Archive for the ‘Shipping’ Category

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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Posted in Drop Shipping, Dydacomp News, Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Industry News, Inventory & Order Management, Magento, Multichannel Order Manager, Order Management, Shipping, Small Business Inventory Management | No Comments »

Drop Shipping 101

Friday, April 18th, 2014

DropShipping1 Drop Shipping 101Posted by: Megan Castillo,
Dydacomp Product Marketing Manager

Wouldn’t it be great to start an online store with very little investment upfront and manage it from anywhere in the world? Even better, have someone else pay your upfront inventory costs and manage the processing and shipment of orders. It sounds like it’s too good to be true, but it’s not, if you know about drop shipping.

If you’re not familiar with drop shipping, to put it simply, drop shipping is a fulfillment model where you don’t keep the products you sell in your stock.  Instead, you partner with a wholesale supplier that not only stocks the inventory for you, but the supplier then processes and sends orders directly to your customers – you never see or touch the product!

The Advantages

There are a lot of advantages to this fulfillment model. The biggest advantage is not having to buy inventory upfront. It’s basically a pay-as-you-go model because you don’t purchase product until you make a sale and the customer has paid, so you don’t tie up your funds in inventory. And since you don’t have to pick, pack and ship the products, it frees up your time to focus on what matters – revenue generating activities like promoting your website and investigating marketing tactics.  Spending time on promoting your website is key to your eCommerce success.  The fact that it’s easy to establish an eCommerce store with the drop ship model is a double edged sword – it’s as easy for others as it is for you!  That means competition is sometimes steep. However, with a little bit of time and effort, you can make your store stand out, resulting in a successful online business.

Some Drawbacks Do Exist

Like anything else, the good sometimes comes with a little bad.  In the case of drop shipping, aside from competition, there are some other drawbacks associated with the fulfillment model, but nothing that can’t be overcome with a little planning and strategizing. By putting your product fulfillment in the hands of another, you do give up a degree of control in terms of the way the product is packed and shipped, as well as running the risk of an item being out of stock. The latter is easily overcome by working with multiple suppliers with overlapping product lines so you always have a backup plan.

Overall, the drawbacks are minimal in comparison to what it would cost you, in both time and money, to stock, house and ship products yourself. And at the end of the day, drop shipping isn’t a new concept.  In fact it’s a fulfillment model trusted by some of the big guys in the eCommerce game, such as Sears and Home Depot, giving them an opportunity to expand product lines without dealing with the hassles associated with the additional inventory.

How To Get Started

Figuring out the right products to sell and then finding a wholesaler you can trust is the tricky part.  There are a lot of resources out there to help with this process, and then of course there is the good old Google search.  When doing a web search, be mindful that wholesale suppliers are traditionally not the best marketers, so you may have to dig deep into the search engine results to find the right partner.

Final Thoughts

Drop shipping offers a great alternative method to get started, or expand your current product offering, without having to dip too far into your own pocket. Of course there will be some investment involved in establishing your eCommerce presence, but nothing compared to what it would cost if you had to stock and ship your own product.

For a full list of both the benefits and drawbacks of the drop ship fulfillment model, along with some tips on how to get started, check out our eBook, What’s the Deal with Drop Shipping?  

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How Were Holiday Sales? With Too Much Data, It’s Hard to Tell.

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura HillsDydacomp Data How Were Holiday Sales?  With Too Much Data, It’s Hard to Tell.

The data has been collected but the results are confusing.  How did the 2013 holiday season sales perform overall?  Researchers seem to be divided on the numbers and what they mean to retailers.  There’s no simple answer to the big question, “was 2013 a good holiday season for retailers?” Shopper Trak and the National Retail Federation (NRF) were divided in the first seasonal measure of Black Friday Sales.  Shopper Trak reported a 2.3% gain while the NRF reported a 3.9% loss over 2012. The many reports and the varied metrics used to assess holiday sales have made the holiday season of 2013 hard to call.

