Welcome to the Fulfillment Works Blog

At Fulfillment Works, our experience across multiple industries has allowed us to gain valuable insights into the needs of our customers. We pride ourselves on delivering proven solutions for both B2C and B2B clients. This blog allows us to share best practices in logistics and ecommerce. Read on to learn tips for ecommerce sites, fulfillment solutions, and even more about Fulfillment Works. Check back often, or subscribe to our feed for the latest articles.

Color Psychology for Branding & Merchandizing

The science and psychology behind colors is important to consider when measuring the effectiveness of your customer-facing collateral. The colors used for your web pages, advertisements, and exclusive products impact the way current and potential customers perceive your brand. You want to be sure that the color schemes you use resonate with your brand messaging while also evoking the right kind of emotional response from your audience. Whether you're adding a new line of products to your ecommerce site or thinking of re-branding, it's worthwhile to consider how color psychology can work for you. In this post, we'll explain the common psychological associations (from a U.S. cultural perspective) for a spectrum of colors that are useful to retailers and e-tailers alike.

Red    
Associated with: Hunger, Urgency, Danger, Love, Heat
Red is an effective color when placed on call-to-action buttons or ads to grab users’ attention and inspire them to take action.
    
Black
Associated with: Power, Formality, Mystery, Elegance, Expensive, Gravitas
Black is often seen as a color of sophistication and authority, but can come off as intimidating if overused. When used sparingly, black has a grounding effect and pairs well with a spectrum of other shades.

Brown
Associated with: Historical, Traditional, Rustic, Earthen, Classical
Brown shades are very effective when promoting products that have “rugged” qualities, or appealing to audiences with more austere or conservative sensibilities.

Violet
Associated with: Luxury, Magical, Imaginative, Majestic, Passion
Consider the use of violet or purple when unveiling a new or innovative product, as the color invites shoppers into an imaginative experience.

Green
Associated with: Progress, Health, Money, Freshness, Growth, Environmentalism
Most commonly found in the promotion of healthy or environmentally conscious products or services, green can also be used to evoke the concepts of wealth and bountiful prosperity.

Orange
Associated with: Creativity, Expressive, Warm, Exciting, Energetic
Orange is known as the color that “pops.” Consider using for calls-to-action or to highlight product features you would like to bring attention to.

Blue
Associated with: Trust, Calmness, Professional, Reliable, Cool, Peaceful
The color blue puts people at ease. This color works well for promoting customer services or authoritative information.

White
Associated with: Cleanliness, Simplicity, Easy, Purity
White is often used to evoke efficiency, but can come off as cold and sterile if overused. White works best when combined with other colors to soften their impact and add clarity to designs that may otherwise come off as too busy or bright.  

USPS Rates for 2019 are now in Effect

Following in the footsteps of last year's rate increases from UPS and FedEx, the USPS enacted several rate increases of its own on January 27 this year. To help you estimate the impact on your business, we've outlined some of the key changes below:

Priority Mail Rates

Across the board, Priority Mail services increased by an average of 5.9%. Other changes of note include the elimination of balloon pricing for parcels shipping to Zones 1-4, and an average 3.9% increase for Priority Mail Express rates.

First Class Package Services

For the first time, First Class Package service rates will now be calculated based on Zone, similar to Priority Mail. Rates for this service will also increase by an average of 11.9%. First Class International rates will increase by an average of 3.9%.

Commercial Plus Flat Rates, and other services

Prices for Commercial Plus Flat Rate boxes and envelopes increased by an average of about 7% (but, if you disregard the very small 2% increase for Medium Flat Rate Boxes, all other flat rate containers actually increased by an average of 10%). In addition, Parcel Select Ground rates decreased by an average of 1.3%, while Media Mail rates increased by an average of 2.9%.

Changes to DIM weight pricing: Coming Soon

Originally slated to go into effect January 27, the USPS delayed the reduction in its dimensional weight divisor (DWD) from 194 to 166 until June 23 to provide shippers with more time to prepare. A package's DIM weight is calculated by dividing the cubic inches of the package by the DWD. The shipping rate for the package is calculated using whichever is greater - the package's actual weight, or its DIM weight. So, a lower DWD means that the DIM weight for all packages increases, making them more likely to incur a higher rate. However, that's not as bad as it sounds when you consider that both FedEx and UPS have been using a DWD of 166 since 2015.

It’s worth noting that although the USPS is raising many of its rates, it’s still an affordable option for lightweight packages traveling to residential destinations. Plus, the USPS doesn't add surcharges for things like fuel, regular Saturday delivery, or holiday “peak” season delivery – so it's still a valuable part of any shipper’s distribution mix. For a detailed review of all of USPS' prices changes, visit their website.

