Case Study: Herschel Supply Co.

In 2009, the Cormack brothers approached NRI for logistics help for a new brand they were starting – Herschel Supply Co.  Lyndon and Jamie Cormack were already familiar with NRI due to NRI’s fulfillment of brands which they were sales reps for in Canada.  They trusted NRI to manage this key element in the success of their new business venture.

NRI manages Herschel’s fulfillment for all channels in both the USA and Canada.  They have been with NRI since their launch as a start up with limited sophistication and volume, to now a much more significant and complex company.  NRI has had to provide serious scale for them, and adaptation as new markets have emerged.

According to Lan Nguyen, Senior VP of Operations and IT:

NRI has been a great partner for all our different lines of distribution.  The service has been consistent from the first items we shipped in the early days, to the millions of units we are doing today.  The absolute commitment to making sure that our customers are receiving the best service in the most efficient and effective manner has contributed to our continuing expansion.

Click here for the full case study.

Leveraging Geography – Reduce Time and Costs

Shipping times and costs are increasing, but if managed well can also be a competitive advantage.  Given the dramatic increase in ecommerce in 2020 and into 2021, carrier congestion is a major concern and a rising cost.  At the same time, customers have become accustomed to receiving their packages almost instantly (thanks to a certain online retail giant) and often with free shipping.  It’s no surprise that they grow impatient when waiting for their delivery.  In 2016, customers expected to receive their order about 5 days after they placed their order.  By 2019, almost half of customers expect to receive their order within 2-3 days; that’s nearly 2 days sooner!  The pressure is on all parts of the supply chain, since 83% of customers are less likely to make another purchase if there are shipping delays.

The million-dollar question is what can you do to reduce shipping times and costs?  One of the benefits of NRI is we have a “4 Corners” strategy – facilities in Canada and the U.S. on both the east and west coasts of each country.  For our clients with a heavily weighted east coast business, it may make sense to place inventory in the east.  For those chasing the Pacific Coast customer base, place inventory in the west.  We are experts in inventory management and can help you place inventory in all 4 corners if you wish – allowing you to ship your customers from the nearest facility.  By placing your product in facilities on both of our coasts, in either Canada, the U.S., or both, NRI can help reduce shipping times significantly.  And since freight costs are related directly to distance travelled, placing your inventory closer to your customer base allows you to reduce your overall shipping expense.  We aim to help you in your success through geographical intelligence and have the tools to help you analyze the optimal solution.

An added benefit to using our Canadian facilities is Section 321.  Section 321 allows companies to import goods into the U.S. duty-free, so long as the retail value is below $800.  Duties can often form a large portion of your product cost, and by finding ways to eliminate it your margins improve significantly.  By placing your U.S.-destined ecommerce inventory in our Canadian facilities, you are set for even more savings!

Shipping times matter to your customers.  NRI’s scalable solutions are designed thoughtfully to help you increase business, maintain customer satisfaction, and build lasting relationships.

For more information, contact us.

An Amazing Team

Our team is our greatest asset. We are a learning organization focused on providing our team members with education and career advancement opportunities. Our team’s feedback is key to our success and we seek it daily – always striving to be better.

Planning for Q4 Success

 

Though it may feel too early to talk about it, like putting up Christmas decorations in October, the Q4 retail peak is just around the proverbial corner.

With all the challenges 2020 brought us, there is expectation for a very positive retail recovery through the end of the year.  The National Retail Federation revised its annual forecast for 2021 recently, anticipating that retail sales will grow between 10.5% and 13.5% this year as the economy accelerates its pace of recovery.  Non-store and online sales, which are included in the total figure, are expected to grow between 18% and 23% as consumers continue to utilize ecommerce.

This reopening of the economy is at a pace much quicker than most believed possible.  It will put a strain on the supply chain from ports, to carriers, to warehouses, and more.  So, what can you do to try to make the most of it?  What are we doing?  We have put together a few details to answer these questions, based on years of experience in the management of the challenges Q4 often brings brands.

Forecasting – Forecasting is a critical piece in successful execution.  Your 3PL and other service providers need to be able to plan and shift resources around this information.  This is doubly important when promotions are started earlier in the quarter – pre-Black Friday for example.  NRI has dedicated forecasting and planning resources who work with our client partners to capture this detail to build successful space and labor plans.  Surprises are bound to happen, so it’s important to minimize them as much as possible by sharing expectations with your service providers well in advance and updating them frequently.

