6 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Holiday Selling

logistics company east coast

As the leaves begin to change and the days get darker, many businesses begin thinking seriously about the holiday selling season.

For many retail businesses, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve brings in the largest amount of sales all year, making that month crucial to a business’s profits and success.

To prepare your business early for this holiday season, here are 6 things you need to get started on today:

Hire Seasonal Employees

The holidays can be exceptionally busy for many retail businesses. Between the added customer orders, employee vacations, and seasonal illnesses, your business could fall woefully short on staffing, causing stress, overtime, and low morale.

To combat this potential problem, consider hiring seasonal help for your business.

Whether your struggle comes in people to pick and pack orders, handle customer service requests, or staff a storefront, finding those extra hands early in the year prevents rushing to find more help at the last minute.

Start your search at least six weeks in advance of the start of the holiday season so you can interview, hire, and train seasonal employees before the rush starts.

If hiring seasonal help is too stressful to you, consider contracting with a third-party logistics company. They can handle many of your seasonal needs – shipping, returns processing, customer service, picking and packing, and more – for less hassle than finding people on your own.

Set Holiday Schedules

Long hours and days off make scheduling during the holiday season even more complicated.

Be sure you’re clear with your employees on your policy for asking for days off around the holidays to avoid confusion and frustration. Do you block off vacation requests surrounding a major holiday? Are some employees able to take vacation days around holidays and some aren’t? What days are your facility closed?

Get ahead of the game and send an email or note to all employees outlining holiday schedules. Include official holiday closure days, who can take vacation when, and your policy for requesting vacation days.

Try to send this communication early, by mid-September at the latest, so employees have ample time to make and change plans if necessary.

Add Extra Stock

Keeping pace with the orders that roll in during the holiday season is key to a less stressful time for everyone.

If you run out of a popular product, you add more work for your customer service team and potentially lose out on sales as people take their business elsewhere.

To prevent shortages at key ordering times, start stocking up on popular products early. 

Are you planning to run a special during the holiday season? Have plenty of extra on hand to cover not only your planned orders but unexpected additional orders.

Look through your past years’ holiday sales, as well as sales patterns from the past several months and industry trends. This can help you identify which products you will need to have extra of to help keep up with sales and avoid shortages.

Start Holiday Marketing

Sometimes, the key to a successful holiday season is all in marketing your business to the right people.

Attracting new business is great and should absolutely be part of your holiday marketing plan, but don’t neglect current and former customers. Send out marketing emails to those who have already purchased from you, offering a special insiders’ discount or early access to deals.

Leverage all your available options in creating your holiday marketing plan, including email marketing, your website, social media, and any print or TV marketing you may purchase. 

You don’t have to dump tons of money into your holiday marketing, but truly understanding your customers, where they are most likely to see your marketing, and what motivates them to make a purchase can make all the difference.

And don’t wait until November to start planning your holiday marketing – The earlier you begin creating your plans and campaigns, the better they can be!

Focus on Customer Service

The holiday season is a stressful time for everyone, retailers and consumers alike.

As a result, tempers can be short, and things that seem small and insignificant at other times of the year can quickly escalate.

To prevent a public relations nightmare, train any customer-facing employees in proper customer service and complaint escalation techniques. Handle requests for exchanges or refunds quickly and, if necessary, with a little extra something to help smooth over the customer’s frustration.

Killing your customers with kindness will go a long way, and can help defuse a tense situation.

Check Your Website

During the holiday season, your website is likely to get more hits than it does during the rest of the year.

An easy-to-navigate, functional website will help you get more completed orders. If your website is too slow to load, seems buggy, or makes it difficult to find the products and information customers want, they’ll leave and take their business elsewhere.

First, check that your website is loading quickly and doesn’t have any technical errors. If that all looks good, do a scan to ensure that all pricing, shipping information, return policies, and other information on your website is correct.

If you need to, enlist a professional to help you make quick work of checking through your website and fixing any issues. 

Logistics Help All Year Long

Getting your products from the shelves into the hands of your customers as quickly as possible is a key part of the success of your business. At Cannon Hill Logistics, we can help with every part of the process, including warehousing, shipping, picking and packing, and returns processing, so you can focus on providing great products to your customers.

