Why You Need an Order Management Solution for Your Magento eCommerce Site

September 19th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo

magentoYou’ve built your eCommerce business using Magento software and it’s a powerful solution that meets your unique shopping cart needs. But if you want to streamline and automate your business processes, seamlessly update your inventory across all channels, increase efficiencies, and drive new sales, you need to implement a cloud based inventory and order management software solution that integrates seamlessly with Magento.

Freestyle Commerce® allows you to effectively handle order import, inventory management, order fulfillment, and order processing automation while synchronizing communication between Freestyle Commerce, Magento, and your other systems. Without this Magento integration, your employees will have to take the time to manually transfer orders entered in your eCommerce store to your inventory management system, then to your accounting system, and again to your shipping system. Implementing Freestyle Commerce avoids the tedious manual work for each order as well as issues caused by mistakes made while transferring information.

Looking ahead for eCommerce growth will help you anticipate the needs of your business and allow you to plan accordingly. You need a solution that is scalable, integrates with Magento, and improves your business. Without a complete integrated solution, you’ll quickly run into business limitations with your online shopping cart platform. Magento’s integration with Freestyle Commerce provides you a complete eCommerce solution that is suitable for small to mid-sized businesses at the right price, and will be a valuable investment as your business expands.

Click on the link to learn more about Why You Need Freestyle Commerce.

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Managing Inventory & Order Fulfillment – Exciting, No. Necessary, Yes!

September 5th, 2014

inventory managementPosted by:  Megan Castillo 

Managing inventory and order fulfillment isn’t the most exciting part of becoming an eCommerce merchant, but it can make or break a web store’s operations. If you’re not managing inventory efficiently, you risk tying up funds in excess inventory or worse -losing out on a sale due to a stock out situation and ultimately letting your customers down. When done well, efficient inventory and order management can help streamline your business processes, optimizing your cash flow and improving your bottom line.

Efficient & Intelligent Inventory Management

Managing inventory is a delicate balancing act for businesses of all sizes, small and large. If you have too much invested in inventory in stock, you’ll have less money to run the rest of your business.  If you have too little on-hand, you could lose out on sales and risk losing potential customers. The tips below offer some advice on how to find that happy balance.

  • Determining Inventory Amounts – To help you determine the right amount of inventory to keep on-hand it’s important to carefully track sales, monitor trends and analyze your performance over the past few years to help you more accurately forecast inventory needs relative to sales cycles.  Other things to consider include what sells and what doesn’t, what items are more seasonal than others, and what the inventory turn is on your most important products (the time it takes to sell that product and restock it).
  • Get Your (Ware)house In Order – You have to get your house in order, or in this case your warehouse, in order to run a smooth operation. Making sure your products are stocked efficiently and that you have clear guidelines on how to pick/pack/ship items will ensure items get shipped quickly and tracked accurately.
  • Make Sure Marketing & Operations Are Aligned – When determining your stock levels it’s also important to make sure your purchasing and operations teams are aware of the promotional calendar marketing has in place. For example, if marketing is running a promotion next week or next month, you may need to order and stock more of a particular item(s) to meet the anticipated demand.
  • Have Backup Vendors – As a customer, there’s nothing more disappointing than to place an order and then later find out it’s been put on backorder because the item isn’t in stock! As the merchant you can take preventive steps to avoid this situation by having a backup vendor as your ‘go-to’ if your primary vendor runs out of stock.  You may not have a backup for every product you sell, but for those you consider to be the ‘hot sellers’, whether all the time or during peak seasons, it would be beneficial to have a backup vendor.
  • Get Help! – The best way to ensure you manage your inventory and order fulfillment processes efficiently is to automate the process using an inventory and order management software solution.  With our inventory and order management solutions for small to mid-sized businesses you can manage your inventory, orders, and returns across multiple sales channels, send purchase orders to suppliers, process shipments including drop ship items, produce management level reporting, and more.  Our solutions provide you with the tools to streamline your operations by automating your processes.  In addition, our solutions seamlessly integrate with QuickBooks, the preferred accounting solution choice of small to mid-sized retailers.

