Mentorship

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Green Altitude, Yellow Attitude: Take Your Business Higher with GoGreen Plus
Green Logistic
0
Min Read
Green Altitude, Yellow Attitude: Take Your Business Higher with GoGreen Plus

We're proud to be the first logistics company to offer Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) with GoGreen Plus, a service that helps small businesses to lower the carbon emissions associated with their shipments. So whether you're already using recyclable packaging or participating in carbon offsetting, you now have another opportunity to take steps towards a more sustainable future. 

Ready to Ship Yellow to GoGreen? Reach out to learn more about GoGreen Plus. 

What is and Why SAF?

Unlike conventional kerosene-based aviation fuel, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is derived from more environmentally friendly sources such as waste cooking oil, and forest and agricultural residue. Once processed, it is blended with traditional aviation fuel and supplied to airports and aircraft. A remarkable innovation in aviation is that an airplane flying on SAF emits up to 80% less CO2 over time than flying on traditional fossil fuels.

We've established a goal to achieve a minimum 30% SAF fuel blend by 2030 as part of our sustainability roadmap. This is a high bar for sustainability in logistics, and we are the only logistics company currently utilizing SAF, leading the charge toward greener operations.

GoGreen Plus: Simplifying Sustainability for Canadian SMEs

We've heard from many small businesses that the quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be fraught with challenges. You're already juggling running your business and having to wade through complex environmental regulations, a lack of governmental support, overhead costs, and information overload. 

But you know sustainability isn't just the right thing to do—it's also a business advantage.

50% of digital buyers state that environmental concerns impact their purchasing decisions1 and 77% of buyers are willing to pay more for a product that is sustainable2

GoGreen Plus addresses these challenges and opportunities for you head-on by making it easy for you to commit to change:

Simplified Process:
DHL's GoGreen Plus service streamlines emissions reduction by removing the barriers that typically prevent small businesses from taking action. 

Certifiable Benefits:
When you ship with GoGreen Plus, you receive a certificate detailing the emission reduction value. You can use this certificate for your reporting, brand marketing, and more.

From Offsetting to Embracing Insetting:
Offsetting and CO2 compensation, like planting trees, don’t cut CO2 emissions. In contrast, insetting, such as through GoGreen Plus, involves investing in reducing CO2 within your supply chain.

Contribution to a Green Future:
By choosing GoGreen Plus, small businesses directly contribute to a more sustainable future, aligning with the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly business practices.

The Horizon Ahead: Embracing Sustainability with GoGreen Plus

The message is clear: sustainability is within reach, and it doesn't have to be complicated. Our GoGreen Plus initiative is more than just a service; it's a movement towards a more sustainable logistics industry. By leveraging SAF, we're reducing our carbon footprint and empowering small businesses to do the same.

Ready to Ship Yellow to GoGreen? Reach out to learn more about GoGreen Plus and start making a positive impact with your next shipment. 

1 (source: globalWebIndex)

2 (source: IBM)

From the Coffee Bench to the Global Stage: Nile Coffee Club
Going Global
0
Min Read
From the Coffee Bench to the Global Stage: Nile Coffee Club

We spoke with Nile Coffee Club founders Jahmal, Sandrine, and Taher to learn more about their plans for using the $20K prize—$10K dedicated to international shipping and support and $10K to work with a business coach. 

Here's a glimpse into their journey and their vision for growing global.

Pouring Potential, the Caffeinated Expansion

Nile Coffee Club envisions using the winnings to further prove their concept in Toronto before expanding to other parts of Canada and, notably, the world. "The stipend will help offset some of the shipping costs that often hold us back from doing other things," they explained. "For many Canadian small businesses, shipping is very tight and difficult. This support will help big time." Most of their business happens online, and they see this program as an opportunity to expand. "We met as friends – on a coffee bench. So, coffee and community are our first loves. We're looking to expand our lifestyle offering to reach new audiences and surprise and delight our current ones."

Brewing Beyond Local Borders

Nile's founders emphasized the necessity for Canadian small businesses to look beyond local markets. "For Nile, especially as a Black business, it's about creating a brand that appeals to folks like us and connecting with like-minded, creative individuals globally." There's a lot to love in Toronto, and Nile's founders want to share that. "It's a big wide world with many people, and we all see this brand as an opportunity to talk to those people and connect with them."

Tips for Small Businesses Looking to Go Global

The founders of Nile Coffee Club shared some valuable insights for other small businesses aiming to expand internationally:

  • Brand Partnerships: Testing new markets through partnerships can provide a nice welcome. For example, Nile Coffee Club did a pop-up inside KOTN in New York, which helped validate their entry into a new market: "We didn't have a brand presence in New York, but we could see through our collaboration that there was an audience there for us."
  • Community Feedback: Nile Coffee Club is a big advocate of bringing their community into building their brand. Some brands use fun surveys to engage with their audience collaboratively to help determine interest. "Asking questions like, 'Where do you want to see us next?' can reveal new opportunities through your community."
  • Phased Approach: Nile Coffee Club has been operating for four years now, growing their presence with other like-minded and unexpected partners and has an eye on opening up a physical location in the near future. "We want to do everything all at once, but we recognize our ambition needs to be tempered in a very thoughtful way, which is why we're very intentional about how we scale."

Feeling inspired to take your business global? We're here to support your ambitions for growth and keep you connected to the world.

Blooming Internationally: Wild Folk's Botanical Cocktails Take the World Stage
Going Global
0
Min Read
Blooming Internationally: Wild Folk's Botanical Cocktails Take the World Stage

Pouring Into New Markets with a $20K Prize

With the $20K winnings provided by DHL, Wild Folk is looking to expand its global reach by enhancing its logistics. "We're aiming to streamline our distribution and marketing efforts in new regions where we don't have a physical presence," says founder Dalia Kohen. “Figuring out how to position our product in unfamiliar markets is crucial. This fund will support everything from business logistics to ensuring our products reach new customers smoothly and efficiently."

Navigating the Global Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Scene

As a small business, Wild Folk has faced significant hurdles in their journey toward international expansion. "Financing and funding are major challenges," Kohen explains. "Ensuring a smooth flow of funds while managing stock before it reaches customers is tough. The payment waiting period can be up to 60 days, which adds another layer of complexity."The $10K of business coaching services will help Wild Folk navigate these issues, ensuring they have the resources to manage growth effectively. Dalia is looking to coordinate various logistical aspects, such as border licensing, to ensure shipments make it to their destination. "I have an export plan in place thanks to a trade accelerator program, but piecing it all together is another challenge — the guidance of a business coach helping me out with regional marketing strategies will be invaluable."

Botanical Wisdom for Fellow SMEs with
Global Ambitions

For Wild Folk, thinking beyond local markets is essential for growth. "Calgary has been a very supportive community — and community support is vital," says Dalia. "However, there's potential for more growth and more significant impact in larger, international markets, providing an exciting opportunity for us."

