‘Tis the season of giving thanks while enjoying a big feast and sharing gifts with loved ones around the Christmas tree… But for many of us it’s the time of year when we seek out the best bargains for that one-of-a-kind toy your child can’t live without, or the latest technology that your gadget guy must have.
I’m talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday: a bargain hunter’s dream, a lax consumer’s nightmare.
Being Online Stores, Inc. offers just that, online stores, let’s focus on the latter of the two anticipated/dreaded shopping days.
Cyber Monday falls on November 26th this year. This is when you have the luxury of finding incredible deals from the comforts of your own home. (Or for some of you, at work. Tsk, tsk.) To make your online shopping experience a little smoother, it just takes a little planning. Using the following tips may make it just a little less stressful for you.
Before Cyber Monday:
- Pre-Shop. Visit your favorite websites and make a list of the items (even item numbers) of what you would like to buy come the 26th. Be sure to check it twice! Also, add comparable items, just in case your product is out of stock (eeps!).
- Bookmark those sites where you intend to shop. That’ll make getting to those websites much easier.
- Sign up for your favorite stores’ email lists. It’s an easy thing to do. You’ll get email reminders of the deals that will be going on that cyber-shopping day.
- Read and reread the return policy. Make sure you understand the stores’ return policies, just in case your purchase isn’t quite right.
- Consider shipping. Many stores will offer free shipping for economy transit. You can certainly save a few dollars there. But on the other hand, it could happen that a store runs out of your product before it ships, so you may want to consider expedited to put your order at the top of the order list.
- Follow your favorite stores on their social media sites. Many online stores have Facebook and Twitter accounts and offer exclusive discounts to fans. Take advantage of all of the savings year round by following a brand you already enjoy.
On buying day:
- Use a credit card, not a debit card. It’s recommended you use your credit card, that way if there should be an issue, there isn’t a direct link to your cash.
- Print a receipt. If you don’t have a printer, jot down the important information such as the confirmation number, date and time of order, and even the contact number of the store (in case you need to speak with a customer service representative) should you need to reference these later.
Jessica Vought joined the Online Stores family in April, 2009, and has continued to work to drive the company forward ever since. She was hired as the Shipping Manager, but by the close of 2010 had been promoted to Warehouse Operations Manager with the increased responsibilities in managing the Production and Warehouse departments.
Prior to working at Online Stores, Jessica worked at Hoss’s Steak and Sea House as a General Manager for 5 years. She decided that she wanted to trade in her experience in food service for something new and found Online Stores at a career fair in early Spring of 2009. She continues to work to provide the best fulfillment experience possible for our customers. Jessica’s role involves planning, delegating and follow-up on all work in the warehouse, which involves much more than shipping packages. She oversees the Warehouse team, which receives the merchandise and makes sure it gets stocked in a timely fashion. She also manages the Production team who manufactures the flags for our customers. Jessica is constantly working to improve the processes in her departments in order to offer better ways for employees to provide great service to our customers.
Jessica graduated in 2011 from The Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing and Management. Her studies and degree have helped her immensely in her position here at Online Stores. When asked what her favorite part of working at Online Stores is, she replied “It is a challenging work environment, and I enjoy meeting those challenges every day.” When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, whom she met while working at Sony, and her 2 daughters. She also has 2 dogs: T-Bone, a Jack Russell, and Coco, a German Shepard, and 3 Cats: Casper, who is all white, Daisy, who is all black (and Casper’s sister), and Cooper, who is a Mainecoon. Jessica loves to travel and her most memorable vacation was to Las Vegas. Jessica and her husband used to take 3 vacations a year prior to having children, and now love taking their daughters to new places and sharing that with them. Thank you for sharing, Jessica!
From the warehouse, the November Employee of the Month is Dave Lang.
