Archive for the ‘Shipping’ Category

Holiday Season Offers Exceptional Deals

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Consumers have become savvy shoppers and adapted to the spending cycle of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  While they clamber for deals over this weekend, they also realize that more promotions will follow over the next few weeks.   With only 25 shopping days this season, retailers are pulling out all stops to attract shoppers both in store and online.

Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch.com columnist has provided some shopping insights for consumers looking to take advantage of great deals and discounts to help them fill the stockings of family and friends. These cover a wide range of products to help buyers stretch holiday dollars. Below are items that she is highlighting to shoppers as trends for December.

  • Classic Toys are never out of style.  Kids may have digital wants but according to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Top Toys Survey, classics like Barbies and Legos still make it to the top of many wish lists.  Lego offers bundled sets at one low price that can be given as two separate gifts.  If you order Barbie and accessories from the Mattel website, signing up for their email list before you shop will save you 10%.  If you missed the Thanksgiving and Black Friday toy specials, you can still get a bargain as many of the season’s most popular toys are discounted even more in December.

  • Hot items from the NFL.  If your NFL team is like mine and out of the running for a playoff spot, you may be able to grab some clearance priced licensed gear during December.  And these prices will likely go lower after December 25th as retailers try to empty their shelves. Game tickets are also subject to a team’s success (or lack of) with underperforming team tickets available at a discount – TiqIQ’s NFL Power Rankings has the average price for the Jacksonville Jaguars at $59 whereas Chicago Bears tickets are averaging $374.

  • DVDs can be a great buy. Blockbuster is closing its doors, announcing the closing of its remaining 300 stores by January.  They have planned giant close out sales for movies, music and even video games.  In addition, with more people streaming movies, stores are finding themselves with excess DVD inventory.  Clearance bins often have great buys on popular and classic movies.
  • We all need clothing. If you can wait until December 26th, the bargains will get better.  Clothing, accessories, and shoes are the most returned gifts which often get further mark downs before being returned to the shelves.  Excess inventory will typically be reduced after the holiday for even more savings.
  • The go-to Gift Card.  Many retailers and restaurants offer gift card bonuses at this time of year. Buy a specified amount of gift cards and get a bonus gift card that you can give as a gift or use to treat yourself.  Just be sure to check the fine print and expiration date of the bonus cards – these often expire within a shorter time period and may require a minimum purchase.

Great offers that no one knows about won’t bring shoppers to your store or website so continue to reach out to your shoppers with whatever promotions and deals you are offering.  For additional holiday sales strategies, view Dydacomp’s webinar, The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes.   

The full text of Jeanette’s article, “Surprising Deals of the Holiday Season” can be found at MarketWatch.  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304011304579220462813394556

Happy holiday selling!

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Amazon Continues to Redefine Online Retailing

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

amazon growthA recent 60 Minutes segment featured a rare interview with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.  In preparation for the show, 60 Minutes was granted unprecedented access inside Amazon’s operations and was able to visit one of the 1.2 million square foot seventh generation fulfillment centers (there are 96 of these worldwide) that are at the heart of Amazon’s customer-centric approach to order fulfillment.

A classic American business success story selling his first book on Amazon in 1995, Bezos shared information on the following:

  • Humble Beginnings – Bezos used to drive the packages to the post office himself for shipping.
  • Fulfillment Center Efficiencies – Amazon warehouses can store twice as many goods as they did five years ago. By building distribution centers close to the customers they serve, they are able to accelerate the delivery process. Their centers are automated, hi-tech marvels.
  • Other Amazon Businesses – Amazon Fresh offering same-day grocery delivery; Amazon Fashion offering high-end clothing; Original television programming – its first series Alpha House was written by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau; and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering cloud based data storage and website hosting for hundreds of thousands of outside companies and government agencies, including Netflix and the CIA.
  • Company Philosophies – building customer trust, delivering shareholder value and always looking to increase market share and improve the customer experience.
  • The Future – more distribution centers, more efficient operations and drones as delivery vehicles for the majority of Amazon orders – this is a must see!

