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NorthGate Announces ISO 9001:2008 Certification

FLINT, Mich., January18, 2013 — NorthGate announces they have achieved ISO 9001:2008 certification. Perry Johnson Registrar, Inc., (PJR) assessed the Quality Management System of our Corunna Road and Dort Highway facilities in Genesee County Michigan and declared NorthGate to be in conformance with ISO 9001:2008 standards.  PJR issued Certificate # C2012-03268 effective December 27, 2012.

This certification is the culmination of years of consistent top-quality work, and the dedication of our employees, stated Teresa Witt President of NorthGate. She continued saying, “although NorthGate has been operating under the guidelines of ISO 9001:2000 standards for many years, I believe our decision to upgrade to ISO 9001:2008 Certification is a proactive one that not only anticipates the demands of customers, but also demonstrates NorthGate’s commitment to providing quality products and services.”

The scope of the certification for NorthGate’s Corunna Road packaging and order fulfillment processing center entails; design, development, assembly, sub-assembly, sorting, inspection, packaging, warehousing, shipping, supplier monitoring, processing, and distribution for automotive products and other industries.

The scope of the certification for NorthGate’s Dort Highway reverse logistics, packaging and order fulfillment processing center involves; development, sorting, inspection, packaging, warehousing, shipping, supplier monitoring, processing, and distribution for automotive products and other industries.

ISO 9001:2008 is a set of international standards and guidance documents for quality management and quality assurance. The standard represents an international consensus on good management practices, policies and procedures with the aim of ensuring that our organization can consistently deliver the product and services that meet the customer’s quality requirements.

NorthGate, is a third-party, cost effective business solutions provider of Warehousing, Packaging, Fulfillment Processing and Reverse Logistics services. We are an independent, family-owned business dedicated to providing hard work and outstanding customer service. NorthGate offers a strategic location in the heart of North America’s industrial engine, where we have prime access into a vast array of major US and Canadian cities. Our vision is to be your partner… now and in the future, through every challenge, and every success.

Want to learn more on how NorthGate can make a difference in how your business is done? Please visit us at www.go2northgate.com or contact us at [email protected] or by phone 1-810-235-8110.

Don’t Let Poor Shipping Habits Cost You Customers

By Will Schneider

In our fast paced world, waiting too long for a product or service is not a good thing. From waiting in line at the bank to complete a transaction to waiting on the phone for a customer service rep to respond to an inquiry, people have little patience. And the more people wait, the more their tempers flare and the less inclined they might be to purchase again. This is especially true with regard to online ordering of product. Because the internet moves at lightning speed, customers’ expectations are high when it comes to the speed of delivery of goods purchased online.

Online Shipping Gone Awry

If timely shipping sounds unimportant, just talk to Dennis Bamber, President of Technologydrive.com, an ecommerce fulfillment services company that specializes in storing and shipping goods for online retailers. “Recently, I purchased a rubber drive belt for a vacuum cleaner on the internet from a top online retailer for vacuum accessories,” said Dennis. “Great selection and great prices – but I was still waiting for the drive belt three weeks later! I’m guessing that they delayed in picking the order because it was only $6. But in doing so, they lost my future business.”

And Dennis’ sentiments are by no means the minority. The predominant theme is that customers expect online orders to be shipped quickly and error free. On top of that, online consumers are used to low cost shipping and free shipping, which places an additional squeeze on small business profits. It’s a high level of expectation for small businesses to meet. So what can be done to make sure that you satisfy your customers’ needs and operate at a level of profit that’s sustainable?

Keep it Simple When It Comes to Shipping

  • Use the most effective means of shipping, even if it’s a cheaper option. For example, if sending to a PO box, use the USPS instead of shipping via UPS and you could save your customer the hassle of potentially making an unwanted trip to their nearest UPS store.
  • Set clear expectations with customers. If you’re going to ship lower priced items in batch less frequently, let your customers know so that they have that expectation. If you can ship orders same day, define that standard. But regardless of the standard, make sure that you’re able to deliver on the standard consistently.
  • Communicate with your customers. Be sure to send your customer a quick email detailing the status of their shipment, and update them at critical points in the shipping process. This can be automated with most e-commerce programs.
  • Be careful not to set the bar too low. Sending orders less frequently may be a way to cut costs, but make sure you don’t scrimp on timely deliveries. If your competitors are shipping within 24 hours of receipt of order, consider matching that service level to keep customers happy.

The most important thing to remember is that shipping can either be a competitive advantage or an Achilles Heel. By realizing that shipping is another area to “touch” your customers and provide them with a favorable experience, you’ll be able to take advantage of this often overlooked opportunity and turn more of your customers into raving fans.

