Unboxing Logistics: An EasyPost Podcast

Shipping Resources for Small Businesses With Kelli Martin From FedEx - Ep. 12

November 8, 2023 | 42:18

In This Episode

“You're never too small to ship or get great rates. You're not.”

Kelli Martin is the digital marketing advisor at FedEx, but she likes to refer to herself as a small business champion. This week, she joins us on Unboxing Logistics to share advice for small businesses and highlight some of the resources FedEx provides to help them succeed. 

Small business challenges and trends

The current economic climate makes running a small business challenging. Kelli shares the struggles she’s heard about from clients she’s worked with: “[One thing] we're all hearing about and experiencing in some way is inflation and the rising cost of everything … and just finding good labor. Why is it so hard to get people who want to work?”

Two things small businesses need to know

Shipping can be overwhelming for small business owners! Two things that people often don’t get right? DIM weight and packaging. 

Kelli recommends, “Know your DIM weight … understand it. A lot of people think it's just the weight of the package that makes the difference. Like, no, no, no. It's the combination of the weight, the size, and the distance.”

She adds, “I cannot stress enough the importance of proper packaging. If [a product is] breakable—fragile in any way—proper packing is so important to avoid damage.”

Resources FedEx provides

FedEx isn’t just for big companies—they want to help businesses of every size thrive. Check out these helpful resources:

  • FedEx Small Business Grant. Ten FedEx customers will win a significant grant to grow their business. The application will open around March 2024. 
  • Small Business Center. As Kelli puts it, you can find “loads of information on just about everything under the sun,” including articles on optimizing your shipping, packing, and fulfillment.
  • Making It Work podcast. The podcast doesn’t just focus on shipping—it covers all the complexities of small business operations, including hiring and firing, finding investors, and more. 
  • Post-Peak and Trends reports. Next Spring, read these reports for a deep dive into ecommerce trends and statistics. 



Lori Boyer  00:00 

Welcome everyone to Unboxing Logistics, the podcast from EasyPost where we dive into everything related to logistics, small business. I'm Lori Boyer, and I'm your host today on the show. And I, small businesses, this is the episode for you. I have put this together. Especially having talked to so many of our small business customers, small business, those in the industry.

I just love you. And because of that, I have brought on the best advocate for you, Kelli Martin. Kelli, introduce yourself a little bit. Tell us who you are, and we're gonna then let everybody know what they're going to gain from today. 

Kelli Martin  00:43 

Sure. Hello, hello. Thanks for having me. I got, gosh, that glowing little intro there.

I just, can I just carry that with me everywhere I go? My name is Kelli Martin. I am with FedEx services and I've been with FedEx for about 17 years. And my official title is digital marketing advisor. I like to actually refer to myself as a small business champion because I live and breathe small businesses.

All day, every day, 365, seven days a week. So ...

Lori Boyer  01:10  

I love it so much. And small businesses, you don't always have all the resources you need. And Kelli is a huge part of helping get you all of the information you need to be successful. And today we are going to talk into all the kind of ways that FedEx can help you with your small business and just resources, tips that can get you going for this upcoming peak season and throughout the year.

So I am really, really thrilled to have Kelli today. She is incredible. So you're all going to love her. I can't wait to hear all your feedback. But, as we all know, one of my favorite parts here on the show is to kind of get to know the real side of our guests, the people beyond just the business. And so, we are going to do a quick round of This or That with Kelli Martin and we'll get to know her a little bit better.

Okay, Kelli, are you a workout at home or at the gym kind of gal? 

Kelli Martin  02:08  


Lori Boyer  02:09  

Home. Oh, really? Do you have my ... I was gonna say that was fast. Are you a walk outside? Are you do an exercise video? What do you do for it? 

Kelli Martin  02:18 

Well, let me take that back just a little bit. I do a little bit of both. So I do love to walk outside. I live on a river. So the water is my serenity. It's how I kind of reset and regret. 

Lori Boyer  02:29  

Tell us all where you are, where you're at. 

Kelli Martin  02:30  

Oh, I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. Headquarters in Memphis. 

Lori Boyer  02:33  

Shout out to our Memphis peeps. 

Kelli Martin  02:35  

Currently I'm at home, so, doing this, but, so for, yeah, I will work out at home often. I have a beautiful gym at my, my condo. I walk by the river a lot, but I also go to an infrared sauna gym, so like personal saunas to do workouts there. 

Lori Boyer  02:55  

Infrared sauna. So are you like, workout in the heat all the time? Wow. That's amazing. 

Kelli Martin  03:01  

It's the best detoxification ever. 

