Warehouse Stuck in the Neolithic Age? 4 Ways to Automate Your Facility

When it comes to the warehouse industry, the future is automation. This involves several components that all work together in order to get the task done. Here are some of the ways that you can automate your facility and bring it into the next century. 

Cartonization 

Through the use of technology, you can save some money on your shipping costs by employing cartonization methods. This is where the size and number of boxes are calculated in the most efficient manner possible to get the order out the door. Automation has made this task a little bit easier because your employees don’t have to spend time trying to get all of your customer orders packaged into boxes safely for shipment. 

Robotic Technology 

Another advantage when it comes to automation is through the use of robots.There are any number of robotic technologies that can used across a variety of different types of manufacturing fields. For example, robotic arms can be used to remove and stock whole pallets or individual items on a shelving system in your warehouse. This may eliminate some of the concerns that are more prevalent when it comes to workplace injuries that could occur. 

Automatic Pallet Wrapping 

It may take two employees for you to be able wrap up your pallets for shipping without the use of technology. Automatic pallet wrapping systems are available for you to purchase from companies like Fox Packaging Services. The point of many these machines is that your employees only need to position the pallet and then push a button in order to have it done in the most efficient manner possible. This will prevent the loss of products during the shipping process. 

Automated Labeling Systems 

Labeling all of your products can be a tedious process. It can also lead to mistakes if you have a person completing this task. Using an automated printing and label applying machine ensures that the label is done correctly and applied in the correct location all of the time. It allows your employees to focus on the more important tasks when it comes to running your warehouse. More quality control steps can be taken to ensure that your products are the best on the market. 

There are advantages when it comes to the use of technology in manufacturing and warehouses. More automation often leads to higher-skilled labor who can work to refine the process further. Consider these reasons when it comes to the benefits of upgrading your facility.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

Packaging Considerations For All Businesses

Developing an effective and beneficial product is only part of the process. You then need to market it and sell it in the best possible way. This involves packaging the product in an attractive and informative manner. With that being said, continue reading to find out more about important packaging considerations for all businesses.

Practicality comes first -We often tend to get wrapped up in the process of looking for vibrant and striking designs. While it is important to create packaging that looks amazing,this should never come at a sacrifice of practicality. After all, at heart, the primary job of your packaging is to make sure the product is protected physically. It can also act as a security aid, protecting against theft,depending on the nature of the product. You should never lose sight of this. Don’t ditch resealable plastic bags for bags without a seal simply because they look better.

Find a way to add some pizzazz – Once you have dealt with the practicalities, you need to make sure that your bag has the wow factor. After all, packaging needs to stand out from all of the other packages used. So, you need to choose something that makes your product seem better. Not only this, but the packaging you select can have a massive impact on the perceived retail value. This is something you shouldn’t overlook. You could easily add a dollar or two to the price with good packaging. All businesses need to consider the value when it comes to the packaging they select.

Make sure your packaging is informative – Aside from the points that have already been mentioned, you need to remember that your packaging is essentially an information-delivery system. It needs to tell the prospective buyer exactly what the product does and what it is for. While you need to keep things concise and ensure you don’t write anything unnecessary, living out imperative details is even more criminal. Moreover, think about where the eyes divert to first.

Telling a story– Last but not least, the final consideration you have when it comes to packaging is the story it tells. We don’t merely value products. We value the stories that go with them. This is something you really need to keep in mind when you are assessing different packaging options for your products. This is something that Apple do really well with their items, so it’s worth looking at their efforts for some inspiration.

As you can see, there are a number of different considerations when it comes to product packaging for your business. If you contemplate all of the pointers that have been discussed above, you should be able to come up with something that is right for your brand and your products.

Tackling Your Business’s Waste Problem

With increasing regulations and a growing awareness amongst consumers, every business owner has to seriously consider the environmental impact their work has. In particular, waste is still a significant issue, but one that you can help to decrease dramatically. Here, we’re going to look at some of the greatest sources of waste in all businesses and what you can do to lessen your impact at least a little.

Paper

Paper isn’t being treated as the completely expendable commodity that it once was. This is thanks, in large part, to the growing reliance on IT. More and more businesses are turning to a paperless or near paperless model. By relying more on digital storage and backups, you can reduce the amount of paper your business uses dramatically. Not only does this cut on the costs of buying paper itself, it also saves in terms of printing costs and the storage space necessary to keep all that paper, too.

Power

Many businesses use more electricity than necessary. From vampire electricity wasted by leaving devices on standby to relying on old equipment that is far from energy efficient, you could be driving your power bills sky high. An energy audit service can help you easily see where exactly you’re using the most energy and what to do about it. Investing in question like a genset can help you cut costs, too. Many utility providers are willing to offer discounts on energy, for instance, if companies are willing to use their own genset to supplement their reliance on utilities.

