3 Tips When Considering Outsourcing

Owning a business comes with a lot of important decision making. One decision that can be very impactful is outsourcing. When it comes to having a successful business plan,outsourcing can be a great solution for keeping operational costs low. Here are some tips of when to consider outsourcing:

 

Knowing What to Outsource

Outsourcing is when you use a specialist to provide a service or complete a task rather than using your in-house resources. Outsourcing is an excellent and often necessary strategy for large and small businesses. While you may have most areas of your business already covered by your staff, there are some areas you will want a professional to handle. For example, when it comes to taxes and legal documents, it’s smart to use a lawyer or an accountant. Another crucial area for outsourcing, is branding. While the idea and message behind your organization comes from the company itself, representing that message and marketing your brand takes some creativity. Using a expert graphic designer to create your logos, font and other branding material can really set your company apart from the rest.

 

Looking for the Right Fit

Using an outsource should not be stressful, in fact, the biggest perk to outsourcing should be that it to make things easier for you. Finding the right outsourcing partner will probably involve a bit of research. Take your time, and be picky. While cost may play a big part in your decision making process, keep in mind skill level and experience are just as valuable. Looking for companies and individuals who have worked with a similar business model and that are professional.

 

Making Sure All Communication is Clear

Most of the time with outsourcing you won’t actually meet the person face to face, communication is typically done from phone call, emails, etc. It’s important to have project details, payment agreements, and deadlines in writing. Having an outsourcing project fail can be problematic, especially for smaller businesses, and those failures can be avoided with clear, definitive communications. Make sure to document any and all changes that are made to the project plan throughout the process and that both parties agree upon those changes.

For more questions or help with your outsourcing needs, check out Elite Ops.

3 Tips for a More Streamlined and Pleasant Shipping Experience

Order fulfillment and shipping are not always pleasant parts of running an e-commerce business. The costs of shipping are non-trivial (and the customer never wants to pay them), choosing a delivery method can be a hassle, and then there’s the whole issue of where you store all the stuff while it’s waiting to ship.

On the customer’s end, paying $10 for shipping on a $15 item is a bit ludicrous, and most items come in boring nondescript boxes that might as well be carrying an ugly Christmas sweater. It’s a less than appealing system.

For those looking to make the most of their shipping, to turn it into a customer touch point, and to keep costs down and avoid driving potential customers away, we have a few pieces of advice.

Form and Function in Packaging

Traditionally, packaging has been more “function” than “form.” It’s just a box intended to get the product there. In that sense, you’re looking to reduce size and weight, as that reduces the price of shipping. If that’s all you’re looking for, that’s an easy step to take—use the size of box you need, and nothing bigger.

But with a little creativity, you can turn this innocuous part of the transaction into a positive customer experience. Clever packaging can communicate your brand and can intrigue and delight your customer. Tickle their fancy enough, and you might have a repeat customer.

Don’t Make Money on the Shipping and Handling

It’s a fact: customers hate shipping charges. Especially when they sneak up on you and double the price of the item. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we hate that, too. We may not always know the specifics of what the shipping costs, but we can tell when we’re being unfairly gouged. So do your customers a favor and cut them some slack on the shipping. You can:

  • Charge at cost for shipping
  • Offer free shipping and absorb the cost
  • Take on some of the cost to reduce the price for the customer

You can even account for the shipping cost in the price of the item. That will make it more expensive, but at least it’s better than the surprise jump in shipping price at the end.

Choose the Right Logistics Team

There are a lot of options out there in regards to how you get the product from you to them. FedEx and UPS are convenient, but expensive. USPS is less expensive, but not as accommodating. And then there’s the issue of housing the product and boxing it up yourself. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can sidestep a lot of those processes and save some money by partnering with a third-party fulfillment team. For more information on how the right fulfillment team can make life easier for you, contact the pros at Elite Ops.

3 Ways You Can Make Returns Less Painful for You and Your Customers

Product returns are kind of like doing business in reverse—rather than selling an item and getting paid for it, you’re paying a customer to return a product that you were trying to offload in the first place. So it makes sense that a lot of business owners (especially in e-commerce) stress about returns and the reverse logistics involved.

What’s important to keep in mind is that, ideally, your business should be focused on meeting the needs of the customer. And if your company isn’t meeting those needs effectively, they’re going to start looking somewhere else. So even though there are costs involved in accepting returns and issuing refunds, it’s an investment in your customers—who frequently prove their loyalty to your excellent service with repeat purchases.

In other words, a well-handled returns process stands to increase brand loyalty and boost revenues.

Have a Clear, Hassle Free Return Policy

The first step to building that loyalty is by being upfront with the customer. An easy-to-find returns policy that’s written in plain language will be appreciated. Let them know exactly what they can return, under what circumstances, and what they stand to gain from returning the item (like a refund, or store credit). Don’t hide the policy on some corner of your website, and don’t bog it down in legal jargon. Make it easy to understand, and be gracious rather than strict.

