4 Efficiency-Draining Warehouse Setup Mistakes

Optimizing your product distribution sure is challenging, isn’t it?

You have so many options and approaches to choose from. And it takes time to figure out what works and what doesn’t for your specific warehouse.

And of course, during the process, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s part of getting better at what you do.

To minimize some of those mistakes, learn from the most common ones many companies make:

1. No Forward Location Set Up

What products get ordered most commonly? Those go in a forward location near your shipping and receiving dock to minimize employee trips and steps.

This, rather than placing all of that inventory in one area of your warehouse.

Then, the safety stock for that popular inventory gets placed in a more remote location of your warehouse…or at an offsite location.

When you need more, you bring it all over to your forward location in one fell swoop.

2. No Separate “Dead Stock” Location

It would be nice if you sold all your inventory exactly as planned. But sometimes, product recalls, market shifts, customer returns, and forgetfulness happen.

Most SMBs just let their dead stock commingle in with their live inventory. Smart ones create a separate location so they have all their dead stock in one place.

Dead stock left mixed in just sits around, taking up space, causing confusion, and wasting money. It may also accidentally get shipped to customers.

A special dead stock location reminds you needs liquidating and to strategize for the efficient liquidation of the inventory.

3. Incorrect Technology Application

Remember, new software tools are implemented to create more profitability for your company or more convenience for your customer.

At first, they’re fun. Like a toy. It’s fun to get to know these tools and what they can do. However, some businesses make the mistake of focusing too much on the tools themselves. They forget to optimize their whole warehouse via signage, labels, and efficient movement.

Yes, you should invest in software tools. But, make sure they’re implemented in a way that drives the greatest value for your company and customers.

4. Using Paper Processes

Paper is out-of-date.

Make that your personal mantra.

There is no reason to use it anymore for your own internal processes. Paper packing slips in customer orders are expected and fine.

The primary cost of paper is not the financial expense, but the time it takes to manage. Everything you need done on paper can be done electronically. And it saves you an almost absurd amount of time to do everything online.

Paper also gets lost. Handwriting can be unclear and confusing to read.

The switch to digital may take some time. But it saves you so much more time and is exponentially more convenient in the long run.

Plus, you can also promote your paperless workplace as environmentally friendly to your own employees and customers.

So those are just some warehousing mistakes.

Which rings the most true and will become your top priority?

How to Make Your Packaging Greener

Every little edge you can get adds up and makes a difference in retail, doesn’t it?

And your customers notice all the little things, don’t they?

So here’s some small things you can do to increase the green-friendliness of your packaging that your customers might also appreciate:

1. Reduce Packaging

This may require help from an experienced green packaging manufacturer. The lesser the packaging you use, the lower amount of harm you cause the environment.

Truthfully, your customers may not notice that you use less packaging than normal. So, make them aware of it by putting a brief statement on your packaging.

2. Unique Materials

Ink can be made from chemicals…or you can get ink made from soy or milk protein. You won’t sacrifice anything in terms of richness of color.

And your customers will appreciate this small step toward sustainability.

3. Make Your Packaging Giftable

Shape your packaging for a child’s stuffed animal like a teddy bear (or in another way your market finds appropriate).

If your market finds your packaging attractive and reusable, they use it again. And perhaps several times more.

So, that cuts a certain amount of waste of single-use packaging from ever having to go into landfills.

4. Make Sustainability Part of Your Marketing

Putting your sustainability in the eye of the public keeps you accountable. Say you do it, and follow through, and you keep or grow your sales.

Say you do it, fail to follow through, and watch your complaints rise and sales decrease.

The more you put your desire to be sustainable in the eyes of your market, the more accountable it keeps you to actually doing so.

And frequently, your market spots your shortcomings faster and more frequently than you do.

So, you may end up with a more sustainable product with their help than you ever would on your own.

5. Try Edible Packaging

Ever gone to your favorite restaurant to eat…the packaging? It’s slowly becoming a reality. And it’s absolutely not a joke.

An increasingly common kind of edible food packaging is coffee cups you can eat after drinking the coffee.

Sounds odd. But it’s clear to see how this reduces environmental waste!

Hopefully these examples give you ideas of how to incorporate more sustainable practices in your packaging.

