PreImagine 2018 Sponsor Spotlight: Nexcess

Author: Ashley Overton  |  February 19, 2018

Nexcess joined the Magento community in 2008 and have sponsored every Imagine event since the beginning. So, it’s fair to say their team knows their way around PreImagine. Their mission is to give back to the community and they have found great joy in helping out where they can.

The Nexcess team builds optimized web environments and have created their own tools to help optimize environments fore specific applications like Magento or WooCommmerce. Their experience and knowledge has been targeted to help Magento users since the beginning.

Jerry Eadeh, VP of Channel Sales of Nexcess, took some time to share his expertise on the Magento and PreImagine experience.

Where will you be traveling to Las Vegas from?

A large team of us will be traveling from Detroit, Michigan USA.  

What does being apart of the Magento Community mean to you?

The welcoming nature of every person involved has always inspired us to go further, and do a little more. All the companies involved in the Magento community are willing to work with one another to improve the merchant experience, and as we continue to build out partnerships we hope to continue giving back.

We are always growing and learning. Is there any one thing you would like to learn during the conference as a whole?

As a team we always hope to learn about the progress Magento has made this past year and what the platform’s expectations are for this year and beyond. It is also great to spend time with attendees and learn the new tricks that they are using so we can pass on these ideas to community.

How many years has Nexcess attended PreImagine? 

We’ve attended all the events and participated as a sponsor 5 times.

Why did your company decide to sponsor PreImagine this year?

We are always looking for ways to give back to the community.

What is your favorite memory from past PreImagines?

Aside from the conversations we have, during the last few years our favorite moment was when everyone comes together for a large group picture.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Getting out of the snow :) It’s been an exceptionally snowy season this year in Detroit.

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

It’s the premier networking event at Imagine.  All the big players attend this event more than any other event around the conference.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Make sure to network and talk with as many people as possible at PreImagine

 

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PreImagine 2018 Sponsor Spotlight: Subscribe Pro

Author: Ashley Overton  |  February 13, 2018

Dashboard-Screenshot-GrowthSubscribe Pro was born out of a Magento development agency and their founder has been working with Magento since the early days. The company is extremely involved in the Magento Community and are no stranger to PreImagine. They made their first appearance in 2013, and have even been involved as sponsors in the past.

Subscribe Pro is the leading SaaS subscription commerce solution for Magento. They integrate closely with Magento and allow merchants to run replenishment, club and membership subscription programs. Subscribe Pro works to help brands increase the average customer lifetime value (LTV) for their most loyal customers.

We interviewed Garth Brantley, CEO of Subscribe Pro, to get insight on the Subscribe Pro PreImagine experience and to see what they look forward to most this year:

Where will you be traveling to Las Vegas from? 

We will be travelling from Baltimore, MD, home of the Ravens and Orioles, where we are based.

What does being apart of the Magento Community mean to you?

Absolutely the best part of working with Magento is the Community. It has been humbling to witness what this community can do and it’s an honor to be able to give back a little bit by supporting events such as #preimagine.

We are always growing and learning. Is there any one thing you would like to learn during this year’s conference?

Yes, learning and growth makes life great, and is essential in eCommerce and any tech related field. I’d say I’m most excited to learn about what other folks in the industry are doing to apply new technologies to expand eCommerce beyond the web. Things like PWA’s, Alexa, Google Home, etc.

Also, AI has been hot in the wider tech world for a while now and I’m pretty excited to learn about new ways it’s being applied to eCommerce.

How would you describe your first PreImagine experience?

I want to say that was maybe 2013? I remember baking in the hot sun around the pool at the M hotel and developers downing shots of vodka.

What did you find most enjoyable about sponsoring and attending PreImagine last year?

PreImagine has consistently been the most enjoyable industry networking event I’ve attended. The level of energy and enthusiasm from a diverse range of attendees is always inspiring.

What do you plan to do different this year to improve your experience?

Last year our travel schedules had us dealing with logistics issues during the event. We plan arrive early and maximize time spent enjoying the event and engaging with our fellow Magento Community members.