MasterCard publishes a credit card purchases report; Shopper Trak uses data from its Shopper counting devices combined with cash register transaction information.  The NRF hires a polling firm to ask consumers about their spending then makes estimates based on the responses. Online sales, reported as a separate category, contributed to the confusion. comScore which tracks eCommerce figures, reported a 10% increase in online sales; however they only includes purchases made from desktop computers, not mobile devices.  Retail analysts warn that the real score for the season can’t be given in a single number – it is best to look for a separate scorecard for each retailer.  Understandably, retailers play it close to the vest, remaining positive without sharing detailed information.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm maintains that the only holiday score that matters to retailers are their margins and whether they come out of the holiday season profitably.  This is certainly true for small to medium-sized eCommerce retailers as they sort out their results. The big picture data may be helpful as a comparison to industry averages, but the only true and meaningful measure is how your business has performed.

As you review your 2013 holiday season results, determine where you succeeded and where you could improve.  Were you visible in places where your shoppers could easily find and interact with you?  Did you create the best possible shopping experience and did you handle all orders effectively and efficiently?  Were there any bottlenecks in your back office operations that you could be improved this year.  It’s worth the time to reflect on these questions now – it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2014 holiday season.

For additional perspectives behind keeping the retail forecast score, click here to read this article by NorthJersey.com’s Senior Writer, Joan Verdon.

 

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End-to-End EDI: The Key to Running an Efficient Business

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Posted by: Rebecca Kaelin, Marketing Coordinator, Logicbroker

It’s an indisputable fact that eCommerce has changed the way we do business  – just ask any eTailer. While each eTailer strives to be more efficient and keep up with customer demand, more effective means of communication became necessary. That’s where Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) comes in.

EDI involves the transfer of data between organizations through electronic means, replacing postal mail, fax, and email. Though email is an electronic approach, documents exchanged via email still require someone to open, read, and translate the message, which can slow down processing and open the door to errors.  Due to its speed and considerable cost savings, EDI has become the medium of choice to transmit electronic documents and business information. Typical documents exchanged via EDI include purchase orders, invoices, and advance shipment notices (ASNs).

So what can EDI do for you? Well, eTailers that elect to implement end-to-end EDI allow their businesses to perform more efficiently. Without manual touches, errors are eliminated from the order fulfillment process, saving you time and money. Tracking information can be brought over, ensuring it is always accurate, which eliminates costly shipping errors. When there are no errors, no time will need to be allocated to correct them. With manual EDI, if you were importing/exporting information multiple times a day, it would be easy to duplicate or miss orders, which would alter the authenticity of your books. If numbers were off, time would be lost painstakingly going over orders to find out where the error was. Fortunately, end-to-end EDI ensures this scenario never happens.

EDI has been praised for its efficiency and automation capabilities, but only an end-to-end EDI solution can guarantee manual touches will be eliminated from your order fulfillment process. Many retailers and suppliers will implement EDI, yet still have to log into multiple portals to verify and complete orders. If you are spending just one hour a day manually processing orders, in a typical work year that will add up to 250 hours, which is simplified to 31 work days. With an end-to-end EDI solution, you get that month back. Your end-to-end EDI provider maps to your trading partner’s EDI so documents flow effortlessly between the systems and the need for you to log into portals is eliminated.

Your EDI solution can also act as an integration hub by connecting your backend systems. With an EDI integration hub, the powerful systems your business depends on can communicate seamlessly. EDI messages will be received and translated and deposited automatically into the appropriate system. Purchase/sales orders will flow from your shopping cart or trading partner directly into your order management software, and pricing and inventory updates can be brought up from your OMS into your shopping cart. Your EDI provider can also automatically trigger the sending of PO Acks (purchase order acknowledgements), ASNs (advance shipment notices), and invoices. With these backend efficiencies, your staff will not be tied up with manually fulfilling order information. If your backend is running inefficiently, customers will be turned away because of inaccurate stock and poor ratings. But, with a powerful backend that runs efficiently and reliably, your main focus can be developing your front end and growing your business.

