Running your own e-commerce business (or any business for that matter) can be expensive. Many first-time entrepreneurs often face the risk of running out of their initial capital and may stumble coming out of the gate. Others may not make it past the first year based on their expenses alone. However, there are solutions for e-commerce businesses, especially those that rely on fulfillment: crowdfunding. Using crowdfunding may allow you to fund fulfillment the right way.
Crowdfunding is a method of raising money from a project through a substantial amount of people, usually through the websites. This fundraising method allows you to receive smaller increments of the end goal without the need to directly sell items much like you would for a traditional fundraiser event. Instead, crowdfunding can allow you to incentivize the process through rewards for different donation amounts. Some of the most popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter, Indigogo, and GoFundMe.
While crowdfunding has been used for life-changing events or for teachers looking to update their classrooms, entrepreneurs can take advantage of this opportunity by funding their products. What’s interesting for e-commerce donors is that they can take part in one of the vital aspects of the campaign: the creation of the product itself. By funding the business, they can take pride in being a part of the next big phenomenon, no matter what the product will be.
For e-commerce sellers, the process is simple. Describe to your donors what product you’re proposing, the benefits and features that will improve their lives, and how they can take part in funding it. Offer rewards for donors based on their donation amounts (including the product itself) as well as other incentives such as free shipping.
One of the main things to consider with crowdfunding for e-commerce is providing a reasonable timeline for your backers. Rather than funding a movie or medical expenses, the people funding your campaign are expecting to receive their products and any other rewards in a timely manner. Consider the cost of shipping, quality assurance, transit time, and storage for products (it would be wise to use a fulfillment center such as 3rd Eye Logistics to handle your large inventory).
Crowdfunding offers solutions to many problems facing beginning entrepreneurs. The obvious example is start-up costs, but the format of sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe goes beyond money. As mentioned previously, crowdfunding can provide backers with a sense of ownership towards the product and its creation, which in turn builds anticipation for the end result. Your campaigns can also be shared across social media, adding into your marketing process. In short, crowdfunding can create momentum for your entire e-commerce business right from the start.
With that said, there are a few caveats to using crowdfunding to start your e-commerce business. As much as your backers can help you, you are still dependent on their funds for the initial start-up. Not every project on crowdfunding sites gets complete funding, so you must be aware of that possibility heading into it. The people funding your project also expect to receive their rewards or product in a timely manner, and any hiccups along the way could result in negative feedback, especially across social media. Finally, you also need to be aware of any rules or regulations each crowdfunding site implements for projects that could affect your bottom line (Kickstart, for example, has a 5% fee applied to collected funds).
If you’re just starting out in the world of e-commerce or interested in selling your dream product, crowdfunding can get you started the right way. Start your research into various crowdfunding sites and watch your campaign grow from concept to shipping in a matter of weeks.
Found your crowdfunding site and looking for a place to ship your new products? Contact 3rd Eye Logistics today to learn more about our fulfillment offers!
Why third-party logistics? For e-commerce industries in particular, it becomes useful in establishing a central hub for inventory, especially for sellers who have limited commercial space.
Imagine running your business and feeling overwhelmed. Not slightly stressed, not occasionally under pressure, but submerged by the demands of your company.
First things first: it’s okay.
It’s natural to experience that as you work hard to build your brand. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for being overwhelmed. There are many avenues you can take to make the road to success more enjoyable, one of which is relying on third-party logistics.
Building your business, especially if you focus primarily in the e-commerce industry, means handling multiple logistical fronts. Logistics of this nature may include storage, packing, transportation, and product inspection, among others. This process can become more intricate as your inventory diversifies or your client reach extends beyond traditional locations.
Third-party logistics in this case is outsourcing many of the aforementioned logistical fronts to another company. For e-commerce industries in particular, it becomes useful in establishing a central hub for inventory, especially for sellers who have limited commercial space. The company’s endgame for using third-party logistics is to move those areas of concern to experienced hands while focusing on other areas of growth.
