Category : Packaging Design

3 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Fulfillment for Your Subscription Box

Running a subscription box company comes with a lot of important decisions.

conveyor belt with cartons  for use in presentations, manuals, design, etc.

Figuring out your market and how to grow it are two obvious ones.

Another decision that is every bit as important, but less black and white, is knowing when you should consider outsourcing order fulfillment. As subscription box businesses grow fulfillment and shipping are areas with a direct impact on customer experience and operating margins – yet there are no hard rules on when outsourcing makes sense. The good (or bad) news is there will be signs. You just need to know what to look for.

Poor Inventory Planning:

The cost of the goods in your box are likely your biggest expense. This means you need to be very adept with your sourcing strategy, including inventory planning.

A professional warehouse will help you be better at tracking inventory, including inbound receiving, inspection, and counts. They’ll help ensure you have the products in-house each month so your box ships on time.

Shipping Late:

Of course, poor inventory management is not the only reason boxes may ship late. The order fulfillment process takes a lot of time. This is what fulfillment companies like Kable are experts at – being efficient with pick and pack.

They can provide a scalable source of skilled labor to accommodate any volume of shipments, and do so with accuracy and speed. At a point, packing boxes isn’t scalable for most subscription box companies to keep up with on their own. Outsourcing helps keep orders shipping on time and at the lowest fulfillment cost possible.

High Shipping Costs:

Shipping costs are largely a function of volume – so the more shipping volume you have the better shipping rates you will get from carriers. Growing subscription box companies can usually benefit from the rates offered by a larger fulfillment warehouse.

In many cases, the shipping savings will offset much or all of the costs they are paying for fulfillment services. This makes the decision an easy one.

Growth is a great thing for a subscription box company. But, it also forces the company to make a lot of tough decisions – like when and how to outsource their order fulfillment. If any of these 3 problems seems familiar the time may be right for you.

5 Quick Tips for How Subscription Box Companies Can Save on Packaging

It’s not surprising to say that packing materials are necessary to keep items from getting damaged when shipping – but they need to look good to. Unfortunately, they can quickly become a big expense for a subscription box company. Here are five ways that you can cut down the cost of packing materials without risking damage or the quality of your customer’s “un-boxing” experience. carton

  1. Buy in Bulk

Once you decide on the box sizes and types of packing materials you will need, purchase them in bulk to save money.  A simple search on the internet will show where you can purchase the items for the best price.  Amazon, ebay, and Walmart all offer shipping materials at reasonable prices.  If a certain item will require a different sized box, plan for that ahead of time so you can have it on hand when it comes time to ship that month.

  1. Use the Correct Size Box

It’s impossible to stress the importance of using a box that is the right size for your items enough.  Shipping in a box that is larger than necessary contributes to a much higher shipping charge, as well as extra packing material.  Reducing the box size by just an inch can make a difference in shipping costs, and if it can fit in the mailbox, even better!

  1. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Items such as boxes, bubble wrap, peanuts, plastic air bags, and envelopes can all be reused.  Just make sure the items are in very good condition and clean before using them again. Many “new” packaging materials are made from recycled materials as well. Using these types of products can have a great appeal to many potential customers.

  1. Free Shipping Supplies

If you are able to, take advantage of free shipping supplies from your carrier.  USPS, FedEx and UPS all offer some items for free.  For example, the USPS offers free flat rate boxes and free mailing tubes for Priority Mail.  If you find items that are suitable for your shipping needs, you’ll maybe even save enough to offset slightly higher shipping costs.

  1. Search for Sales

Sometimes, retailers run sales or promotions on certain shipping supplies.  Office Max and Office Depot offer coupons if you register on their website or at their stores.  These coupons can be used for tape guns, boxing tape, and tape guns.

 

With just a little effort, subscription box companies have many options for cutting down on the expensive packaging materials.

Starting a Subscription Box? Here’s 3 Ways to Save on Shipping

Shipping is a big expense for every subscription box company and is especially important to think about as you are first starting out.

USPSHowever, even established subscription box companies can benefit from evaluating their own shipping patterns and requirements on a regular basis. It’s a key exercise for any online retailer to prevent overspending on small parcel shipping.

Do the Research

There are several carriers available to help ship your customer orders, which gives you some leverage when negotiating rates.  Don’t assume any one is your only choice – there are many parcel consolidators and parcel delivery services that can complete with the USPS and other large carriers. Any established online business should discuss their shipping history with their current carrier to get better rates, or can use that data to negotiate with a new carrier.  Plus, the more knowledge you have about your own shipping patterns the better pricing carriers can offer.

Keep in mind that it may be cost-effective to use two different carriers if you are shipping packages that differ in size or weight, or to several areas of the country.  Knowing your company’s needs and considering all the options is the only way to get the best shipping rates.