In today’s eCommerce ecosystem, EDI is becoming a mandate. EDI opens the door to more business opportunities because of the efficiencies it creates, such as processing orders faster and eliminating manual tasks. By implementing an end-to-end EDI solution, you are optimizing your business in a way that regular EDI cannot. Check out this blog for more information on implementing end-to-end EDI..

Access a special on demand webinar, Tools to Connect Your Online Store and Back Office, created by Dydacomp and Logicbroker to learn how Logicbroker’s deep integration with Dydacomp’s M.O.M. (Multichannel Order Management System) fully automates the EDI order process.

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Shoppers Look for January Deals

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, Vice President, Marketing

The after holiday sales started before the holidays even ended this year with mega-markdowns seen on holiday items and popular gifts as retailers did all they could to attract shoppers across all channels.  We have come to expect savings of up to 75% off pricing for holiday merchandise and similar deep discounts for winter clothing and accessories left over from the holidays. January has traditionally been a good month for home goods and promotions offered by furniture retailers on in stock and custom furniture.

In addition to clothing, holiday items and furniture, there are other good deals to be had in January and shoppers never tire of seeking out bargains. Many start the new year off resolving to spend less without compromising their shopping habits.  Others look for the amazing buys that can be had before their holiday credit card bills arrive in their mailboxes.

For what’s trending in January, we turn to Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch.com columnist to help shoppers save money. We offer our own observations and tips along with Jeanette’s advice. Online and multi-channel retailers can aid shoppers in making the most of their post-holiday spending by offering deals and promotions to help move leftover inventory and also offer deals on the following items:

  • White sales have been a January tradition since the first white sale in 1878.  Towels are a major component of the traditional white sale and upgrading bathroom towels can give this important room a whole new look for very little money. The same for sheets, bedspreads and other linens.

 

  • Hot tubs and spas are not normally items that people are thinking about after the holidays so retailers tend to get creative with deals to try to move inventory.  Since these items need to be installed, buying on sale while sales are slower will usually enable you to pick your timing as far as installation. If you already have a hot tub or spa at home, now is a good time to make sure it is running efficiently and schedule any needed maintenance.  Look for deals on accessories and cleaning products for spas and hot tubs also.

 

  • Coffee sales offer multiple ways to save.  The first way is for coffee-themed gifts (hot cocoa and teas also) which are popular holiday gift items that get creatively packaged but don’t always move off the shelves. Minimum discounts after the holiday are 50% on these items with deeper discounts often available.  So even if you don’t need all of the items in the gift set, you’re still saving money on the coffee, tea or cocoa mix that you will use and enjoy.  The second way to save on coffee is to check gift card marketplaces like Cardpool.com or Raise.com. According to the National Retail Federation’s Gift Card Spending Survey, some 19% of gift cards purchased are for coffee.  These often end up on gift card marketplace sites at 10 to 25% discounts.
  • January is the month when people try to get rid of their unwanted gift cards.  These are not only ones received during the holidays, but throughout the year as well. As mentioned above, gift cards that people received but don’t really want can be found on gift card marketplace sites and purchased at a discount. Just check for expiration dates and fees before you purchase. If you don’t want to venture into buying pre-owned gift cards online, check with your friends, family and coworkers and create your own gift card exchange market.
  • Men’s Formal Wear hits the sale racks this month. Although the holiday black-tie events season is over and wedding season is still months away, it’s not too early to think about when you may need formal wear for future special occasions.  Tuxedo rentals are typically at 20% of the purchase price, so look ahead and estimate how often you’ll need formal wear. Investing in a tuxedo or formal attire, especially on sale, can save you repeated rental costs plus the time and effort involved in renting – measuring in advance, picking up and returning. If you are going through your closets and find suits that you no longer need, you can take them to a resale shop where you get cash for your items or donate them to local organizations that resell or reuse them.  The Save-A-Suit Foundation provides former military personnel with business attire and accepts both men’s and women’s clothing.
  • Tech accessories such as cell phone cases, headphones, and wireless speakers were great gift items this past holiday season.  Now that the holidays are behind us, these items are on sales and being heavily promoted.  Office supply stores will be discounting a lot of these and other items during January as well.

