Archive for the ‘Industry News’ Category

Planning to Ring in a Healthier New Year?

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Posted by: Megan Castillo

nutraceutical Planning to Ring in a Healthier New Year?Are you thinking about making resolutions in 2015 to get healthier? Well, if you’re a nutraceuticals retailer, you’re counting on it. Consumers across all age groups are continually seeking ways to maintain and improve their health. This trend, coupled with increasing health care costs, an aging Baby Boomer population and a rising interest in health and wellness through diet has fueled the growth in the nutraceuticals market.

Consumers are looking for innovative products that deliver wellness benefits to help them lead more healthy and active lifestyles. As people are striving to be as healthy as possible to get the most out of life, the use of nutraceuticals to achieve desirable health outcomes has seen tremendous growth and financial success.

The nutraceuticals market has become very competitive with price, safety, efficacy, supply and packaging all playing a role in a retailer’s ability to succeed. Merchandising, inventory management and sourcing are keys to success as large, multi-channel chains with private-label brands, pharmaceutical companies, small local suppliers and retailers compete for business. Getting physician and health care provider buy in along with regulatory support can definitely help to promote your products.

The right technology can help you understand and respond to consumer demands. Technology can you immediate access to data across the entire operation so you can streamline business operations, and gain a competitive edge.

To reach the largest number of potential consumers, you need to be visible across multiple channels. The Internet continues to be an important tool for opening new – and expanding existing –business channels. What is essential at the retail level is coordination, integration and accurate information management to operate successfully.

Nutraceuticals management often requires lot control and a full history of tracking to record when and where lots are shipped for research or for the unthinkable, a recall situation. For such an extreme situation, you’ll need to track all inventory by lot and serial number and be able to trace the lots back to the suppliers through outsourcers or contract manufacturers. You may also need to trace this to individual customers thus needing to capture this data on an ongoing basis to be able to respond without hesitation. Certain products may require temperature-controlled storage and retailers must be able to recognize and stock these items accordingly.

With visibility and control of inventory, you’ll have better control over order response time, you can better manage inventory allocation and you can create a seamless process for order fulfillment ensuring that you have the right products, at the right time, ready to ship to meet customer expectations.

So, while consumers resolve to get healthy in 2015, you can get your business health on track with the right technology to drive success.

Read more about best practices for nutraceuticals retailers in this eBook: “Growing a Health & Wellness Business.”

If you rely on the Magento eCommerce platform, see how you can Get The Most Out of Your Magento Investment. Watch this 30 minute webinar featuring Freestyle Commerce and Magento. Click Here to register for access.

Apparel Retailers Avoid Inventory Stock Outs

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo 

Apparel retailers selling across multiple sales channels realize that managing inventory in one place helps to avoid stock-outs [or double-selling] and lends to better analysis of products in terms of performance, peak selling periods, etc. More importantly, centralizing the management of sales channels allows for more accurate inventory calculations.

When you run a product based business selling apparel and accessories, it’s critical to know when you need to re-order, and you don’t want that to be when you have nothing left to sell! Establishing low level points will give you enough time to re-order before you reach an empty bin and, worse, start disappointing prospective customers with a back order or ‘out of stock’ order status.

If you’re selling your products across multiple sales channels such as your website, Amazon, eBay and more, you need visibility across all channels.  Generally speaking, your website analytics will give you statistics regarding products sold directly through your web store.  If you also sell through Amazon, for example, your web store won’t have visibility into your Amazon inventory levels from your web store.

By managing inventory across all channels in one solution with a ‘best of breed’ order and inventory management solution, you can rest assured that the ‘available to sell’ levels that are sync’d to each channel are accurate.

According to Software Advice, 95% of the prospective inventory software 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!

 

Inv Mgmt Methods Apparel Retailers Avoid Inventory Stock Outs

 

The last thing an online apparel retailer needs is to have too much inventory on hand and too few orders coming in, leading to reduced margins. Excessive inventory ties up cash that could have been invested in enhancing your eCommerce store, or boosting your marketing efforts to drive additional revenue. At the same time, not having enough inventory on hand results in stock-outs, backorders, cancellations, and lost customers. It’s a balancing act and it is a major issue for all companies.

Streamlining essential back-office inventory and order management processes supports current and future growth. With manual processes in place, there tend to be bottlenecks that occur as business starts to take off, hindering growth potential.

Read about more Best Practices in Apparel and Specialty Retailing in this eBook:  “Dressing for Success.”

