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.

The Demand for Free Shipping

warehouse workers preparing shipping

The demand for free shipping. Finding freight savings through 3PL.

One thing consumers have clearly communicated is that they do not like paying for shipping.  RetailMeNot surveyed consumers and found that 82 percent prefer free shipping over a fast shipping option with a fee.  Whether you are managing your own fulfillment or using a 3PL, freight will be a significant cost for you – likely the MOST significant.  Keeping up with the demand for free shipping can further increase your costs, and deserves your attention.  You may try to negotiate with your carrier for better rates, but you may not see sufficient savings.

So, what can you do to provide your customers what they want while still managing your costs?  Take advantage of a 3PL’s negotiated rates.  NRI takes freight opportunities even a step further through the addition of Rate Shopping logic.

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.  Due to our multiple clients’ business across both the US and Canada, we have a significant overall shipping volume.  This combined volume allows NRI to negotiate better rates than most individual brands, and thus we can offer enterprise level freight solutions to even developing brands.  Additionally, our large volumes allow us to support multiple carriers.  Where a brand may have enough volume alone to demand the services of just one carrier, NRI’s combined volume commands the support of multiple carriers.  We negotiate with many national and regional carriers in the US and Canada, bringing significant freight savings to our clients.

For an additional layer of savings opportunities, we utilize our Transportation Management System (TMS), Aspire, to automatically rate shop.  Rate shopping ensures that we provide the best service and rate on a per shipment basis.  No single carrier offers the best rate nation-wide to all points, so using multiple carriers and our TMS we can ensure each parcel is shipped the most cost-effective way possible.  Our systems provide flexibility to handle specific order-driven shipping requests, as well as the ability to set specific, permanent customer rules that will hold for every order to a specific address.  With rate shopping, you have more control over what, if anything, you charge your customers.

Want to discuss what we can save you on shipping with rate shopping?  Or perhaps how to best leverage our “Four Corners” strategy to ensure your product is positioned best in North America to satisfy your customers?  Let’s chat.

3PL and Your Success.

three logistics workers in a warehouse

3PL and your success. It takes a team.

You’ve trusted your 3PL with sending out orders in a timely manner so that your customers are happy and keep ordering from you. But issues sometimes arise. And when they do, you must be able to trust your 3PL with handling it quickly and effectively. At NRI, we partner with our clients to give them a full-scope solution for achieving their business goals. Each of our clients are partnered with dedicated order fulfillment teams, client service coordinators, and account managers – among others.

Order Fulfillment Teams

Our Order Fulfillment Teams are on the front lines – leading the charge on fulfilling orders. We operate a variety of shifts across all facilities to ensure total coverage for our clients’ business profiles, while also ensuring flexibility for our team members so that their health and welfare needs are met. NRI does not rely on temporary labor but rather operates with +95% full-time company employees across all facilities. These team members are extremely familiar with our clients’ product and businesses characteristics. Our proprietary WMS, Aspire, ensures the utmost in technology for our teams to ensure the most efficient and accurate processing of our clients’ orders.

Client Services Teams

NRI provides each client with an on-site, dedicated Client Services Coordinator (CSC). The CSCs are the frontline contacts for our clients, and liaison to our Operations Team. The CSCs manage our clients’ day-to-day requirements, as well as priority escalations. They work directly in-facility and are experts in helping our clients manage their needs, and their customers’ needs. Our CS teams have decades of combined experience in ecommerce and wholesale channels – coordinating internal resources to deliver excellence across them.

Operations and Accounts Teams

The Client Services Team is supported by our Operations and Accounts teams. These teams work in conjunction with our clients on forecast plans to ensure operational success at a high level. Our Accounts team supports our clients with strategic analyses, new service designs, and continued investment in developing our partner relationships.

We believe in partnership. Our goal is to be a key element in our clients’ success.

“Our success is directly connected to the positive, hard-working, and reliable team members at NRI” – Julia Fenwick, United by Blue

We want to work WITH you. We’d love to chat.

What You Can Save by Partnering with a 3PL

Recently we wrote about the reasons you may need a 3PL. You’re busy running a business and perhaps operations are the last thing on your mind. But most likely, financials are always at the top of your mind. We thought that writing about the financial benefits of partnering with a 3PL deserved its own spot at the table. Here are some ways partnering with a 3PL can help you save money.

