Is it Time to Rethink Your Return Policy?

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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Did You Survive Return-Ageddon this Year?

January 25th, 2016

did-you-survive-return-ageddon
January 6th is a pseudo National Holiday on the calendar called National Returns Day. It is better known as Return-Ageddon to many of us. This is the day of returns “hell” for all.

Since you may still be knee-deep in returns, hopefully not eyeball deep, here are few key points to consider. According to a few studies, it’s not yet time to take your head out of the clouds, but it might be a good time to be clever and start managing your products and returns more efficiently for the next Return-Ageddon.

In a combined online shopping study by UPS and comScore, “Empowered Consumers Changing the Future of Retail,” they discovered key insights into the returns process.

“67% review a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase, 66% want free return shipping, 58% want a hassle-free “no questions asked” return policy, and 47% want an easy-to-print return label.”

With most consumers close to or more than half demanding free returns, an easy-to-print label, and hassle-free shipping, it is vital for retailers to persevere with a robust all-in-one system. When you are choosing an order management software, it may be beneficial to keep these things in mind or say hello to the chaos of Return-Ageddon once again. Online shipping returns vs. at the physical store showed even more cause for concern.return ageddon, managing online returns

“70% purchase an additional item when making an in-store return, compared to 42% who make a new purchase while processing an online return.”-UPS
Online Shopping Study

So, what does this mean for you the customer? The Retailer? The e-tailer?Determining whether the product was returned online or in store is crucial to view in an efficient order management system. Along with that, comes return codes, shipping charges, bin sorting and more.

According to NRF, total merchandise returns amounted to $260.5 billion in 2015, with $63 billion from holiday sales. Wait, roughly 25% of the $260.5 billion in returns happen during the holidays. How many pieces and/or items is that? And, it does not stop there…Return fraud also proves to be a tremendous part of the problem.

“Annual merchandise return fraud and abuse is estimated between $9.1 and $15.9 billion for the U.S. retail industry.”-NRF Study

nrf study

Yes, you are reading that red print on the chart right…the estimated amount of fraudulent returns is close to the annual revenue of the NFL.

Retailers will constantly be searching for new ways to make returns easier.

So, What’s Your 2016 Return-Ageddon Resolution (R.A.R.)?

Check out the list below to see if you are in a serious need of a R.A.R within your current order management system.

-Where are you returns processed?

-How do you handle returns?

-Where exactly are your items returned?

-How long does it take for a return to be processes and do you offer store credit?

-How long until the customer receives credit back? What if it was a gift card purchase?

-Was it purchased online or in store?

-Are you utilizing omnichannel returns?

-Are you prepared to sort out return bins and charge for shipping?

-What are the reason codes available to you?

-Do you have both the customer and supplier side ready?

If you don’t know how to answer two or more these, or if you are just unsure or unhappy, you seriously need to start 2016 with a new R.A.R.

Schedule a live demo, and have one of your New Year’s Resolutions actually stick, so that you’re in a better spot this time next year.

Be like this guy drinking a fuzzy drink from a coconut on a beach, who can relax knowing his returns are in control, not some guy reading a blog like this, in two feet of snow, drinking cold coffee.

guy on a beach

Questions or concerns? Use the comment section below to let us know how your returns went and/or how we can help you prepare for Return-Ageddon’s dreaded visit next year… 

 

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A Superior Approach to Ecommerce Customer Service

December 30th, 2015

ecommerce customer service

Providing the best eCommerce customer service starts with having the means to offer immediate access to address each and every one of the customer’s requests.

“In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.” –American Banker, Doug Warner

There are several capabilities to support quality customer service. Your staff should be able to enter and review orders, view the list of products purchased, record payments, manage contacts and update customer demographics, all within a single screen. This vital detail can help decrease the odds of falling into the massive customer service fall out that exists today.

 “In the U.S., the cost of poor customer service is $41 billion per year.”-New Voice Media

Notifications would be sent and alerts received every time a customer makes a purchase, and/or requests information, whether via phone call or email. With efficient customer management in an order management system, businesses can:

Look Up Customers Quickly & Accurately

A relational database containing the entire customer file could be queried in seconds, with options to search by name, email, phone, etc. Without the ability to look up customers quickly, retailers could encounter a drop in quality customer support, resulting in a poor experience.

“77% of U.S. online adults say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.”- Forrester

Reward Good Customers & Create Loyal Shoppers

With a points and rewards program, customers gain more points as they purchase, and can spend on their next order.

Focusing on the customer experience will give your business the ability to succeed in an omnichannel world. Even a thriving business feels the pressures and frustrations associated with customer service as orders from multiple sales channels increase.

