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Our eCommerce Advent Calendar

In the countdown to Christmas, we've been sharing top tips, eCommerce facts and general pearls of wisdom each day via our twitter account @ReBOUNDreturns.

The eCommerce Countdown to Christmas. Follow us on twitter @ReBOUNDreturns to open your advent window each day in December 2014

 
It goes without saying that the Christmas period is the biggest time of the year for retailers and let's face it, you've got more important things to worry about than hitting refresh on your social newsfeeds, so we've been keeping things simple around here by taking one bite-size chunk of e-retail advice to share with you each day throughout the peak period.

 

Let's take a look behind a few windows on our eCommerce Advent Calendar so far...

Day 3

Did you know that Saturday 20th December is the last recommended posting date before Christmas for 1st Class & Royal Mail Signed For?

 Day 4

Don't forget that 89% of consumers will shop elsewhere if your customer service isn't up to scratch. 9th September 2014, Social Media Today, '5 stats every Ecommerce business should know'

Day 5 

Are you a Prepared Pam or a Last Minute Larry? 44% of us will finish our Christmas Shopping before or during November, whilst 2% will finish shopping on Xmas Eve. - Smart Focus, 3rd Dec, 2014. Check out their infographic for more consumer shopping habits during the Christmas season.

Day 6

The John Lewis Christmas advert this year drew in 7 million views in only 24 hours after it was released. The world fell in love with Monty The Penguin in a matter of hours. Via The Media Octopus.

 Day 8

eCommerce growth is always thought to be rapid, but did you know that the online retailing giant Amazon launched in 1995 but didn't actually turn a profit until 2003?

Stay tuned for more tips in our #eCommerce #AdventCalendar @ReBOUNDreturns.

By Monk Chipman

New Hires - Finance and Customer Service

The TSB team continues to grow...

Our two recent vacancies have now been filled. Thanks to all who applied, we're delighted to be welcoming 2 new staff to the TSB team who'll be joining us in January.

We were on the hunt for very talented, qualified accountants to fill the shoes of a Finance Manager with personality to take over the running of our Finance department. We advertised the role as a career defining opportunity for an individual, who like us is inspired by the eCommerce sector and we're confident we've met the person who fits the bill. 

In addition to this role, we were also seeking a bright Graduate to undertake a brand new role within the company to support the rapid growth of our global returns service 'ReBOUND'. The position will be varied and challenging with particular focus on customer service and gives the successful candidate an excellent opportunity to cut their teeth in the eCommerce logistics industry. This is the 5th Graduate position that we have created in partnership with the Keele University Internships Scheme. We look forward to continuing our support of the scheme and accessing this talent pool for future Graduate roles.

These are incredibly exciting times for the company and we'll be thrilled to welcome the newest additions to the team after Christmas.

 

By Monk Chipman

Football fever in eCommerce. Returns are a now game changer.

We've created this infographic in response to IMRG's 'Game Changer' theme this July. It's online sales vs returns. A returns policy can be strategic for international growth too, so we've levelled the score and created this infographic which calls for the defence of returns in the eCommerce field. In the context of the recent World Cup hype, we've also thrown in a few fact cards on online sales in the football sector.

Thanks to: Alex Broom-Roden

Published by Monk Chipman

What are the "Game Changers" in eCommerce?

A brief run-down of our favourite points raised at the IMRG e-retail conference 'Connect' this July.

 

July 2014's IMRG Connect was all about Mobile Commerce. mCommerce is a game changer. Green iphone.

On the 3rd July 2014 we attended the ‘IMRG Connect’ event in Manchester to learn from industry experts what the latest ‘Game Changers’ are in the eCommerce sector.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. The core of the events’ lessons painted the scene of a tale of two city centres; the worst of times for the high street and the best of times for consumers. The high street as we know it is a thing of the past, with “up to 25,000 High Street stores” estimated to have closed their doors between 2000 and 2011. (Dept for Business Innovation and Skills ‘Understanding High Street Performances’ December 2011) That’s a hard pill to swallow, unless you’re a pureplay online retailer. But as the desolate un-trodden high street gives way to the relentless growth of eCommerce, like the humming march of an oncoming zombie herd, guest speaker Guy Douglas (Digital High Street Programme Manager at the Association of Town and City Management) introduced us to the concept of the digital high street, where shopping centres and mCommerce can work together to bridge the gap.

