Improving Mental Health at Work

Mental Health First Aiders

How Our Mental Health First Aiders Have Helped Support Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

As you have read in previous blogs, at Forms Plus we take our health and wellbeing seriously.  Earlier this year we were delighted to receive a Healthy Workplace Gold Award in recognition of the actions we have taken as a team to promote good health at work.

Alongside our efforts to improve our physical health, we have also started to pay more attention to supporting mental health at work. With the WHO marking World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September,  and World Mental Health Day coming up on the 10th October, this seemed like a good time to share our learnings.

The Office for National Statistics recently released figures (reported in The Guardian) announcing that the rate of suicides in the UK in 2018 was up 11.8% on the previous year with 6,507 suicides recorded.  Suicide is the leading cause of death in England in adults younger than 50 and the rate is around three times higher amongst men.  For every person that takes their life, another 10–20 will make a suicide attempt.

Very often suicide is linked to an existing mental health condition, but often it occurs following some kind of traumatic experience, which can be related to the workplace. The TUC and the Samaritans have found that contributing factors to workplace stress, which might lead to such an event, include job insecurity, restructuring and downsizing and zero hours contracts.

Healthy Workplace Gold Award

Sometimes the contributing factors can be less dramatic. Issues can also arise from feeling pressure to meet sales targets, hit deadlines or compete with others who seem to be having more success.  Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest causes of sickness absence in the workplace, so there is also an operational benefit to addressing these issues.

Regardless of whether work is a major cause of someone’s mental health problems, we spend much of our lives at work, so employers and colleagues can clearly take steps to support mental wellbeing, and perhaps, contribute to suicide prevention. At Forms Plus we decided to do that by appointing and training two Mental Health First Aiders.

Sharon and Jo both completed the 3-day course a few months ago.  Focussing on listening and offering direction, the training gave them both the confidence to take on the role and our team have really started to feel the benefit.

Sometimes being a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA), just means keeping an active eye out for someone who may need a bit of extra support.  If a team member looks as if they are having a bad day, the MHFA may email them privately to see if they fancy a short walk and talk.  Sharon tells us that this offer is often picked up right away.  Sometimes the person approached might initially decline, then come back later and take the opportunity for a chat.   The most important part of the MHFA role is then to be a good, calm listener.

Mental Health First Aiders

As well as keeping an eye out for people who may need support, at Forms Plus we also try to pre-empt any problems through our “Well Walks”. The MHFA simply picks a name out of a hat and goes for a short walk with the colleague chosen, which could be anyone.  The walk could just be an opportunity for some fresh air and exercise, or a chat about what they are doing at the weekend, but it also provides a chance to discuss family or relationship issues, workplace challenges, or anything else that might be impacting on mental health.

Whilst the emphasis for the MHFA is on listening rather than solving problems, their role also extends to offering direction as to where to go for support.  When Jo and Sharon come across a problem, they will often do some research and provide links or phone numbers that may help.  Sharon explains that whilst of course the team member could often find that information themselves, having someone pass on a website or phone number might give them the push they need to actually get in touch.

Forms Plus lunchtime walk

Normally the relationship between the MHFA and the person they are helping is based on full confidentiality.  The only exception to this might be if the person is seriously at risk, or if the mental health issue could be helped by changes in the workplace. If Jo or Sharon believe that sharing the information with someone else at work might help, they will always suggest the team member speaks to the right person, or ask permission to do that for them if they prefer.

We are really happy to have Mental Health First Aiders at Forms Plus.  Posters in our staff areas remind us that there is always someone to speak to.  They are both very approachable, calm and caring.  Whether we choose to seek out MHFA support or not, having two trained Mental Health First Aiders on our team has opened up discussions and given us all the feeling that it is OK to talk about mental health in the workplace. Sharon and Jo both enjoy the work and especially love seeing the transformation when they have been able to help someone.

If you would like to find out more about Mental Health First Aid training do visit the MHFA website or to download a really useful Activity Pack for Workplaces marking World Mental Health Day ,visit the Time to Change website.

Alternatively get in touch and Sharon or Jo would be happy to talk to you about their experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which is the best e-commerce platform for your online store?

E Commerce Platforms

How do you choose between the likes of Magento, Shopify, Woo Commerce, Big Commerce and Open Cart?