Sign Up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today! 

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Solution Spotlight – ‘Kit’ aka ‘Bundled’ Products in Freestyle

August 18th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo

Freestyle supports the online inventory management and order fulfillment of ‘Kit’ aka ‘Bundled’ products!

KittingFor those of you who aren’t familiar with these types of products a ‘kit’, or what Magento refers to as a ‘bundled’ product, is a product that is made up of various components or items and are sold as a set or group.  Managing the inventory associated with each kit can be difficult, especially when one item is used as a component in more than one kit.  However, with Freestyle, managing the inventory and order fulfillment process of kit products just got easier!

Benefits of Using Freestyle to Manage Your ‘Kit’ Products

  • Create & Edit Kits Easily:  Setting up kits in Freestyle is easy to do and manage.  At any time, you can switch, add and/or remove a component.
  • List One Item Multiple Times:  Sell one item in multiple ‘kits’ and on its own?  Freestyle allows you to connect all of those different listings to the inventory of a single item. One sale on any of the listings automatically updates the quantity on all other listings for you.
  • Manage Inventory Automatically:  Freestyle automatically publishes the ‘Available’ inventory back to Magento, which is a sum of the ‘Can Be Assembled’ & ‘Pre-Assembled’ inventory levels. These levels are calculated based off the inventory of the lowest component.
  • Avoid Shipping Mistakes:  Freestyle recognizes the SKU of the entire kit, and also knows each of the individual items that make up the kit. This insures all of your items get shipped out correctly.
  • And more…

How Selling Kits Can Increase Your Sales

There are a number of ways you can increase sales by adding kits to your product mix.  First, you have more opportunities to sell each product.  Not only can the product be listed on its own for sale, but now you can add that product to one or more kits, increasing the number of listings you and your chances of selling that particular product.  Plus, each kit is made up of multiple items, so your sales price is higher.

Some other advantages of selling kits include:

  • Offering Unique Products: Your kit is a combination of whatever products you choose, offering you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Opportunity Offer Discounts: Since your customer is buying more than one product with each kit, you may decide to offer a discount on the price.  Everyone loves a deal!  This can be a strategic way to drive more sales.

To learn more about Kit Products and how Freestyle can help you manage the inventory and order fulfillment processes associated with each kit product:

Watch the recording from the Freestyle Commerce Solution Spotlight:  Kitting product demo.

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Top 5 Features To Look For In An Inventory Management Solution

August 8th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo 

Are you having trouble managing your inventory?  Have you run into the dreaded ‘out of stock’ situation more than you’d like?  Or on the flip side, do you have so much excess inventory on-hand that it’s affecting your profit margins?

If any of these sound familiar, it may be time to start looking into an inventory management solution to help you get your order and inventory processes under control.  But with all the options available today, how do you know which solution will work best for you and your business?  And what features should you be looking for?

Top 5 Features To Look For In An Inventory Management Solution:

At Dydacomp, we’ve been helping retailers solve their inventory issues for over 25 years, providing small business inventory and order management solutions to a variety of industries. Our experience has been gained from helping thousands of retailers over the years; giving us insight into the features retailers need, and want, in an inventory management solution.  The top 5 features retailers need include:

