These are Brian Schoenbaechler's ramblings, rants, and raves about his life trying to grow his Small Business.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Using Online Lead Management

This article published in eMarketing and Commerce Magazine, titled LeanLogistics - Leading the Way, offers great insight into the ways companies are leveraging technology to improve their sales and marketing efforts.

My company SBC Fulfillment is using some of these technics but we need to look in invest more heavily into the lead grading aspects of this system.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama Offers Help for Small Businesses

Link to article in NY Times

The President has done very little for Small Business which creates the majority of the jobs in this country.  The problem is small businesses can not get bank loans, Mr. Obama proposed to eliminate fees and increase government guarantees in 2010 for loans from the Small Business Administration. He said the Treasury would step up loans to small businesses from the bank bailout fund, the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

However, this will not address the problem of the banks not giving the loans.  His efforts are half-hearted at best.

Business Books Worth Finding the Time to Read

In this article by BARBARA TAYLOR in the NY Times.

She recommends the following books.  I have read most these book and concur with her.  Running a small business which specializes in order fulfillment, takes a lot of time and effort.  However you must invest your time in moving your business forward by educating yourself on what the thought leaders are saying.

The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up
By Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham
I love Norm’s articles in Inc. I can’t believe I haven’t read his book.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
By Malcolm Gladwell
I need this book to sit on the shelf alongside the Malcolm Gladwell book that I do own, Outliers: The Story of Success. Then I need to read them both.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly
By David Meerman Scott
I was a marketer in corporate America for many years, and am even more passionate about marketing now that I’m a small-business owner. The game is certainly changing, and I won’t be left behind.

The Buyout of America: How Private Equity Will Cause the Next Great Credit Crisis
By Joshua Kosman
I can’t resist a title like this. (You had me “Private Equity.”)

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
By Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
I credit Chris Brogan’s blog and tweets with teaching me most of what I know about social media marketing.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

With order fulfillment, "perfection" is in eye of beholder

Aiming to deliver the perfect order? It all starts with knowing what it is.

By Kate Vitasek and Joseph Tillman


For many people, it's not Christmas without watching "A Christmas Story," a movie about a nine-year-old boy named Ralphie who goes to great lengths to make sure Santa brings him a BB gun for Christmas. And not just any BB gun. What Ralphie wants is a Red Ryder Carbine-Action, 200-Shot Range Model BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time (a sundial in the stock of the gun).

Ralphie's story is likely to carry some resonance for supply chain professionals. In many ways, it captures the essential challenges of order fulfillment —understanding the customer's expectations, meeting those expectations, and measuring customer satisfaction.

It's clear from the start what it will take for the supplier (Santa) to satisfy his customer (Ralphie). Santa has to make sure the order arrives complete —for example, he can't forget "the compass in the stock and a thing that tells time." He has to deliver it on Christmas morning. And he has to see that the gun comes undamaged and with the instructions (documentation) included.

In the language of order fulfillment, what Ralphie's looking for is the classic "perfect order" —one that arrives on time, complete, and damage free, with the correct documentation and invoice (if applicable). Santa's challenge is to make sure his execution of that order is flawless.

Nothing less than perfection
But how can Santa tell if he's performing to expectations? One way would be to calculate the order's score on the Warehousing Education and Research Council's (WERC) Perfect Order Index (POI). To calculate a POI score, you simply multiply the four key "perfect order" metrics together: percentage delivered on time × percentage shipped complete × percentage shipped damage free × percentage shipped with correct documentation.

Although a number of industry organizations have adopted the POI as their standard for measuring performance, the index also has its critics. Some have challenged the formula's "multiplier" effect, arguing that it inflates the significance of a single failure. A score of 0 on just one of the metrics (say, the order is delivered an hour late) drops the overall POI score down to 0, effectively canceling out the supplier's achievements in the other three areas.

