consumers of these nations and their newfound wealth. Consumers are offered different avenues for shopping, placing pressure on sellers to work harder to draw and hold present customer base. This requires consistent improvement of retail logistic strategy and solutions.
2) Increase in Supply Lines
Retailers and manufacturers are using multiple currency applications and better merchandise supply lines. Supplying a reliable product the first time around is more important than ever. Merchandise reaches customers in a few days rather than weeks. Sellers competing with businesses with local distribution networks must search for benefits that set them apart and give a buyer a motive to wait extra time for merchandise. Companies refusing to recognize the way money is moved from one global point to another cannot operate effectively. It is more important than ever to have a reliable logistics backing in todays “instant gratification” culture.
3) Increase in Online Purchasing
The internet launched a major change in retail logistics. Those realizing the advantage quickly took primary spots in front of the consumer, such as Overstock and Zappos. The introduction of internet purchasing changed retail logistics even further. Businesses operated by one person or small groups are now able to advertise and sell to global markets, ship merchandise and cut into a percentage of the GDP. Globalization is a possibility for anyone.
Internet shopping is increasingly done more on mobile devices. The most recent trend is new source in mobile technology: shopping apps. Customers can download shopping apps on phones and checkout with any number of payment options. Prosperous businesses have fallen along the wayside if they haven’t yet adopted this technology. More than 50% of online shopping is currently done through mobile apps. Future expectations expect the present 4 billion shopping app dollars to expand to a fast 200 billion. Presently, 78% of people searching with a mobile app make a purchase.
4) Cheaper Costs for Major Transportation
Companies around the world now have access to major transportation outlets. The ability of companies to ship small and large loads economically from every part of the globe allows any merchant to transport goods. Merchandise is constructed, stored, packaged and shipped in a refined operation—specifically when outsourcing logistics needs to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. Logistics providers offer retailers and customers peace of mind by providing currency alternatives, inventory management and product tracking. When it comes to retail logistics practices, this is a selling mechanism. A reliable 3PL can provide customers payment arrangements that suit their bookkeeping methods that ultimately aid in sales.
In large business operations from developed nations, owners may know how long merchandise will take to get to a destination as well as transportation cost and has a strong network of carriers and 3PL’s to manage products. The use of a 3PL provides manufacturers from less well-known destinations the opportunity to compete in an economy once dominated by larger countries and allows larger businesses to maintain control.
5) Information Flow Integration
Access to information allows buyers to reach into a new pool of prices. Older manufacturers may be able to present a lower price of quality merchandise but others may sacrifice profit to break into the market. A smaller company may have less overhead enabling it to compete with mainstream producers. Knowledge of the market that consumers work and buy merchandise in is essential. Reliable export and packaging information can be easier to find. This added step helps trust in dealing with a provider of merchandise and is an asset in retail logistics operations.
Material handling, production, packaging, inventory, warehousing and security are all important aspects of retail logistics. If a retailer’s freight is not distributed and delivered with accuracy and safety, they risk the cost of operation and profit. Retailers can rest assured that they are maximizing productivity and profit when employing a third party logistics (3PL) provider. STC Logistics specializes in reliable retail logistics, export assembly services and import distribution solutions that can ensure an efficient supply chain. Whether coming from multiple vendors or going to various destinations, from inventory, warehousing and delivery requirements, STC Logistics warrants product to its final endpoint. Click below to learn more about our fast freight retail shipping services!
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From Planning to Delivery: Holiday POP Displays
Busy retailers need to consider a multitude of details when planning for a holiday season. In order to meet the needs of customers during a rush such as Black Friday or Christmas, retailers must always be logistically proactive in making sure seasonal displays and products get delivered on time and in ideal condition to attract customers. Even for day-to-day operation or a brand new rollout plan, having an excellent third party logistics provider will guarantee that all customers are satisfied while business runs smoothly.
Proactive Preplanning of Holiday POP Displays
Planning to setup successful POP displays means the displays and products must arrive on schedule and organized in order to maximize efficiency. Working with a 3PL provider can take care of the many details of preplanning an upcoming holiday season, ensuring sales will go smoothly. Using technology that helps scan for and manage issues, a great 3PL provider will assess and correct any potential problems before they have a chance to occur. Your 3PL can also handle all of the logistic planning needed to execute a flawless holiday season, alleviating some of the stress that retailers experience during busy seasons.
