WSO Distribution Center Report: October Sales etc for November 10th TeleConference
Attached is October “Sales Per Product” information from Quick Shopping Cart- and again I’ve included my manually-added column inserts for the “Product Type”/”Category” to make for an easier read (Quick Shopping Cart reports do not supply this info- only item numbers are provided with no product descriptions, thus making for a difficult read). Click here for the report
Also, I’ve carried over & added columns for previous month’s sales, for comparisons- thus, you are able to view June through October sales/sales-per-unit.
Sales: Sales for our top three highest-margin items (HardCover Texts, SoftCover Texts & Workbooks) were up from September lows, moving back up to comparable totals from July and the spring months.
Commemorative Edition Workbooks were completed at Bang today (Thursday 08 November) and are being prepped for shipment. As soon as we have confirmation from the carrier that these are in our area, I will inform Scott so that he may post info regarding the Commemoratives on the website.
I believe we are all hoping the Workbook Commemoratives will be a boon for sales in the way that the Commemorative Texts gave an explosive boost to our sales nine-to-eleven months ago, creating record sales-per-month highs & establishing a new plateau for both sales highs and lows.
Other critical business:
> UPS WorldShip & T-Hub integration– I’ve reported over the end of summer and into the fall that we were on temporary “Hold” with launching UPS WorldShip/THub. Even with that, there have been Trustees – and our Accountant, Patricia- who thought we had already launched with these labor and cost-saving tools.
The bottom line is our primary UPS account rep has been putting together a Pilot Program for us- tailored specifically for our types of orders and delivery parameters. This is a tiered pricing structure which will charge us/our Fellowship members a lower rate for our “onesie–twosie” residential orders, which represents apx 80% of our orders- important such that our average Fellowship member who orders 1-2 Texts and 1-2 Workbooks does not get hit with a UPS high retail over-the-counter price (such as the rates currently in our Shopping Cart should you choose UPS).
In order to put this pricing structure into place specifically for our niche, both UPS Tech & Account rep’s have made multiple visits to our Distribution Center these past four months. Each time they’ve come out, they’ve taken back their findings & estimates to get the next level of approval to move forward in putting together the pricing tiers specific for us.
The advantage of this level of care the UPS rep’s have taken is we will launch with tiered pricing and a discounted negotiated rate; UPS has educated us that it is much easier to launch with the lowest negotiated rate possible- a favorable position to launching at close-to-retail and attempting to negotiate a lower rate down-the-line.
The great downside to this time delay has been the resultant ongoing hit to our Labor hours… mostly by continuing in costly labor practices inherent with NOT making the change from USPS to UPS. You’ve all been hearing about that these past few days,
Specifically – in the Warehouse, launching UPS WorldShip/THub does the following and more:
1) Eliminates our loading/transporting/unloading packages at the USPS bulk facility 4-5 days per week (for newer Trustees: USPS will not pick up packages at our facility- stories & history upon request);
2) Combines our current two-step shipping label/postage label process into one step.
And for the Office, UPS WorldShip/THub provides this and more:
1) Complete tracking/traceability for all orders (huge);
2) Eliminates the QSC-driven need to touch each individual Invoice in order to generate a Packing Slip for all orders (HUGE- with UPS WorldShip/THub, both Invoices & Packing Lists may be run in large batches, thus saving keystrokes, labor & chance for error);
3) Provides an almost unlimited variety in reporting options so as to “hone in” on any facet of order or product information one might be looking to improve;
4) Has the capacity to eliminate our current QSC manual confirmation of orders- ultimately, shipping labels would be scanned rather than manually entered, which also immediately updates the system real time.
5) Eliminates our Pitney–Bowes postage machine (which as Patricia has pointed out runs apx $1000 per year)
6) Eliminates or greatly reduces any interaction with the USPS website- a very good thing. When Patricia referred in her report to “one hour for an order” she was specifically referring to a complex International Priority order that due to the online order setup for USPS & delays on the USPS site did indeed take one full hour for an experienced office staff member to enter. Hence- The less we interface with USPS, the greater our efficiency will be.
Update to Launch: I’ve scheduled UPS account & tech rep’s to be onsite Monday Nov 19th when both Scott & Phyllis are at Signal Hill; we will get a hard launch date & will at last implement WorldShip/THub – and thereby take advantage of each of the labor savings I’ve listed above.
Considerations for UPS Launch: Each Staff Member in the office has had UPS WorldShip training- and we have immediate access to UPS support personnel for the system at any time of need during our learning curve; however- other than a one-time session with Patricia on THub earlier this summer, none of us are familiar with THub, and we have many questions about the interface and how it works with UPS WorldShip & with the Go Daddy Quick Shopping Cart. To be resolved- hopefully with some help from Scott in ten days.