Amazon has 225 million customers throughout the world and its self-proclaimed goal is “to sell everything to everyone,” and delivering it as quickly and efficiently as possible.  For the full interview between Charlie Rose and Jeff Bezos, go to http://www.cbsnews.com/news/amazons-jeff-bezos-looks-to-the-future/.

Check out the Dydacomp on-demand webinar that provides information on selling through Amazon Marketplace.  It is a must watch if you are considering Amazon Marketplace or looking for a more efficient way to manage your existing Amazon Account.  Click here to access this free on-demand webinar.

What are the Top 1000 e-Retailers Offering this Holiday Season?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Etailers-give-the-gift-of-free-shipping

Source: http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/11/11/most-top-e-retailers-offer-free-holiday-shipping

Attracting Shoppers Is Critical to a Successful Holiday Shopping Season

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing

Facing the shortest holiday selling season in quite some time, many U.S. retailers are already well into their holiday promotions and special offers to get shoppers into their stores and placing their online orders as early as possible. Traditionally, U.S. merchants have focused on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, to get their holiday sales season underway. Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday when the best online deals are typically offered.gift-card-bow

Kimberly Greenberger, an analyst with Morgan Stanley predicts this year’s holiday season to be the most promotional-oriented and discounted since 2008 with eCommerce sales accounting for between 12 and 13% of overall retail sales.  Last year’s eCommerce figure was 11% of total sales.

This year, Black Friday is November 28th and Cyber Monday is December 2nd, which are both late in the holiday shopping game.  Hanukkah is early this year and all of this has prompted many retailers to get a big jump start on this critical selling season.  Wal-Mart has already kicked off its online deals, starting with an online sales event on November 1st – a full month earlier than usual.  They offered some of the lowest prices to be found this season along with free shipping on 99% of online items – more typically the type of promotions that were previously reserved for Cyber Monday.

Wal-Mart isn’t the only major retailer to get an early start.  Toys R Us started their holiday ads earlier than ever before and even offered cash back incentives to loyalty rewards customers who purchased specific toys by October 31 – Halloween.  They’ve added another incentive and are offering their Black Friday deals to their loyalty rewards members on the day before Thanksgiving.  Target is also spending more on holiday advertising, extending its price-match policy and expanding its buy online/pick up in store service.  Best Buy has run Holiday Kickoff sales via email and in the stores while L.L. Bean and Lands End are offering early discounts as well, both online and in store to attract this year’s budget conscious shoppers. Many retailers have even opted to open on Thanksgiving this year to give shoppers more time for their holiday shopping.

So how can you as an SMB retailer attract customers to your site to do their holiday shopping? Follow the lead of the big box retailers and get out there early and often.  Look to promote your products in the online and social media places where you know your customers will be congregating.  Take advantage of social media channels that your shoppers will likely be visiting this season and become highly visible. This could be the time for Our Staff’s Holiday Picks Pinterest page.

Use third party sites to feature your items and associated promos.  Many customers time their purchases according to coupons and other promos that you can easily distribute.  Keep in mind that mobile device usage for product and gift research as well as actual ordering is growing rapidly so be sure to make your offers attractive and easy to read on all platforms.  The larger retailers will continue to use Free Shipping, often with a minimum purchase, to entice customers which means you should too, if at all possible.  After a decade of offering free shipping on orders of $25.00, Amazon has raised their limit to $35.00 for orders to receive free shipping.  If free shipping isn’t possible for you, link your order management and fulfillment system directly to your carrier so that you can provide the lowest shipping price options.

Higher visibility helps lead to higher sales and there are ways to attract large numbers of motivated and ready-to-spend holiday shoppers.  Incorporate a third-party service, such as buySAFE, to verify that you are a reputable merchant and all information shared over your site is guaranteed secure. According to buySAFE, displaying this seal has resulted in a six-percent increase in conversion rates.