Are Your Customers Tuned In To The Omni-Channel Buzz?

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Posted by:  Laura Hills 

ISR logo Are Your Customers Tuned In To The Omni Channel Buzz?

We want to share more of the article that Integrated Solutions for Retailers recently published in which they asked Magento experts Dydacomp, EYEMAGINE, and Redstage to explain what sets them apart from other Magento solution providers and how the eCommerce platform helps retailers engage with and excel in omni-channel retailing.  Here’s a synopsis of another question addressed in the article entitled “E-Commerce And The Back Office Working In Concert For Retail Success.”

Are your customers tuned in to the omni-channel buzz or remaining focused on multichannel selling?

Dydacomp: A growing percentage of customers are focusing on omni-channel marketing — adopting a sell anywhere/ship anywhere philosophy.  But implementing it is harder than it sounds, because you need fairly sophisticated back office technology for inventory management and fulfillment.  Your physical stores now double as warehouses and delivery locations.

Your inventory available for sale can be on store shelves, in your own warehouses, stored and fulfilled through 3rd party logistics providers or drop-shipped direct to customer from the manufacturer or wholesaler. Point of sales systems need to talk to back office fulfillment systems like never before.  And all the while, you need to keep the details and complexity hidden from the end customer.  Omni-channel retail is a great way for retailers with a physical presence to compete with online businesses, but to do it requires an investment in not only their e-commerce platform but also the behind-the-scenes infrastructure.

EYEMAGINE: Very few of our clients have brick-and-mortar stores or showrooms, so this is not a “buzzword” we hear a whole lot.  The reality is that companies that truly need an omni-channel solution (think big department stores that have a global presence) are typically “too big” for Magento.  As we are always reviewing different platforms in order to better serve the clients we partner with we have been considering platforms that are more “true” omni-channel solutions for the size of retailers that really need to be able to address concerns from clients like buying something on a mobile device and returning it to the store in person, or purchasing something from a tablet and picking it up from the store the same day.

Multichannel selling is very much an issue that many of our clients have; we are seeking to help them sell across marketplaces like eBay and Amazon as well as their e-commerce B2C Stores, perhaps an e-commerce B2B portal as well and other channels that they have, like affiliates.  Customizing solutions for them to manage these multichannels effectively is a part of many projects we take on, that is why having good partners with good tech makes such a big difference between success and failure for many of our clients.

Redstage: Customers that have a brick and mortar channel are exploring the power of omni-channel retail, especially when it comes to loyalty programs and gift cards.

Usually each channel must be integrated into a centralized ERP or order/inventory management system.  This way there is one central location for available information on inventory and inventory locations.  Ecommerce and POS systems are usually integrated into a centralized system in this way.  POS and e-commerce systems can be synchronized directly, but that generally makes it harder to avoid inventory allocation issues, as neither system is well equipped to manage inventory at that level.

Read the full article here:  “E-Commerce And The Back Office Working In Concert For Retail Success.”

To learn more about how to Get The Most Out of Your Magento Investment – The Back(Office) Story, watch this 30 minute webinar featuring Freestyle Commerce and Magento.  Click Here to register for access.

eCommerce and the Back Office Working Together for Retail Success

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Posted by:  Laura Hills 

ISR logo eCommerce and the Back Office Working Together for Retail Success

So, you had a great idea for a product. You seized the market opportunity and decided to go for it. You built a great website using an eCommerce platform like Magento.  And, now you’ve got a successful online retail business.  Way to go!

Now how do you get your back office operations working together with your webstore to make sure you always have enough product on hand and that the pick/pack/ship flows smoothly?  We know that 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 success.

Integrated Solutions for Retailers recently asked Magento experts Dydacomp, EYEMAGINE, and Redstage to explain what sets them apart from other Magento solution providers and how the eCommerce platform helps retailers engage with and excel in omni-channel retailing.  Here’s a synopsis of just one question addressed in the article entitled “E-Commerce And The Back Office Working In Concert For Retail Success.”

How would you describe the essential integration between e-commerce and back office processes?

Dydacomp: At Dydacomp, we break this integration down into stages. Once a retailer starts getting more than 20 or so orders per day, it becomes difficult to simply print the orders and process and fulfill those orders manually. They need a back office fulfillment system, and that’s where the fun begins.