But we argue multiplying is the purest way to look at an order from your customer's —not the shipper's or the supplier's —perspective. If the order doesn't meet all of the customer's expectations, the supplier has failed. Period. You don't get partial credit when you fail the customer.

For example, what if Santa left Rudolph at home and encountered thick fog in Northern Indiana, delaying the order's arrival until after lunch on Christmas day? Regardless of whether Santa got everything else right, Ralphie would be an unhappy customer. That disappointment would be reflected in the order's POI. Santa would get a 0 for on-time delivery, netting him an overall POI score of 0.

The customer-focused measure
In Ralphie's case, it all works out in the end. Santa meets his customer's expectations on all counts, fulfilling both Ralphie's order and his dreams. But not all customers are so lucky. WERC's most recent survey of warehousing and distribution professionals found that respondents only shipped perfect orders 87.5 percent of the time.

Part of the problem may be that not all suppliers are as attuned to their customers' expectations as Santa is. While some companies have worked hard to define their customers' fulfillment requirements, others are still dragging their feet.

If you haven't developed your own definition of your customer's perfect order, we recommend you default to the WERC definition. It's hard to argue with the premise that most customers want what they ordered, when they wanted it, how they wanted it, with an accurate invoice.

If you think this definition is too strict, we urge you to think of Ralphie. Achieving the perfect order is not out of reach. Just ask Santa.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Order Fulfillment

For those that are just getting started in independent publishing, there is a breaking point when your company has gained momentum enough to begin to outsource your order fulfillment. All independent publishers wonder when that time has come to seek help. If your  thoughts and feelings resemble this list, it is time to stop going it alone.

  • You are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done in a day.
  • Packing and shipping orders is not what you have set out to do in your career.
  • Your focus has been mired in details, such as how much it costs to get your independently published book or film from here to there and the best way to do it.
  • You are spending less time on your craft of writing or publishing, and more time on the business aspect of handling orders, recording payments and database upkeep.

Step back, assess how your life will be changed, if you could focus on the creative process and get back to what matters most. You are never alone. Use your favorite search engine and look for affordable order fulfillment for independent publishers. They are the folks who will lend you a hand. What a difference a day makes when you move forward with making a decision.

Outsourcing order fulfillment

Pick, Packing and shipping, these are the three basic keys to the order fulfillment process. Describing fulfillment like this makes it sound quite simple. But there is a lot to the whole process when you step back and take a good look a t it. Some consider fulfillment the most important aspect of a company’s hands on business.

When a package is delivered, once the package reaches its destination, which is the last impression your company will leave. From the condition of the package, to the time it was delivered, to the impression that the delivery man left will directly reflect your company. Fulfillment is one aspect that can give you repeat business. When you provide good fulfillment you can be sure that your overall business will grow.

Fulfillment can be a hand full for many businesses to maintain, especially if you have a smaller business with no space to store extra items that you might have. In cases like this, it is not a bad idea to outsource your fulfillment. You must take into consideration that since fulfillment is such an important aspect of your business.

It is wise to research companies that will be doing your fulfillment center and make sure that they have the resources to accommodate everything that you have to offer. Outsourcing your fulfillment can save you time and space that would plague you from forwarding your business. If you decide to outsource or to do you fulfillment in house, be sure that it is up to par, because it could be the deciding factor that can make or break your business.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Growing Your Business in a Recovering Economy

When the economy started heading south, most companies fell into one of two categories characterized by their reactions to and strategies for dealing with the developing economic conditions.  Business executives in the first group felt there was little they could do to influence prevailing conditions.   Whether by design or default, they abandoned their “climb to the summit”—their quest for sales.  They set up “base camp” in an attempt to weather the economic storm and hang on to the business they had. To maintain some degree of profitability, they trimmed expenses wherever they could: advertising, marketing, and personnel for instance.  