What are you looking forward to most this year?

Excited to see what the new venue and larger capacity bring for the event.

What would you list as the biggest benefit of attending PreImagine?

Networking with a diverse range of folks from the industry.

Do you have any advice for first time attendees?

Arrive early and rested, pre-hydrate.

Are you exhibiting at Magento Imagine? If so, do you want to share anything exciting you have in-store for people visiting your booth?

Yes. We’re pretty excited about the conference this year in general, and we’re lining up some fun goodies for the booth.

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New Partner Introduction: ReTrans Freight Simplifies Logistics for B2B & B2C Merchants Using ShipperHQ

Author: Nicola Malaney  |  February 1, 2018

partnership-retransIt’s 2018. eCommerce is in full swing and the marketplace is hotter than ever. It seems everywhere you look, there’s another tool available for managing your SEO, your metrics or your parcel freight. Shouldn’t there be a simplified way to manage your LTL freight by now? Here at ReTrans Freight, we couldn’t agree more and that is why we’re excited to have joined forces with ShipperHQ to provide a solution. Before we get into how our partnership can revolutionize your B2B and B2C businesses, we thought we’d share a little about who we are and how we found ourselves immersed in the dynamic world of eCommerce.

For over 30 years, we have focused on simplifying the transportation process and in fact, we were the first of our kind. Ever since, we’ve been building a team of experts in all aspects of freight management; Carrier and customer relationships, accounting and administration and of course, technology. Though our name has changed over time, we never lost sight of our mission, which is to equip our clients with tools that let them put their resources into scaling their business instead of just maintaining it.

There’s a lot of talk out there about the logistics industry and how many companies have some catching up to do when it comes to doing business in the eCommerce space.  We have always been ahead of the curve thanks to our powerhouse technology experts and agile team of logistics specialists. Today, we have the unique ability to simplify API and EDI carrier connectivity to allow users one point of access to a vast network of quality carriers, at highly competitive rates.

Ok, so what does that actually mean?

It means saying goodbye to paying for multiple connections, goodbye to hours spent reconciling hundreds of individual invoices and goodbye to paying more than you need to for your large freight. By linking up with ShipperHQ’s top-notch shipping management system, shoppers can now enjoy the same fluid checkout experience they’re used to, even on large and oversized purchases. Isn’t that the way it should be?

Why should the bulky or just plain heavy items be abandoned in the shopping cart, simply because no one could optimize those supply chains?

Last year, the ShipperHQ team published an insightful blog that discussed how to boost conversion rates. It stated that a staggering 28% of cart abandonment came from unexpected shipping costs. By utilizing state of the art shipping software and providing customers with reliable rate transparency, merchants can avoid dropoff at checkout for larger items. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with ShipperHQ on this venture, providing eCommerce equality for all types of freight!

Get to know us. We’d love to hear from you! Contact us at sales@retransfreight.com or visit us at www.re-transfreight.com


About the Author

Nicola is the Director of eCommerce Strategic Partnerships for ReTrans Freight where she focuses on identifying and developing alliances that create value for merchants looking to optimize and simplify their LTL eCommerce distribution.  She holds an MBA in International Business and Supply Chain Management and has used her expertise to enable many businesses to succeed in the eCommerce marketplace.

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New Partner Introduction: VL OMNI brings Seamless Data Integration to ShipperHQ Customers

Author: Ashley Overton  |  December 14, 2017

Welcome to the age of automation!

Integration can be a huge amount of work, and this is the very reason we are proud to announce our partnership with VL OMNI.

VL OMNI helps merchants save time and money as they move data seamlessly through their infrastructure. As an agile and scalable SaaS data integration platform for real-time accurate customer order data, shipment details, inventory, prices and more, the VL OMNI Dashboard allows omnichannel and ecommerce businesses to grow and accelerate their business by providing strategic one-to-many integrations. By connecting applications together in a way that makes sense to the unique needs of your business, data is normalized with business rules applied directly to the data transformation for true, 100% integration. Perfectly automated data, exactly where and when your business needs it, fit to your business’ needs.

