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USPS has revised its Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) Standard Mail service standards to allow Load Leveling across delivery days. Changes went into effect on April 10, 2014.

What this means
This means that USPS processing and distribution centers that serve designated geographical areas and route mail between local post offices and larger distribution centers can now delay delivery of Standard Mail in order to balance the delivery volume of mail across multiple days. The change only applies to Standard Mail and does not affect service standards for First-Class Mail or Priority Mail.

Formerly, mail received at the DCSF on Friday was delivered to homes on Saturday and Monday, while mail received at the DCSF on Saturday was delivered to homes on Monday and Tuesday. Under the revision to allow load leveling, an extra day is added to the end of each of these delivery widows — a 3-day delivery expectation applies to most Standard Mail, but load leveling allows a 4-day delivery window for Standard Mail received at the DCSF on Fridays and Saturdays.

Why implement load leveling?
There were a few factors driving the decision to allow load leveling. It balances deliveries throughout the week, reduces the number of overtime hours USPS employees work to meet Monday deadlines, lowers operating costs, increases efficiency, and provides USPS customers with a more consistent service and a better overall experience.

How does this affect Shipwire?
If anything, load leveling will improve experiences for Shipwire users. Since load leveling only impacts the delivery of Standard Mail and generally evens out mail levels across the week, there will be increased capacity on Monday for First Class and Priority Mail services.

For more information, see USPS Important Updates.
 

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Recently, Shipwire released an update in response to a serious security vulnerability called “Heartbleed,” which impacts the encryption used for Internet communications and could allow access to decrypted HTTPS traffic.

Once we became aware of Heartbleed, we addressed the issue and evaluated possible impacts. We want to share some specifics of the Heartbleed vulnerability as it relates to Shipwire’s services, as we know that our customers, like us, are concerned about privacy and security.
 

Impacted services
We have no evidence that the Heartbleed vulnerability was used to obtain any Shipwire data or to access Shipwire services.

Our application load balancers, which are the primary means by which most customers communicate with Shipwire, were confirmed not to be using a vulnerable OpenSSL version.

Some of Shipwire’s internal servers were determined to be using affected versions of the OpenSSL library, and patches have since been applied to all impacted servers, and those servers restarted and sessions erased.
 

What you should do
While there is no indication that Shipwire users have been impacted, we nonetheless recommend that users consider updating their account passwords, especially on API roles. Regardless of circumstances, we recommend regular password changes.

Additionally, many of our users have sites or applications hosted which store their Shipwire credentials and other sensitive data, so we remind you to audit all services you may use (for example, self-hosted shopping carts) to determine if they might also be vulnerable, and to take steps to ensure any vulnerable services have been mitigated, replacing SSL certificates once any vulnerabilities have been addressed.

When in doubt, your hosting provider is a good resource to understand if you may be or may have been affected.

Stay safe.

 

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It’s been over two years since we have updated the Shipwire Terms of Service and Business Policies and we’ve made a lot of changes to our service offerings since our last update. Today, we’re giving notice to our users about updates to our Terms and Policies. The updates will be effective on May 1, 2014.

The new Terms of Service and Business Policies are available here. For reference, the old Terms can be found here.

We know how important these types of updates are to you and we want to help you understand them. Here is a walk-through of some of the major changes:

We hope you’ll read the complete and updated Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Business Policies, and that you’ll agree these simplifications make the information more approachable. Rest assured, we have not changed any of our commitments to serve your business and we will never sell your personal information.

And of course, your feedback is important to us! If you have feedback please submit it here for our legal team to review.
 
 

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Shipwire recently took a trip down to sunny San Diego, CA, to attend Miva Merchant’s 14th Annual Miva Conference, entitled Conquering Ecommerce. During the introduction, Miva CEO Russ Carroll announced the occasion as “the longest running ecommerce event of its kind,” while Rick Wilson, President and COO, later captured the event’s amazing turnout in a snapshot worthy of rivaling Ellen’s famous Oscars selfie.

As hundreds of merchants, developers, partners and speakers gathered to trade ecommerce tips and solutions, Miva brought exciting news of their own that got the entire ballroom buzzing with the introduction of Miva Merchant 9, the most significant upgrade they’ve released since Miva launched in 1997.

Other noteworthy mentions from the conference:
 

The Blades Awards (March 6)
On Thursday night, Miva held their 2nd annual Blades Awards, recognizing leaders in the Miva Merchant community, including Head Blade for Best Website of 2013 and Flight Quarters, a unique store that sells bird diapers, for Most Innovative Product.
 

Tour of Ecommerce
The Tour of Ecommerce Passport game added a new twist to the conference, encouraging attendees to visit each of the sponsors’ booths and collect stamps to increase their chances of winning prizes like Apple TVs and iPad Minis. We had a great time talking to many of the merchants and developers about the interesting projects they’ve been working on and how Shipwire can help them to expand their businesses.
 