Water

Water-saving faucets and toilets can drastically reduce the amount of water wasted by employees in every bathroom. However, water waste isn’t just about how much water your business uses, but how clean it is when disposed. From businesses with fleets to warehouses and construction crews, water contamination is a serious problem. Oil water separators are more than just an ethical choice, they could be an essential part of making your business compliant with environmental regulations, depending on the industry you’re in. As the business grows, make sure that you’re getting rid of waste water in the cleanest way possible.

Packaging

If you’re in retail, manufacturing, or production of any kind, consider the packaging you offer. Regular product packaging is one of the most widespread sources of plastic and paper waste, but there are eco-friendly packaging options available. You can make it much easier for your customers to recycle or reuse your products. Not only will this help tackle your ecological footprint, but it’s a very visible sign of your company’s dedication to environmentally friendly operation methods. It can be as much a part of the brand, helping to win the goodwill of your consumers.

It’s reasonable to expect that businesses will be legally required to produce less waste as time goes on. Even now, consumers are becoming more mindful of who they support and producing lots of waste can be bad for your image as far as they are concerned. Keep the tips above in mind, as it’s only going to become more important.

Everything You Need To Know About Shipping

For any commercial business one of the main things which you will want to think about doing is sorting out your shipping method. When you start a small business, shipping may not be the first thing which comes to mind, however, after a few months, you won’t be able to handle simply packaging every item yourself to send off through the post.

Logistics and shipping can make up a very large part of your business, and therefore you need to understand as much as you can about local and interstate transport services for your business. Today we are going to take a look at the basics of shipping and teach you about what to do when shipping your items to your customers.

Rates and methods

When you start looking into the shipping products for your business you will need to take a look at the prices of your items, the shipping prices and the methods you will use for shipping. For example if you are a company who sells small items you can get away with using regular postal methods to deliver your items, however, if you are selling larger products you may need to use a large truck or van for the job. Your rates will likely depend on the type of item you want to ship as well as the weight of the item.

Weights

The heavier your item is, the more it will cost to sell to your customers. This will, of course, determine the cost of your shipping to your customers because the weight will increase the price of shipping by a hefty amount. This is why you will often see very expensive shipping on items like kitchens or furniture.

Type of packaging

You can usually order free packaging from large shipping firms if you decide to use them for all of your product shipping. If not, you will want to decide whether to use plastic bags or boxes to ship your items. This will, of course, depend on the size and the type of product you are selling.

Offer free shipping

If you want to get in your customer’s good side and make them want to continue buying from you, you can offer free shipping to any order over a certain price. This is a strategy which companies like Amazon use successfully all the time, and it stops you from abandoning your shopping basket halfway through an order. If you ordered $15 worth of items and you needed $20 to get free shipping, you are likely to carry on shopping to see if you can find an extra item.

Charge a fixed rate

Most companies use the method of charging one fixed shipping rate no matter what the cost or weight, and a lot of the time this works out as a great method for you to use. For example, if you are a homeware retailer and you charge the same money whether someone buys a kettle or a fridge, it can make a big difference to your customer and they will be more likely to stay shopping with you in the future.

Packaging

You will notice that these days many companies put their efforts into creating attractive packaging for their products. This can be anything from a cute logo to slapping your brand name all over the surface. From a marketing point of view, this can work out brilliantly because it not only makes the brand known to you and your family but also the postal workers and delivery drivers who come to bring you your items. It makes the brand more recognisable and ensures that they stay in your mind for longer.

Types of packaging

One of the decisions you will want to make when shipping your items is the type of packaging you’ll use to keep the items safe and sounds during transit. The most popular type of packaging to use is a box, however, this is not the only type of packaging you can use for your products. Many companies opt to use small bags lines with bubble wrap for their products. And this usually allows parcels to be delivered through the mailbox instead of worrying about missing your package and running to the depot to pick it up.

Keep it light

As you will know, the cost of packaging your items and shipping them off is based on the weight of the parcel. If you already have a large item to package, you will want to reduce your packaging costs as much as possible to stop you from having to pay extra. Try to cut down on fancy packaging and any extras which will make the parcel heavier than it needs to be. Remember to protect the parcel in transit, but other than that you can stay pretty lightweight to reduce your costs.

Tracking

If you are selling high ticket items and ones with a lot of value you may want to add a tracking service to your shipping policy to allow you to track your parcel and let the customer track it too. This will give you the peace of mind to know that it is well looked after, and it will allow the customer to have an estimate on what day and time their parcel may arrive.

Shipping is a huge part of your business and forms the beating heart of your strategy. It is crucial that you make sure you plan for the most efficient, cheap and quick shipping method you can for not only your business but for your customer too. A good shipping time and cost can make a big difference in your customer base and if they think it is better to go with you, they will. Take the time to research every type of packaging, every type of shipping and every company you can to ensure that you can provide the best possible service to your loyal customers. If you can provide a good service your customers will always come back to you.