As a Grow Your Global campaign winner, Dalia encourages other Canadian small businesses to remain open to support and new opportunities. "It's easy to get bogged down in daily operations," Dalia advises. "Seek out connections and socialize with others who can uplift you. There will always be ups and downs, but staying connected and thinking big can make all the difference."

Ready to grow global?  We're here to fuel your growth and connect you with opportunities around the world.

How To Sell To China On Singles' Day 2023
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How To Sell To China On Singles' Day 2023

WHAT IS SINGLES' DAY?

Move over Valentine’s Day, the singles want some fun, too! China’s Singles’ Day on 11 November (11/11 – all the singles!) was originally conceived by a group of college bachelors who wanted a dedicated holiday to celebrate their singledom. Then in 2009, spotting an opportunity, China’s leading e-commerce marketplace Alibaba began marketing Singles’ Day as a special sales event. Since then, it's become an annual shopping bonanza where it’s not unusual for sales to reach ten times that of an average shopping day in China.

So, how can your e-commerce business take a slice of this very lucrative pie?

Perhaps you’re already selling to Chinese buyers through an online marketplace such as Amazon or Alibaba, or maybe you ship internationally to customers there via your own e-commerce website. Either way now is the time to prepare. Here’s how…

SINGLES’ DAY 2023: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

It’s the world’s biggest shopping day

Singles’ Day sales are bigger than Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday combined!(1) In 2021, online sales on JD.com and Alibaba – the country’s leading e-commerce sites – reached US$139 billion(2), setting a new record.

It’s not just restricted to China

The shopping bonanza is gaining momentum across the world. One analysis tracked 290,000 brands from over 90 countries and regions participating in Tmall’s Singles’ Day sales in 2022(3). Of those, 70,000 were doing so for the first time. Will your business join them this year?

Tmall Global is your gateway to the Chinese market

As the largest e-commerce platform in China, you’ve probably heard of Alibaba4, a B2B business connecting wholesale exporters in China with countries around the world. The bit you should know about is Tmall Global5, Alibaba’s dedicated B2C platform specifically set up for foreign businesses. It allows cross-border sellers to build virtual storefronts and ship products to Chinese customers without the need for a physical entity in the country or a Chinese business license. You can also accept payments in your local currency.

There’s room for everyone

Singles’ Day isn’t just for the big retailers. In the first 28 hours of 2022’s sales, the transaction volumes of 50k small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and 70k SME merchants increased 100%(6).

Chinese shoppers like to buy from overseas brands

According to a survey of Tmall Global shoppers7, the leading reasons they buy from cross-border brands are:

Important information to consider when you’re planning your Singles’ Day marketing campaign!

Livestreaming is BIG business

Though relatively new in the West, livestreaming has been hugely popular in China for years. Customers enjoy being able to learn about a product in-depth, whilst for businesses, this engagement leads to greater conversions.

The challenge for overseas brands is to find a video hosting platform with the relevant clearance in China. Instead, they could focus on ensuring their product listings feature plenty of high-res photos, video tutorials and how-to guides, whilst being quick to respond to customer queries on social media.

Sustainability is entering the conversation

Despite Singles’ Day being associated with excessive consumption, in 2021, Alibaba turned its focus towards sustainability by partnering with 14 brands to promote greener production.

Consumers are embracing more considered choices, too: over 33 million of them purchased eco-friendly products on Tmall and Taobao during the 2022 Singles’ Day sales8. Meanwhile, keyword searches for green topics including “energy-saving” and “low carbon” surged on JD.com9.

Singles’ Day Strategies to Focus on This Year

  • Do your research

To appeal to Chinese consumers, you need to know their buying behaviors and preferences. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you: dive into our dedicated China country guide for all the local insights you’ll need.

  • Optimize your e-commerce website for mobile

Mobile commerce dominates Singles’ Day, so ensure your customers have an easy, fast and intuitive experience – otherwise they’ll abandon their carts.

  • Translate your content

Ensure your website copy and marketing messaging is converted into the local language for foreign browsers.

  • Offer payment in Yuan

Provide payment options and gateways where transactions can be done in the Chinese currency.

  • Use the number 11 as a hook

Offering a 11% discount on sale items, for example, will show your brand is joining in the fun!

  • Offer fast shipping

Chinese consumers may be deterred from buying from overseas brands as they think their orders will be delayed. By partnering with DHL, you can offer customers Express international delivery. Just be sure to highlight it on your homepage to incentivize shoppers.

  • Monitor your inventory closely

If something sells out, you need to be ready to quickly pivot to promote another item instead.

The fun doesn’t stop after Singles’ Day! Peak Season is upon us, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas still to come too. For advice to help you prepare, check out our dedicated holiday shipping tips.

References

1 – Forbes , November 2022

2 – CNBC, November 2021

3 - Queue.it, September 2023

4 - Alibaba

5 - Tmall Global

6 - Queue.it, September 2023

7 - Digital Commerce, June 2022

8 & 9 - Queue.it, September 2023

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Accelerate Your Shipping Success with Our Exclusive Small Business Concierge
Going Global
0
Min Read
Accelerate Your Shipping Success with Our Exclusive Small Business Concierge

So you're ready to ship internationally—congratulations! There's nothing like the feeling of expanding your business and reaching new customers worldwide. But navigating international shipping can be daunting, especially for small businesses.

Enter DHL Exclusive Small Business Concierge, a first-class shipping experience specifically tailored to the needs of small businesses. Our concierge service is designed to make international shipping easy and stress-free so you can focus on what you do best – growing.

Your first 60 days–it's not just business; it's personal, too

When you create a shipping account with DHL, for the first 60 days, you're part of our Exclusive Small Business Concierge service. It's like having a shipping expert at your fingertips, ready to help you navigate the world of cross border shipping, account setup, and tips and tricks so your package can go around the world, reaching its destination, worry-free.

In the weeks that follow, our concierge will be available to help guide you through:

●      Proactive Monitoring: Ensure your first shipment arrives at its destination on time.

●      E-Billing Setup: Help you facilitate the setup of your billing information online.

●      Customs Declaration: Offer insights into customs requirements, commercial invoices, and shipping practices essential for international shipping.

●      Ongoing Assistance: Order supplies, set up a regular pickup, or support with any shipping-related questions or concerns.

Going and growing global with DHL

The Exclusive Small Business Concierge by DHL supports small business growth and success. Our goal is simple: we provide entrepreneurs, like you with the insights, support, and tools needed for a smooth transition into the global market.

Ready to go global? Get in touch today!

Banker Turned Trendsetter - The empowering story behind the founder of Threads.
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Banker Turned Trendsetter - The empowering story behind the founder of Threads.

Xenia started her career as an investment banker. But when she was sick of wearing uncomfortable, non-durable tights, she pivoted her career to launch Threads – a brand that offers high quality, sustainable and affordable tights, and hosiery.

