How Integrated Shipping & Fulfillment Services Can Help Your Business

Integrated Shipping & Fulfillment

As a small business, you want to make sure your products get into the hands of your customers as quickly and inexpensively as possible. To save on costs, that often means many business owners manage their own order fulfillment and shipping.

However, as your business grows, this task can become overwhelming and expensive. To help combat this, many small business owners consider outsourcing these tasks to a third-party logistics company.

If you’re on the fence about whether to outsource your shipping and fulfillment services to a 3PL, here are some reasons to consider making the switch:

 

Ecommerce Integration

If you use an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, most 3PLs will already be set up to manage the transition. This takes a weight off your shoulders, as you know that your inventory management can easily be handled with little to no disruption to your customers.

Rather than having to completely reinvent the wheel to find a fulfillment solution that works for your needs, the 3PL can adapt to make your business’s transition as seamless as possible.

 

Order Processing

Gone are the days of having to manually send orders to a 3PL, then wait for them to ship the products.

Thanks to modern order fulfillment software and integrations with your business’s ecommerce platform, your 3PL can begin processing, picking, packing, and shipping products as soon as a customer places an order. You don’t even have to think about this transaction taking place!

This gets products into the hands of your customers more quickly, making them happier and more likely to give you their repeat business.

 

Customer Support

Managing customer support requests – returns, exchanges, and customer questions – can be a full-time job, especially if you’re hosting a sale.

Your 3PL can pick up any slack you may have within your own staff, getting back to those customers more quickly than if you were managing customer support on your own. This creates happier customers and less stress to you as the business owner.

 

Returns Management

Shipping products out the first time is difficult enough, but dealing with returns and exchanges adds a whole new level of complication and stress to your inventory management.

Working with a 3PL means that they can handle the whole returns process for you, including processing and shipping exchanges, adding items back into the inventory, and cross-checking to ensure that items are labeled and shelved properly. 

Proper returns management helps you process any returns as quickly and inexpensively as possible, while creating a plan moving forward to help decrease the likelihood of further returns.

 

Flexible Delivery Options

Your customers want options when it comes to receiving their products. 

Those looking to save money may be perfectly fine with waiting a little while for their products to reach their doors. But for those who want their products as soon as possible, they may be willing to pay more for the shipping speed.

When you work with a 3PL, you get the ability to offer these, and more, flexible shipping options to your customers. This keeps them happy and coming back to purchase more items, giving you repeat, sustainable business without any logistical juggling on your end.

 

Repackaging Options

Do you need to offer a promotional kit to get the word out about your business? Or are you looking to change up the way your items are packaged so you can offer a new promotion?

A 3PL can help you with the physical side of repackaging, giving you the ability to create new, repackaged products quickly and easily without pulling hours of overtime.

East Coast Fulfillment Center

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’ve made it our mission to support businesses just like yours. Maybe you’re struggling to get all your orders processed and shipped on time, or you’re looking to grow but don’t know how to find the right people to support your expansion. Our team of experienced third-party logistics specialists can help you reach your business goals without all the normal growing pains. Call today for a quote!

Cannon Hill Logistics Donates Over 5,000 Juice Boxes to Food Drive

Last month, Cannon Hill Logistics supported local charity Blessings in a Backpack with a donation of more than 5,000 juice boxes to be distributed to local children in need.

Blessings in a Backpack Frederick is the local arm of a national organization that provides food packages for children to eat on weekends and during school breaks. Without these food packs, some of the children who receive them may not have anything to eat when they’re not in school.

The Frederick chapter serves more than 3,000 children in more than 20 of Frederick’s schools, offering packages of shelf-stable food each weekend and during longer school breaks. 

A traditional weekend package includes breakfast, a lunch entree, dessert, and a snack for each of the two weekend days. Foods typically included in these packages include oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, granola bars, rice, cold cereal, fruit cups, and pudding.

“With this amount, we will be able to add the juice boxes to at least one full pack,” said Karen Fishburn, Blessings in a Backpack food donation coordinator, said in an email to Cannon Hill. “What a tremendous donation! Thank you so much for your generosity.”

Blessings in a Backpack is an all-volunteer network that solicits donations of money and food to provide food for needy children. It costs approximately $100 to feed a child for 38 weekends, and all individual food donations – such as Cannon Hill’s donation of juice boxes – offset the purchase of food for the program’s recipients.

Cannon Hill is so thankful to have been able to help this worthwhile program, and we look forward to working with Blessings in a Backpack in the future!

4 Ways a 3PL Can Support Your Business’s Seasonal Sales Cycle

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All businesses have busy seasons, but some are more dramatic than others.

Whether your big sales season is the back-to-school season, right before summer hits, or the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the struggle of balancing all the individual tasks necessary can be overwhelming.