Whatever deals, specials, sales and promotions you offer this January, be sure to be visible through email, social media, direct mail or wherever your shoppers are found. Use customer data from previous orders to identify shoppers that would be likely targets for your promotions and engage with them to get them to your site.

The full text of Jeanette’s article, “There Are Deals to Be Had in January” can be found at online.wsj.com/news/articles/.

Happy New Year and happy selling!

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Lessons Learned: Avoiding Holiday Shipping Woes

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse reported that U.S. retail sales rose 3.5% during this past holiday season.  According to ComScore Inc. merchandise purchased via personal computers rose 10% to $42.75 billion.   IBM Digital Analytics cited Internet sales soaring 37% over 2012 in the last weekend before Christmas as last minute shoppers rushed to order gifts at the 11th hour. Statistics indicate that while the bulk of holiday spending still takes place at physical locations, online shopping has gained immense popularity and is becoming a much larger part of holiday spending.  This is good news for online retailers.

Reliable deliveries are a crucial part of the online shopping experience, especially with shoppers that wait until the last minute to make their selections.  This year Amazon raised the bar by offering expedited shipping with Sunday package delivery via the USPS and packages guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. Many retailers followed Amazon’s lead, extending their order cut-off dates, promising same-day and Christmas delivery even if orders were placed as late as December 23rd. Shoppers’ reactions were so overwhelming that UPS and FedEx experienced overloaded systems that caused numerous Christmas and same-day delivery promises to go unmet.

The growing popularity of free shipping to entice consumers was another major factor that resulted in increased shipment volume. In the third week of December, Amazon’s Prime membership drew more than 1 million people.  Prime membership ($79 annual fee) offers free two-day shipping.  Most last minute online orders needed to ship via air or other expedited methods to reach their destination in time.  Bad weather across the nation cancelled or delayed many flights which contributed to the shipping woes.

Chetan Ghai, senior product officer at ShopperTrak feels that online businesses will continue to experience the greatest growth although he feels that next year, people who procrastinate until a few days before the holiday may be wary of relying on deliveries.  He said, “I think there will be some people who choose to go into the store, rather than risk a missed delivery.”

Being prepared comes from lessons learned and this holiday shopping season was certainly a teachable moment for both shipping companies and online retailers. Both need to pay attention to aggressive shipping options, promotional offerings, weather considerations, order volume and timing issues to avoid a repeat of 2014’s shipping woes.

There is a lot of revenue riding on the ‘run-up to Christmas’ and 2014 will only see the gain of one more shopping day (26 to 27 days) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Shipping schedules that allow for unforeseen delays will need to be factored in to deliveries.  Connecting with customers early in the season (before Thanksgiving), offering more realistic order cut-off dates, not waiting until the last minute to offer the best deals and handling logistics more efficiently can  help to avoid future holiday shipping issues.

For a closer look at the issues and opportunities surrounding shipping, please view the On Demand Webinar,  Because Free Shipping Isn’t Free: The Top 7 Reasons You Need Effective Retail Promotions.

 

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Advantages of Drop Shipping vs. Ship from Store

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

Whether you’re managing an established or growing retail business, you know too well the challenges of processing orders in a timely manner and managing inventory efficiently.   Retailers of all sizes have found benefits in alternative order fulfillment strategies such as drop shipping.

Unlike direct order fulfillment or ship from store, drop shipping is an order fulfillment strategy that does not require a retailer to keep products on hand in inventory; rather it relies on fulfillment and distribution centers, wholesale distributors and manufacturers to ship orders directly to customers. One of the biggest benefits to the merchant is that a physical inventory storage location or warehouse is not needed.