Many retailers can make the mistake of using logistics providers that are behind the times. Oftentimes these dated methods are far from the most efficient way to order and transport displays and products. These inefficiencies slow business and create lags in schedules, leading to extra costs and exceeded budgets. By handling all details of the ordering process, 3PL providers cut out many of the “middle men” which may cause confusion and slow the process for retailers. Retail-specialized providers will ensure the most efficient method for ordering, transporting, and delivering all POP displays so retailers can spend their time focusing on the daily needs of the store, rather than the transport of materials.
Safe Handling and Delivery of POP Displays
A number of risks are involved with the transport and delivery of holiday POP displays, including the collection of dust or dirt, corrosion of materials or exposure to the elements. These hazards, combined with the risk of damage due to jostling during transport, can weaken the overall effect of these displays and therefore must be avoided. An experienced and professional 3PL provider will guarantee that all POP displays will arrive safely and in the condition they are meant to be. Searching for the safest and quickest route ensures that POP displays are minimally handled and protected through their delivery.
One of the most important steps to a successful holiday season is ensuring all products and POP displays arrive on time so that merchandise can hit shelves as soon as customers demand. During the busiest seasons of the year, retail employees may become disorganized and struggle to order deliveries properly—resulting in product campaign delays and lost profit. By allowing a qualified 3PL provider to handle the details, retailers can focus on running day to day business rather than worrying about the timing of deliveries. 3PL providers specialize in delivering freight on time, whether it’s for a holiday rush, restock, or rollout operation. STC Logistics ensures timely and safe deliveries for any season with a 99% on-time delivery of undamaged goods for the last 15 years.
As a retailer, there’s no reason to stress over the details of making sure POP displays are handled and delivered correctly when dedicated, professional 3PL providers are willing to make sure each step in the process is controlled perfectly. Making sure each display is ordered in a timely fashion, transported carefully, delivered on time and in great condition, STC Logistics manages any potential issue that could interfere with an entirely successful holiday rush or rollout. An experienced 3PL provider ensures a seamless delivery service, helping any retail establishment avoid challenges during the most demanding time of the year.
Holiday Retail Planning: The Benefits of Working with a 3PL Provider
Retail planning for the holiday season can be a daunting task. Having the right decorations and an accurate inventory full of all the new specialty products for the season is essential for business success. To meet these retail planning challenges, many savvy retailers turn to 3PL providers to make sure their logistics needs are managed properly. Here’s why:
3PL Providers Meet Deadlines
In retail planning, it’s critical to have freight shipments arrive on time. 3PL providers like STC Logistics utilize an infrastructure based on state-of-the-art technology which recognizes an impeccable route for each specific shipment. The needs of freight shipments are handled and processed by high speed machines, ensuring superlative delivery times. Experienced 3PL providers communicate with affiliates from all over the world in order to consider each possible mode of transportation before deciding on the quickest freight shipment route. Utilizing a retail-specialized provider during holiday freight campaigns begins with computerized recognition of efficient routes with economical rates and ends with precise timing for delivery arrival before the holidays.
3PL Providers Save Time and Money
Distance, equipment, handlers, consolidation and deadlines factor into freight shipment prices. Retail-specialized 3PL providers analyze each freight shipment with a customized rate program to ensure that the most amicable and economical rates available are offered. Optimal logistical efficiency means money is saved in every possible way while the fastest freight shipment routes are taken. Freight may be combined in order to provide additional saving opportunities during the process of transportation for retail planning. Individualized electronic rate quote numbers are created when a freight shipment is rated and this number is used to reference pricing when freight is booked and tracking numbers are generated. This enables the rates and routing to be exact.
The Benefits of Electronic Logistics Format
Multiple rollouts, destinations or assembly services are no issue with STC’s Electronic Logistics Format (ELF). It is a proprietary service which STC Logistics utilizes in order to give clients the advantage. It has been specifically designed to provide an awareness of information between all involved parties during the distribution process. Customized rollouts are drafted, many containing multiple destinations for distribution, along with pieces, sizes and weights and then the spreadsheet for a freight shipment will be received by means of EDI transfer. Updates and changes are simply made and reviewing an entire program now becomes straightforward.
Before the very first pickup is made, outlined instructions that detail requirements for pickup and delivery will already have been prepared and awaiting client approval. Once approved, the ELF will be published to a custom mini-website accessible to clients through the STC Logistics client portal. Status updates are easily viewed, tracking is in real time and reports are easily manufactured. Receiving holiday freight shipments this season in a timely and cost-efficient manner by utilizing STC Logistics enables distribution that is stress-free.
3PL Providers Use Efficient Freight Shipment Methods
Retail planning requires research when partnering with a logistics provider in order to grant an overall flawless process in retail planning. Having a 3PL provider facilitate freight shipments guarantees an enhanced and well-researched process for finding available logistics. Placing an emphasis on the process of retail planning before the transportation plan occurs enables retailers to confidently be assured of the quality they are receiving during a freight shipment. Providing easily accessible status updates and paying sufficient attention to concerns with detailed instructions ensures optimal efficiency during the shipping process.