Study shopping abandonment data on an ongoing basis and reach out to those shoppers.  Consider running targeted campaigns to drive consumers back to your site to complete their orders – sweeten the deal, if needed with additional incentives.  Come up with catchy headlines and text to cut through the deluge of holiday promotions out there.  Help your shoppers by counting down the shopping days and devise promotions that tie into time, such as a gift a day promotion, featuring different items each week, or play off the 8 Days of Hanukkah or 12 Days of Christmas. Consider a Wrap It Up Early theme or ‘Tis the Season to Be Shopping with special items and prices offered.

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”.  There’s no such thing as over reaching your customers this holiday season, especially with targeted and enticing promotions and offers.

Happy Holiday Selling!

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November Deals Can Help Shoppers Stretch Holiday Budgets

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Black Friday has been the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, featuring unbeatable prices especially for popular electronic gifts, gadgets and gizmos. But this year that has changed.  With only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas, this is one of the shortest shopping seasons in the past decade with retailers and shoppers facing six fewer days to shop than in 2012.

According to a recent survey from Shop.org, 32% of retailers will be offering discounts earlier than they did last year which helps shoppers who want to maximize their holiday budgets. To see what’s trending for your customers to stretch their budgets and manage their expectations in November, we’ve taken a few tips from Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist.

Below are Jeanette’s November deals and promotion suggestions to shoppers that range from gifts, home improvements and turkey dinners to help make the holidays bright. We’ve included a few of our own suggestions as well.

  • In addition to shopping and comparing early holiday promotional pricing for electronics, Jeanette recommends shopping on Mondays as additional discounts and rebates are often offered earlier in the week. Trade-in/trade-up programs are becoming more popular which can go a long way toward making holiday electronics purchases more affordable.
  • Photos and portraits are popular holiday gifts and November is the month to get these done. You’ll have the finished photos in time for the holidays and many studios offer photo greeting cards at reduced rates if you are having photos done.
  • Start home winterizing projects now to help reduce utility bills and also save on winterizing materials and products including insulation, weather stripping and programmable thermostats.  Consider a switch to LED lighting for the holidays – the electrical savings can offset the cost of the replacing the lights.
  • Look for food retailers to be luring shoppers in with extra coupons, low price guarantees on popular holiday food items and other holiday special offers. Look for free shipping if you are purchasing holiday food items online either for yourself or as gifts.  Don’t overlook the free with qualifying purchase items when shopping since you’ll likely spend over their qualifying amount as you stock up for parties, family dinners and extra food and holiday goodies to have on hand.
  • If you are not already a loyalty club member at the places you do a lot of shopping, now’s the time to sign up. These programs typically offer both savings and rewards which can help to stretch holiday budgets. Check credit card promotions for those that offer significant incentives and rewards (think cash back) that you can enjoy throughout the season and beyond.

Reach your shoppers early and often and keep them informed about special products, pricing or promotions that you are offering. View Dydacomp’s webinar, The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes for additional holiday sales strategies.

The full text of Jeanette’s article can be found at The Wall Street Journal.

Happy holiday selling!

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Technology Helps Sporting Goods Retailers Score with Customers

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, Vice President of Marketing, Dydacomp

The Sporting Goods industry generates close to $40 billion in annual revenue and covers a wide variety of activities from individual to team sports and from archery and biking to yoga and ziplining.  Sporting goods retailers are starting to see a rebound in consumer buying habits as more people of all ages are becoming active for the health and well-being benefits while continuing to support local recreational sports and their favorite professional teams.

Local and online retailers are challenged to remain competitive despite pressure exerted by cost conscious consumers and price and inventory competition from department stores and big box stores. Critical to success in retail sporting goods is awareness of market trends, product mix shifts, customer needs and preferences. Sporting goods retailers need to have the ability to collect, analyze and be responsive to consumer demands, sales trends and changes in sporting equipment to be successful and score sales with their customers.

