Posts Tagged ‘Dydacomp’

Why Are You Still Making Manual Updates? Automation Can Make Your Life So Much Easier!

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Posted by:  Megan CastilloDydacomp-Automation

We speak with retailers who call in to discuss their pain points, and 9 times out of 10, their challenges are related to inventory.  What amazes me though, is that so many of those retailers are in pain because they’re still running their business using manual processes, like using spreadsheets!  With all the solutions out there, it’s hard to believe so many retailers are still running their businesses using inefficient and error prone manual processes.  Some have managed to be very successful and find themselves at a crossroad. They’ve reached the point where their success is jeopardizing their growth potential.  They have the “good problem” where they can’t keep up with processing orders and managing inventory; particularly those that are selling across multiple sales channels.

This is when we hear from many of the small and mid-sized retailers too.  They’ve reached that ‘tipping point’ where they can’t grow further until they figure out how to get ahead of the order to fulfillment processing curve. In addition to being time consuming, error prone and overall inefficient, manual updates are expensive! It’s time to find a better way of doing things to keep up and to grow!

Stop Throwing Money Out The Window

If you’re still making manual updates to support key retail back office processes, you’re throwing money, and profit, out the window. Your time is valuable, and spending time manually adding and updating information is costing you more than you think.  And if you’re working in multiple sales channels, and have to log and track information for each separately, it’s even worse!

Get A Handle On Your Available-To-Sell Levels

If you’re using spreadsheets to track inventory and publish your available-to-sell levels, I’ve got bad news for you, you’re always going to be out of sync! Sales happen in real time, inventory decreases in real time, but how often are you updating your spreadsheets?  Chances are you don’t have an employee on-hand whose sole purpose is to instantly update spreadsheets and publish those new levels as orders come in.  Most likely you’re making updates at the end of the day, or for some it’s done at the end of the week, and this can lead to problems.  When you finally get around to it, you may find that you are actually out of stock on a particular item and have to call your customer(s) with the disappointing news that his/her order cannot be fulfilled.

Retail is tough, and the last thing you want to do is disappoint a customer. Not only do you risk a sale, but also a potential repeat customer. So how do you solve this? Once again, through automation!

Automating the synchronization of your inventory across all sales channels offers many benefits: improves your ability to make customers happy by always having accurate available-to-sell levels, gives you real-time visibility into your sales and inventory, saves you the time and effort associated with manual efforts, and helps you better manage the cost of inventory because you’ll have a better handle on how much inventory to keep on-hand at all times.

So What Are You Waiting For? Automation Is Where It’s At!

Like I said, retail is tough but it can be so rewarding. There is a lot of competition out there so it’s important to get an edge over the competition, and automation can give you that edge. Using an inventory and order management software solution not only ensures you have accurate available-to-sell levels published at all times but frees up time, money and assets you can use to focus on growing your business.

Whether you sell online, through brick and mortar stores, catalogs, etc. or a combination of a few channels, we have a solution.  Visit our website today to find out more:  www.dydacomp.com and Register for a Demo.

 

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Posted in CEO, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Spotlight, Ecommerce, Email Marketing, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Payment Processing, PCI Compliance, SiteLINK News, StoreFront.net, Webinar | No Comments »

How An Inventory & Order Management Solution Can Help Drive Success

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

If you have a retail business, chances are you have, or are looking to have, an online presence as well. In today’s world, it’s mandatory to have a website for branding and exposure if you want the business to grow. And having a shopping cart enabled website to allow you to sell product is an easy way to expand your presence on a national or even global scale with minimal capital investment and overhead. But having a website alone isn’t always enough.2014-Goals-For-Growning-Businesses

Adding additional sales channels, like selling online, selling on Amazon or any number of the popular sales channels, brings a lot of advantages in terms easily expanding your presence, but it can also bring a lot of headaches if your sales channels aren’t managed properly.  This is where an inventory and order management solution can help!

The Benefits Of Using An Inventory & Order Management Solution

Implementing an inventory and order management software solution can help you streamline your business processes and position your business for greater success in the future.

One of the biggest ways you can benefit from a solution is through the automation of your order fulfillment processes. You want to have as few steps as possible between the time a customer places an order to the time they receive their order to ensure timely delivery and make your customers happy. Therefore, you need to eliminate as many manual steps as possible because those steps can not only affect your delivery times, but can also lend to manual entry mistakes which can lead to even longer delays.