Whether you are a start-up business or have been trading for years and need to change, selecting the best e-commerce platform for your business is a big decision.

With even the bargain budget providers such as Weebly and Wix now offering e-commerce solutions, through to middle-of-the-road choices such as Shopify and WooCommerce, up to expensive and complex software such as Magento and BigCommerce, it’s hard to know where to start.

The answer to our question is, of course, that there is no one answer. The best solution is going to be the platform that most suits the unique needs of your business. We’ve looked at what you should consider when choosing an e-commerce platform, the features to investigate and how some of the leading providers match up.

Value

Perhaps the most important thing is to understand all the costs involved. You’ll need to look at the cost of developing the site, the ongoing costs of license fees and hosting, any commission for the payment methods you want to enable and subscriptions for Apps and Plugins to make the site do everything you’d like. Whilst WordPress/WooCommerce and Shopify offer cheap ways to get started, how long will that package meet your needs? What will it cost to scale up? Would it be worth spending more on developing in Magento and potentially have less ongoing costs?

Integrations

What does your e-commerce software need to integrate with? Must it play nicely with your inventory management system, your POS, your CRM, your email marketing tools, your accounting software? Do you also sell on other marketplaces such as Amazon or Ebay? Can it integrate with those? BigCommerce, Magento and Shopify all have many integrations. Just make sure you understand any additional costs involved.

Customer Experience

How easy is the platform for customers to use? Most e-commerce software is now built on extensive User Experience (UX) research, so there may be little to differentiate between the top providers. Look at sites built on the platforms you are considering and see if they suit your customers’ usage trends? How well do they work on mobile?
Once you have a short list, dig deeper and look at various sites built on the platform. Analyse its features more closely. If there are elements you know you want, for example reviews, a wishlist, abandoned cart emails and easy account management tools, check those are available and whether they require additional spend.

Which sites do you personally enjoy shopping on? How are they built?

Designs and Themes

The UX of an e-commerce site may be less to do with its platform, than its design. If you have a clear sense of your brand identity, does the platform have the flexibility to match that? If you are commissioning a bespoke build in Magento or OpenCart, this should not be an issue. If you are using an existing theme on Shopify or WordPress/WooCommerce, is there a theme that will be in keeping with your brand? Even bespoke templates are now highly customisable, so this is not likely to be a deal breaker but is worth considering.

Ease of Use

You’ve checked how easy the platform is for your customers. How easy is it for you? What is the process for adding or editing products? How straightforward is it to put together a landing page for a new collection such as a Holiday Essentials page for your clothing site? How will you see the orders you’re getting, look at analytics and pull data from the site? Most providers will have training videos you can look at. BigCommerce and Shopify both come with intuitive store management controls and clear, easy reporting.

SEO

You will want your store to rank highly with search engines. SEO has sometimes been a problem for e-commerce stores. Does your platform have the option for a blog? Can you independently edit page Titles and Meta Descriptions? Can you have content other than product pages? Can you choose your URL? Will you have Reviews? All will help with your SEO. Shopify, 3DCart, WooCommerce and Magento all rank highly for SEO but might require specialist help to set up.

Support

You’re going to need a hand to get started. Before you buy, it’s worth checking out the level of support available. What is the onboarding process? How quickly are you likely to be able to get in touch with someone for help? Do you have to pay for that? Shopify for example, have well written training content, a 24/7 support team and excellent forums for advice.

Scalability

How ambitious are you for your e-commerce store? Are you going to offer many more products in future? Would you like to sell overseas? Is there additional functionality you can’t afford now but would like to add? Get out your crystal ball and have a look at 5 years’ time. Will this platform still meet your requirements?

There is undoubtedly a lot to consider, and a lot of e-commerce platforms to choose between. Knowing what matters to you, your business and your customers in each of the areas above should help you make your shortlist. Best of luck with your choices and do let us know how you get on. 

If you’d like to talk to us about choosing a platform and how our integrated labels option fit with the different software solutions, do get in touch.  

 

GDPR and E Commerce – One Year On

GDPR Blog

This time last year, here at Forms Plus, like many of our customers, we were working hard to make sure we complied with the imminent introduction of GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulations came into place on 25 May 2018. One year on, we thought we’d take a look at what the impact has been for businesses, and specifically for e-commerce.