  1. Basic Inventory Control
        – What this means is having a systematic way to truly ‘manage’ and control your inventory across all of your sales channels.  Very often we find that new businesses work with spreadsheet(s) where formulas can break, and a lot of manual effort is required to keep inventory on track. For them, using a spreadsheet is the first level of business automation.  These ‘first-time automators’, as we refer to them, may be growing rapidly and need a better, more efficient way to manage their current business, and position themselves for future growth.  They’re not always aware of the systems that are out there that are tailor-made to address their growing needs
  2. Integration with Sales Channel
        - Adding sales channels or marketplaces is a fast and effective way to grow your business, if you have the tools to manage them successfully. Having the ability to bring orders from all channels into one solution, where you can process the orders, manage the inventory, and publish updated ‘available to sell’ levels back to your sales channels, ensures you don’t oversell a low inventory level product.  It also saves you time by centralizing your workflow and eliminating the need to update various systems.  With an effective order management solution, inventory and order updates would be automatically published back to all sales channels.
  3. Barcoding & Scanning
        – Increasing the number of daily orders you receive is exciting, but it can also lead to bottlenecks if you’re not positioned to process and fulfill those orders efficiently. Retailers who are processing a higher volume of orders look to streamline their processes even more by implementing barcoding and scanning at the pick/pack/ship stages.
  4. Accounting Integration
        – While an accounting system can’t do the work of a specialized order an inventory management system, it is necessary to run a successful business. Having a direct integration to your accounting package from an order and inventory management system makes all the difference.  It enables you to easily post to your General Ledger account and keep track of all your other business expenses outside of inventory.
  5. Support For Kits (aka Bundled Products; kitting)
        – Many retailers have added kits or bundles to their product mix, meaning the product for sale is not a single item, but a combination of products sold as a kit or bundle such as a gift basket or a collection of items in a set.  Managing these types of products is more complex from an inventory standpoint. With an inventory management solution that supports kitted products, you can see how many kits can be assembled, what ‘kit’ items need to be re-ordered, etc.

If you think you can benefit from implementing a solution with the features listed above, give us a call.  Or Sign Up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions.

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Why Are You Still Making Manual Updates? Automation Can Make Your Life So Much Easier!

August 1st, 2014

Posted by:  Megan CastilloDydacomp-Automation

We speak with retailers who call in to discuss their pain points, and 9 times out of 10, their challenges are related to inventory.  What amazes me though, is that so many of those retailers are in pain because they’re still running their business using manual processes, like using spreadsheets!  With all the solutions out there, it’s hard to believe so many retailers are still running their businesses using inefficient and error prone manual processes.  Some have managed to be very successful and find themselves at a crossroad. They’ve reached the point where their success is jeopardizing their growth potential.  They have the “good problem” where they can’t keep up with processing orders and managing inventory; particularly those that are selling across multiple sales channels.

This is when we hear from many of the small and mid-sized retailers too.  They’ve reached that ‘tipping point’ where they can’t grow further until they figure out how to get ahead of the order to fulfillment processing curve. In addition to being time consuming, error prone and overall inefficient, manual updates are expensive! It’s time to find a better way of doing things to keep up and to grow!

Stop Throwing Money Out The Window

If you’re still making manual updates to support key retail back office processes, you’re throwing money, and profit, out the window. Your time is valuable, and spending time manually adding and updating information is costing you more than you think.  And if you’re working in multiple sales channels, and have to log and track information for each separately, it’s even worse!

Get A Handle On Your Available-To-Sell Levels

If you’re using spreadsheets to track inventory and publish your available-to-sell levels, I’ve got bad news for you, you’re always going to be out of sync! Sales happen in real time, inventory decreases in real time, but how often are you updating your spreadsheets?  Chances are you don’t have an employee on-hand whose sole purpose is to instantly update spreadsheets and publish those new levels as orders come in.  Most likely you’re making updates at the end of the day, or for some it’s done at the end of the week, and this can lead to problems.  When you finally get around to it, you may find that you are actually out of stock on a particular item and have to call your customer(s) with the disappointing news that his/her order cannot be fulfilled.

Retail is tough, and the last thing you want to do is disappoint a customer. Not only do you risk a sale, but also a potential repeat customer. So how do you solve this? Once again, through automation!

Automating the synchronization of your inventory across all sales channels offers many benefits: improves your ability to make customers happy by always having accurate available-to-sell levels, gives you real-time visibility into your sales and inventory, saves you the time and effort associated with manual efforts, and helps you better manage the cost of inventory because you’ll have a better handle on how much inventory to keep on-hand at all times.

So What Are You Waiting For? Automation Is Where It’s At!