Placing orders through suppliers and receiving the inventory back into your operation is also made easier when working with a solution that allows you to manage suppliers and send Purchase Orders.   You can set up product low level alerts within the system to set automatic re-order points – this makes purchasing products even easier!  And this same method applies to products you drop ship as well.

From an inventory standpoint, having a solution in place is an absolute must, especially when working in multiple sales channels. Having the right amount of inventory on-hand at all times is a delicate balancing act.  Having a product that ‘sells out’ is good in one way as it proves that it’s a hot item.  On the other hand you never want to run out of stock and lose a potential sale.  Carefully tracking your inventory not only gives you insight to your customers’ preferences, but helps in determining how much to have at all times.

Finally, having an inventory and order management solution can help you manage all of your sales channels in one solution, giving you the ‘big picture’ in terms of how your business is performing.  It’s much easier to analyze trends and buying patterns and make strategic business decisions when you have a single vantage point to see everything from a revenue standpoint, purchase orders, refunds and anything else related to your bottom line.

So whether you are adding a new sales channel for the first time or expanding into more sales channels, life is so much easier when you have an inventory and order management solution in place. Automating the order fulfillment and inventory management processes makes just about everything related to your business as streamlined and simplified as possible so you can focus on the more important things – like growing your business!

Click Here to learn more ways to drive your retail sales growth in the ‘7 Retail Operational Improvements That Make A Difference’ eBook.

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Posted in CEO, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Spotlight, Dydacomp News, Ecommerce, Email Marketing, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Press Release, Search Marketing, Shipping, SiteLINK News, StoreFront.net, Support | No Comments »

Inventory Management Solutions – 2014 Buying Trends

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Posted by: Megan Castillo

At Dydacomp, we’ve been providing retailers with inventory and order management solutions for over 25 years. We’ve been successful for so long because we totally get it.  Dydacomp was founded by retailers to provide software for retailers.  We understand the challenges you face because we’ve been there ourselves.

Working with thousands of retailers over the years has given us good insight into the buying trends as well as the top reasons retailers seek an inventory management solution. I recently came across an article by Software Advice, a website that researches and reviews inventory management software, which supports our findings.  Highlighted below are some of those key buying trends for 2014 and what retailers are looking for in an inventory management solution.

Buyer Profile

Very often the retailers we speak with are evaluating an inventory management solution for the first time.  They are what we refer to as ‘first-time automators’, those who are either running their business using manual methods such as maintaining spreadsheets, or using an accounting program that wasn’t designed to manage inventory and requires a lot of manual intervention. They realize the need to automate their order and inventory processes to not only alleviate the headaches and inaccuracies associated with the manual efforts, but to position themselves to continually grow their business.

According to Software Advice, 95% of the prospective buyers they spoke with were also first-time buyers.  Of that, 36% were using accounting software to manage their inventory, while 35% were using Excel or another spreadsheet method.  Another 11% were using what they called “manual methods”, which often referred to the good old pen and paper method.  Those buyers using any of the above methods are the kinds of people we speak to daily who love the fact that their business is growing, but hate the headaches this growth brings if they don’t have the proper systems in place.  They are looking to ease these pains so they can enjoy their success!

 

Buyers’ Current Inventory Management Methods

Buyers-Current-Inventory-Management-Methods

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

 

Do you fit into this category?  If so, it may be time to start reviewing your options.  Neither spreadsheets nor accounting software were designed to manage inventory and will only support your business growth to a certain extent.  You don’t want to stand in the way of your own success, right?  As a savvy business owner, you know there’s a better solution out there.   You just may not have the time to explore your options – because you’re too busy reconciling and correcting spreadsheet errors – sound familiar!

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to explore your options.  I guarantee you’ll gain that time, and more, back in the future once you start automating and streamlining your processes.

Top Requested Inventory Management Features

So what features are buyers looking for?  For most, it starts with basic inventory control.  By that I mean having a systematic way to truly ‘manage’ and control your inventory across all your sales channels.   Being able to rely on a solution to do the work for you, and rest assured the calculations are correct, rather than working in spreadsheets where your formulas can break and cause an inventory nightmare.