How were e-commerce businesses affected by GDPR?

The majority of e-commerce businesses had to invest time and money in improving their practices to meet GDPR requirements.

This included:

  • Educating staff and appointing Data Protection Officers
  • Improving data storage systems and processes
  • Updating documentation such as Privacy Notices
  • Updating agreements with Third Parties who share data, such as delivery companies, email and CRM software providers
  • Reviewing marketing practices, cleaning up email lists and changing sign-up protocols to ensure everyone has given clear consent
  • Justifying any data that is used without unambiguous consent, by being able to show the person has a “legitimate interest” in hearing from you, for example, in case of product recalls
  • Reviewing all the data you collect about customers and being sure you can justify why you ask for each item

If some of this is news to you, you might want to visit E Commerce Guide’s full set of guidance to GDPR. 

For many companies, GDPR led to a huge cut in the amount of people on email lists, up to 80% having to be removed in some cases. Marketers were gloomy about the likely outcomes and saw a tough year ahead. Some firms took even more dramatic actions. Wetherspoons famously deleted its entire customer database. Marks and Spencer hired its first chief digital and data officer. Some US companies stopped selling to Europe entirely. Video games makers had to block EU users from games that did not meet the requirements. It all looked a bit daunting!

So, what actually happened when GDPR came in?

As we all remember, there was a huge rush of activity last May. Many companies sent out “re-consenting” emails and updated privacy policies. As The Guardian reported, some of these were quite comical.

With Cambridge Analytica also in the news at the time, consumers become much more aware, very quickly, of how companies should be handling their data. One year on, and this shift in awareness seems to resulting in a more positive outcome.

A recent report from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) shows that 41% of consumers think GDPR has improved how businesses use their data. 31% are now happy to share data in return for personalised brand recommendations (Smart Insights).

Consumers have shown more trust in marketing communications, with improving email open and click through rates. Less people have been unsubscribing and reporting mails as spam. We might be sending out less emails, but a higher percentage are being read, and even better, converting into sales – so perhaps those hundreds (or even thousands) that had to be deleted, were not worth having anyway.

GDPR has also led to e-commerce companies improving their marketing on other channels. Many are making more use of Social Media, online advertising and other channels. These providers have responded with improved targeting options, such as the possibility to advertise to “lookalike” audiences on Facebook and Instagram, for people with similar characteristics to those who have bought from your website before.

91% of marketers still see email as a major tool, and lists are rapidly growing back up, this time with unambiguous consent.

How should e-commerce businesses be using marketing data now?

As customers, we are all very aware now that companies can track who we are, what we’ve bought or browsed in the past and may know further information about us. In return for allowing access to that data, we expect the marketing we receive to be relevant and useful.

E-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Big Commerce, and email marketing tools such as Klaviyo and MailChimp, make it easy for brands to segment and target their communications. The job for e-commerce marketers now is to ensure they respect the trust those contacts are putting in them by providing their data. Using data wisely and sparingly, for example by sending no more than a couple of Abandoned Cart emails, targeting offers to products people have actually browsed and not trying to sell to people who have either bought already, or are unlikely to buy, are now part of the rules of this new data-driven marketing.

If businesses stick to the rules, then customers will happily continue to allow access to data, open emails and continue to buy – and the business will of course also be safe from the risk of hefty GDPR fines.

There may be further change. 2020 should see the introduction of additional e Privacy rules, perhaps relating to cookies and tracking that are also used by many e-commerce marketers. We will let you know more as soon as we have an update.

Forms Plus’ New Video

Forms Plus Video

We’ve had a busy year so far at Forms Plus. We recently moved into our brand new, purpose-built premises and are also working on some other projects that you’ll start to see more signs of soon.    To capture some of these developments, Bad Wolf Horizon have made us a fantastic new video, introducing you to Forms Plus, the team and our new offices. We hope you enjoy it. 



 

Forms Plus Packaging Survey – Win an Amazon Voucher

Packaging boxes and tubes

We are currently running a very short survey to find out more about how our customers use and order the packaging for their business.

It only takes about five minutes to complete and we are offering a prize of a £30 Amazon Voucher to one lucky person who completes the survey.