Lori Boyer  03:06  

Ever. Okay. I've never even heard of it. So you totally have taught me something already. I love that. That's cool. Okay. That brings me to the next question. Apartment or, or house, you know, do you have a preference? You're in a condo, obviously. 

Kelli Martin  03:19  

I think it depends on where I live. I've had both in Memphis. It just depends on location. My house would be a beach house. 

Lori Boyer  03:28  

I know, me too. A lot of us. Lotion or perfume? 

Kelli Martin  03:33  


Lori Boyer  03:34  

Lotion, me too. Soup or sandwich?

Kelli Martin  03:42  


Lori Boyer  03:43  

Do you have a fave? 

Kelli Martin  03:45  

Not really. I mean ...

Lori Boyer  03:47  

You're an equal opportunity soup-ist. 

Kelli Martin  03:50 

Kind of. Chili's kind of my favorite. I'm a real savory type of person, so I like chili. I like a good Greek chicken soup or just a great standard chicken noodle. 

Lori Boyer  04:00  

Ah, Kelli, this is your season then. Good timing, good timing. Okay, do you sleep on your side, on your back? Either one. Or on your stomach, I guess. 

Kelli Martin  04:12  

First, when you said, do you sleep? I was like, no, no, no. 

Lori Boyer  04:15  

Sleeping is totally optional. 

Kelli Martin  04:17  

Yeah. Yeah. That happens quite, more often than I'd like. I start off on my side and end up on my back. Do you have a certain side you start?

Lori Boyer  04:25  

Left or right? 

Kelli Martin  04:25  

Left side. Always left. I can't sleep on my right side. I can't do it. 

Lori Boyer  04:29  

Oh, that's so funny. That's great. Do you like to work in group projects most, more of the time? Or do you like, are you a solo worker? 

Kelli Martin  04:37  

I really like both. I like the team aspect. I think the collective power of, collective brain power is really great. I do think there are times when you need to just hunker down and be solo. 

Lori Boyer  04:49  

Yeah. There are times where I will tell all of my team, like, hey, going into the cave, I need to just work and not talk to anyone for a few hours. And yeah, but I absolutely love working with the team as well. So, okay. I got a few questions related to small business.

Okay. What do you think is more important? The physical store or their online store? 

Kelli Martin  05:11  

Oh, I think, I know it is tricky. I think having the ability for both, I think it's really cool, but I think online gets you more coverage. 

Lori Boyer  05:22  

Yeah, that makes sense. When it comes to importance, do you think for a small business, their social media is more important or their website?

Kelli Martin  05:31  

Oh, website, because that's where the ordering and experience takes place. You can learn about it, social media, learn about a brand, learn about a product, but the ultimate experience resides on the website. 

Lori Boyer  05:43  

Yeah, I totally agree. And I've worked with some small businesses who only had social media, didn't even have a website.

And I think that can be a mistake for them to make. So absolutely. And then, final question, do you like working at home or working in the office?

Kelli Martin  06:01  

Funny timing. We just went back to the office three days a week. Yeah, that's why I'm like, careful. No. I like seeing people when I want to see people. Sometimes I just don't want to see people. Far, far, far more productive at home. 

Lori Boyer  06:19  

Yeah, interesting. Interesting. I get that too. Like we also do a hybrid kind of thing where we're in the office two or three days a week and at home.

And yeah, it does seem like at home, sometimes you can get really into deep work where in the office, you get that great collaboration, but you know, it takes away from some of that. 

Kelli Martin  06:38  

So I kind of like the hybrid aspect. 

Lori Boyer  06:39  

Yeah. I do too. I actually quite enjoy it. So, yeah. All right. And I would love to hear from our small businesses out there.

Are you at home? Do you have, you know, do you get your team together? That'd be really interesting for me to hear. Kelli, I want to hear from you. Tell us a little bit about your journey. Tell us how you became so passionate about small business and, and, and your current role at FedEx as well. 

Kelli Martin  07:01  

Well, I don't know that there was a particular point in time that I became passionate about small businesses.

I think it's just kind of in my DNA. I have always supported small businesses my entire life without even realizing I was actually doing that. And it was just kind of what I did. I prefer the local coffee shop, the local restaurant over chains all day long. I prefer the local boutique if I'm going to shop versus a big chain.

So it's just always, it's just who I am. I like knowing that I'm helping. Now I know this. I like knowing that I'm helping someone live out their dream or their passion. And that I'm helping. They'll do that by shopping and supporting them. 

Lori Boyer  07:44  

That is so cool. I love that, I had not thought of that and that is so true. Like, it is really a personal kind of touch. That's so cool. 