We work with a variety of businesses throughout the world, and our convenient location on the East Coast allows us to ship to most of the United States within a few business days.

Let us design a customized logistics solution to meet your needs – Call today for a quote!

6 Industries That Use 3PLs for Improved Efficiency & Profitability

logistics east coast

Third-party logistics companies are designed to help make other businesses more efficient, effective, and profitable. 

They manage inventory, handle picking and packing, and ship products from one location to another as quickly as possible. 

While its use in the retail industry is a fairly foregone conclusion, there are a variety of other industries that can benefit from the services of a 3PL. Here are 6 of those industries:

Medical

In the medical industry, lives are literally on the line when it comes to devices and samples moving from one place to another. Many of these items must be shipped carefully to prevent breakage or spilling, and some need careful temperature and humidity control.

A 3PL has the experience shipping fragile items to avoid damage while maintaining speed of delivery. 

Pharmaceutical

Much like the medical industry, the pharmaceutical industry relies on expedited shipping that can also meet the need for protecting the integrity of the product being shipped.

Moving shipments of insulin or other refrigerated medication requires strict temperature control throughout the entire process, and the trucks available to 3PLs provide notification in the event of a problem with the cooling capabilities of the truck.

Manufacturing

Timing is everything in manufacturing, and trying to run production without a key part or ingredient can cause the whole floor to come to a grinding halt, costing precious time and money. 

Partnering with a 3PL experienced in quickly and efficiently moving large amounts of products long distances allows manufacturers to maintain the steady flow of raw materials they need to keep production moving. Using a 3PL also is more cost-effective for most manufacturers, as they don’t have to manage fleets of vehicles and drivers in far-flung locations and instead let the 3PL worry about that.

Seasonal Retail

Year-round retail stores need and utilize 3PLs, but the efficiency and cost-savings afforded by a 3PL is essential to seasonal retail stores.

Each fall, Halloween-themed stores pop up in empty storefronts in nearly every city, bringing in mountains of costumes, makeup, and decorations. But all those items need to be stored somewhere in the off-season.

Thanks to the flexibility provided by 3PL warehousing, these seasonal stores can scale their warehousing space up during the off-season and down when they’ve got storefronts open. A 3PL also eliminates the need for a dedicated fleet of vehicles transporting products to all corners of the country.

Construction

Big construction projects require lots of materials, with many often coming from multiple vendor warehouses.

Utilizing a 3PL for transporting wood, fixtures, and flooring to a job site ensures that things arrive on time, together, and as undamaged as possible. This keeps construction projects on track and under budget, making for happier clients.

Restaurants

Getting the fresh ingredients a restaurant needs to create delicious dishes can be a challenge, especially if a specific item is out of season.

A 3PL works with regional suppliers to get the freshest ingredients and transport them as quickly as possible to preserve quality and flavor. For many food suppliers, that level of service wouldn’t be cost-effective without the use of a 3PL.

East Coast Logistics Service

For more than 30 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has offered customizable logistics and warehousing solutions to businesses across the world. Our facility is located near the Port of Baltimore and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, meaning we have easy access to all the goods your business needs. Call today at (800) 822-4747 for a custom quote!

Client Spotlight: Molly Moorkamp

In the ever-changing fashion industry, one thing’s for certain to designer Molly Moorkamp: Some styles are timeless.

The Missouri native launched her line a few years ago, initially taking only custom commissions.

In late 2018, however, she launched her website and opened access to her designs to anyone who wants to order.

Moorkamp and her brand has been profiled in Vogue, and her designs have been worn by the likes of Ariana Rockefeller and Nicky Hilton.

She offers clean, classic lines in both her dresses and separates, with many comparing her pieces to what would have been seen on stars in Hollywood in the 60s.

Customers can order pieces directly from her website or commission a custom piece.

Moorkamp is a Missouri native who now resides in New York City. She graduated from FIT (the Fashion Institute of Technology) and previously worked for both Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta.

She began her brand with her brother, who runs the business development side of things while she handles design and innovation.

Follow Molly Moorkamp on Instagram to see the designer, and her select grouping of models, show off all her great fashions.

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’re pleased to help Molly Moorkamp offer high-quality fashion to her customers by providing a variety of logistics services, including warehousing, trade show prep, picking, packing, and shipping, gift wrapping, returns processing, inventory control, and more!