Those running a slightly more complex organization from an inventory standpoint are in search of a solution with more advanced features like: bar coding and scanning, demand forecasting, drop shipping, lot tracking and kitting.  And because there is still a need for an accounting solution to complement your inventory management solution, ideally retailers would like to find two of the best solutions that can seamlessly integrate with each other.  Again, it’s not that you don’t need an accounting solution, it’s just that an accounting solution was meant to do just that, manage your finances, and not manage and track inventory.  It’s not unlike using an electrician to fix a plumbing problem.  Yes they are both professionals, but it’s not the electrician’s specialty.  In this case, you’re using a piece of software that wasn’t designed to manage your inventory, and managing inventory is an integral part of a retailer’s business.

Since many small to mid-size retailers use QuickBooks for accounting, a direct integration to QuickBooks is an attractive feature to offer.  This enables retailers to easily post to their General Ledger account and keep track of all their other business expenses outside of inventory.

 

Top-Requested Inventory Management Features
http://blog.dydacomp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Top-Requested-Inventory-Management-Features

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

Retailers’ Reasons For Evaluating Inventory Management Solutions

So why are retailers evaluating inventory management solutions? What’s pushing these first-time automators to invest in their back office operations? Most of the reasons go hand-in-hand and all go back to the fact that using spreadsheets or accounting solutions to perform tasks they weren’t designed to do just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

In the poll done by Software Advice, 35% of the prospective retail software buyers they spoke with said they were looking for a more modern solution for their inventory management needs.  Essentially, they are looking for an actual software solution designed to handle inventory needs rather than using spreadsheets, etc. The other reasons found also have to do with using a solution that wasn’t designed for inventory management control – having limited functionality, inability to support company growth and lacking the ability to automate business processes.

Automation is one of the top reasons we find retailers reaching out to us. Our solutions provide retailers with the ability to automate both inventory and order processes to not only streamline their operations, but free up time to focus on strategy efforts – like how to grow their business!  The streamlining of their processes is essential to support their current and future growth.  With manual processes in place, there tends to be a lot of bottlenecks that occur as business takes off, which can actually hinder your growth.

 

Buyers’ Reasons for Evaluating Inventory Management Software
Buyers-Reasons-for-Evaluating-Inventory-Management-Software

Software Advice: Inventory Management Software BuyerView | 2014

 

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, there is one common goal in implementing a solution for the first time, or a replacement solution – finding a way to run your business better to not only manage current growth, but allow for the ability to support continued growth in the future!

So where do you fit in all of this?  If you’re in that category of retailers who are still using spreadsheets or non order and inventory specific solutions to run your business, there’s no time like the present to start exploring your options.  Like I said earlier, we’ve helped thousands of retailers to improve their processes and grow their business, and we’re here to help you too!  See for yourself, sign up for a Free Trial today.

 

 

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Avoiding Stock Outs

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Posted by:  Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Out of Stock

We speak with retailers every day who tell us that their biggest challenges are with inventory and making sure they have enough product on-hand at all times.  The key is to have just enough to avoid a stock out situation, yet not carry too much product and tie up funds that could be spent elsewhere.

A stock out, or out-of-stock situation is caused when inventory has been depleted. The most common types of retail stock outs occur in the business to consumer goods industry (e.g., electronics, perishables like cookies, flowers or nutraceuticals).

Stock outs are the opposite of overstocks, where too much inventory is on hand.  In this era of multichannel retail, when orders are coming in to a retailer from multiple sales channels, stock outs are more of a concern than ever before.

Research shows that approximately 70-90% of stock outs are caused by poor inventory management and replenishment practices while 10-30% results from a shortage of stock from a supplier. Keeping your back office order workflow process and inventory levels in sync is essential to keeping eCommerce operations on track.

So how do you avoid Stock Outs?  Here are some tips we’d like to share with you from our experience:

  • Centralize the management of inventory from all sales channels
  • Manage multiple warehouses from one system
  • Set up ‘low inventory’ alerts per stock item
  • Manage & issue Purchase Orders to Suppliers from one system
  • Gain insight on trends & peak selling seasons

At Dydacomp we totally get it because we’ve been there too. We’re a software company started by retailers with solutions for retailers. We’ve been helping retailers find that delicate balance of just enough inventory to avoid stock outs without overstocking for years. And when they do, it makes all the difference. Happy selling!

 

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Is it Time for an Order Management System?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Dydacomp_compterImageby Roxanne Brown, CQA – Consulting 4 Quickbooks


My firm has worked with hundreds of eCommerce clients over the years and many have started the conversation with “My company has really taken off and my current order fulfillment processes just aren’t cutting it anymore; what are my options?