Kelli Martin  07:52  

Yeah, it's just you, what I've noticed is you get a better experience overall with a small business Because it's their passion. They want you to have a good experience. So you're by and large gonna have a better experience than a big chain. I mean some big chains, they know who they are, they'll provide a great experience because they're renowned for that, but for the most part, you're going to get a better experience with some better brands and options at small businesses.

Lori Boyer  08:18  

So having worked at FedEx, tell us a little bit about your role, how you work with small businesses there.

Kelli Martin  08:23  

Yeah, so about, gosh, how long has it been now? I've been here 17 years and in some capacity, I've done small business in one way or another, whether it's product communications or research or whatever. About 10 or so years ago I was asked to take over this program that was very new to us at that time.

It was called the FedEx Small Business Grant. And because after I think about it, I was a, I'm a perfect fit for that. Yes. So I will take that over with no questions asked. And the rest is history. So we're heading into our 12th year of the program and the businesses I meet and the people I'm able to help or connect is, it kind of just fuels me every day.

Lori Boyer  09:07  

I love that. That is so great. One of the things that's really interesting to me is being able to talk with people like you who kind of have your finger on the pulse of small business, know the trends, know kind of the challenges. I love the aspect of talking to people one-on-one, you know, getting out there and hearing. 

What, what are you hearing? Maybe, what are some trends that you've seen that have shifted over time since you first started, you know, the challenges people are facing, or, or maybe what are some of the current issues that you're hearing from businesses? 

Kelli Martin  09:40  

So which one do I start with? So I think some of the issues I'm currently hearing, I think we're all kind of hearing and experiencing in some way is just inflation and the rising cost of everything.

From getting the materials to make their goods, producing their goods, shipping, shipping it out, or getting it in, inbound that's from overseas. And just finding good labor. Why is it so hard to get people who want to work? 

Lori Boyer  10:04  

Isn't it a strange mix right now? Not being able to get people to work, but then also, you know, the economy is struggling. So you'd think that it would be easier, but no. 

Kelli Martin  10:13  

Yeah, yeah. Those are some of the biggest issues I hear. But some of the trends I ... For the changes I've seen over, since I took over this program and, and interacting with so many small businesses is, is really the change in social media. Before it was just kind of like, Hey, this is who we are and now it's, here's who we are, here's what we do, here's what you can buy from us through social and you have to be on all these platforms, but the reality is you don't have to be on all the platforms. You only have to be where your customers are. 

Lori Boyer  10:46  

In terms of social media first, do you recommend then that people focus on selling, on relationship building, on just engagement? Like, what are your recommendations for people, small businesses on social? 

Kelli Martin  10:59  

Well, I think depending on what their industry or product is, it kind of varies.

Okay. So there are some industries that really, social is not their place. You know, if they're an industrial industry, for instance, they're probably not going to be on social, it's just not. It's not where their customers are. But by and large, the consumer products, consumer goods that we're all buying and seeing I think it's a little bit of a mix.

Use it definitely for awareness and getting to know the business. I think, I think consumers like us like to see who we're buying from, so show that personality. Don't be stiff, have fun so people can engage with it. You don't have to create something that's viral. Not every post goes viral and it shouldn't. And, and they shouldn't put that pressure on themselves to make everything go viral. 

Lori Boyer  11:45  

So you were mentioning stuff like TikTok. How do, how, how can our audience know where their, where their target base is on social? 

Kelli Martin  11:53  

That's a really great question. So I think they need to, before they, before just blasting all the socials and just being there to be there, it's, they need to understand who their customer is. Who's, who's your customer? Understand that if you don't understand that you need to back up and know who your primary customer and target audience is because that's why you are, you have created this product, this brand, whatever you're selling. So, and, and where are they?

If your customer is a 25-year-old female, then yeah, maybe Instagram, TikTok are your place to be. Snapchat too. So, but if your customer is a 65-year-old woman. Or man, for that matter. Is that where you need to be? Probably not. 

Lori Boyer  12:36  

What would you say, I have some business that I'll chat with them and they'll say, Oh, my target audience is everyone. Everyone's my target. I want them all to buy it. What, what, what, what would be your response to that? What would you, what kind of advice would you give that business owner? 

Kelli Martin  12:53  

I first, I would probably say, is it really? I mean, my grandfather just turned 100. It's not everybody. 

Lori Boyer  13:01  

Yeah, exactly. I think we get excited thinking, yeah, we could sell to everyone. This will be amazing. That's not necessarily the best approach is what I'm hearing from you. 