The survey is open until the 17th May and then we will draw a winner at random. Full Ts and Cs are below.

If you have a few moments, please complete the survey below or follow this link.

Thank you in advance for taking part.

Forms Plus Team

This survey is now closed

WIN AN AMAZON VOUCHER

Summary Terms:

18+ only. Open to residents of United Kingdom only.
Entry Dates: 09:00 on 25/04/19 – 23:59 on 17/05/19

To enter: Follow the link to fill in the survey. Complete the form and submit it to enter the draw.

Prize: A £30 Amazon voucher, to be emailed to the selected winner.

Promoter: Forms Plus Ltd, Unit B3, Helston Business Park, Helston, England, TR13 8FZ

Full Terms and Conditions:
Open only to residents of the United Kingdom who are aged 18 or over. Entry Dates: 09:00 on 25/04/19 – 23:59 on 17/05/19
No purchase necessary to enter the competition.

To enter: Follow the link to fill in the survey. Complete the form and submit it to enter the draw.

Prize: A £30 Amazon voucher to be emailed to the selected winner.

Winner Selection: All valid entries received by the Promoter during the promotion period will be submitted into the competition. The winner will be chosen by a Forms Plus representative.

Winner Notification: The winning entry will be notified via the email address supplied upon entry to the competition. They will be notified by 23:59 on 24/05/19 and have 7 days from the date of notification to respond to the initial notification confirming they wish to claim the prize. Failure to comply with this time-frame may result in disqualification of that winner and the prize being awarded to another winner selected by the criteria above.

The Promoter cannot accept any responsibility if the winner’s notification message is not received due to a fault in the messaging platform e.g. for the notification message sent straight to the winner’s junk mail folder.
No correspondence will be entered into.

The Promoter will only use the personal details supplied for the administration of the promotion and for no other purpose, unless we have your consent.

Winners’ names and locations may be used on Forms Plus’ Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Website posts or in print to promote the competition.

Bulk entries made from trade, consumer groups or third parties will not be accepted. If it becomes apparent that a participant is using a computer(s) to circumvent this condition by, for example, the use of ‘script’ or ‘brute force’, masking their identity by manipulating IP addresses, using identities other than their own or any other automated means in order to increase that participant’s entries into the draw in a way that is not consistent with the spirit of the promotion, that person’s entries will be disqualified.

Winners may have the option to participate in publicity arising from the promotion.

The Promoter will not be liable to any participant for any loss or damage, whether in contract, tort (including negligence), breach of statutory duty, or otherwise, even if foreseeable, arising under orin connection with their entering this promotion or as a result of their accepting any prize as a result of this promotion. Nothing in these terms of and conditions excludes or limits the Promoter’s liability for death or personal injury arising from its negligence, or its fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation, or any other liability that cannot be excluded or limited by English law.

If an act, omission, event or circumstance occurs which is beyond reasonable control of the Promoter and which prevents the Promoter from complying with these terms and conditions the Promoter will not be liable for any failure to perform or delay in performing its obligation.

By taking part in this promotion all entrants will be deemed to have accepted and be bound by these terms and conditions.

These terms and conditions are governed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. The courts of England and Wales will have non-exclusive jurisdiction unless the participant is resident in Scotland in which case they may also bring proceedings in Scotland.

Promoter: Forms Plus Limited, a company registered in England under number 04522090 and whose registered office is at Forms Plus Ltd, Unit B3, Helston Business Park, Helston, England, TR13 8FZ

We Won Gold!

Healthy Workplace Award

Forms Plus have won a Healthy Workplace Gold Award

If you ever visit our offices at Forms Plus, you will notice immediately that Workplace Health is high up on our agenda.  You’ll see fruit rather than cakes (most of the time!), water bottles on everyone’s desk, pedometers or fitness trackers on our wrists and you’ll hear reminders for team walks and daily afternoon stretches. 

We are delighted to say that this year, after three years of working our way up through the Bronze and Silver Categories, we have been awarded the much-coveted Gold Award in Cornwall Council’s Healthy Workplace Scheme. You can read more about what the Award means and how we achieved it on the Be Healthy At Work website.

