How much do consumers spend online? According to a 2018 Omnichannel Buying Report, consumers spend a third ($1 in every $3) of their discretionary income online. While Amazon steals the show for the top seller, there are thousands upon thousands of home-based entrepreneurs behind those Amazon numbers. From skincare to books to clothing and other consumer goods, sellers and resellers are not only in the sales game they’re also in the inventory shipping and storage game.
The fact of the matter is, adding storage for an eCommerce business is a common problem that many online entrepreneurs face. Are you facing this issue? If so, don’t stress about renting storage units or renting commercial space if you don’t have the budget right now. If you take the time to make a plan for adding the right type of storage space to your home, you’ll avoid facing hefty storage fees month after month.
Storage Containers, and Lots of Them
The most affordable way to add additional storage to your home is also, thankfully, the easiest: DIY storage containers. If you have a closet that you’re not utilizing, you’d be surprised by how much room you can squeeze out of it just by A) organizing everything, and B) putting everything into a large, multi-tiered plastic storage container. You can find these both on the Internet and at any home supply or container store.
Organized storage containers will enable you to fit more items in the same-sized area, and you’ll also have easier access to inventory whenever you need it. This is the perfect choice for small eCommerce products that have high turnover rates, such as make-up, crafts, or other small niche products.
Convert and Enclose a Patio
Do you have a patio area on the exterior of your home that you don’t utilize? Perfect, you’ve got the makings of a storage room right outside your door.
Get quotes from a few local construction partners to convert and enclose the patio into a usable space. If the temperature for storing your inventory is important, be sure to get a quote for adding heat and AC. If you’re concerned about aesthetics or future use of the room, add windows to give the room a bit of additional lighting.
Once the patio is enclosed, you can follow traditional inventory storage advice or treat it as a garage space and organize accordingly. If you’re keeping resale value in mind as you make changes, Forbes offers a few tips to keep in mind for home improvements that boost value. Although the article doesn’t mention storage, the Mud Room and Smart Features concepts will ensure your investment yields a return.
No Basement? Look Up
Most homes have an attic or a crawl space that is accessible through pull-down stairs or an opening with a ladder. Before you consider this option, call in a handyman or contractor to evaluate the strength of the flooring.
You may have to reinforce the attic floor before you can use it to walk around or store items. There are two main reinforcement techniques available: sistering and engineered floor joists. Sistering involves installing newer, larger floor joists side by side with your existing ones. Engineered floor joists offer an increased level of structural reliability and as a bonus, you won’t have to worry about crowning, bowing or other related problems. When in doubt, call in a professional, as attic storage without proper reinforcement can be a hazard.
If you’re going to be converting your attic into storage, it’s probably best to use it for items that aren’t temperature sensitive. If the space is too good to pass up, you can look into adding extra insulation and heating/cooling options.
Invest in a Separate Building
If you absolutely need additional storage onsite but lack the space in your home, pre-engineered metal buildings are the most affordable way to go.
Even if you’ve only got a limited amount of land, you may still have room for this option. Steel buildings come in a variety of shapes and sizes with many custom options. Prefabricated metal buildings are erected very quickly and can solve your inventory storage problems right away. As an aside, if you require storage for large items, you can also experiment with triple roof structures, carports for covered outdoor work areas, or combinations of the two, depending on your needs.
Regardless of which onsite storage option you choose to explore, it’s clear that you have many options to help you manage growing inventory without paying storage fees to a third party facility. All of these options will add value to your home should you decide to move in the future.
The Importance of Child Proof Packaging for Supplements and Other Items
Many important items can be harmful to children in a variety of ways. For this reason, it is vital that supplements and other common products come in child proof packaging. Today, many packaging companies with a range of products produce everything from snack food packaging to child-resistant containers.
When ordering your packaging, check to make sure it complies with relevant state and federal standards for the intended product.
Common Types of Child-Proof Packaging
Child-resistant packaging comes in several types of forms. Choose the one that’s appropriate for the contents as well as your target demographic. While preventing access by children, you do not want to make it too difficult for the adult who is the intended consumer to open it.
Common child-proof closures include caps, zipper seals and sliders. Zippers and sliders are typically used to close pouches. Caps for closing bottles or jars may use one of these mechanisms:
- Pull rings
- Squeeze and pull
- Rim snap
- Double shell push
Some of these caps may come with foam or plastic lining. Depending on the product, the packaging may also need to be proof against spills or leaks.