Sporting goods retailers need to implement effective market strategies to:

  • Offer the right mix of equipment, accessories and sports attire
  • Continuously analyze consumer preferences, shifts and sales trends
  • Manage inventory levels to stay ahead of seasonal sports and identified trends
  • Effectively time promotions, sales campaigns and special events to increase visibility across multiple channels
  • Provide special services, such as personalization, team outfitting or sports instruction clinics, whether in person or online

Small to medium sporting goods retailers need to find ways to differentiate themselves from what is available through mass market channels or to extend their business through online channels.  On a local level, they can stock unique or hard to find items, support local sports teams, provide extra services, and offer quick delivery with hassle-free returns to develop customer loyalty.  To sustain a multichannel business model, sporting goods retailers need to seamlessly integrate all business processes across all channels of business to capture data, manage inventory and shipping and create the best experience for their customers.  Dydacomp’s whitepaper “On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! Order Management Best Practices for Sporting Goods Retailers,” addresses the technology needed to capture, integrate and utilize data across multiple channels to level the playing field with larger retailers.   Click here to access this special report.

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As Car Sales Rise Aftermarket Auto Parts Retailers Can Benefit

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP, Marketing, Dydacomp

New car unit sales rose 1.5 million in August of this year, which was the highest level in more than six years and a 17% increase over August 2012.  Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, Chrysler and General Motors all posted double digit gains over August 2012 and are running leaner, more cost efficient organizations contributing to greater profitability. Chrysler and GM each forecast that total U.S. sales in August ran at an annual rate above 16 million, a pace not seen since November of 2007, a month before the start of the Great Recession.

The recovery in the auto industry is not confined to a single market segment.  It is broad based and includes luxury and small car buyers, along with work truck buyers which signal increased confidence among all consumers.  A combination of factors has been cited as the impetus behind this growth including:

  • Need to replace older vehicles (average age of cars and trucks is 11.4 years)
  • Low interest rates
  • High trade-in values
  • More people are working
  • Sweet lease deals
  • New vehicle designs
  • Fuel efficient options
  • Uptick in construction raising demand for pickup trucks

Aftermarket auto parts and accessories are also experiencing significant growth, with online sales well outpacing brick and mortar sales.  Hedges & Company, a digital agency specializing in the automotive aftermarket is forecasting online sales be nearly $4.4 billion in 2013, up from a revised $3.8 billion in 2012 to grow by 15.5% from 2012.

Several auto industry trends will greatly impact the aftermarket and aftermarket retailers need to take notice.   These include:

  • Big engines in both cars and trucks remain hot.  This has always been a sweet spot for the aftermarket companies that sell parts for these large engines, including parts to improve gas mileage and should continue.
  • Two new pony cars are expected in 2014 – a new Mustang and a new Camaro, which are always popular in-demand cars.  Aftermarket parts and accessory dealers need to be ready to react quickly with new products for these vehicles.
  • New light truck and SUV registrations have shown a 10.6% increase over last year.  This definitely is good news for aftermarket parts and accessory retailers in the truck market.

Amazon sells more auto parts and accessories than any other online retailer but many retailers who started selling through eBayMotors and Amazon are now looking to drive more customers through their own websites.

Just as the automakers have retrenched and improved their operations to weather the economic storm, aftermarket retailers need to refocus their efforts to better respond to shopper demand.  Customer satisfaction basics now drive the auto industry and aftermarket retailers need to be able be equally as responsive in connecting with their target audiences.  With more online business, you need to be sure that your eCommerce operation is ready to handle all of your customers’ needs. Provide better product descriptions, be sure your online order process is easy to use, add how-to videos, live customer support and become the go-to place for aftermarket parts and accessories.

For additional information and help with growing your auto parts and accessories business, plan to attend that 2013 SEMA from November 5–November 8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event drawing the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products. SEMA offers its members a variety of business tools and resources to help you make smarter business decisions and be more strategic and targeted with your promotions.  For information on the 2013 SEMA Show click here. 

