E-Commerce Strategy: 6 Reasons It’s Time To Take Your Business Online

Shopping trends and preferences have shifted significantly because of the internet, and more than ever consumers are taking to the computer to do their shopping. With a quick search and a few clicks, they can find exactly what they’re looking for and compare prices to get the best deal. The efficiency and convenience of online shopping will only attract more consumers, so it is critical for retailers to cultivate an online presence to stay relevant and competitive. Here are the top 6 reasons why.

1. Attract new customers

 

No longer is your business confined to the physical bounds of its geographic location and restricted to those who see your sign. By selling and advertising online, you can attract new customers both locally and abroad.

2. Offer fast customer service

 

An online platform allows you to communicate easily with your customers, answering questions and responding to concerns almost instantly. This is valuable for resolving problems and protecting your reputation from disgruntled customers by correcting mistakes quickly and providing a positive interaction between the business and the customer.

3. Save money

 

By selling products online, you can minimize costs needed for physical space and operation costs. E-commerce solutions companies can manage your inventory, processing, and shipping, management needs, saving you time and money.

4. Generate greater profits

 

Customers don’t have to wait in line anymore to check out. Now your sales can be limitless and only restricted by your inventory levels. Sell more, faster, and in a shorter period of time by selling online, and watch your company grow exponentially.

5. Maintain a reputation of expertise

 

Having an online presence demonstrates your ability to adapt with the trends and stay relevant. This shows customers that your company is cutting-edge and knowledgeable, ahead of the curve rather than trying to keep up. In order to maintain your reputation as an expert in the field, you must stay up-to-date on consumer trends and preferences.

6. Do business anytime, anywhere

 

Perhaps your own personal freedom is reason enough to take your business online. You can sell your products 24/7, and work from anywhere in the world when all you need is a computer and an internet connection.

Partner with Elite Ops for your e-commerce needs and you can have the financial freedom and all the time you need by freeing yourself from the demands of a physical retail location.

5 Signs It’s Time To Outsource Your Business Fulfillment

Fulfillment is a critical aspect of your business, and the efficient and accurate process of handling and shipping orders can make or break your business. As your business grows, you may need to face the reality that hiring outside help for fulfillment is necessary for the future success of your business, and yourself. Here are 5 signs that it’s time to outsource your business fulfillment.

1. Inventory size

 

If your inventory and business is taking over your home or garage, it may be a sign that it’s time to outsource. When several boxes and pallets are involved, you need the right equipment to easily and safely handle your fulfillment duties, and you will save a lot of time with a fulfillment company handling such large quantities of product.

2. Report Generation

 

Do you create regular reports yourself? Do you have easy access to the numbers you sold, earned, lost, etc. from last quarter? Last year? The last 5 years? These reports take time, and labor if a system is not in place. You need to be aware of how fast or slow your shipping options have been, how many items are returned, etc. in order to make changes and grow your business. Outsourcing fulfillment to a company that can generate these detailed reports can help you track your expenses and plan best for the future.

3. Time management

 

If you absolutely love packaging, labeling, and shipping items, perhaps your time is well spent handling all of the fulfillment, but most people started their own business because of different goals. Some good uses of your time as a business owner and entrepreneur include:

  • Interacting with customers
  • Attending conferences and meetings to learn more about your industry
  • Meeting with various vendors to find alternative resources or better prices

Even having time to read books about business and self-improvement should be prioritized as a business owner, so consider shifting around your responsibilities and delegating to free up your valuable time.

4. Missing or later orders

 

Poor customer feedback is a big sign that it may be time to start outsourcing for fulfillment needs. Using an e-commerce company that automates fulfillment means your orders are packaged, shipped, and will arrive on time. This is critical for the success and growth of your business.

5. Delaying milestones

 

Perhaps your 5-year plan has become a 10-year plan, and you are constantly having to set back goals and business milestones because you simply can’t put in the time necessary to grow and expand. You may be the one in the way of your own growth, and admitting that outside help is the answer to the growth of your business means getting back on track and growing at the rate you’ve always imagined.

Partner with Elite Ops for your business fulfillment needs today!