Staffing – COVID continues to have an impact and many employers are still faced with persistent challenges in achieving sufficient staffing.  The additional demand for staff due to the increased ecomm behaviors, coupled with workers’ concerns about returning to work, means employers must work harder to attract and retain talent.  NRI continues to engage all safety protocols as needed to protect our team members and business continuity.  We remain committed to bringing our frontline team members into the organization with attractive compensation, full time hours, and a positive work environment.  Our focus on continued education and being a values-based organization ensures that our team members have career opportunities and a supportive workplace.  We have scaled resources through our recruitment and retention efforts and will be continuing to do so into Q4.

Automation & Solutions – Automation solutions help with labor shortages, but also improve the existing workers’ experience.  Robotic solutions reduce the travel time for employees and increase throughput and order accuracy.  NRI has invested in additional automation which allows us to scale throughput at our pack stations and transiting goods through the facilities.  Brands can help support these initiatives to gain efficiencies in the pack process as well – whether it is eliminating the waste of packing slips, migrating to label packing slips, or adopting non-branded mailers.  Beyond automation, our team of industrial engineers are continuously identifying and leveraging our clients’ activity patterns to support product lay-out and configuration within our facilities.  With the usual Q4 business compression, now coupled with the challenges COVID brings, it is imperative we find and embrace all opportunities, no matter how small, to improve order processing time.

 

Carrier Constraints – Carrier networks are vital to the successful delivery of packages to the customer.  No matter how well-oiled your 3PL is, most packages are delivered by another company.  3PLs must be providing carriers with forecasts as well, and carriers are planning on placing restrictions and surcharges on volumes in Q4.  To work within these challenges, NRI’s transportation team have developed solid strategies in conjunction with our carrier partners.  Our TMS allows us to work with multiple carrier partners to ensure that options are available to our clients – a cost saving and security measure to ensure more than one available delivery solution.  Brands may wish to consider verbiage on their websites to educate customers on Q4 congestion.

We are excited for the upcoming activity and the positive results our amazing clients will see as the economy regains steam.  We are always happy to discuss solutions.  Please reach out anytime.

Q&A With Ryan: NRI’s Four Corner Strategy

We recently announced our two newest locations in Easton, Pennsylvania and Toronto, Ontario. The move out east comes after a busy 2020. NRI and clients saw positive activity last year, despite COVID-19, and continue to move forward through 2021 and beyond. We spoke with VP of Sales, Ryan Dale-Johnson, to hear more about NRI’s expansion and the Four Corners Strategy.

Why did you choose these 2 locations (Easton, Pennsylvania and Toronto, Ontario)?

We have incredible strength in both western Canada and the USA, and are really focusing on building out our east coast presence. Building on our current footprint in Montreal, both Toronto and Easton, PA add considerable strength to our 4-corners model for North America. We want to be positioned in the hearts of our clients’ markets to best serve their customers. Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America, and our facility in Pennsylvania will reach 65% of the US population in 2 days or less ground shipping. All this adds up to really helping our clients on their growth paths. We are looking forward to many more developments to come.

How will NRI’s clients benefit from these openings?

With the continued diversity of our clients’ business channels, it has never been more valuable to have product where their customers are. Our geographical strategy provides our clients with same day/next day options to the vast majority of the USA and Canadian marketplace. Time-to-customer is as important as ever. Our 4-corners footprint allows our clients to place inventory in 1, or up to all 4 regions to ensure that they are responsive, competitive, and sustainable. Moving parcels over shorter distances helps our clients improve on their environmental footprint as well.

Are existing clients moving, new clients joining, or a bit of both?

A little bit of both. The word is out on our expansion, and we have excited both new clients as well as existing. We spend a great deal of time helping our clients identify strategic improvement opportunities and, for some of them, having all or a portion of their inventory in the east is a smart decision. We have a small handful of existing clients joining us in both the new Toronto and Easton facilities, as well many amazing new clients signed on.

Is NRI creating any additional employment opportunities with these new openings?

Yes! We are very proudly an inclusive, values-based, full-time employer and excited to open our doors to new team members in new regions. We do not rely on temporary labor but rather strive to provide long-term career opportunities. Some of our existing team members are opting to embrace an adventure and move with us to these new cities, and we are bringing on much local talent. Anyone interested should visit our careers page for more info.

Returns: They Are Here to Stay

Returns:  They are Here to Stay 

An integrated solution that fits your business 

 

If you work in the consumer goods industry, you know that returns are inevitable.  In ecommerce, at least 30% of all products ordered online are returned.  This volume of goods coming back can cause major strains to your operations process.  If you are not equipped to handle returns alongside your outbound fulfillment, your customers may become unsatisfied with delays.  If you currently work with a 3PL, are they handling your returns and are they doing so efficiently?  Trusting your 3PL to provide timely processing of your returns is key to your customers’ satisfaction and to your growth.  