To help get through the busy season, many retailers turn to third-party logistics companies for extra support. 

If you’ve always thought you might want to use a 3PL to help through your busy season but are wary of the cost, here are four reasons you should give it a try:

Saves You Time

Getting ready for a big sale is time-consuming. If you’re already working with limited staff and resources, it can feel as if you’re quickly sinking beneath the to-do list and something’s always slipping between the cracks.

By hiring a 3PL to manage some of the important aspects of your business during the busy season, such as warehousing, picking and packing, and shipping, you free up your time to focus on other important things. That means more time for you to work on marketing campaigns, getting your website or storefront ready for the sale, and ensuring that you have sufficient stock of popular items.

No Seasonal Hiring

When you’re preparing for a busy season, you often have to ramp up hiring to accommodate the longer hours, higher volume of customer service calls, and increased processing of sales. This process can take up a great deal of time and money, and may even lead to frustration when you hire unreliable seasonal workers.

Rather than struggling with seasonal hiring and employee management, a 3PL can help you get the level of service your customers require without putting any burden on you. Your 3PL handles all the hiring of workers to accommodate your increased staffing needs. 

Flexible Response

Sometimes, a sale goes much better than you anticipated, and you and your team struggle to keep up. You have to work long, hard hours to ship all the products to customers, and the phone is always ringing off the hook. Or, on the opposite end, you anticipate a very high volume of sales and hire extra workers. But the demand doesn’t quite meet the staffing level you’ve set up, so you’ve got several extra people standing around doing nothing.

A 3PL, on the other hand, is able to maintain a flexible response to your business needs. Is your demand for products and customer service suddenly sky-high? They give you the help you need to fulfill all the orders and phone calls without you having to find new employees with quick turnaround. And, when your business slows down at the end of the season, the 3PL simply decreases the amount of services you receive without you having to fire anyone.

Saves Money

Ensuring that every piece of your order processing and fulfillment is efficient and gets products from your warehouse into your customers’ hands isn’t cheap. You need to find the right packing methods and materials, choose the fastest method of shipping, and respond to customer issues and complaints, plus hiring enough people to staff every department of your business.

When you hire a 3PL, all those pieces of your business are taken care of for you. You pay the 3PL one rate and get the benefit of their trial and error, relationships with shippers, and flexible staffing. When you add up all the individual pieces, hiring a 3PL is likely going to be less expensive than doing everything on your own.

Flexible Logistics Solutions on the East Coast

At Cannon Hill Logistics, we’ve made it our goal to help you grow your business and take things to the next level. Whether you need year-round support or just some help during your busiest season, we offer customizable solutions to meet your individual needs. Call today to get your individualized quote!

5 Trends Driving Growth for 3PLs in 2020 & Beyond

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Demand for third-party logistics companies has been growing as the consumer market expands globally, and there are no signs of that trend stopping anytime soon.

As we close out 2019 and approach 2020, here are 5 trends that are driving the growth of 3PLs:

Uncertainty over Government Funding

The year 2019 dawned with the United States in the grips of the longest government shutdown in history. This left many shippers scrambling to find reliable, compliant logistics if they worked with government entities.

As the lengthy shutdown showed, shippers always need another option for getting their goods from one place to another. Many who didn’t have a backup before now have backups, or have entirely switched to non-government logistics companies, increasing the demand on those private 3PLs.

Increased Globalization

Over the last several decades, businesses have increasingly become more globalized.

What was once a business limited by the bounds of its geographic area for sales has had the opportunity, as shipping and commerce have become more affordable, to grow into an international company.

As more business has moved online, the opportunities for globalization have only increased, making small retailers more reliant on 3PLs that have that capacity and capability to quickly move goods from one side of the ocean to another.

Need for Increased Transparency

More and more often, consumers are questioning the ethics and practices of the businesses with whom they spend their money. This has meant there’s an increased need for transparency in business operations, including how goods get from one place to another.

For many small businesses, putting the software in place to gather this level of transparent data is cost-prohibitive. However, a 3PL is able to scale their practices and software to meet the needs of individual clients.

They’ve already purchased the software necessary to gather the important data consumers want, and your business gets to use that software for a much lower price. You give your customers what they want to see without breaking your budget.

Demand for Sustainability

Along with ethical data use and collection, many consumers want to know that the companies they’re doing business with are good stewards of their resources. From recycling materials to optimizing delivery routes, companies that don’t make at least an effort to be sustainable will be left in the dust.

Because of their economies of scale, committing to sustainable practices is much easier for a 3PL than for an individual company. If a 3PL can combine the shipping routes of two or more customers, they’re saving energy and money, keeping them in eco-conscious customers’ good graces.

Changing Delivery Methods

Gone are the days where “delivering” a good was just taking a truckload of products to a store where customers came and shopped. 