Running your business is very much like home repair, in that there are a lot of tasks that can be handled by yourself but plenty that could be delegated to specialists. Many of these tasks include:
If you’re just starting out as an e-commerce business, maintaining your stock can be cumbersome depending on your storage space. By opting to use a 3PL for storage, you now have a larger central hub perfectly suited to hold most (or even all) of your products. This allows you to free up space for your office or work setting for other productive means.
It’s one thing to actually have a product in storage, but it’s quite another to maintain it’s condition prior to and during transportation. A 3PL will have qualified staff ready to collect your products into pallets for large-scale storage or distribution. By doing so, you save valuable manpower and money by outsourcing product selectors (not to mention liability).
You shouldn’t have to leave any of your product numbers to guesswork. Instead of having to crunch the numbers yourself, your 3PL can take care of the inventory legwork. As this process becomes more automated, their numbers will be updated on your online store or database, making it easier for you to see which items are popular and which items need additional promotion. In short, they’ll count the product numbers while you count your profits.
Amazon FBA and e-commerce sellers thrive on consistent product distribution. Whether it is UPS, FedEx, or other major couriers, knowing exactly where your product is being sent and tracking its progress is vital to your business’ success. Using a 3PL streamlines the process to route your orders to the best fulfillment center. This also extends your reach to more parts of the country and beyond, giving your business more exposure in the long run.
Part of maintaining a loyal client base is knowing what to do when things don’t go as planned. If a customer receives the wrong product or an item that is not up to their satisfaction, they should be assured that it will be handled in a timely manner. 3PL’s can help in that endeavor by providing return labels with each shipment in order to make it easier for the customer to return the product to the fulfillment center. As a result, you are given the information automatically in your inventory or database so that you can address the concern and retain their patronage.
Your business does not have to fit a certain mold to enjoy the perks of a 3PL. From brand-new Amazon FBA sellers to experienced e-commerce companies, anyone can benefit from third-party logistics. Over time, your business will save money on storage costs, track inventory and shipping information online with ease, and give your brand room to expand to new heights.
If you’re ready to stop worrying and start celebrating, start your 3PL journey by contacting 3rd Eye Logistics today! Talk with our experienced staff to give your e-commerce business a clearer future.
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The shipping process can be confusing sometimes. Sure, on the surface it may seem as easy as knowing your inventory, how much to send, where to send, and the expected arrival times, but the finer points of the process might add some unwanted stress. One of those finer points includes the shipment load on your trucks.
Your shipment process is more than simply knowing how much to load onto the vehicle. It’s an intricate decision that can affect your arrival times, volume of inventory that can be shipped, and ultimately your profits. To get into the nitty gritty of your shipping, it’s important to know six major types of shipments and how they compare: less than truckload vs. truckload, full container load vs. less container load, and floor-loaded containers vs. palletized containers.
When shipping via truck, one major factor to consider is how much inventory you want to fill in your trailer. LTL shipping involves having your inventory in a specific amount of space in a trailer rather than loading up the entire area. This is ideal for companies who outsource their shipping and rent the necessary space on the trailer. It is cost-effective if you do not have a lot of inventory to ship with the downside of multiple trips based on what you’re selling.
TL shipping, by contrast, involves using the entire trailer space to ship your products. This process gives you some cost-saving measures as well if you’re shipping enough products to justify the full use of the trailer, leading to less stops on the trip. On the other hand, outsourcing a trailer and using this much space will increase the cost.
Beyond how much to fill your trailer or means of transporting the goods, you also need to think about how many products to fit onto your pallet or in your box or crate. With FCL, you are using the full container to your advantage to fill all of your products. This makes it easier in terms of distributing more products at once during one shipment, but also costly if you’re outsourcing.
If you only need to use a portion of the container or pallet for your inventory, LCL shipping might be for you. You only purchase the space you need for your business needs, which saves you in shipping costs. This also allows you to keep a smaller inventory instead of overstocking. The downside to FCL is that the additional steps (consolidating, processing, sorting) can make your overall delivery time take longer.
After you’ve figured out your transportation costs and your loading costs, one of the final things to factor in is your loading method. This will mainly be dependent on the size and shape of your products and their packaging. Floor loading is, as the name implies, stacking from the floor up without using a pallet. For many small businesses or B2B companies that have smaller items or inventory, this can be a cost-saving measure considering the extra weights of pallets. On the other hand, some carriers require pallets for shipping, so this needs to be discussed prior to settling on your distribution model.