How To Launch Your First Physical Product

The world of business is changing. Years before, it could take a lot of time and thought in order for you to get your business off of the ground. You could spend years doing your research and raising the funding you need to create your product and put it out into the market. However, now, you can also work on your craft at the same time. Because launching a content website is often the first step. When you have a blog, social channel, or online magazine, you’ll find that you’re able to create an audience, generate an income, and really get your research together before you launch that product. Sometimes, you don’t even have the intention or launching anything until you discover that there’s a need for it. So, your next project begins. But when it comes to actually launching that physical product, how should you go about it?

  1. Use Your Research

As we’ve lightly touched on, your research here is going to be crucial. When you’re working with an audience that you know well, you’ll have a lot of insight into who they are and what they want. You’ll even have the data to back it up. So make sure you pull all of your analytics data and any feedback you have to work out what they want. You can even ask them directly, just to make sure that the first product you launch is exactly what they want.

  1. Source A Manufacturer

When you do know what product you’re going to go with, you then need to find your manufacturer. The beauty of the modern world is that you don’t have to do any of this in-house. You can work with a dedicated supplier that will design, produce, and ship this product for you. Just make sure you pick out a company that you trust, that you can work well with, and that you think will do the best job.

  1. Design Your Packaging

While this is all starting to take off, you’re going to want to decide on your packaging design. For this, you might need printed labels for the actual product itself, boxes or outer packaging, shopping packaging, and even tags. Regardless of what you need, just make sure that everything fits with your brand.

  1. Anticipate The Launch

From here, you’re then going to want to make sure that you’re ready for your product launch. A great way to do this is to build up your product launch email list. Not only will you get to see what kind of interest there is, but you can market directly to the interested parties when you’re about to launch.

  1. React

And finally, you have to be able to react too. When you see how well your product is selling, you’ll want to determine whether you need to place another order, or start to work out whether you should launch another product and when. By reacting to what your customers want, you’ll always be able to ensure that your products are a success.

Dos and Don’ts When Shipping Products

At some point, nearly every entrepreneur or small business owner is going to need to ship out a product. Yes, you can save a lot of overhead by building a business around online “information products” such as e-books, audiobooks, PDF materials, and online consultancy sessions, but at some point you’re going to want to create a tangible item to sell in addition to your digital-only items.

Customers like having a product they can hold in their hands, and developing a physical product is also a good way to indirectly spread the word about your business. Think of all the people you see reading books on the subway, or wearing branded t-shirts or hats into the supermarket. That type of marketing and branding work can only be done through physical merchandise.

Entrepreneurs typically spend a large amount of time developing the product itself and much less time considering how to ship the product. This is a big mistake. Shipping is an essential part of the product package, and often makes the difference between a good customer experience and a bad one. Shipping is also a huge part of business overhead, meaning that there are major cost differentials between shipping in an efficient way and shipping in an inefficient way.

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In short: if you don’t take the time to plan out your shipping strategy before launching your product, you run the risk of sending out products that get broken in transit, sending out products that fail to delight your customer, and sending out products that cost your business much more than it needs to pay.

Do: Choose the right shipping material for each product

Before you send out your product, do some research into the best type of shipping material. Paperback books and t-shirts, for example, ship well in padded envelopes. CDs, on the other hand, can get damaged as envelopes are tossed from truck to truck, and need special CD mailers made of thick cardboard to keep them safe in transit. Larger products work well in corrugated cardboard boxes, but make sure you include packing material around your product so that it does not jostle around during transit.

Do: Consider the customer experience

Imagine opening a package from your favorite company. Which would you rather experience: digging your hands into crumbly, static styrofoam peanuts, or lifting aside a bubble packing liner made from recycled plastic?

What if the product turned out to be the wrong size? Wouldn’t you prefer return information to be included in the package, along with a note that you can ship it back in the very box in which it arrived?

Likewise, isn’t it always fun to get a little something extra, like a sticker or an inkpen featuring the company’s brand?

When you ship, think about the customer experience from beginning to end. Consider the popularity of the unboxing video, in which customers record and share every moment of the package-opening process. If your package does not delight your customer and provide a stellar customer experience, you are not doing your job as a business owner.

Don’t: Practice “Just In Time” Packaging

If you go out and buy one box every time you need to ship a product, you aren’t operating efficiently. Same goes if you run to the post office every time you need a new stamp. Every part of your product, from address labeling to weighing packages, needs to be streamlined, efficient, and done in bulk.

This also saves you a lot of money in the long run. A corrugated boxes manufacturer will give you a great deal on 100 boxes, and an even better deal on 1,000. Stock up, and you’ll save both time and money.

When it’s time to ship your first product, keep these dos and don’ts in mind. That way, you’ll be ready to pack and ship effectively and efficiently, and create loyal return customers in the process.

Guest author Rachel is a freelance writer and young professional who most enjoys writing about business best practices.