Which will you use?

Why Shurtape’s Our Top Recommendation When You Need Any Kind of Tape

Shurtape comes in as our first recommended specialist tape manufacturer. And there’s good reason you’ll love ‘em.

For starters, they’ve been in operation since 1955. And all they make is tape. So that gives them 64 years of experience in tape manufacturing as of the time of this writing in 2019.

That’s an incredible amount of experience just in tape production!

So to stay in business that long, and to make our President’s Club, they must do quite a bit right.

Here’s some Shurtape’s special highlights:

1. Focus on Quality Product for Specific Market Segments

Shurtape isn’t designed to be a commodity use-and-toss product for the masses at large. Rather, it’s created specifically for craftsmen in specific market segments.

Shurtape’s products are specially designed for several dozen markets, and even sub-markets, including HVAC contractors, painters, automated carton sealing, transportation, and packaging, among many others.

The company’s close work with contractors in each niche in the past and present yields a top-quality product that doesn’t disappoint.

2. An Example of One of the Company’s Most Sophisticated Tapes

Of course, the military has to do some taping sometimes too. However, you can bet they need something stronger and more reliable than regular ol’ duct tape.

Would you really want our nation’s country protected by simple duct tape?

Shurtape produces military grade aluminum foil tape for vapor barriers and waterproof seals, and for masking off areas when electroplating.

Now of course, they create tapes for more common purposes too. But this example shows you Shurtape can handle the sophisticated needs of any market.

3. Working to Eliminate Case Sealing Issues

One of the biggest problems in the tape industry is difficulty sealing cases. Inefficiency, wasted material, damaged product, and injuries happen frequently.

However, Shurtape has more than 135 years of experience in sealing boxes. And currently, 25% of the company’s manufacturing processes focus on packaging tape production.

All products are designed to minimize and eliminate the afore-mentioned case-sealing issues.

When it comes to sealing cases, Shurtape has it down.

So, we’re happy to recommend Shurtape when their products make sense for you. And you should feel equally excited whenever you hear their name!

Why You’ll Fall in Love with Cube Packaging

Cube Packaging is definitely one of the youngest companies in our President’s Club, as they began operations in 2007.

So to make the President’s Club list at the young age of 12, they must be doing something awfully special.

Cube specializes in environmentally sustainable packaging solutions. And with their commitment to continual manufacturing process improvement, they’ve won designations like the 2018 Business Excellence Award for Large Businesses.

Here’s some other interesting highlights about Cube Packaging:

1. A Focus on Reusability, Which is Even More Sustainable than Recycling

Recycling is a good and healthy thing. But Cube Packaging takes recycling a step further to reusability.

Cube makes all their packaging products with the goal of having consumers use them more than once. Their packaging is actually made of more durable materials.

However, through innovative design techniques, these more durable containers also don’t require more material to make in the first place.

So you do definitely end up with a significant net gain with reusable packaging.

2. Niche Focus

Cube Packaging makes a large amount of packaging products that display food. They focus on grocery stores, restaurants, catering, and meal prep solutions.

As a business, you know the value of a specialist niche expert. That’s Cube Packaging.

They rock the sustainable food display container market.

3. Special Novelty Food Containers

Need to spice up the display of your food with a special them to get customers in a purchasing mood?

Cube Packaging has a large line of novelty food display containers.

For example, they have a pumpkin container shaped like a smiling jack-o-lantern for Halloween, multiple products shaped like footballs for the NFL season, and the same for basketball and soccer.

You know how little touches like that drive your sales way up during key sales seasons. And that’s one of many differences Cube Packaging makes for your company.

So, yes, when it comes to reusable packaging solutions, we’re excited to recommend Cube Packaging for your business.

And you should feel just as excited when you hear us say their name!

4 Inventory Management Best Practices to Follow in 2019

43% of small businesses don’t track inventory at all or use an antiquated method.

43% … as in, nearly half!

Doesn’t that sound crazy to you here in 2019?

Now look, managing retail inventory is no simple task. Yet, massive corporations like Costco and Walmart manage to turn their entire inventory over 10-12 times per year.

This leads to you having stockouts when you need to sell a certain product and too much stock of product that isn’t selling now.