Check out the eBook below to find out how rewarding loyal customers can give you the ability to increase customer retention rates and much more.

is your oms hindering your ability to grow ebook cta

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How to Maximize Your Inventory Turnover Rate

December 18th, 2015

inventory turnover warehouse

What is an inventory turnover rate? Simply put, it’s the number of times inventory is sold or used in a period of time. Also known as the cost of goods sold or net sales divided by the average inventory.

Although a high inventory turnover rate signals strong sales, it can also indicate an ineffective inventory purchasing plan. And, since a low turnover rate implies fewer sales, excess inventory is right around the corner.

High inventory levels are not ideal, since inventory usually has a return rate of zero, and it can open up your company to financial concerns if prices start to fall. You can learn how to monitor and calculate your inventory turnover ratio, but then what comes next?

Adopting Automation for Efficiency

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. 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.

The chart below underscores the need that midsize to large businesses have for an order management system (OMS) providing automation of order and inventory management tasks, reduced data entry, and improved purchasing, to name a few.

Capabilities to Consider When Choosing an OMS

inventory turnover chart

Much like their larger counterparts, small businesses are searching for reduced data entry, improved purchasing, as well as improved warehousing. The Software Advice BuyerView report highlights that 18% of the small businesses surveyed completely lack process automation with no systems in place whatsoever.

What Can Automation Do for Your Business?

Small businesses often feel they do not need an automated back office process, mainly because they are not handling the same capacity of orders as larger businesses. Although this may be true, automation can be just as important for small businesses, due to the likelihood of errors that can develop throughout the order and delivery process.

This is why 35% of small businesses are also searching for solutions offering reduced data entry. Eliminating the number of entries needed to add an order can drastically affect your order processes and streamline efficiency. This is also an extremely important function for midsize to large businesses, as 31% recognize this need. There are many detailed tasks associated with implementing an effective purchasing process, including payment terms, delivery dates, item specifications, quantities, shipping terms and other relevant terms and conditions.

With an automated purchasing process, businesses can easily manage orders and inventory, as this is a crucial step to the financial health of the business. The question to ask yourself … Is your order process up to speed?

Find out if your order management system is hindering your ability to grow in the eBook below.

is your oms hindering your ability to grow ebook cta

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3 Essential Steps to a Comprehensive Shipping Process

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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What is the Best Way to Manage Complex Inventory?

November 24th, 2015

managing complex inventory

The last thing you want to do is disappoint a customer by posting an item for sale, when you don’t have the inventory to fulfill it. You need a clear and straightforward way to monitor your inventory levels across all sales channels.

First things first. Having a centralized system to manage complex inventory will ensure you are publishing accurate available to sell levels to your sales channels.

“93% of retailers rated system-wide inventory visibility as the most significant capability in executing their omni-channel fulfillment strategy, yet only 45% can enable it.”
-Retail Times

With up-to-the minute status reports, you should be able to easily select and review orders by status, and that means all orders. These include:

• Orders that have not been picked, packed, shipped or backordered

• Orders awaiting credit card approval

• Orders with a particular stock item

Avoiding overselling an item is key, and you are on the right track to making sure that never happens again.

One area this will come in handy for is kitting (aka bundling products). Whether you sell an item on its own or in multiples, your inventory levels will remain visible. One aspect to fully assist with this in is on-demand assembly. So, if you sell products that are assembled, packaged or personalized on demand, this module is a must-have.

Visibility is step one, but what else encompasses managing complex inventory? Discover what your order management system can provide to increase sales in the free eBook below. 

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How to Stay on Top of Omnichannel Orders

November 19th, 2015

how to stay on top of omnichannel orders

Your customers are everywhere, and with your experience in omnichannel selling, this is not exactly news. But, what you may not know is how this little morsel of information can send your business into a frenzy if you are not properly equipped.

Creating an omnichannel experience for your customer requires a bit more than just giving them multiple channel options. When not managed properly, adding sales channels can create bottlenecks and cause for customer concern in your processes.

“Consumers value speed, simplicity, quick responses to questions and reliable delivery, rather than worrying about whether they shop online or in-store.” – Economist Insights

To be successful in an omnichannel environment, you need to be able to efficiently monitor sales and fulfill orders from all channels. Logging in and and manually updating multiple orders from several sales channels can be daunting.

With optional features, you can manage as many as 50 different companies in one system. You can quickly switch from one company to another with just a few of clicks of your mouse or choose to share inventory across companies. All of this can be done with a full range of features.