For Dydacomp’s special white paper, The Keys to Drive the Business, Best Practices for Aftermarket Auto Parts Retailers, click here.

For the Associated Press article on U.S. auto sales for 2013 by Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, click here.   (http://www.theledger.com/article/20130904/NEWS/130909697/1178?Title=Double-Digits-Automakers-Report-Big-Gains-for-August).

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It’s time! Get Your eCommerce Site Ready for the Holidays

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

It’s that time of year – shoppers are starting their holiday shopping earlier and earlier and retailers need to be ready with timely offers, the right amount of inventory, and sufficient staff to handle the demand and to be ready to keep up with customer demand.  For a growing number of consumers, Back to School signals the start of the holiday shopping season.


When Consumers Begin Holiday Shopping

 

When consumers begin holiday shopping

Source: National Retail Federation (NRF) 2012
Following the lead of these early birds, well prepared retailers can begin holiday advertising and promotions to catch the almost 40% of shoppers who start shopping in September and October.  Help them to find the perfect gifts at the right prices early on.

Here are 5 Top Insights to help you prepare for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

  1. Free shipping increases online spending – but it must be managed appropriately. Take advantage of group shipping rates and “least-cost shipping” options to increase bottom line revenue.
  2. Manage stock levels to meet seasonal demand spikes and maintain inventory control. Be prepared for the Black Friday through Cyber Monday sales period.  Use last year’s sales as a benchmark for this year’s needs.
  3. Leverage best practices to ensure that you have visibility across all sales channels. Utilize cross channel online inventory control especially if you use third party eCommerce solutions and offsite fulfillment centers – have what you need so you don’t disappoint.
  4. Employ marketing and customer service approaches that work to engage and delight your shoppers. Use customer data to segment your site visitors and create targeted marketing for each segment. There’s no such thing as an over-satisfied customer.
  5. Optimize your existing operations to enable expansion into new marketplaces to uncover more buyers. Focus on the consumer experience and preferences that drive shopper’s choices. Don’t forget about Amazon, eBay and other online outlets for sales.

 

For additional information on how to be prepared for the upcoming holiday season access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Season and Holiday Rushes”.  You and your shoppers will be glad you did!

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Apparel Retailers Dress for eCommerce Success to Attract Shoppers

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Posted by Laura Hills, Vice President of Marketing, Dydacomp

Apparel retailing is a highly competitive sector and apparel retailers are keenly aware that today’s shoppers have no limits as to where, how and when they shop.  Where once the brick and mortar storefront was the only way of getting apparel into customer’s hands, shoppers today expect to be able to shop 24/7, 365 days a year.  According to Moody’s Investor Services, online apparel and footwear sales are expected to exceed $40 billion in 2013 and $45 billion in 2014.  It is estimated that online apparel and footwear sales account for close to 20% of total eCommerce sales in the U.S. and smart apparel retailers are honing in on this fast growing segment.

Apparel retailers must be active and visible in a variety of sales channels to reach the widest variety of new and repeat customers. Technology has enabled etailers to offer improved online merchandise presentation to present multiple views of an item in varying colors and styles so that website shoppers can interact with their selections.  Detailed customer reviews offer valuable online shopping assistance to simulate shopping with a friend.  Online shoppers are also attracted by special promotions, especially “free shipping,” which more retailers now feel pressure to offer.  Multi-channel retailers with brick and mortar locations often allow in-store returns to further enhance the flexibility of the online shopping experience.

An order management system can help online retailers gain visibility and bridge the gap between their eCommerce store and their back office to stay on top of available inventory and order progress across all sales channels. Order management systems support Customer Service activities to effectively engage with customers with timely and accurate order information.