Instead, online retailers focus on managing their webstore(s) and other sales channels to monitor inventory levels and order fulfillment processes. Retailers often supply their own shipping labels and packaging materials to their drop ship vendors so that their customers receive the items they ordered with the same packaging as if they received them directly from the retailer.

In addition to avoiding the upfront investment needed to buy and keep products in inventory, drop shipping offers additional advantages that make it attractive to online merchants. These include:

  • Offering more products for sale without the overhead of space or budget constraints
  • Sourcing products from a wider variety of vendors at competitive rates
  • Excess inventory concerns are minimized
  • Better shipping rates due to increased volume and shipments aligned with geography
  • Eliminating or reducing lead times by shipping orders directly to customers
  • Getting to market more quickly without having to wait for inventory
  • Offering a broader range of products that will help to attract more customers
  • Having more time to sell products – time is not needed to receive, store, pick, pack or ship products
  • Reducing the overall investment – eCommerce start-ups may not require significant investment to get up and selling

The drop shipping process is relatively straightforward; a customer places an order, the retailer receives the order and collects payment and then either manually or electronically alerts the distributor/shipper, issuing a purchase order for the item(s) and providing shipping instructions to deliver the items to the customer.

If the online retailer has not automated the order management and fulfillment process, they may face challenges with drop shipping.  For drop shipping to be a successful strategy, retailers should automate the order fulfillment process and keep the following information current for every item they sell:

  • Product descriptions
  • Product images
  • Price
  • Available inventory
  • Accurate shipping weights

This requires open and continual communications with your drop shipping vendors.  An inventory and order management system enables retailers to streamline transaction processing while reducing or eliminating manual data entry errors and multiple data entry requirements. Consider a system that offers electronic data interface (EDI) enabling the electronic exchange of data to allow process automation and efficiencies.

When using drop shipping for order fulfillment, retailers rely on the distributor or manufacturer to ship orders correctly, efficiently and on time.  Larger retailers are able to use their volume to compel their drop shipping vendors to comply with their shipping and customer service requirements but SMBs may not have the same leverage.  It becomes very important to check references on drop shipping vendors and track their performance once they have started to ship. Have procedures in place to respond in the event of order mix ups, out of stock situations, customer service challenges and product returns. Address issues as quickly as possible to keep your customers happy.

Drop shipping continues to grow in popularity as an order fulfillment strategy, especially with SMB eCommerce and multichannel merchants.  According to Jeremy Hanks, co-founder and CEO of Dropship.com, “The use of drop shipping to satisfy demand among ecommerce retailers has been one of the main advantages of doing business on the Internet.”

 

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Your Brand Logo – To Update or Not To Update – That is the Question

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Yahoo! unveiled its new logo design recently and it has opened up the conversation about the value of logo redesigns for companies and brands. There are no hard and fast rules for when it’s time to update your company or brand logo.  Some companies can go for decades without a change and other companies make it a part of their marketing strategy to update or change their logos on a regular, pre-planned basis. Sometimes all it takes is a comment about the logo, whether from management, on social media or from the business owner that gets the process started.

In 2013 many well-known companies including Facebook, Hooters, Ernst & Young, Instagram and Procter & Gamble made changes to their logos. For the first time in its 19 year history, multinational internet corporation Yahoo! redesigned its highly identifiable logo, issuing a “logo a day” over a month for people to weigh in on. Most logos are introduced and accepted without incident.  However, in 2010, The Gap unveiled a new logo that was met with universal dislike, prompting this high profile retailer to ditch their new logo and return to the old.

The purpose of a logo is to get the attention of your audience and make a positive impact and lasting impression.  It should enable easy and instant recognition, conveying who you are and a realistic image of what your company and/or brand represents.

How do you determine if your logo could use some updating?  And if you decide to make a change should you go for a full redesign or just some more up-to-date touches?  We’ve provided a few things to consider when evaluating these questions.

Is Your Logo Showing Signs of Age?

