Shipping: Best Practices for Direct Sellers

As your business grows, shipping can quickly eat up your time and money. Use these tips to manage your business logistics for better ROI.

 

Shipping is one of the most difficult and mundane tasks you will face as a direct seller. From gathering shipping supplies to purchasing shipping labels and packaging orders and then finally making that trek to stand in line at the post office – shipping can become a time suck that most of us would like to skip.

To make matters even worse, shipping costs are rising. Unfortunately, many direct sellers must eat the costs of shipping, which means the rising costs will continue to cut into your profits and earnings. And while your costs are rising, so are your customers’ expectations.

Just a few short years ago, the idea of receiving an item that you ordered within in a few days was completely unimaginable. “Back in the day” catalog and online orders took time to fulfill and deliver. Fast forward to today, and it’s easy to see how Amazon has drastically changed consumer expectations. Now, we expect shipping that is not only fast but also free. Which is really too bad, after all, someone has to pay for shipping and it will likely be you. Expedited deliveries generally cost even more. The bottom line is that it’s challenging for direct sellers to meet customer expectations while simultaneously keeping their shipping costs as low as possible.

As much as you’d like to skip it, shipping has become a crucial aspect of modern-day direct selling. You may have already realized that for a home-based business, shipping can quickly become a nightmare without a well-organized process to handle it. So, how do you ship products to buyers after you make a sale, at the lowest costs and with the fewest headaches? The good news is there are plenty of “hacks” available to help you get the job done faster and easier at reasonable rates.

 

1. Use a Shipping Software

 

Using a shipping software simplifies the entire logistics process for your business and allows you to spend more time growing your business. A good example is the ZenSales shipping platform. Direct sales business owners are happy to report that ZenSales makes shipping faster and easier for them.

One of the biggest advantages of using a shipping software is cost savings. Software providers generally ship several thousand shipments each month through their platforms. This allows them to negotiate vastly discounted rates through the various providers and then those savings are passed on to customers. With the right shipping software, you can significantly reduce your hard shipping costs.

ZenSales can also automatically import your orders, not only does this save you time but it also reduces potential shipping orders. No more manually entering each customers’ shipping info! After your account is set up you can select shipping and print labels in just a few clicks.

With ZenSales you can even schedule a free USPS pick up right from your door. Which will free up even more of your time by eliminating those dreaded trips to the post office. Access customer information, manage your orders, and track data in one simple, secure place. Using a shipping software is a great way to run a hassle-free home-based business.

There are several additional features that provide enhanced business tools to direct sellers using the ZenSales platform. The automated Rewards program lets you track gift progress and send emails to customers who have almost reached their free gift. Speaking of emails, the platform includes automated shipment tracking and delivery notifications that allow you to send follow-up emails after packages are delivered. Plus, more email marketing features are coming soon!

 

2. Order Free Shipping Supplies

 

Not many people know it, but you can get free shipping supplies from the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivered directly to your door. We’ve already talked about rising shipping rates but the costs of packaging materials can also make a big dent in your expenses. Not only that, it’s time-consuming to run around shopping for shipping supplies. Well, never fear because it only takes a brief visit to the USPS to get everything you need, at no additional costs.

Visit the USPS store online to order free boxes and envelopes. The post office typically delivers boxes in packs of 10 or 25. If you happen to live close to a physical post office, you can also drop in and pick up free supplies.

Available Supplies Include:
• Priority Mail boxes and envelopes
• USPS labels and stickers

 

3. Create A Memorable Unboxing Experience

 

Unboxing is the name for the customer experience of opening a product for the first time, removing it from the shipping box and product packaging. Pop on over to YouTube, search for “unboxing”, and you will find a treasure trove of videos that demonstrate what today’s customers expect when they receive a product by mail.

When a customer opens your shipment, you have a unique, and often overlooked, opportunity to surprise and delight. This is important because happy customers are loyal customers who are likely to return again and again for repeat purchases, increasing your profit margins. Create an unboxing experience that works for you and your business. Start by reviewing the unboxing videos of similar products on social media.