Here’s what you can do to make sure you have the right amount of inventory in stock all year round so you optimize your sales revenue and profit margin:

1. Automate Like Crazy

Look, a step saved is…a step saved! The large retailers use automation to the maximum extent possible.

If you can get computer software to save your employees a step or two, by all means do it. This gives them time to focus on higher level decisions software can’t make or do.

Physical counts of your existing inventory still have to be done to make sure inventory matches what’s in your POS. But those can be minimized, which creates a consistent shopping experience for your most valuable customers.

2. Make the Most of Your Surplus

Look, sometimes market trends shift so quickly that you’re left with too much inventory. You simply can’t always make the perfect decision.

What do you do when that happens?

Donate it.

Because, if you simply toss your product in the dumpster, that leads to dumpster diving, security issues, and a negative reputation in the area.

Why not create a win-win-win for you, a non-profit organization, and your bottom line by donating the excess inventory to someone who needs it?

3. Personalize Each Store to the Local Market

Your POS software shouldn’t just sync inventory at a single location. It should sync inventory across all physical stores so your employees can find the nearest location with the item, and then ship it to your customer.

Being able to view inventory by location or across all locations at once lets you identify local market trends.

Of course you don’t need to have 100% unique inventory at each location. But you might have 20% or so that caters specifically to the local market…and they’ll love you for it!

4. Have at Least A Simple Cash Flow Management Process in Place

You know the massive amount of capital you need to operate a retail business. So, it’s important to make sure you always have enough so you can buy the inventory that sells best when you need it.

At a minimum, you should have a spreadsheet which outlines:

  • Monthly sales goals
  • Fixed and variable costs
  • Planned inventory purchasing 2-3 months away

Regular review of this will alert you to any upcoming cash flow crunches.

Look…managing a physical retail location isn’t easy…but it just got a lot easier for you after reading those tips.

4 Sales-Killing Customer Experience Mistakes Retailers Make

Ever visited one of your own stores, and one of your competitor’s, completely undercover and experienced how things go for yourself?

Have you done the same with websites too?

You can’t get a full impression of your customer experience in just a single visit. But you can at least get an idea.

And even if you haven’t, all the customer experience mistakes possible have been made by one retailer or another.

So take a minute to learn from other examples and personal experiences so you know what to look for and fix:

1. Giving Customers Preferential Treatment

Do you make special offers to new customers, but then give your regulars no opportunity of their own?

What about the reverse?

The truth is you can do this. But you can’t make it obvious to one customer type that they’re not getting in on the deal.

For example, if you know an in-store customer by name and ask them what they want, they feel valued and appreciated. But your new customers feel hurt and forgotten.

If you offer to help your regular by name, get to know the new customer’s name too so they have a similar experience.

Otherwise, they leave and feel like you don’t care about them.

2. Taking a Political Stance

According to data from Euclid and quoted by Shopify, 78% of customers prefer you take no political stance whatsoever.

So, to keep it simple, best just to avoid politics.

However, if you’re determined to tackle a political issue, you can win when you do it at the right time and in the right way.

For example, consumers loved Dick’s Sporting Goods move to stop selling assault-style rifles in response to the Parkland, Florida shooting.

3. Inability to Talk to a Human

Automation runs supreme in retail. It’s your lifeblood…but not when it comes to customer service.

Accenture’s 11th annual Global Consumer Pulse Survey found 83% of consumers prefer human help – when trying to get service over digital channels.

Consumers need to be able to talk to customer service over the phone in just a few minutes. And they want to talk to reps who care and have decision-making power.

Sounds pretty simple. But you can probably name at least a company or two you interact with who clearly operates in direct contradiction to these principles.

4. Selling Customers Only What They Ask For

This one sounds a bit odd at first. Isn’t it exactly what you should do?

Well, you’re leaving money on the table by not exposing your customers to comparable options or additional products which enhance the utility of the one they’re purchasing.

You may have a premium model with more features too.

Don’t try to talk the customer into making a different decision. But do make them aware so they can make a choice that better suits them, if they’d like.

The same goes for your website. You should have product recommendations on every product page uniquely suited to what the customer’s considering.