For businesses that have larger or more abundant items for distribution, palletization may be the more ideal option. Forklifts can move these shipments around easily and give you more customizable organization in your warehouse regardless of stocking in-house or using fulfillment. As mentioned above, the drawback to using pallets is the additional weight and size that need to be determined in your shipping costs.
Once you crunch the numbers on your transit, container, and loading costs, you’ll be well on your way to shipping your products around the globe.
Whether you’re just starting off in the e-commerce world or a veteran of online sales, knowing which platform to use is a must. After all, you wouldn’t build a shop in town with shoddy architecture, would you? The same goes for e-commerce platforms, which come in a variety of sizes, benefits, and drawbacks for both sellers and consumers.
While there are dozens of platforms you can choose in your quest for e-commerce dominance, this list has been narrowed down to the most recognizable names. As an aside, Amazon FBA will not be discussed in this analysis, as it will be given its own breakdown in a later article. With that said, the following platforms will be compared:
With WordPress becoming one of the standards among website building over the years, it became natural for the company to branch out to cater towards online sellers. Launched in 2011, WooCommerce is the website builder’s free plug-in for e-commerce users or simply those who need a quick and easy checkout option on their page.
Having such a strong backer as WordPress means that your e-commerce site will have strong SEO results, and you can’t beat its free installation on the website. However, it does become rather pricey when you factor in additional add-ons through Bluehost (as little as $6.95/month for basic hosting). This may not seem like much, but additional add-ons over time results in additional small charges that would otherwise be covered with another platform. WooCommerce also does not handle processing by itself, which requires another source such as PayPal.
With that said, it is the ideal choice for those who intend to use WordPress as their de facto website source.
This Canadian e-commerce platform prides itself on having “everything you need to sell online, on social media, or in person.” Compared to the previous platform, Shopify is based on a tiered subscription service, including:
A basic plan for $29/month plus 2.9% and 30 cents/transaction.
A Shopify plan for $79/month plus 2.9% and 30 cents/transaction
An advanced plan for $299/month plus 2.4% and 30 cents/transaction
A Shopify Plus plan for $2,000/month or more and 2.15%/transaction
This pricing plan allows for quite a bit of customization based on your experience level and the volume you may be anticipating. At its basic level, you receive a free SSL certificate, unlimited file storage and product uploads, fraud analysis, and 24/7 support. If you’re just starting out, this may be the plan for you.
On the other hand, it does have weak SEO performance compared to platforms such as WooCommerce and weaker customization at the expense of an easy set-up process. For users who want to go above and beyond in terms of their site’s exposure, Shopify may not be for you. Yet for those of you who look to use drop shipping as your means of fulfillment, Shopify may be just what you need.
Founded in 2009 with roots in the heart of Texas, BigCommerce also offers a tiered payment service depending on your needs. However, their plans include:
$29.95/month for a Standard Plan
$79.95/month for Plus
$249.95/month for Pro
While this may be somewhat expensive for some, they do offer a longer 15-day free trial to tinker with the benefits. Perhaps one of the best features of the site is the multi-channel selling that can occur across sites like Facebook, eBay, and even Amazon. This allows you to promote your business with authority, and the increased SEO customization aids in that endeavor.
In terms of appearance, BigCommerce boasts elegant designs, even surpassing WordPress for theme choices. Such strong choices do come with a drawback: loading times that are inconsistent at best. A diminished user experience because of load times could result in customer frustration or apathy.
Regardless, additions such as real-time inventory tracking help make BigCommerce the premier choice among popular brands and businesses.
Squarespace has grown from an obscure CMS to a popular midroll advertisement choice among YouTube personalities like Binging with Babish. As a result, it made sense for the website builder to tap into the online seller market with its ecommerce option.
At first glance, you may be blown away by how impressive the websites look, from stunning templates to great ease-of-access for users and creators. The pricing is not hard on the pocket, as their plans range from $26 – $40 with varying levels of features included, such as no transaction fees or abandoned cart auto recovery.