East Coast Warehousing & Logistics

As a modern business, you need your products to get from the warehouse into your customers’ hands – Fast. For more than 35 years, we at Cannon Hill Logistics have been doing just that. It’s our goal to support your business in whatever way necessary, and we offer custom-built service quotes designed to suit your needs. Call today!

5 Tips for Improving the Customer Experience

Woman Shopping Online from Home

Your customers are important to you.

You work hard every day to do what you can to make them happy, and you’re willing to try new things to see how they respond.

With ever-increasing competition for business, especially online, it’s important that businesses work hard to create a great experience for every customer, every time. For some businesses, this can mean new and expensive bells and whistles.

However, taking it back to basics and focusing on creating a great customer experience will do much more – and be less expensive – than reinventing the wheel.

Here are 5 tips for improving the customer experience to help your business thrive:

Improve Your Website

Modern business is transacted largely online, even if you’ve got a storefront that people visit. 

Customers check your website to find your address, your phone number, your hours, and what products and services you offer.

Even if your customers aren’t buying directly from your website, take some time to evaluate how easy your website is to use and navigate. Can customers quickly find your phone number and customer support email address in case they have questions or concerns? Are your hours of operation up-to-date and located where people can find them?

Once you’ve taken care of these basics, make sure that your website clearly states and shows what type of business you are. Use pictures, individual pages with descriptions, or even videos so customers know as much as possible about your business before they set foot in your doors.

Customers today spend lots of time researching businesses before they buy, so be sure that your customers can get as much information about you as possible, decreasing frustration.

Listen to Feedback & Use It

If you’re never talking to the people who patronize your business, you’ll never truly know if what you’re doing is working.

Actively seek out customer feedback by requesting reviews on social media or other online platforms, or conducting occasional surveys. Don’t just ask for feedback about what you’re doing right; look for feedback about what you can do better and learn from it. Even happy customers, when asked, can come up with something that could be improved.

Have a process for analyzing all customer feedback received, whether its some you’ve actively sought out yourselves or it came in unprompted through phone calls or in-person conversations. 

Look carefully at patterns in this feedback. If you see suggestions or complaints that are similar in nature, that means multiple customers are noticing the problems.

Pay attention to these and work on a plan to correct them. Getting feedback is only worthwhile if you actually do something with the information you receive. 

And your customers will notice the changes and see that you take customer feedback seriously. That can lead to great word of mouth recommendations and repeat business.

Train Your Agents

The people who answer your phones are on the front lines of creating a great customer experience.

If they’re pleasant, helpful, and knowledgeable, your customers will notice that and respond positively, even when they’re experiencing frustrations. If the people who answer your phones are rude and unhelpful, or always have to transfer calls, it’s going to further frustrate already upset customers.

Take some time to properly train anyone who deals with customers, from the cashiers down to the person who might happen to answer the phone on a busy day, in the way you want them to respond.

Begin with properly answering the phones and include information such as how to properly respond to an angry customer, when to transfer to a manager, and just how much authority they have to offer refunds or discounts.

In addition, make sure you have a central repository of information about your products and services that anyone can access. This could be an employee manual or a central digital file; wherever it’s located, you want your employees to be able to quickly find information.

This cuts down on the number of times they have to say “I don’t know” or “I’ll transfer you to someone who can answer that question,” giving the customer the impression that everyone who works for you is well-trained and invested in the success of your business.

Surprise Them

Sometimes, small surprises can go a long way toward customer happiness.

Rather than offering a widespread discount, create a policy to tuck in a free gift or discount code with every few orders. Make sure that whatever they receive in their package clearly states that they’re receiving a special surprise for loyal customers.

This will create positive buzz surrounding your gift, and the customers who receive that will share about it with their friends.

Proactively Respond

Don’t wait for problems to become big before you create a plan to deal with them. Keep your ear to the ground and respond to potential problems before they become big deals.

If, for example, you begin noticing a certain product line being returned for small defects, pull the whole line, inspect individual products, and make any adjustments necessary. Your customers may find it a minor nuisance that a product is unavailable for a while, but it will be less problematic than keeping the line on the shelves and having everyone receive defective products.

