Kitting & Assembly Services Done Right.
Take a look at the storefront of any successful online business, and you’ll see huge banners featuring their bestselling bundles of items. Smart e-commerce owners bundle merch, supplements and other consumer goods to draw in new customers and keep returning customers satisfied.
How do the owners manage to do all this bundling–digitally and physically–and run their business? Chances are, they’re outsourcing their kitting and assembly–just like you should. Ships-a-Lot kitting and assembly services incorporate the physical labor of kitting and/or assembling various SKUs together AND the digital know-how to ensure these “kits” are built properly inside your Shopify store to ensure accurate inventory depletion.
Ships-a-Lot offers kitting and assembly services as a one-time, stand alone service for large scale retailers (i.e. large holiday project for “brick and mortar” stores), or as part of an on-going e-commerce fulfillment relationship.
What is Kitting & Assembly?
Kitting and Assembly Services cover a lot of ground. “Kitting” refers to grouping products together that match what a customer might want or to encourage them to try something new. If you have an amazing best-selling supplement flavor, you can take advantage of its popularity by packaging it with branded merch to increase brand awareness.
“Kits” can be physically pre-built (i.e. the two units or “SKUs” are put together into one package, which then has a unique SKU). Or, they can be digitally built (i.e. the “kit” containing two unique products or SKUs is created as unique SKU on your Shopify store and when an order is placed for that “kit” or SKU our team member is instructed by our software to pick and pack both SKUs that make-up the the “kit” (or master SKU).
Why Use Kitting & Assembly Services?
Taking advantage of our Ships-a-Lot Kitting and Assembly Services means that your business suddenly got a lot more flexible. You’re not just selling to the occasionally-interested customer who may want to try out your brand. You’re developing a following by delivering custom-made products specifically for individual consumption. There are several salient reasons to take advantage of our Kitting and Assembly Solutions.
Kitting can cut down on distribution costs and save on warehouse space – Think of it like e-commerce carpooling! Sometimes, certain items just don’t sell well and start to take up space that you want for newer or more reliable products. By kitting a higher-selling item with a lower-selling item, you’re able to even out costs and clear out space. And, while you are reducing costs and increasing availability, you’re also creating opportunities for your clients and customers to encounter a greater range of your inventory.
Many savvy clients of Ships-a-Lot frequently build kits that include high margin, but slower moving SKUs, thus increasing their gross margins and overall brand profitability.
Power to the People
Kitting also delivers a greater sense of power to the consumer in the form of customization. Customers who save on shipping and receive a discount on grouped items feel empowered when they receive exactly the arrangement of items they wanted, and at a seemingly discounted rate.
A Commitment to Accuracy
Accuracy in the kitting process is crucial, as nobody wants to receive a package full of stuff they didn’t ask for and certainly don’t want to go through the hassle of returning it either. With kitting and assembly volume, Ships-a-Lot has built processes to ensure accuracy in the kitting process.
Ships-a-Lot light assembly services include a range of options to streamline distribution. The bottom line of light assembly results in sending less packages to your customers, saving on shipping costs, while also increasing the protection of your product.
These personal touches on special-order products help to build your brand and are a great way to add extra value to your customer. As we would already have your items on hand in our warehouse, going the extra-mile to create custom content for your customers makes perfect sense to us.
Part of an All-In-One Service Package
Ships-a-Lot is your one-stop shop for all your warehouse and logistics needs. You started your business to run your business; we started ours to make sure yours runs smoother than you ever thought possible. We will kit your products to your exact specifications, and make informed suggestions on kitting and assembly based on our industry knowledge and trends on your inventory, generating efficiencies in overhead and improving revenue. Partnering with Ships-a-Lot gives you access to not only Kitting and Assembly Services, but also Warehouse Management, Inventory Management, Shopify Services, and so much more.
Great company to work with!!
It is very hard to find a good fulfillment company at a reasonable price that is reliable and has good customer service and actually passes on shipping discounts as well. These guys do it all!! Highly recommended.
— Progressive Health Nutraceuticals Inc.
John is excellent. He was very helpful, answered all my questions, and provided a lot of insight. I was also very impressed with their high touch vetting process.
Ships-a-Lot is quick, reliable and professional
The SHIPS-a-Lot staff has always been professional, quick to respond and act with all of our orders and shipping needs. Their quick shipping times keeps our customers happy, our company growing, and gives us peace of mind!