Mobile was the buzzword of the day. It’s been bandied around in recent years, but many truly believe that 2014 will be the year of the Mobile. So what do our smart phones have to do with the re-imagining of the high street? Douglas told us that "Shopping on the high street is a sociable mini safari, it's an experience.” However, high street footfall has been dropping at an alarming rate over recent years; with disappointing losses of “26% of combined town and city footfall between 2007 and 2013”. (Springboard Research Ltd: research data shared with IMRG, June 2014)

When thinking of the shopping channels as separate entities, we run the risk of becoming too locked into our virtual buying habits and lose all the charm of the local bricks and mortar. Our insular social networking habits of Facebooking and Twittering; which incidentally are adopting their own ‘buy buttons’, could learn a thing or two from the human experience of high street shopping. If mobile-commerce is fully embraced by shop owners with strong free wifi coverage, the image of the abandoned high street could become like a bustling Parisian boulevard filled with coffee shops and patisseries instead. Can you see yourself browsing and buying on the move, or perhaps over a frothy latte with old friends?

Mobile potential realised then, why do “45% of retailers” still not have any form of mobile strategy? Jonathan Setty, (Sales Director at MoPowered) talked us through the reality that retailers still fail to see the importance of investing in Mobile. If mobile technology is neglected, the mCommerce buying experience can be extremely frustrating for the modern day consumer who is used to buying at broadband speeds. Most alarmingly, even the most minor technical glitch such as a 1 second delay time can lead to a 7% drop in sales! Setty told us. So the risk of doing nothing is sky high.

The Connect event taught us that trust in shopping via mobile is strengthening largely due to recent investment in payment methods. Could these technological advances really provide the canvas for foretelling the future of an interactive high street shopping experience?

Writer: Alex Broom-Roden
Edited by Monk Chipman

Throughout the conference we tweeted live with the IMRG hashtag #IMRGConnect. Follow @imrgupdate for more #eCommerce news. See you at the next 'Connect' in September!

#IMRGConnect live tweet from TSB Supply Chain. Shocked,

IMRG Connect tweet. Mobile is the bridge between the high street and online shopping. Dan Parker.

Customer Spotlight: Alterego Talk Fulfillment. Fancy That!

An Interview with a growing online retail customer ‘Alterego Fancy Dress’.

Earlier this week, we caught up with one of our eCommerce Fulfillment customers to report on their journey so far. We interviewed Andy Dodds from ‘Alterego Fancy dress’ to find out how the founding foursome developed their exciting company.

The online shop www.alterego-fancydress.co.uk specialises in high quality fancy dress costumes from sizes small to XXXL.

Fittingly named Alterego, the team lead double lives themselves running the business between adventures sailing in Antarctica, upholding day jobs and sourcing suppliers/new markets around the world. The company was formed by couples Sarah & Andy and Lindsay & Tom who are looking forward to visiting Moscow next July as part of the business growth plans.

What’s the background, how did it all start?

Back in 2007 best friends Lindsay and Sarah started selling end of line designer clothing through ebay as a hobby when Sarah became ill and “had to leave her full time employment and was looking for something to fill the void.”  So the seeds of the business were planted amongst “G&T and Daytime TV”. They began to see the potential in developing the project but this “had no longevity or structure”. When Andy retired, both he and Tom were recruited and the team began sourcing and selling fancy dress gear instead of fashion.

“It’s been a steep learning curve”, initially we got our hands on some budget stock in the UK but soon realised there was a high return rate due to the poor quality, “the denier of the cloth was thin and looked nasty”. On a quest for high-end costumes, they travelled to the USA where this brazen quartet marched into a handful of suppliers to try their hand at negotiating some quality stock. Since this successful trip, they’ve nurtured those relationships with the suppliers and are now the only UK stockist for ‘Charades’ costumes which are “near theatre quality".

Do you have a personal favourite costume?

“Our favourite costume by a country mile is the iconic Big Frank”. Frank retails at £47.99 and is a big hit for the Halloween Season. “Our Medieval costumes, 20’s, 50’s and Plus Size costumes are also best-sellers.”

Why did you decide to outsource your fulfilment?