> Quick Shopping Cart-driven Labor impact: As Scott will likely cover this in his Webmaster report, I will only touch this to say that since the first weekend in October, we in the office have encountered a disturbing and time-consuming, labor-impactful new anomaly in the Quick Shopping Cart which did not exist prior to October. The scenario in question relates to orders which come to us as a “Failed Payment” order- not actual “declined credit card” payments, but a category meaning that for whatever reason (transmission error, interface issue, host/gateway issue, whatever) the payment is open to be manually captured by staff such that the order may be processed (a one-click function) then pulled/shipped. This has been a routine task for senior office staff from the time of launching Shopping Cart at end of March this year.
However, since the first week in October, this flow has changed. We’ve encountered new “Failed Payment” orders where we’ve ultimately discovered from the customer that their card was not only charged for an order we show as cancelled– in fact, their cards were charged twice for a non-shipped transaction- in fact, charged twice for orders we show as cancelled with NO payment having been captured. High levels of customer interaction – and research- have ensued from the first week of October to today, as this new issue continues. I pass to Scott for additional technical input as he interacts directly with the Go Daddy & Intuit Tech teams.
Cutting Costs and Expenses:
Labor: Our single largest expense (other than bulk purchases of Texts & Workbooks) is Labor. In addition to the immediate labor savings we will gain with the implementation of UPS WorldShip/THub listed previously, the following are also areas wherein we may capitalize:
> Personnel– Taylor Drake (3.5+ years on our Staff) departs in December for her Air Force Basic & Advanced Training; as such, we are cutting our Staff by one member.
As I reported last month, our newest Team Member- Kim Martin- has completing her training & Probationary period. I will be recommending that the Board approve her review & increase from Probationary New Hire status to Permanent Part Time status, replacing Taylor’s position & hourly rate. Note that Kim has been working at our Probationary New Hire Rate, waiting for Taylor’s departure from Staff. I will submit that request as soon as I have Taylor’s exact end date. Beyond that, any additional tasks left open by Taylor’s departure will be covered by Volunteers &/or reassessment of existing Staff/tasks.
> Labor- Volunteer Pool: We have had Volunteer Service Workers all through our four-year history here; indeed, every single one of our current & former Team Members were at one time a Volunteer. However, through the end of August and into September, our Volunteer group has dropped away one-by-one- school, relocation, attrition in general. We are back into recruiting mode again. Our Volunteers are a big relief- and labor savings – in the tedious wrapping of texts/workbooks and in folding of trifold brochures. We’ve felt that attrition in our recent labor figures over September-October-November and with paid staff members picking up necessary work done previously by trained volunteers; which brings me to …
> Additional Areas for Labor Savings: At one time, our previous Office Manager did a cost study and determined that paying to have our trifold brochures folded was not cost-effective. As I’ve watched our sales for paper Literature orders double and triple and quadruple over the summer- and our Volunteer pool dwindle over the same time period- I’ve reevaluated this area. For one thing, our paper Literature (especially trifold brochures) is extremely low-margin/low profit.
As I crunched our newest sales numbers from September and October, I realized that our high numbers of sales per item in these categories have actually been a negative hit to Labor- the higher the sales are going, the more negative labor is due to the cost margin of paper Literature.
Thus, we’ve implemented two shifts this past month: 1) ordering our trifolds already folded (despite not making sense four years ago, at our current print discounts & shipping volumes, we save versus labor; 2) heavily recruiting such that primarily Volunteers are folding our remaining printed stock; 3) conferring with Scott & Phyllis when they are out to see if we might, a) ship trifolds “unfolded” – b) consider either eliminating some titles from Shopping Cart altogether, such that groups may print those titles from the website instead –or- c) have paper Lit sales in groups of 10-20 or in “packs” of titles … or perhaps a combination of those ideas.
> Labor, again: Beyond the areas already listed, our next area of time expenditure in Office Labor is our system of answering routine and rudimentary Fellowship Calls & emails- mostly in regard to basic info and/or meeting info requests. It is always a fine line to walk between providing service and care contrasted with spending time with questions or research for a customer beyond what is fiscally responsible.
We average dozens (and dozens) of calls/voice mails each week for basic info. Might these be handled with a phone tree? By investing in a more sophisticated system for answering/screening calls? What do we think about not getting a live person if someone calls during office hours? Fodder for discussion. Larry has previously made several suggestions; this area is an area for improvement in regard to Labor dollars because Office Staff spend so much time here. And training is critical too- helping to coach newer team members and volunteer staff on how to courteously move a call toward a desired conclusion.
> Inventory– We took a Full Physical on Thursday November 1st for October close-of-business; results were sent to Patricia.
That is it for this round.
Thank you, DiAnne – and Vivian, Danielle, Kristina, Taylor, Trudy, Kim & Gloria too