Time

Would you benefit from utilizing your employees’ skills not related to picking, packing, and shipping product? Growing your business is likely the of great importance to you, and your employees potentially have other skills that can help you achieve that growth. Partnering with a 3PL can take some of the burden off you and your employees so you can focus those strengths and energy into brand building.

Or, do you have so many orders waiting to be picked, packed, and shipped that you need to hire more employees? Finding the right talent for your company is time consuming. 3PLs already have the talent that are more than capable of picking, packing, and shipping your products.

Shipping Costs

3PLs have built great relationships with most major carriers, such as UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the national postal networks. Due to our large shipment volumes and consistent business, we can leverage preferred rates with these carriers; rates most individual companies can’t match. At NRI, we have partnered with all major US and Canadian carriers and are working to partner with more regional carriers to not only diversify our offering, but also save our customers more money on shipping costs and reduced shipping times.

Technology

You may be considering an investment into a Warehouse Management System (WMS) to manage your inventory and track shipments and returns. Most 3PLs already have a robust WMS that will manage your inventory, track shipments, and so much more.

Space

Are your products crowding your office? Taking up space at home? Products need to be stored and prepared for shipping somewhere. Leasing a warehouse can get costly when you factor in all the overhead to simply keep the lights on, let alone to outfit it sufficiently and to staff it. 3PLs factor everything in when quoting you, so you only see one price. An added bonus: more space for other things!

There are many reasons to partner with a 3PL, and saving time, space, and most importantly, money, are all great examples. As a solutions-focused 3PL, NRI wants to work with you to reduce your costs, improve your customer experience, and scale your business.

Want to learn more? Contact us to discuss your 3PL needs.

Selecting a 3PL. When, Why, and How.

Are you a brand thinking about your logistics options? Is it a little too overwhelming weighing all your options and service needs? We’re here to help.

First, let’s start with what logistics companies do. The official definition of logistics is “the process of planning, implementing and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements …” That’s just a wordy way of saying that logistics companies specialize in helping you move product to your customers. Companies such as NRI work with their clients to build a strategy which will allow brands to focus on their core competencies such as product design, marketing, and sales – rather than on logistics.

When do you need a logistics company? Here are a few reasons you may consider when thinking about leveraging a 3PL:

1. Your team is overwhelmed

3PLs intimately know warehousing, shipping, and labor. They know how to leverage the finer points of these most effectively to receiving and house product, prepare shipments, and provide value-added services. We do this day in and day out. We have the labor capacity to put special touches on your orders on top of accurate pick, packing, and shipping that your employees may not have the time to do. We have a wide talent pool of employees and specialized departments who are able to provide total focus on your logistics and fulfillment needs. Partnering with a logistics company, such as NRI, will allow your employees to focus on other aspects of your business.

2. Your costs are increasing

If your costs are increasing, that may mean that your company is growing and growing fast – that’s amazing! But now, you have an increased over volume and increased costs in labor, materials, and other unexpected costs. You need to be able to focus on continuing to grow your brand, so partnering with a 3PL can decrease your costs and off-load the stress of shipping products.

3. Your inventory isn’t accurate

Does your company utilize an Inventory Management System (IMS)? Are you able to accurately keep up with your inventory? Logistics companies have IMSs that are vast and keep up with your ever-changing inventory. NRI, for example, has a proprietary software suite called Aspire that can manage not only your inventory, but forecasting and planning, labor, receipt, orders and returns, storage, invoices, freight services, and performance metrics. You’ll work with a team of NRI employees that can help with most anything you need assistance with.

4. You need a better solution

At the end of the day, in-house warehousing may not be the perfect solution for you. A 3PL will allow you to off-load your inventory management and order processing and focus on your customers. If your current solution isn’t working, here are a few considerations when choosing the right 3PL for you:

  • Does your prospective 3PL have a proven track record of success?
  • Who are their current and past clients?
  • Do they specialize in the fulfillment of your product categories? Markets?
  • Do they have the capacity to scale?
  • What does their technology look like and can they integrate with your current technology?

Whatever the reason is that you’re considering a logistics partner, it’s not as complicated nor scary as you may think. We’re experts in storing, picking, packing, and shipping products, as well as adding special touches to ensure that your brand promise and “feel” is not lost when you outsource fulfillment. We work with you on building the right solution for you and your brand.

NRI is a leader in fulfillment of apparel, footwear, accessories, and other select goods throughout North America. We tailor our solutions to your needs and provide a vast range of services. Contact us to learn more.