VL OMNI includes tracking for:

  • Typical transactions
  • Orders In & Out
  • Invoices In & Out
  • Shipping Status Update
  • Product Information Sync
  • Order Acknowledgements
  • Inventory Qty Updates
  • Price Sync
  • Warehouse Orders In & Out by status
  • And more

Current and prospective customers of ShipperHQ can look forward to benefiting from this newly established partnership. The partnership with VL OMNI expands the depth to which ShipperHQ data can be transmitted and automated.  The solution works to fit your business rather than forcing the business to adapt to the solution. Not only can standard ShipperHQ data movements be automated while taking business-specific rules into account, but with VL OMNI, ShipperHQ data can now be fully integrated with on-premise applications, legacy applications such as ERP systems, customized applications, and with trading partners using EDI (Electronic data interchange). 

VL was born in the EDI space in 1994, and has evolved within this market to expand into providing API integration capabilities to merchants who are looking to scale and remain competitive. With over 200 businesses who trust VL OMNI to move data seamlessly through their infrastructure as they grow, expand and accelerate their businesses, and over 280 application integrations in their connector library, VL OMNI is quickly becoming a trusted partner of the omni-channel sector and application providers.

Learn more about VL OMNI

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Meet us in NYC for The Shopify Plus November Meetup

Author: Ashley Overton  |  November 21, 2017

Shopify Plus Meetup NYC

We’re thrilled to be traveling to the Big Apple to co-sponsor the Shopify Plus November Meetup! Because the August meetup turned out to be such a huge success, Dotmailer decided to give the community another chance to come out and enjoy networking and enriched discussions about available features and products on the platform.

The Shopify Plus November Meetup will be the final meetup of the year, so we are expecting to end the year with an even bigger bang. All events during the meetup will be geared towards helping merchants grow. This is a chance for long-time Shopify community members to reconnect, and gives newcomers a chance to develop relationships.

Our team was more than honored to receive an invite to sponsor this month’s event. Not only do sponsors help make the event and refreshments free for attendees, but they are responsible for contributing to the event content. The event will be segmented into two sessions: digital “speed dating” where attendees can learn about the sponsors’ technology and capabilities, followed by networking with a focus on merchants.

To bring a special touch to the session, sponsors are able to bing a special guest. Their special guest will be a merchant that actually uses their product and can speak to attendees about their experience with the product and Shopify as a whole.

Alex CranmerWe will have Alex Cranmer of International Military Antiques (IMA) joining us at our table as our special guest of the evening. You may already be familiar with Alex and IMA if you watch History Channel’s show, Pawn Stars; if not, you should check the company out online. IMA is a spectacular antique firearms and military collectibles dealer and expert that sells very unique and valuable items online. Alex is a great person to connect with to discuss obstacles that come along with selling items with strict shipping restrictions.

To cover specific Shopify Plus shipping questions, we have Karen Baker and Quentin Montalto from ShipperHQ attending. We already service a number of diverse and unique customers on Shopify, so we are psyched to take on attendees’ most challenging shipping questions.

Merchants come to ShipperHQ when they find that the shipping tools that come standard with their cart aren’t enough to fulfill their business needs. Whether they are looking to cover their shipping costs, address cart abandonment, expand the shipping options they offer, or utilize shipping promotions, ShipperHQ can help. We will be available for demos to show off the power of ShipperHQ and demonstrate how it can work to your needs.

Contact us if you would like to attend and we’ll get you added to the list!

 

Link to full article

How US Sales Tax Works

Author: Mark Faggiano  |  November 8, 2017

When selling online you should understand the laws around sales tax throughout the United States. From products to shipping costs, there are rules and regulations around taxes that differ from state to state and item to item. Our partner, Tax Jar, has written a piece to share their sales tax expertise.


coins-currency-investment-insuranceFor a variety of reasons, the United States has managed to build one of the most complex and downright confusing sales tax systems in the world. And as an online business owner, it’s important that you wrap your head around this system so you can at least keep your head down and collect the right amount of sales tax from the right customers.