Clare Hughes, our Print Coordinator and a keen runner, has led the project. Alongside the management team, Clare’s work on pushing the healthy living ideas forward has helped keep everyone at Forms Plus motivated, happy, healthy and working together.  

I am really pleased that Forms Plus has been able to secure the Gold award this year. The company has invested a lot of time and effort into ensuring that the office is more than just a workplace. The team themselves have also contributed and supported the ideas and activities that came out of our ‘Health Plus’ programme, so it’s been a real team effort.

The official report that came with the award recognised some key successes for Forms Plus:

  • Wellbeing Walks – staff felt this was a great initiative and valued the time out to take stock of how they were feeling
  • Challenge Week – the judges were impressed by our staff members setting themselves goals to work towards during this initative
  • On Your Feet Day – this was recognised for both being fun, and helping put across an important message to get colleagues thinking about their health and keep moving throughout the day

In summary, the judges told us:

Clare, Jo and Sharon are clearly very passionate and motivated and their commitment to this area of work has been instrumental together with the team of other staff members whom all lead on certain health areas and contribute throughout the year. We were extremely impressed with the close bond of the workforce demonstrating a caring and supportive environment to work in.

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Healthy Workplace Award – official report

With most of us in sedentary roles, behind a screen all day, it can be easy to slip into bad habits.  The Healthy Workplace Scheme initiatives really have inspired the whole team to make our time at work healthier. If you are interested in improving your workplace health, there are lots of ideas in our How to Stay Healthy in a Desk Job blogs or get in touch and we’d be happy to share ideas.

 

 

 

What is double-side thermal printing?

Duotherm Labels

Why might I want to use Duo Therm Labels?

At Forms Plus, all the products we sell are designed to increase efficiency, reduce waste and drive down costs. All of our Integrated Labels will help you achieve this but in addition to our single-sided thermal labels we now offer Duo Therm Labels and Printers, which print on both sides of the material, bringing efficiencies to your business to another level.


Print on both sides, with no toner required


Duo Therm printers use two thermal print heads to put your information onto your label and the reverse liner. The ability to print on both side of a thermal label brings great improvements to the traditional practices used by many businesses. You will see and enjoy tangible improvements, these include:

  • Less waste – Utilising the liner of the label means no more nasty glycine backing all over the warehouse.
  • Reduce mistakes. Duo Therm produces the delivery or picking note combined with the label, which means, no more mismatched paperwork.
  • Processing is faster, both sides of information print at the same time
  • You save valuable space – the printers have a small footprint, so take up less space in your despatch area. You also do not need so much space for label storage, or for waste as you will not be throwing away backing paper.

Less Waste – Less Mistakes – Faster Printing – More Space

Forms Plus supply an end-to-end solution, making the transition easy for your business.

We provide the 2-sided thermal printers, a range of labels and the associated support contracts to meet the service level agreements your business requires. 

This innovative printing solution is designed to be “plug and play”, user friendly and compact so they fit easily into your packing stations. Once unboxed and positioned, all you should need to do is install the printer driver and you’ll be ready to go. 

See the video below if you want to see what Duo Therm brings to your business.

 

 

Our printers come at a competitive price and with a full-service agreement. The Toshiba DB-EA4D is robust, rugged and designed for high usage whilst also being compact and user-friendly.

Duo Therm

Compact and rugged, the Toshiba DB-EA4D

Forms Plus deliver everything you need to get started in printing on both sides of the label. If you are thinking of switching to dual-sided, thermal printing and think Duo Therm might suit your business, then do get in touch for a discussion and a quote. 

Contact us today for an obligation free quote or visit our Duo Therm page to learn more about the products.

 

The Serial Returner – A Serious Problem for E Commerce or an Opportunity?

Returns Labels

Online shopping has drastically changed the way we shop and how much we return.  Returns no longer mean going into a store and explaining to an assistant, why we are bringing back a product. We can simply drop our package at the post office.  This has led to the rise of Serial Returners – shoppers who regularly buy far more than they intend to keep, a way of shopping that is now causing significant problems for e-commerce sellers.

Fashion retailers are particularly affected with around 16% of products bought online being returned. According to a report from Barclaycard, British shoppers spend an average of £313 on online clothes shopping per year, but send back £146 worth of this.  