First, you must have a way to get customer orders from your Magento e-commerce platform into your back office environment.  This is the first stage of implementing an inventory and order management system. Our systems integrate with Magento and allow mapping of order, customer and product information so that orders are extracted and imported fast and accurately.

Second, you must process the order with a focus on both fulfilling the order and simultaneously managing and updating inventory.  The pick and pack process is automated to assure accuracy. Inventory quantities are decremented for the units picked, quantity updates are sent back to the e-commerce platform or other order source immediately, low-levels may be reached triggering purchase orders for replenishment.  Back-ordered items are identified and the appropriate customer notices are triggered.

Finally the products must be shipped, shipping costs validated and finalized, shipping methods matched to customer preference, shippers selected and product shipped from local or 3rd party sources.  Billing is completed and shipment tracking information is received and passed back to the customer through the channel where the product was ordered. In the end, the customer receives the product on time and at the price agreed.

EYEMAGINE: The only word that comes to mind to describe this integration is “necessary.” The alternatives are manual tabulation or cron based export and sync jobs.  This can suffice, but it is certainly not ideal for a modern e-commerce company that is experiencing rapid growth and trying to stay lean.  The time it takes to reconcile orders and inventory manually across multiple channels, and the potential for human error involved in doing it the “old fashioned” way holds many businesses back from achieving success; they often seem to rationalize this to themselves by saying things like “we’re not quite there yet” or “what if we grow too fast?”

When these are the reasons being given, we often find ourselves speechless, as we have a difficult time understanding the mindset of the individual that is not ready to embrace success and actualize their business dreams into reality.  However, these individuals do exist out there, and for them the reality of maintaining “control” of their systems and silo-ing technology platforms that do not communicate with one another seems to offer them some level of comfort, knowing that they can “pump the brakes” if things start getting “out of control.” In other words, they can inadvertently constrain the growth trajectory of an entire company and compromise the future of their fellow employees and position in the marketplace in an effort to maintain the fallacy of “control” over software.

Redstage: Usually each channel must be integrated into a centralized ERP or order/inventory management system.  This way there is one central location for available information on inventory and inventory locations.  Ecommerce and POS systems are usually integrated into a centralized system in this way.  POS and e-commerce systems can be synchronized directly, but that generally makes it harder to avoid inventory allocation issues, as neither system is well equipped to manage inventory at that level.

Systems that are designed to sell in a particular channel usually do not include features to manage the flow of inventory through both channels.

Read the full article here:  “E-Commerce And The Back Office Working In Concert For Retail Success.”

 

To learn more aboutGetting The Most Out of Your Magento Investment – The Back(Office) Story’, watch this 30 minute webinar sponsored by Dydacomp and Magento.  Click Here to register for access.

 

 

 

6 Bottom-Line Benefits of Incorporating EDI Into Your Multi Channel Retail Business

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Posted by:  Greg Swallow, HighJump TrueCommerce

 6 Bottom Line Benefits of Incorporating EDI Into Your Multi Channel Retail BusinessAn Order Management Solution (OMS) automates inventory and order processing so you can fulfill orders faster and easier, get a handle on inventory levels and leverage better data to make smarter decisions. It’s all about enabling efficiency, productivity and insight to drive business growth.

What could be better than that? How about more of that! More efficiency, productivity and insight is exactly what you’ll get when you take advantage of the synergy between your OMS and electronic data interchange (EDI) software.

You’ve probably heard of EDI because many of the retailers, suppliers and 3PL providers in your supply chain ecosystem are already using it—or looking to use it—to get data moving faster. EDI is the common “language” that enables everyone to track goods and data, from start to finish, quickly and elegantly. Being part of the conversation saves you time and money and makes you easier to do business with.

Here’s an example of how using an OMS with EDI can accelerate order processing and cut transaction costs: when you receive a non-EDI invoice from a vendor, you need to pay someone to manually print it out, key the order data into your OMS, and look through the data line-by-line to check it and flag any exceptions, such as a price change.

With EDI, all that extra labor cost and potential for errors and delays disappears. It’s all processed and reconciled automatically within the OMS. This is why supply chain giants like Amazon all integrate EDI with their financial systems and mandate that their suppliers use EDI—because it lets them ship next-day (or even same-day) and also saves on procurement costs.

What business benefits do you get from using EDI alongside your OMS?