This quick sales tax 101 guide will explain the ins and outs of U.S. sales tax for online sellers so you can get back to doing what you do best – running your eCommerce business.

Sales Tax is Governed at the State Level

It’s a common misconception that all tax in the U.S. is administered by the IRS. In fact, the U.S. has no federal level sales tax, and no overarching governing body. Instead, sales tax is governed at the state level.

This means that each state gets to make their own rules and laws about things like sales tax rates, which merchants have to collect sales tax, and what items are taxable. It also means that as an online seller, if you have to deal with sales tax in more than one state, you’ll probably find that each state is quite different.

Online Retailers Don’t Always Have to Collect Sales Tax in Every State

One thing online retailers are often surprised to learn is that they aren’t generally required to collect sales from every buyer. Instead, in the U.S., online sellers are only required to collect sales tax in states where you have “sales tax nexus.” Sales tax nexus is just a legalese way of saying “obligation to collect sales tax in a state.”

Each state gets to decide what creates nexus. Common factors that create nexus are having a location, employee or inventory for sale in a warehouse in a state. You can read what each state says creates sales tax nexus here.

Sales Tax Rates Vary from Place to Place

Sales tax is a percentage of a sale that is collected by a retailer and then remitted to a state (and sometimes local areas). Those state and local governments use sales tax to pay for budget items like schools, roads, and fire departments.

Sales tax rates vary from state to state and between local areas.

States set a statewide sales tax rate. Then most states allow local areas – cities, counties and other special taxing districts – to also set a sales tax rate. This means that most areas have a combination of several sales tax rates.

To see how this breaks down, let’s look at the sales tax rate in Marion, Illinois:

6.25% Illinois state sales tax rate

1% Williamson County sales tax rate

1.5% Marion city sales tax rate

8.75% combined total sales tax rate

In other words, if you were buying a toothbrush in Marion, Illinois, you’d pay 8.75% in sales tax on your purchase.

Though there are a few exceptions, as an online seller, you generally charge your buyer sales tax at the sales tax rate of their ship to address. (I.e. if you sold that toothbrush to the buyer in Marion, Illinois, you’d collect 8.75% in sales tax from them.)

Product Taxability Varies from State to State

In the U.S., most “tangible personal property” is taxable. But there are some exceptions, which can vary from state to state. Items like groceries, clothing, medical supplies and textbooks, among other things, are sometimes nontaxable in some states.

For example, clothing is not taxable in Pennsylvania, textbooks are not taxable in Kentucky, and groceries are not taxable in most U.S. states.

Things can get even more complicated. For example, clothing in New York is non-taxable, as long as it’s priced at $110 or less. And while the New York statewide sales tax rate is not applicable clothing priced under $110, some local areas still consider clothing taxable. As another example, groceries in Illinois are taxable, but only at a reduced rate of 1%. Fortunately for online sellers, automated sales tax collection engines can take all these state rules and laws into account so you don’t have to worry about accidentally charging sales tax to the wrong customer in the wrong state on the wrong item!

Shipping Charges are Taxable (Usually)

As an online seller you, of course, get your items to your customers by shipping them. And many online sellers charge a small fee for shipping. It’s important to note that more than half of U.S. states consider shipping to be a taxable charge.

Let’s say you sell a Nintendo Switch for $300 plus $10 in shipping to a buyer in a state like Michigan, where shipping charges are taxable. You’d be required to charge your buyer sales tax on the entire transaction cost – $310.

But say you sell that same Nintendo Switch for the same price to a buyer in a state like Missouri, where shipping charges are not taxable. In that case, you’d only be required to charge sales tax on the $300 item price and not the $10 shipping charge.

You can see which states require sales tax on shipping here.

Sales Tax Administration Varies from State to State

If you deal with sales tax in more than one state, you’ll probably notice many differences from state to state. However, there are a few general rules of thumb.

First, most states want you to file sales tax returns either monthly, quarterly or annually. (Though some will want to hear from you semi-annually or on a fiscal annual basis.)  Usually, the more sales tax you collect from buyers in a state, the more often the state will want you to file and pay sales tax.