Save on Packaging

Packaging for shipments can also be a large expense, particularly for smaller companies.  One way to reduce costs is to buy boxes and packing materials in bulk.  When possible, recycle boxes and packing material.  Not only are you helping the environment, but also your bottom line.

Also, make sure the box size is the correct size for your items.  Shipping in boxes that are too large can mean you are paying for extra shipping weight unnecessarily. Packaging that is too large, or too small, can also lead to expensive damages and returns. And unhappy customers.

Shipping Insurance

Depending on the value of your subscription box, it may not be worth paying extra to insure it.  If your carrier offers reliable service with few damaged or lost items, paying for the occasional damaged package might far outweigh insuring every box. Investigating your rate of returned packages can help you figure out if it is worth this extra expense.

Shipping can account for 10% or more of the operating expenses for a subscription box company. Making educated choices for how you manage shipping can often be the difference between a profit or losing money for your subscription box company.

What to Consider When Creating Packaging for Your Subscription Box

Part of the allure of receiving a subscription box is the packaging.   Great looking packaging drives your brand’s image, as well as increases the chances that the subscriber will be happy with their subscription, and continue to subscribe.

1.       Design

The design and style of your packaging should fit the theme of your subscription box.  For example, if your target audience is young women, make sure you pick colors, style, and lettering that will appeal to them.  After all, the packaging is the first impression the customer has of your box. carton-emballage

2.       Quantity

As a start-up, you probably will not have the money to invest in custom packaging right away, but once you have at least 300 subscribers per month (and some history on products being shipped), you can begin to research your options.  Most packaging companies require a minimum of 1,000 boxes for a custom-printed mailer, which is a large outlay of money.

3.       Size

Make sure you choose the right size box.  Resist choosing the larger size box, not only to save on shipping costs, but because subscribers will not be happy with a half-filled box.  This is where product history comes in handy.

4.       Sourcing

When deciding on a manufacturer, you should consider their location, fulfillment options, turnaround time, and of course, price.   When comparing manufacturers, have your box size and order quantity on hand so you can get the most accurate price quote.

5.       Cost

The price of your custom box is going to be based on the type of printing, box quality, and ink quality you choose.   Decide where you want to spend your budget and where you are willing to cut costs, especially in the beginning.  This will give you negotiating points when discussing price with your manufacturer and can help you get the best deal on your custom packaging.

Once you have placed a few orders, and are satisfied with your custom packaging, you can negotiate better rates on volume with your manufacturer.

How to Provide Efficient Fulfillment This Holiday Season

Ready or not, the holiday season is officially here.  Holiday fulfillment can present a whole range of logistics challenges if you are not prepared. ebay

Most business to consumer retailers experience a huge surge in sales during this time of year.  This is the time of year to gain new customers and to retain those who will become long-term buyers to your brand.  If your company is not ready to meet this increase in demand, however, the result can be unhappy customers whose gifts did not arrive on time and a hit to your brand’s reputation.

There are several things that can help you prepare for your company’s busiest season:

Determine Your Peak Days

Use data from past holiday seasons to figure out your company’s peak fulfillment days.  If you are a start-up, a 3PL partner can develop sales predictions for you.  A third-party logistics provider will combine data such as sales volume and customer behavior to determine the days you can expect the most orders during the holiday season.

Plan Fulfillment Around Your Peak Days

The inability to ship out the orders you receive in a timely manner during the holiday season can have catastrophic results for your company.  Staffing can be one of the biggest challenges during this time of year so provide additional training and cross-training to employees.  You can also consider hiring interns, for a lesser cost than a temporary employee, or temporary employees from a nonprofit organization in exchange for a donation to their charity.  Hiring additional staff is not the only solution to the peak season, all fulfillment operations must be planned to handle the increase in demand.

Stock Up

If you fulfill in-house, make sure you have an ample supply of boxes in several sizes, tape, packing materials, labels, and printer ink.  If your scales, tape guns, or packaging dispensers are worn, it might be a good idea to update them to handle the peak season.  Make sure there is enough space to accommodate the increase in sales and that it is organized for efficient order processing.

Systems Review

Now is the time to ensure all IT operations are effective and can handle the increase in volume.  Data-tracking systems should be updated to be able to address any issues quickly.  Review your order processing procedures with all employees to ensure they are fulfilling efficiently and correctly.

Shipping

Delivery options differ during the holiday season so you need to know your carriers’ specifics, such as cut-off dates, pick-up times, and delivery guarantees.  Understanding these details is necessary for providing realistic delivery expectations to your customers.

Consider Outsourcing

If you are a retailer that will see a significant increase in sales during the coming weeks, you need to make sure you can handle it without hurting customers.  If the spike in sales will cause customer service and delivery issues, consider using a 3PL for your fulfillment needs because today’s consumers demand correct orders on time for the holidays.  To make sure you can meet your increase in demand this season, visit www.kablefulfillment.com.