When someone receives your product, imagine their surprise and delight if you were to include a brief personal thank you note and a piece of gourmet candy or any other small, inexpensive gift. This simple touch can leave customers more excited about your product and motivate them to share their experience, resulting in new customers and more future sales. As you can see, a rewarding unboxing experience doesn’t need to be complicated or even cost a lot. In fact, it can even save you time and money by creating a cohesive methodology for fulfilling your orders.

 

4. Promote Future Sales

 

A great way to encourage existing customers to buy more products from you is by using coupons. Coupons have proven to be effective sales tools for all kinds of businesses, including direct sales. It is a fact that shoppers like coupons and many of them are actively looking for them before they make a purchase. You can easily create a flyer or printed coupon to add to your shipments and let customers know about upcoming sales, discounts, and promotions.

5. Create A Shipping Station

 

Running a home-based business, like direct sales, and shipping orders can make your home disorganized to say the least. Between your product inventory and shipping supplies, things can get quite cluttered. To prevent this, it is set up an organized space dedicated to shipping. This will not only make your home organized but also create a more efficient shipping process.

 

6. Ship Orders ASAP

 

As an independent retailer, you want to ensure you deliver the best experience to your customers. One way to do that is to ship orders as quickly as possible. We’ve already mentioned “the Amazon effect” – today’s shoppers have extremely high delivery expectations. If a customer is excited about purchasing your product, you can make them even happier by getting them the product as quickly as possible. On the flip side, slower deliveries are highly likely to dissatisfy your customers. The best way to create a speedy shipping response is to follow all of the shipping detailed hacks above.

Viola, now you’re ready to ship like the pros! Armed with a shipping software, discounted shipping rates, free shipping supplies, a memorable unboxing experience, coupons for future sales and a shipping station you’ll be ready to reap the benefits and grow your business. You can quickly integrate these practices into your shipping processes and you will soon see significant savings in your time, money and effort spent on shipping. Implement these shipping best practices to save yourself from unnecessary stress, keep your home organized, grow your business and help you handle shipping in the easiest and most effective way.

We hope you find this information to be useful, stay tuned for additional tips to help you optimize your shipping and marketing tasks. If you have any questions, feel free to click the chat icon in the lower corner of your screen.

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ZenSales Unveils 3 New Subscription Tiers!

Today, ZenSales unveiled a new tier-based subscription model for new customers and existing customers who wish to upgrade. We’d like to take a moment to explain how and why we arrived at the new subscription level structure.

ZenSales was founded with a fairly simple business proposition: solve the shipping needs of direct sellers. Since that time, ZenSales has grown quickly by listening to customer feedback and rapidly adopting new problem-solving features. What began as a simple tool for shipping orders has quickly grown into a robust platform that covers a wide variety of useful business functions.

However, the team at ZenSales soon discovered that developing new features is only half the battle. Even in the same industry, customers come in all shapes and sizes and have different needs as well. We soon realized the features that work for someone who occasionally needs a simple shipping tool, may not serve the needs of a busy, seasoned professional with multiple products and extensive downlines. The bottom line is: different users have different needs and our subscription levels were not accurately matching the features to the needs of our customers.

Our goal was to re-organize our shipping, email marketing, rewards, and referral tools to create a solution that is designed specifically to meet the diverse needs of ZenSales customers. The best way to describe the new subscription tiers is to say that we hope that they reflect the business needs of the customers who use ZenSales the most. We have three very distinct levels of users at ZenSales, seller profiles that are common in the network marketing industry, here’s what we came up with to meet everyone’s needs. 

 

The Starter Plan / Free

ZenSales new Starter Plan was designed to help brand new direct sellers who have recently launched their businesses. The Starter Plan includes 15 shipments per month on ZenSales simplified shipping platform that lets you ship in 3 clicks. All shipments will have access to ZenSales reduced USPS pricing and the standard automatic order importing, address verification and super-speedy batch printing features that come standard with every ZenSales plan. The plan also includes comprehensive reporting through the ZenSales platform, which can reveal important customer and sales insights. Finally, the plan is rounded out with post-shipment support and easy returns from the ZenSales team. The Starter Plan contains features that are designed to give someone who is just starting out a leg up on the competition, with shipping tools that will save both time and money.  