On the downside, there are limitations to where you can sell using Squarespace. Amazon integration is not possible, drop shipping is not present, and the lack of customer service support over the phone can be a hassle in an emergency. The glorious visuals also hamper the speed on both desktop and mobile devices.
Squarespace’s e-commerce platform may have some work to do in terms of diving into the world of online selling, but it has quite a head start already.
How can you beat free, especially if you’re selling online? Ecwid answers that question and more with their unique ecommerce platform.
As mentioned, its strongest selling point is that it’s free (though they too have tiered monthly plans that go from $15 to $99). It requires no transaction fees, advertising across multiple social media websites, and SEO tools once you venture into their paid plans.
The free plan is certainly a draw, but it does have drawbacks. The product limit for the first plan is a measly ten items, which can hamper you if you are looking to diversify your inventory. Customization is also lacking in this area, at least compared to stronger visual sites like Squarespace or BigCommerce.
Despite this, Ecwid has one major feature that surpasses the others: a demonstrably strong multi-platform presence. As a plug-in, it can be used on sites such as Wix, Tumblr, Weebly, and even the aforementioned Squarespace and WordPress sites. For a free platform, it shows that price isn’t everything.
Found an e-commerce platform you like? Start building your business today and see how it can be enhanced even further with the fulfilling powers of 3rd Eye Logistics! Schedule your free consultation and watch your e-commerce vision unfold.
The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with your family, cooking tasty meals, or simply taking some much needed rest. It’s also the perfect occasion to grow your business, especially if you specialize in e-commerce sales. However, it’s not as easy as just lowering prices and promoting your specials. There’s a lot to be considered if you want to maintain profits and productivity.
You might be thinking that increasing your stock is a wise move. After all, it’s a prime season for boosting sales, so having more of your products to get ready for the increased demand makes sense, right? In actuality, it’s a bit more complicated. If you are an Amazon FBA seller or work in conjunction with a third-party logistics company, you might run into the issue of limited warehouse space due to increased demands for stocking. Timing your restock levels right before the holiday season can help curb this issue, albeit with a potential increase in stocking prices.
Mail carriers and general product transportation crews are working overtime in order to meet holiday demands. As such, this will affect the logistical side of your business as you factor in both the arrival time to your warehouse as well as packaging costs.
As mentioned earlier, fulfillment warehouses traditionally increase their holiday rates in preparation for increased inventory. This also means that the arrival time to the warehouse shelves may also be affected. If you are determined to get your inventory ready for the expected sales, consider using multiple outlets to host your stock to ensure that no matter where it’s hosted, it’s ready to go.
This is also the best time to examine your packaging costs, or specifically your dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. Your DIM weight pricing is based on a number of factors including the weight of your item, the size of the box, and a DIM factor constant set up by each carrier. To put it simply, you might be undergoing unnecessary shipping costs if you rely on boxes are too big for your product. Be very cognizant of the boxes you rely on for shipping and look for the carrier with the rates that fit your budget.
Maintaining a strong relationship with your customers is one of the backbones of a successful business. That relationship faces arguably its biggest test during the holidays, where customers are expecting top-tier service as they look to get gifts for their friends and family.
As such, returns will undoubtedly be a part of you customer service plan. Gifts will be returned due to unwanted gifts, an error on the shipping end, or other unplanned actions. Your return policy should:
Aside from providing premium customer satisfaction, your main goal during the holiday season is to take advantage of the yuletide need to buy gifts to increase your profits. This can also be a time to do a “stress test” of sorts to see how well your e-commerce business does against a larger volume of customers.
To track this stress test, you need to examine the following variables throughout the season:
After the holidays, you can compare those figures to your normal rates to see which areas are boosting or hindering your profit margins.
If you’re still flustered with the holidays as you build your e-commerce business, consider using a third-party logistics business to handle your shipping and distribution. With additional warehouse space, specialized distribution, and instant inventory tracking online, this gift-giving season will be smooth sailing for you and your customers.
Ready to see what your e-commerce business can become? Sign-up with 3rd Eye Logistics today to get exclusive services guaranteed to make you merry!