Just as clothing goes out of style (think of shoulder pads or parachute pants from the ‘80s), fonts, popular colors and images can make your logo look dated.  Even classic clothing – think trench coats – get refreshed every now and then with new colors and updated styling.  Often all that’s needed is an update to remain current to capture the attention of today’s digitally savvy audiences.

You can make simple changes that will enable you to retain your logo’s original design while updating its look. Subtle changes may help you attract new customers while remaining fully recognizable to existing clients.  Look at Facebook’s new logo and see how a simple change (no definitive bottom to their well known lower case f) makes a very distinct visual difference.

Who Originally Designed Your Logo?

Today’s logos need to translate across more media channels than ever before. Companies may not always budget for professional design services to create a logo and build their own logo without the benefit of a design professional.  Although these logos may look nice, they don’t always work from a technical standpoint and may not transfer from online to print or from a PC to a tablet, phone or other mobile device very well.  It is always a good idea to have a professional design, or at a minimum, review your logo to be sure it works across multiple media.  Even professionally designed logos may need to be changed or updated from time to time and this should be handled by a design professional for the best results.

Has Your Company Undergone a Major Change or Transformation?

There will be times when updating your company or brand logo will be necessary.  Major business changes, such as a new name, change in ownership, business focus, merger or acquisition, new product introduction, pursuing a new audience, or business expansion may all warrant a change to your logo.

You may find that you no longer stand out from your competitors and need to find ways to differentiate yourself. With your logo being one of the first things a customer sees, it is good to have a logo that stands out from others in your industry and readily identifies your company and products.

New Logo or Rebrand?

Rebranding is a larger decision.  Companies consider rebranding for many of the reasons listed in the above paragraph, but the change may go deeper than just the company logo.  Rebranding can include the company image, product lines, individual products and beyond; often eliminating an old brand and introducing a new one.

Your website and/or storefront are places to showcase your brand image.  Refreshing the image through a change in logo design is an investment that can carry your business to the next level and make a huge impact on your company and/or brands’ creditability and success.

For a fun look at popular company logos that have changed significantly over time, click here. (http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/logo-evolution/)  For additional information on updating your brand logo, check out “9 Answers To Why, When And How You Should Update Your Brand Logo” at http://eleventygroup.com/site/2013/09/11/why-when-and-how-you-should-update-your-brand-logo/.

 

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SMB Retailers – It’s A Good Time to Prepare for Growth

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Working with many SMBs, the newspaper headline “Advice for small companies: Take stock, take risks” caught my attention.  This article by Joyce Rosenberg, small business editor at The Associated Press, encourages small business owners to step back from their day-to-day operations to evaluate how they are running their companies.  According to Rosenberg, crisis mode has passed and business owners need to be sure their companies are poised to take advantage of growth opportunities expected on the horizon.

A recent National Small Business survey taken in June and July indicates that small business owner confidence is up 38% from six months ago.  The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index July survey shows that confidence has risen 9 points from the start of 2013.  Indications are positive and business owners need to be ready to respond to customer and market demands that are to come.  One issue that small businesses are facing is the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.  Businesses don’t have a clear picture of what it will ultimately end up costing to provide health care coverage for their employees.  Paul Sarvadi, adviser to small business owners and CEO of Insperity, a Houston-based human resources provider advises not letting this uncertainty limit or stall future plans.

Rosenberg cites three major steps that small business owners should be taking right now as they prepare for a strong year end and continued growth in 2014.

  • Look Ahead –Step back and take a hard and realistic look at where improvements are needed.  Reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and differentiating yourself from your competitors are all areas that need to be explored.  Don’t be afraid to be critical in analyzing your business and don’t be locked in to how things have been done in the past.
  • Take Risks – Business is risky and doing nothing can be the riskiest behavior of all.  Be prepared to respond to opportunities.  Consumer spending and the economy can rebound quickly and you’ve got to be ready to jump in to take advantage.
  • Be Good to Employees – The backbone of your organization – retaining good employees needs to be a priority.  Determine what rewards would be appreciated by your staff and implement incentive programs that will have the best return.