How Order Fulfillment Services Can Increase Your Bottom Line

Ecommerce has become more accessible than ever. Online shopping puts even the smallest business in front of customers worldwide. However, order fulfillment can become a costly obstacle as you try to grow your business. Between shipping, warehousing, and staffing, it can quickly eat up more of your time and budget than you have to give.

Fortunately, there is an easier way to ensure your customers receive their purchased goods in a timely and affordable manner. Here are 5 ways ecommerce order fulfillment services, like Elite Ops, can save your business money.

Eliminate Warehouse Staffing Costs

Employees cost money. You have to pay for their salary and any offered benefits. The hiring process can also be expensive, especially with employee turnover.

If you hire warehouse employees, you also have to hire managers to train and coordinate the rest of the employees in the warehouse. Even with a talented staff, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to rival the efficiency of a specialized service. With an order fulfillment service, you can eliminate these costs from your budget.

In addition to any hired staff, if you choose to go with in-house order fulfillment, you’ll likely have to choose and pay for an inventory management system in order to keep track of inventory levels, shipping, etc.

Negotiate Better Shipping Rates

Bulk purchases often come with a discount. The same logic extends to the shipping industry. Order fulfillment companies are often able to negotiate better rates on shipping because of the large volume of inventory they ship every day. They can often access better packaging costs for the same reasons.

Take Over Inventory Storage

If you fulfill all of your orders on your own, as your business grows, so will your inventory storage costs. This is especially true for home-run ecommerce businesses. Leasing a warehouse is an option, but an expensive one.

Though your inventory will be stored away from your business, you’ll always stay in the loop. Order fulfillment services will provide the access you need to track your stock levels, shipping, and inventory.

Along with the rental fee, you’ll have to foot the bill for other overhead costs like utilities, maintenance, and more. With ecommerce order fulfillment services, you can save your working space for the core components of your business instead of inventory storage.

Extensive Industry Experience

Specialized focus leads to expertise. The order fulfillment industry comes with a learning curve, which can cost your business in time and mistakes. Instead of spending money trying to find the best shipping methods and prices for your business, you can turn over all order fulfillment to a company that has already done the legwork for you.

Inventory and shipping becomes even more complicated if you want to fulfill international orders. Simple mistakes in the paperwork can lead to costly delays and returns. If you choose to go with an order fulfillment service, you can save yourself the time, headache, and money associated with learning how to do it on your own.

Enable Cost-Effective Scaling

Many ecommerce businesses start in a garage or spare room. Rapid growth can be simultaneously exciting and frightening for a new business owner. While order fulfillment may have been feasible when the business only got a few new orders a week, when orders increase in frequency, it can become difficult to store and keep up with the increased load.

Elite Ops already has the capacity to handle the increase in orders. We can help your business grow without suffering through the growing pains associated with in-house order fulfillment.

For more information about how our order fulfillment services can increase your bottom line, contact us today.

How Kitting and Assembly Services Can Help Your Startup

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Starting a business takes everything you have mentally, physically, and financially, often leaving you with little time to actually enjoy the spoils of your labor. Could outsourcing your kitting and assembly services help you find more time in your day to focus on what’s most important? Here are 5 benefits of outsourcing this essential service.

1. More Time

As a new business owner, it’s unlikely you have a whole lot of extra time on your hands. Outsourcing your kitting and assembly needs means one less thing to take up your time. This leaves you free to focus on creating new products, furthering your business, and maybe even having a few minutes to yourself. After all, you did start your business to offer a product, not spend all of your time packing and shipping boxes.

2. Improve Efficiency and Productivity

An increase in time means an improvement in efficiency and productivity as you and your team have more time to focus on building your business. This means employees can focus on the tasks you hired them to perform—upping productivity and eliminating wasted time—which can easily lead to larger profits.

3. Lower Overhead

Storing products and hiring employees to help with shipments costs money, and especially with a startup, you don’t know how long it will be until you have no choice but to outsource your kitting and assembly needs. Choosing to outsource means not having to spend money on a lease for a building you might not need a few months from now, or hiring employees you could end up having to let go or paying to do nothing if things slow down.