The same goes for any other issue you could run into, such as employee complaints, shipping problems, or social media snafus. Get in front of the problem as quickly as you can to decrease the possible damage to your customer reputation.

Experienced Logistics & Shipping on the East Coast

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we work hard to make your business better. From help with processing orders to full-scale warehousing and shipping assistance, our experienced team has what it takes to move your business to the next level. Contact us today to discuss your custom logistics solution! info@cannonhill.net

4 Tips for Improving the Shipper/3PL Relationship

Handshake Closeup

The relationship between shippers and third-party logistics companies is an important one. 

The shipper relies on the 3PL to get its goods to warehouses and into the hands of customers in a timely manner and in great condition, while maintaining favorable profit margins. The 3PL relies on the shipper for a steady stream of reliable business.

Sometimes, miscommunication and misunderstandings can lead to conflicts that erode the relationship between shippers and 3PLs. 

To keep your business running smoothly, here are 4 tips for improving your relationship with your 3PL:

Set Expectations

Starting your relationship with your 3PL off on the right foot is essential to maintaining a solid relationship moving forward. 

One of the biggest problems that can arise between shippers and 3PLs is a misunderstanding of the expectations. Whether that means that something out-of-scope is requested or one side isn’t completely sure what the contract states, these difficulties can be warded off by careful review and understanding of the contract.

When you begin negotiating with a 3PL, be sure to carefully look over the contract you’re given. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand, and look for items that may be missing. 

For example, if you ask for something out-of-scope of the contract and the 3PL agrees, does your contract clearly specify how much you will be charged for that request, or how you will be notified of the charges?

If necessary, have your contract looked over by an attorney familiar with business contracts to ensure all the important items are covered and that you get all your questions answered.

Communicate Effectively

Just as in personal relationships, good communication is key to a successful business relationship.

There may be times when your dealings with your 3PL may be frustrating, such as when a deadline is missed or when a shipment is damaged. However, it will help nothing if you call up your 3PL and let loose with yelling and screaming.

Instead, take some time to calm down and think rationally about the problem before you make a phone call. Where did things go wrong, and what could be done to improve the situation in the future?

If you approach your 3PL in the spirit of looking at ways to make improvements and prevent further issues from happening, your feedback will be better received and your working relationship will remain intact.

Understand the Business

Even though you work closely with 3PLs in your business doesn’t mean you understand their business fully, and vice versa.

Take some time to talk with your 3PL provider about the integral steps and needs in their business, or research 3PLs on your own. Your 3PL provider will be grateful that you’ve taken the initiative to try to understand all the problems that stand in their way.

While getting a product from one side of the country to the other in two days’ time may seem easy to you, issues such as driver shortages, weather conditions, and road work may make the job more challenging for your 3PL.

Knowing and understanding the unique needs your 3PL has and the challenges their business model presents can help you be more compassionate when problems arise.

Provide Feedback

Rather than waiting until an issue arises to contact your 3PL, take some time every so often to provide positive feedback on your experience.

If a shipment arrived ahead of schedule, or you got great feedback from a customer, pass that along to your 3PL provider.

Taking time for these little moments of offering feedback helps ensure that your working relationship with your 3PL is built on a mutual desire to do great work, building a positive foundation for the rest of your contract.

Think about it: You love hearing all the great reviews on your product from your customers, and your 3PL enjoys the same positive feedback!

Customized Warehousing & Shipping on the East Coast

For more than 35 years, the team at Cannon Hill Logistics has provided exceptional, individualized third-party logistics solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses all over the world.

Whether you just want someone to handle your off-site warehousing needs or you need a firm to handle the entire process of getting your items into your customers’ hands, Cannon Hill Logistics has the team and talent necessary to make that happen. 

We pride ourselves on designing customized solutions to meet the unique needs of each of our clients. Call today to get started! 800-822-4747

5 Ways to Make Your Products More Sustainable

How to Increase Product Sustainability

Making sure your products are highly marketable to your customers is one of the important ways you look to continue business growth.

If people are turned off by your packaging – whether that be because it’s oddly designed or too complicated – they’re less likely to pick it up off the shelves and make a purchase.

As many consumers have become more environmentally conscious, worrying about the impact the products they buy are going to have on the planet, the demand for more sustainable products and packaging has increased.