“Best in Class” Apparel and Multi-channel Retailers focus on:

  • Effective Inventory Tracking – never miss a sale by stocking the latest fashion items
  • Superior Customer Service – solving problems and surpassing shopper expectations
  • Being Proactive – anticipating their customers’ wants and needs
  • Delivering Convenience – across all platforms and according to the shoppers’ schedules
  • Promoting Value – promotions and offers helps shoppers stretch and save their clothing dollars

A consumer-facing website, catalog sales and physical stores, or any combination, require a high level of coordination and information management with the objective to create a personal shopper experience across all retail platforms, encouraging shoppers to return again and again for their apparel needs.

Apparel retailers benefit from seamlessly integrating all business processes across multiple sales channels to capture data, manage inventory and shipping and create the best online shopping experience.   Utilizing an integrated order, inventory and customer management system will enable access to a complete history of previous purchases to create an enhanced level of personal service.  Having this information at the fingertips of customer service representatives facilitates up-selling and cross-selling and gives customer service staff the ability to make relevant purchase suggestions based on customers’ preferences from past purchases.  Capturing this information lets the retailer create targeted mailings and promotions aimed directly at the most likely to buy shoppers.

At Dydacomp, we have worked with thousands of SMB retailers and have learned from them what best practices they follow for success.  By delivering positive shopping experiences and interactions, apparel retailers create targeted promotions to attract and retain a constant stream of customers. Dydacomp’s whitepaper “Dressing for Success – Best Practices in Apparel and Specialty Retailing” addresses the characteristics, strategies and practices to grow your business.  Click here to access this special report.

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Accurate Inventory Visibility is Key to eCommerce Success

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Posted by Fred Lizza, CEO, Dydacomp

Help! I’ve just sold the same item on Amazon and through my eCommerce store.  I didn’t have enough in inventory, so I sold the same item twice to two separate buyers. How can I avoid this?

Does this sound familiar?

Inventory accuracy is a serious concern for multichannel SMB retailers.  It’s a problem either way to be overstocked or understocked.  Overstocked inventory leads to reduced margins, tying up cash that could have been invested in new equipment or products, enhancing an eCommerce store, or beefing up marketing efforts to drive additional sales. On the other hand, not having enough inventory results in backorders, cancellations, lost sales and possibly lost customers.

So, how do you strike the right balance?

Inventory visibility helps retailers determine what products are selling, when additional inventory is needed, and when it’s time to consider moving inventory on a third party business channel. This ability to plan and forecast is critical to a successful retail operation. Selling across multiple channels adds to the complexity of inventory management. Multichannel retailers need to track inventory across eCommerce operations such as Amazon, eBay, Google Checkout, eCommerce platforms, offsite fulfillment centers and/or phone/catalog fulfillment.

According to RFID Arena, inventory accuracy is currently trending at only 63% here in the U.S.[1]. They report that inaccurate inventory is often attributed to:

  • Improperly registering inbound goods
  • Poor record keeping
  • Lack of integration between order and inventory management
  • Items incorrectly marked
  • Shrinkage

So what’s a retailer to do?

Retailers can take the guess work out of inventory management by using technology to oversee inventory levels across all sales channels.  Use an automated order and inventory management solution to keep close tabs on every item in inventory, to track bin levels to know when to reorder and restock the best-selling products.  Alerts and reports help retailers determine when to discount or drop slow moving items and when to expand product offerings.  This way, they can quickly respond to changing market and consumer demands to keep inventory levels where they need to be.  This provides greater inventory control and helps avoid out of stock situations.  

Whether shipping direct or drop shipping from a warehouse or fulfillment center, cross channel inventory and purchasing control are essential across all platforms including third party eCommerce options. With an automated and integrated inventory system retailers will be better equipped to flexibly source inventory and handle complex supplier and multi-supplier fulfillment requirements to better meet customers’ demands.

Read more, access our latest whitepaper; Is Your Back Office Keeping Up With Your Online Store?  The Top 5 1/2 Reasons You Need an Order Management Solution.



[1] Why RFID impact on inventory inaccuracy is the key in most ROI calculations – http://www.rfidarena.com/2013/5/23/why-rfid-impact-on-inventory-inaccuracy-is-the-key-in-most-roi-calculations.aspx