STC Logistics has established an impeccable reputation throughout its 45 years of experience as a 3PL provider. We offer unbeatable freight shipment delivery times on land, air, and sea—all while enhancing a client’s retail planning process. Our unrivaled technology and catered retail planning programs ensure time and money are saved during the transportation process. Additionally, with a damage rate of less than 1%, our customers can feel confident their shipments will arrive in pristine condition ready to be stocked for the holiday season.
Retail Logistics: Planning Rollouts and Distributions
There are thousands of 3pl companies that can offer logistics services for retailers to accommodate new store openings, remodels and product launches. However, few are capable of meeting the necessary requirements for a seamless process from start to finish. Retail industry logistics requests are not limited to just loading and unloading goods; they involve well-planned and well-executed supply chain management. STC Logistics is versed in the specific necessities for rollouts and distributions.
Planning new store openings and store remodel rollouts and distributions may not be as easy as it sounds for many logistics providers; there are challenges such as time constraints and unforeseen events that must be dealt with properly and anticipated in advance. STC will work as an extension of your team to help get the job done.
The Essentials of Planning Rollouts and Distributions
When retailers accept to work with a specific 3pl provider that specializes in the retail industry, there are certain standards that the 3pl provider must uphold:
- Timeliness is key
- Minimal handling of goods (link to Express truck)
- Cost consciousness
- Well managed warehouses
- Transparency throughout the process (link to ELF)
- White glove services available
To meet these standards for rollouts and distributions, top-notch 3pl providers engage in a detailed planning process. Top-level logistics providers also utilize logistics management software solutions, as they make adopting the best industrial practices that are in line with the international regulations possible within short time spans. Advanced notice of locations and products allow STC to employ consolidation efforts to save time and cut costs.
Different rollouts and distribution needs require different packaging processes and handling instructions and delivery requirements. Logistics provider must be well prepared to handle shipments of various products, such as cosmetic displays, store fixtures, mannequins, POP displays, and kiosks all while knowing how to move the products efficiently and as quickly as possible.
Timely Delivery is Vital for Successful Rollouts and Distributions
While planning rollouts and distributions, 3pl providers must consider the crucial need for timely and professional delivery of retail procurement items. Most deliveries are made to installation teams or corporate executives, there has to be an understanding of the product and carriers must be professional. Therefore, experienced leaders in retail logistics industry begin with the planning of shipment and other activities with the help of software systems and by selecting the most qualified carriers. This lays out a perfect road map for the efficient and timely execution. The plans laid out are often aimed at cutting unnecessary cost and benefitting both parties involved. This kind of organizational practice used by STC Logistics cuts the risk of delay in deliveries and reduces the likelihood of any harm to products shipped by ensuring the ability to adjust to unforeseen issues, creating websites for client visibility and offering stress-free adjustments through planning.
Use of Modern Day Technologies
Modern day logistics providers use advanced logistics software programs to prevent any kind of process gaps that may result in late delivery. These software solutions enable the logistics providers to have enhanced data related to the supply chain, which is usually vital during rollout and distribution. Advanced technology systems ensure flawless and timely delivery of products by modern logistics providers. It also makes them the 3pl of choice when retailers are faced with new developments in their business, such as new product launch or opening of a new store. STC provides custom “mini-websites” to our clients providing visibility and flexibility, seamless transfers of data and custom reporting tools.
STC Logistics’ advanced methodologies for managing inventory and warehouses give us an edge over our competition that do not use similar solutions, and assist out logistics team tremendously in dealing with the most complex situations of rollouts and distribution.
There are numerous companies that specialize in planning rollouts and distributions, but the best are 3pl providers that use modern software solutions, better practices for managing inventories and warehouses, and deliveries without delay, irrespective of the quantity or category of the product. While looking for a 3pl provider for retail needs, it is imperative that the 3pl provider has a knack of dealing with different kind of requirements and specifications:
- Flexibility to accommodate any size/type of shipment
- Suitable warehouse management
- Packaging assessments
- Value added services
STC Logistics specializes in logistics solutions for rollouts and distributions. With extensive experience in retail procurement and marketing/advertising industries, we have the tools and knowledge to ensure all details are well-planned out for a timely rollout or launch. To learn more about our logistics specialties, click the button below!