Kelli Martin  13:11  

I personally don't think that. Could other people outside your target audience buy your product? Absolutely. And let them, but they will find you, and just be where the customers are. Whether that's a platform for awareness, putting a low, a high margin item on a platform for just pure awareness only on a marketplace platform, but then drive everyone to your website.

That's a smarter strategy to do. And I've seen a lot of small businesses do that. They'll use something for customer acquisition only, a product they don't care about getting a low margin on because of all the fees and stuff they get hit with on that platform. Then they'll drive everyone else for more products to their website.

That's a smarter strategy to me, but ...

Lori Boyer  13:56  

Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think that what you're saying, I mean, what I hear is don't try to be everything to everybody. Look at your target audience, meet them where they are. And if some of those people outside of your audience start joining up, great.

But until then, you can't be everything to everybody. So you're not going to be able to communicate. You'll end up communicating with nobody because it's so watered down. 

Kelli Martin  14:20  

Right, because people aren't going to see themselves in your product because we all want to be like, Hey, I resonate with that, or I resonate with that. Whatever that post is or that product.

'Cause I see myself in that. Even, even how they represent themselves in social or search or on their website, has a, has a strategy behind it. You want to be able to be relatable, but you have to be relatable to who's your primary audience. 

Lori Boyer  14:48  

Absolutely. Any other trends you've seen? So socials shifted over the last decade or so. Anything else that you've seen? 

Kelli Martin  14:55  

I think the rise of AI. I think a lot of small businesses are kind of like, Hmm, how do I do that? I think they're probably dabbling in it with, you know, creating product descriptions or content paragraphs for the website or whatever. Just the small generic things that we know AI can do.

I think beyond that, I think they're in this wait-and-see mode. And digital intelligence for sure is something that's going to be huge in the very near future. And knowing, having access to lots of data and digital data to better understand your customer, better position, you know, your shipping or whatever it is.

All of that's going to become available very quickly, very soon. And I think small businesses should be jumping on that because I, I see it starting to happen now. And I see that, I hear the talk about digital intelligence, smart logistics. I hear all of this all the time and being able to make that data available to customers that will enhance their business and enhance their experience with our customers, I think is going to be super critical.

Lori Boyer  16:03  

I think that that is so right on the money. I know that, you know, we have a great podcast episode. I totally recommend you go back. It's on AI and logistics specifically, but for small business, absolutely. Keep an eye on what's happening with it. My brother runs a small business and that is something he said I feel like I might miss out and I'm not sure what to do.

I think that that's probably how most of our small businesses feel right now. My advice, just like you. Make sure you're reading about it. Watch podcasts, listen to podcasts, you know, read up in the news, what is coming out. One of the great benefits small businesses have is that ability to be agile and to try new things that where the big corporations maybe are a little more slow.

It is a great opportunity to be able to put those to use. So yeah, that's awesome trends. I know, Kelli, that you work with your customer advisory board. Is that correct? 

Kelli Martin  17:03  

Yes. So part of when I took over the small business grant program, part of that was I created at the, shortly after that, a grant winner insights forum.

So where we would bring grant winners together and we would kind of hear from them directly with our executives and other FedEx teammates about pain points, opportunities, gaps, what they need, where we're doing great, where we're not doing so great. And we would listen to that feedback. And from that spun off this customer advisory board, and that's been an operation now for eight years.

So we invite, we invite customers either that are past grant winners from our small business grant program, or they've been nominated by their sales rep. We invite them to be part of this board for, for one year. And we'll have, you know, two to three or four meetings per our fiscal year and come together and we do a lot of different things with them. We'll either, we'll vet a lot of concepts, we validate experiences, we identify gaps and opportunities. Some of the things that have come out of that was they told us we needed consolidation of packaging help. So we created a packaging help hub. So on breakables or odd sized things, people are really curious about those kind of things.

Perishables even, that's a big one. We also created the podcast. Our FedEx Making It Work podcast for FedEx. 

Lori Boyer  18:28  

Shout out for that. I do want to stop and say, Kelli runs this awesome podcast for small businesses. Absolutely make sure you check that out. I'll include a link in it in our description here.

So you guys can, but yeah, go on. 

Kelli Martin  18:41  

Thank you so much. We worked with this. We worked with the advisory board to create that. So they came to us this like five years ago, five or six came to us about this opportunity on, Hey, we want a podcast that helps us run our business just on topics about running a business because we're experts in what we make, but not everything else.

So not really about shipping. It's really about running a small business, how to fire somebody, how to hire somebody, working with friends and family, how to find investors. Should I go international using influencers? Everything under the sun is on this podcast and it's been so enlightening and inspiring to hear.