As the world comes together to celebrate International Women's Month, DHL wants to shine a spotlight on extraordinary women who have made remarkable strides in their respective fields. Among them is Xenia Chen, the inspiring founder of Threads and one of the winners of our SME Discover Your Next Contest in 2022. Today, we celebrate Xenia's accomplishments and highlight the innovative impact of Threads in the fashion industry.

How did Threads start?

In 2018, Xenia was working in the financial services industry at the time and would go through a lot of hosiery with work wardrobe. She was getting fed up with the number of tights she was going through in a month, because of rips and pulls in the material. Xenia found that she was either spending $10 at the drugstore for a pair that sucked or spending $60 on a pair that was comfortable and luxurious, but still had some sort of shelf life before it rips or wears out. She noticed her female coworkers were also experiencing the same frustrations when it came to their tights, whether it was about comfort or how much money they were spending. And that’s when Threads was born, the experience motivated her to start doing her own research into the hosiery industry, where she learned there were virtually no companies out there who were making tights with women in mind.

Threads was created to be different in both design and affordability. They work directly with their factory in Italy, where they can cut out the middleman, so women can get luxury tights at the fraction of the price. It was important to Xenia that women had access to affordable and high-quality tights, seeing how they are a fundamental staple to women’s workwear.

Threads’ greatest challenge and success so far in the journey
Like many other small businesses, the most significant challenge (and accomplishment) for Threads was navigating the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. Operating as a young business in an industry reliant on people dressing up, whether for outings or work, posed considerable difficulties. Xenia expresses gratitude that Threads successfully re-strategized on the fly, nurtured existing customers, identified new and unexpected customer groups, launched new products, and ultimately made it through the challenging year with the entire team intact, while also establishing a new business line. A true testament that sometimes, the best ideas can come out of times of incredible challenge. 

Threads' achievements include significant media coverage from outlets such as the Today show, Fashion magazine, and Good Housekeeping. This recognition is attributed, in part, to the company's gender-inclusive policy, making Threads a popular choice within the drag and crossdressing communities, setting it apart from competitors. The brand has further diversified its product line with the introduction of fly-contour tights designed for men. Additionally, Threads has expanded its distribution network, now offering its products not only online but also in small independent clothing shops.

Xenia’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

“Just start! If you’ve been dreaming up something for awhile, start working on the idea now. There will never be a “perfect time” to start a business. This doesn’t mean you need to quit your full-time job – just start working on it on the weekends or at night (that’s what I did with Threads for the first year). Taking the first step is often the hardest step but also the most important! Lastly, failure is not the opposite of success: it’s a stepping stone to success.”

Learn more about Xenia and Threads at ca.yourthreads.co or on Instagram at @threads.co

How Milk Jar Became a Philanthropic Company
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How Milk Jar Became a Philanthropic Company

My love for candles began in my early 20s; I’d always loved their beautiful smells that filled my room and their glowing ambiance. I remember I couldn’t wait to move out of my parent’s house and go to University, just so I could finally decorate my own place. The Bohemian style of decor was very popular at the time – crafted candles and earthy smells were a must-have to create a natural and cozy atmosphere. They say that your 20s are about self-discovery. You try out different paths, interests and styles, with every year of getting older also getting to know yourself deeper and closer to your authentic self. It’s our way of finding your life’s purpose – and I found mine through candle making.

In my undergrad, I studied Kinesiology. Early on in my schooling, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but chose the degree based on my interests in sports and healthcare. I come from a family of healthcare professionals, so I always assumed that I’d end up working in that field as well. My parents taught me that a meaningful job is one where you can help others, and that’s what started me on my journey.

By the end of my degree, I had gained a lot of experience in sport therapy, exercise, rehabilitation, biology, etc., but the area that I became most passionate about was adaptations and accommodations for disabled people. I only had one class in my entire four-year degree that taught me about this, but when I took the class, I jumped at the opportunity to do a practicum with the Special Olympics and volunteered to facilitate a pool therapy program for a teen with Cerebral Palsy. That semester, I built a strong bond with the teen and his mother and we decided to keep swimming after my work experience contract was complete.

I was hired to swim once a week for 6-8 months of the year, and sometimes I visited their home to do some on-land therapy and stretching. We did this for 7 years, until he turned 20. Being a part of this family’s life and witnessing their dedication to making sure their son lived a full and rich life was a life-changing experience for me. In all the beautiful moments, I also saw the really hard ones: the exhaustion from medical visits, the back-and-forth for funding support, and the struggles of raising a child with a disability in a world that does not offer equal opportunities. This really opened my eyes to how hard this world can be for people living with disabilities, and their families, and it sparked my desire to find a career where I can help this community.

Milk Jar was not my first attempt at a job with my new-found passion. My original plan was to get my master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Unfortunately, it was a competitive program and I wasn’t accepted. I was disappointed, but I still wouldn’t have traded those evenings in and out with friends for a few extra days of studying. I’m a strong advocate for living life to its fullest, so I have no regrets – and everything happens for a reason! Enter Milk Jar.

The idea of creating Milk Jar came to me, about four years after finishing school, during a time when I was feeling quite lost. I had worked a couple jobs that I cared very much about, but none of them made me feel like I was making the impact that I knew I was capable of. I was making candles in my home as a way to experiment with soy wax when I learned that burning common paraffin wax candles released carcinogens and soot into the air that could cause respiratory issues and other health concerns.

I mentioned before I loved burning candles and had them in every room in my home. Because of my family and background in Kinesiology, choosing healthy lifestyle options has always been important to me. I could’ve just started purchasing other candles made with natural waxes, but it seemed easy enough to make myself – and more fun! I quickly learned that it wasn’t that easy, but I enjoyed the process of learning how to blend fragrances, vessels, waxes, and wicks. And my favourite piece to candle making? Developing scents that capture a memory, place or feeling.

After a year of making candles and also feeling like I wasn’t connected to the disability community that I cared so much about, I decided in April 2016 that I’d start a business selling my candles that donated a portion of its profits to organizations that were doing amazing work that. I launched Milk Jar that November and reached out to the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing and offered to donate $1 from the sale of every candle to them that following year.

I was just as terrified as I was excited to launch into entrepreneurship. I had no idea what I was doing, let alone running a business, but I was passionate about creating a company that was more than just Milk Jar. By inserting a philanthropic purpose into Milk Jar from the start, all my nerves about whether it would succeed or fail didn’t matter. It would’ve already been a success even if I donated $50. That first year we donated $2000 to CADS Calgary.

Fast forward to today and Milk Jar has donated over $100,000 to various non-profits including: CADS Calgary, Between Friends, and PaceKids Programs. Last year, we became an inclusive employer, hiring people in our community living with disabilities to help hand craft the products we make. This has fundamentally changed the culture in our company, we experience more joy at work and everyone is more motivated. We are learning from each other everyday. It’s a beautiful atmosphere to be around people that may appear different from us but recognize that we all want similar things in life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a little home-grown business could raise this much money and touch as many lives as Milk Jar has in 5 years. I finally found my purpose – and it wasn’t something I waited to find me – I created it.