States also set their sales tax deadlines on different days of the month. While more than half of the states set the sales tax filing deadline on the 20th of the month following the taxable period, others have due dates on the last day of the month, the 15th, the 23rd, or some other date.

And about half the states with a sales tax even provide sales tax discounts to filers who file and pay on time. This means states will let you keep a small percentage (usually 1-2%) of the sales tax you collected from customers. It’s free money!

I hope this post has helped you wrap your head around the sales tax system in the U.S. For a whole lot more about U.S. sales tax, check out our Sales Tax 101 for Online Sellers guide, or start the conversation in the comments!

TaxJar is a service that makes sales tax reporting and filing simple for more than 10,000 online sellers.  Try a 30-day-free trial of TaxJar today and eliminate sales tax compliance headaches from your life!


About the Author

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 17.28.12

Mark Faggiano is the Founder and CEO of TaxJar – a service that automates sales tax compliance for over 5,000 eCommerce businesses. Mark has built a career around his passion for using technology to solve complex problems that hamper growth for small businesses. He previously co-founded and grew FileLater to become the web’s leading tax extension service for both businesses and individual taxpayers before it was acquired in 2010.

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2017 Holiday Shipping Cutoff Dates

Author: Ashley Overton  |  October 30, 2017

cuttoff-dates-2017-blue-min

Let’s end another holiday season with timely shipping!

We want to ensure everyone has a jolly holiday season this year, so we have created a quick summary of holiday shipping cutoff dates for a few of the major carriers. We hope this guide helps you remain stress free this season and reminds you to keep on top of cutoff dates for all the carriers you plan to use this year.

UPS

The UPS year-end holiday schedule starts in November for Thanksgiving and ends in January. You can download the full schedule from their site to ensure easy access. And, if you are shipping internationally this holiday season, take a look at UPS’ World Holidays schedule which maps out 3 months of global holidays. There are plenty of holidays to be mindful of around the world between the months of October and December. Below you will find a summary for the most frequently used UPS services.

Service Ship By Notes
UPS Ground Contact UPS Dependent on origin and destination
UPS 3 Day Select December 18th US Domestic shipments only
UPS 2nd Day Air December 20th US Domestic shipments only, some limitations in Alaska and Hawaii
UPS Next Day Air December 22nd US Domestic shipments only, some limitations in Alaska and Hawaii

* Between Nov 20th and Dec 30th, a limited number of UPS Ground and UPS Standard packages that have transit times of three or more days and specific origins and destinations will require an additional day in transit. Contact UPS for more information.

FedEx

FedEx has published the last days to ship to ensure your orders are delivered by December 25th. Those needing to ship a last minute delivery will be happy to know, the FedEx SameDay delivery option will be available 24/7 for urgent deliveries (even on the 25th). FedEx also has you covered for your international shipments, you can find rates and transit time for global delivery here.

Service Ship By Notes
FedEx Home Delivery & FedEx Ground Contact FedEx US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx First Overnight December 23rd US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx 2 Day December 23rd US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx Priority Overnight December 23rd US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico
FedEx SameDay December 25th US Domestic shipments only, excludes Puerto Rico

USPS

USPS has published holiday mail-by-dates for all their domestic and international services to help everyone avoid the holiday rush. If you have a loved one in the military, you will want to keep their Military Holiday Shipping Deadlines in reach as well. Below you will find a summary for frequently used USPS services.

Service Ship By Notes
First Class Mail December 19th US Domestic shipments only
Priority Mail December 20th US Domestic shipments only
Priority Mail Express December 22nd US Domestic shipments only

These summaries will serve as a great starting point as you plan for the holiday season, but should not be used as the only resource for your shipping management. These summaries only contain information for some of the major carriers, and you should keep up with restrictions and cutoff dates for every carrier you use. The carrier’s website will hold valuable information, but remember you can contact your carrier representative with more specific questions and concerns.