How Online Retailers Can Add Value with Packaging

The packaging you choose to send to your customers for the items they have purchased is an opportunity to market your brand.  Packaging for Subscription BoxPackaging can also offer functional values, for example protection of the items within.  Consumers appreciate creative and innovative packaging that resonates with your brand. The following ideas will help you make the most of your product and shipping packaging.

Aesthetics

The value of a nicely packaged product that looks expensive and is well-designed implies to the consumer that the product is of high-quality, well-made, and has value.

Think about two packages that arrive on your doorstep for the same item, a high-end pen.  The first is a plain, brown cardboard box.  The other package is a high-quality material, colored box with the company’s logo written in embossed gold script.  Which one would you like to open?

Companies can present their product and drive home their brand through packaging to help enhance the customer’s buying experience.  This has an impact on revenue, as consumers associate good packaging with a good product.

Functionality

Packaging that serves a purpose is always a smart marketing idea.  A few years ago, Birds Eye, the frozen food company, introduced steam-in-the-bag packaging, making cooking vegetables even easier, and consumers were excited to try it.  Consumers find innovative packaging that is also functioning very appealing.   Another example is large boxes that include a removable piece to create a handle, such as on a diaper box or soda can 12-pack box, making for easy carrying.

For a product that spoils easily, packaging that protects the item from air or other elements is important because no consumer will purchase from you again if their items cannot be used.  Similarly, fragile items must also be protected with proper packaging so they arrive undamaged.

Visibility

Packaging can also serve as an advertisement at the point of sale.  For items that are sold in retail stores, packaging that stands out on the shelf has a greater visual impact on the consumer and a greater presence in the store.

Packaging is an opportunity to impart information to the consumer, such as a food product that is low in sodium, fat, or preservative-free.  The use of these words on the packaging not only makes the consumer knowledgeable about the benefits of your product, but also speaks to consumers who are looking for healthy alternatives, and makes a product stand out on a shelf.

Brand Identification

The packaging you choose is one way to further promote your brand.  Tiffany’s, the jewelry store, has done a great job of this with their classic light blue box with white satin ribbon.  Simple, elegant, yet so effective in relating what the Tiffany brand is to the point that the packaging has become synonymous with the brand.  Consumers make a purchase when a brand elicits emotional engagement such as this.

Great packaging can add value to a product, and be an incentive for customers to buy, by giving them reassurance that the item is a quality product.  At Kable, we provide customers with innovative packaging options that appeal to your customers.  Visit our website today at www.kablefulfillment.com..

 

5 Tips for Every Subscription Box Company

Whether your company is a start-up or established subscription box business, you want to make sure you are doing
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everything possible to be successful. The following list has tips every subscription box company should consider:

Great Packaging

The packaging you choose for your subscription box helps to drive your brand’s image, in addition to increasing customer satisfaction as part of the allure of a subscription box is unwrapping it.  The design and style should correlate with the theme of your box and enhance the customer’s experience receiving it.

Shipping Supplies

Make sure you are using the correct size box for your products.  While it may be tempting to choose a large box, but remember, you have to ship that box.  In order to save on shipping costs, choose the right size box that will comfortably fit your items without too much wasted space.

Saving money on shipping supplies, especially in the beginning, is a good idea.  Once you decide on the box sizes and types of packing materials you will need, purchase them in bulk to take advantage of the discounted price. If you are able to recycle any packing materials, you will also be able to save on your shipping budget.

Website

Most of your sales will be from your website so a professional-looking website is imperative.  Current and potential subscribers are looking for information when they visit your site so include a detailed description of your products and services, as well as professional pictures.  Every page of your website should have an option or clickable ‘Subscribe Now’ button for customers to sign up.

Retaining subscribers is the core of any subscription box business model.  After all, if all your customers cancel after their first box, you will have no repeat monthly business.  Providing excellent customer service is a vital step for retaining customers and create a loyal customer base.

Customer Service Experience

Your staff should be properly trained to handle every type of customer service issue, so give them the right tools to succeed at their job.   Customers should not have any trouble figuring out how to contact your company so include your customer service phone number and email in several places on your website.  You want to make sure that your customers are having a positive experience when dealing with your company so ask for customer feedback in order to improve.

Manage Inventory

Effectively managing inventory is an important for any subscription box company to operate efficiently.  Forecasting inventory for upcoming months’ subscription boxes is critical so the boxes are not short on items.  Assessing inventory on a regular basis will ensure that you are not overstocked.   Many companies purchase inventory management software that can be customized to assess the business.

Growing your subscription box company should be your focus, not worrying about the daily operating details of running the business.  If you want to save time and money with fulfillment and shipping, contact us today at www.kablefulfillment.com and let our subscription box experts show you what we can do for your business.