Here are 5 ways you can make your products and packaging more sustainable without having to completely redesign your entire line:

Source Locally

Buying local isn’t just for produce and other food products. Choosing to source your raw materials, packaging, and other product needs as close to your location as possible has many benefits.

Not only will the decrease in shipping costs help your bottom line, transporting goods a shorter distance reduces fuel emissions. The fewer fuel emissions heading into the air, the better overall air quality and the less of an impact your business has on the environment.

Use Recycled Materials

From paper to cardboard to plastic, there are a lot of individual product ingredients and packaging items that can be found in recyclable versions.

Yes, you may spend a little more up front for recycled plastic packaging, but you’re decreasing the amount of plastic that’s sitting in landfills without decomposing.

Whenever possible, look for recycled, reclaimed, or post-industrial versions of the materials you need for your product creation and packaging. The more post-consumer items you use in your business, the lower your carbon footprint.

Choose Fillers

Shipping your products so they arrive in good condition can be challenging. You have to make sure the items fit into the boxes with enough room for some padding, but not so much that you’re wasting a whole lot of space.

And then you’ve got to decide what to use to fill in the extra space so items don’t slide around.

Rather than styrofoam packing peanuts or plastic bags full of air, look for recyclable and sustainable filler options. Whether you choose recycled paper shreds or packing peanuts made from non-toxic substances such as corn starch, there are a wealth of options that can reduce waste from your business.

An added bonus to using recyclable and sustainable packaging material is the eco-friendly options often look more aesthetically pleasing than their less sustainable counterparts, making your products easier to sell.

Minimize Packaging

Does every product you sell need shrink wrap, a bag, or a box? Chances are the answer is “No.”

The fastest and least expensive way to make your packaging more sustainable is to sit and evaluate what packaging you can kick to the curb.

Even removing one piece of packaging from one product line can save you thousands per year!

Redesign Products

If you’re really committed to finding new ways to make your business more sustainable and environmentally friendly, consider redesigning some products to see how much you can save in materials costs.

That packaged gift basket you sell could be redesigned with a smaller basket, or a recycled cardboard box instead of a plastic basket, saving resources and money. Even removing extra stickers or decorative parts or changing out the materials to recycled products can realize big savings.

While redesigning products is the most time-consuming and expensive option, it’s one that’s sure to make a big impact on your finances and the environment.

Experienced Logistics & Warehousing on the East Coast

Getting your products from your manufacturing facility or warehouse into the hands of your customers can be frustrating. You have to navigate different shipping speeds and methods, find the best way to store everything, and promptly process orders.

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’ve been helping small- and medium-sized businesses take their warehousing and logistics to the next level for more than 30 years. From customer service management to prompt picking and packing, our team has everything your business needs to succeed at the next level. Get a quote today!

4 Ways to Cut Costs in Your Warehouse

Cutting Cost in Your Warehouse

Among the largest costs for small businesses that sell and ship physical products to their customers is warehousing. It’s expensive to safely store all those individual items, and pulling them from the shelves when they’re ordered isn’t always as simple as it seems.

If you are like many business owners, you’re always looking for ways to decrease your operating costs and increase overall efficiency to maximize every dollar you have. Looking to your warehouse can help you make some major financial savings without pinching too many pennies.

Here are 4 ways you can cut costs in your warehouse while boosting efficiency:

 

Optimize Storage Space

It’s no secret that a large part of the expense of warehousing your products is the amount of land it takes.

If you’ve got your items in a 50,000 square foot, you’re paying for every inch of that building and land as well as all the other associated warehousing costs.

By optimizing your storage space, you can either shrink your warehousing needs or make expanding your inventory a less frightening prospect thanks to the extra space you’ve created in your existing warehouse.

For instance, aisles are necessary for the safe movement of people and machinery, as well as the quick picking and stocking of items. Determine exactly how wide of a space each of your products needs to move, and whether they require special equipment, such as a forklift, to get from one place to another.

By grouping products together based on aisle width, you’ll be able to maximize the floor space necessary. Rather than having products with small width needs racked with those with wider aisle needs, meaning you need several large aisles, grouping all the small-width products together allows you to shrink the width of the row and create more space on your warehouse floor.

