Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Automate Your Shipping Refunds

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

shipping refunds

Did you know that more than $2 billion dollars of shipping refunds go unclaimed annually?

Shipping costs are typically the 3rd largest line item on the P&L behind merchandise and labor cost. For most e-commerce merchants, 10% of their sales are spent on costs related to shipping. Given the number of dollars spent by your business to ship products to your customers, monitoring your shipments, and invoices is important to your bottom line.

With this being said, shipping managers typically have one objective…to fulfill orders and quickly. Because of this, they have little time to assume responsibility for additional workload. How do they meet the ever present deadlines to ship orders plus review previous shipments to ensure that they were delivered, much less arrive on time? There is a business solution for the commonly faced pressures faced by shipping managers to fulfill orders as well as meet customer expectations.

If your business ships with FedEx or UPS, consider taking advantage of a refunds and invoice auditing company allowing your business to focus on shipping orders, not claiming due refunds and credits. Select an auditor who offers an automated solution supported by a team dedicated to helping your business pay only for the services you purchase. Additionally, evaluate if the solution offers a dashboard offering the capability to review and analyze your shipping information in one tool.

Transform your practice by working with a trusted partner dedicated to optimizing your shipping spend, while you focus on your business.

Information is presented by 71lbs. 71lbs is dedicated to helping businesses optimize shipping spend. Solutions include late delivery refunds, invoice auditing, and lost & damaged claims to manage supply-chain expenses. 

The OMS of the Future

Monday, September 26th, 2016

future OMS

When you’re looking at the landscape of order management in retail, you can’t help but see a paradigm shift both in technology and best practices happening right before your eyes. You can’t walk into a mid-sized or large retail store without being told you can do business with them online, via mobile app, or through social media.  Omnichannel has already arrived.

This shift was fast.  Retailers had just finished embracing multichannel eCommerce, and now find the industry has firmly moved on to omnichannel.  Unlike multichannel, where the focus is on channel selling only, omnichannel impacts every part of your business, including multichannel selling.

It wasn’t so long ago that multichannel selling through shopping engines, social media and even marketplaces challenged retailers to expand their sales reach, track sales on all their channels, keep tabs on customers’ orders, and ensure that their multichannel strategy was growing revenue.

For most multichannel retailers, the  order management system (OMS) was a small actor in a larger picture where the focus was heavily on optimization in selling channels and marketplaces, as well keeping the shopping cart consistent and updated for inventory and shipments.

The OMS was a back-office system hidden in the dark corners of a retailer’s operation and usually considered just another “cog in the wheel”.  It had a role that blurred the lines between inventory management, customer and order information, and facilitating fulfillment.

Although an important part of the process, the OMS role wasn’t central, and often took a back seat to the shopping cart or POS system.

With the advent of omnichannel, not only do you still have all the challenges multichannel selling, but now you have to look at all your channels, retail stores and your e-Commerce presence. More importantly, everything in your operation needs to be in complete concert so that your customers’ experiences are consistent throughout your entire operation.

“Buy Online, Pickup In Store” (BOPIS), “Buy Online, Return In Store”  (BORIS), even “Ship From Store”, are all omnichannel features that demand a high level of order orchestration which has implications on many processes and procedures for even the smallest of retail businesses.

In omnichannel, every system and process has potential to touch the order. And the order is central to the customer’s experience with your business. The order management system (OMS) becomes the center of attention within an omnichannel operation and requires that it be “front and center” in your enterprise.

Retailers with legacy order management systems are now discovering that they do not fit into their omnichannel strategy.  They’re searching for newer, more advanced order management that will allow them to adopt omnichannel, but also grow their business without losing ground.

The OMS of the future is one that is open, easily adaptable, and at the center of the enterprise, allowing systems within your operation to easily interact, connect, and extend features as your operation requires. 

The OMS of the Future is a true omnichannel order management system built strategically around features such as:

  • Buy Online, Pickup In Store (BOPIS)
  • Return To Store (Cross-channel returns or ‘BORIS’)

“Buy Online, Pickup In Store” and “Buy Online, Return In Store” are features which should be easily available in the OMS when seeking omnichannel.  However, a true omnichannel order management system will tackle the even tougher operations, such as:

  • Ship From Store
  • Ship To Store
  • Mobile Clienteling

“Ship From Store” can be described as the “holy grail” of omnichannel. Why? Because it has implications for the whole order management system: It requires that the OMS have an enterprise inventory view of all inventory (to see retail stores and their current inventory values), and also to route shipments to stores when an order is received from a customer.  “Ship From Store” also represents operational challenges, as now your retail store, a place where people traditionally come to buy products, is being used to ship products to customers.  Your stores have effectively become another warehouse in your operation.