Leona is AMAZING! Her customer service is immeasurable!
— Heather deRijke
Simply the best!
One of the best decisions we ever made was to scale our operations with Zach and the Ships-a-lot team. We picked them and never looked back. Do not hesitate! Pick these guys for your 3PL needs today.
When vetting fulfillment partners, learning about the onboarding process is critical! It is a great test for “fit”– that is the “fit” between your company and the fulfillment partner.
Run away if the onboarding process is unclear, long, complicated, or disorganized! Oftentimes, this means that the fulfillment partner’s focus differs from your company’s focus.
For example, a third-party logistics company might do a lot of pallet shipments to large physical retailers, then get an inbound lead from a Shopify, direct-to-consumer brand. Working with Carts and Marketplaces, picking and packing individual orders, and shipping small parcels is very different from pallet shipments to retailers.
Assuming fit is right, the onboarding process should look as follows:
Step #1 – Day 1. Initial Call (basic facts about your company, etc.).
Step #2 – Day 2. Materials from the fulfillment company are sent to you (qualitative attributes, pricing, etc.).
Step #3 – Day 3. A follow-up call to talk through details.
Step #4 – Day 4. Decision made to a partner.
Step #5 – Day 5. Brand/s grant access to their stores and marketplaces so the software can speak to each other (i.e. warehouse management software). Initial inbound instructions were sent. The brand/s are given an overview of the Client portal and introduced to anyone they will be working with on a daily/weekly basis.
Step #6 – Day 12. Initial inbound receiving and put away. Orders are flowing from Stores/Marketplaces to the fulfillment partner. The first shipment is sent.
Contact us today to talk about your unique onboarding needs (i.e. existing lease in your facility, moving from another fulfillment partner, etc.).
Approximately 30% of our shipments are international (tens of thousands a month), so we have a lot of experience here!
First, we only recommend shipping internationally unless you’re dedicated to growing your brand in a given country. Passively allowing your product to be purchased from any country is not a good strategy. The U.S. is a big place–exhaust this market first!
Second, when you are ready to ship internationally, we recommend restricting sales to large, developed international economies (at least initially). For example, Canada, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, etc.
Third, when you’re ready to start, there are two broad approaches to shipping internationally. 1) ship product Delivered Duties Paid (DDP), meaning the customer pays for the Duties and Taxes (if relevant) at check-out on your store, or ship Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU), meaning the customer just pays for the product and shipping cost when they check-out and then pays for any Duties and Taxes at the time of delivery. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. We have some clients who only ship DDP, some only DDU, and some a combination.
Regardless of the method, you’ll need to ensure you accurately charge your customer for the true cost to ship the product to them.
If you ship DDP (duties and taxes are collected at the time of checkout), you’ll need to set up your store to auto-calculate the duties and taxes due. There are many good Apps out there that we can direct you to.
This topic sounds complicated, but it’s very simple. Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to ship outside the U.S effectively.
There are two broad considerations when determining how to package your product: a) protection, and b) cost.
Protection. When determining how to protect your product with packaging, imagine you’re a fly (an insect). You “land” on your package inside the fulfillment center, stay on during the truck ride to the local UPS/FedEx/USPS terminal, witness it get unloaded from the truck, and enter a massive maze of high-speed conveyors where is routed onto yet another truck for a cross-state/country ride, then enters another final mile terminal before getting on another truck before ending up on someone’s front porch. Phew! Along the way, your dear package is thrown, stepped on, caught in high-speed sortation equipment, and exposed to 120-degree heat (or below freezing cold) in the back of a truck traveling across the country. Would your product and package survive 9 times out of 10? If not, you need to rethink your packaging.
This could include moving from a poly mailer to a box, inserting a small dry ice cube (if temperature sensitive), filling the void in a box with sturdy packaging material (if glass), or getting a custom box made so your product fits perfectly inside and is fully protected.
Cost. However, these precautions all come at a cost (cost of materials and cost in increased postage due to weight or dimensions, etc.). So you will need to determine the cost/benefit of any choice. For example, if 1% of your packages are getting destroyed in transit, it’s probably not worth the increased cost to pursue more protective packaging.
Have a specific product in mind? Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to package your products most effectively.
For purposes of this discussion let’s assume it’s a shipment from a U.S. address to a U.S. address. (International shipments are determined differently.) It’s very simple…
- How much does your product and packaging material weigh together? For example, if you ship a small bottle weighing 6oz inside a corrugated box weighing 2.5oz, your shipment would be 8.5oz–which would be rounded up to 9oz.