Business executives in the other group took a more aggressive stance.  They decided to continue the climb; to forge ahead and do whatever they needed to do to not only maintain their market position, but to grow it; to reach the summit regardless of prevailing conditions.  They revamped selling processes to increase efficiency and restructured selling strategies to increase effectiveness.  They looked for things they could do that would grow revenue and profit in the near-term while keeping an eye toward the future. 

Now that the economy is showing signs of recovering, the campers must turn their attention to increasing revenue (since they’ve already cut expenses to the bone).  They must look for ways to not only capture their share of the re-emerging market, but they must figure out how to recapture any ground lost to the climbers.  The climbers, of course, wish to not only maintain their lead, but to increase it.
Campers and climbers alike are apt to be operating with fewer resources than they had a year or so ago.  The resulting challenge to growing revenues and profits is threefold:
•    Devise more effective ways to
   identify and qualify business

•    Implement more efficient ways
   to develop opportunities and
   bring them to closure

•    Strengthen customer

Opportunities abound in the recovering economy.  Do you want your share?  If so, ask yourself, “What am I doing to improve my selling strategies and enhance my selling skills?”  The more detailed your answer, the more likely it is that you’ll get your share…and perhaps a bit more.     

On-demand WMS, Integration and Business Intelligence

Situation: Like most links in the supply chain, SBC Fulfillment is feeling the effects of the recession, but the company's president, Brian Schoenbaechler, says despite inventory levels being drawn down to the bare bones, business will eventually ramp back up.

The Details: When business picks up, Brian believes SBC Fulfillment will be prepared thanks in part to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that will allow the company to forecast demand and stay on top of the recovery.

What it Means: "Technology," Brian said, " is kind of an enabler to facilitate collaboration and communication, and it is essential, especially nowadays, where everybody’s trying to do more with less.” Click Here to Read Full Article...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Advantages Of Hiring A Third Party Logistics Service

The benefits of flexibility and efficiency to using a contract warehouse are well known in the industry, but less well known are the additional fulfillment services that can be provided by the warehouse staff. On the East Coast, an Atlanta warehouse can provide expert fulfillment services. In fact, Atlanta Fulfillment services can save your business large amounts of time, space, and money. The most outstanding benefit of using a contract warehouse for your fulfillment tasks is that it allows you to concentrate on other key areas of your business. That is, you can do the things you do well and let someone else do the things that they are good at. (It’s kind of like hiring a cleaning service to do your housework so that you can spend time with the kids.)

A sales model that is best suited to outsourced fulfillment services is ecommerce. When selling a product over the Internet, you probably want to concentrate your efforts on the product and want nothing to do with the nitty-gritty details of storing and shipping. As business takes off, you can avoid the need to acquire warehouse space and hire warehouse staff by setting up a relationship with a fulfillment warehouse. Maybe you want to start selling your wares on the other side of the ocean—Atlantic or Pacific. In this case, you can just make a single shipment to your overseas fulfillment warehouse and let them do the work of storing, packaging, and shipping your foreign orders.

Here is some advice on what to look for during the selection process. First, choose a fulfillment service with flexibility. As you start out as a small startup company, you may require just a pallet or shelf in the warehouse. Then, as your sales increase and your business grows; this flexible service can provide you with the additional space that you require. Next, look at the services that are actually provided. Look for a service that will receive your products, store them securely, package them professionally, and ship your orders out immediately and transparently. Who are your customers? Will your fulfillment service put together small orders for consumers as well as processing bigger orders for business-to-business customers? If you can find a fulfillment service that does all of these things, make sure that they will treat your customers as if they were their own. Their work ethos would have a direct effect on your company’s reputation with your customers.

If you are an individual, you have most likely viewed the commercials on television that try to intrigue you with promises of astronomical income by setting up an ecommerce web site to sell goods that you never touch. A warehouse and fulfillment service is the key to this concept. You may not want to rely on the selection of product provided by these hucksters, but you can apply the concept on your own. All you need to do is find a business with a product to sell, set up a web site, and work to promote your web site using search engine optimization techniques. Then, your job is to create a stunning site and keep it at the top of the search engines.

