Subscription Box Basics

What to do and when... in the warehouse 📦

May 15, 2023 Julie Ball + Renae Gonzalez Episode 162
Subscription Box Basics
What to do and when... in the warehouse 📦
Show Notes Transcript

Today's episode was inspired by a recent coaching call where a student was struggling to figure out what to do and when, in her home-based warehouse. So, I'm painting a picture of what it looks like when you break this large shipping task into smaller tasks that you can easily accomplish each week. Procrastinators beware - this may blow your mind but we encourage you to give it a try!

  • Week one: Clean and prep your packing area
  • Week two: Prep your items
  • Week three: Pre-build your boxes
  • Week four: Packing and shipping

Listen to the episode where Julie breaks down each weeks and rounds out the episode with some helpful packing & shipping tips!

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Hey everybody. Julie Ball here. It's another episode of subscription box basics today. I'm rolling solo. And I'm going to be talking about warehouse shipping. So the reason why we're talking about this today is recently I was doing some coaching on Voxer. With one of our students and she was having a challenge, just visualizing what is the month look like when it comes to what I should be doing in my business as it relates to shipping and preparing for it. So I want to talk about that today so that you can visualize it as well. For our purposes. We're going to assume that you do batch shipping. Bat shipping is when you choose one day of the month, or maybe it's a couple of days of the month if you split it up. But essentially one day of the month where you do all of your shipping. So almost every single package goes out, then. And the reason why we're talking about that shipping is one that's what I did for sparkle hustle grow. So that's in my mind the best way to explain it based off of my experience, but to a lot of you will be doing that shipping. And so this is going to help you a lot. So I'm going to start off by painting the picture of what that looked like. And then I'm going to close out today's episode with some tips to help you succeed in this area. And if this is something that you're really struggling with, you need to know that we have. A workshop called the D I Y warehousing workshop. And you can get it at subscription box, and then go to the workshops area and you'll find that one along with some other great inexpensive. Workshops that will really, help move the needle in your business. And make things more efficient, easier give you the systems that you need. Okay. So if you're taking notes, You want to write down 1, 2, 3, 4. We're going to look at the month as though it's four different weeks. So visualize this as we go through each week and I'm gonna make it super simple. You ready to write? I'm going to tell you what the four weeks are, and then I'm going to go back and go into a little more details. So week one, Is clean and prep your space. We too, is prep your items. Week three is pre-build your boxes. And week four is packing and shipping. Again, that's clean and prepper spaces week one. We choose prep items. Week three is pre-build your boxes. Week four is packing and shipping. This is going to give you this big. Picture like a snapshot really of the big tasks you need to do in your warehouse or wherever you are packing your boxes, probably if you're brand new, maybe on your kitchen table. So let's break down each week briefly. So week one is clean and prep your space. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I feel like when there is clutter and mess that my brain doesn't work as efficiently. It makes me feel overwhelmed a lot faster, and it's just not a good place to start your work. So during that week, You are going to clean and prep your workspace. That means maybe cleaning up crinkle cut or tape or boxes from your last pack-out or maybe that just means wiping down the table in which you are going to be packing on. Do you have a dedicated space for your packing and shipping? This is your monthly reminder to keep it clean. One of the things I always said, if you are looking to outsource your box packing and shipping, if you want to. You know, send that to a third party logistics partner. The best way to determine if they're a good fit is to go and visit it. And obviously have conversations, but look at the floor, like how dirty is the floor? Are they keeping it nice and tidy? And that's going to be a good. Kind of temperature gauge on how they would treat your stuff. So. I digress. I want you to clean and prep that space in that first week. Again, this might be just cleaning up from the last pack-out because I know when we were done packing hundreds and hundreds of boxes, we just kind of wanted to walk away. We were done, like we needed a break. So go back, clean up. Put everything back where it belongs, have a nice clean space for you to start working on your next pack-out week. Two is prep items. And what that means is when your items arrive, you need to open up those boxes and prepare them. Sometimes you will find boxes in boxes. Yes. I know it's, sometimes annoying and it can feel like a waste of resources. But one of the reasons. That company's vendors will pack like that is because it is more efficient for them on their end versus having single items loosely packed. It can protect the integrity of the item so that it doesn't break in transit. So. We want to make sure you open up those boxes. And what we like to do was we would open up the big box to say, it's like boxes and boxes would open up the big box, dump everything out on the table, or just, you know, unpack it right there. And then if there's any interior packaging that needed to be removed, we would take it off right there. And we would put it in in the corner of the warehouse, where we had boxes, where we would recycle. But. If you just cut the flaps, like the top flaps off that big case pack, we use that as the container to put the items back in there once they were prepped. So maybe we had to take off plastic packaging. Maybe we had to remove packing peanuts, or maybe we had to take them out of interior boxes. Then we would put them in that big box again and put them in order. Of how we were going to pack it. So think of like an assembly line and think about the first item that you want to put in there. It's going to be the bottom most item. That's going to be first in your assembly line. So during week two, you are going to prep that assembly line by removing the boxes in the boxes, removing any exterior packaging you need to. And then putting them back. In larger boxes on the table. Hopefully you