And they feel like, Oh, finally, I can share what I've learned with somebody else and prevent them from going through the same pitfalls I had to. It's been great. 

Lori Boyer  19:29  

I love that. And I love that really what you're doing is what you were just sharing. You're getting to know your target audience really well, getting to understand their pain and, and meeting them where they are and where they need to be do you have any advice for these small businesses, how can they take advantage of their customers?

Like you do with the customer advisory board. You know, they don't necessarily need to get a full board or something. But are there ways they can take advantage of their customers knowledge and insights? 

Kelli Martin  19:56  

Oh, sure. I see all the time because, you know, of course I follow all of the grant winners that we have, follow them on social.

And some of the things I see that they do is they ask for customer feedback within their social, whether in their emails, on their website and their ordering and their order confirmation, they ask for feedback. And it may be on something specific, or they may give a discount in return for providing feedback, anything like that.

It's been fun to see it. They will even say, hey, we're running a contest to help name the next product. It's a great way to create engagement, and people feel part of the process. 

Lori Boyer  20:32 

Yes, absolutely. I love watching people try to not only ask for feedback, but then to see it get implemented and to see, I mean, that really empowers customers. Small businesses out there, that is something I absolutely recommend to let customers show, just like Kelli was talking about earlier, when we go into a boutique or when we go into the little small coffee shop or something that's locally owned. We know it's their passion and they do. That's one of the things that sets small businesses apart is that you care and you will implement feedback where maybe if I'm sending it to, you know, a giant corporation, it might get lost somewhere.

So absolutely. So we've been talking about your grant program. I want to talk about some of the things FedEx offers specifically for small businesses. Can you tell us a little bit about the grant contest? Can you tell how you know it came to be and any other information on on projects you guys have through FedEx?

Kelli Martin  21:26  

Yeah, so the small business grant started almost 12 years ago. It was just just an idea at the time, but it was a way for us to show that we care about small businesses and we want to help them with funding to enhance their business in some way and help them grow. We know funding is a challenge for small businesses.

This isn't a loan. It's not a payback. It's nothing like that. It's just it's a grant. It's truly just there you go. We wanna see you grow. 

Lori Boyer  21:52  

So our favorite kind of money, Kelli, our favorite kind of money. The money that just comes in. 

Kelli Martin  21:58  

No, I have to repay you. That's great. Exactly. So the next grant will become available in probably March of next year.

Lori Boyer  22:07 

Nice. So, and it's an annual thing? 

Kelli Martin  22:10  

It is an annual thing, yeah. Right now it's just once a year. 

Lori Boyer  22:14  

And, and how do they win? What, how, what is it? What is the process? 

Kelli Martin  22:19  

Well, there's an application kind of just telling us about their business, what they sell, what they would use the grant money for any FedEx experiences that they've had, because this, this program is for existing FedEx customers who are currently shipping with FedEx.

So we can, it's a way to, for us to show them, award them, you know, loyalty and just say, we really are invested in you and want to see you grow. So it's not public, hasn't been publicly posted the dates and what they win yet. But I can say that it's a, there'll be 10 winners. I'll say that, 10 recipients of grants, and the grant amounts are significant.

Lori Boyer  22:55  

Oh, that's incredible. That's awesome. I love those programs you put together. One thing, you know, at EasyPost, we work with all the different carriers. One thing I really love working with FedEx is that you really do have a great focus on small business. This year in 2023, EasyPost was the compatible, FedEx Compatible Solution of the Year.

Yay, which is awarded just for partnerships, integrations that are set up. And I know like a lot of our customers are small businesses. Those integrations are really a way FedEx makes it easier for small businesses. How, how are third-party integrations? How, how have those helped drive FedEx's work with small businesses?

Kelli Martin  23:34   

Well, it's, it's, it's so critical for our small business customer because they provide just the ease of use. They like, small businesses want that plug and play solution because they're not tech savvy at first. So that ease of use is really critical when it comes to technology and having the ability to have a solution like EasyPost where you can get discounted rates and manage your orders and shipping and manage all of that.

And just in a single solution, it lowers the aggravation. It makes a more positive shipping experience. It makes it less painful, and it just saves them time, so it's a really big deal.

Lori Boyer  24:14  

I love that. I love that you get the time and work into integrating with third-party solutions to help small business.

One of the things that FedEx offers is the FedEx Default Program, which offers, I know, awesome rates. Sometimes small businesses say, but wait, those huge businesses get awesome discounts, and I'm not that big. And so there is the FedEx Default Program, where you can access some great rates. How can, how does this kind of fit into FedEx's philosophy and strategy around small business?