Fulfillment Partner

Finding the Right Fulfillment Partner for our Growing eCommerce Business

Guest Blog by Tom Schwab

The wonder of eCommerce is that it allows customers throughout the world to find your product day or night.  The ugly reality is that when that customer reaches the check out page they want two things:  They want it fast and they want free shipping.  Both are the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment.  Fail to meet either condition and you risk loosing the sale either to another website or a brick and mortar retailer that can provide faster availability.

Our niche direct to consumer medical products company was forced to expand from a regional player to a national provider.  Our customers would take their crutch alternatives with them on vacation.  Where they went, the call and orders followed.   Due to the size and associated dimensional weight of the product, air shipments were prohibitively costly.  Ground shipments while reasonably priced could take up to four business days from our Midwest location.  For patients struggling with the pain and limitations of crutches this was an eternity.  To continue to expand our business we needed to address this real logistical constraint.

As we searched for a fulfillment partner on the internet we were met with frustration.  The 3PL companies that ranked highest in Google were on page 1 for a reason:  They were big.  It was clear that they were not interested in small accounts by their responses.  Multi-year contracts, expensive set up fees, minimum shipment, minimum floor space and the need add expensive software to transmit orders all scared us away.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there were many companies that claimed to do 3PL in addition to their core business.  What it was in reality was an attempt for them to fill empty warehouse space and provide an additional revenue stream in a down economy.  Questioning them about their process proved we could not count on them to provide our level of service our customers.

After months of dead ends that educated us what we could not accept and what we could not afford, we stumbled across WarehousingAndFulfillment.com, an easy to use online service that looked at our specific needs and gave us a quick quote of 5 potential fulfillment partners that potentially met our needs.  Beyond a simple matching service between eCommerce companies and 3PL providers, they had pre-screen the warehouses.  All the discussions with the potential partners were efficient, informative and addressed our needs.  Finally, we had choices instead of frustration. Within days we had chosen our partner and our product was on a truck headed for them.

We’ve now used the WarehousingAndFulfillment.com services 3 times as we’ve added additional 3PL partners throughout the US.  Clearly they have been a key resource for us in harnessing the incredible potential of eCommerce.  Now no matter where in the US the customer finds us, we can deliver to them in just 1 to 2 business days with free ground shipping.

Tom Schwab is an entrepreneur who has transformed a regional player into a national leader using the tools of a connected world and the strategy of Inbound Marketing for eCommerce.

Christmas Shipping Nightmares

by Will Schneider

It’s that time of year – last minute online purchases for your loved ones with the youthful anticipation of smiles on their faces Christmas morning. In particular, the great joy of giving the perfect gift to a child and watching their face light up when the wrapping paper is torn through like a vulture devours its prey. And the sigh of relief when it’s all over, knowing you pulled it all off without a hitch.

If only it were this simple…

All too often, the Christmas dream is turned upside down by a mis-shipment – whether the shipment arrives late or missing parts. And finally, it happened to us this Christmas…well more specifically to my 5 year old son.

Our parents bought our son a super duper all in one basketball, hockey, soccer set. Of course, no sooner than the wrapping paper had been ripped off of the box did he beg and plead for us to start setting it up so he could enjoy it. And within minutes of stumbling through the 100 step set up process, I realized that two critical parts were missing.

What were we to do? The toy was bought online. We could send it back and wait for the return and severely disappoint our son. Or we could get creative. With little choice in the matter, his grandpa quickly drove to the nearest Home Depot, looking for some PVC pipe and a saw. Within 5 minutes of getting back, we had the entire set back up and running and averted a huge Christmas disaster.

But we know that many of you either couldn’t replace a part as easily or flat out didn’t receive the present in time. With another Christmas behind us, we thought it would be an opportune time for us to gather up some of this year’s Christmas shipping nightmares.

Send us a note explaining your disaster and you may find your way to our top 10 Christmas shipping nightmares list for 2012. Send notes to [email protected].

 

Third Party Warehousing

Is Third Party Warehousing More Cost Effective Than In House Warehousing?

by Will Schneider

A great number of product based businesses consider outsourcing with a third party warehousing company as a viable option for handling the warehousing and distribution of their product. But once they begin researching these third party providers, they oftentimes get hit with “sticker shock” in terms of storage and fulfillment fees. They often think to themselves, “Is it cost effective to outsource?” Or better yet, “Will cost savings be realized by outsourcing warehousing and fulfillment?” These are extremely important questions that need to be analyzed from a detailed financial perspective in order to gain appropriate insights to make the best decision.

Do You Know All of Your Warehousing Costs?