 

Protect Your Inventory

Another major cost for many businesses is inventory loss. Whether it’s from damage, theft, or just getting misplaced in the warehouse, maintaining careful control over your inventory is key to not losing money before you ever make it.

To protect your products while they’re warehoused and awaiting shipment to customers, there are a few things you can consider:

  • Package for protection: Drops, dings, and scratches can – and do – happen in warehouses, even with the most careful crew. If you’ve got fragile products, or plan to ship heavy items along with smaller items, add additional protection to your products before they ever make it to the warehouse. Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and strong boxes are a must to prevent damage during storage.
  • Lock doors: Warehouses are high targets for theft, both from inside and outside because of the high dollar value of the products they store. To prevent easy access to the products stored in your warehouse, keep all entry points locked and guarded, and add extra access control measures such as key cards so you know who’s coming and going.
  • Add security: Deterring theft with security measures is one of the most powerful ways to prevent this type of loss in your warehouse. If you can swing the staffing costs, consider having a posted guard during business hours to keep an eye on things. Otherwise, install a security system with designated access points and security cameras so you can see what’s going on inside the warehouse at all times.

 

Decrease Energy Costs

Warehouses are also expensive to keep temperature-controlled and lit, especially during the darker months of the year. By implementing some energy-saving measures, you can dramatically reduce the cost of your warehouse while still maintaining quality of service.

If you store your items in an older warehouse with outdated lighting fixtures, consider replacing at least some of those fixtures with more energy-efficient, modern fixtures. While this is an up-front cost, the savings over time are large enough that the initial expense pays for itself.

Making sure your employees are doing everything they can to decrease energy usage is also important.

Turning off lights and heating or cooling systems while your building is unoccupied can save you hundreds in energy costs. Also, tell all staff members to turn off machinery that’s not in use and, if feasible, unplug equipment that doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time.

Another thing to consider to help trim your heating and cooling bills is to be flexible with your operational hours.

In the summer, conducting the bulk of your business in the earlier, cooler hours of the day will help reduce the need for air conditioning, as will moving your business hours toward the middle of the day during the summer.

>>See our complete guide to trimming energy costs in your warehouse!>>

 

Use Equipment Wisely

Your warehouse simply can’t operate without using some sort of equipment. But you can trim the costs of using this equipment without compromising your service.

When possible, look for ways that you can use one piece of equipment for more than one job. By cutting down to just one piece of equipment, you’re cutting your costs of ownership, maintenance, and use, saving you money automatically.

Also, maintain your equipment as much as possible.

By putting in a little money every so often to give your forklifts a tune-up or clean and paint your machinery, you’re saving money and time in the long run. Equipment that isn’t properly maintained wears down over time, causing work stoppages, expensive repairs, and possibly even full replacement.

 

Quality Warehousing Service on the East Coast

Trim your warehousing costs even farther by entrusting the job to Cannon Hill Logistics. Only pay for the space you actually need, and pay nothing for shared space such as loading docks and warehouse travel aisles. Equipment costs are on us. We’ve got more than 30 years in the logistics and warehousing business, and we know how to store your merchandise efficiently to stretch your warehousing  dollars.

Get individualized plans to suit your business needs at a price you can afford. Whether you need some overflow warehousing help or want someone to handle everything – soup to nuts – our experienced team can give you the service you deserve to help your business grow.

Contact us today for a customized quote!

3 Ways to Improve Your Product Distribution Channels

Product Distribution Warehouse

Getting your products into the hands of your customers as quickly and inexpensively as possible is the key to your business success.

No matter how great or unique your product, if it can’t reliably get to your customers with little trouble on their end, you won’t have repeat business. As a business owner, you’re constantly figuring out the best, most efficient ways to move items from manufacturing to consumer without spending a ton of money.

To more effectively get products to the people who have paid for them, you must evaluate your product distribution channels. This term refers to the way that products move from manufacturer to distributors and on to customers, and it’s the backbone of your business operation.

Here are 3 ways to make your product distribution channels more efficient and less expensive:

 

Consider Strategic Warehousing

Part of the key to getting products into your customers’ hands as quickly as you can lies in the proximity of your warehouses to your customers.

If your customers are across the country from your warehouses, it’s going to take longer for those products to be delivered. However, a warehouse located in the same region as your customer base improves response and shipping time, making for happier customers.