Customers frequently appreciate this. And as long as they feel you’re operating to try to help them discover what else they might like, rather than trying to crank more money out of them, you’ll be okay.

So that’s just 4 of the many customer experiences you might make.

Best to let your competitors make them, while you make the fixes and snatch their market share, right?

Meet the POS Thermal Printing Industry’s Leader: Cenveo

How many companies do you know who produce one in three of all of a certain type of product used?

For example, if you use a mop, do you know if a company produces one in three of all the mops used in America?

Well, that’s the case for Cenveo, who produces one out of three of all the envelopes used in the United States.

But they’re not just for consumers, or even direct mail.

Clearly, they understand print and mailing. And here’s what else they do that you simply can’t question:

1. POS Thermal Print and Imaging Supplies

Cenveo’s Nashua product line serves every type of receipt printer you can find in retail stores. The product line has receipts available according to the exact specs required by OEM printer manufacturers.

With an intense focus on high quality and affordable pricing, the Nashua product line has imaging supplies for every thermal (and non-thermal) application.

2. Rapid Product Delivery

Need it yesterday? That’s never a good position to be in with your business. Ideally, you plan things and execute according to that plan.

But sometimes, you can still do everything right and find yourself in a pinch.

Don’t worry! Cenveo comes to your rescue with a distribution network created to service 90% of the US within 2 to 3 days.

They’ll even fulfill from multiple warehouses at once so you’re not left fighting an uphill battle any longer than you have to.

Whew!

3. Operate Your Business Better

Cenveo offers a line of managed services, which they consult on so you can make the best use of their products and your own processes.

Their managed services focus on Six Sigma and Lean principles. Cenveo can help you solve problems such as:

  • Vendor consolidation
  • Streamlining processes
  • Optimizing bidding to deliver customers the best pricing
  • Managing accounts onsite
  • Identifying the most cost-effective manufacturing methods
  • Optimizing distribution

Basically, if you have any challenges related to POS thermal printing, or any type of commercial printing or mailing, Cenveo’s your go-to.

And when their products and services make sense for your business, we’re excited to recommend them to you!

NRF Forecasts 3.8-4.4% Growth in 2019 Retail Sales

Depending on what news source you pay attention to, you can get a different take on reality.

So what’s truly going on? Who’s paying attention to the facts? And who’s using an emotional slant just to get you to read their story?

Well, the National Retail Federation believes the economy’s going to be just fine for 2019.

Why?

Macroeconomic data supports it. Consumer financial welfare will remain strong. More people are working. Employees are making more money. Taxes are lower. And consumers have generally high confidence in the economy.

And this, despite some volatility in the stock market in the past six months, a government shutdown, and tariffs on some Chinese goods.

However, the NRF expects there may be some short-term trouble now that additional Chinese tariffs ranging from 10-25% have been in place since March 1st.

And by the way, these growth projections include both online and in-store spending.

What’s Your Strategy Going Forward?

In business, it’s nearly impossible to invent something completely new and get the market to take it. It can be done. But for the most part, business is a response to market trends.

Clearly, the trend is toward spending for now.

So, how do you keep consumers buying from you, and even gain market share?

Well, eTail says consumers want multichannel buying experiences…and that they actually spend 65% of their total shopping budget in-store.

What’s that mean in practicality?

Everyone shops online. Most buy in-store. In other words, all your online shopping properties need to perfectly align with your in-store shopping experience.

Consumers need to easily access product data. They want to place an order online, and get it at your local store.

They need several images of your item online so they know exactly how it will function in their daily life. They need to see images and videos of other consumers enjoying the benefits your products provide.

Secondly, customers need a memorable experience. Today, it’s all about personalization. Consumers want to feel like you created a shopping experience just for them.

That means getting into your data, and also having conversations with customers. What do they and don’t they like about your online and offline shopping experience? What can you do to make the experience so impressive it would be stupid for your customer to go to your competitor?

Some companies fall into the trap of having execs who live in ivory towers trying to create an experience out of thin air. Don’t do that. Get into the trenches and front lines, and experiment directly with your customers and get their feedback.

Retail’s not easy in 2019. But you have a huge consumer trend powering growth. And you have more access to data than ever before. So it’s a perfect time to adjust to the market and make your sales soar.