Alterego’s growth was getting overwhelming, they’d reached a tipping point and had fancy dress costumes coming out of their ears. “We had stock stored in 2 houses, 3 sheds, a loft, a garage, 2 spare rooms, 2 external lockups and a marquee on lawn” it was physically spilling into their everyday lives so much that it was becoming “difficult to see the TV”. Andy and his wife Sarah spend 3 months of the year as crew members on a tall ship to Antarctica and on their voyage they saw a fellow crew member make a phone call every morning at the same time on a satellite phone, after repeatedly observing this pattern over his morning coffee, he finally asked the man who he was calling every morning. As it transpired, he was a business owner overseeing the management remotely via satellite phone. He was able to run his business in this way because he outsourced everything which meant he was able to act as the control tower from any location in the world, providing he had access to a satellite phone. This conversation inspired them to seek a fulfilment company to take over the storage, picking, packing and shipping, so they could restore the work/life balance. The transition to outsource was logical, “80% of the girls time was spent picking packing and dispatching. Now we can look at the business in a completely different light and get the fun back in our lives”.

How did you meet TSB Supply Chain?

“We first met Graham at the eCommerce expo back in October at Olympia in London, He was standing there with his hands in his pockets and we thought we’d give him something to do”. 6 weeks later and Alterego’s stock was rescued from all the nooks and crannies and transferred to our Fulfillment centre in Telford.

How did you find the transition?

The transition to outsourcing their fulfilment was logical, but “there’s no denying it was a difficult step for us.” For best friends Lindsay and Sarah, the transition was a bit like “tearing a teddy bear from a child’s arms, but was it the right decision? 150% yes. For what it costs to outsource, it buys you so much time.” Andy wonders why more companies don’t do it. “It was all or nothing. It takes courage but we’d absolutely recommend doing it, it’s a common sense thing to do.”

What does the future of the business look like now?

Alterego are now able to focus on marketing the business. They’re launching a brand new website and ebay store design in a fortnight as well as a new logo to freshen up the shopfront. “Ebay is still a huge channel for us, we sell around 17000 items a year through ebay”. They already deliver throughout Europe and are going to focus on expanding this market coverage to sell to more countries. “We’ve developed a very productive business, and are extremely proud of building the company from nothing to a revenue of around a third of a million turnover.” Alterego have supplied costumes to Strictly Come Dancing, Emmerdale and Coronation Street and are enjoying spending time investing in the growth of the business with the work, life balance restored.

Pictured: 'The Europa' for adventures in Antarctica.
Pictured: 'The Europa' for adventures in Antarctica.

Written by Monk Chipman

 

Facing Up To The Global eCommerce Returns Challenge

The online retailing world as we know it is coming to an end. The age of eCommerce returns is dawning. It’s time for your company to evolve or get left behind.

Shopping habits have changed, are changing and will continue to change. There’s no questioning it, the rise of the online shop is perpetual. Welcome to the digital revolution.

Picture this… Earth is plagued by a pandemic of abandoned shopping carts, unwanted packages and unsatisfied customers. Multi-channels are flooded, muddy and every mouse click brings another grey cloud. Consumers are cross with cross-border returns.

For too long now returns have taken a backseat in eCommerce growth strategies; viewed as the necessary evil to the virtuous checkout. However, as the online shopper becomes savvier and the global gateway opens, retailers are faced with increased complexities, costs and consumer expectations to contend with. Return rates differ “based on industry and location, but analysts say anywhere between 25% and 50% is commonplace” (Michael Miller, BBC News 28th Jan 2013). In hard numbers, “returned products cost global ecommerce retailers $200 billion in cash and lost profits in 2012.” (Clear Returns Whitepaper Series: Intelligently protecting profits, 2013). Retailers are aware of the problem, but returns challenges are often brushed under the carpet. Yet as outbound sales increase on a global scale, returns will mirror this growth and cause an “erosion of profits that retailers simply cannot afford to ignore” (Clear Returns Whitepaper, 2013). It’s time to get pro-active.