One of the most difficult aspects of any in house versus outsourcing financial analysis calculations is the gathering of ALL “in house” costs. If any of these costs are left out of the equation, you’ll surely not be able to gain the proper perspective in your decision. What kinds of costs need to be included?

  • All salaries, benefits, insurance, and employee related expenses
  • All management expenses related to storage and distribution
  • All warehouse lease fees, including insurance
  • All materials costs, including packaging materials, etc.
  • All equipment costs, including ongoing maintenance costs and support equipment such as pallets, racking, computers, scanners, scales, etc.
  • All customer service expenses for support with your customers and any related benefits, insurance, and employee related expenses
  • Any software expenses related to inventory management and order management

Some of the most commonly overlooked areas are equipment purchases and adequate measures of management support related to the fulfillment process. Without a thorough analysis, you’ll potentially be left thinking that outsourcing isn’t the best option when in fact using a third party warehousing solution would be the best way to go.

The Added Benefits That Get Overlooked

In addition to forgetting to include certain in house costs, another common mistake is not accounting for other added benefits of outsourcing your third party warehousing. Some of these “intangibles” can really provide significant savings. They include:

  • Ability to use as much or as little space as needed for warehousing, thereby eliminating the risk of warehouse leasing and time spent negotiating
  • Synergy from opportunity cost of not having to spend valuable internal resources on distribution, thereby increasing time spent on other more important functions such as sales and marketing

Properly accounting for all costs and benefits will help you make the best decision regarding the use of third party warehousing. Don’t be short sighted when looking at the pricing proposals from fulfillment companies. Take into account all costs and you’ll set your business up for the greatest success possible.

Amazon Fulfillment Fees

Amazon Fulfillment Fees Increase Hits Online Retailers Hard

by Will Schneider

Most online retailers using Amazon Fulfillment will be hit hard starting in February of 2013 with a multitude of price increases targeted to combat increasing transportation costs. Most notably, the fee increases include an adjustment to the “weight handling” fee and an addition of a returns processing fee. These fees and increases will apply to anyone that self-fulfills through their system – in an attempt to further entrench customers by giving them incentive to fulfill by Amazon.

Like many of the price adjustments over the last couple of years, these recent increases hit retailers hard – and at a time when many online merchants are struggling to squeeze as much profit out of their company as possible and weather the economic storm of the last couple of years. In particular, smaller businesses may find these particular fee increases a heavy burden to shoulder next year.

“Of anything that we hear most about the Amazon Fulfillment network, the vast majority of comments are related to expensive pricing structures and challenges with unique service requirements and flexibility,” noted Will Schneider, CEO of WarehousingAndFulfillment.com. The well known fulfillment provider is definitely the “800 pound gorilla” in the fulfillment space, offering multiple locations, quality execution and tie in to its Amazon network. But, as Mr. Schneider notes, “for many smaller companies in particular, the large orientation of Amazon makes addressing the challenges of a smaller business difficult – from lack of branding options, difficult to come by personal customer service, and now a series of price increases that make is less competitive with other outsourced fulfillment options.”

Of course, a price increase is never easy to swallow, although oftentimes understandable. But the interesting part will be to see what the Amazon Fulfillment fees increase, which was announced during the holiday season, will bring for Amazon in the New Year.

Logistics Software for 3PLs

by Will Schneider

Ferber Warehousing just announced that it is selling its proprietary logistics software, Conveyorware.com, to fulfillment and logistics firms. The software, which includes decades of customs from industry needs and experiences, will be sold as a SAAS (Software as a Service), starting at just $100 per month for 5 users. It’s an all inclusive software, managing the entire 3pl process from start to finish, simplifying the systems needs of growing 3pls.

To learn more about the software, please visit the Conveyorware software at www.conveyorware.com or read the press release about logistics software.

Keep Your Shipping Costs in Line

Blog Post Written by Scott Reynolds, American Western Distribution

Keeping Your Package Shipping Costs in Line – Small to mid size companies

Shipping packages has become increasingly more expensive with the cost of fuel continually on the rise. Companies need to keep a close watch on these costs. It pays to review your invoices regularly for mistakes and insure you are charged correctly. Was the package a residential or commercial delivery? It matters, delivery to a business is less costly than to a residential address. Was the fuel surcharge invoiced correctly? Finding these mistakes can save money.

Another method of lowering costs is through increased volume. Each time you sign a new account, check with your carriers to see if they can offer a higher discount with the additional volume. We recently were fortunate enough to acquire a new account that will be shipping thousands of orders per month. This volume could have a great impact on our shipping rates, for all our accounts, and also put us in a position to acquire additional new business as a result of reduced rates! We called our carrier reps in for meetings to see what programs were available to us with this new business. Allow plenty of time for this. The reps are busy people and they tend to travel a large area so they may not be able to see you for a week or longer. The various carriers have many different programs to offer plus they have partner programs with each other that can offer additional savings! Once you receive the cost analysis back from the carriers, compare them and don’t be afraid to ask for a better rate if the first analysis isn’t what you were expecting! If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. We did and the rates that came back to us averaged another 3 to 4% discount!