Keynotes
MivaCon14 had a fantastic lineup of keynote speakers. Themes for this year’s topics included the impact and evolution of SEO, international search and global markets, being a visionary, and taking risks. Here are some helpful takeaways:

  • SEO should be invisible: really consider and plan your approach to SEO. It should not be obvious that you’re calculating your content (Matt McGee)
  • Be vital: create fantastic stuff that Google NEEDS (Matt McGee)
  • There are certain people who are genetically hardwired to take risks: in the question of nature v. nurture it is difficult for people who don’t have it in their genes to adapt it. Risk takers must be prepared to accept the consequences of failure (Dr. Robert Williams)
  • Every organization should nurture risk taking: make sure you have risk takers in leadership positions within your organization (Dr. Robert Williams)
  • Schema and structured data are what drive entity experiences: you have the opportunity to provide better relevant/original content and become the sources for search engine results (Evan Fishkin)
  • It’s a Google world: Google follows directory structures to content and the best way to show Google where the content is is to build out the entire directory in the language of the country to which you are trying to appeal (Anne Kennedy)
  • Real visions rarely come from a group setting: Groups critique, they don’t create. Great ideas almost always start out with an individual (Dr. Larry Osborne)
  • It’s important to guard your vision and values: your vision may evolve over time, but don’t let it leak or veer off course as it ultimately takes you where you want to go (Dr. Larry Osborne)
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    Event photos
    MivaCon 2014 1

    MivaCon 2014 2

    MivaCon 2014 3

    For more photos from the conference, check out Leslie Kirk’s photo stream.

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channel advisorChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst conference is just around the corner and Shipwire will be there.

We’ll be stationed at Booth #13 on March 11th and 12th.

If you’re there, we’d love to meet you. This is a great event to network and collaborate with others in the ecommerce industry, so please drop by to chat, ask questions, or simply say hi!

If you’d like to set up an appointment, you can get in touch and we’ll find a time to meet.

 
 

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2012-ASF-Expo-PhotoAnother week, another trade show. With CES and the International Toy Fair already under our belt this season, this week it was time for something different and the 2014 Arnold Sports Festival fit the bill.

Those who have been to the festival can attest to what an impressive showcase of athletics it is, and with so many “wow” factors to behold — from bodybuilders to sports competitions — exhibitors turned to flashy marketing to grab attendees attention amid the chaos.

perkyjerkyA couple things that caught our eye were “Jerk Man,” a guy covered in packets of Perky Jerky’s beef jerky and the amazing acrobat positioned atop the Felxicus booth, demonstrating the product’s joint and connective tissue strengthening abilities. Other sponsors did more traditional product sampling and despite the size of the show, it was impossible to be tired thanks to all the energy drinks and supplements that were available to test!

Shipwire provides fulfillment for supplement brands, including SHREDZ, so we wanted to learn how others are doing supplement fulfillment and what channels merchants are using to sell. Given the number of companies present and their various business sizes, all sorts of selling and shipping methods came into play. A few brands own facilities and handle shipping themselves, many sell through distributors, and some continue to run garage warehouse operations.

There were lots of questions about selling and shipping internationally, which is something Shipwire is able to help with given our network of international warehouses. As for selling, we always recommend that brands sell online B2C, as well as B2B, in order to reach as many customers as possible.

For a few more in-depth tips, check out our takeaways from another recent trade show.

 

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toy-fair-2014Last week, we got to check out the 112th annual American International Toy Fair® in New York. It’s the largest marketplace of its type in the Western Hemisphere and is a wonderland of recreational products spanning from classics like dolls and puzzles, to radio-controlled vehicles and computer software, to necessities such as party supplies and stationery.

In addition playing with new gadgets and taking a trip or two down memory lane inspired by contemporary versions of childhood toys, we went to Toy Fair 2014 to learn how companies are selling and shipping their products. Here’s what we observed regarding toy fulfillment:

Tried and true toys like boardgames, action figures, puzzles, building blocks, and other familiar products are still going strong, but few seem to be selling B2C online. The majority of these products are sold B2B to large retailers, who then sell to consumers. Given the longevity of many products and brands, B2B sales have been a successful business plan, but excluding B2C channels can also mean a lost opportunity for more revenue.

On the other hand, robots, drones, bluetooth technology, phone controlled planes — anything controlled remotely — was hot. It was also neat to see an increasing number of brands developing toys that incorporate educational components and encourage kids to learn about science, math, engineering, technology, and art. Unlike the old school products, these tech and new age toys are being sold B2C as well as B2B. By selling to businesses and directly to consumers, these newer brands are able to increase their visibility, maintain more of their own branding, and control the relationship they develop with customers. When developing a new product, achieving a broad reach and creating a strong reputation is key, so multichannel sales are a smart move.
 

After a full few days exploring toy land and learning what merchants are curious about, we thought we’d share some basic advice:

  1. Don’t just focus on wholesale
    This is fairly obvious by now, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the bottom line is that most brands need a strong online presence to be successful. There are tons of online store templates backed by strong platforms to choose from, so getting one started is easier than you may think. Create a category on your store that has your wholesale products and a form for small retailers. VAR’s (Value Added Resellers) want to know how to build a solution for small business or home market around your products; talk about this through a blog connected to your website. Blogging is another good way to generate interest, gain trust, and build a community around your product.
  2. Sell internationally
    Overseas markets offer an opportunity for fast expansion. With a well-connected distributor, there’s tons of sales potential in bringing your product to foreign customers. It’s also smart to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket — by selling products in multiple markets, you build some stability in case one goes south.
  3. Small wholesale purchases, drop shipping, and vendor managed inventory
    Strong distributors only make significant investments in proven products. For unknown or unproven products, they may ask you to drop ship to consumers (incurring costs of holding inventory, shipping, etc.) or consign inventory to them (so they only pay for what they sell). This lets distributors offload risk to you. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to drop ship or ship to their buyers. Like everybody in the supply chain, they are trying to simplify their process as well, so prepare to offer them simple solutions.

 

FREE guide: Going from B2B to B2C

Please check out our Going from B2B to B2C Guide. We wrote it in response to the questions we got from exhibitors about how to successfully expand from B2B sales into B2C. It has what you need to know about starting your direct-to-consumer sales, and if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.


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