At NRI, we have a dedicated returns management team in what we refer to as our Service Center.  The Service Center processes returns, inspects items for quality, refurbishes items (such as cleaning) and restocks items.  We also offer more technical repairs on select items inhouse and align with outside providers where necessary.  To date, inhouse we have repaired zippers and snaps on apparel; made technical repairs to watches, sleep mats, tents, and packs; performed tests for waterproofness on footwear; and much more.  Our Service Center and Client Services departments work with our clients to build custom returns solutions and determine the best plan of action for them and their customers.  

 

Our standard returns services always include confirming details of the returned item.  This includes confirming the correct item was sent, reviewing any damage, and ensuring the item is not worn.  If necessary for any warranty policies, we can follow clients’ guides for assessing and provide feedback on legitimacy of claims – whether a warranty claim versus personal damage.  We can further send our clients photos for proof of return. 

It is the goal of most brands to ensure quality returned items are put back to stock as soon as possible and in first-quality condition so they can be sold again.  Our restocking services include label assessment and replacement if needed, repackaging into new polybags or similar, and removing any retail tagging.  Minor cleaning and even steaming of garments can be done. 

Many of our clients choose to hold all return items separately from new items and not resell returned items through their regular channels.  We are able to manage multiple virtual warehouses such as a “seconds” warehouse that allows clients to maintain visibility and control at the SKU level, without having default orders pull from this inventory.  Seconds inventory can be used to fulfill friends-and-family orders, promo orders, or perhaps held until such time as a parking lot sale is hosted or close-out order is received.   

We make the returns process simple for our clients and their customers.  We want to focus on making it easy because 73% of shoppers say the overall returns experience affects their likelihood to purchase from a seller again.  Making returns simple for your customers leaves a lasting impression and can help your business grow, and we are focused on being a key element in your success!  

Want to discuss our returns process? Get in touch now!

#Remember215

NRI stands with Indigenous Peoples who lost their loved ones within the Residential School system, as well as all those forced to attend Residential Schools, and their families.  We extend our heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by the recent discovery of unmarked burial sites of 215 former Kamloops Indian Residential School students.  

This discovery speaks clearly to the physical conditions and racism that were forcibly endured under the Residential School system – a system designed to systemically tear Indigenous Peoples away from their heritage, communities, and way of life.  This systemic oppression and the pain created by the system continues today.  Much work is still needed for our nation to truly seek truth and reconciliation. 

At NRI we respectfully acknowledge that we live and work on unceded territory of the Tk ̓emlúps te Secwépemc.  We support those calling for a forensic investigation of former Residential School sites and we encourage everyone to learn about the tragedies of the Residential School system and the history of Indigenous relations up to and including the present day.   

We can love our country and still acknowledge its flaws and failures.  We are taking time to learn more and encourage all to do the same.  We have a responsibility to learn more about, advocate for, and reconcile with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, the lands now known as North and Central America. 

Please visit www.native-land.ca to find out whose traditional territory you live on to learn more about the original caretakers of the land you now inhabit, their history and the current issues that affect their communities.  

We encourage you to visit the Indian Residential School Survivors Society at:  https://www.irsss.ca/  

For a comprehensive list of resources and suggestions to educate yourself further visit:  https://oncanadaproject.ca/settlerstakeaction   

Those looking to make a financial contribution to support Tk ̓emlúps te Secwépemc in the process of honouring and learning more about the lost children in their caretaking can direct donation inquiries to:  

donations@kib.ca  

Cheques can be made out to Tk ̓emlúps te Secwepemc and mailed to:  

200-330 Chief Alex Thomas Way 
Kamloops, BC  
V2H 1H1 

Donations will be used toward the work that is needed for further investigation (scientific and archival) and later memorialize the children.  

High Demand for Warehousing

High Demand for Warehousing

A Successful 3PL Transition

 

The pandemic has brought many challenges to people and businesses alike.  Of significant impact to the logistics industry and their customers, is the tightening of available warehouse space.  In a recent Forbes article, it’s mentioned that $1 billion in e-commerce sales results in 1.25 million square feet of warehouse space needed and “…this figure far exceeds the previous five-year annual average of 211 million square feet.  Add to this the growing infill warehouse space demand in urban cores, and you are sure to understand the projected record-high levels of new warehouse construction.”

North of the border, available warehouse space in Canada is at a historic low – heavily fueled by the increase in e-commerce.  Vacancy rates in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal are the lowest in North America.  Developers are struggling to keep up and are busily converting existing buildings to help meet demand.  According to real estate services company CBRE Ltd, “About 10.4 million square feet of warehouse space was leased across Canada in the first three months of this year”.  We believe strongly in planning ahead and were able to see this constriction coming.  One of those new leases noted in the report includes NRI’s latest footprint in Brampton, Ontario – part of the Greater Toronto Area.