Take a careful look at where your customers live. If they’re all located in one general area of the country or world, explore warehousing options in that area if it’s feasible.

For larger, more widespread customer bases (as most businesses have), regional warehouses may be the answer. Think of Amazon, which has distribution centers spread all across the map, improving their efficiency in getting products to consumers.

This more regional approach to warehousing may end up saving you money, too, as it may cost less to store and distribute half the amount of products from two different locations as it does to store your full inventory in one warehouse.

 

Identify the Proper Channels

Just because you’ve been operating your business with one model of distribution for a while doesn’t mean it’s the most effective way to do things now.

Take some time to evaluate your distribution model.

If you distribute directly to customers, is it the most effective, efficient, and inexpensive way to work things, or would you be better off finding a retailer to handle this task for you? For businesses that use retailers, would you be better served shipping items directly from your warehouse to the consumers?

Even if your research determines that the way you’re currently operating is the most efficient way, at least you know that you’re doing what’s best for your business and you aren’t just trusting the current method because “It’s the way we’ve always done things.”

 

Constant Monitoring & Measuring

What does improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness look like for your business? Is it getting items to customers one day faster? Or is it saving 5% on shipping costs from what you’re now spending?

Whatever you determine to be increased success in your business, define it and put a number to the improvement. Don’t just say, “We want to get our products to customers faster” without defining how much faster they should get there.

Once you’ve got these metrics in place, track whatever you need to track – total time from order to delivery, cost per package of shipping, etc. – and compare the data.

If your processes aren’t improving, look at the data to find out why.

Are you using a shipping company that’s more expensive than one that may do the same job but not be as well-known? Could you spend a little more for shipping to guarantee that packages make it to the consumers more quickly?

Use the data you’ve collected and figure out where you can refine your product distribution channels. This may mean making some hard decisions, such as trading off a little more profit overall to pay for faster shipping, but improved customer satisfaction will lead to more business, and the extra expense likely will even out in the end.

 

Customizable Logistics on the East Coast

Why trust some fly-by-night logistics company to get your products to your customers on time and within budget? For more than 30 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has worked with businesses of all sizes to design individualized logistics and shipping solutions to meet their individual needs.

Whether you just need someone to store your overflow stock or you want help with the entirety of the customer ordering process, we’ve got the knowledge and staffing necessary to help your business succeed. Contact us today to see how Cannon Hill Logistics can partner with you to fuel continued business growth!

Last-Mile Delivery: What Is It, & How Does It Impact Your Business?

Last-Mile Delivery: What Is It, & How Does It Impact Your Business?

Have you ever ordered an item and, when checking up on tracking, noticed it’s been listed as “Out for Delivery” for what seems like forever?

Without even realizing it, you’ve been part of the struggles that many businesses face when it comes to “last-mile delivery.”

What Is Last-Mile Delivery?

Last-mile delivery is the term for getting a product from the final storage warehouse or retailer into the hands of the customer, or the “last mile.” While this step in the delivery process often is far longer than just a mile, it’s one of the most complicated and important steps in the product distribution and logistics process.

Why Is Last-Mile Delivery So Important?

With the rise of Amazon Prime, speedy shipping from the retailer or warehouse to the customer’s doorstep has gone from being a nice-to-have detail to a necessity. Unless you provide an essential, exceptionally rare, or otherwise unique product, if customers aren’t able to receive your products within a few days’ time, they may go elsewhere.

What Are Some Challenges Businesses Face with Last-Mile Delivery?

Because last-mile delivery often involves at least one third-party vendor, as well as a variety of potential snags, businesses face all sorts of challenges when it comes to improving their last-mile delivery. Some of these challenges include:

  • Cost: Unless you are moving large quantities of product through your warehouse, paying for quick last-mile delivery can get expensive, especially in more rural areas. This cost must either be absorbed by your business or passed on to the customer, and each of those options poses its own monetary risks. According to Business Insider, last-mile delivery costs make up 53% of the total cost of product delivery.
  • Logistics: If you house your products in multiple warehouses, or if your customers are ordering from very different areas of the world, being able to guarantee the same delivery time frame to everyone can seem impossible.
  • Reliability: Entrusting this crucial point in your delivery chain to a third-party vendor whose prices may be low but whose efficiency and effectiveness are untested is risky.
  • Competition: If a competitor selling similar products can ship to customers faster and cheaper, it could cause you to lose sales.