  1.  Faster time-to-market. Automated order processing is not only much faster, but also offers better visibility into inventory. When you know what your vendors have available you can work with them to eliminate distribution bottlenecks and ship faster.
  2. Higher margins. Obviously automation saves on labor costs. It also improves accuracy of information, which means fewer costly and reputation-damaging problems with orders. You won’t get a crate of rubber ducks because someone mistyped a SKU number.
  3. Better analytics. When you’re tracking (and monetizing) supply chain data you can begin to see and proactively work with “trigger” events, from weather to cycles in supporting industries, that impact your sales volume.
  4. Faster turnaround time on payments. Because EDI data is electronically available across your systems, as well as those of your vendors and customers that use EDI, payment can happen much faster.
  5. Competitive differentiation. Data accuracy and timeliness are critical to success in retail. EDI/OMS integration helps give you end-to-end visibility across your supply chain. When you can see what the customer’s experience looks like, you can set the bar for service where Amazon sets it.
  6. Peace of mind. With EDI you get a one-stop vendor relationship with full visibility end-to-end across your solution. That eliminates finger-pointing and accelerates resolution of issues.

View our on demand webinar, by our preferred EDI provider, HighJump TrueCommerce EDI, entitled Incorporating EDI into Your Business to learn more.

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Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

Friday, 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 Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

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
Top Requested Inventory Management Features Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

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 Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

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

Thursday, 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:

irce1 IRCE 2014 Recap & 4 Key Take Aways

#4 Opportunities abound for best-in-class inventory and order management software 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

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Out of Stock Avoiding Stock Outs

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?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Dydacomp compterImage Is it Time for an Order Management System?by 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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The Importance of a Millennial Marketing Mindset

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Posted by Fred Lizza, Dydacomp CEO

Millennials control 21 percent of consumer discretionary purchasing power in the US or $1.3 trillion[1], making them an audience that deserves recognition and attention. A recent survey conducted jointly by Merchant Warehouse and Retail Pro International identified a serious knowledge gap that exists between retailers and their millennial shoppers.  Each generation has their own specific buying patterns and understanding their unique characteristics and purchasing behaviors creates business opportunities that give retailers a competitive advantage.

Millennnials The Importance of a Millennial Marketing Mindset   The millennials, or Generation Y, often forgo traditional marketing and do much of their shopping via the Internet from a wide variety of mobile devices.  They are visual communicators who look for real life examples to show them the value of their investment and what their money buys them.  Brand names are big with this group.  So is having the latest technology. They are extremely connected and look to their contemporaries for approval.  This group is attracted to the experience, value, cost, quality and service they can expect from a brand, product or company. Social media is the preferred channel for reaching this market. Key influencers for this group are online-savvy peers, the Internet, eCommerce, Reality TV and digital music.

With attitudes and behaviors shaped by technology and dramatic economic volatility, they are more conservative and share many characteristics of people who came of age during the great depression.  Millennials are 2.5 times more likely than their predecessors to adopt new social, mobile and digital channels and they integrate technology into their customer experience.  This is an important demographic for multi-channel retailers.  Alexandra Frith, director of marketing at Retail Pro International comments, “The reality is that there just isn’t room for error; with so much competition – whether in-store or online – retailers can’t risk losing this important demographic.” Knowing how to better attract and engage this group should be an important part of your retail strategy.

According to the survey, millennials are information-seeking shoppers with 60 percent doing pre-purchase research through retailer websites. In addition, 53 percent stated that their shopping experiences are seamless across channels although they note that retailer sites often lack the extensive functionality they have come to expect. They are looking for what is known in today’s vernacular as an ‘omnichannel experience’ and retailers need to consider this to create a relationship with these shoppers.

In addition, millennials are the most multiculturally diverse group in the U.S. today.  Brands that incorporate multicultural themes are winning with millennials as are those that effectively use social media channels to create inclusive communities.  This enables millennials to connect with each other as well as develop stronger relationships with actual products and brands – a retailer’s goal.

Tapping in to generational nuances can help strengthen your marketing strategy.  Staying on top of and utilizing what is current and trending for the millennial demographic will enable you to better connect with this target audience to increase brand loyalty along with your bottom line. Your order management system contains a wealth of information about your customers and, with an eye on strategic marketing, you can use the data to create targeted, effective campaigns to entice your Generation Y customers with promotions uniquely suited to them.

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


[1] MillennialMarketing.com – March 21, 2014: The Optical Industry: 3 Tips to Consider When Marketing to Millennials

[2] MillennialMarketing.com – Millennials and Multicultural Marketing

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