Dave joined the Online Stores family in March, 2010, and has been a great asset ever since. Dave’s primary role is with the production department. His role in production is to oversee the staplers and make sure they have all the supplies they need in order to keep working at a fast pace. He also completes any engraving for the engraving plates we offer on our Flag Store, as well as makes the name stickers for the customers requesting their name on the hard hat. Dave occasionally is called upon to work on side projects that need completed in the warehouse, and sees them through to completion. In addition to being a certified forklift trainer, Dave also packs and wraps freight shipments and makes residential flag poles.
Dave earned the title of Employee of the Month for his desire to provide service to customers and his helpfulness with other employees. More recently, Dave has helped Sales Manager, Michael Hunt, with several projects. Dave did an extensive search of the warehouse to help find a product that Michael needed for a customer, then personally walked it through the shipping process to make sure it was done quickly to get out to the customer. In addition, Dave approached Michael with information regarding the Family Dollar order from last year, in order to help Michael make a smooth transition into his role and be able to best gauge what needs to be ordered for the Family Dollar order this year. Thank you, Dave, for all your hard work! Congratulations!
Representing the Office for the November Employee of the Month is Erin McMichael from Merchandising.
Erin started here at Online Stores in January of 2012 as a Merchandising Assistant and was recently promoted to Store Specialist in October of 2012. Erin is responsible for running daily reports to update our websites and make sure the information on them is accurate. Erin more regularly works with our Construction Gear and Mobile Cases websites. She has recently worked on a project with Jess Turner updating the new Safety Girl site and adding the women’s boots. In addition, she looks for new products to add to the websites, which she describes as her favorite part of the job, especially for Mobile Cases.com. She also is in constant contact with potential and current vendors and helps customer service resolve customer issues via help desk tickets.
Erin has earned the title of Employee of the Month for her outstanding suggestions and ideas to help make Online Stores a better place to work. Her ideas have included adding employee photos to the employee intranet to help new employees get to know their co-workers. She also suggested getting two more refrigerators for the employee lounge so there is enough space for everyone’s lunches. She’s also recommended several different trainings for her department, such as Magento and Microsoft Access trainings, and a tour of the warehouse. She has given other ideas that are still in the implementation phase which will only help our employees. Thank you Erin, Congratulations!
Ever wonder what goes on after you make a purchase from a website? At Online Stores, Inc. we follow this system:
A customer places their order; the order is then given to the warehouse where an employee will search or ‘pick’ for the selected items. They are then packed and shipped. Depending on the shipping method, the whole process could’ve taken up to five business days.
Five business days is a long time in today’s fast-paced living. We don’t have time to wait that long. So Online Stores, Inc. had to think of a way to better the organizational system in order to keep up with the demands of the consumer. Before the new system went into place, the most of the time spent, was on searching.
The location of items were never defined by a system, therefore trying to find something specific became a daunting task, especially as more inventory came in. On any average eight hour working day, a single employee would pick about 75-100 orders. New employees coming in would need about a month to learn where products were. This had to be upgraded. Store by store, a more organized and efficient way for storing and picking inventory was put into place.
A barcode was assigned to each product, defining its location. An employee can now quickly find and send an order to be shipped electronically. With limited space to move inventory laterally, the only other option was to go up. Shelving doubled in height to twelve feet and was replaced with stronger steel shelves. To prevent employees from having to climb ladders, the inventory was stocked by velocity; meaning that the more popular products are on the lower shelves for easier access to prevent constant ladder use.
“By using this technology, we are able to rely on the process, therefore creating less human error. Less error, faster delivery, happier customer,” stated Brian Cerra, President of Operations.
Orders picked have increased over three times the amount and decreased the processing time down to one business day since the new system has been fully operational. Come 2013, no matter the shipping method, processing will be same day.
The most recent reorganization took place within the United States Flag Store warehouse space. With efforts and materials, the cost to create a more customer friendly system was well over $50,000 in the Flag Store alone. With the way things are going for United States Flag Store and Online Stores, Inc., it won’t be long before the reorganization efforts pay off.