Make sure to compare fuel surcharges (FSC). This also can greatly affect the total cost. Some companies charge a percentage of the delivery cost and others charge by weight. Depending on the type of product you are shipping there could be tremendous savings by choosing the company whose FSC best fits your needs (providing their basic rates are competitive). In this particular case we saved $.32 cents on the average order just on the FSC not to mention the basic rates were the most competitive offered!

Another method of keeping your package shipping costs in line is through the carrier pickup. Most carriers charge a fee for this service that can be waived if you are near their drop off location and have the ability to deliver the orders to the terminal yourself.

From startup companies to small companies to midsized companies, shipping fees are a large percentage of the total cost charged for your services. As a result you need to pay due diligence to this segment of your cost structure as it could make or break you in efforts to signing new accounts and keeping current customers!

About American Western Distribution, www.awdaz.com located in Phoenix, AZ, specializes in providing World Class Warehousing, Distribution and Logistics Services. AWD receives product for companies that don’t want the expense of a ‘brick and mortar’ organization but require our services for storage, order fulfillment and distribution of their products. All of our programs are custom tailored to meet each customer’s needs!

Encouraging Responses from Leads

by Will Schneider

Whether you get a lead from us or via other marketing channels like your website, the first challenge is to turn that lead email into an interaction. Over the years, we’ve learned a great deal about getting quality responses from prospects. This often overlooked area represents a tremendous opportunity, if done the right way.

The Beaten Path

Most companies use this initial interaction to showcase all of the wonderful things about their organization. They tell the prospect how amazing they are, how many years they’ve been around, what services they offer, among other miscellaneous “company facts.” Sometimes, they also include another listing of questions that they need answered in order to provide an accurate quote. This may work sometimes, but we’d like to challenge you with one question:

“Does this separate you from the pack?”

First, if most companies use the same approach, it’s going to be particularly difficult for you to stand out. Second, consider the context that this prospect is also speaking with other companies and that the ease and comfort ability of communication and degree to which a relationship begins to formulate may sway the decision making process. Third, remember that most people are self-centered, so a focus on your company rather than their company, albeit subtle, plays a role in their reaction to your pitch.

Okay, So What Should I Do?

We are confident that there are two things that help companies put their best foot forward. First, and most important, you’ve got to find a way to stand out from the crowd. This could be your unique corporate culture, your unintimidating approach that serves more as a consultant than a “sales rep”, or a host of other approaches. Needless to say, the less you look like a sales rep and the more you look like an advisor, the better you will find your interactions. You have to find a way to break free from the mold.

Second, we’ve found that companies that focus on the prospect and their needs have the best chance of success. Are you looking at the prospects website, if applicable, before you fire off the email? Is there common ground that you can introduce into the correspondence? When prospects hear you talking about them, it’s much easier for them to engage. One of the secrets of high performing sales teams is that they find pain and show the prospect how they’ll take away that pain. And the pain can be completely different for each prospect.

A Final Word On “Additional Questions”

We know that many leads aren’t going to provide enough information initially for you to be able to accurately quote right away. However, we’ve found time and again (by talking to prospects) that when they get another big list of questions, the chances of them responding decreases exponentially if done before some common ground and relationship building has been established. Unfortunately, some of your competitors are firing off a pricing sheet right away. This doesn’t mean that you have to change everything you do…but knowing what others might be doing can help you achieve great results.

The big challenge here is to create some value outside of pricing. If everything boils down to a pricing game, then it becomes a numbers game and the lowest price wins. Creativity is extremely important in deciding on an approach.

There are so many factors in getting people to respond, from timeframe of response to quality of content to actual pricing. And we believe that by finding ways to separate from the pack and by focusing on the prospect you’ll find yourself in a very strong position versus the competition.

Utah Company Wins Top 3PL Designation

by Will Schneider

Each year, WarehousingAndFulfillment.com designates a select group of fulfillment companies as “Top 3PL Companies.” The process to be selected is stringent, including a thorough examination of shipping and picking error rates, customer service references, analysis of technology, among many other things.

Today the company announces that Anchor 3PL, a 3pl company out of Utah, was been added to the list of top 3PL companies for 2012. Anchor has done a stellar job of exceeding the expectations of its customers, and we’re pleased to add them to our award winners for 2012.

To view the entire article, please visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/7/prweb9729740.htm