Like I said, retail is tough but it can be so rewarding. There is a lot of competition out there so it’s important to get an edge over the competition, and automation can give you that edge. Using an inventory and order management software solution not only ensures you have accurate available-to-sell levels published at all times but frees up time, money and assets you can use to focus on growing your business.

Whether you sell online, through brick and mortar stores, catalogs, etc. or a combination of a few channels, we have a solution.  Register for a Demo of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today and see for yourself.

 

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How An Inventory & Order Management Solution Can Help Drive Success

July 25th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

If you have a retail business, chances are you have, or are looking to have, an online presence as well. In today’s world, it’s mandatory to have a website for branding and exposure if you want the business to grow. And having a shopping cart enabled website to allow you to sell product is an easy way to expand your presence on a national or even global scale with minimal capital investment and overhead. But having a website alone isn’t always enough.2014-Goals-For-Growning-Businesses

Adding additional sales channels, like selling online, selling on Amazon or any number of the popular sales channels, brings a lot of advantages in terms easily expanding your presence, but it can also bring a lot of headaches if your sales channels aren’t managed properly.  This is where an inventory and order management solution can help!

The Benefits Of Using An Inventory & Order Management Solution

Implementing an inventory and order management software solution can help you streamline your business processes and position your business for greater success in the future.

One of the biggest ways you can benefit from a solution is through the automation of your order fulfillment processes. You want to have as few steps as possible between the time a customer places an order to the time they receive their order to ensure timely delivery and make your customers happy. Therefore, you need to eliminate as many manual steps as possible because those steps can not only affect your delivery times, but can also lend to manual entry mistakes which can lead to even longer delays.

Placing orders through suppliers and receiving the inventory back into your operation is also made easier when working with a solution that allows you to manage suppliers and send Purchase Orders.   You can set up product low level alerts within the system to set automatic re-order points – this makes purchasing products even easier!  And this same method applies to products you drop ship as well.

From an inventory standpoint, having a solution in place is an absolute must, especially when working in multiple sales channels. Having the right amount of inventory on-hand at all times is a delicate balancing act.  Having a product that ‘sells out’ is good in one way as it proves that it’s a hot item.  On the other hand you never want to run out of stock and lose a potential sale.  Carefully tracking your inventory not only gives you insight to your customers’ preferences, but helps in determining how much to have at all times.

Finally, having an inventory and order management solution can help you manage all of your sales channels in one solution, giving you the ‘big picture’ in terms of how your business is performing.  It’s much easier to analyze trends and buying patterns and make strategic business decisions when you have a single vantage point to see everything from a revenue standpoint, purchase orders, refunds and anything else related to your bottom line.

So whether you are adding a new sales channel for the first time or expanding into more sales channels, life is so much easier when you have an inventory and order management solution in place. Automating the order fulfillment and inventory management processes makes just about everything related to your business as streamlined and simplified as possible so you can focus on the more important things – like growing your business!

Learn more ways to drive your retail sales growth in the 7 Retail Operational Improvements That Make A Difference eBook.

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Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

July 11th, 2014

Posted by: Megan Castillo

At Dydacomp, we’ve been providing retailers with inventory and order management software solutions for over 25 years. We’ve been successful for so long because we totally get it.  Dydacomp was founded by retailers to provide software for retailers.  We understand the challenges you face because we’ve been there ourselves.

Working with thousands of retailers over the years has given us good insight into the buying trends as well as the top reasons retailers seek an inventory management solution. I recently came across an article by Software Advice, a website that researches and reviews inventory management software, which supports our findings.  Highlighted below are some of those key buying trends for 2014 and what retailers are looking for in an inventory management solution.

Buyer Profile

Very often the retailers we speak with are evaluating an inventory management solution for the first time.  They are what we refer to as ‘first-time automators’, those who are either running their business using manual methods such as maintaining spreadsheets, or using an accounting program that wasn’t designed to manage inventory and requires a lot of manual intervention. They realize the need to automate their order and inventory processes to not only alleviate the headaches and inaccuracies associated with the manual efforts, but to position themselves to continually grow their business.