Now, customers want to have multiple options in how they receive delivery. Whether they choose fast, next-day delivery, slower freight options, or even buying online and picking up in-store, each of these methods provides its own unique set of challenges.

Because 3PLs have access to a larger talent pool, they can more capably and affordably respond to these new customer requests than can a small business trying to do it all on their own.

Skilled Logistics Planning & Management on the East Coast

For more than 30 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has helped businesses across the globe reach new heights. Whether you need someone to help get your products from Point A to Point B or you want to hand off all your logistics and warehousing needs, we’ve got custom solutions to help you achieve your business goals. Get your customized quote today!

Importing Goods to the U.S.? Four Things You Need to Know

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For anyone looking to import their products to the United States, understanding the customs and import process is essential to smooth, hassle-free movement of goods.

However, this process is full of boxes that must be checked and regulations that must be followed.

If you’re new to the U.S. customs and import process, here are four things you need to know:

Know Your Timelines

There are very specific deadlines for when paperwork must be filed and agencies such as the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) must be notified.

Prior to your goods arriving on U.S. soil, you must notify the CBP Port of Entry that you plan to import goods. There are ports of entry for goods arriving by land, by sea, and by air, so it’s important that you know where your goods will be arriving and which Port of Entry will handle arrival.

Once your goods have arrived at the Port of Entry, you must declare how your goods are to be imported – for consumption, for warehousing, or transported to another Port of Entry. This needs to be done as quickly after arrival as possible, as your goods cannot be released from the Port of Entry until after this is done.

You have up to 15 days to file a Cargo Release for the goods, which releases them from CBP custody and gets them moving to their final destination within the United States. 

While you have up to 15 days to file this Cargo Release, additional fees begin to accrue after two to five days after arrival.

Within 10 days of the goods’ release from CBP custody, the importer must do two things: file an entry summary and pay any related estimated duties. The entry summary tells CBP the classification, origin, and estimated value of the imported goods.

The estimated duties paid at this time may be different than the final duties owed, which are determined based on liquidation. Liquidation is calculated using current duty rates and the value of the imported goods.

If the amount of estimated duties paid is higher than the actual amount owed, the importer is issued a refund. If the amount of estimated duties is lower than the actual amount, then the importer pays the difference upon liquidation.

Get the Right Documents

A number of documents are required to legally import goods. These all must be present for your shipment to fully comply with import regulations.

When importing goods to the United States, you must have:

  • Entry Manifest or Entry/Immediate Delivery forms
  • Commercial invoice from the seller that shows the value and description of the goods
  • Packing lists, if appropriate, or other documentation that may be necessary to determine the admissibility of the merchandise
  • Evidence of the right to make entry
  • Evidence of a Customs Bond, either single-use or continuous
  • Entry Summary
  • Payment of estimated duties, taxes, or other charges

Know Your Declarations

When goods are imported, they must be declared for entry for one of three reasons: consumption, warehousing, or transportation to another Port of Entry.

Declaration for Consumption

This type of declaration is used when goods are going directly into circulation, either for commercial, business, or personal use. Approximately 95% of goods imported to the U.S. are declared for consumption.

Declaration for Warehousing

Some importers want to import their goods but postpone their release. In these cases, the goods are transferred to a CBP bonded warehouse, where they can be stored for up to five years. Duties on warehoused goods are not payable until their release.

Declaration for Transportation

In some cases, importers want to enter their goods at a different Port of Entry than the one where they arrive. When this happens, the goods must be transported to that Port of Entry in a bonded status by a carrier that accepts the goods under its bond.

Do You Need a Customs Broker?

Many importers, especially those who are importing goods to the United States for the first time or who find the importing process complicated, choose to hire a customs broker to help them navigate the process.

However, individual importers can import their goods without the help of a customs broker.

Customs brokers are licensed by CBP, but they are not CBP employees, and they help importers complete, collect, and file all the necessary documentation, as well as helping them navigate the regulations that govern the import process.

If you choose to hire a customs broker, you authorize the broker to act on your behalf. That means, if the customs broker doesn’t complete part of the process, commits fraud, or otherwise does not properly import your goods, you can be held liable. However, this is not an issue if the right broker is chosen.

Experienced East Coast Warehousing & Logistics

For more than 30 years, Cannon Hill Logistics has helped businesses all across the world grow to the next level. We believe that a good customs broker can be very helpful, if not essential, to a smooth importing experience. Our warehousing and logistics team can provide referrals to freight forwarders and customs brokers, no matter where in the world you are located. Once released, we can provide full warehousing and fulfillment services to bring your goods to the marketplace. Call us on 800-822-4747, or email info@cannonhill.net to obtain your custom solution today!

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

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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