It’s not just fashion, retailers across the board report an increase over the last two years. For electronics, the rate is around 12% and returns are up by 10% across most sectors. Over the Black Friday and Christmas sales period, returns surge to 30%.

For many, returns are the new normal.


Are you a serial returner?

Why are Serial Returners a problem?

Cash flow is not easy to manage when you can never be sure how much you will have to refund.  Returns are often claimed within the last few days of the time window, almost a month after it was paid for.  In some cases, this is even longer. Over Christmas John Lewis accepted returns within 90 days of purchase!

Inventory management can also be difficult. In the “fast fashion” world, items that are returned are old news by the time the return has been processed, so cannot be simply put back into stock.  This means they often end up being discounted, or even destroyed, cutting into margins. 

Returns need to be processed, and that takes people, time and money.  Additional product handling will also require extra space in your warehouse or despatch area.    

Why are Serial Returns on the rise?

Much of the growth in returns is to do with the way we shop online. 

Unlike in-store customers, people who buy online have a right to a full refund, even if there is nothing wrong with the product. Some shoppers take advantage of this, perhaps with reasonable intentions, such as to try on different sizes. Amazon’s new Prime Wardrobe scheme is specifically designed for those shoppers, who now only pay for the goods once they have selected what they will keep.

Shopping at a distance will always bring surprises.  Products can look different in the flesh to how they appear on a website.  Sizes are often inconsistent, and details can be unclear.  One of our team once ordered a fruit bowl only to find it was more suited to a doll’s house!

Psychology also plays a part.  Research has shown that buying something new gives us a thrill, more technically a rush of dopamine, which quickly wears off.  Shopping online and returning the items is an easy way to get that rush without losing out financially – a kind of “fantasy shop” where perhaps you never expected to keep the products.


Fantasy Shopping?

Why cater for Serial Returners?

Online sellers could perhaps be forgiven for thinking about cracking down on Serial Returners.  Amazon has talked about a lifetime ban – but is yet to act on this. This could be a dangerous line to tread. 

Firstly, how would you identify a true Serial Returner vs a loyal customer?  The people who send you the most returns, may in fact be your best customers. 

A hard line on Returns could put people off shopping with you.  A quick survey revealed that most of the online shoppers we spoke to saw easy returns as a key feature of online shopping:

“Online habits are very different to shop shopping. It’s much easier to buy on impulse and you only need to walk to the post office to return.  If I had to pay to return items or take them back to shop, I would order less” – Jo

“If returns start to cost more or become more difficult, it would definitely make me think twice about buying from that online retailer. I avoid physical stores with difficult returns policies too.” – Lara

Retailers would be better advised to embrace these customers, try and understand why they return products and make it easy for them to shop, their way.  

How to Cope with Serial Returners?

If returns are currently a problem for your business, there are many ways you can improve matters.


Peel off, stick on, return…

Firstly, is your paperwork in order? Integrated Labels such as those made by Forms Plus mean that you can have one A4 sheet with two sticky labels for your shipping and returns label.  This streamlines your despatch process, and makes the Returns process easier, for you and your customer.  Providing the returns label means that the package arrives in the right place, with the information you need. You can then process it, get the item back on to your inventory, and adjust your cash flow, more quickly. 

If you do have bricks and mortar stores, could you encourage customers to “click and collect”? That way, they can check the items or try them on before they leave the store and you can process the inevitable returns immediately.

Returns are often the result of not providing enough information on the website. Could you provide exact measurements as well as dress size? Add more photos? Look at why items get returned and add info to address those reasons?

Some research shows that having a Wish List on your site can also help reduce Returns.  Adding an item to a Wish List gives the shopper a lower level thrill, and the confidence to think the purchase through before ordering.  That wait can help rule out impulse purchases that are less likely to stick. It also gives you a way to collect customer data and remind them of what’s on their list!

Free, easy returns are increasingly a required feature of the shopping experience.  Knowing they can send an order back gives buyers the confidence to buy from new brands, try new products and shop online for items that normally they would have wanted to see in store first.   Returns are here to stay, and we’d love to help you make your processes smoother – so do get in touch. 