Kelli Martin  24:41   

Well, it fits in because we're meeting the customers where they are. And we're providing access to the FedEx services that they need most to support their business and get things done, and make it more accessible to small businesses. So it's a perfect fit into our broader strategy. 

Lori Boyer  24:59 

I love it. I really do love it.

Okay, so anything else that you can think of that FedEx offers for small business, resources programs? Anything that our small businesses would be interested in? 

Kelli Martin  25:10  

Oh, yeah. Let me, where do I start? Okay ... 

Lori Boyer  25:13  

Get out the list. 

Kelli Martin  25:15  

Out of my list over here somewhere. I think I mentioned this earlier. We have the FedEx Small Business Center.

It has loads of information on just about everything under the sun, but really things like I mean, you can open an account there if you wanted to, but you can chat with the sales rep. You can schedule a time to chat with the sales rep. You can also from that get a digital and technology consultation. You can review articles on optimizing your, your shipping, your packaging, your fulfillment, learn how to pack properly, learn how to start shipping international, learn about different types of funding and just everything under the sun.

That's fedex.com/smallbusiness. Can't say enough great things about it. I think many people are not aware of it. And anytime I can plug it I do because there's just tons of information there. We also offer a package ...

Lori Boyer  26:04  

Let's back up say it one more time. What was the url? 

Kelli Martin  26:08  

Yes. fedex.com small/business 

Lori Boyer  26:12  

Okay, I hear all the time people saying, I don't know what to do next.

I don't know how to do international. I think we forget how many resources are available out there. So FedEx slash small business, Fedex.com/smallbusiness. Check it out. Okay. Awesome. Next. What's your next one? 

Kelli Martin  26:29  

We also have a packaging lab where you can get a consultation, and we'll review your packaging and make recommendations for improvement.

Most people don't know about that. Do you know that FedEx Ground is faster, more locations than UPS Ground? Yes. That's very helpful for small businesses in this day and age when people want everything today and tomorrow and faster, faster, faster. And, and every day of the week. So we also have the only rewards program in the industry, My FedEx Rewards.

Where you get rewarded for doing what you're already doing, shipping. So how simple is that? And it's fantastic. Anytime you have an account, you get signed up for that. Unless you uncheck not signing up for it. I mentioned the podcast, so we got that, lesser known, but very valuable. 

Lori Boyer  27:13 

Yes. Can they find that on your small business page?

Can they link to it from there? Awesome. That's perfect. And again, I'll include a link for that. 

Kelli Martin  27:20  

Yeah. And it's also on any listening, any platform you listen to podcasts today. 

Lori Boyer  27:24  

That's awesome. That's so great. Are some of those services free? Do some of them come with a fee? What, what should people expect?

Kelli Martin  27:31  

The chat, the chat stuff with sales is free. The digital consultation is free. The packaging lab usually requires having a sales rep, but if you go through the digital consultation, you can probably try to request it through that. Listening to the podcast is free. The rewards program is free. So ... 

Lori Boyer  27:49  

Yeah, that's so important again for us to realize how many free resources we have available.

There are plenty of people out there willing to chat with you and, and figure out how to help you optimize what you're already doing. Are there any upcoming events, any initiatives, anything really exciting coming up in the next year that you want to share with us? 

Kelli Martin  28:09  

Yeah, one big thing that's coming up, besides the next small business grant in early 2024, is FedEx is, we've heard from a lot of small businesses, including those on our advisory board, that the two driver, two truck thing could sometimes be an inconvenience. So we're in the process of a network consolidation to one FedEx or you may have heard it as OneFedEx or Network 2. 0, it's sometimes been called.

It's really going to just simplify how we do business. It's going to create efficiencies for our customers and by streamlining the delivery and pickup experience to one truck instead of two. It seems like a really simple change, but it's a very impactful, very beneficial change, especially for small businesses.

Lori Boyer  28:52 

Oh, that's incredible. So where can people keep an eye out for that? Or how will they hear about that? 

Kelli Martin  28:56  

It's just going to be happening throughout next year. Supposed to be complete by June of 2024. 

Lori Boyer  29:02  

Okay, that is fantastic. 

Kelli Martin  29:04  

Beyond that, we have a Post Peak Report and a Trends Report coming up in spring 2024 to look out for.

Lori Boyer  29:13  

I always watch for them. They're like one of my favorite things to read. I love to hear all the recap, what happened what we can expect, all of that. So for sure, I totally have to plug that. I love it. 

Kelli Martin  29:25 

Awesome. Awesome. Thank you for plugging that. Appreciate it. Yeah. And our CEO and president, Raj Subramaniam, will be speaking at the NRF show in January in New York City.