4. Faster Turnaround

Warehouses that offer kitting and assembly services focus only on that—assembling, packaging, and shipping your products. This means a decrease in shipment errors and a quicker turnaround from when customers place their orders to when packages arrive on their doorstep.

5. Leave it to the Professionals

A company that offers kitting and assembly services hires the best employees to perform these job functions and also already has the necessary tools and equipment necessary to get the job done right. While purchasing your own supplies and handling this aspect of your business yourself may sound like an easy way to save money, it can end up costing you more in the long run, especially when your business takes off and starts growing faster than you can keep up with.

Can You Benefit from Help?

Do you think outsourcing your kitting and assembly services will be beneficial to your business? We can help!
Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer and let us help you simplify your life.

5 Ways to Boost Your E-Commerce Performance

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Growing an e-commerce business is different from growing a brick-and-mortar. For one thing, you don’t have as many direct interactions with the customers, which can make it more difficult to develop a relationship with them. So how do you increase sales if you never see your customer face to face, and rarely speak with them directly unless they have a problem?

It all depends on what kind of customers you’re focusing on. Are you attracting new customers? Trying to increase conversion rates of customers who have visited your website? Or seeking repeat purchases? Ideally, you’re working on all three, though tactics will vary depending on the customer’s level of previous interaction. The following are a few tips on how to be successful on all three fronts.

Find New Customers By:

Venturing into New Territory

If you’ve done things right, you have a solid understanding of your core customer base and what they need. That said, there may be avenues for accessing related markets. For example, have you considered selling products for expecting mothers? What can you offer fathers-to-be? Exploring adjacent markets like this can open up a world of possibilities, and help you find the new customers you’re looking for.

Increase Conversion Rates By:

Offering Free Shipping

There’s nothing worse than putting things in a digital shopping cart, going to checkout, and finding out that the total cost has jumped by 25% or more because of shipping costs. It’s a fact that’s making a difference in how people shop online. A whopping 96% of users are more willing to shop at a site that offers free shipping, and 62% of consumers “would not have made their most recent online purchase if they had not received free shipping.”

Customers clearly don’t like having to deal with shipping fees as a surprise cost, and are even willing to shell out money in advance to avoid, such as with Amazon Prime. So if you’re looking to boost conversion rates, don’t give your customers a reason not to hit the “confirm purchase” button when they reach the last step.

If you’re worried about recouping the costs you’ll incur by shipping the product, there’s a pretty easy fix. Customers overvalue “free” things, and are thus potentially willing to pay a higher price on a product, so long as the price they see is the price they get. So if you need to bump up your prices to accommodate for “free” shipping, don’t sweat it too much. Even if they leave your site to shop around, they’ll come back when they see the shipping costs the others require.

Sending Abandoned Shopping Cart Reminders

Over two-thirds of online shopping carts become abandoned with items still in them. A significant portion of those customers can be reclaimed through appropriate outreach methods. Sending an email to remind customers of what they left behind causes them to reconsider, and in some cases, decide to buy after all. Test out different strategies to see what works—some businesses even offer a discount on items left in the cart to encourage the sale. Just don’t let them walk away without a word.

Create Repeat Customers By:

Sending Personalized Retargeting Emails

Similar to emailing users about abandoned shopping carts, you can get a lot of mileage out of emails that retarget, upsell, and provide personalized offers. Recent statistics show that personalized emails can increase conversion rates by at least 10%, and in some cases far more than that. Emails that suggest related products, offer a repeat purchase of a consumable, or that make shoppers aware of promotions and deals on products they have purchased in the past will point their attention back at your site, increasing the odds that they will purchase again.

Creating Authoritative Content

It seems less direct, but setting yourself up as an authority on the subject of the products you sell can do wonders for your image, and in turn, your sales. One of the things customers don’t get from companies like Target, Walmart, or Amazon, is the specialized knowledge that comes with working in a niche market. You have expertise to share, advice on what products to get and when, how to use them, how to troubleshoot problems, etc. Sharing that knowledge in content form makes you more valuable as a brand, and builds trust with your customers.