Many of the business owners we’ve worked with started out using Quicken or QuickBooks, coupled with Excel to track and manage their inventory, orders, customers, etc.  While this approach may be acceptable when you first start out, it can quickly turn into an inhibitor of the growth for your company.

As your business grows, copying and pasting information from one system to another and constantly updating Excel (no matter how good you are at it) must be replaced with better and more efficient processes.  This is when we get the calls, asking “there must be a better way, what are my options?” – and the answer is automation!

While no two eCommerce businesses are exactly alike, they all follow the same basic fulfillment processes and can benefit from automating these tasks.  Automation is king; it’s what will allow you to take you time away from the time consuming task of copying and pasting so you may can focus on really running and growing your business to the level you know it can achieve.

The first step in achieving business process automation is to switch from Excel or Quicken to QuickBooks; however that’s just the beginning. QuickBooks (or whatever accounting system you use) is designed to handle the accounting portion of your business; it’s really not meant to handle everything else needed to run an eCommerce business. What you really should consider implementing is an order management system (OMS).  This type of implementation can strike fear in the heart of a business owner as they imagine the challenges of adding and changing many of their business processes – therefore many put this decision off much longer than they probably should have.

I won’t lie and say the transition is easy; however I will tell you that it’s well worth the time and effort to make the change.  No one has been sorry they made the decision to automate their business processes and increase productivity.  Many of the business owners we’ve worked with are shocked at how much they can now accomplish in a day, without adding employees.  I’ve seen businesses double and triple revenue in a year or less, solely because a good order management system was deployed!

When reviewing order management systems there are many things to consider beyond whatever your biggest pain point might be at the moment.  Inventory and order management is just the beginning; there are a lot of additional factors to consider as you take your business to the next level.

  • How many sales channels are you currently on?  Do you plan to add any in the near future?
  • Are you maintaining 100% of your inventory, or do you also drop ship?
  • How can you easily manage the ordering and receiving of products?
  • How can you automate your drop ship processes?
  • You MUST be PCI compliant.  If you’re not, you’re running a risk your business can’t afford.
  • How many states are you required to collect sales tax?
  • How many warehouse locations or fulfillment centers are in the mix?
  • What type of selling tools would make running your business more streamlined; and thus more profitable?
  • Fraud protection is key; what tools are available to reduce your risk?
  • How can you provide top-notch customer service?
  • The order management system needs to integrate properly with your accounting system.

Deploying a good order management system will make it possible to do all of the above and SO much more.  So, are you ready to take your business to the next level?

For additional information on the benefits of automating order, inventory and customer management, read this real-world case study about a luxury bedding etailer.  And for more insight on QuickBooks® and eCommerce Training & Integration check out the Consulting 4 QuickBooks blog here.

 

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Posted in CEO, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Spotlight, Dydacomp News, Ecommerce, Email Marketing, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Payment Processing, PCI Compliance, Press Release, Search Marketing, Shipping, SiteLINK News, SMB Index, StoreFront.net, Support, Webinar | No Comments »

Drop Shipping 101

Friday, April 18th, 2014

DropShippingPosted 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 white paper, What’s the Deal with Drop Shipping?  

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Omnichannel Retailing – What is it? Why is it Important? And how do you apply it?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Posted by: Megan Castillo,  Dydacomp Product Marketing ManagerPicture1

Everywhere you look these days you see the phrase ‘Omnichannel Retailing’ – trade shows, industry publications, news blasts, etc. -  but what does it mean and why is it important to online retailers? More importantly, how do you apply it?

Multi- vs. Omni- Channel – Same or Different?

There’s a lot of confusion as to whether or not Omnichannel is just a new hip way to say Multichannel, or if it’s actually different – the answer is … it’s different. Multichannel refers to the actual sales channels through which you are selling – storefront, online, mobile devices, etc.  In the past, these channels typically worked independently of each other, which seemed foolish if you ask me.  Our society is all about networking, so why wouldn’t a retailer ‘network’ between sales channels, after all it’s one brand.  In the past, there’s been an emphasis on making sure the look and feel of the brand is consistent across channels, but what about cross channel promotion?  This is one of the ways Omnichannel retailing comes into play.