The OMS of the future is the “hub” of your business that not only orchestrates orders, but also allows for disparate legacy systems such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Accounting Systems and even the ERP system to connect, pull information, and act on it. The OMS must even allow customers to gain access to it from mobile and social media endpoints and devices – even if it’s transparent to the customers themselves.

To accomplish a true omnichannel strategy with an order management system, the OMS must have a standards-based API (Application Programming Interface) that’s not restrictive and allows for the major functionality to be exposed for developers. The API should reflect the general feature set functionality offered in the application.  A good order management API lets you execute through the API exactly what you can do in the application.  This is important so that you can extend the order management system throughout your operation and add customized capabilities as your business needs change over time.

No single vendor can build every feature to satisfy every customer. Therefore, when looking at an order management system to accomplish true omnichannel nirvana for your customers, it will be imperative that the order management system doesn’t lock your business into a place where you cannot expand as you try and grow your operation.

The API is key to that success, and when seeking an OMS to create or expand your omnichannel operation, you shouldn’t be looking for the next “legacy” system to replace – you should be seeking a system which can be expanded for years to come and an OMS that’s designed for your future.

Gary MacDougall
VP Product Development
Freestyle Solutions

An Important Update for M.O.M. Customers

Monday, September 19th, 2016

M.O.M. logo

To all M.O.M. customers:

I’m excited to announce the latest versions of our Multichannel Order Manager (M.O.M.), SiteLINK and BizSync products. Based on feedback from our customers, these software releases contain impactful new features that will help you grow, secure, mobilize and streamline your business.

In 2016, retailers cannot take enough security precautions to protect customer data. Even smaller businesses find themselves and their customer data the target of malicious hacks and fraud as well as being assessed penalties and fees from their merchant banks for not meeting the latest PCI standards.  We invested significantly in updating M.O.M. 10 to comply with the latest Payment Card Industry security standards (PCI PA-DSS v.3.1).

For our retail customers, we added omnichannel capabilities for buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS), buy online return in-store (BORIS), and ship from store to provide consumers with a seamless shopping experience.  In addition, we added integration with leading marketplaces and shopping carts while increasing efficiency of the current tasks conducted in M.O.M. today.

As you know, Google changed their search rankings last year, heavily penalizing web sites that are not designed for mobile devices. With 56% of online retail searches now done with a mobile device, mobile functionality has never been more important. SiteLINK 10 has new mobile templates to help you improve your website’s search rankings and sell more.

BizSync 3 has a totally new and intuitive user interface that simplifies the complexities of ecommerce integration.  There’s a lot of valuable benefits for the M.O.M. community in these latest versions.

I’m especially proud of the work our development team has been able to deliver in these new versions of M.O.M., SiteLINK and BizSync.  We have now synchronized the new M.O.M. releases with upgrades to SiteLINK and BizSync at the same time and we have continued to bring new cutting-edge functionality to you, our customers.

Please plan to attend one of our introductory webinars as soon as possible. Register for a M.O.M. 10 & SIteLINK 10 webinar.

Thank you so much for your commitment and loyalty, especially those that have been customers for many years.  It was nice to meet many of you in person at the Internet Retailer Conference earlier this year.  We appreciate the opportunity to work with you.

Sincerely,

Fred Lizza

CEO, Freestyle Solutions

Does Your POS Know Who Your Customer Is?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

POS transaction

A customer walks into a store to return a pair of shoes. The store associate asks for a receipt, the customer hands them an email confirmation from an online purchase.

These shoes were purchased on line, shipped from warehouse inventory, not sold in the store from the store inventory.

How do you manage the return of an item that was bought online but is being returned to the store?

How do you manage updating your inventory?

Can your point of sale system (POS) access the original purchase and customer record to make the return, and perhaps exchange process, seamless for the customer? Does your POS know who your customer is?

What if you don’t have the correct item to complete the exchange in the store but the customer saw it available in your online store? Do you let them leave the store with the risk that they never complete the purchase?

How can you ensure that your customers can transact with you anytime they want, on any device, in any location?

A recent study from the e-tailing group found that only 56% of mid-market retailers can access online orders in stores.

Retailers need to have a central repository for order, customer and product information.  The goal is to integrate your customer and employee facing systems to the central repository for consistency and accuracy of data visibility.

Having a centralized inventory and order management system (OMS) enables you to provide a seamless, anytime, anywhere customer experience.

Enabling your store associates to view a customer’s online and offline purchase history, manage returns no matter where the original purchase occurred, look up available stock not only in the store but also in the warehouse, and then enabling ship-to-home or ship-to-store for pick up options creates a complete 360 degree customer experience.

Only an integrated OMS and POS can provide this 360 degree view of your customers and your business. In fact, you might consider the OMS the new POS.