can visualize that assembly line style placed in the order that you want to put them in the box. And then of course, if the end have the assembly line is going to be something like your crinkle cut or your inserts that you put on top. So it's going to be already ready when it's time for packing day or week or whatever, however long it takes you. So we've covered already. Week one is clean and prep your space. Then week two is prep your items. Now let's move on to week three, which is pre-build your boxes. So if you're new here, you may not know that the boxes that you're going to pack in or going to arrive flat packed. That means you actually have to build them. I can't tell you how inefficient it is. If you were to build each box. And then pack each box. What I want you to do is in week three, pre-build all those boxes. So say you have 50 orders or you're projecting 50 orders, or that's your goal? Go ahead. Build out 50 boxes. Because it's going to take a little bit of time to make them go from flat packed. To actually ready to fill. And so you can do a time study to see how long it takes you to build that. My husband and I used to race sometimes, and , we tried to make it fun. We put a TV in our warehouse where we did all of our packing and shipping. And so it would put like a music documentary on or something fun to watch. So anyhow. Pre-build those boxes do a time study. That just means. That say you build maybe one box or even five boxes, time yourself, how long it takes you to build those five boxes. And then if you are building 50 total, just multiply that number by 10 and that'll be a good projection of how long it will take. You. The reason I want you to do that projection is so, you know how long it's going to take you to prepare boxes this week. Next month, the following month. And you kind of have that time range in your head so that you can properly prepare for it. And you don't wait till the last minute I do not like to procrastinate. That's one of the reasons why I have this four weeks set up so that there's no procrastination and it's not like, oh crap. Tomorrow's shipping day. And I haven't done any of this stuff. This is going to help you prepare and. It breaks up a larger task in two much smaller tasks have you ever heard where professional cleaners say to maintain your house, you know, work on one room? A weekend and just have it on a recurring basis. And so then you don't feel so overwhelmed that you're going to clean the whole house. Who wants to do that? You just have to clean, you know, what the bathrooms one weekend or clean. The bedrooms one weekend or clean the kitchen one weekend. Of course, you're going to maintain it throughout. Those weeks, but like deep cleaning. okay. Let's move on to week four would be your packing and shipping week. This is going to be where you actually go in and you pack all the boxes. Remember you've already prepared the items you've already, pre-built the boxes and you've got your assembly line style. So you will feel prepared walking into this to do all your packing and shipping. Great tip here again is to do a time study, figure out how long it takes you to build five boxes, and then just use your, phone and time it figure out how long it took you to build that. What we like to do was pack all the boxes and have them on., set up on a table and then when it was time to actually label them, I would come down and my husband would do all the packing and then I would come down and then I'd tape them shut and then slap a label, tape them, shut, slap a label like over and over again. You may find that there's a more efficient way to do it , but that's the way we like to do it. He would pack up all the boxes and put those finished boxes on a certain table. We had some fold-out tables. And then as we were approaching our shipping day, I would tape them up and I would label them. I loved to do the labeling because I looked at each name and I would send each person gratitude. I love to see where they were shipping to. And that was just part of, it was almost therapeutic. I really, loved that part of it. So again, week four is your packing and shipping week. Now again, remember that? I said that this is set up as if you are batch shipping, but you can create your own weekly calendar, whether you bat ship or whether you're doing ongoing shipping, it doesn't matter. It's just trying to figure out in your head, how do I take this big project? Of packing and shipping all these boxes. And break it up into easier milestones so that I don't feel overwhelmed. So we covered the four weeks. I hope I've painted that picture again. It's week one, clean and prep your space week to prep your items week three, pre-build your boxes and week four packing and shipping. Now I want to give you a couple tips to close out this episode. To just help you during this time help you. Manage your expectations, manage your transactions with vendors. The first tip is. If you use pirate ship, which is our preferred postage vendor, it's pirate It's free to use your, you can buy USP S or ups postage on there. One of the things you can do is on the last screen, before you buy your batch of postage. You can choose your ship date. And you can choose the date that the email, the tracking email will go out. If you are not a procrastinator and you're ahead of the game. You can choose I believe it's up to seven days. I have to check. I haven't looked recently, but I believe it's up to seven days. So you can choose a future ship date. And you can decide when that email goes out. Maybe you want to hold that email till the ship date. Maybe you want to send it the day before just to get that anticipation rolling. And it just depends on, you can come up with your own strategy, but I wanted to let you know that you do have that option. So one of the ways that we use that is if we were going to be out of town and we needed to get the boxes out early. I know in the holidays there are some additional fees that U S P S adds as a surcharge, like, basically, because. They have so much demand during that time they add a surcharge. You can strategically plan to buy your postage before that surcharge hits. I believe it's in October. I'll have to follow back up with you guys on that. But my point is you can be strategic when it comes to when you buy your postage and your ship date. And when you. Actually send out your tracking emails. The second tip I want to give you is to create calendar reminders. So this can be helpful map out your month. How I talked about it being, you know, week one, clean and prep space and week two prep items, et cetera. You can create your calendar reminders as a meeting with yourself. I'll give you