According to Software Advice, 95% of the prospective buyers they spoke with were also first-time buyers.  Of that, 36% were using accounting software to manage their inventory, while 35% were using Excel or another spreadsheet method.  Another 11% were using what they called “manual methods”, which often referred to the good old pen and paper method.  Those buyers using any of the above methods are the kinds of people we speak to daily who love the fact that their business is growing, but hate the headaches this growth brings if they don’t have the proper systems in place.  They are looking to ease these pains so they can enjoy their success!

 

Buyers’ Current Inventory Management Methods

Buyers-Current-Inventory-Management-Methods

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

 

Do you fit into this category?  If so, it may be time to start reviewing your options.  Neither spreadsheets nor accounting software were designed to manage inventory and will only support your business growth to a certain extent.  You don’t want to stand in the way of your own success, right?  As a savvy business owner, you know there’s a better solution out there.   You just may not have the time to explore your options – because you’re too busy reconciling and correcting spreadsheet errors – sound familiar!

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to explore your options.  I guarantee you’ll gain that time, and more, back in the future once you start automating and streamlining your processes.

Top Requested Inventory Management Features

So what features are buyers looking for?  For most, it starts with basic inventory control.  By that I mean having a systematic way to truly ‘manage’ and control your inventory across all your sales channels.   Being able to rely on a solution to do the work for you, and rest assured the calculations are correct, rather than working in spreadsheets where your formulas can break and cause an inventory nightmare.

Those running a slightly more complex organization from an inventory standpoint are in search of a solution with more advanced features like: bar coding and scanning, demand forecasting, drop shipping, lot tracking and kitting.  And because there is still a need for an accounting solution to complement your inventory management solution, ideally retailers would like to find two of the best solutions that can seamlessly integrate with each other.  Again, it’s not that you don’t need an accounting solution, it’s just that an accounting solution was meant to do just that, manage your finances, and not manage and track inventory.  It’s not unlike using an electrician to fix a plumbing problem.  Yes they are both professionals, but it’s not the electrician’s specialty.  In this case, you’re using a piece of software that wasn’t designed to manage your inventory, and managing inventory is an integral part of a retailer’s business.

Since many small to mid-size retailers use QuickBooks for accounting, a direct integration to QuickBooks is an attractive feature to offer.  This enables retailers to easily post to their General Ledger account and keep track of all their other business expenses outside of inventory.

 

Top-Requested Inventory Management Features
http://blog.dydacomp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Top-Requested-Inventory-Management-Features

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

Retailers’ Reasons For Evaluating Inventory Management Solutions

So why are retailers evaluating inventory management solutions? What’s pushing these first-time automators to invest in their back office operations? Most of the reasons go hand-in-hand and all go back to the fact that using spreadsheets or accounting solutions to perform tasks they weren’t designed to do just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

In the poll done by Software Advice, 35% of the prospective retail software buyers they spoke with said they were looking for a more modern solution for their inventory management needs.  Essentially, they are looking for an actual software solution designed to handle inventory needs rather than using spreadsheets, etc. The other reasons found also have to do with using a solution that wasn’t designed for inventory management control – having limited functionality, inability to support company growth and lacking the ability to automate business processes.

Automation is one of the top reasons we find retailers reaching out to us. Our solutions provide retailers with the ability to automate both inventory and order processes to not only streamline their operations, but free up time to focus on strategy efforts – like how to grow their business!  The streamlining of their processes is essential to support their current and future growth.  With manual processes in place, there tends to be a lot of bottlenecks that occur as business takes off, which can actually hinder your growth.

 

Buyers’ Reasons for Evaluating Inventory Management Software
Buyers-Reasons-for-Evaluating-Inventory-Management-Software

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

 

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, there is one common goal in implementing a solution for the first time, or a replacement solution – finding a way to run your business better to not only manage current growth, but allow for the ability to support continued growth in the future!

So where do you fit in all of this?  If you’re in that category of retailers who are still using spreadsheets or non order and inventory specific solutions to run your business, there’s no time like the present to start exploring your options.  Like I said earlier, we’ve helped thousands of retailers to improve their processes and grow their business, and we’re here to help you too!  See for yourself, sign up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today.