To learn more about how to make the most of your e-commerce business, and how order fulfillment services can help you succeed, contact Elite Ops today.

5 Warehouse Management Solutions for Improving Your Business Efficiency

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It may seem like more work, but keeping your warehouse organized pays off a lot in the long run. It doesn’t require that much work as long as you stay on top of it. Many times, however, the vastness of a warehouse can feel overwhelming, and that gets in the way of regular maintenance.

Here are some tips for managing your warehouse in a way that will have your business running more efficiently in no time.

1. Maximize the space you have.

It may take a little creativity, but this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve efficiency. Before you jump to planning a warehouse expansion, make sure you’re getting the most out of the vertical space you already have. Invest in some taller storage units along with the proper equipment to retrieve inventory. Also, consider the shelving type you currently use. You should have a variety, because not all materials fit on the same type of rack. For instance, using pallets to store small items wastes space and makes it easy to lose something. Make sure there is sufficient space for forklifts and other machinery to maneuver around. Standardize how your bins are marked to avoid confusion. This keeps things looking uncluttered and orderly.

2. Use what technology has to offer.

Find a good warehouse management system (WMS), or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with a decent WMS module. This type of technology boosts efficiency by figuring out the best routes for pickups and dropoffs, and keeping track of inventory using barcodes and radio frequency identification (RFID). This reduces selection errors, wasted time, and paper, and improves the accuracy of transactions. For example, Elite Ops utilizes the industry-leading Royal 4 WMS, along with a highly trained staff to keep track of clients’ products.

3. Use bin locations.

This system ensures fast, accurate location of inventory in your warehouse. Bin locations also make it possible for you to store product based on sales, which means you don’t have to travel as far to look for the top-selling products that appear on most orders. They also help you plan your warehouse layout more effectively—put the high-demand products close to reduce loading and unloading time.

4. Organization is everything.

It’s a good idea to inspect your locations regularly and go over how things are organized. It may have been well-organized when you last left it, but it could be a different story now. Is the inventory organized in a way that it’s easily and safely accessed by an employee? Make sure there’s a space set aside for damaged items, and that they are being taken care of every day. Without consistent maintenance, organization can quickly devolve into chaos. Don’t wait for a problem to arise before you do something—come up with a daily checklistfor your warehouse manager.

Sometimes your WMS won’t have the capability to determine the most efficient routes, so you have to create them yourself. As mentioned earlier, it’s generally most effective to keep high-selling items up near the front to reduce travel time. You should also keep track of items that are commonly sold together, and store those items near each other. The basic idea is to reduce picking delays by storing products that you sell most often in the most accessible locations.

5. Predict inventory demand.

Most businesses have predictable “seasons”—periods when their products are in high demand, and periods when that demand dwindles. Unless there is a fairly stable demand for a product, it doesn’t make good business sense to keep the same level of inventory year-round. It wastes money and space. Your warehousing management process should involve using a company’s past sales trends to determine your stock amounts throughout the year.

Contact us today for more information about our warehousing management services.

Cyber Safety: 6 Ways You Can Protect Your Business

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Recent cyber attacks, like the most recent ransomware attack, remind us that hackers are a real threat, and cyber security should be a high priority for everyone. Whether it’s a Denial of Service attack, or a data breach, and whether you’re a small startup or a major corporation, cyber attacks can shut your business down and cost you millions. Depending on the attack, it can have severe repercussions for other businesses or even your customers.

Everyone is at risk, but there are simple steps that every business can take to protect themselves against cyber threats. Below is a list of some of the things that will help your business stay secure, and minimize risks with regard to electronic malice.

Update Your Software

One of the simplest things you can do is make sure your software is up to date. It may seem annoying how often your programs and apps are updating, and you may be tempted to turn off automatic updates. Doing so is a bad idea, though. Updates do several very important things, perhaps most crucial of which is upgrading security.

Developers use updates to patch holes in security, and more often than not when hackers backdoor their way into a system, it’s because the system hasn’t been updated recently enough. The ransomware referenced in the link above was only effective against window users that hadn’t patched within the previous month, as an important security update protected against a crucial vulnerability. So keep your software up to date; you’ll be thankful in the long run.