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Integrated Shipping Labels

Peel off labels

At Forms Plus, integrated labels are our speciality. We have been providing despatch labels for e commerce businesses for over twenty years (and yes, some of us have been here all that time!), so it’s only natural that we assume they are a good thing for your business to have.  From time to time, it helps to drill down and question what the key benefits are, so this month we asked our Sales Team for some of the key reasons our clients choose to use integrated shipping labels. Here are their Top 5.

1.Efficiency

 

If you are currently juggling several pieces of paperwork in order to provide your customer with an invoice, a returns label and yourselves with a picking and packing slip and sticky despatch label, you will realise that you are working inefficiently.  Even if you have a well organised despatch area and these different pieces of paper are all lined up neatly next to each other, you are still spending time making sure that they all match up, and you have remembered to put them all in.  Integrating your despatch notes, shipping and returns information into one form can really help you work smarter, not harder.

2. Speed

 

Anyone working in ecommerce knows the pressure is on to deliver orders faster than ever.  Whether you are working on a next day delivery model, or even considering how you might manage same day delivery in some areas – an integrated form will really speed up your process.  Instead of waiting for 2 or more printers to print, an integrated label means you have all you need on one sheet.  What’s more, if you use our bespoke services, you can design that to be laid out exactly as you need.  This will speed up your processing time, saving you money and making it easier to meet your customers’ increasing demands for a quick turnaround.

Global packages delivery and parcels transportation concept stack of cardboard boxes isolated on white background

3. Branding

 

Your delivery note need not just be a functional piece of paper stating who has sent what and where to.  Unlike email or advertising, you know it is definitely going to arrive in front of your customer, so it can be another useful touchpoint in your marketing strategy.  A branded delivery note reinforces awareness of your brand, reminding the shopper exactly who they have purchased from. This is particularly important if you are selling through a platform like Amazon, Etsy or Ebay. Your delivery note can encourage them to come direct to your website next time. 

Your delivery note can also be a canvas on which to highlight special offers, invite an email sign up or repeat your brand promise.  You could even use it to highlight a short piece of company news, such as a new product you are launching.

 

Digital Online Marketing Brand Office Working Concept



4. Customer Services

 

Whilst your branded shipping label makes it clear to the customer who they ordered from and embeds your name so they might do so again, it also helps enhance your customer service.  Your delivery note can clearly document the returns process, include a peel off returns label and answer any frequently asked questions.  All of this will help relieve strain on your customer services team, and improve customer relations, making it more likely that the customer will shop with you again. 

Research from Bizrate Insights  shows that 72% of customers expect a refund to be credited within 5 days of sending back a returns item. Integrating returns information in your shipping label can make it much easier for you to turn that around in time.   

When you do get it right, you will build trust with customers and they are far more likely to shop with you again. Shopify research indicates that 72% of shoppers are willing to spend more and buy more frequently if the returns process is simple.  Could an integrated returns label make your returns process faster and easier for you to implement?




5. Packing Station Improvements

 

Is your packing area chaotic?  Is the noise of printers unbearable?  As well as all the obvious benefits to your clients, one side effect of integrating your shipping labels is simply that there will be less clutter and noise in your packing areas.  This should mean that your picking and packing process can speed up, but it might also make the packing station a more pleasant place to work.  It might even mean you can operate from a smaller area.  Declutter your packing station, get rid of printers you don’t need, and you’ll have a bit more space to work in and a more peaceful environment. 

If you’d like to find out more about how integrated labels could help your business, do get in touch with us at Forms Plus.  After more than 30 years in the business, we really do know how to put together the right label for you. 

 

How To Stay Healthy in a Desk Based Job – Part 2

Keith Jacka Personal Trainer

How to manage exercise, nutrition and hydration when you sit at a desk all day

In our recent blog on how to stay healthy in an office job, Keith Jacka of Fitness Wild Helston gave us some advice on posture, moving around and how to break up your day to support your physical and mental health.  This time, Keith is going to help us plan how to fit in exercise time outside of work, and make sure we are well fueled for our day with his recommendations for improving our nutrition and hydration.  

People often find it hard to plan in exercise time, especially in winter.  Working a traditional 9-5, often with travel time as well, it is easy to find your day has gone before you’ve made it to the gym, pool or even out for a walk.  Keith’s advice is to get started early. Go to bed an hour earlier, get up an hour earlier and work out before work.  Swimming can be a particularly easy way to fit in a morning workout, as you can have a shower at the pool.  Many offices now have showers, so could you cycle or run to work?  Or, if you’re near Helston, you could head to one of Fitness Wild’s notorious 6am Group Sessions!