 

 

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IRCE 2014 Recap & 4 Key Take-Aways

June 26th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Dydacomp participated as a sponsor in recent 2014 Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. This year IRCE celebrated its 10th year as the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition and our staff had a fantastic experience at the show!

We spoke with many retailers, fulfillment, distribution, and wholesale businesses of various sizes who were eager to discuss the latest developments in internet retail. Our days at the conference were filled with informative meetings and great conversations about the challenges and opportunities businesses face when managing their continued growth.

So what was the buzz at this year’s show? Here are our top 4 key take-aways from IRCE 2014:

irce

#4 Opportunities abound for best-in-class order and inventory management technology solutions with multichannel retailers. At IRCE we heard how order and inventory management automation, efficiency, and insight have delivered real value to the bottom line of many multichannel sellers. These businesses shared experiences of how their multichannel operations continue to expand the needs emanating from their ‘back office silos’. The successful businesses view order and inventory management operations as essential solutions that drive their business’ ability to compete and win from the point in which a customer engages with them through their shopping cart to the receipt of their orders at their door, and beyond.

#3 The Magento Community fully embraced a tightly integrated cloud-based OMS solution. Visitors to Dydacomp’s booth at IRCE were excited to experience Freestyle Commerce first-hand! Freestyle is Dydacomp’s latest innovation—a cloud-based online inventory and order management system that complements Magento eCommerce platforms and Amazon. Those who had the chance to see Freestyle in action were quickly delighted with the benefits its tight integration provided, including:

• Unification of the workflows for ALL Magento and Amazon sales channels orders into a single stream for expedited pick, pack, ship and bill processing.

• Complete visibility into on-hand stock levels, and the tasks involved with purchasing, receiving and updating new inventory counts across sales channels; combined with the ability to manage drop ship supplier operations.

• Connected customer insight and business intelligence tools to help make more informed business decisions and help manage the growth of businesses to their full potential.

#2 SMB retailers focus on drop shipping to drive efficiencies and cost savings. For many start-up and established small to medium-sized (SMB) growing businesses drop shipping was a hot topic. Drop shipping provides a way for savvy business owners to aggressively expand their product offerings without incurring the upfront costs of purchasing new inventory or having to directly manage the pick, pack and ship process for those orders. To further support these businesses, we were able to demonstrate how easy it was to include drop shipping operations into their order management mix through our solutions to meet their business objectives and growth goals without the overhead costs of maintaining inventory locally.

#1 Experience matters when it comes to technology solution providers. Many SMB retailers who sought us out at IRCE were looking for a solution provider that could relate to their specific business needs and who had the experience and the know-how to take businesses like theirs to the next level of success. We were proud to share our own personal success story. Many were surprised to learn that Dydacomp is a technology company that was started by retailers with solutions for retailers. Today, thousands of multichannel merchants rely on our Freestyle Commerce™ and Multichannel Order Manager (M.O.M.®) solutions to automate their retail back office operations and drive business growth. In total, our clients collectively generate nearly 10 million in gross merchandise sales every day! So how can we help you?

We hope to see you at next year’s IRCE but don’t wait until then to get started!

For additional information on operational improvements through automating order management, read this eBook entitled “Drive Your Retail Sales Growth With Operational Efficiencies.”

 

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Avoiding Stock Outs

June 25th, 2014

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Out of Stock

We speak with retailers every day who tell us that their biggest challenges are with inventory and making sure they have enough product on-hand at all times.  The key is to have just enough to avoid a stock out situation, yet not carry too much product and tie up funds that could be spent elsewhere.

A stock out, or out-of-stock situation is caused when inventory has been depleted. The most common types of retail stock outs occur in the business to consumer goods industry (e.g., electronics, perishables like cookies, flowers or nutraceuticals).

Stock outs are the opposite of overstocks, where too much inventory is on hand.  In this era of multichannel retail, when orders are coming in to a retailer from multiple sales channels, stock outs are more of a concern than ever before.