I’ve learned a lot over the years of starting and running this business, and if there is one thing that you take away from reading this, it’s to ask yourself what else? What else does your business do besides its obvious sale of product or service? What does your company stand for value, and contribute to that gets you out of bed on those tough days? And believe me, you will have them. How have you added purpose into your company that you can speak to, are passionate about, and that every member of your team can be proud of?

A business that cares will be your greatest return on investment. Now more than ever, people want to know that their dollars are being spent on companies that care about economic and social sustainability. When you show that your company is more than just the business of sales, you will have lifelong supporters that’ll be dedicated to helping you succeed.

There’s a lot of inequity in this world. Supporting an important cause that elevates your community can come in many forms: donating, volunteering, advocating, befriending, etc., and it feels really good to give your time, energy and/or money to initiatives that need and benefit from it.

I believe it’s our duty to take care of each other and our planet, and it is the way to lead a purposeful life. Owning your own business is a privilege. A privilege that should be used to make this world better for others, not to make ourselves better than others. If we could all experience the same opportunities, access and treatment, then what a beautiful world we would be living in.

___________________________________________

About the Author

Holly Singer is a compassionate and inspirational 32-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist. She grew up in Victoria BC, moved to Calgary for university, and has since built Milk Jar to what it is today in what she now calls home. Holly enjoys relaxing at home with her dog Bowie and plans to do a diving trip in Indonesia sometime in the near future.

Learn more about Holly at milkjar.ca or on Instagram at @milkjarcandleco

10 Quick Wins to Improve Your Logistics
Going Global
0
Min Read
10 Quick Wins to Improve Your Logistics

So how can you optimize your logistics today? Here are 10 quick tips to turn logistical headaches into successful deliveries.

Efficient logistics operations can save your business time and money while ensuring timely delivery to your customers. While some improvements require investment and planning, there are simple changes you can make today to enhance efficiency. Here are 10 tips to supercharge your logistics:

  1. List your weaknesses and identify the changes
    Determine areas in your logistics operation that can be improved, such as inventory management, storage, picking, packing, or invoicing. Write down actions that could increase productivity and divide them into short-term and long-term changes.
  2. Measure performance
    Set specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to target and measure improvements. Speak to logistics experts, such as DHL, to find out what kind of metrics you should be tracking—and what the numbers mean. Are you hitting the industry averages or falling below?
  3. Ask your employees
    Your on-the-ground team members are on the front line and talking to customers and suppliers every day. That makes them a valuable resource for identifying areas of improvement. Gather their input and ideas, as they often have practical insights into inefficiencies and potential solutions. Consider implementing incentives to motivate and reward improved performance; did they deliver consistently on time or receive positive customer feedback? Make sure your people are recognized for great logistics work.
  4. Optimize warehouse layout
    Arrange your warehouse to prioritize popular items closer to the shipping station while minimizing bottlenecks. Consider vertical racking systems to maximize space utilization. Use inventory management software to forecast demand and plan stock accordingly.
  5. Streamline packing
    Simplify the packing process by allowing pickers to place items directly into pre-addressed boxes. Use mini mobile printers to generate address labels instantly. The upfront cost of the printers and software will pay for itself in just a few months.
  6. Offer green options
    Consumers increasingly want more sustainable e-commerce options, from green delivery options to recyclable packaging. In 2020, only 58% of consumers were willing to spend more for sustainable e-commerce options. Just two years later, nearly 90% of consumers said that they would be willing to spend an extra 10% or more for sustainable products1. You can read our guide to greener packaging here.
  7. Get external help for international shipping
    Ensure accurate and detailed descriptions of goods and correct Harmonized System (HS) codes to prevent customs delays. Explore resources like the DHL Express International Shipping Toolkit for guidance on global brand strategy and reducing cart abandonment
  8. Get smart about your delivery routes
    Some items just always seem to get damaged in transit. It’s worth analyzing which products get damaged—maybe there’s a pattern that means you can treat those packages differently. Evaluate different shipping providers for reliability—the cheapest option in the short term sometimes means more expensive over the long term once damaged items and lost customers are taken into account. Also, consider load planning software to optimize the way goods are loaded for safer transport.
  9. Embrace technology
    AI, analytics, and automation are making waves in the logistics sector. AI adoption in logistics is growing by 43%2 every year, so it makes sense to seriously consider your own AI strategy. Explore software solutions that automate and optimize elements of your logistics operations, such as stock analysis, staff scheduling, and inventory management. Route management and optimization—making sure drivers take the best route to make all drops quickly and economically—is a common application of AI and has been for a number of years.
  10. Focus on last-mile delivery
    Depending on which survey you pay attention to, the last mile of your logistics process—getting the product to your customer—is between 41%3 and 53%4 of the cost of the total logistics cycle. In other words, it’s the hardest part. Partnering with a reliable logistics expert like DHL can enhance the customer experience by integrating express, on-demand, and international shipping options into your checkout process. Ensure a positive final impression by delivering goods on time and in excellent condition and give customers regular tracking updates: 82% of consumers expect tracking updates.5

Implementing these changes can yield quick wins and improve your overall logistics operations. Ready to ship? Get essential market insights from the DHL Express International Shipping Toolkit, or talk to one of DHL's 160,000 logistics experts today.

References

1 – Forbes, March 2022

2 – Interactive AI – DHL - Global

3 – Statista, 2018

4 – Insider Intelligence, 2023

5 – My Customer, 2016

6 Principles of Marketing for Your Business
Business Growth
0
Min Read
6 Principles of Marketing for Your Business

What is marketing? Is it just a fancy word for selling?

It’s way more than that. While selling is mostly about the transaction of goods for cash, marketing concerns itself with the entire business process. It embraces product development, the people who are most likely to buy your product, your pricing structure, promotional techniques and more. If you see a pattern developing here, you’re right.

What are the 4 Ps of the marketing mix?

The 4 Ps of marketing are Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

It’s generally believed that there are four Ps in what people call ‘the marketing mix'. (Some stretch the term to include seven or even nine, but there are four main ones.) Whether you sit down and construct a formal five-year marketing strategy for your business, or tend to 'freestyle' things, you should always be thinking about the four Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

6 Basic Marketing Principles

At DHL, we always go the extra mile (excuse the pun). So rather than four, we focus on six marketing principles: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People and Packaging. That’s right, we’ve added People and Packaging into the mix. Let's take a closer look at each one:

1. Product

This is presumably why you’re here. You’ve got a good product and you want to sell it. For the sake of brevity, our use of ‘product’ also includes things like apps and services, and applies to business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales. Right from the start, you need to forget that you’ve got anything to do with the product at all. Instead, examine it afresh from the perspective of a potential customer. Channel their thoughts like this:

  • Hey, that looks cool. I wonder what it does?
  • I could use something like this in my study/garage/kitchen
  • I wonder if it’s available in black?
  • Maybe there are cheaper versions elsewhere?
  • This would make me look good to my boss/partner/kids
  • Not sure about that name. How am I supposed to pronounce it?
  • Why all this packaging? Don’t they know plastic is the enemy?
  • It would make a great gift. Maybe it’s cheaper if I buy several
  • Ah, the instructions...‘Utilize’? ‘Enablement’? Who talks like this?