Factors To Consider When Choosing Packaging
When selecting a specific type of child-resistant packaging for supplements, medications, eye drops and similar substances, making the best choice depends on examining a variety of factors. Doing so will enable you to obtain packaging that is child-safe and appealing to your customer base.
Applicable Laws and Regulations
Some products are legally required to have child-resistant packaging. If your items fall into this category, it is important to find out the specific requirements. You may need to look for a particular type of child-resistant closure. In addition, you may need to comply with labeling requirements.
Access by the Intended Customer
In the course of marketing your product, you have likely identified your customer demographic. If it has a large portion of elderly or ailing people, you may need to look for a supplement packaging company that knows how to produce containers that prevent children from opening them while allowing access by people whose age or health may impair strength and coordination.
Quality of the Contents
Both closure and container should be appropriate for the contents. Items such as supplements, medications and other chemical compounds often need containers of specific types of materials in order to maintain their quality. For this reason, it is important to partner with a packaging company that has experience in providing containers for your type of product.
Quality of the Packaging
Child-resistant packaging is not all created equal. Companies that offer child-proof packaging should have their product tested and certified by a reputable facility. Look for these certifications, which demonstrate that the packaging complies with applicable standards. In general, a reliable company uses high-quality materials and processes for its packaging. Many also offer competitive pricing; however, if you see too-low-to-be-true offers, this should be a cue to dig deeper and search for the company’s manufacturer and testing certifications.
Finding high-quality child-resistant packaging is important in many lines of business. You need packaging that makes your product look good, maintains its integrity and prevents children from harming themselves by accessing its contents. Partnering with a top packaging company can help you get the right packaging for your needs.
3 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations
In a competitive market, you have no choice but to be constantly evolving. Sticking to operations and tactics that used to work for your business years ago may be causing it to lag behind in competition today.
Regardless of the size of your business, there’s no room for improvement without modern technology. Innovations work primarily in operational efficiency, which is crucial if you need to cut costs, optimize time, and enhance the customer experience. And guess what? Every business needs that if owners aren’t planning to shut them down anytime soon.
Without streamlining and facilitating, your company’s potential goes to waste. It’s time to change that with three simple tips.
Take a step back to evaluate shortcomings
If you haven’t kept track of industry trends in a while, you should get back into the habit ASAP. Sure, you know your company has something that makes it stand out, as do all other companies with similar purposes, and that should definitely stay the same. What shouldn’t stay the same are inert internal operations and old methods screaming for improvement.
Business owners aren’t the only ones involved in operational gearing. Without competent and productive staff, companies would never reach their goals or thrive in any way. That’s why your employees are as much a part of the goings-on as you are, and may have noticed several things you probably haven’t.
Periodically meeting with your employees to address gaps and areas in need of development is an open-minded approach, as it brings together different points of view from different departments into plans, and consequently tangible goals. Adopt this tactic to kickstart refinements and work towards increased efficiency.
Outsourcing is key
You may already have sketched out the changes you want to make, but the question is: how can you make them work well?
Oftentimes, being a constant part of your own business’ daily operations will lead to you and your employees overlooking certain aspects. When deploying an impartial party and its services, experts who aren’t familiar with your management might quickly pinpoint what needs to be improved, alongside when and how it should be done.
For example, companies like brightpattern.com offer a range of services to streamline customer service by implementing modern technology in call centers. There’s software that rids customers of dreaded long holds, allows customers and representatives to communicate through various channels (email, chat, phone calls), and provides employees with a dashboard containing all the necessary customer data for quicker and complete assistance.
So if poor customer service is what’s been holding your progress back, consider hiring tech-savvy services to assist with development.
Empower your employees
If workers can’t measure how well they’re doing and whether or not their work has a positive impact on the company, then they might be wasting time and money, and a reduction in headcount may be necessary. That’s why you need the right tools to use your best judgment.
It’s virtually impossible to accurately track employees’ productivity without performance metrics and a good communication strategy. Your staff members need numbers and pointers to know their strengths and weaknesses, but they also need to stay in the loop about current operations in order to help the company move forward. A combination of solid communication and numbered progress helps employees know how crucial their hard work is to collective success.
When operations are running smoothly and everybody is aware of their respective importance in a business, you’ll see a shift in events, customer retention and higher gain, and a cut in costs. Even after modern solutions are established, you should never stop seeking growth and ways to educate your employees. It’s a huge team effort — get everyone involved the right way, and you’re off to exceptional management.
