When we first started WP Warehousing over 6 years ago, our business model for storage/distribution was palletized materials traveling from business to business. As our company grew, we reached out to our existing customers to determine what additional services could help them grow their businesses. The most common answer was an affordable solution to maximize e-commerce sales.
WP Warehousing listened to the suggestions given to us by our clients and provided a possible solution to this need. Below are some of the questions that have been asked by our clients and the answers we gave.
Why Should I sell things online?
To answer this question, a person/company needs to ask themselves these other questions:
- Do you have customers from out of town that would continue to buy from you when they are home if given a chance (i.e. tourists, college/university students)?
- Would a higher volume of sales help you get better prices from your suppliers and let you price your product at an even more competitive rate?
- Are you losing sales to companies with similar products because they are online and you are not?
- Would your current customers benefit from being able to shop online at their convenience?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, perhaps developing an online presence for your company is a good idea.
How do I get started with e-commerce?
E-commerce is a tricky business here in Canada. Unlike the US, we don't have a standard postage rate for parcels travelling across our country. Being an avid E-Bay fan, I'm often surprised that it is cheaper to ship something to California than it is to Thunder Bay. I understand that we are a huge country that doesn't have the population density to make any courier service as affordable as it in the US. So, for a Canadian company to compete in the online market, they need to maximize their shipping solutions to provide the best “bang for their buck".
For corporate accounts, all the courier companies base their pricing to companies on the volume of packages they send out in a year. Though each courier service has areas that they are the most economical to use, you need to weigh the savings on an individual parcel with the time it takes to shop for the best price and whether you are trying to build volumes with a particular company to lower your overall rate. From our experience, it is better to limit your choices to the maximum of 2 companies. For us at WP Warehousing, we use Canada Post and FedEx as our primary services.
The reason WP Warehousing chose these two companies for our e-commerce solution is that they both have strengths that complement each other.
Canada Post is very economical for small parcels and most things that are being delivered to a residential address. If someone is not home during the day to receive a package (and this is more the norm with our society) a tag will be left and the receiver can pick up their parcel at a local outlet without any further charges. For me, if I miss a parcel at my house, my parcels can be picked up at our local Shopper's Drug Mart which is only a few blocks away. Currently, no other courier company has this convenience.
FedEx has excellent rates for anything going from business to business or for any large, bulky parcels. Like Canada Post, you have a number of options for proof of delivery, speed of transit and insurance. This gives the consumer the options needed to satisfy whatever shipping requests their client may have made.
How do I get the best delivery rates for my customers?
The only way to accomplish the lowest rates for your clients is to get volume discounts from your chosen courier companies. The problem here is that this answer is a “cart before the horse" sort of situation. To get more online sales, you need to offer the best prices possible. To offer the best prices possible, you need to already have the volumes needed to get the discounts.
This is where a fulfillment company like WP Warehousing can help. WP already has volume discounts set up with both Canada Post and FedEx. When items are shipped from our warehouse, our clients take advantage of our discount levels based on the volumes of all our clients combined. This allows your company to leverage our discount levels and compete against larger companies that may be selling similar products as yourself. WP Warehousing also offers bulk rates for approved shipping boxes to help make sure your parcel arrives safely while saving you money on the costs for the packaging materials.
Isn't setting up an e-commerce site expensive/complicated?
Setting up any sort of website is a major step for any business. Some people try to do it themselves by buying a software package that lets them use a template to create their site. Other spends thousands of dollars with web developers on websites that they can't update themselves and don't respond well to your developing company.
When WP Warehousing developed our websites (www.wpwarehousing.com, www.wpbottlesupply.com), we initially went with a company that developed an “online brochure" for us. The site looked okay but it was static and we could add content very easily to react to our growing business. We realized that our website wasn't working for our business and hired CMS Intelligence to develop our online presence (www.cmsintelligence.com) . They offered a very affordable solution which turned our “static brochure" website into a tool that helps generate sales.
The other aspect needed to having an effective website is getting people to visit it. Besides having our products available, all business websites need to have information on their industry that will generate hits when people are searching the web. Being an online store with good prices is great but being an online store that positions yourself as an expert on what you sell is even better. Not only are you driving sales based on your prices but you are also adding value to your goods by being an expert in your field. We learned this concept mostly by participating in the information seminars hosted by Symetric Productions (www.symetricproductions.com). They are a Niagara based company who understands web marketing and work with businesses to develop their online presence. We were so impressed with this company that we hired them to manage our newsletters and blog posts – mostly to make sure we actually get them done. Combining what they do for us with the work CMS is doing has led to increased sales leads and additional business with our existing customers. Either of these companies will be able to offer you an affordable business solution which will enhance your sales and position in the marketplace.
Should I do fulfillment in house or with a fulfillment company?
There are a number of advantages for using a fulfillment company like WP Warehousing rather than fulfilling orders at your store:
- · You can group your parcels with other companies to realize lower postage rates
- · You can concentrate on generating more sales rather than fulfilling the sales you already have
- · You know that the packages will be sent out on time and in the proper boxes
- · You don't need to create a space for packing parcels or invest in packaging materials
· If there are challenges with a parcel, you have someone who will sort out the issues in a timely manner and get back to you and your client
I hope that this article gave you some ideas about how you can leverage e-commerce for your business. If you have any questions or want to know how you can partner with WP Warehousing to grow your business, please do not hesitate contacting me using the links on this website.
All the best,
Co-Owner, WP Warehousing Inc.