Secure Your Passwords

You may not know it, but most passwords are impossibly easy to guess. Password cracking is usually done by a computer program, and they use a “dictionary” of common passwords and conventions to do most of the work. So if your password is “Chrispratt2017” you’re in a little bit of trouble.

A good strategy for secure passwords that are easy to remember is to choose a string of four or five random words. Even if all the characters are lowercase, the password length will make it nearly impossible to crack. And if you’re having a hard time keeping all the passwords straight, try using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password.

Educate Employees

Along with unpatched software vulnerabilities, probably the most common way hackers gain access is via phishing, malware, and other forms of “wetware” hacking, where access is granted to a hacker by tricking a user. Educate employees about the dangers of opening or downloading suspicious files and programs, and it will go a long way towards protecting your system.

Respond Quickly to Breaches

Remember, cyber attacks are crimes. You wouldn’t wait to report a theft, just to see if things turn out okay. If you are the victim of a breach or other form of attack, report it, and get help.

Work with a Cyber Security Firm

Outsourcing your cyber security is sometimes an excellent option, if you’re a smaller business that can’t really afford to field a full team yourself. Expecting your lone IT guy to “handle it” isn’t really a feasible long term solution, as he has other things on his plate, and security is a big job that requires expertise. Just be sure you do a little research, and pick a team with a good reputation.

Do Business With Secure Partners

It’s important to remember that your data is vulnerable regardless of where it is. If you share data with a business partner, and that partner is vulnerable, then your data is vulnerable. So whether you’re dealing with an IaaS cloud service, or order management services, be sure you do business with someone who’s likewise security minded.

6 Tips to Keep Your Online Business Running Smoothly

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Did you know there are more than 102,728 e-commerce retailers in the United States that generate at least $12,000 in revenue each year? And while growth is expected to continue well into the future, launching a successful online retail business remains risky. In fact, a suspected 90% of new, online businesses fail in just the first four months of launching. While there are several factors that contribute to this low-success rate, one of the leading reasons for failure is a lack of resources and preparation.

By following these six tips, you can help your online e-commerce business be part of the 10%.

1. Secure reliable shipping and fulfillment services

Having prompt shipping times and reliable fulfillment services is absolutely essential when it comes to customer satisfaction. At ELITE OPS, shipping and fulfillment specialists go above and beyond to provide clients with streamlined services that get products in the hands of consumers as quickly as possible. With an industry-leading 99.9% accuracy rate and same-day drop shipping on orders received before the cutoff time, ELITE OPS is the go-to brand for reliable shipping and e-commerce order fulfillment services.

2. Properly Manage Inventory

Inventory management has come a long way in the past decade. Whereas it was once necessary for an individual or individuals to physically conduct inventory, there is now cutting-edge technology that can be customized to track materials and products so that you’ll never have to experience the panic and disappointment of not providing your customers with timely, as-promised delivery.   

3. Use a customized warehousing solution

When considering ways to enhance your e-commerce business, be sure to weigh the option of using warehouse solutions. By using an outside warehouse, you won’t have to worry about keeping your products safe or deal with the hassle of having products taking up space in your home or office. From custom-designed storage plans and pallet or pick-face storage, to fire and theft monitoring and 24/7 visibility via a client portal, professional warehousing and fulfillment services provide e-commerce businesses with safe, reputable solution for warehousing needs.

4. Dial in your reverse logistics

Many e-commerce businesses put so much time and effort focusing on getting the product to their customers that they fail to implement efficient and effective return services. This critical process aids in the customer experience and, when executed properly, can be a determining factor in growing and maintaining a loyal client base. By partnering with a business like ELITE OPS, your company can benefit from extraordinary reverse logics services that include recall management, testing, warranty, repair, and remanufacturing. Having this information ensures your company will constantly be improving to boost your bottom line and customer satisfaction.  