Why Some Merchants are Saying Yes to SaaS

Link to article in MultiChannel Merchant

I am a big fan of Software as a Service (SaaS).  We use it here at SBC Fulfillment.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a growing trend in where multichannel merchants are putting their e-commerce dollars.  SaaS—outsourcing the development and hosting of Websites—can be a cost-effective way of gaining new site functionality, reducing operating costs with less reliance on internal IT and accessibility to continuous upgrades. In our experience, SaaS costs range from 1% to 4% of sales.

We at SBC Fulfillment use a SaaS  WMS system.  We have found it allows us to scale our business quickly and provide your clients the data securty and availablity they need to run their business.

Full Article Atlanta-based 3PL simplifies operations while giving customers greater visibility into their inventory by leveraging a SaaS warehouse management solution from SmartTurn By Kevin ...
... margin, client specific operational cost for a low volume business could further erode profitability and render the proposition of SMB market unviable A SaaS Powered Shared Services Platform Can Help ...
... not tap the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for warehouse management.  The economy has forced companies to do more with less, thus “lean and mean” is becoming the way of the future.  On-demand ...

Chris Anderson goes analog; We all can be manufacturers

Chris Anderson, best known a big thinker and an author that chronicles the digital revolution, is going decidedly analog.

Link to article

Anderson’s speech, which he used to try out new material that will most likely wind up in another book, made the following points:

  • The Web revolution is hitting the real world. “We are entering a new manufacturing age,” said Anderson. “I’ve been thinking about being analog and the world of manufacturing.”
  • Manufacturing businesses are utilizing a lot of the techniques pioneered on the Web.
  • Tools of production are being democratized. Exhibit A: 3D printers will now run you $750. Anderson has one in his basement. Laser cutters and circuit boards can all be designed in your basement using world class industrial technologies.
  • If you want scale, a Chinese factory will work with you where ever you are. “I can click a button and make robots in a Chinese factory move,” said Anderson. “These factories want to work with smaller companies because there’s the flexibility to do so and higher margins. You have access to the same factory as Sony.”
  • Anderson chronicled Local Motors, which walks you through designing and building a car. Can this business scale?

The list goes on. Anderson’s big point is that the barriers to manufacturing are falling away. In fact, we may all be manufacturers down the road. Consider it the long tail of physical stuff.

12 Sure-Fire Steps to Improve Your Retail Sales

Link to original article
By Bob Nelson

The purpose of any business is to bring in customers, and it can only be accomplished through marketing. If your cash registers don't ring, something is wrong and you had better find out what is wrong fast. Because in today's competitive retail world...getting results is what counts.

Successful retailers aren't any more talented or intelligent than you are—they simply have learned to do things in a different way and make money in the process. Use the following 12 steps to improve your retail sales, you'll simplify your efforts, multiply
profits, and increase the odds of success.

1. Know Yourself
Having your own business is more than just creating a job for yourself. Your basic roles are in marketing, finance, administration and the responsibility of personnel. To get the best results, it is rare for one person to play all these roles equally well. You must know which parts you can handle yourself and which parts you're going to need help with.

2. Plan Ahead
Many stores are run by well-intended people but who don't have all the information they need to do their job. This includes a clear idea of market segment, target markets, customer service, product selection, marketing mix, promotional activities and pricing tactics. If you want to succeed you need a well thought out business plan that helps you make the right decisions.

3. Know the Industry
You can gain the greatest competitive edge if you have an intimate knowledge of your business. To thrive and prosper, you must be committed to learn and have the desire and energy to accomplish your goals. These are five main reasons why most businesses fail:

1. Lack of Industry Knowledge
2. Lack of Vision
3. Poor Market Strategy
4. Failure to Establish Goals
5. Inadequate Capitalization

4. Understand Your Customer
Make it your business to give your customers what they want, and they will do business and buy from you. The products and services you provide should reflect your customers needs and wants. Think in your customers' terms; buy, show, sell and say things that interest them, not just what interests you. Remember, it is the customer that determines whether or not you succeed.