 

 

The Growth Plan / $19 month

ZenSales Growth Plan is packed full of the tools and functionality network marketers need to maximize their business growth. The Growth Plan comes with a generous allotment of 500 shipments each month. In addition, these shipments will take advantage of ZenSales lowest discounted shipping rates and also includes the standard reports, automatic order importing, address verification and time-saving batch printing. With the Growth Plan, most users will find that their monthly shipping savings more than covers the low program cost.

ZenSales most convenient feature is available to Growth Plan users, they can schedule a free USPS pick up right from their door in just 2-clicks. The Growth Plan includes robust versions of our newest email marketing tools. Growth Plan users can easily create customized email templates and set up automated follow-up emails that can generate cross-sells and up-sells. The ZenSales Growth Plan makes it easy to stay in touch with your customers with “set it and forget” automated email tools that increase sales and customer satisfaction.

We’ve found that our customers on the Growth level tend to have the most immediate and pressing needs, so we’ve included ZenSales awesome 1-on-1 customer support, including email and live chat during our extended service hours. When compared to the competition, the new features in ZenSales Growth Plan make it one of the most competitive and cost-effective plans available today.

 

 

Executive / $29 month

The Executive plan was designed for our busiest top-sellers, it gives users access to ZenSales’ complete suite of comprehensive business tools. Starting with unlimited monthly shipments available at ZenSales’ heavily discounted shipping rates. The Executive Plan also includes ZenSales standard reports, automatic order importing, address verification and super-speedy batch printing. Executive Plan users can eliminate their trips to the post office and schedule a free USPS pick up, in just 2-clicks. 

The Executive Plan features complete access to ZenSales’ email marketing and rewards tools, which includes additional email marketing templates. The rewards program can be set up featuring a memorable emoji to track gift progress and the tool can also be set to auto-send progress emails that keep customers engaged. When a reward level is achieved, Executive Plan users and their customers will receive automatic notifications. Executive Plan members will also have priority access to the ZenSales team via email, chat and phone support. 

 

 

Conclusion 

There you have it, three new ZenSales tiers designed to provide the best combination of features to all of our users from those just starting out to the seasoned professionals. We hope you like the new ZenSales subscription tiers — get ready to take advantage of these plans when they launch on November 4, 2019!

Be on the look-out for ongoing updates to our platform — like more email marketing features coming soon — and additional tools and capabilities moving forward. ZenSales is committed to building cost-effective tools that simplify complicated business tasks.

If you have any questions about the new subscription tiers, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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Email Marketing That’s Fast, Easy, and Effective

Follow this quick and easy guide to email marketing, designed to help you get your email marketing campaign up and running quickly.

cute young woman sitting in a modern office space smiling and sending emails

When you think about email, what comes to mind? Most of us think about our crowded inboxes or the unending stream of “spam” we can’t seem to shake. Or maybe you recognize the value of email and think of it as a necessary evil. Without a doubt, there are plenty of cons associated with email marketing. Yet even with its detractions, you may be surprised to learn that email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel! In fact, nearly 60% of B2B marketers surveyed say email is their biggest source of ROI.  

The numbers don’t lie: if you want to drive sales and revenue for your business, email marketing may be your golden ticket. But, like most things in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about email marketing. When done the right way, your emails can be both fun and informative for your recipients, while helping you meet your business goals. 

It can be a bit intimidating but getting started with email marketing really isn’t that tough, especially with the email marketing tools you’ll find on the ZenSales platform. In the following paragraphs, we’re going to show you how to plan and launch an email marketing campaign designed to help you meet your business goals.

 

 

Set Your Goals

How big do you want to grow your business? Email marketing goals will give you a starting point and guideposts to help you achieve success. Setting goals will provide your email marketing efforts with a long-term vision and keep you motivated along the way. Your goals will also help you organize your time and correctly allocate your resources so that you have more time for the things that matter.