Imagine how it would transform your business if your POS did know who your customer is…

 

 

Embracing the Ecommerce Purchase Funnel

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Managing the retail supply chain from the point of purchase to management and delivery, has reached a point where automation is necessary to provide the maximum inventory turnover rate.

ecommerce-purchase-funnel

As retailers begin to recognize where these processes line up, it becomes easier to understand how the business is affected by even small changes in processes and practices, such as the power of purchasing.

Adapting to the Ecommerce Purchase Funnel:

The ecommerce purchase funnel is of course a recurring trend in consumer and retailer shopping, and as shopping evolves, an increase in sales and innovation is inevitable.

“B2C ecommerce sales in the U.S. totaled 531.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2012 and are expected to grow to 554.81 billion U.S. dollars by 2016.”
Statista

According to Custora, consumers are spreading out their retail purchasing across channels, which forces retailers to grow their online marketing efforts.

Some aspects that have increased ecommerce referrals last year include, paid search, affiliate marketing, and email. Another important piece of the purchase funnel to focus in relation to Dynamic Order Management (DOM) includes organizing shipping methods.

“Retailers that can’t afford to invest in alternative shipping options are offering consumers more fulfillment options using what many of them do have — brick-and-mortar stores.”
Business Insider

When handling the purchase funnel, shipping is not the only dilemma that exists. Sending and tracking orders and making the right purchasing decisions can also be problematic.

Ways to combat purchase funnel issues:

• Integrate your purchasing function to establish the best inventory levels for each stock item.

• Present ways to handle promotions for Dynamic Order Management.

• Enable order status reporting – allows you to find any line item on any order in your system, in any item state (shipped, filled, back ordered, etc.) Allows you to report on and display orders in any ‘status’ (shipped, packed, credit card charge required, etc.) Can be used as an advisement screen for processing orders (the ‘what do we do next’ screen).

When deciding on a fulfillment operation, it is crucial to take advantage of the best tactics for process automation, especially in regards to the ecommerce purchase funnel, as well as data analysis for optimal order management.

Activate In-Store Pickup for Dynamic Order Management

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

in store pick up

As orders from multiple sales channels increase, even a thriving business feels the pressures and frustrations associated with customer service, order and inventory management. In-store pickup is also a constant challenge for retailers struggling to meet customer needs, and according to Forrester Research Inc. analyst Brendan Witcher, this trend is not going away any time soon.

“More than half, 53%, of the more than 3,000 online U.S. adults surveyed say they expect notification in two hours or less that orders are ready for pickup.”
Nailing In-Store Pickup Report

Witcher advises staying away from offering all products for pickup, as some can be too difficult to manage quickly. Products available for pickup should also be labelled as such on product descriptions and/or listing pages.

Retailers can keep up with their omnichannel initiatives by implementing the critical areas of improvement for in-store pickup.

  • Enhance customer service: Leverage knowledge from store associates.
  • Fast fulfillment: Make pickup orders readily available at the most appropriate location.
  • Manage returns: Give shoppers the freedom to handle returns at a specific location.
  • Attract new customers: Create larger in-store upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
  • Utilize inventory: Use in-store stock leads to generate a faster inventory turnover and cut costs.

 

 

Is it Time to Rethink Your Return Policy?

Friday, February 5th, 2016

A generous return policy is a vital component for any retailer, but with the ever-increasing demand, retailers are more susceptible to return fraud, back orders, and lost revenue.

“Return fraud remains a critical issue for retailers with the impact spanning far and wide, in-store and online.”
NRF VP of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca

How can a retailer ensure they get their return items back as fast as possible, while dealing with return codes, shipping charges, and bin sorting?

Thinking through every aspect of your return policy may be a crucial area to hone in on for the new year. Check out the key insights from 2015 below to dominate returns this year.

return policy infographic

Keeping Your Customers Satisfied

Consumers will forever crave an accommodating buying environment, where returns are as easy as purchasing a product. There are a few ways to reduce the number of legitimate returns. Consider the following tips for a returns policy that will best compliment your business.

  • Amp up your customer service approach (look into including additional contacts, such as email, live chat, phone)
  • Incorporate product videos for clarification
  • Cultivate customer reviews
  • Always provide quality product images and detailed descriptions

Developing a succint return policy can sometime be a challenging process. Between providing the consumer with optimal service and striving to eliminate return fraud and errors in your processes, things can get messy. An order management system can help a retailer manage return process issues by providing options to customize the process and more. If returns season left you in a scramble, it may be time to consider your options.

Check out the complete guide to managing product returns to say goodbye to backorders, cancellations, negative social buzz and, potentially, lost customers.

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3 Essential Steps to a Comprehensive Shipping Process

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

comprehensive shipping strategies

Your customer was shipped the wrong item once again and you are at your wits’ end. The hassle, time and money it takes to handle this could and should be avoided. Here’s how.