By forensically examining every aspect of your product – maybe asking impartial observers to do likewise – you’ll find ways to enhance it or make it more appealing to more people. You need to think ahead too. Just about everything for sale has a ‘product life cycle’, a period after which sales naturally decline. You must be ready for that, and plan to introduce new and/or improved versions of the product long before your sales curve starts to head south.

“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.” – Bryan Eisenberg, Author & Keynote Speaker

2. Price

Ever noticed anything odd about men’s grooming site, Dollar Shave Club? They’re wildly successful at what they do, but nobody’s ever bought a razor from them for a dollar. It can’t be done. Not once the cost of shipping is included. That’s just one example of how a clever pricing strategy (together with a catchy name) can reel the shoppers in. Determining the price of your product is a balancing act. Set it too low and you might appear cheap and inferior. Set it too high and people will quickly look elsewhere. There are exceptions, of course. A Dyson fan will blow the same air around your living room as a regular fan, but advanced technology and a unique design mean the company can command a cost per unit many times higher than other manufacturers.

Rather than going with your gut feeling, do some research. Look at what your competitors (if any) are charging and learn what your potential customers would be willing to pay. Consider offering bulk discounts or introductory offers, or adding value in other ways such as a user guide or club membership. Dive into the consumer psychology of pricing too – you can read more about nudge techniques around pricing, here. Then consider which pricing strategy you should implement. There’s a range of different strategies to suit different objectives and marketing environments. Some of the main ones are:

Market Penetration

This is where your initial price is set artificially low, then hiked once you’ve achieved a predetermined market share. New subscription services like TV or broadband providers typically use this model. As we’ve seen, the Dollar Shave Club is pretty much just the name on the door.

Price Skimming

Price skimming occurs when a first-to-the-market company can afford to charge a higher price, but then has to lower it when cut-price competitors arrive on the scene. Most hi-tech items are eye-wateringly expensive at launch.

Neutral Pricing

Here, you set the price to match whatever the bulk of your competitors are charging. It’s not a strategy to adopt if your products are demonstrably superior to others. Once you’ve settled on a price that brings the orders trickling in, turn your attention to how you can modify your pricing strategy so that the trickle becomes a stream, then a torrent, then a flood. Never stop testing, in other words. (But always have that other P word at the back of your mind – profit.)

3. Place

'Place' in a marketing mix context refers not to a single location but to several: where your business is located; where your customers are located; and any points in between such as warehouses, distributors and retailers. How you get your products from you to the end user is, as with most things in marketing, customer driven. You have to find out where your customers are, where they might look to find your product, where they’d feel most comfortable buying it, how long they’re prepared to wait for it to be delivered, how often they’re likely to place an order and so on. Knowing the answers will help you determine the best – i.e. quickest, simplest and most cost-efficient – method of getting your stuff out there.

Now, you could be lucky in that your business might thrive just through selling handmade watches to a handful of high net worth individuals every year. In which case, distribution is a pretty simple matter and your main concern is ensuring you have hefty insurance. But for most SMEs, a more structured system will be required. It’s no exaggeration to say that distribution can make or break a business. But help is at hand. Because when it comes to national or international logistics, whether for global corporations or bedroom-based start-ups, nobody can offer more hands-on experience or helpful advice than DHL. With offices in over 220 countries and territories, we’re the first name in crossing borders, reaching new markets and growing your business. And, as our software aligns with many e-commerce platforms, your customers can see shipping costs transparently.

4. Promotion

This is what most people think of when you talk about marketing, but promotion is just the communication aspect of the marketing process and is often one of the last steps you take.

Promotion can take many forms:

  • Advertising
  • TV and radio
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Posters
  • PPC (pay per click) advertising
  • Online banners
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Social media – including influencer marketing
  • Sales Promotion
  • Money-off coupons
  • Loyalty programs
  • Product sampling
  • Competitions
  • Point of salePublic Relations
  • Press releases
  • Exhibitions and events
  • Sponsorship  

5. People

It goes without saying that your customers should be at the heart of everything you do. After all, without them, there is no business. Ask yourself:

  • What do people want from your product or service?
  • Are they using it in ways you hadn’t envisaged?
  • How are they interacting with your brand?
  • What are they saying about you on social media or review sites?
  • Do you value your customers or feel they somehow ‘get in the way’?
  • How can you improve their experience of your website or products?
  • When was the last time you wrote a personal note to a customer?


And people doesn't just refer to your customers; the people who work for you are also vital to the success of your enterprise. A lot of companies claim to be people-centric, but this should always be more than a buzz phrase for your ‘about us’ page. If you’re passionate about your business, you’ll clearly want people who share at least some of your commitment. This shared idealism not only creates a happier working environment, it also helps gives you a competitive edge over less united rivals. This topic is explored in our article investigating how to build your team for success.

6. Packaging

Unlike traditional advertising like television or press ads, digital media lets you test the effectiveness of promotions very accurately. You can launch a marketing campaign online and immediately see how many people interacted with your ad, visited your website and bought a product. The trouble is, your competitors can do exactly the same thing – and their marketing budget might be bigger, meaning they can reach more people, more often. So it’s here that you balance the science of responsive marketing with creativity and impact, so that your advertising stands out from the crowd through the use of striking images or a distinctive ‘tone of voice’.

Incidentally, pay no heed to those who claim advertising doesn’t work on them. They’re often the ones who drive a VW ‘because it’s reliable’, wear Levis ‘because they’re hard-wearing’ or use Persil because it ‘washes whiter’. And finally...You may be a marketing whizz, but remember, no form of promotion has ever bettered the authenticity of word-of-mouth recommendations. But that takes time and continual investment in your product and customer service. In the meantime, focus on "the golden six"!

Exporting To China: How To Maximize Every Sales Opportunity
Going Global
0
Min Read
Exporting To China: How To Maximize Every Sales Opportunity

Export to China: market overview

It’s no secret that China is a thriving hotspot of global trade. Data from the DHL Trade Growth Atlas found that between 2016 and 2021, the country generated a staggering one-quarter of global trade growth. Whilst the West has long thought of China as the world’s manufacturing capital, it provides plenty of import opportunities for international brands, too.

The penetration rate of online shopping in China has grown rapidly over the last ten years, from 42.9% in 2002 to 79.2% in 20221, making it one of the key emerging markets for cross-border businesses to target. But what are consumers there buying? And from which countries?

China’s imports

Which countries do Chinese e-commerce users buy from the most?

Distribution of goods purchased by cross-border import e-commerce users in China as of January 2021, by region of origin:

Source: Statista2

For these countries, China is a huge cross-border e-commerce opportunity.

