5 Ways Strong Vendor Relationships Boost Business Innovation

One of the secrets to the long-term success of any business is a company’s ability to innovate and change as conditions evolve.

And while some innovation is expected to come directly from you as a business owner and your team, all innovation doesn’t and shouldn’t happen internally. Instead, you should be able to lean on those trusted partners with whom you’ve built a strong relationship to help you look for new ways to do business.

Here are 5 key ways having a strong relationship with your vendors can boost innovation:

They Extend Your Reach

Think of your vendor relationships like a business version of the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. You can’t possibly know everyone, but by building strong relationships with your vendors, you may be able to open yourself up to taking advantage of their other business connections.

Say you work with a trusted provider of shipping materials, but don’t currently have a vendor that can handle refrigerated shipping when you decide to change up your product offerings.

Rather than you having to go out and vet a bunch of refrigerated shipping providers on your own, your shipping material supplier may have a recommendation of someone with whom they work, and can make the introduction for you. This makes the task of finding a refrigerated shipping provider much less daunting for you.

They Can Help You in a Pinch

Emergencies arise, no matter how carefully you plan. But that doesn’t mean you’re entirely on your own to figure things out when they do.

If you find yourself in a situation where a supplier drops out or a critical piece of your production line fails, having a strong relationship with your vendors can help you get that problem solved quickly and more affordably. The more carefully you work to build strong relationships, the easier it will be to find someone to help you out when you really need it.

But don’t forget that relationships go both ways; it’s always a good idea to help your vendors out if they’re in a pinch, as long as you’re able to do so.

They Can Improve Their Existing Offerings for You

Just because you’re purchasing a specific product or service from one of your vendors doesn’t mean it can’t change if that offering doesn’t meet your needs.

If you’ve got a strong relationship with your vendors and they trust the feedback you provide, you could effect change to the products and services they offer to tailor them more to your specific requests. This, in turn, improves how you’re able to do business and can continue to drive innovation and growth within your business.

Relationships Can Remain Regardless of Business Success

People don’t often stay at a single company for their entire working career, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain that relationship past their employment with your vendor.

If you build a strong relationship with someone at one of your vendors and they leave for another opportunity, continue that relationship via email or social media if possible. In the future, if the person runs into an opportunity or service they think you might be interested in, they may reach out and that could pay off big for your business.

Your 3PL Partner on the East Coast

If you’re looking for a third-party logistics partner to handle some or all of your warehousing and logistics needs, Cannon Hill Logistics can help. We have more than 35 years of experience working with businesses of all shapes and sizes, and we create custom solutions to help you reach your goals. Call today for a quote!

3 Tips for Finding Warehousing Space When Demand Is High

E-commerce has boomed in the last decade, with 2020 seeing a staggering 32.4% increase year over year in sales.

Because of this growth, there’s an all-time high demand for the warehousing space necessary to store all the products awaiting online purchases. Pair that demand with sometimes sky-high pricing for warehouse space and many retailers are seeing the squeeze of needing more space but either not being able to find any or not being able to afford the space they do find.

If you’re one of the many online retailers searching for warehousing space right now, here are 3 tips to help you find the space you need even when demand is high:

Understand Your Pain Points

If you’re searching for new warehousing space, that means you’ve got at least one point of struggle with your current setup. However, your struggles don’t always simply boil down to “I need more space.”

Instead, think of all the issues you face with your business.

Are you losing business because you can’t seem to get products into your customers’ hands quickly enough? Do you not really have a handle on how much inventory you really have? Are you truly just outgrowing your current space?

If you aren’t able to really identify the pain points of your operation as a whole – not just your warehousing – you may just be slapping a bandage on your problem instead of treating the actual source of your struggle. Take the time to carefully consider your business as a whole when thinking about your need for new warehouse space and you may be surprised to find that a different solution presents itself.

Consider Flexible Warehouse Options

With demand for warehousing space increasing, it will become more and more difficult to find space that you can dedicate to just your business. As a result, it may be necessary to consider alternative, flexible solutions.

For example, utilizing a shared-space model where your business’ products are stored in the same warehouse as another business’ products may be necessary. This spreads out the costs for everyone and opens up more possibilities for properties.

When flexibility becomes a consideration, many small businesses turn to partnering with a 3PL. 

A 3PL allows your business to access a wide array of warehousing space, and that space can scale up or down depending on your individual needs. This means, if you have a busy season where you’re moving a lot of product, your 3PL can open up more warehousing space for your products, and you aren’t stuck paying for unused space during a slowdown.

Your 3PL Partner on the East Coast

If you’re looking for a flexible, responsive solution to growing your business, Cannon Hill Logistics can help. We offer a variety of services small businesses need to take things to the next level, and you choose what you want us to handle. Let us design a custom logistics solution for you – Call today for a quote!

Is My Business Too Small to Use a 3PL?