- If the answer is less than 16 ounces (1 pound / 454 grams), your shipment is eligible for USPS First Class (approximately $3.50 – $6.50 at the time of this writing). (Other “consolidated” services effectively service these lightweight shipments; however, we’ll just use USPS First Class as an example for simplicity.)
Speed for USPS First Class shipments is usually 3 to 5 days (depending on the time of year and distance traveled). In our experience, while the “consolidated” services might be a few cents cheaper, they are much slower and not worth the headache and increased customer service costs (“Where is my package!?”).
The exact cost of the shipment will be determined by: a) the exact weight of the shipment (1 – 16 oz), and b) the “Zone” of the destination zip code from the shipper’s zip code. (For example, a shipment from New York to California will be a Zone 8 shipment and cost more than a Shipment from New York to Washington D.C., a Zone 3 shipment.) We advise clients to assume a “Zone 5” shipment on average.
- If the answer is equal to or more than 16 ounces (1 pound / 454 grams), your shipment should be “rate shopped” between UPS, FedEx, and USPS Priority Mail. (Any fulfillment center worth talking to will have software that can “rate shop” different carriers on every shipment to get the best rate on a given shipment.)
Generally speaking, USPS Priority Mail will “beat” UPS Ground and FedEx Ground in the “rate shop” on lighter weight, closer “Zone” shipments. As the distance and weight increase, it becomes more likely that UPS and FedEx will “win” the “rate shop.”
As of this writing (2022), shipments that weigh 1 to 10 pounds will cost anywhere from $8.00 to $18.00 (roughly!) – depending on exact weight (which is rounded up to the nearest pound) and Zone of end destination.
Importantly, this price includes the Base Rate + Residential Delivery Surcharge that FedEx and UPS apply + the Fuel Surcharge that FedEx and UPS apply. USPS only has a Base Rate. The Fuel Surcharge changes weekly, and the Base Rate and Residential Delivery Surcharge are reset (increased) annually.
Shipments above 1 pound also have to consider “Dimensional Weight.” Shipments will be priced at the greater of real weight (on a scale) and their dimensional weight (L x W x H in inches / 139 = Dimensional Weight in LBs). (So a massive box of feathers will cost more to ship than a small brick.)
Lastly, this discussion only considered the most efficient method (balancing cost and speed). If speed is the only concern, there are “Express Options” (i.e. Overnight, 2-day, etc. from both UPS and FedEx). If cost is the only concern, there are numerous cheap “consolidated” services. However, in our opinion, the above discussion should cover ~90%+ of your needs, with maybe the occasional expedited shipment. The slow/cheap consolidated services (in our opinion!) are not worth the headache.
Additional shipping cost questions: Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to effectively ship your products.
There is no right answer here. Generally speaking, there are six methods in setting up shipping options on Shopify. The choice between the three has to do more with psychology than finance!
Option #1 – Fixed Rate Shipping Cost, regardless of Order (for example, $9.99 regardless of what the customer purchases)
Option #2 – Fixed Rate Shipping Cost, depending on the Order (for example, $9.99 if the customer purchases XYZ and $5.99 if the customer purchases ABC). (You can get as fancy as you want—change based on weights, cart total, etc.).
Option #3 – Free Shipping
Option #4 – Different Speeds. For example, $9.99 for 3-4 day Ground and $14.99 for 2-day Air.
Option #5 – Combination of two or more of the above. (For example, flat $9.99 on all orders unless X is true, then Free Shipping.)
Option #6 – Carrier Calculated Shipping Cost (for example, the customer is charged an estimate of what the shipment will actually cost based on their address and order details).
Regardless of which option one chooses, we find that the most successful and sustainable privately owned e-commerce brands get compensated for their true postage costs. This can be accomplished by: a) charging the customer equal to or more than the actual postage costs, or b) increasing the retail price of the products to include some average postage costs. Brands that truly subsidize postage mean two things: a) they will burn through a lot of cash (and won’t be around long), and b) they have weak brands, as their customers aren’t loyal enough to pay a few extra dollars for delivery.
The above discussion ignores International Shipments. There are creative ways to set up International Shipping options, whether shipping Delivered Duties Paid (DDP) or Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU).
Additional shipping set-up questions? Contact us today to strategize with our team on how to set up your shipping options effectively. We can even do it for you!