And we'll also have a presence there. So swing by and say hello if someone happens to be there. 

Lori Boyer  29:39  

Oh, fantastic. Speaking of shows and whatnot, are, are there ways, I know that you, you love the idea of community with your small businesses. You know, how do you kind of work to foster that sort of community where people can help each other and learn from one another?

Kelli Martin  29:56  

There's a few ways that we do this. One way is the, the customer advisory board that I mentioned where we invite customers to be part of this. And they, they end up networking and spinning off of each other for years afterwards. It's really amazing to me. There's been a lot of collaborations that I've seen, so it's been kind of cool to watch.

We also bring together, I think I mentioned this earlier, the grant winners from each program each year. We bring them together for an insights forum to kind of meet each other, meet FedEx executives, meet FedEx team members, share pain points and opportunities for improvement or enhancement, or just telling us how we're doing a bang up job.

You know, all, all of that. We also sponsor an ecommerce learning lab with Axion Opportunity Fund. And that's really for those early stage businesses that are just getting started and helping them get started selling online or scale their online presence. 

Lori Boyer  30:50  

I can't, I can't say enough how important relationships can be in, in building and working together and getting ideas.

I know working in the shipping and logistics portion of the industry that it is huge. It is a really big deal. As we talk about kind of the shipping and logistics side, I know FedEx offers a ton of resources outside of that. But within shipping and logistics, maybe what are, what are some pieces of advice that you would give to small businesses when it comes to shipping and logistics?

Kelli Martin  31:19  

There's a couple things that stick out and because I hear about it a lot, know your DIM weight, your dimensional weight, also known as DIM weight. Know that, understand it. A lot of people think it's just the weight of the package that makes the difference. Like, no, no, no. It's the combination of the weight and the size and the distance.

So, we have a lot of education on fedex.com about that, to help someone understand it. Because it's not easy to understand. And, you know, shipping is a foreign entity to a lot of people. It's just not easy because that's not their specialty. So, we try to put some stuff out there to help people understand that better.

And I cannot stress enough the importance of proper packaging. Please don't send me a thing this big in a box this big. Yep. Unless it's breakable with a whole lot of packing around it. And that's the other thing. Pack it properly. If it's breakable, fragile in any way, proper packing is so important to avoid damages and then ultimate claims. 

Lori Boyer  32:17  

Shipping is so tricky for small business. You mentioned earlier that, you know, people, they know what a portion, you know, that you've created this business or you've, you've created a product or whatever it is, but shipping is definitely kind of more on the technical side in an area people don't think about.

Maybe what are some misconceptions that people may have around shipping? Or any other suggestions you have for them? 

Kelli Martin  32:43  

A lot of people I hear say shipping is hard. Well, EasyPost has kind of made it simple. So we kind of take, you take the hard part out of that. So shipping doesn't have to be hard.

And you're, you're never too small to ship or get great rates. You're not.

Lori Boyer  33:00  

I love that, Kelli! The hair on my arm stood up because honestly, people underestimate, I think their power as a small business sometimes, and you can get great rates. There are ways out there, and it just shows as we talk here with you. You are from FedEx. That's a big carrier. That's, you know, it could seem like you're only caring about big people.

You don't. The small business is important. And so I think that that is really cool. Awesome. Kelli, what are some ways? You know, we obviously have talked. There's a ton of resources out there. People shouldn't underestimate how important they are and how important they are to FedEx and to EasyPost into all of the businesses here in the industry.

What are the best ways that people can stay informed and up to date to know what is out there and what's available for them? 

Kelli Martin  33:52  

Well, with FedEx, I would say sign up to receive our emails. It's quite simple. Go to the fedex.com page. Scroll down to the follow, click on the email icon, and sign up for emails.

Start shipping with FedEx, because then you'll get notifications as well about things coming up. Follow us on social, and we put things in there. And download and listen to our podcast. Absolutely. And check with peers too, because peers know a lot more than you think they know. And check with your, like, EasyPost.

Just follow the podcast, check with your rep there. Whatever it is, someone may have a blog you can check into, see if there's great ... insights there and advice. There's all kinds of resources out there. You just have to look. 

Lori Boyer  34:34  

Yeah, I totally second that. I want to say that there are so many resources. I like to dedicate a time of my calendar, actually put it in as a meeting to be like, okay, it's time for me to go do some reading up on the industry, find out what's going on, see where I need to end it.

The first few weeks you do that, it could be just around finding the right resources you want to follow, but make sure that you're dedicating that time to learning so that you can work, as everybody likes to say, work on your business, not just in your business. But if you don't schedule it often, it gets away from us.