Many business owners are aware that, as their company grows, outsourcing their shipping and fulfillment operations can be a beneficial strategy. 

A third party logistics company can provide services in all areas of the supply chain, such as:

  • Transportation and distribution
  • Warehousing
  • Inventory management
  • Customs brokerage
  • Freight audit
  • Shipment tracking
  • Custom packaging
  • Customer service management

Outsourcing these services can help small business owners focus their time and energy on more important aspects of the company. Yet, some owners might be hesitant to make this commitment because they worry their business is too small to use a 3PL.

How Small Is Too Small for Outsourcing?

Unless your business is only just getting off the ground, there are few reasons a business can be too small to benefit from a 3PL provider. Even if the business is a little tight on cash, 3PL services typically work on a pick-and-choose basis, so you can find a fulfillment plan that fits your budget.

Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re spending the majority of your time working on (and stressing about) logistical operations. 

Or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by the growing overhead costs taking chunks out of your profit. The price of staff, storage, and information systems required of an in-house fulfilment system is more than most small businesses can afford.

Maybe you’re struggling to manage customer service, and late delivery times are lowering customer satisfaction.

A 3PL company can help solve all these problems by taking on some of the business’s responsibilities. They provide multi-faceted support that allows you to better allocate your time and money to your real goals: Creating great products and growing sales. 

Though there are costs involved, 3PL providers often save you money in the long run.

So if you noticed your business has been growing too big for its in-house logistic operations, that’s a good thing! Chances are you are ready to switch to a 3PL provider and continue the success you’ve achieved so far. 

Trusted East Coast 3PL Company

Here at Cannon Hill Logistics, we have more than 30 years of experience helping small businesses reach the East Coast. Conveniently located near the Port of Baltimore and BWI Airport and backed by friendly, personalized service, we’re ready to help you with all your logistic needs. Call now!

How to Manage Reverse Logistics in an Era of Returns

A distribution network is simple enough when it goes in one direction: The manufacturer makes the product, the retailer sells the product, and the customer receives the product. Yay, everyone is happy! Right?

Well, not always. Sometimes, the customer is unhappy, and then you have a much bigger challenge on your hands.

Reverse logistics is the process of receiving returned products from the customer. It has become a major problem businesses have to deal with in what economists are calling “The Era of Returns.”

Indeed, these days customer demand leans toward a free and simple return process that many businesses are simply not equipped to handle. That being said, when the reverse logistics process is optimized, there are many benefits you can expect. This includes increased sales and customer loyalty, all while minimizing cost of operations. 

Here are a few tips on how you can better manage reverse logistics:

Rely on Modern Delivery Technology

The best part about working in logistics today is that we have advanced technology to make our lives a lot easier. 

If you haven’t already, make sure you are utilizing an advanced delivery software program. This kind of technology can provide increased visibility on the delivery and return process. It will let you know when a product is received, when it is returned, where it is during transit, and when it can be expected to return to the hub.

It can also help you optimize a delivery route which minimizes unreceived packages and the time trucks spend on the road. This is not only good for business, but good for the environment as well. Win-win!

Balance Costs

Like any other aspect of a business, reverse logistics is all about balancing costs.

Many consumers expect free returns like the major retailers provide. But for some businesses, this simply isn’t possible. 

Taking on the cost of returns can put pressure on your bottom line, especially on a product which is already costing you money.

To save money on the return process, automate any part of the process that does not require manual labor. This could include scanning returned products and designating them to the correct location of the warehouse. 

If a few small changes can make free returns an option for your business, you should definitely  go for it.

Prioritize Communication with the Customer

If free returns are not an option for your small business, there are other ways you can cater toward customer satisfaction. 

You should aim to prioritize communication with customers at all points during the sale and return process. This includes having an understandable and accessible return process, and a survey which asks them why products are being returned. 

You can also empower the customer by using technologies which give them power to control their return pick up. Convenience is the key.

Customers appreciate transparency, especially on the topic of how they will receive their money back. Being open and communicative with the customer is not only good business, but it will also help facilitate your reverse logistics. 

Learn From Returns

In reverse logistics, it is not enough to simply receive the returned packages. You should also learn from your returns, and take this data into consideration moving forward. 

This is why collecting information from customers is so important. If the product was simply not their size or style, it can easily be resold to someone else. 

However, if the product was broken or not what they expected, there may need to be some changes made on your end. For example, consider adding more pictures or a better description to your website in order to give customers a better idea of what they are buying. 

Broken or dysfunctional products can either be repaired and resold, or sent back to the manufacturer to be recycled back into parts. Products that break easily or are generally not satisfactory to customers should not be restocked.

Your Trusted East Coast 3PL Provider  

Are you struggling to keep up with the shipping and returns for your growing business? Cannon Hill Logistics can help! We are a trusted third party logistics provider with access to nearly half the US population with our economical ground shipping. Allow us to deal with storage, distribution, and reverse logistics, so you can focus on running your business. Call now to learn more!