Research shows that approximately 70-90% of stock outs are caused by poor inventory management and replenishment practices while 10-30% results from a shortage of stock from a supplier. Keeping your back office order workflow process and inventory levels in sync is essential to keeping eCommerce operations on track.

So how do you avoid Stock Outs?  Here are some tips we’d like to share with you from our experience:

  • Centralize the management of inventory from all sales channels
  • Manage multiple warehouses from one system
  • Set up ‘low inventory’ alerts per stock item
  • Manage & issue Purchase Orders to Suppliers from one system
  • Gain insight on trends & peak selling seasons

At Dydacomp we totally get it because we’ve been there too. We’re a software company started by retailers with solutions for retailers. We’ve been helping retailers find that delicate balance of just enough inventory to avoid stock outs without overstocking for years. And when they do, it makes all the difference. Happy selling!

 

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Is it Time for an Order Management System?

May 30th, 2014

Dydacomp_compterImageby Roxanne Brown, CQA – Consulting 4 Quickbooks


My firm has worked with hundreds of eCommerce clients over the years and many have started the conversation with “My company has really taken off and my current order fulfillment processes just aren’t cutting it anymore; what are my options?

Many of the business owners we’ve worked with started out using Quicken or QuickBooks, coupled with Excel to track and manage their inventory, orders, customers, etc.  While this approach may be acceptable when you first start out, it can quickly turn into an inhibitor of the growth for your company.

As your business grows, copying and pasting information from one system to another and constantly updating Excel (no matter how good you are at it) must be replaced with better and more efficient processes.  This is when we get the calls, asking “there must be a better way, what are my options?” – and the answer is automation!

While no two eCommerce businesses are exactly alike, they all follow the same basic fulfillment processes and can benefit from automating these tasks.  Automation is king; it’s what will allow you to take you time away from the time consuming task of copying and pasting so you may can focus on really running and growing your business to the level you know it can achieve.

The first step in achieving business process automation is to switch from Excel or Quicken to QuickBooks; however that’s just the beginning. QuickBooks (or whatever accounting system you use) is designed to handle the accounting portion of your business; it’s really not meant to handle everything else needed to run an eCommerce business. What you really should consider implementing is an inventory and order management system (OMS).  This type of implementation can strike fear in the heart of a business owner as they imagine the challenges of adding and changing many of their business processes – therefore many put this decision off much longer than they probably should have.

I won’t lie and say the transition is easy; however I will tell you that it’s well worth the time and effort to make the change.  No one has been sorry they made the decision to automate their business processes and increase productivity.  Many of the business owners we’ve worked with are shocked at how much they can now accomplish in a day, without adding employees.  I’ve seen businesses double and triple revenue in a year or less, solely because a good order management system was deployed!

When reviewing order management systems there are many things to consider beyond whatever your biggest pain point might be at the moment.  Inventory and order management is just the beginning; there are a lot of additional factors to consider as you take your business to the next level.

  • How many sales channels are you currently on?  Do you plan to add any in the near future?
  • Are you maintaining 100% of your inventory, or do you also drop ship?
  • How can you easily manage the ordering and receiving of products?
  • How can you automate your drop ship processes?
  • You MUST be PCI compliant.  If you’re not, you’re running a risk your business can’t afford.
  • How many states are you required to collect sales tax?
  • How many warehouse locations or fulfillment centers are in the mix?
  • What type of selling tools would make running your business more streamlined; and thus more profitable?
  • Fraud protection is key; what tools are available to reduce your risk?
  • How can you provide top-notch customer service?
  • The order management system needs to integrate properly with your accounting system.

Deploying a good order management system will make it possible to do all of the above and SO much more.  So, are you ready to take your business to the next level?

For additional information on the benefits of automating order, inventory and customer management, read this real-world case study about a luxury bedding etailer.  And for more insight on QuickBooks® and eCommerce Training & Integration check out the Consulting 4 QuickBooks blog here.

 

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