NRI recently announced our expansion to both Easton, Pennsylvania and Toronto, Ontario.  We have experienced significant growth from our clients, in part due to the pandemic.  With the acquisition of our newest warehouse facilities, we have strengthened our “Four Corners” strategy.  This positions our warehouse facilities in key geographies in both eastern and western Canada and the US.  With our multiple facilities across the 2 countries, we are able to service our clients’ customers in shortened time frames, thus keeping up with consumer delivery-time expectations and reduced transportation costs.

What this all translates to, for those considering the switch to the 3PL model or to a new 3PL partner, is that proactiveness is key.  A successful, long-term partnership begins with a solid foundation and advanced planning so that both parties can implement necessary resources and execute an effective transition plan.

Start your discovery process early and you will be well positioned for success.  We have dedicated teams to help you plan your move to NRI.

Case Study: Aloha Collection

Aloha Collection started in 2013 with two founders, Rachael and Heather. Their vision is to “build an international ‘Ohana, one bag at a time” with their mission being “to encourage travel, adventure, healthy and active lifestyles, and to Share the ALOHA”. Best of all, they donate 5% of profits to a Hawai’i-based conservation organization.

Within the two short years of their founding, the accessories company grew
exponentially. While running their business from their homes in Southern
California, the two co-founders ran out of physical space and sought help
from a 3PL provider. With the desire to continue their travels and test their
products, the co-founders needed a trusted partner to fulfill their orders
accurately and continue to service their customers. They began their partnership with NRI in 2017 and have since seen an 800% growth.

See the full case study here: Aloha Collection Case Study

How a 3PL Can Help You Scale

NRI warehouse montreal

In a competitive business environment, continuous improvement is key to your success. Partnering with a 3PL like NRI helps your business scale by using our experience and expertise to efficiently, accurately, and cost-effectively manage your inventory and fulfill your orders. By leveraging a 3PL’s expertise in building operational strategies, you can not only better focus on building your brand, but also achieve operational excellence you may not have been able to on your own. You can dedicate more of your time to your core competencies rather than on learning an entirely different business of logistics.

Saving time starts with inbound logistics – when your product gets to your 3PL. At NRI, when our clients’ products are received, we verify the accuracy of received cartons against packing slips. This can be done on your own, however, when there is an error, there can be a significant amount of time investment that needs to be made in order to find and rectify the error. This is where working with a 3PL comes in handy. When an error is found in our clients’ cartons, NRI has tiered escalation types to identify the error and the quantities missing. These challenges can be a major time (cost) investment for an individual brand, but for a 3PL, it is just another day at work. We have the manpower and experience to identify any errors accurately and quickly.

Outbound logistics – when your product ships to your customers – is a significant area of opportunity when leveraging a 3PL. When you are working with a 3PL, you get an army of team members who know how to efficiently pick, pack, and ship orders – after all, it is what we do day in and day out! We have invested countless hours and dollars towards building systems, infrastructure, and processes that ensure timely, accurate, and yet flexible order fulfillment. At NRI, we offer valued-added services (VAS) that customize your order requests, but do not take away from the efficiency of picking, packing, and shipping orders. All these tasks take time. If managing your own fulfillment, this is time that could be better directed to building your brand – directing human resources to design, marketing, and sales.

Partnering with a 3PL can additionally save you time negotiating freight rates. Recently, we mentioned that 82 percent of consumers prefer free shipping over a fast-shipping option with a fee, and how partnering with a 3PL can help reduce your freight costs. NRI has a freight team that acts as a liaison between carriers and our clients to ensure our clients receive the best freight value-offering, often better than most individual brands. Our large volumes also allow us to support multiple carriers and we negotiate with many national and regional carriers in the US and Canada, bringing significant freight savings to our clients.

Savings from freight charges also allows you to service your customers anywhere. 3PLs often have fulfillment centers in various geographic locations. At NRI, we are multi-country; with fulfillment centers in western and eastern Canada and the U.S. Due to our geographic locations, we have the ability to store your products on either coast of Canada and the U.S., making shipping costs and times lower. Partnering with a 3PL eliminates the need to find ways to best serve your customers anywhere in the world.

As your business scales, your operational strategy needs to scale. Partnering with a 3PL allows you to scale with ease. We have the tools, technology, and people to help you at every step of the way. We also have the space for you as you grow. At NRI, we have 14 facilities totaling over 1MM sq/ft of warehouse space and growing. We have the labor and technology capabilities across Canada and the U.S. to help your business scale and embrace your future.

Focusing on your core competencies and leveraging the strength of other experts will allow you to scale, improve productivity, and save time, money, and space. Partnering with a 3PL is one of the most significant things you can do to immediately improve the operations of your business and allow your teams to focus on building your brand.

To learn more, contact us.