Exporting to China: understanding the Chinese market

To successfully sell to a new international market, you need to understand local buyers’ behaviors and preferences. These insights can inform your sales and marketing strategies.

What do Chinese online shoppers buy from cross-border brands?

Cross-border e-commerce retail imports by product (as share of total transaction value), 2021:

Source: Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China3

Mobile commerce

China is a mobile-first country, driven by the government’s prioritization of the development of 5G wireless technology. 64% of all e-commerce transactions in China are completed on a mobile device4, predominantly ‘super-apps’ (see below) where users can socialize, shop, and pay for products on a single platform. International brands wishing to attract these mobile buyers will need to invest heavily in a Chinese-language smartphone app.

Online marketplaces

Chinese consumers like shopping at online marketplaces as they allow them to browse and compare several products at once. The leading marketplaces in China are Alibaba, Taobao, Tmall and JD.com. Selling on these platforms is tricky for cross-border brands, as sellers have to be registered in mainland China to qualify. But, there is a way in – Tmall has a dedicated sister site, Tmall Global, specifically set up for foreign brands; you don’t need a physical entity in China or a Chinese business license to sell on the platform, and you can accept payment in your local currency. Discover the full pros and cons, here.

Customer service

“Guanxi” is a Chinese concept which describes how personal and business relationships are built on trust. It filters down to Chinese consumers’ expectations of exceptional customer service – with personalization, fast and reliable shipping, and a stress-free shopping experience cited as the top priorities. As customer reviews play an important part in Chinese buyers’ decision-making, underperforming on customer experience risks your business being named and shamed online.

Value and quality

Price is an important factor to Chinese consumers – they shop around for deals, coupons and discounts. Cross-border brands often struggle to compete with domestic brands’ pricing and product choice.

Yet, they can win over Chinese buyers through product quality. The Chinese counterfeit market has created distrust amongst many shoppers there, who instead look overseas for better quality. Position yourself as a trusted brand with authentic products, and consumers will respond well.

Social commerce

Social media and e-commerce go hand in hand in China. Popular video platform Douyin (the country’s version of TikTok) allows users to buy products they see streaming on the app simply by tapping the video. Unfortunately, it is hard for foreign businesses to set up a Douyin account unless they have a base in mainland China.

An easier route to the Chinese market is through WeChat, the country’s most popular messaging app – with a whopping 1.24 billion monthly active users5a  who spend an average of 2 hours per day on it5b. With WeChat for Business, you can set up an e-commerce storefront on the WeChat platform to sell directly to Chinese consumers. The app has an in-built payment service, WeChat Pay, making facilitating payments seamlessly for your business and your customers.

Live streaming

China is the world’s livestreaming capital, where the feature has been a mainstream part of e-commerce for years. There are countless livestream platforms where “KOLs” – key opinion leaders, the Chinese equivalents of influencers – show and demonstrate a product, and interact live with viewers who ask questions. The personal touch of this engagement makes promotional activities more convincing and boosts sales. If you want to tap into the Chinese market, you should seriously consider marketing through livestreaming.

Shopping holidays

Much like the West’s Amazon Prime Day, China has several of its own major shopping festivals when record numbers of consumers head online in search of bargains. Two of the most popular are Singles’ Day (11 November), and the 618 festival (June 18th). Do your research and plan your marketing strategy weeks in advance to cash in on every opportunity.

Major shopping dates for your calendar

Digital wallets

Unsurprisingly in a mobile-first market, digital wallets are the leading payment method for Chinese consumers – with Alipay and WeChat Pay taking the biggest market share of transactions6. Online shoppers are 70% more likely to finalize a purchase if their preferred payment method is displayed as an option at checkout7, so always do your research into local buyers’ preferences!

Challenges of exporting to China

Selling to China does not come without challenges. But don't worry, DHL's expert on China exports and shipping has provided you with the key strategies to overcome them, so read the below which will help you create actionable plans to export to China.

1. Navigating customs & import clearance

Shipping your products into China can be a complex and time-consuming operation:

  • The country has strict customs procedures – even more so since Covid – which require shippers to provide detailed documentation and comply with specific regulations. Any incorrect or missing paperwork can cause shipments to be held up.
  • Certain products, including food, electronics and medical devices will have extra regulations to comply with to avoid delays, fines, or even seizure of the shipment.

The solution              

It is important for businesses to work with a logistics provider that has experience and expertise with customs processes so that their shipments are cleared quickly and efficiently. By partnering with international logistics leader DHL, businesses will receive support navigating China’s customs regulations. This includes guidance on how to complete the process of customs clearance, so that shipments aren’t delayed. For DHL account holders, this is offered as a dedicated service.

2. The cost of shipping to China

China imposes import taxes and duties on many products. This, added to the cost of shipping and customs fees, will quickly add up for your business – and make it difficult for you to compete on price with domestic sellers.

The solution

  • DHL offers competitive shipping rates – with its estimated cost calculator, you can gain a quote quickly. You can then factor this cost into your pricing strategy and how you charge your customers for shipping.
  • DHL’s Duties & Taxes Paid (DTP) service charges import duties, taxes and other shipping fees back to your business, rather than your customers. It’s more convenient for your customers, ensuring a seamless experience that boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Setting up a Chinese-facing website

Unfortunately, selling to Chinese consumers as a cross-border brand involves more than just changing the language of your website. To show up on Chinese search engines’ result pages, you need a site hosted in China. This involves several complex steps, including registering with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and obtaining relevant commercial licenses – all of which can take several months.

The solution: sell via an online marketplace

As previously mentioned, some of China’s leading marketplaces have dedicated “sister” sites for international brands to sell on – without the need for a legal entity or bank account in the country. These include Tmall Global and JD Worldwide. Take your time researching your options, factoring in fees, the type of products you sell (e.g. some platforms are more suited for luxury goods), and how long you may have to wait for approval.

4. Fast shipping

Chinese consumers expect fast delivery – even from overseas brands. The sheer size and scale of the country – plus poor infrastructure in rural areas – makes this a big task for cross-border businesses.

The solution: partner with DHL

DHL has a vast global network which means it can help your business reach customers in China quickly. DHL Express will deliver your shipment to China with full tracking so that you – and your customers – can check the delivery status of the shipment in real-time. Peace of mind for you, excellent service for your customers.

Market entry strategy: Steps to export to China

Preparing to export to China

1. Conduct market research

China is a vast country of over 1.4 billion consumers – but not all of them are prospects. You should have a clear idea of the demographic of your target audience – including age, budget, which online marketplaces they buy from the most, which social media platforms they engage with, their preferred payment method(s) etc. These insights will help you personalize your marketing segmentation strategy.

2. Localize your brand

Choosing a Chinese name for your business will help you appeal to consumers there. And of course, it’s important that your product listings/social media content/customer service are in the local language, too. Just be sure to use Chinese experts for this though – relying on online translators risks misinterpretations. Finally, ensure your business accepts payment in the local currency.