4 Ways Subscription Box Companies Can Save Money on Shipping

Shipping is a big expense for every subscription box company and is especially important to think about as you are first starting out. However, even established subscription box companies can benefit from evaluating their own shipping patterns and requirements on a regular basis. It’s a key exercise for any online retailer to prevent overspending on small parcel shipping. 2016-07-05_1027

Do the Research

There are several carriers available to help ship your customer orders, which gives you some leverage when negotiating rates.  Don’t assume any one is your only choice – there are many parcel consolidators and parcel delivery services that can complete with the USPS and other large carriers. Any established online business should discuss their shipping history with their current carrier to get better rates, or can use that data to negotiate with a new carrier.  Plus, the more knowledge you have about your own shipping patterns the better pricing carriers can offer.

Keep in mind that it may be cost-effective to use two different carriers if you are shipping packages that differ in size or weight, or to several areas of the country.  Knowing your company’s needs and considering all the options is the only way to get the best shipping rates.

Save on Packaging

Packaging for shipments can also be a large expense, particularly for smaller companies.  One way to reduce costs is to buy boxes and packing materials in bulk.  When possible, recycle boxes and packing material.  Not only are you helping the environment, but also your bottom line.

Also, make sure the box size is the correct size for your items.  Shipping in boxes that are too large can mean you are paying for extra shipping weight unnecessarily. Packaging that is too large, or too small, can also lead to expensive damages and returns. And unhappy customers.

Shipping Insurance

Depending on the value of your subscription box, it may not be worth paying extra to insure it.  If your carrier offers reliable service with few damaged or lost items, paying for the occasional damaged package might far outweigh insuring every box. Investigating your rate of returned packages can help you figure out if it is worth this extra expense.

Outsourcing

Your company may not have the personnel, resources, or the capacity to handle the fulfillment and shipment of your orders.  If it is not cost-effective to do it in-house, using a third party can save your company money in the long term.

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Kable Fulfillment is the solution to your fulfillment and shipping needs.  We offer quick implementation, low shipping costs, and flexibility, which is especially important if you are a start-up and unsure of your exact requirements.  Please visit our website at www.kablefulfillment.com to learn more about all of the services we offer to help your subscription box company save money on shipping.

Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials for Online Retailers

The most ubiquitous packaging materials are of course bubble wrap and peanuts. carton

The pros and cons of both are well documented, but the most important thing to know is they are typically made from plastics (as in oil) and are not bio-degradable. With the amount of bubble wrap and peanuts used around the world each day the problem is pretty self evident. These products are made from some pretty nasty stuff Polyethylene, Polystyrene and Polyurethane (which consists of all sorts of harsh chemicals including acetone, methylene chloride and fluorocarbons).
Aside from the toxic chemicals used with most plastic based packing materials and the huge energy resources that going into creating them; the amount of landfill taken up after they are discarded is significant. 

Here are some ideas for alternative packaging options to consider using when preparing your customer orders for shipment.

Soy based expandable foam products are a more eco-friendly option. Derived from soy, and therefore renewable and biodegradable, this product conforms precisely to the shape of your products. This maximizes protection by minimizing movement on the inside of the carton. The product is also very light weight, reducing the additional shipping expense of heavier materials. Realistically expandable foam is best for larger order fulfillment operations due to the space the specialized equipment and process will require.

Consider using old newspapers as they can also be a good option as well. Shredded or balled up newspaper has decent cushioning ability. My opinion is that shredded paper has a neat look in the box and adds some “eco-cred” to your products. Aaesthetically the balled up news print leave a little to be desired, and there is no efficient way to “ball up” enough paper to keep up with a high volume fulfillment operation. Shredded paper, although requiring an extra step (to shred) does lend itself to a higher volume order fulfillment set up. 

Again, it’s not as pretty, but old cardboard boxes can be cut into strips and then rolled tightly. Place the rolls vertically into the packing box around the item in the box, the rolls will then expand providing a cushion. Similar to newsprint, if some care is taken up front to cut or prepare the boxes neatly the end product could work in a way that looks good to your customers.
Reusing something like paper or cardboard for packaging is always preferable to recycling, and of course, MUCH better than throwing those items away. Cushion packaging is sold that is made from one hundred percent post consumer waste paper – give that a try if you don’t like the look of used newspapers.

Biodegradable packing peanuts are available, made from grain sorghum and corn starch. For environmentally friendly soft foam in rolls, starch-based products such as GreenCell have the added bonus of being anti-static which is great for cushioning computer parts and electronic equipment.

For wrapping and packaging inside the box, use or reuse something. And the same goes for the cartons you are using – go for boxes made from recycled cardboard. The options these days for recycled corrugated boxes are very diverse and any place selling boxes will likely provide these product options as well.