September 19, 2015

A finely-tuned fulfillment solution is a beautiful thing to behold, especially when we’re talking about a cosmetics supply chain!

Beauty products are just the kind of delivery that consumers can’t wait to receive, which means any delay reflects badly not only on the order but the entire brand experience.

Even with an exquisite product involved, however, every supply chain has the potential to turn ugly. Continue reading 5 Challenges Facing Your Cosmetics Supply Chain

September 11, 2014
Free twitter bar
Next stop: Buy Me on Twitter? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a lot of focus on one-click buying in order fulfillment circles, and with good reason.

Established online retailers like Amazon and eBay have embraced the impulsive allure of quick click purchases for some time, but it’s the more recent roll outs by social networks, first Facebook and now Twitter, that offer the most promising area for expansion.

Retailers already do plenty of work within their own digital walls to up sell and cross sell existing customers. Outside of their own ecosystem the focus has been to attract new customers through advertising and optimizing their sites for search engines.

Social networks, until now, have been an sandpit in which companies can talk to their customers and perhaps raise awareness of their products, but rarely are they seen as a source of direct sales.

Integrating easy-to-use buy buttons within the walls of popular social media sites could change all that, expanding the reach of ecommerce operators exponentially.

one click buying button

One of the main challenges to both retailer and social site to date has been losing control of the customer.

For the retailer, it’s a balancing act between showcasing products on a social network without selling too heavily and driving customers away from the brand in general. For the social network, sending users to another site for another activity has to be balanced with the desire to keep them on site, enjoying the entertainment element that brought them there in the first place.

If immediate buy buttons become a common enough element of social sites both of these problems could be addressed with one solution. Customers can spot a product they like, quickly process the transaction within the walls of Facebook, and get back to catching up with friends, commenting on a cat meme, or playing the latest Facebook game fad (and unwittingly inviting the rest of us to do so). Sale for retailer, easy purchase for customer, increased stickiness for social network, a win-win-win scenario for all involved, no?

The answer to that will slowly be revealed as Facebook and Twitter test their buy buttons, but there are certainly some obstacles.

For one, social sites aren’t currently considered as the online malls that retailers and tech startups might like them to be. Although some transactions are carried out already, such as in-app purchases and buying advertising, the general act of social media shopping is in its infancy. As such, there are plenty of bumps in the road to navigate before brands convince customers to not just like or follow them there, but also buy what they’re selling. And that selling is also somewhat at odds with the general consensus that social media marketing is based on being informative and entertaining, not yet another sales space. The former could limit the latter, even when simple sales functions are put in place.

The other aspect that still worries many customers is just who they can trust with their details online. The biggest brand names online and off – Target, Apple, Home Depot and many more – have been dragged through the mud this year thanks to digital hacker attacks, making customer leary of expanding their purchase activity outside of the providers they already trust. Overcoming these security concerns will be just as important as convincing customers that social sites are a place they want to shop in the first place.

Even against these pronounced challenges, social network shopping holds so much potential that retailers will be pulling out all the stops to build a foundation for its future.

If they’re successful, those of us providing ecommerce order fulfillment services must be ready to meet the resulting rise in demand.

 

October 24, 2013

Last month we wrote about the resurgent U.S. trucking industry, as well as the challenges facing hauliers as their services experience increased demand. One challenge that we didn’t mention is that of identity fraud, and it’s catching attention outside of the industry this week.

Freightliner truck at Olympic Bouleward, Los A...
Haulage in action (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reports across mainstream news outlets suggest that a simple but highly damaging scam is costing the sector millions of dollars every year.

These articles detail the way in which con artists scour the web for desirable shipments, posing as truckers, then simply hooking up to a load and hauling it away. Often, the first the supplier hears about such thefts is when a customer calls to complain about a missed delivery, by which time the thieves are long gone with goods valued in the six figure range. This for a ruse that can cost them as little as $300 for a carrier ID and some time at the wheel of a big rig.

But are these trucking scams as simple and widespread as the articles suggest?

Haulage Theft: Reports vs. Reality

What may seem like a common problem after reading the reports, in actual fact comes down to that old adage, “you get what you pay for.”  Trucking scams undoubtedly do occur, just as do thefts in our personal lives, but the quality of security must be examined whenever covering these cases.

high security container seal
A close up of a high security seal on a shipping container. (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

More often than not, this quality comes down to robust procedures and verification systems that are rigorously adhered to.

For example, our facilities at Capacity LLC implement multi-step verification processes, both off and on site, before any shipment is permitted to leave our premises.

These checks and measures include:

  • First and foremost, any and all pick ups must be scheduled. Without an appointment on the books, no hauler will be allowed on site.
  • Driver’s license number and/or trailer identification number must be verified before a vehicle is permitted to enter.
  • Once on site, the following shipment details must be verified:
    • the delivery pick up number,
    • order number (incl. piece count),
    • the carrier’s PRO (Progressive Rotating Order) number, which also links back to subsequent invoicing checks, and is the equivalent of a package tracking number.
  • Managerial presence and sign off for high value shipments worth more than $100,000.
  • For loads travelling across the country, C-TPAP and ISO-17712 compliant high security seals, similar to the one pictured here.

 

Guard Against Trucking Scams

With strict adherence to protocol and procedure, thefts become extremely difficult and certainly far more involved than some of the scenarios described.

Given the value of most shipments running into five or six figures, it almost always pays to opt for expertise, rather than less expensive  alternatives that almost inevitably adopt a lower level of security. In the end, this is by far the best protection against the kinds of trucking scams being reported at this time.

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