3. Select a suitable entry strategy

For many international small businesses and e-commerce startups, selling on a Chinese marketplace is the best entry strategy. You will benefit from these platforms’ vast customer base, local knowledge, and existing fulfilment services. Of course, there are some fees involved, but the time you save in dealing with administration will more than make up for it.

4. Know your Unique Selling Point

It may be tempting to go all in and adapt your products for Chinese buyers. But remember, many Chinese customers – particularly those of luxury goods – buy from foreign brands specifically because they offer something different. Knowing why customers want your products – whether it’s the quality or price, for example – will help you market them effectively. This is most probably something you will learn over time, using analytics data and customer feedback.

5. Plan logistics and shipping

For this, there really is no better route than partnering with an international logistics leader. With a presence in over 220 countries and territories, no carrier understands international shipping like DHL – and can help your business grow in China with ease.

Feeling inspired and ready to sell to China? First stop – open a DHL Express Business Account for expert international shipping advice and competitive rates.

References

1 – Statista, April 2023

2 – Statista, July 2022

3 – Mitsui & Co., November 2021

4 – J.P. Morgan, 2021

5a & 5b – Shopify, December 2022

6 – Statista, July 2022

7 – Verifone, June 2020

Peak Season 2023 - What Your Business Can Expect
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Peak Season 2023 - What Your Business Can Expect

Consumer shopping habits in peak 2023

1. Consumers’ budgets will shrink

With global inflation continuing to bite, shoppers are beginning their holiday shopping early to spread the costs out. In a survey of US adults by Jungle Sprout1, 42% of respondents said they intend to start shopping before October. Meanwhile, value for money will be a top priority for many consumers: half of UK shoppers say it will be their main consideration when searching for Christmas presents this year2.

What your business can do

  • Now’s the time to review your pricing strategy to ensure it’s competitive. Look at your competitors’ price points – can you match or go lower?
  • Be prepared for people taking their time before committing to buy. Provide value and inspiration – such as gift guides – but don’t be too pushy.
  • Highlight the quality and unique selling points of your products within the listings so customers know they’re getting something special!
  • Do you have some excess inventory lurking in a warehouse somewhere? It’s the perfect time to offer some discounts to help shift it.
  • Offer lots of flexible payment options – including a “Buy Now, Pay Later” solution – at checkout, so customers can find one which suits their needs.
  • Shoppers will be spending more time on marketplaces like Amazon where they can easily compare prices – here’s how to set up a store there.
  • Product bundling – offering multiple items together for a reduced price – will be appealing to shoppers looking for value, while giving you an opportunity to upsell.

2. Brand loyalty will wane

With price now a priority, consumers will become “brand promiscuous”, shopping around for the best deals. For e-commerce businesses already facing rising costs, there’s a dilemma: maintain current pricing but risk customers switching to lower-cost brands, or lower prices in the short term but see profits plummet.

What your business can do

Put the customer experience at the heart of your sales campaign this peak season to keep existing customers and attract new ones:

  • Think personalization – whether that’s sending customers personalized gift guides (you can use their browsing history to inform this), emailing loyal customers exclusive holiday discount codes, or little touches like addressing customers by their first name across communications.
  • Engage with customers on social media, and respond to questions quickly. Be an active presence – you are your brand’s best salesperson after all!
  • Consider adding a subscription model to your business. You’ll need to carefully consider how you can entice customers to sign up – value for money and discounts on your regular prices are big incentives. In turn, you’ll be rewarded with loyal customers and a guaranteed revenue stream. Here’s some tips to get it right.

3. Free shipping will be a priority

It’s no secret that online customers love free shipping, and, with people worried about their finances, it will be a high priority this holiday season. In fact, a consumer survey by Gartner3 found that free shipping will be one of the top drivers in influencing a purchasing decision, cited by 45% of respondents (behind only price.)

What your business can do

  • Look at where you could absorb the cost of offering free shipping elsewhere – such as incorporating it into your products’ price. On the surface, it may seem a worrying cost for your business to bare, but think of it as an investment that will more than pay off in the extra sales you will generate.
  • Alternatively, you could consider a “meet in the middle” solution, whereby you offer free shipping on orders over a certain sales value. This has the added bonus of encouraging customers to spend more.
  • Either way, be sure to offer lots of delivery options at checkout so that customers can choose one which suits their budget. For example, 65% of consumers are willing to pay more for expedited shipping4; others would be prepared to wait a little longer as long as it’s free.

4. Consumers will make greener choices

Sustainability is a big concern for consumers these days, and the peak period will be no different. Salesforce predicts 17% of gifts this holiday season will be resold items, as shoppers embrace eco-friendly ways to treat their loved ones5.

What your business can do

  • Can your brand introduce a “pre-loved” section? This reverse logistics strategy promotes businesses repairing and repurposing their customers’ product returns ready for resale on their website, giving visitors a more environmentally friendly way to shop.
  • What are your brand’s eco-credentials? Shout about them on your e-commerce website and integrate them into your marketing communications. Trust us, your customers are paying attention!
  • It may be ingrained in you that speed is the name of the game when it comes to delivery, but in DHL’s recent global shopper survey, almost half of respondents said they would be prepared to wait longer for their goods if it would help the environment. Be mindful of this when you’re choosing which delivery options to offer at checkout.
  • Discover how DHL's GoGreen Plus solution can help your business reduce the carbon emissions associated with its shipments through the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
  • Remember the packaging. If your customer’s small order arrives swathed in layers of excessive packaging, they won’t be impressed – worse still, they might “package shame” your brand on social media! Here are some tips to get it right.
  • Dive into DHL’s Green Logistics Toolkit – it’s packed with tips to help your business introduce greener processes. Happier customers, happier planet – and you’ll optimize your business’s output, too!

5. Shoppers will turn to social media for product discovery

The online shopping journey has become an increasingly omnichannel experience. 7 in 10 shoppers worldwide now use social media for product inspiration and to discover new brands6. With consumers’ budgets strained this peak season, expect them to spend even more time on such platforms to carefully research and choose the best deals.

What your business can do

  • Get creative and create some buzz on your social media accounts – the holiday season is meant to be about fun after all! Offer special discounts and promotions to grab scrollers’ attention.
  • Make the path to purchase as seamless as possible for customers – allowing them to buy products from you without leaving the app will increase your conversion rate. Many of the leading platforms now have dedicated e-commerce tools to facilitate this for businesses. With Instagram Shop, for example, brands can create a unique digital storefront so that their customers can shop directly via their Instagram page.
  • Consider investing in paid social media ads. Research7 found that in the first quarter of 2023, traffic referrals from social media platforms grew 27% year over year, so it will be a worthwhile investment.

Navigating challenges

To fully prepare for this year’s peak season, it’s also important to be aware of some of the challenges your business may face – and how you can overcome them.