Energy Up: Developing a Healthy, Competitive Work Culture
Employees are burning out at increasing speeds at work. Work-related stress has increased significantly over the last several years. The stress increase is undoubtedly caused by higher expectations at work, increased work hours, and a toxic competitive culture. How can you, as a business owner, develop a healthy competitive culture that motivates workers and allows them to have a good work-life balance?
Burnout is precisely what employers should always be looking to avoid. A burnt-out employee is one who is stressed, possibly depressed, and of course, exhausted from work. As a business owner, it is essential to identify workers who are suffering from this condition, and the only way to do that is to communicate.
Identifying and Communicate
Sally is generally cheery at the office and brings baked cookies every Friday, yet since the three-weekend project you assigned her, she has not been herself. Sally’s suddenly quiet demeanor would be easy to spot and address, but not all employees manifest their signs the same way.
Burnout manifests itself in many ways, even catching some people by surprise. Before they know it, they are exhausted, cranky, unable to go on. You’ll notice a burnt-out employee will start to miss days at work, the quality of their work will decrease, and they may make mistakes they otherwise would not.
When you approach a burnt-out employee about their behavior, be sure to do it carefully as there can be varying reactions. While most will be happy to discuss their exhaustion and find solutions together, others may become angry by the assumption and flat out deny it. Being understanding is a top priority because it opens the door for answers.
Solutions to Burnout
Finding solutions to avoid potential burnout in your employees comes down to thinking proactively. You want to be sure that you can create an environment that is productive and competitive without asking too much of your employees. Below you will find some tested strategies to increase productivity without causing burnout.
It can be easy to lose track of scheduling when assigning projects. If you yourself are juggling various projects at a time, you may be inclined to attribute as many to your employees. Everyone works at a different pace, and everyone demands a different level of attention. If you create a schedule based on the needs of your current team and consider the capabilities in each person, soon you will have a productive and competitive environment.
Everybody needs incentives; it is just the way that humans work. By pushing performance-based contests, you can have your employees eager to work on the projects you are assigning. A reward system can ease stress because it gives the employee a clear sense of what they are working towards and a goal to be reached. Incentives can help you eliminate burnout at work while harvesting healthy competition.
Once again, we return to communication. By leaving your office door open, you are letting your employees know that they can come to you with any concerns they may have. When employees know they can communicate with their supervisor, they are far more likely to work diligently and voice any concerns along the way so that they can be addressed right away. Open and eager communication is an excellent way of fostering a healthy work environment.
Make work not only fun but also productive by providing your employees with all the tools they need to succeed. Clear outlines, reliable resources, and constant updates can help your team be in the loop of what is happening at the company. When an employee understands the mechanics of the workplace, he or she is less likely to suffer from stress and feel like a more valued part of the process.
A Positive Environment
Last but not least, a positive environment can make a world of difference at work. You and your employees should all have a can-do attitude to succeed. Why is this attitude so important? A can-do attitude is essential because positive thoughts help the brain release endorphins, thus reducing stress and boosting concentration. A group effort can take a team a long way, and it is up to you to make the necessary changes to promote it.
If Burnout Does Happen
Against your best efforts, burnout is still likely to happen. You can’t control how much your employees choose to work outside of the office, so it is inevitable that an overachiever will hit a wall. When this does happen, it is important to approach the situation respectfully and humanely.
Remember that even if you did your best to prevent this, the current situation is what’s important, and they are a human before they are your employee. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about the internal conflict they must feel like an overachiever having to force themselves to take a break.
It probably feels totally wrong and foreign to them, but it is important that you convey that they will perform better after they give themselves a break, and will be even more productive. Once your employees see you taking the steps to care for their colleague like this, they will be comfortable approaching you in the future if it happens to them.
The burnout might come with terrible timing – right before quarter close, the holidays, the beginning of the year – so it would be important at that point to discuss a scaled-back version of their role. A total break might not be feasible immediately, but emphasizing that a break will come soon can give them a light at the end of the tunnel.
Burnout No More
If you follow some of the tips listed here, you will find that harvesting a healthy competitive environment at work is not as difficult as it seems. Everything comes down to finding a balance and managing correctly. Remember that your employees look up to you and seek your guidance. Creating an environment where everyone can thrive is as simple as promoting an open and collaborative space.
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