The key to establishing the correct goals for your email marketing initiatives is to align them with your business goals, sales goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Is your goal to drive new sales for your products? Generate new referrals for your team? Get more attendees for your next party or event? Provide greater customer satisfaction and get more word-of-mouth referrals? Email marketing can help.

To set your goals start by outlining what you want to accomplish with your email marketing. Your goals can then be used to help determine the types of campaigns you send, who you send them to, what your messaging says, and ultimately, they can be used to measure your success. Make sure you set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Find more info here.

If your business goal is to increase sales and referrals, email marketing goals like growing your list and increasing sales/conversions can provide support. If you’re just starting out, do a little research to determine the “industry standards” — or talk to a knowledgeable colleague – and use this data as your benchmark. 

 

Know the Different Types of Email Marketing

Before you begin planning your email marketing campaigns, you should know and understand the different types of emails and when it’s appropriate to use each one. Opinions vary on the different types of emails and some may refer to them by different terms, but for the purpose of this article and to help with your planning efforts we will divide email into three main categories: promotional, transactional, and engagement.

Promotional emails are the most commonly seen, of all email marketing types. In fact, the majority of the emails cluttering your inbox are most likely promotional emails. Like the name says, promotional emails generally promote a product or service and their goal is to drive sales and revenue for the business. Promotional emails can convince customers to make a purchase, attend an event or start a service. In order to be successful, your promotional emails must:

  • Capture and hold your recipient’s attention
  • Make her feel positively about your brand
  • Motivate her to purchase or engage with products, services, app, or website

Transactional emails are usually automated messages that are sent in response to events, interactions, or recipient preferences. Transactional emails are also frequently called “triggered” emails because they can be set to send automatically in response to certain events. For instance, when you make a purchase online you will likely receive an order confirmation and/or shipping notification. Transactional emails often contain information that a recipient will need at some point, which gives these messages high open rates. 

Finally, there are engagement emails which are designed to keep your business top of mind with your prospects and customers. The goal of an engagement email is to “engage” with your constituents to get them thinking about your products and services, even though they may not be ready to buy. Staying “top of mind” with your audience ensures that they think of you first when they are ready to buy. Engagement emails are also a great opportunity to really connect with your customers on a personal level to create brand affinity. 

Regardless of the type of email you’re sending, one of the most important keys to success is to send emails that people actually want to read, when they want to read them. Easier said than done, you say? Not so say we, here’s how.

 

Start with Your List

It will be extremely difficult to run a successful email marketing campaign without a list of email addresses. But hold on, before you begin collecting any and every email address you can get your hands on you should understand that email addresses are not all equal in value. Your best practice is to build a list of email addresses that belong to people who are interested and able to buy your products or services. A weak email list filled with random email addresses will likely result in poorly performing emails. Emailing a cold, un-targeted list may also deliver equally poor-quality data, which can derail your marketing efforts even further. No data is better than bad data. To build a quality list, target people who you have already qualified as potential buyers.

Here are a few of the top-performing methods for list building:

  1. Signup sheets
  2. Business card giveaways
  3. Ask customer/friends to forward an email invite
  4. Use social media to post an invite to connect
  5. Offer a coupon or special offer in exchange for email addresses
  6. Use an online tool to gather leads online, like Sign Up Anywhere  

Once you’ve built your list you will need to perform ongoing list maintenance to make sure your list continues to only include viable prospects who are engaged with your messaging. Three negative email performance metrics that consistently appear with a mismanaged list include hard bounces, soft bounces, and unengaged subscribers. 

You should “scrub” your list clean at regularly scheduled intervals by deleting any email addresses that are responsible for hard bounces or multiple soft bounces. If a user hasn’t opened or engaged with your messages for an extended period they are labelled as an unengaged subscriber, you should send a reactivation email and delete any nonresponses who are likely not interested.

 

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Make a Plan 

Email marketing without a plan is a plan to fail. The best email marketing is proactive and tailored to the needs of your business. Your final email plan should include a detailed calendar that shows which messages to send, who the recipients will be and when the messages will be sent.