Don’t Make the Return Process Difficult for the Customer

Even if the policy is easy to understand, no one likes it if making the return is a pain. If it’s an online store, there’s shipping to be considered, and your customers hated paying for shipping the first time. Seriously consider eating the shipping cost; you’ll win some serious brownie points that way.

For in-store returns, avoid the interrogation. Give them a chance to explain why they’re returning it, but don’t be invasive with the questions. Let them make their return and be on their way.

Make the Return Process Easy for Your Business

This still leaves you with what to do with the product when it comes back to you. Reverse logistics can be pretty complicated and costly if it’s not handled right. If you don’t feel like your team has the expertise or the time to handle the arduous task, consider outsourcing it to some professionals. Often, they can do the work faster and cheaper than you can (especially if you’re a small startup).

In a nutshell, returns don’t have to be as bad as we make them out to be. If you’re willing to work with your customers find the right team to help process returns, you can turn it all into a powerful loyalty-building tool. For more information on how ateam can make returns easier for your business, contact the pros at Elite Ops.

How to Bypass the Logistical Frustrations of Owning an Online Business

Owning an online-based business can be freeing in many ways, but it can also be a headache when it comes to handling orders, organizing shipping schedules, and inventory storage. Thankfully, Elite Ops is here to help. Our services allow you to put logistics out of your mind so you can concentrate on more important aspects of growing your business.

Storage

When your business sells products online and begins seeing success, growing pains are sure to follow. But you don’t need to continue juggling every responsibility on your own. Too often, entrepreneurs become accustomed to doing everything on their own and try to continue doing so, using brainpower that could be put to better use elsewhere. Trying to organize a warehouse system by renting space somewhere or using your own home or office requires you to master two trades – a waste of your time and energy.

 

As an Elite Ops client, you will enjoy benefits such as a custom-designed storage plan, stretch wrap and labeling, 24/7 visibility with your client portal, a team of logistics professionals, and special storage options (such as climate-controlled).

Shipping

Shipping has to be a priority if you want to keep your customers satisfied. Products must be packed properly, shipped quickly, and delivered correctly. Elite Ops leads the industry with a 99.9% accuracy rate and offers same-day shipping on orders placed before a set time.

 

With all of this in mind, shipping still needs to be affordable. We partner with reliable shipping providers to save our clients money and keep your customers happy.

Fulfillment Services

Elite Ops keeps your online business running smoothly by taking care of the warehousing logistics, keeping track of inventory, and handling order fulfillment so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. When you’re just starting out, you probably don’t need much space to run things. An office in your house may be sufficient. But an online business’s advantages can quickly become its downsides if you’re not careful. Let Elite Ops take some of the stress out of your job so you can focus on improving your business.

4 Tips for Building Customer Loyalty With an Online Business

Keeping customers happy has never been easy. And things get harder when you’re running an online or e-commerce business, because you have fewer touchpoints with your customers. It’s pretty rare that you come face to face with your clientele, which makes leaving a positive impression that much harder.

It can be done, though. You can maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and cultivate strong brand loyalty if you take the right steps. If you’re willing to treat your customers as individuals rather than just a revenue stream, you’ll quickly find that your customers appreciate the respect.

Start With a Quality Product/Service

Making a quality product or delivering a world-class service will make more of a difference than anything else. Apple computers are an excellent example—they’ve built a whole brand around well-designed, reliable machines.

That said, not everyone can (or wants to) deliver top-of-the-line products. If you fall into this category, consider delivering the best price you can, while still offering a dependable product. You can often make up the difference by offering an economical alternative to your competitors. Just be sure not to skimp too much on the quality in the process. Customers will praise you for it.

Build a Brand Customers Can Identify With

Apple is a good example for another reason: they’ve created an identity for themselves, and one that their customers buy into. Customers don’t just buy one Apple product; they buy the whole suite of them. They’re not just buying a product, they’re buying a lifestyle.

You can duplicate this effect in your own business by creating a strong brand. Start with a quality offering and supplement it with strong content marketing, effective advertising, and consistent branding tailored to a specific audience.

Engage With Your Customers On Social Media

Social media has really changed the game and opened a lot of avenues that weren’t there before. Interact with your customers online. Respond to your devoted fans. Reach out to those who complain. Show to everyone that you’re a class act and that you don’t come down to the level of bullies. People will respect you for it.

Add a Personal Touch

When all else fails, start generating new touch points. Doing things like adding hand-written letters to product boxes, sending out thank you emails when a customer makes a purchase, or creating unique packaging for the product can go a long way towards making the whole buying experience memorable for the customer. And if you need help getting those products to your customers, a top-notch logistics service can help you give them the satisfaction they deserve.