a quick example. One of the things that I did every month was I created my inserts in Canva, and then I ordered them on Vista print. I knew how long it was going to take me based off of past experience with Vista print and you'll get used to., knowing how long certain vendors take and you can ask, your vendors, what is the expected transit time for this product when you order it? Are these products ready to ship? When can I expect to receive them? And so you can create these reminders as almost like appointments with yourself in your calendar. So the first of the month, I had a meeting with myself to finalize the insert and place that order. I put it on the first of the month because I knew it was going to take. Less than two weeks to get that once I ordered it, but I wanted to have that buffer time. My need by date was mid month in my mind. And so if I ordered it on the first of the month, Pending no delays. I should be able to get it by the 15th. Now there was a buffer built in there. And I'll talk about buffers and just a minute, but think about what are those things that you do every single month that are time sensitive, that you need to make sure it's done by a certain date. Another example would be. On the first of the month, I also updated our website. So we had this cool little countdown clock that lets our customers know how long they had to order the, next box. And so I'd go in and reset that countdown calendar. And on the first of the month, I'd also go in and update our sneak peek. Like our spoiler alert. We always had a spoiler. And would announce the theme. I set myself calendar reminders so that I carved out time every single first of the month to do those activities. So think about, maybe get a pen and paper or write down some of those recurring activities that you have to do. Maybe it is pre-building those boxes. Put it in your calendar. whether it's a block of time, or if it's just a reminder to let you know, go do this. The second tip I want to talk about is about the buffer. I briefly mentioned it earlier, but you need to get clear on your need by date for your boxes. So when you're talking to a vendor and you say how, long is the transit going to take? You need to have in mind when you need that by. And I would absolutely communicate that with vendors. If you have that opportunity now, when it comes to a need by date, if you're buying something stateside and you live stateside, which was my scenario. I live in North Carolina and I bought a lot of my products right here in the United States. I gave them a need by date that gave me a 10 to 14 day buffer. That's basically two weeks two business weeks would be 10 days, two full weeks, including weekends would be 14 days. So I always had that 10 to 14 day buffer because I don't want things to be late. I don't want the stress of it. I don't want to have to find a backup product, which I always did have backup products in mind. But if you plan ahead well enough and far enough in advance, you don't have to go down that route. And it's a very stressful route. Trust me. So if you were ordering overseas, I highly recommend a minimum of a 60 day. Transit time. You definitely want to communicate with your vendors if you're buying overseas, but I, urge you to buy as early as you can. And I know that's tough because you might not know how many to buy. But it's just, it's risky if you're buying overseas and anything can happen. I mean, the pandemic happened and products were stuck in ports for months. And, you know, just personally I had a story. Prior to the pandemic. I ordered some planters. To put in the sparkle hustle, grow boxes and they were in California. Where I was ordering them and I live in North Carolina. So they had a drive across country. Well, what happened was they were on the truck. They were ready to go, but there was a wildfire in California that had shut down the highway that this particular truck needed to get out of the state. And so that particular product was weeks late because of that. And it made it just in time because I had that buffer built in. But if I hadn't, I would have had to figure out a new hero product. And when I say a hero product, that means like the star of the show. Sometimes it's the most valuable product, or maybe it's the largest in size product. Whatever that he wrote product that you expect the customer to open it up and be most wowed by. I was going to have to find a backup to my hero product. So luckily. In the end, it made it in time. Thank goodness. But I think you can see the point here is to build in a buffer of at least 10 to 14 days. If you're buying stateside. 60 days minimum. If you're buying overseas. And again, Just communicate with your vendors, share your need by dates, write it on your calendar. If you need to put it in your calendar, your digital calendar and make it a question where it pops up on the 15th of the month or whatever for you. Are all your items here yet. One way that we did that is we had a spreadsheet. That I would keep on my own computer, but because my husband was packing the boxes. We also had a whiteboard. In our warehouse and on this whiteboard I had three months worth of products listed out. So say it was, April, may, June, for example. And I had all the products. That were to be coming in, , or we were expecting to receive soon. As each one came . I just put a little check mark by it. So visually my husband could see which products have arrived, which products we're still waiting on, and that helped him plan his schedule as well. So this episode was just jam packed with tons of great information for running your home-based warehouse. Again, if you need some help in that area, go check out the DIY warehousing workshop. You can get it right now at the time of this recording for only $25. And. I had a student just asked me the other day, is this really only $25? It is jam packed with so much good information. It has a list of essential supplies with links, where to buy them. And it has all kinds of secret weapons and shipping hacks and stuff. You're going to love it. So go check that out and we'll make sure to put the link in the show notes so that you can access it easily. To recap. In this episode, we talked about the big picture kind of shipping as a snapshot in time in your warehouse week one is clean and prep. Your space week two is prep. Your items week three is pre-build your boxes. Week four is packing and shipping week. And then I dropped a few tips of just some things that are going to help you save money. Save sanity, save your time. When it comes to shipping from home. Thank you so much for listening today. Go snag that workshop and we'll see you in the next episode. Bye.