Ranpak: The Company to Turn to For Environmentally Friendly Packaging

1972.

What’s the big deal about that year?

David Bowie introduced his alter-ego: Ziggie Stardust. Digital watches made their debut. HBO launched into American homes.

…But those aren’t the events we’re talking about.

Instead, it was the year the Ranpak company began producing environmentally-friendly packaging material.

Now isn’t that impressive? The environment certainly was becoming a bigger issue. However, how many companies had environmentally sustainable business practices back then?

With innovation and forward-thinking like that, you know Ranpak has something special going on.

And here’s why they’re a big deal to businesses like yours today:

1. The New WrapPak Protector Continues the Company’s Sustainability Legacy

“Sustainable” and “functional” describe Ranpak’s WrapPak protector. This protector is actually used to keep perishable food bought online fresh.

The difference between this product and competing options lies in its simplicity and sustainability. It reduces costs, saves space, and minimizes handling needed for transported product.

… And of course, it’s 100% recyclable, renewable, and biodegradable.

2. E-Commerce Packaging Experts

RanPak has identified 7 best practices for an exceptional e-commerce order delivery experience.

We can’t go through them all here. But, you can get a few highlights:

  • Using the right size box because often too big of a box gets used, which causes products to break during shipping
  • Using re-usable packaging material because 33% of consumers surveyed say they want this
  • Using an attractive design with innovative marketing writing that creates an emotional connection with the customer

Read the full white paper at RanPak’s website.

3. Custom Packaging Engineering

With proven experience and demonstrated success like this, you can definitely see why you’d want RanPak custom-creating your packaging for you if you have the need.

Through a process of understanding your current packaging design, testing that design, benchmarking your design against RanPak’s new custom model, and training you to implement the new packaging production process, RanPak helps you identify and implement the perfect packaging for your customer.

This leads to much happier customers, which of course results in more loyalty and consistently strong sales.

You no longer have to guess how to do your packaging. You have a proven model and analysis so you know you’re doing the best you can in your industry right now.

So yes, we’re ecstatic to recommend RanPak when their products and services make sense for your business.

And you should jump for joy when you hear us suggesting them to you!

How to Make Your Product Indispensable to Your Customers

Having a great product customers love makes for an awesome start in retail.

What? Just a great start?

What more do you need to do than have an amazing product?

Well, you’d rather have customers who just cannot do without your porduct. We’re not talking about turning them into addicts.

We mean having customers who love your brand. They love your product itself. And they love what you stand for. So, it would take quite a series of disastrous mistakes for them to leave you for another brand.

Those are the customers you want.

So how do you get those…even if you simply have a store brand?

Take a minute to learn from beloved yogurt brand Chobani, which has surpassed Yoplait as America’s leading yogurt brand:

1. Give to Your Employees

In 2016, CEO Hamdi Ulukaya wanted to give 10% of the company’s shares (Chobani is a private company) to all employees – ranging from forklift operators to top-level execs.

At first, he was told this couldn’t be done. Nevertheless, he found a way to get it done. And the move received wide praise in the mainstream media, and on social media too.

The company also gives 6 weeks of paid leave to men and women after a birth, adoption, or taking in of a foster child. That’s rare in any industry. And it’s even rarer in manufacturing.

2. Give to Other Food Startups

At its core, Chobani wants to make healthy food available to everyone. They have a program for helping out other food startups so they get on the path of success faster.

Companies who make it in get grants and unrestrained access to Chobani leaders. Literally no strings are attached.

Most such programs in the corporate world would want a stake in the startup, at minimum.

3. Give to Regular People

Many of Chobani’s manufacturing employees are veterans. When the company learned their employees were having a hard time putting food on the table, they created a special “hero batch” of yogurt to raise $1 million to help them out.

Chobani guaranteed they would donate at least $1 million, even if the new product itself didn’t help raise the funds.

The veterans would win regardless of what happened.

So, as you can see, the story behind the product matters. Like a ton!

What positive story can you create, not just to garner positive attention, but to do things that help people in meaningful ways?

Office Essentials: The Supplier with More than a Century of Problem Solving Experience

Offices looked and operated a little different in 1918 than they do now in 2019.