The growth trends cited in this article are consistent with those we observe for multichannel etailers transacting business through our order management and eCommerce solutions.  Running an SMB retail business is as much of an art as it is a science.  Connecting back office retail operations with the eCommerce store is essential to bridge the gap between the orders coming in through your online store, the fulfillment of orders and inventory visibility on the back end.

To access Joyce Rosenberg’s full article, click here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/advice-small-companies-take-stock-take-risks.

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Managing Inventory During Peak Selling Periods

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dydacomp Santa 2014 1 Managing Inventory During Peak Selling Periods

Inventory management can be a time-consuming and error-prone process for multi-channel eCommerce businesses.  The quality and accuracy of inventory management is especially critical during the peak holiday selling season, which can be can be the single most important time of the year for these retailers.  According to the NRF, nearly 20% of retail sales happen from Black Friday through Christmas with close to 40% of sales taking place between November 1 and December 15.  Having the right amount of inventory on hand to meet consumer demands can make all the difference in the success of a retailer’s holiday season.

Putting time into some advance planning can better prepare you to meet the unpredictable demands that your business will face, especially this year with only 26 shopping days.  Without proper planning, this peak holiday selling season can create a perfect storm of inventory management challenges.  By recognizing problem areas likely to cause problems, you’ll be better equipped to weather the season. Avoiding stockouts, fulfillment bottlenecks and meeting delivery demands can make the season merry and bright for you.

So how do today’s multichchannel retailers address these challenges?  Here are suggestions based upon our research and our customers’ experiences:

  • Get an Early Start

Synchronize your schedule of marketing campaigns with the availability of products featured in promotions. Actively manage merchandise assortments in conjunction with marketing plans to know what items you’ll need to keep the demand plans balanced. Get areas of your warehouse or store ready to receive the products you’ll need and have a logistics plan to efficiently move these items. If you’re drop shipping, coordinate schedules with drop shippers and/or warehouses that store and distribute your products.

  • Create a Holiday Sales Forecast

Analyze previous holiday sales, consider anticipated consumer trends and, if the research is available, evaluate recommendations in your industry segment.  Determine what worked and what areas are in need of improvement.  Consider orders from your best shoppers and look at their buying behaviors during peak selling periods. Look at impulse or fast moving items that tend to sell out quickly and be sure you can readily restock these items to meet demand.

  • Have Accurate Information

Accurate inventory and sales data enables you to make efficient and effective decisions before the season starts and throughout your busiest holiday times. And don’t forget to manage your customer list along with any mailing lists you may purchase.

  • Automate the Inventory Management Function

An inventory management system allows you to track and control your inventory across all sources. Inventory management software that integrates data across multiple selling channels adjusts your inventory levels when an order is placed or a sale is made. Inventory management software allows you to track your inventory status and will make it easy to manage and fulfill orders from shopping to shipping all year long.

  • Connect with Suppliers

Your vendors have holiday sales goals just like you and are likely to be looking for ways to get their customers to buy from them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or delivery terms which can help you save money and keep you stocked with the items you need.

  • Don’t Overlook the Details

If you ship your own merchandise, in addition to having the right amount of inventory available, you also need to be sure that you are well stocked with other retail holiday essentials including gift wrap and bags, gift cards, bows, special holiday packaging, extra shipping boxes, packaging tape and other supplies.  You can’t move your inventory if you don’t have the packing and shipping supplies you need.  If you work with a drop shipper, drop shipping transfers the pick, pack and ship tasks to the shipper.

  • Think Ahead

Give some thought to how you’ll handle returns and the impact anticipated return levels will have on your inventory levels.

Take the necessary steps now to ensure you have the inventory on hand meet your shoppers’ demands.  For additional tips to help you have a great holiday selling season, access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes”.

Happy & Successful Holiday Selling!

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