5. Utilize kitting and assembly services

By implementing custom kitting and assembly services, you can ensure that all of your products are properly packaged. ELITE OPS specializes in things like multi-media kits, point of purchase assembly, standard kitting assembly, complex kitting and fulfillment, one-to-one fulfillment, e-fulfillment, and palletizing. For e-commerce businesses, these outsourced services eliminate the need for in-house equipment and trained personnel who can effectively and efficiently assemble and kit products. ELITE OPS offers support throughout the entire assembly process which will ultimately benefit both your business and your clients.

6. Work with an experienced fulfillment company

Lastly, in order to run a successful e-commerce business, you should consider the benefits of working with an experienced fulfillment company to ensure that all your needs are met. By partnering with experts like ELITE OPS, your company can improve the pace of growth, save time and money to boost your bottom line, enhance customer satisfaction, increase efficiency, and have an overall better peace of mind knowing that critical components of your e-commerce business are in good hands.

Contact ELITE OPS today to learn more about how you can keep your e-commerce business running smoothly.  

5 Ways to Run Your Business More Efficiently

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Business owners are always looking for better ways to be more productive and more efficient. We’ve all had those late nights at the office where we’ve thought, “There’s got to be a better way of doing things.” How can we make things simpler, quicker, and more effective?

At the end of the day, you should be able to feel like you’ve moved forward and accomplished something rather than just survived. Putting out fires is important, of course, but what if there are ways to make it so the fires never started in the first place?

Here are five ways to simplify processes, speed up production, and improve your company’s efficiency.

1. Never stop training your employees.

Businesses are anything but static – they are shifting constantly as technology changes, employees are let go and hired, and new managers are promoted. So a one-time training session for your employees isn’t totally adequate most of the time.

If you want things done right, you have to teach people what that right way is. Take the guesswork out of the equation! It’s also a good idea to reiterate job responsibilities and hierarchy every once in awhile. Everyone should have a basic understanding of what their coworkers do, so duplicate work is prevented and time isn’t wasted trying to find the right person.

2. Standardize what you can.

Avoid wasting time, energy, and resources by standardizing your documents. Things like order forms and client emails are useful to standardize – they’re used pretty frequently and require minimal individualization.

It’s also helpful to standardize certain processes, which will save time and avoid duplicate work as well. Assign just one or two people to jobs that involve producing large amounts of the same thing. But also remember that repetitive tasks easily become boring, so make sure no single employee bears the brunt of these responsibilities.

3. Outsource and automate wherever possible.

Oftentimes, task automation can require investing in a new software, so you’ll need to break out a calculator. Figure out how much time each process takes in a month, the amount per hour you’d pay an employee to do that, and determine how soon you’d level out on your investment. If it’s less than two years, it’s probably worthwhile. Keep your people free to concentrate on jobs that a computer can’t reproduce – like making decisions and keeping customers happy.

If you’re really wanting to get ahead but are swamped and overwhelmed, it may be worthwhile to hire a virtual personal assistant. You get to set the hours and it frees you up from solicitor calls. It can also coordinate travel arrangements and other details that don’t always need your input to be set up.

4. Improve your online presence.

A website is a necessity these days, but people have to be able to find it. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO helps makes sure your website is organized properly to move up in the ranks in an internet search – i.e., people can actually find it.

If you’re too busy to keep up a blog, a Twitter feed on your homepage keeps content up-to-date with little to no extra effort on your part. If you’re new to the Twitterverse, find a few tutorials to make sure you’re using it effectively.

5. Prune unprofitable customers.

We all have those customers who make life harder – they’re always late on payments, are unresponsive to calls or emails, and waste your time in general. It can be difficult to be selective with your clientele because it feels like you’re forgoing additional income, but it’s worth it if it saves you time. And the less time you spend chasing those customers around, the more time you have to pursue new, dependable, profitable ones.

To learn more about how the order fulfillment services of Elite Ops can improve your company’s efficiency, contact us today!

Business Collaboration

4 Frequently Asked Questions About Drop Shipping

Answers to 4 Common Questions About Drop Shipping

Drop shipping has become an integral part of business for many e-commerce companies. For some, it’s what makes business possible. But what is drop shipping? How does it work, and it is something your business can use? Here, we answer some basic questions about drop shipping  to help you decide if drop shipping is something your business needs.

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