Reverse Logistics: Get Smart When You Handle Returns

You feel confident in your product; it is high-quality, has been thoroughly tested, and you are certain that your customer will enjoy it. But sometimes no matter how much work we put into our final product, the customer returns it for different reasons. A product returned is not ideal because it does not always get resold, so how can you handle returns the smart way?

Step 1: Craft a clear and concise return policy

First of all, you need to make sure that you have a clear and concise return policy in place: one that works for the customer and for you. Remember, as a business owner your aim is to nurture and build a positive relationship with your customers so that you can maintain your customer base and expand it. The way you treat your returns can have a big impact on your customer’s decision making process, and can make all the difference the next time they need your product, or how they refer to you the next time they are chatting with their friends.

Step 2: Track your returns

Secondly, it is a good idea to track and analyze your returns. You will be able to acquire interesting and useful data that could give you an indication as to why your products are being returned. It will give you the opportunity to improve things thus preventing, or at least minimizing, future returns for specific reasons.  

Step 3: Keep returns short and sweet

Finally, keep the whole process as short as possible. Another important benefit of having a return policy is that it helps your staff manage returns at a faster pace. No questions asked, just keep to the policy, and the customer will have your product in their hands much faster, which is really the aim of the game. Your logistics and supply chain will run smoother, and the whole process of having to handle returns becomes easier for all.

Elite Ops has vast experience with all aspects of the distribution, logistics, and supply chain industry. They understand how difficult returns can be, and offer effective solutions that will not only save you money, but get your products where they need to be—with your customer.

Partner with our Utah distribution company and focus on what counts—your business. Give us a call today.

E-commerce Fulfillment Technology That Improves Business Revenue and Customer Satisfaction

Entering the e-commerce industry can be a little daunting at first. Once you have found the perfect product, you need to figure out how you are going to get it to your customer. You have to consider things such as:

  • Space: where are you going to keep your inventory?
  • Shipping: what is the best way to get it to your customer?
  • Packaging: how do I package it effectively?
  • Inventory Management: how do I register all of my sales and keep track of my orders?
  • Time: when will I have the time to do all of the above and run a successful business?

 

Elite Ops has technology and resources to perform all of the logistics and shipping services you need; from storing your product in a state of the art warehouse to getting your product out to your customer in a timely manner, packaged and labeled.  A personal account manager can partner with you to design a customized plan that is right for you and your business.

 

You’re in Control

Elite Ops uses a real-time online inventory management software that lets you know exactly what’s going on at all times. By logging on to the system, you can check inventory reports, review order status, and track orders. You have all of the necessary information at your fingertips, and the best part is that it is all up to the minute. Elite Op´s software allows you to maintain control of your business and make better decisions. When you partner with Elite Ops, we’ll handle the heavy lifting part, and you can focus on running your business.  

By taking advantage of our Utah shipping, logistics, and supply chain services, you can be sure that your business will be in excellent hands. Contact our office to start discussing how we can help your business thrive.

4 Simple Mistakes You’re Making With Your Online Business

The internet has opened up tremendous opportunities in the marketplace. Online businesses are simpler to start than ever, and potential customers are easy to access. So why is it that eCommerce can be so challenging? Here are four common mistakes that lead to the downfall of online businesses.   

Miscalculating Costs

One of the biggest pitfalls to new businesses is failing to properly estimate costs. Many entrepreneurs approach eCommerce with flawed expectations, and as a result they either over- or underestimate the financial challenges headed their way. Accurately calibrate the costs of your business by starting with good information. Take the time to research everything, and then do the math. When you have done your research, you can catch mistakes before they cause problems that affect your wallet. You will also be able to make informed, smart decisions that will make your business strong and profitable.  

Ignoring Competition

No matter what kind of business you open, there is bound to be an existing market with eager competition ready to steal your customer base. Underestimate them at your own risk. Watch their strategies, and don’t get taken advantage of; use competitive analysis regularly. Be the business that outmaneuvers and confounds competitors. Launch new products and services. Have smart giveaway strategies. Keep a robust social media presence. Most of all, always put your customers first.

Misunderstanding Customers

Giving customers what they want is one of the keys to building revenue, yet a lot of entrepreneurs fail at this because they don’t accurately understand the wants of their customers. Rather than making assumptions about your customers and risking failure, listen to them. Spend the time to research your customers with surveys and other methods. Develop a buyer persona, and keep it updated. When you do this, you greatly improve communication with your customer. You can effectively target your audience with appropriate advertising. You can address the correct topics that concern your customer. And you can create an optimal product or service that meets your customer’s wants.