Omnichannel retailing is the marketing term that came about as a result of multichannel retailing.  Omnichannel refers to the ‘experience’ the customer has when shopping in one or more of your sales channels, making sure it’s consistent and emphasizes the importance of cross channel promotion.  Obviously customers aren’t going to have the exact same experience shopping in your storefront versus on your website – you lose the ‘touch and feel’ aspect, no sales reps to help you find product, etc. – but there are a few keys things you can do that customers can expect to see across channels – consistent service, product availability and pricing.  At the end of the day, you’re one brand, so you want customers to have a positive interaction at all levels.

Why is Omnichannel Retailing Important?

Retail has always been about the customer experience, and Omnichannel doesn’t change this, it takes it to another level.  It’s now an end-to-end experience that begins whenever and wherever the customer orders, not necessarily beginning/ending in the same place.  A shopper’s journey is no longer a linear one, meaning he or she goes to one sales channel and decides on a purchase.  Today we see shoppers incorporating some, and sometimes even all, of the retailer’s channels into their decision process.  That’s why it’s so important to be consistent, whether in messaging, prices, etc.  If not, you risk tarnishing that customer’s experience and potentially losing them as a repeat customer.  That’s critical, because it costs 5 times more to get a new client than to keep an existing one and existing clients are much more profitable than new ones.

There have been a lot of reports and surveys done recently on the benefits of applying an Omnichannel retailing approach, and the number one benefit is always ‘stronger brand identity/recognition’.  This is key to your survival as a brand/retailer.  Other benefits attributed to applying an Omnichannel approach include revenue growth, expanding your customer base, higher customer satisfaction, and it can be a competitive differentiator, at least until the rest of the retail world catches up.

How do you apply an Omnichannel Retailing Strategy?

There are lots of ways to apply an Omnichannel retailing strategy.  Some of the easier ways include: making use of social media, integrating customer reviews (for online channels), offering cross channel services, and the easiest of all – providing consistent pricing across all channels!  I’m sure most of you use, or know others who use, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  Social media is an easy, free way to get in front of your customers.  Additionally, it can help you expand your reach!  Each time a customer ‘follows’, ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ something you post, each and every one of their connections now sees it – essentially it’s like free marketing!

Customer reviews are great for boosting online sales, especially for those products are harder to sell due to the lack of ‘touch and feel’ aspect.  And I’m sure many of you have seen retailers offer the option to ‘buy online, pick up in store’, but what you may not have realized is that this is an Omnichannel retailing strategy.  In this example, two of your sales channels are working together, your website and storefront.  These are just a few quick examples.  We’ll talk more about applying an Omnichannel Retail Strategy in future posts.

Final Thoughts

An Omnichannel retailing strategy is a necessity for those of you working in multichannel sales environments, and it makes sense.  You’ve worked hard to build out each of these channels, now let’s start using them to our advantage!

For a more in depth look at Omnichannel retailing, along with additional examples on how to apply the strategy and then how to evaluate the success of your efforts, check out our webinar, Omnichannel Retailing – Finding Value in a Multichannel Sales Environment .

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Use Customer Profile Data to Capitalize on the 80/20 Rule

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule that states 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  That 20% is definitely a group worth cultivating to keep them engaged.  The more you know about this customer segment the better for your business.

Most retailers capture basic information about their most active customers but that may not be enough to establish a good connection to this audience.  To develop relationship longevity requires that you develop an intimate knowledge of the customer that goes beyond their name, email address and order history.  In this age of digital marketing, you need to connect on a broader level that includes social media, sales channel preferences and buying habits. Having a more complete customer profile will enable you to design more relevant, timely and targeted campaigns and communications to fully engage your top shoppers.

Go beyond the standard demographic data to include:

  • Birthday
  • Anniversary
  • Family size and make up
  • Favorite color/fragrance, etc.
  • Preferred shopping method
  • Work information, if applicable
  • Detailed purchase history

Also try to capture:

  • What they are saying about you – social media
  • What they like – social media can also provide this information
  • What they are purchasing – favorite items, for self or for gifts
  • When they are shopping – how frequently, time of day, day of the week
  • How they are shopping – website, mobile app, brick and mortar store

All channels need to be integrated to capture relevant data both online and offline that you can easily tap into to develop meaningful communication streams to attract customers.  You need an order management system that can collect detailed customer information along with order details that you can extract and utilize to keep your 20% coming back.  Increasing customer engagement levels through relevant promotions to this target group can drive revenues and enhance your bottom line.

For information about making sure your back office systems keep up with your shoppers’ demands, 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 System. 