Choosing a Logistics Provider for Your Pop-Up Store
Pop-up stores are a fairly new concept used by retailers.These trendy stores pop-up for a short period of time and close once their stock is sold out. For example, they can open their doors over a seasonal period of time, like Halloween costume stores or other holiday shops. They stock their stores with a large selection of goods and use effective brand marketing to sell out their stock over the course of the season. Then, the store can close and open elsewhere with new and different stock.
Pop-up shops serve a niche market, so they are typically open for about 3-6 months; sometimes for a shorter or longer period of time. Hiring managers must plan carefully to successfully set up the store, hire adequate staff, sell out the stock and close down the store in a timely fashion while still making a profit.
So what makes these specialty shops profitable? The key to pop-up store success is making sure store fixtures, displays and stock are all set up properly in time for opening. For this to happen, retailers must work with a reliable logistics company. A store owner that is let down with late or missing stock delivery can end up seeing his or her pop-up store open without sufficient stock to sell.
Late stock arrival means that stock is left over at the end of the season, defeating the objective of such a store. While considering many other details, the owner and supporting staff cannot spend countless hours tracking stock and worrying about lost shipments. When launching a pop-up store and choosing a reliable logistics company, retailers need to consider the following:
• Does the logistics company specialize in retail procurement?
• Does the company possess the infrastructure to deliver shipments of all sizes?
• If needed, can the company offer same-day or white glove service?
• Can the company offer free nationwide warehousing and storage facilities?
• Has the company received positive feedback from present or former customers?
• Do they offer high technology cargo tracking capabilities for complete visibility of freight?
• Do they care about the customer enough to ensure their success?
• Are their trucks equipped with lift gates?
• Does the company offer cross-docking services?
Imagine that you have invested money in opening a pop-up store, only to discover your POP advertising materials have been damaged or delayed. Retail procurement professionals must work with a trusted logistics company to ensure that all materials are delivered to one store or hundreds, on time—every time.
STC Logistics specializes in logistics solutions for new retail store openings. We have incorporated numerous checkpoints into our freight monitoring services to ensure flawless and timely delivery of goods. With our 3PL technology, we are able to efficiently track, trace and control each shipment and can serve as a one-stop solution for retailers.
Choosing a reliable retail procurement logistics professional will ensure a smooth new-store opening. To learn more about our services, click here or contact us today.
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Reliable Logistics Solutions for Retail Fixtures and Displays
Having the right fixtures in the right place at the right time can make or break a retail operation. Timing is especially important when considering the fact that most retail stores make their annual profits in small, high-traffic windows throughout the year. The logistics of retail procurement, fixtures and displays plays a pivotal role in determining the success of your business or retail campaign. This blog explains what to consider when approaching retail procurement logistics and choosing a third party logistics provider to ship your procurement cargo.
Nothing matters more in retail than timing. Timing must be positioned properly to take advantage of holidays, tax-free weekends, new product releases and other narrow timeframes. Effective logistics make sure you receive the products, fixtures and other materials you need, right when you need them… not early, when they might waste valuable warehouse or floor space, or late, when the window of opportunity has already shut. Such strict timing requirements may not matter as much when you’re upgrading your standard displays, but seasonal or event-specific displays need to be ready on time, all the time.
The only thing worse than receiving materials too late or too soon in retail procurement logistics is receiving materials that are damaged or not receiving them at all. Even minor damages can ruin a fixture. Scuffed or scratched displays do not impress customers and less obvious structural damage might result in a display piece breaking while in use. This could cause a safety hazard for shopping customers in busy shopping malls. There is little to be done once you’ve received damaged goods, as even a claim against the shipping firm for the value of the fixture won’t recoup lost potential retail sales in the window of opportunity or time wasted trying to cover for the problem.
Third Party Logistics
With so many factors to consider, in-house logistics personnel can be ineffective or impossible to maintain without compromising profit margins. Specialized retail procurement agencies have specialized knowledge and connections which are invaluable when moving materials around the world or across the nation. Leaving the management of logistic details to individuals whose job it is to know when local shipping laws have changed or what ports will be unusually slow or have a tendency to lose shipments will, in most cases, be superior to training an individual or team in-house to handle the same duties.
Providing the Best Solutions for Retail Procurement Logistics
If you have questions about retail procurement logistics or would like to know how a full-service logistics firm can help your business operate more efficiently and effectively, contact us at STC Logistics by clicking here. We are a trusted provider of retail procurement logistics solutions including new store openings and remodels and marketing campaigns. Thanks to our expert team and our state-of-the-art technology systems and nationwide network of ground, air, rail and ocean transportation, we maintain a 99% on-time delivery rate for businesses across the United States. Learn more about our specialty logistics solutions by clicking here.