5. Keep Good Financial Records
If you don't know where your money is going, it will soon be gone. The "game of business" is played with computers—and the score is evaluated in dollars and cents. Good financial records are like the instruments on an airplane, they keep you posted of your height, direction, and speed. Without them you’re flying blind with no controls to guide you to your destination.

6. Manage Your Cash
It doesn't matter how unique and wonderful your store is, your business can’t survive without cash flow. Money coming in your store is the vital component that keeps your business financially healthy. If you budget wisely and know the interval of your monthly income and expenses, you won't have to worry about running out of money.

7. Use Sound Management Practices
As a store owner, you are also a manager. You have to make decisions, offer customer service, manage time and resources, and know how to merchandise and run the business better than anyone working for you. Give your employees the opportunity for growth, treat them fairly, pay them what they’re worth and they will help make your business successful.

8. Develop a Distinctive Image
Your image is important and is a function of your marketing efforts and materials. Customer’s create their perceptions of your business from your name, Web site appearance, store location, products, prices, visual merchandising, signs, displays,
business cards, newsletters, advertising material, customer service and anything else that relates to your business.

9. Control Your Inventory
All retail stores need to manage inventory. It is your money sitting on a shelf and represents a large portion of your business investment. The retailer who merely watches the store’s shelves can’t maintain a proper balance between the right amount of merchandise and probable customer demand. Without adequate control, slow-moving inventory becomes dated and very costly.

10. Buy and Price For Profit
To understand retailing, one must start with the concept that the price of your merchandise is nothing more than a temporary estimate of what the customer is willing to spend. In devising your overall pricing strategy, a practical approach can be based on the function of supply and demand. To be more competitive, join buying groups and seek out manufacturer discounts that allow you to purchase merchandise below wholesale prices. By offering better values, you'll be able to attract more customers, and offer more opportunities to shop at your store.

11. Learn From The Pros
In today’s explosive markets, making the right moves is absolutely essential, there is little room for error. Without knowing how to navigate through these fast-moving times, it can be a tricky and even a self-destructive experience. Because of the emotional and sometimes difficult decisions that must be made, the crucial difference is having fresh ideas with an impartial business position.

12. Ask For Help When You Need It
Remember, getting results is what counts. Don't be too proud to ask for help, we all need help sometimes. It is important to recognize that what you don't know can end up costing you money, hurt the odds of success, and greatly reduce the chance of achieving your business goals. Hiring an expert with specialized skills can be the most profitable decision you can make to protect both your business and financial future.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

10 Big Marketing PRedictions for 2010

Great Article link

2010 is going to be an incredible year for marketing. Now, of course I don’t have a crystal ball but the shift is unmistakable and can’t be ignored.

The days of hit and miss expensive marketing and advertising are OVER. I’ll pause for a moment of silence. But with this big change, comes a tremendous creative opportunity for small and big businesses alike.

Big brands, niche brands and entrepreneurs that survived the storm of 2009 are in an exciting position for 2010. It is going to be a time where innovative and change in marketing is going to flourish. Marketing is going to be cheaper, faster and smarter.

The top ten are:
1.  Big Brands will learn from entrepreneurs
2.  Networking online
3.  Death of the one-way website
4.  Brands as content creators
5.  On line video for function
6.  Rise of Paid content creation
7.  Reputation Marketing
8.  Event Marketing
9.  Social Media no longer a marketing buzzword
10.  All about the relationships

This article is a must read!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

SBC Fulfillment fulfillment and packaging solutions

Thank you for visiting our page. Ifyou are here you are probably looking for the following:
Fulfillment services
fulfillment compay
fulfillment house
contract packaging
pick pack ship

in reference to: SBC Fulfillment packaging and fulfillment services (view on Google Sidewiki)