Improving the Pick, Pack and Ship Stages

Utilizing barcode scanning is the most efficient way to pick and pack your orders. Using a barcode scanner not only saves time, but ensures complete accuracy and efficiency. Not to mention that barcode data entry has an error rate of about 1 in 3 million.

Automatic Shipping Calculations

Tailor your company’s shipping policies to your specific market. Create your own customer shipping charge schedules for each shipping method based on actual shipping costs, order total, number of items, C.O.D. premiums, etc.

Verification & Printing

With an address correction and verification module, you can take advantage of reducing shipping delays and carrier imposed penalty fees for correcting inaccurate addresses. Print shipping labels, access tracking information and control shipping rates for batches and more.

Integrating the shipping process to your OMS with the above ingredients will alleviate bottlenecks and avoid unnecessary manual data entry risks. The result is a win for you and your customer, who will be receiving their product much faster.

Find out how you can get the most out of your OMS in the eBook below. 

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5 Ways to Stave Off the Dreaded Stock Out

Friday, October 30th, 2015

stave off stock outs

Failing to deliver a customer’s purchased product puts a serious damper on the customer experience. When inventory stock outs create a loss in loyalty and sales, what’s a retailer to do?

“70 – 90% stock outs are caused by defective shelf replenishment practice, as opposed to the 10 – 30% resulting from the upstream supply chain, such as a shortage in supply from the supplier.”

If you sell electronics, perishables, flowers or nutraceuticals, this post is especially for you. These industries historically have a much higher chance of dealing with the dreaded inventory stock out. To get around the dreaded OOS sign, consider the following.

How to Avoid Inventory Stock Outs:

 

inventory stock outs

  • Set up ‘Low Inventory’ Alerts to Know When to Restock
    -Setting up these system alerts allows for stock replenishment in advance of becoming OOS
  • Prepare Ahead When Ordering Stock- Highlight Best Selling Item
    – Using historical product sales data helps Gain Insight on Trends & Peak Selling Seasons

Although adopting these practices and managing your inventory stock levels are essential to ensuring product availability and increasing sales productivity, the process can get complicated, time consuming and messy.

So, let’s get down to the basics and see how we can turn this around. The quickest way to get your orders under control, without having excess inventory trailing behind, is to first centralize your order processing workflow.

Having an automated multichannel inventory management system gets your inventory under control, and fast. With an automated order and inventory management system, you would be able to automatically download new orders from all sources, publish product information and keep inventory synchronized.

Inventory spreadsheets become a thing of the past. What could be better than fulfilling orders in the present moment, avoiding stock outs at every possible turn?

An online inventory management system can ease your retail qualms and boost customer satisfaction. Why keep your customers waiting or frustrated, when preventing inventory stock outs is just a few clicks away?

To find out what you may be missing to avoid stock outs, check out the OMS eBook below.

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The Key Ingredient to Retail Success Revealed

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Why have those black bars and white spaces that resemble optical morse code become so popular among retailers? For starters, it allows for increased efficiency and accuracy during the picking stage, creating an optimal inventory operation. Barcode scanners have 10,000 times better accuracy than manual data entry.

“Keyboard data entry creates an average of one error in 300 keystrokes. Barcode data entry has an error rate of about 1 in 3 million.”
Supply Chain Management

What Can a Barcode Scanning System Do?

  • Decrease Inventory Levels & Lower Overheadbarcode scanning for inventory control
  • Location of Products can be Easily Tracked
  • Save time & Money by Avoiding Searching for or Replacing Products
  • Track Products & Outgoing Shipments Simultaneously
  • Provide Faster, More Accurate Data
  • Increase Efficiency in the Shipping & Pick/Pack Stages

As a multichannel retailer, you want to be sure you are packing the correct items when managing inventory.

With Freestyle, you will have the ability to ensure the right items are being scanned and packed and verify the correct number of items are accounted for in the shipment.

Scan and Pack with Ease

Using Freestyle’s barcode scanning is much faster than dealing with manual updates. A thorough color coding system ensures product order requests are met so the right item is being packed and tracked as well.

Using a scan and pack feature is quick and easy, starting with a simple click on the settings tab on your dashboard. (Below)

barcode scanning for inventory control

 

Now, let’s look at creating labels, allowing you to fully customize by dimension, product name and SKU, barcode value and more. Save those changes and the ultimate barcode scanning for inventory control is just a few clicks away.

 

barcode scanning for inventory control 2

Through order processing, you also have the capability to choose between a default option or you can require a product scan before the packing stage. Multichannel order management has never been easier with Freestyle.

By using barcode scanning for inventory control, accuracy will be ensured, giving you time to move to your next batch of orders. To learn more about implementing a barcode inventory tracking system, check out the video below, which features a specific Magento instance example.

 

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