Friday, October 20, 2017

Holiday Shipping Tips

Now is the time to gear up for the holiday shipping rush.

Here are a few stats from Adobe Digital Insights and First Data Corporation to get you in the mood for holiday 2017:
  • E-commerce transactions in 2016 rose 12% compared to 2015
  • Between November 1 and December 31 of last year, US shoppers spent $91.7 billion online
  • During that timeframe, all but four days had over $1 billion in E-commerce sales
Gear up for the holiday shipping rush with these holiday shipping tips

Analysts have every reason to think Holidays 2017 will only top those numbers! Here are a few shipping tips to help you get through the season:

Remember speed matters:

Always ship products as fast as possible. During the holidays, customers have high expectations and low tolerance for delays. The best-case scenario is for you to ship product out the same day the order was placed. To help you get those orders right out the door, keep an up-to-date list of shipping carriers and their pick-up times.

Work with your delivery providers:

Give your logistics partners a heads’ up about the timing and volume you expect during the holiday season well in advance. It will help them plan better to meet your needs (and the needs of your customers).

Use downtime to pre-pack commonly shipped items: 

Now’s the time to pre-pack commonly shipped items. Write the contents and weights on the surface of the box so you’re one step ahead of the rush.

Stock up on packing supplies: 

This is also the time to check your inventory of shipping supplies. Make sure you have a good supply of corrugated boxes in a variety of sizes; water-activated tape and dispensers and air pillows.  You don’t want to be caught short with holiday orders that outrun your ability to pack and ship them fast.

The carton matters: 

Use a new, unused corrugated box that’s the right size and strength for the contents. In their UPS Compass blog the company cautions against reusing boxes: “Reused boxes lose strength, especially at the corners, and are even more vulnerable if they get wet in the rain or snow."

Package products for a safe trip: 

Many holiday gifts are fragile, breakable and at risk of being damaged during transit. Take extra care to properly package products so you won’t have to foot the bill for costly replacements and deal with the social media reviews of unhappy customers. Consider double-boxing fragile items, leaving at least a two-inch void for air pillow cushioning for a safe ride. 

Leave space around what you are shipping. Ideally, packers should aim for at least two inches of space on all sides around the item being shipped so it can be protected with air pillows on all sides.

Pack heavies at the bottom: 

If shipping several items, put the heavier ones on the bottom. You don’t want to stack them on top of lightweight, fragile items.

Use the right packaging tape:

Make sure your tape is safe, secure and tamper- resistant water-activated tape. If it’s a larger carton, apply it in an “H" pattern at the top and bottom. The idea is to make sure your well-packed box stays secure during shipping so the items arrive safely to the destination. 

Bonus Tip: 

When shipping goods for the holidays, slip in a festive item like a candy cane or small, wrapped candy. That unexpected goodie could bring a smile to a harried gift-giver just trying to keep up with her holiday to-dos.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Shipping Wine? Here are a Few Tips

Shipping wine can be a delicate and tricky business. Since a 2005 decision by the Supreme Court, more and more states have allowed out-of-state licensed wineries and wine brokers to ship wine. In fact, only five states (Delaware, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma and Utah) now prohibit the inter-state shipment of wine, according to the Wine Institute, the advocacy group for California’s wineries and affiliated businesses.
Once the legal hurdles of mailing have been overcome, licensed wine shippers have an even more difficult task: safely getting the fruits of their labors into the glasses of those who want to appreciate them.

Here are a few tips for making that happen:

Upright or Flat?

Experts recommend shipping most wines standing up. For older wines that have been aged on their sides, Wickman’s Fine Wine Auctions advises laying them flat. They have this advice: “If you have a collection of premium, good quality wine and you are certain of the purchase and storage history (provenance) and if you know it has been lying flat, undisturbed, then you can confidently ship it lying flat. However, wine that has not been stored in cellar-like conditions or in temperature control should be shipped standing upright as poorly stored bottles are more likely to leak if shipped lying flat.”

The Right Box

The right box for shipping wine is a strong, corrugated cardboard box with dividers designed to protect the bottles. Choose a box with a thick outer shell and sturdy separators if you’re shipping the wine standing upright. Do not use boxes that intended for other purposes. They won’t be able to protect and support the weight of a full box loaded with heavy wine bottles. Shipping this way can lead to wet and disappointed wine customers. “Multiple wine bottles in a box can be heavy and hard to handle, an undesirable combination for fragile items,” points out uShip’s Joseph Ho in a blog post for Grape Thinking. For those concerned with the safety and security of those shipments, we recommend sealing the bottom with water-activated tape. It offers the additional benefit of being reinforced with fiberglass fibers and provides a superior bond with the box.

The Right Protection Inside the Box

Make sure the bottles are tightly corked. This makes sure corks don’t loosen during shipping. A good preventive measure is to secure corks with wire cork cages. This is especially important for sparkling wines.

Wrap the bottles in two to three sheets of paper, rolling the bottle forward. As you roll, mold the top of the paper to the bottle's neck to ensure that it's well-wrapped. Then secure the paper with tape.

Place each wrapped bottle into the cell-divided box and make sure the bottoms of the bottles are well-protected. To ensure the bottles don’t move around in transit, fill the voids with air pillows.

Before fully permanently sealing the box, shake it gently to make sure you don’t hear the bottles clanging together. If the bottles are moving around too much, add extra packing paper or more air pillows to fill the gaps.

Closing it up and sending it on its way

Once you're satisfied that the bottles are secure and stable, tape the box closed with water-activated tape for safety and security. This tape offers the extra protection of being tamper-proof. Add a “fragile” label in addition to the address label.

Be sure to advise the shipper you’re using of the box’s contents and urge them to keep the temperature as low as possible during transport. Ideally, the wine should be kept at 55°F to prevent damage. Some carriers have climate controlled vehicles which is a great option. And one final caution: Do not ship wines during periods of continuous hot weather.

Following these tips offers you the best assurance that the wines the vintner carefully crafted deliver the taste, aroma and experience the consumer wants to savor.