Kelli Martin  35:06  

And right now, if you, if you go ahead and sign up for FedEx emails, you're going to get, start getting a lot of important information preparing for peak and things around that, like last days of ship and all that you're, it, very helpful information. And you'll also get notified when the grant is ready. 

Lori Boyer  35:22  

So as we wrap up, you know, I would love to hear from you if there's been a particular moment, any sort of awesome success story, so it's really stuck with you over your, your time working with small businesses.

Kelli Martin  35:33  

You know, it's like asking someone to pick their favorite child, but ... There, you know, a lot of them stand out, but there's one story that I think I've told a hundred times and I never get tired of telling it. And it was a business. She was a grant winner in our, I think our third year of the program. And the business is called AnaOno, A N A O N O.

And Dana, the founder, used to be in high fashion in New York City. She was a designer. And right before her 27th birthday and her wedding, she got diagnosed with breast cancer. And had an aggressive kind and had to have a double mastectomy. After that surgery, what a lot of people, a lot of men don't realize, and women are surprised by, is your femininity feels stripped.

You just feel like it's kind of just gone. And the lingerie or bras that are available felt very clinical or sterile or they really cut into where the scars are from the mastectomy. So using her design background, she started creating lingerie out of using softer materials that, and beautiful materials and lace and things are really soft for women affected by breast surgeries and, and, and stuff like that.

And loungewear now too. And I remember a story she told me several years ago. This is why it's still, I still get goosebumps. I still get tears when I think about it. This story, there was a woman that learned of Dana's business and had reached out saying, do you ship to Australia? I would, I was just diagnosed.

And I'd love to try your product. And at the time, Dana didn't ship international at that time. It was early on and fast forward a few, a couple of years. And Dana is at an event I don't know if it's a, it wasn't really a trade show or a conference, but it was an event where a lot of women affected by breast cancer were attending.

And Dana was there, and this woman came into the booth to try on a bra, and she had a little fitting right back there, and, and she was back there for quite a while, and Dana went to check on her, and she's like, Are you okay? And all she heard were these little sobs. And she knew instantly what those sobs were about.

And she said, Are you okay? And the woman said, This is the prettiest I have felt since, since before my diagnosis. And now, I mean, that, that said it all on the quality of the product, the impact she has. And now we help Dana ship around the world. So women like that have access to her product. She did a fashion show at New York Fashion Week for the last three or four years.

And the models are all current patients or survivors. It is the most impactful thing I've probably ever seen. 

Lori Boyer  38:27  

Oh, that's amazing. I love that. And small businesses out there, so many of you have your own stories to tell. You have your own success. That's just awesome, and I am so glad to hear that. I love stories like that.

Yeah. Okay. As we finish today, what are some final tips? So if somebody's listening right now, they've heard everything you've said, what's the one or two things that they should, as they close out of this, what, what should they go do? What would be your top suggestions? 

Kelli Martin  39:00  

Sign up for FedEx emails. Make sure you're prepared for peak, you know, inventory wise and packaging wise. Get ready for that. Make sure you have the right rates in place. And download and follow our podcast. 

Lori Boyer  39:16  

Perfect. I love it. Any other ways that people can be in contact with you? Reach out. Are you on LinkedIn? Where, you know, how can they follow you? 

Kelli Martin  39:24  

You can find me on LinkedIn. Just make sure you spell my name right.

Lori Boyer  39:29  

How is it spelled, Kelli? 

Kelli Martin  39:30  

K E L L I M A R T I N. 

Lori Boyer  39:33  

That's right. You may end up with some random Kelli Martin who's not talking about business. 

Kelli Martin  39:40  

So, funny, I have one of my closest friends is the same name as me. She's a small business owner as well. 

Lori Boyer  39:47  

Which, which one of you is the original? The OG. You, you're, you're the OG Kelli. We'll have to bring on the other Kelli and fight it out. 

Kelli Martin  39:54  

I'm older. She married into the name. 

Lori Boyer  39:56  

Okay. Okay. You, you, you win then. So Kelli with an I. Yes. Follow her on LinkedIn. Follow FedEx. Follow EasyPost, all of those kind of places. Absolutely. Know that there's resources out there for you.

Know that you matter. Know that you can get great discounts, that you can get all the help that you need. It has been so fantastic having you as a guest today. I can't wait to hear next year and learn more about who wins the grant, all those grant winners. And again, just thanks so much for being here today.

Kelli Martin  40:28  

Thank you for having me. It's been wonderful and so much fun. Awesome. 

Lori Boyer  40:32  

We'll see you guys all next time.