Some popular ones include:

Import/Export Functionality:

This advanced import/export module lets you connect your OMS to outside web stores for optimal efficiency.

Multi-Company Functionality:

Multi-business software enables you to run an unlimited number of eCommerce stores, catalog fulfillment or cross channel companies using one single OMS.

Interactive Credit Card Authorization System:

Completely automate credit card authorizations and transactions direct to your bank or credit card network.

These along with a multitude of other features are sometimes necessary, depending on your specific business needs.

Find out if your OMS is missing the 5 critical capabilities in the eBook below

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Why Your Order Management System Needs to Do More

November 18th, 2015

inventory and order management

Customer loyalty greatly relies on how effective your order management system is. Responding quickly to your customers is a given, but what else can you deliver?

An effective and streamlined OMS plays a pivotal role in your sales and delivery operation and gives you the upper-hand in customer service.

“95% of leaders say providing a good customer experience is the top priority, but only 37% have the budget and means to implement ways to improve the experience.”
– Forrester Research Study

Discovering the ins and outs of how your solution can truly benefit you is the next step to success.

The back-end order fulfillment processes are often seen as an afterthought when building a functional website. You want to be sure to focus on the ‘inside’ too when managing your orders. After all, customer expectations are dramatically increasing, and will only need to get stronger as time goes on.

Processing orders can be overwhelming for all businesses, and even more so as growth comes. A comprehensive order management solution is more than convenient for a few reasons. When all features and functionality are utilized, it can improve your business processes and help increase your online sales.

Find out exactly what you need in an order management system to ward off
the competition in the OMS eBook below.

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5 Ways to Stave Off the Dreaded Stock Out

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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How to Simplify Purchasing throughout the Inventory Process

October 22nd, 2015

how to simplify purchasing throught the inventory processs

How can retailers toss their inventory spreadsheets aside and finally streamline purchasing?

It’s as simple as implementing automated and effective purchase order (PO) management throughout the inventory process.

Let’s start with the basics. Like what’s a purchase order and why is it so important? A PO is a sales contract between the buyer and seller specifying the exact merchandise received from a vendor.

Within that, there are details related to the payment terms, delivery dates, item specifications, quantities, shipping terms and other relevant terms and conditions.

When you’re managing a retail business, purchasing and online inventory management go hand in hand.

Why PO Management is the Answer to Budgeting & Forecasting

Every time you purchase stock items from a vendor, a purchase order is the document of record that allows you to keep track of purchase requests, outstanding orders and to manage your accounts payable and accounts receivable. This process is crucial to the financial health of the business.

Inventory control and planning with PO’s is the key to maintaining available-to-sell product levels and replenishing orders in the fastest time possible. To prevent any errors from occurring, it is best to manage both your inventory levels and purchase orders in the same solution.

When these are managed separately, there is more room for discrepancies in inventory numbers, lack of visibility and overall inefficiencies.

Multichannel selling adds another level of complexity, with orders coming in from multiple sales channels. Managing available inventory across multiple sales channels can be prone to errors in the purchasing process, but with the right order and inventory management (OMS) software, this can all be avoided.

How Can an Order Management System Help?

With an order management system, you can easily see all of your purchase orders on all of your sales channels. But that’s not all.

You have the ability to create your own dashboards, which lets you keep an eye on product level alerts, from warnings to alert low level product inventory to visibility into your top selling products. You can also see those that historically sell well at peak seasons or with specific promotions.

With easy access to keep track of product returns and
where your most popular sales are coming from across all sales channels, the benefits keep coming.

Throw away the inventory spreadsheets and check out how an OMS can streamline the purchasing process.

inventory process order management

  • Easily See When To Re-Order Products:

-Alerts will be sent when reorder points [thresholds you set] are reached

-Create & send a PO to the correct supplier(s) with a few clicks

-Store supplier contact information & order history for reconciliation & forecasting

  • Quickly Update Inventory:

-Reconcile & update order levels & your sales channel inventory levels automatically

-Sync back to the channels on which you sell the items

-Any back orders for received items would automatically be updated and queued up for processing.

  • Know Your Costs:

-Automatically include the correct ‘buying level’ pricing on each PO, for special terms, discount levels, etc.

-Gain an accurate understanding of how much the product is actually costing you

  • Avoid Stock Outs:

-One solution=complete visibility over your operations

-Real-time solutions help to avoid stock outs and improve the customer experience

Check out the free eBook below on Multichannel Order Management for eCommerce to learn about back office strategies, optimizing the order process and more.

Multichannel Order Management for eCommerce

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