Not sure if you’ve noticed the same. We’re just sayin’…

Pardon the sarcasm, but we did it to make a point: things have changed in the American office over the past century.

And Pollock has been a recognized name as that change has taken place. It began with Lawrence S. Pollock in 1918, who organized the Pollock-Burt Paper Box Company at the age of 26.

After leaving for and returning from service in World War I, Lawrence merged the company with the paper jobbing business he started to form the Pollock Paper and Box Company. And today, the company’s now run by his grandson, Lawrence S. Pollock III.

How has the company, which now specializes in Office Essentials, been able to remain a force in the industry over that time?

Like so:

1. One-on-One Consulting Solutions and Supply Analyses

Even though this sounds unique, it’s actually not even unique to Pollock’s Office Essentials. It’s a company-wide practice that Office Essentials happens to participate in too.

You’re not just a number. You’re not another line-item on someone’s P&L statement.

You are a real company with real people and real needs. And they’re unique. The Office Essentials team works with you to precisely learn your needs.

And they meet them to a T.

2. A Full Range of Office Supplies

Because of Pollock’s dedication to solving all your office supply challenges, you never walk away searching for answers. The company offers thermal printing paper, cash register receipt rolls, restroom cleaning supplies, and even black lights.

So regardless of the office supply issues you face, you have a solution.

3. Coast-to-Coast Distribution Network

Pollock has 9 distribution centers and a fleet of 100 delivery trucks to ensure you always have the office supplies you need when you need them (in 2 days or less). This even includes if you’re located in Canada.

You can also customize your delivery times to meet your supply flow needs.

You get all this with Pollock Office Essentials. And you can feel good because the company supports the United Way and North Texas Food bank in helping the 564,708 homeless Americans and 13.5% living in poverty.

Yes. With Office Essentials, you’re making a smart decision.

And we’re happy to recommend Office Essentials when it makes sense for your needs.

Why Social Responsibility Matters to Your Brand

Millennials now have the most spending power of any generation. And since they’re the largest in terms of sheer numbers and are now old enough to be in higher-income jobs, it’s imperative to your company’s success to meet what they value.

Among their many differentiating characteristics, they adore brands who embrace social responsibility. Put broadly, “social responsibility” means the brand makes a public phenomenon of showing how it influences society in a positive way.

If your brand doesn’t do this, you lose sales to others who do. It’s that simple.

So here’s an example of several leading brands and how they embrace social responsibility:

1. Gillette’s Embrace of Positive Attitudes Toward Women

Gillette’s always trumpeted it’s “The Best a Man Can Get.” Recently, they released a video supporting the viewpoint that men should act toward women in positive, healthy, attainable, and inclusive ways.

The particular video strongly discourages attitudes which promote sexual harassment, misogyny, and abusive conduct.

2. MUD Jeans

Every corporation engages social responsibility. However, what’s not clear is the extent.

Is that company just trying to improve its image a little, when in fact they have all sorts of ways they’re not even close to socially responsible behind the scenes?

Learning the full story can be hard.

One of the corporations who really knocks social responsibility out of the park (and all throughout its business practices) is Dutch company MUD jeans.

For example, their jeans include post-consumer denim and organically grown cotton (most cotton requires intensive insecticide use). They also ensure all workers throughout their entire manufacturing process get paid fair wages.

3. Starbucks

When you think of Starbucks, besides caffeine, you think of a gem of a socially responsible company.

Back in 1997, they funded a US/Canada literacy campaign. Today, they want to hire 10,000 refugees in 75 countries and 25,000 veterans by 2025.

This, in addition to constantly working to minimize their environmental footprint, makes Starbucks another great all-around example of sustainability.

4. Coca-Cola

Since the creation of its foundation in 1985, Coca-Cola has donated more than $820 million to causes furthering the empowerment of women, improving access to clean drinking water, and the development of disadvantaged youth.

This model makes sense because donating the funds to other organizations who have specialized experience in their various causes are more likely to make an actual difference.

So, how can you make social responsibility not just another thing you do among other business practices, but the very essence of your business itself?

The better you answer that question, the more Millennial customers you attract and keep.