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3 Ways to Combat Cart Abandonment by Reducing Unexpected Costs

Author: Melanie Fatouros-Richardson  |  October 12, 2017

Unexpected costs are never a happy site. Our partner, Bold Commerce, explain how unexpected costs, such as shipping, can lead to cart abandonment and share tips to help you combat the problem.


You spend hours a week on Instagram, pour all your profits back into Facebook ads, and agonize for days on making the smallest changes on your online store, all to try and get customers to your store.

But what about once they actually land on you store? With abandoned cart rates hovering around 70%, your store is literally leaving money on the table if you’re not putting time into decreasing cart abandonment.

With hundreds of long, drawn out cart abandonment articles out there, we wanted to give you a quick, no nonsense guide on 3 ways you can combat cart abandonment on your store by the end of the day.

Let’s get started.

Reduce unexpected costs

unexpected costs chart

Nothing will make a customer leave the checkout page faster than seeing a total higher than they were expecting. In fact, 60% of shoppers said that being presented with unexpected costs is the reason they leave without completing their purchase.

That’s over half your customers!

Here’s a few ways you can cut down confusion on your site and keep customers in your check out.

Shipping

A customer should never be surprised by shipping costs. Have a section on your website clearly explaining your shipping policies and display that info on your homepage. Better yet: offer free shipping.

A Deloitte study found 69% of shoppers are more likely to shop with online retailers who offer free shipping. Take a look at this article to see if you can afford to offer free shipping on your online store, and 10 commonly-used ways to offer your customer free shipping.

If you can’t afford to offer free shipping on all orders, a great way to increase sales AND reduce unexpected costs is to offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount. Think: Spend over $100 and get free shipping.

Currency Conversion

Save your customers the time and hassle of figuring out how much their order will be by displaying prices in their local currency (based on their location). I don’t know about you, but if I don’t know what the total of my items are, I almost never follow through with the purchase.

And I’m not the only one. 13% of online shoppers say they’ll abandon their cart without paying because the price is in a foreign currency.

The good news is this is an easy fix. If your online store is on Shopify, there are tons of apps you can download that will do the conversion for you. I’m slightly biased, but my favourite one is Bold’s Multi-Currency app . It lets your customers shop in any currency they like. You can use its powerful built in geo-location service to auto-select the currency, or give your customers the option to choose from a beautifully styled dropdown with flags.

multicurrency Nike image

Unexpected taxes and fees

Have you ever booked a trip online? There are two ways prices are usually displayed: a total price including taxes and fees or the price before they’re added on.

That might seem simplistic, but the twist comes with the fact that you almost never know which price you’re seeing!

FlightHub does it right by not only posting the total price, but letting us know that’s what they’ve done.

Make sure to clearly label on your site the total price your items on your product pages. It doesn’t matter if you have additional fees, it matters if you’re hiding them from your customers.

Get out there and make a change

It’s one thing to read about how to reduce your abandoned cart rates on your Shopify store, and a whole other thing to actually do something about it.

I challenge you to implement at least one of the above ideas on your store by the end of the day: don’t just think about it, or say you’ll take a look later this week, login right now and make the change. And don’t forget to let us know in the comments below when you do so we can all follow along.


About the Author

Melanie Fatouros-Richardson is a Content Marketer at Bold Commerce, where she helps store owners grow their businesses. Follow along to learn more about eCommerce and tips & tricks for selling online.

 

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The Importance of Creating a Strong Shipping Strategy for Holiday Sales

Author: Chad Rubin  |  October 3, 2017

With the Holiday Season coming up it is important to remember the importance of creating a shipping strategy that complements your overall Holiday Sales Strategy. Our partner, Skubana, has shared valuable knowledge on Holiday sales and creating a shipping strategy.


2017 Holiday ShippingIn 2016, holiday sales made up approximately 10.6% of all retail sales for the entire year, or 21% of total sales for quarter 4. Ecommerce holiday sales (especially Christmas), are rising year over year, with an increase of 17% from 2015 to 2016 (compared to a drop of 12% for brick and mortar sales for the period), and are expected to rise another 14% for the 2017 Christmas season.