While you’re putting together your email plan, you should always be conscious of “list fatigue”. List fatigue can happen when your list is full of untargeted or inactive subscribers, it can also be caused by old or overly repetitive messaging. Does your messaging no longer appeal to your recipients? If so, your messages will have a low open rate, high unsubscribe rates and low engagement – all potential signs of list fatigue. You can avoid list fatigue by completing ongoing list maintenance, and carefully scheduling relevant and interesting email messaging.

Start your plan by determining which transactional messages you will send. As stated before, transactional emails are usually automatically generated messages that are used to deliver important information during the customer journey. It is optimal to create and schedule automated transactional messaging. If you don’t have the ability to schedule automated messages, you should plan to send these communications manually. Transactional emails increase customer satisfaction and by helping your customers feel safe and empowered with timely and valuable information. 

Transactional messages you can include in your plan:

  1. Invoices
  2. Order confirmations
  3. Shipping notifications
  4. Delivery confirmations
  5. Registration confirmations
  6. Legal notices

Next, you can schedule your promotional messages. Despite it’s reputation, you shouldn’t be shy about sending promotional messaging. According to Statista, 49% of customers said they would like to receive promotional emails from their favorite retail brands on a weekly basis. The key word there is favorite. Don’t go overboard but do circle back on your goals and make a list of promotional emails that will help you reach your business targets. 

Promotional messages you can include in your plan:

  1. Sales, promotions and special offers
  2. Event announcements and invitations
  3. Service or product upgrades
  4. Contest announcements
  5. Holiday offers

Schedule your engagement emails last. When used correctly, engagement emails can onboard new customers, generate referrals, and retain and deepen customer relationships. Look at your customer journey to identify where you can deliver messaging that provides relevant support, impactful information, or fun interactions. If your messages do not meet these criteria, they can end up coming off as spam which may lead to spam reports, unsubscribes and opt-outs.

Engagement messages you can include in your plan:

  1. Onboarding emails
  2. Re-engagement messages
  3. Customer activity report
  4. Customer milestones
  5. Company news and announcements

 

Create Great Content 

With a stellar plan in your hand, you’re almost ready to reap the benefits of email marketing. But before you go there is one final and very important topic to cover. What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? We don’t want to intimidate you, but it’s important to remember to send emails that your audience wants to read. If you do not manage to create compelling content, your customers will eventually stop listening.

 

Creating great email content can be as simple as answering these two questions:

  1. Why should your readers care?
  2. What action(s) do you want your readers to take?

“What’s in it for me?” also referred to as “WIIFM” is a timeless marketing question that can help focus your communication efforts. When you’re excited about your business, it’s easy to lose track and wax on poetically about things that probably don’t matter to your readers. Your sales awards, your company’s achievements and similar information may matter to you – but it likely won’t mean much to your list. Focus on what matters to the people you email.

Email readers are notoriously selfish with their time, so focus on conveying the information that they want. Once you’ve “stoked their desires” with an irresistible offer, let them know what steps they need to take to satisfy those wants. Viola – you’ve created a successful marketing email! Write copy that answers these two questions and you’ll be on your way to email marketing success.  

 

Here are 10 essential tips to help you create great emails that get more results:

  1. Include an intriguing subject line
  2. Keep your copy short and sweet
  3. Make sure design and layout is clean
  4. Avoid attachments
  5. Write to your audience, tell a story
  6. Include personalized content
  7. X-nay on the all caps
  8. Stick to a single call to action
  9. Keep your messaging focused
  10. Follow best practices to avoid spam folders

 

A Few Parting Notes

And there you have it: all the tools and information you need to tap into email marketing. We would be remiss if we did not stress the importance of providing value to your readers: it is absolutely essential. If your messages do not provide value, you’re simply spamming your readers with unwanted messages. 

Email marketing can help you get the right messages directly to your clients and prospects at the right time. As with most things marketing and business-related, there is a learning curve to email marketing. The good news is the email marketing tools from ZenSales have been designed to make email marketing as simple and intuitive as possible. We guarantee that you will learn and improve quickly once you start emailing, but if you run into issues or have any questions along the way the ZenSales team is here to help!

 

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