1. Standing out in a crowded market

You don’t need us to tell you that e-commerce is fiercely competitive. Whatever you’re selling, chances are there are thousands of other businesses out there doing the same – and they’re always just a click away to your prospective customers. To cash in this peak season, you’ll need to find a way to differentiate your offering…

What your business can do

  • Personalization is your secret weapon! Consumers shopping online want tailored experiences from brands – in fact, a recent survey found that 66% of people expect businesses to understand (and meet) their unique needs and expectations8.
  • To give your customers a personalized service, tap into AI (Artificial Intelligence.) The technology will analyze your data to create customer segments based on the similarities it finds. This means you can develop marketing promotions or devise sales strategies for specific segments, which will increase your conversions.
  • With AI, you can create product recommendations based on customers’ exact likes and browsing history. It can enhance chatbots to better understand customer sentient and deliver personalized responses. And it can build website visitors’ profiles based on what they’re searching for and deliver more specific results. These are just a few examples of its potential to transform your business’s user experiences…time to create an AI strategy?

2. Predicting demand

This is a big part of planning for the peak season rush. Overestimate demand and you risk being left with too much inventory; underestimate and you’ll lose valuable sales opportunities – both costly mistakes for your business.

What your business can do

  • Again, AI can help here. Inventory management software can tap into your previous sales data to help you forecast demand and automatically order new products from your suppliers when needed. In addition, it can determine the most optimal price for your products based on real-time demand.
  • Be flexible with your sales strategy. If something isn’t selling as well as you’d anticipated, be prepared to lower the price to shift it. Remember, the January sales present another opportunity to clear excess inventory, too.

3. Fulfilling customers’ orders

Peak season is the busiest time of year for many e-commerce businesses, and with customer expectations so high, they can’t afford to get anything wrong. For SMEs in particular, it can quickly become overwhelming managing all aspects of logistics and fulfillment.

What your business can do

  • Consider outsourcing your logistics to a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider, like DHL. They will manage the receiving, warehousing, packaging and shipping of your products, leaving you to concentrate on the business of selling.
  • Remember to be clear on your website about cut off times for pre-Christmas delivery so that customers place their orders in time and aren’t left disappointed.

For more tips to prepare your business for the peak season rush, check out our holiday shipping guide.

References

1 – Jungle Sprout, September 2023

2 – Retail Insights, September 2023

3 – Gartner, September 2023

4 – Business Wire, September 2021

5 & 7 – Salesforce, June 2023

6 – HubSpot, October 2022

8 –  Salesforce, October 2020

How to Scale Your Business Simply
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How to Scale Your Business Simply

What does it mean to scale a business?

Scaling a business can sometimes be confused with growing a business. Though there are similarities between the two, there are also key differences:

  • Growing a business is when a business adds/invests in new resources – such as team members or technology – and thus increases its revenue at the same rate.
  • Scaling a business is when an enterprise identifies ways to operate more efficiently so that it increases its revenue without substantial spend on new resources. It takes thoughtful and strategic planning to succeed; the goal is to create sustainable growth that doesn’t compromise the business’s quality or culture.

Common mistakes made by businesses trying to scale include doing so too fast or too early – such as when a new business is still establishing its core goals/product lines/customer profiles.

Practical steps and tips for scaling a business

1. Understand your market

Before diving in with an ambitious scaling plan, it’s important to really understand the market you’re operating in. Consider the current health of the economy: in times of recession, consumers watch their spending more closely which you should factor in when exploring new opportunities.

It’s also important to research your competitors. Knowing what they’re offering – and just as importantly, what they’re not – will help you identify where your business can meet gaps. A great place to start is with a competitor analysis. Our guide to conducting a competitor analysis (with free template) will show you how to uncover market trends that can influence your scale up strategy.

2. Identify target audience

You need to really understand your target customers to identify growth opportunities. A good place to start is by analyzing your current customers’ behaviors:

  • What are their key pain points and challenges?
  • How did they find your business?
  • Which of your current marketing strategies have been most effective in engaging them?
  • What feedback do they give you about your business?

These questions will help you identify the most effective route(s) to acquiring new customers.

3. Allocate resources

Though scaling up your business emphasizes increasing revenue with minimal investment in resources, there are some areas where you will need to spend. It’s about strategically allocating resources – time, money, technology – to where the biggest Return on Investment (ROI) will be achieved. Once you have defined your priorities for scaling, you can balance that with your budget – whilst not neglecting your existing core activities. Automating and outsourcing jobs are things to consider, too.

4. Invest in technology

Automating your logistics processes can support your business as it scales. For example, inventory management software uses predictive analytics to help you better forecast demand surges and automatically order new materials from your suppliers when needed. This means you’ll never face stock outs or missed sales opportunities. Meanwhile, automated picking technology in your warehouse can increase the number of products packed and shipped out to customers per hour.

From autonomous delivery vehicles to artificial intelligence, these are the technologies that can help your business meet demand as it scales.

5. Establish efficient workflow processes

A big part of scaling up your business involves improving existing processes. This includes:

6. Invest in employee development and efficiency

Turning your employees from good to great will have an impact on your business’ bottom line. As your business scales up, motivated and proficient employees will help you meet increased demand. You may identify skill gaps amongst your existing team which you will need to fill in order for your business to meet its growth goals.

Challenges of scaling your business

Scaling too early or too fast

It can be tempting to get carried away with plans for your new business, especially if it has enjoyed a successful start. But scaling too early or too fast comes with several risks – such as being unable to meet demand – which will impact the quality of the experience you give customers.

Solution

To know whether your business is truly ready to scale, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have the right resources – people, skills, tools, and money – in place to support your scaling goals?
  • Do you have an established and loyal customer base yet?
  • Is there enough long-term demand for your product or service? You may have been having robust sales so far, but is that due to short-term circumstances – such as a busy Christmas period?
  • Imagine a scenario where your business doubles or triples its sales overnight. Could it cope without sacrificing on customer service or your brand’s core values?

Remember, it’s better to do things slowly and get it right then rush ahead blindly! Scale in stages. You should create a detailed scaling plan, with small and measurable KPIs along the way.

Maintaining sustainable business growth

With attention and resources diverted to scale, it can be easy to get caught up in numbers, revenue and profit. Yet, sustainable business growth is about more than that…

Solution

The key to long-term success is:

  • A Unique Selling Proposition. What is your USP?  Is it a unique product, or perhaps the way you serve your audience?  Is it the original purpose behind your business?  What attracts your existing customers to you? Don’t lose sight of this, make sure you retain the sense of what makes your business special.
  • Clear – but flexible – goals. As you scale, you should be continually checking in with your KPIs. But remember too, that business is not always predictable; as challenges come your way, be willing to adapt your plans.
  • Customer retention. As the saying goes, the customer sits at the heart of every business. When scaling, always keep the customer experience in mind. Without them, you don’t have a business!

Feeling inspired to take your business to the next level? With a DHL Express Business Account, you’ll have dedicated advice and support from the small business experts.