A Recap of UPS Rate Changes for 2019

UPS announced changes to its rates for 2019 in December last year – giving customers a mere 3 weeks before they went into effect. With the holidays in full swing, the entire fulfillment industry was extremely busy at that time – so if you missed the announcement or didn't have time to process the details, you’re not alone. To help get you up to speed, we’ve highlighted the some of the most important changes in the list below. For full details and pricing information, visit UPS to read the official announcement.

  • The rates for UPS® Ground, UPS Air and International services will increase an average + 4.9% (which follows the precedent set by FedEx's previously announced rate increases for 2019)
  • The index for determining the Domestic Air Fuel surcharge increased +0.25% for all thresholds. In addition, fuel surcharges will apply to accessorials such as Additional Handling, Over Maximum Limits, Signature Required and Adult Signature Required.
  • A new processing fee (+$2.00 per package) will be charged when Package Level Detail (PLD) is not provided to UPS prior to delivery.
  • The Additional Handling charge for all packages will increase by $2.25. Any U.S. domestic package exceeding 70 pounds in actual weight (i.e. not DIM weight) will incur an Additional Handling charge of $4.00.
  • The Address Correction charge will increase +$0.50, and the per shipment maximum will increase +$3.50.
  • The Large Package Surcharge will increase +$15.00 for U.S. Domestic commercial packages, +$25.00 for U.S. Domestic residential packages, +$15.00 for International packages.

Considerations for Optimized Shipping & Packaging

The cost of shipping is a major competitive differentiator in ecommerce. Shoppers will quickly abandon a cart or buy from a competitor if it means they will save money on shipping. To reduce shipping charges for your customers, you'll need to go beyond investing in cheaper dunnage or renegotiating with carriers for better rates. In addition to those strategies, here are some more holistic considerations for improving the cost efficiency and customer-friendliness of your packing and shipping operations.

Evaluate current packing materials and processes

From material and labor costs, to DIM weight optimization and customer experience – you may find there's a lot to "unpack" by doing a comprehensive review of your current approach to packing and shipping. Some useful questions to ask during this process include:

  • How do factors such as total weight, dimensional weight, oversize charges, special handling, and the number of packages shipped per order affect your total average shipping expenses?
  • What do your customer service and operations reports show about damages from improper packing or packing materials?
  • What is the average labor cost on oversized items requiring special labor and materials to pack?

Consider the potential benefits of branding

Stylized packaging helps to create a memorable, positive experience for customers. When done well, customized packaging can improve your brand perception and boost your marketing reach through word-of-mouth and social media. Besides adding your brand messaging to packaging materials, interactive packaging inserts with social media instructions (“follow us at…”), post recommendations (“take a picture and tell us how excited you are to start using this product”), and hashtag suggestions are an inexpensive way to get more ROI from stylized packaging.

Right-sized packaging & kitting

Customizing your packaging to an optimal size and level of protection can save you money on shipping costs over the long-term. Right-sizing the cartons for each order will help get you the best DIM shipping rate every time. Customized dunnage that is lighter and less voluminous dunnage also contributes to getting better shipping rates. Depending on the level of variation in your typical order sizes, the best solution could range from onsite box-making equipment, to custom packaging and kitting services.

Localization & Ecommerce: Tips for Expanding into New Regions

More and more companies are trying to change up their merchandizing strategies in preparation for entering new global markets. Beyond translating marketing content correctly into various languages, e-tailers also need to reevaluate information like item specifications and sizing details to align with regional norms and local consumer protection laws. Social standards as well as neighborhood laws are also critical factors to think about with development into new markets. To help ensure that your website and product information is comprehensive, relevant and accessible to foreign audiences, follow these guidelines.

Make updates to product specifications and descriptions

When expanding your reach to global customers, it's critical to localize product information across webpages and promotional content. This includes revamping SKU info with market-appropriate specifications (e.g. converting imperial measurements to metric) and descriptions that properly translate into your target audiences language(s) and/or dialect(s).

Research cultural norms and make changes accordingly

Ecommerce sites that sell to different regions need to consider numerous cultural aspects, such as seasonal trends, societal norms, and holidays. For example, the color purple is associated with aristocracy, royalty, and riches in many parts of the world. However, in Brazil and Thailand, purple is associated with somber occasions and periods of mourning. Your product offerings and item descriptions may need to be customized according to these kinds of nuances.

Guarantee Quality Control and Legal Compliance

Policies concerning labeling, licensing, and merchandising all vary between countries. For example, many regions have different labeling formats and information requirements for ingredients, country of origin, and health warnings. Sellers (especially those with large item catalogs) may require sophisticated product information management systems to assist them with making and tracking changes for regulatory compliance quickly across numerous markets.