There is mounting evidence to support the notion that hassle-free returns policies actually encourage the consumer to checkout in the first place. The UPS/Comscore ‘Pulse Of The Online Shopper’ study 2013 revealed that 74% of purchase decisions are influenced by the returns policy of the online shop. The study also revealed that if a retailer has a hassle-free returns policy, 67% of consumers will “shop more with that retailer”. There are clear benefits to offering a no-quibble, flexible returns policy, but retailers need to strike a balance between excellent customer service and cost-effective logistics. In fact, many merchants opt to refund consumers and lose their product, rather than dealing with the time consuming and tedious process of recovering returned stock.

Enter ReBOUND, the unique returns service that offers relief from the Beelzebub of eCommerce. ReBOUND makes a process often tarred with a negative brush into a positive experience for retailers and consumers globally. “With a global network of returns processing locations, ReBOUND is designed to underpin and support retailers’ cross-border expansion” (Saul Wordsworth, Postal Technology International, March 2014). Unlike most reverse logistics solutions, ReBOUND has been specifically designed for eCommerce, so multi-channel is at the heart of the process. Consumers are given a choice of return method to suit different lifestyles and cultures such as postal, courier, drop-off points or parcel lockers. Plus, as it’s a global solution, the choice of carriers has been carefully selected to reflect the consumer expectations of the first mile country, so the service is familiar and well suited to the consumers’ habits.

Finally retailers will have end-to-end visibility of returns. Starting with a web-based, self-service portal consumers will register a return before sending, resulting no more unexpected surprises. ReBOUND makes the returns process simple, transparent and cost-effective. “When stock is returned, it can lose between 5-10% of its value.” (IMRG Clear Returns Quarterly Fashion Returns Review Introductory Fashion Retail Returns Report February 2014). With ReBOUND, fast moving products with high demand can be fast-tracked between our network of global return hubs to be re-sold, to avoid inventory being listed as ‘out of stock’. ReBOUND also recovers value from returned stock by re-selling product on your behalf. The sales team will research the most profitable marketplaces to list your products, based around a gain share model.

The returns problem is frequently overlooked and overshadowed by the focus on driving outbound sales, but in the eCommerce industry, the two are inextricably linked. Even now, from 217 top retailers studied in the Micros Online Returns and Refunds Report 2014, staggeringly only "One retailer offered a choice of four methods[...] while 36% insisted on return by post only."  The opportunity to stand out from the competition is clear. “By focusing on returns, retailers can improve their bottom lines” (Sarah Clelland, Micros), increase visibility of the returns journey, improve customer service and offer greater consumer choice. So whether your returns challenge is domestic or global, can you afford to continue ignoring returns?

Discover more about the ReBOUND returns solution in this infographic brochure.

Writer Alex Broom-Roden
Edited by Monk Chipman

2013 in Review

As 2014 looms nearer, we’re looking back at a few highlights from this past year.

We have our staff Christmas party tonight to raise a glass to the Christmas holidays and although we’re all looking forward to a well-earned break, we’re looking forward to a brand new year too. Take a look back at some of the things we've achieved this past year in the infographic below. 
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at TSB! 

Let’s take a look back over a few highlights from 2013...

2013 in an Infographic. Highlighting some key achievements for TSB Supply Chain this past year in 2013. The info graphic mentions 15 new locations, 10 new staff members, a brand new website launch, joining the social media revolution, publishing 2 eCommerce brochures, creating our first animated video and wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Published by Monk Chipman

 

We're Hiring!

Graduate Project Administration Coordinator required ASAP
We've created another opportunity for a local graduate to gain valuable work experience and a career within a growing company. Join our team at TSB Supply Chain by applying through the Keele University Internship Scheme.

A brand new role has became available for a Graduate with excellent communication and organisation skills to support the daily function of the finance department as ‘Project Administration Coordinator’.

You can read the full job description here.

The position has been created in partnership with the Keele University Graduate Internship scheme which opens up opportunities for graduates to gain valuable work experience and also mutual benefits for employers to access a talent pool of hundreds of candidates who can bring fresh ideas to the business. Visit the schemes website here

We’ve already seen success through the scheme. Earlier this year we welcomed 2 local interns into the company, both of whom were subsequently offered permanent roles within the company. We will continue to support emerging talent by offering Graduate vacancies and this latest position will similarly be open to consideration of a permanent role. Graham Best, Business Development Director highly recommends the scheme “to any growing, dynamic business.”

To apply for the post, an application must be submitted through the Keele University Internship scheme. Apply now

  

Published by Monk Chipman