Ecommerce sellers, especially those on Amazon, understand the importance of holiday sales, simply because sellers with the right products see huge increases in order volume. Many also invest heavily in creating sales and marketing campaigns designed to boost this further, even stocking additional products to meet seasonal demand. Keeping up with these increased sales means developing a fulfilment strategy and logistics solutions to ensure that customers receive their orders, you do not sell out of product, and you are able to keep your operation running smoothly.

Another consideration is that the additional expense of marketing and sales typically reduces profit per product. Even though you still see a profit, you’re earning less per sale. By ensuring that customers are happy, you can generate a similar or higher value per sale by generating positive reviews and customer awareness, which will function as social proof to increase sales throughout the rest of the year.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of holiday sales, many stores are left overwhelmed with the increase in order volume, unable to keep up, and sometimes unable to ship products out on time.

By creating a strong strategy to ensure that your shipping, fulfilment, and customer service solutions will meet the increased demand, you can ensure that your store benefits from the holiday sales.

Calculating your Potential Sales

The first step to creating a quality fulfilment strategy is to determine how much you are likely to sell, what you need, and how you need to distribute it. Depending on the age and organization of your store, you can achieve this in a few ways.

For example, if you have strong records from 1 or more years previous, you can use this to calculate potential sales by tracking the previous year’s percentage in sales increase with your current rate of sales growth. So, if you have an average of a 15% sales increase for the holiday period for the last 3 years running, you could use that to calculate what you are likely to sell.

If you don’t have that data, are a new ecommerce store, or have introduced significantly new products, or become popular in ways that mean that previous year’s data won’t be applicable, you will have to use other data to predict possible sales.

For example, you can compare your current turnover rate or use industry benchmarks in combination with your current rate of sale on a per-product basis to predict how much your sales are likely to increase. Combined with increases you expect to see for campaigns, you can get a general idea of what to plan for.

Developing Solutions

Once you know how much you are likely to sell, you can create a framework to support that volume of sales. Your primary concerns are likely inventory (you cannot likely afford to sell-out of a seasonal product), labor (can your warehouse staff support the increased demand), and warehousing.

This means reviewing your current capabilities, determining if you can increase sales without adding on additional employees, and reviewing your space and storage solutions.

  • Determine an inventory order management system that will prevent stock-outs. You may need more inventory or you may have to order more frequently depending on your pipeline
  • Identify peak order times and integrate scalable order processing, either using automation or by bringing in additional employees to handle peaks.
  • Integrate extra quality checks for the holiday period. People who are overworked are more likely to make mistakes, and when products are gifts, returning them on time isn’t always possible.
  • Create a system that allows you to change orders from warehouse to warehouse quickly, so that you can solve stock-outs or other logistics problems.
  • Use multiple shipping providers, so that you can distribute increased deliveries among them without overwhelming any

Outsourcing to Third-party Solutions

Whether you already use a third-party solution or ship everything in-house, third-party logistics (3PL) and solutions like Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) can be extremely helpful during the holiday season. For example, Amazon accounts for about 30% of all online sales during the holiday period, having a presence on Amazon and relevant products almost guarantees you an increase in sales. Using FBA not only boosts sales further, it takes shipping and logistics out of your hands. Amazon will deliver products themselves, typically offer free 2-day shipping, and handle returns and customer service. This can be a great way to meet sales demand while reducing the load on your own warehouses and systems.

Similarly, 3PL can enable you to reduce the burden on your warehouses while speeding up shipping and delivery. Many third-party logistics companies are international, have warehouses around the country, and can offer a variety of packaging solutions – which means faster and cheaper fulfilment.

In both cases, the only possible concerns for using either solution is increased costs (slightly in the case of 3PL), lack of control over the shipping process (but handled by professionals), and splitting your inventory. For these reasons, you should review your options and your existing relationships, as well as your potential sales to determine if either or both are an option for you.

Boosting Customer Satisfaction

Making your customers as happy as possible ensures that you derive real value from each sale. By boosting customer satisfaction, you will increase positive reviews and word of mouth across the web, which will boost your sales for the rest of the year.