Trying to Do It All

The fourth and final mistake that entrepreneurs make with their online business is trying to make it alone. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon because he had a team of astronauts at his side and a host of scientific experts at NASA. Harriet Tubman conducted the Underground Railroad and saved hundreds of lives because she had a network of people to assist her. Henry Ford built the Model T and the Ford Motor Company because he had support from other mentors, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Great accomplishments don’t happen in a vacuum. Reach out and choose a team that will watch your back and grow your business, a team made of friends, family, employees, and other businesses that are interested in seeing you succeed. Get the support you need from a partner like Elite Ops: contact us today.

How to Choose a Business Model That Will Give Fuel to Your Startup

Every startup begins with a product and a vision, but without a realistic plan, it’s going nowhere. This is where a good business model comes in. If you’re thinking about opening your own online business, it might feel intimidating to start, but don’t worry. Here are some of the basics to start building with.

To illustrate the process for choosing a business model, imagine a musician who wants to start an online business. He must ask himself two simple questions: What am I selling: a product, a service, or information? And how will I sell it?

Once he knows exactly what he’s selling, he can then choose an appropriate method of selling.

Selling Products

Let’s say that our musician decides he wants to sell CDs of his original music as well as t-shirts and merchandise showcasing his brand. These are considered physical products that have to be designed, manufactured, warehoused, shipped, and distributed. Because of the nature of these kinds of products, it comes with certain risks, and some business models will work more successfully than others.

A traditional method of selling physical products is through the Merchant Model, for example, through wholesalers and retailers. But online businesses are increasingly using the Manufacturer Model, in which the manufacturers of a product can sell directly to their buyers through platforms like Amazon or Etsy in order to reduce the distribution channel and maximise profits.

Selling Services

Maybe in addition to selling his CDs, our musician decides that he also wants to start teaching music lessons in his local city. This would be considered a service, an intangible act that is performed at the point of sale. The most common method of selling services like this online is through websites. Sites can be used for marketing offline services, or they can be used to directly sell services. The most traditional model here is the Advertising Model, where the site provides content combined with advertisements (typically banner ads). But our musician used the Brokerage Model, where he used the website to bring him (the seller) together with students (the buyers) interested in taking his lessons (the service).

Selling Information

Let’s say our musician decides that he wants to start a Youtube channel and publish his own website that offers exclusive content in exchange for a monthly subscription. Both of these would be considered forms of selling information. In the case of the Youtube channel, it would be a Community Model of business in which revenue is generated through voluntary contributions from viewers and from advertisers. In the case of the website, exclusive and valuable information could be repeatedly exchanged for periodic profit–the typical Subscription Model.

Even if you’re not a musician trying to make it in online business, the above principles still apply. Once you choose a model for your business, there are steps you can take to ensure that it succeeds. Be proactive in building and protecting your business; learn more about business models and services that can boost your distribution and shipping.

For more information partnering with Elite Ops, contact us today.

4 Tips for Warehouse Facility Management

Managing a warehouse is an important part of running a business. Inefficiencies within your warehouse can cost you thousands of dollars or more every year. Use the 4 following tips to keep your warehouse running smoothly.

Get Organized

All the inventory in the world is worth nothing if you can’t find it and ship it to customers in time. A disorganized warehouse will cost your business money in overstocked and understocked products as well as wasted time.

Organization is more than simply knowing where to find your product. The best warehouses include logic and sales information to guide its design. The fastest selling product should always be the most accessible.

Set Up a Proper Receiving Routine

With the right receiving routine, you can avoid larger problems later on in the process. As you receive products and materials, verify and inspect the incoming items. Take note of damaged products; you don’t want to end up sending damaged goods to a customer.

An efficient receiving process allows for a more accurate inventory count. Items often show up as available in inventory systems once they’ve been delivered. If a product is stuck in receiving due to an inefficient system, you might mistakenly assume there is a shortage based on empty inventory shelves.

Invest in the Right Software

Software can make or break your warehouse. Technology moves at a rapid pace; if you’re still using an old system, you may be missing out on opportunities for greater efficiency and accuracy.

Many management systems offer programs for inventory control, maintenance, shipping, tracking labor, etc. Evaluate the needs of your warehouse to see if your current system is truly meeting your needs.

Prioritize Safety

Accidents and injuries cost businesses time and money every year. Whatever small gains you might get from cutting corners are not worth it in the long run. The only acceptable goal is zero safety incidents, so invest in regular safety training to protect your employees.

If you work with heavy machinery, lay out clearly marked traffic lanes; train both machine operators and other warehouse staff to observe these lanes. Invest in proper lighting for increased safety.

With our Elite Ops’ warehousing services, we take care of all of this for you. As a trusted Utah distribution company, we have the experience, knowledge, and resources to exceed your warehousing expectations. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your business.