What’s ahead for Last-Mile Delivery?

Thanks to the rise in competition, as well as improvements in technology, last-mile delivery is becoming quicker, more reliable, and less expensive than ever before.

Big shipping companies such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and even USPS are continually looking for ways to make last-mile delivery more efficient and cheaper for customers. In addition, the rise of crowdsourced delivery options – models similar to Uber, Airbnb, and Postmates – means there’s more competition to spur on innovation among the big guys. Depending on where you’re shipping from and shipping to, you may be able to find a small, independent shipping startup that can get packages to your customers in less time and for less money.

Experienced Logistics Company on the East Coast

While we don’t directly handle your last-mile shipping, the skilled team at Cannon Hill Logistics works hard to make sure your products are ready to be shipped to your customers as soon as your shipping vendor of choice arrives. From full-scale warehousing and product distribution solutions down to customer service management and kitting services, Cannon Hill Logistics has what your business needs to succeed.

We’re not a one-size-fits-all logistics company. We design customized solutions for every client based on budget and needs. Contact us today to see how Cannon Hill Logistics can help your business dreams come true!

What Is Supply Chain Management?

Supply Chain Management

Every step of your product’s journey is carefully coordinated and managed.

You know where your raw materials come from and how they get to you. Once you have a finished product, everything heads over to your warehouse to await a customer order. And, once an order’s been placed, you know how that product gets from your warehouse into the hands of your customer.

Did you know that every step along that journey is part of supply chain management?

What Is Supply Chain Management?

Simply put, supply chain management (or SCM) is the flow of goods and services that go into turning raw materials into a product, and then getting that product to the consumer.

But SCM is more than just knowing how goods get from one place to another; it’s also about streamlining and optimizing every step of the chain so goods get where they need to be faster and cheaper.

What Steps Are Included in Supply Chain Management?

Nearly everything you need to coordinate and do in your business is part of supply chain management.

Some crucial steps and players in SCM include:

  • Raw materials sourcing
  • Raw materials shipping
  • Manufacturing
  • Product development
  • Shipping to warehouse
  • Warehousing
  • Procurement
  • Information technology
  • Marketing
  • Customer ordering
  • Order processing
  • Picking & packing
  • Shipping to the customer

Each segment of the supply chain is integral to a well-running holistic supply chain and, interruption on any level can throw the whole operation out of whack. In many cases, coordinating the different parts of a supply chain requires third-party vendors (logistics and warehousing vendors, raw materials suppliers, consumer shipping companies), making close coordination essential.

How Can a Better Understanding of Supply Chain Management Benefit My Business?

Knowing what is moving where, and how much any waste is costing your business, is important to sustained business growth.

Think of it this way: While your supply chain may work now, how much more profitable and efficient could your business be if you could cut down the amount of time a product takes in transition or the amount of money any one step in the process costs you?

By taking the time to fully understand how long each step in the supply chain is taking, and how much each step is costing you, you can get a much better understanding of where you can trim the fat.

If products get from your warehouse to your customers a little faster, that improves their positive experience, increasing your word-of-mouth recommendations. If you can find a vendor that will move your products from your manufacturing facility to your warehouse for a little less per load, you’re decreasing overhead.

Every improvement you can make to your supply chain through supply chain management is going to benefit your business.

While it may seem like a hassle to sit down and analyze every single step of the process, not keeping track of the essential operations of your business is going to cause problems eventually.

Taking some time today to look at all the pieces of your business’s complex, ever-moving puzzle will pay dividends tomorrow.

Experienced Logistics & Warehousing on the East Coast

One portion of SCM that often causes headaches for business owners is their logistics and warehousing vendors. They’re either stuck in lengthy, expensive contracts that aren’t flexible for the needs of business, or they’re drawn in by underpriced services that lead to damaged products and missed deadlines.

Don’t trust your warehousing and logistics to just anyone.

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’ve helped multiple businesses succeed since our founding in 1984. We offer flexible, affordable solutions to help your business where it’s at today, and where you want it to go in the future.Call today to design your plan for success!