For example, if you choose to adopt 3PL you can likely easily include a printed return label with every product. Customers can use it for free return shipping on products, and it won’t be charged to your account until sales are made.

You can also take steps to work with customer service so that you prioritize customer satisfaction over immediate profit. This means increasing your number of service representatives so that you can respond quickly to all inquiries, managing the quality of responses, sometimes accepting returns for no reason, offering expedited shipping free of charge and replacing items quickly when you have made a mistake, and so on.

Because many holiday shoppers are looking for gifts, they need them by Christmas (not always the case as many shoppers are just taking advantage of sales) – so taking steps to expedite any returns and replacement products to make that happen will greatly increase customer satisfaction.

Finally, it is crucial that you have a strong internal management system to ensure that your inventory management, quality control, and customer service are on track and running smoothly.

Preparing a strong fulfilment strategy for the holidays will ensure that you can meet demand, keep customers happy, and make the most of the holiday sales.


About the Author

Chad Headshot resized

Chad Rubin took his family vacuum business online and built his own direct to consumer ecommerce business called Crucial Vacuum. He grew it from 0 to a $20 million dollar valuation in just 7 years. He happens to be a top 250 Amazon seller. He co-founded Skubana with DJ Kunovac and built one of ecommerce’s hottest operational softwares.

 

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USPS API Changes Sept 1st 2017

Author: Karen Baker  |  September 1, 2017

USPS on September 1st 2017  has changed their ‘First-Class Mail Parcel” Service to “First-Class Package Service – Retail”.

There are other changes as well, see Pitney Bowes for further details.

ShipperHQ Customers

Any customers using ShipperHQ will see no disruption of service.

Other eCommerce Users

For those customers NOT using ShipperHQ please see following notes re each platform:

Magento 1.x

NO Change is required for ShipperHQ Customers.

If you are using WebShopApps Dimensional Shipping and in your year’s support then contact our support for an update. Outside of this you will need to follow the instructions below and update the USPS.php file in the extension. All other extension users will need to follow the advice below.

You will need to alter the USPS implementation to use the new Shipping Method Name. Please note: We do not recommend you update the core files directly, so you should follow procedure to create a patch here (we would hope Magento Inc have released a patch already as this is service affecting). The following comments show you where the changes are.

Look for the file app/code/core/Mage/Usa/Model/Shipping/Carrier/Usps.php

Search for ‘method_to_code’.  You will see like following:

Magento 1 USPS API Change

Update to replace ‘First-Class Mail Parcel’ with ‘First-Class Package Service – Retail’ (this is a single dash). Its extremely important you spell this exactly as is else it will not be able to match.

Magento USPS after API Change

Optionally you can update the Shipping method name used, search for ‘0_FCP’ and you will see:

USPS Shipping Method Name Update

In app/code/core/Mage/Usa/etc/config.xml replace any occurrence of’First-Class Mail Parcel’ with ‘First-Class Package Service – Retail’.

In the Magento Admin panel you will need to refresh your shipping methods and select this new ‘Allowed Method’, else it still won’t display.

Magento 2.x

NO Change is required for ShipperHQ Customers.

The changes above apply, the directory locations are just different. See under vendor/magento/module-usps/Model/Usps.php.  

Shopify

We have confirmed that First-Class Package Rates are showing (updated Sept 3rd).

BigCommerce

Please contact your BigCommerce Rep if you are no longer seeing the correct USPS First-Class Mail Parcel(Package) Rates. In our testing we are able to see First-Class Rates, though not able to ascertain which.

About ShipperHQ

ShipperHQ is a storefront shipping management solution which gives you incredible flexibility in managing your shipping rates. Even for customers using Free Shipping ShipperHQ is a must, we include capabilities around Time in Transit, Pickup from Store, Address Validation, Multi-Warehouse, etc etc.  We also keep upto date with the APIs and worry about this stuff so you don’t have to ;).  We offer free migration services for WebShopApps customers. We are available on BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento 1&2, and WooCommerce.

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