If you’re not a morning person, the next best time is lunchtime.  Maybe you can start or finish your day half an hour earlier, and extend your lunch break to give you time to fit in a workout.  Even if you can only squeeze in an hour, could you do a HIIT session, go for a run, attend a Spinning class or run through a workout that covers the basics? Every training session does not need to be a full hour. It can be short, sharp but very effective in just 30-45 minutes. Consistency is the key and if you find yourself doing this regularly you’ll soon see the results you are looking for.

If you struggle with motivation, evenings are not a great time to work out. You’ll be tired and more in the mood to get home and settle down for the evening.  Working out first thing has a whole host of benefits, improving your mental focus during the day whilst firing up your metabolism. Of course, you’ll also feel just that little bit smug that you’ve already made the effort!

Another challenge for the office worker is managing nutrition.  If you are working out first thing, or at lunchtime, you also need to fit in a way of eating healthily.  Breakfast is called “Break Fast” for a reason. It is important to break your overnight fast healthily.  Keith’s recommendation for a quick and nutritional breakfast on the go, is to prepare a smoothie the night before, stick it in the blender before you leave the house and take it with you to drink in the car after your morning workout or once you get to work.  Smoothies can be a great way to stuff in all the goodness that can be hard to eat – kale and spinach can be well hidden!  Keith’s provided us with a smoothie recipe to get you started.

Keith’s Breakfast Smoothie Recipe for breakfast on the go:

  • 1 tbsp oats
  • 8 nuts (Brazil, Cashews, Almonds, Pecans)
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 tsp of flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp of pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • 150-200 ml coconut or almond milk
  • 50-100ml water


Soak the nuts and oats in the milk overnight and blend it all together in the morning.

Keith’s Gut Positive Smoothie Recipe for a nutrient hit:

  • 2 Handfuls of Spinach
  • 220ml of Water
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 tbsp of Tahini
  • 1 tbsp of root ginger chopped
  • Juice of 1 Lemon

At lunchtime, avoid the carbs. Sandwiches (or pasties if you are in Cornwall!) are guaranteed to make you feel sluggish and reduce your afternoon productivity.  Instead aim for fish or meat and salad, and enjoy the nuts, seeds and healthy oils in dressings. If you look for it, you’ll find most places that will sell you a sandwich now also offer a low carb option. Whatever you do, get away from your desk.  Going out for a walk, having lunch with friends in the park, even walking to the staff room will help. Wrap up a task before you break and take a moment to prepare what you are going to do when you get back. Any extra time taken will be made up for by the fact that you’ll feel more awake and alert after a bit of time out.

Our last bit of advice is to consider your hydration levels.  Buy yourself a water bottle and drink from it regularly. From unicorns and mermaids, to smart bottles connected to apps and trackers there are plenty to choose from.  You can even set alerts on your internet browser to remind you to move and have a drink. Our staff have water bottles with the hours of the morning and afternoon on, to make sure we are drinking enough water across the day. 

Keep tea and coffee to the morning only. After midday, stick to water or herbal teas and you’ll find you sleep better and feel more relaxed in the evening.  Be a bit careful with infuser bottles. Mint leaves can give you a tasty bit of a zing and wake you up.  Citrus and fruit infusions can be harsh on your teeth and over acidic if you have too much of them.

If you are running your office, or working for yourself at home, be aware of tempting snacks.  Whether it is a “chocolate machine” or a “food altar” with gifts people have kindly brought in, or just your own fridge, there are often too many easy, unhealthy options at hand for snacking in between meals.  Forms Plus and many other companies like us who hold Workplace Health Awards provide fresh fruit free to our staff.

We hope our tips will help you to feel healthier and happier at work.  With better posture and blood flow around your body, powered up by the right nutrition and hydration, you should find it easier to focus and feel ready to take on the day, and year ahead.  If you feel really motivated, why not pay Keith a visit and sign up for a 6am workshop! You can find Fitness Wild Helston on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fitnesswildhelston/