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Connecting With Your Customers

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s television sitcom Cheers, you’ll be familiar with its popular theme song, Where Everybody Knows Your Name? That’s the concept at the heart of omnichannel retailing.  It’s the feeling that customers are hoping to find when they shop with you; whether it’s online, in store, or over the phone. Customers are less concerned with the size of your business and more concerned with the quality of your products, timeliness of receiving their order and how you treat them when they come to you through whatever channel they may opt to connect.

Everyone wants to be treated like the individual they are and this is especially true for shoppers who want to be recognized, responded to and valued as if they were your only customer. Creating a positive shopping experience needs to be a priority on your company’s to-do list.

As customers set the agenda through social media it is important to create and continually nurture the connection to your customers that engages them and keeps them coming back to you.

Technology has put the consumer in control with the expectation for 24/7 access to their shopping experience via digital devices and you need to be ready to respond.

Here are a few tips for developing strategies to maintain a strong connection with your customers.

  • Be Sam – Sam wasn’t just the bartender at Cheers, he was the business owner and he knew everyone that came in. Fast forward to today, and you can use technology to stay connected with your customers.  When they’re browsing in your physical store, on your site or requesting information, never ask them twice who they are.  Use technology to pre-populate online request forms.  Use traffic intelligence tools to become familiar with their needs and personalize the customer experience.

 

  • Become obsessed with your customers – make it a point to develop a continuous process of excellent customer service throughout your company for gathering and utilizing customer insight through preferences and ratings.  It’s not enough to have one good customer rep. or salesperson; everyone that interacts with your customers needs to be customer-centric.

 

  • Listen to your customers – encourage feedback and respond. If you made a promise be sure to keep it, building trust and confidence in your company and your products.  And listen to your customer service staff.  They’re hearing from customers first-hand.  They are a great source of trends, suggestions and areas for improvement.  One online retailer we know listened closely to their support representatives who were answering ‘how to’ questions over and over again.  The solution?  Videos for each of the products.  The videos enhanced the customer experience with products and cut down on the ‘how to’ call volume.

 

  • Be where your customers are – your customers are active on social media.  Are you?  Encourage your customers to be in touch with you.  Their interactions and feedback give you the opportunity to keep the lines of communication open and to continually deliver the positive experience they are looking for.

So keep the Cheers theme song in mind when focusing on customer-centric strategies this year.

Let all your customers know that they are the most important part of your business, that they are always welcome, valued by everyone in your company and that you’re always glad they came…

To learn more about Omnichannel retailing, view this on demand webinar: Demystifying Omnichannel Retailing: Finding Value in a Multichannel Sales Landscape.

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March Madness – Bargains and Deals Attract Shoppers

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

After one of the coldest and harshest winter in recent memory, retailers are hoping that shoppers come on full force with pent-up buying demand as they turn their sights to spring and more moderate weather.  As the weather starts to improve, consumers will be able to once again enjoy the outdoors, go for walks and take on projects that they put on hold because of the weather. Most people have paid off their holiday bills and are ready for a fresh round of shopping.

March is a busy month including Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, the start of the NCAA basketball tournament schedule and the first official day of Spring.  All reasons to celebrate, especially this year, and lots of bargains to be had. We once again turn to Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist for her advice as to what’s trending in March – from prom dresses to cruises – and what consumers can expect in the way of bargains and promotions. We offer these insights so that online and multi-channel retailers can take advantage of what’s trending to help you zero in on targeted promotions to attract and capture shoppers.

Below are Jeanette’s recommendations with some additional advice for eCommerce retailers provided by Dydacomp:

  • The cruise industry’s “wave season” takes place during March. This is typically the time to get some of the best deals as cruise lines discount fares and offer perks to get travelers to book with them. They often offer free room upgrades and onboard credits.  Last minute cruises, as space permits, are likely to result in the lowest per night fares.  Jeanette advises that additional savings can be had in booking on an older ship that has been refurbished or on a repositioning cruise that takes place when ships need to relocate as seasons change.  For eCommerce retailers, offer merchandise to make cruisers’ lives easier; from pre-season summer clothes that may still be packed away at home, formal cruise wear, bathing suits and good shoes for sightseeing to luggage, travel accessories, snorkel gear and other sun essentials that would be costly to buy onboard.

 

  • March is National Craft Month – and for those of us that are not craft-impaired, there are a lot of events promoting all sorts of do-it-yourself crafts.  It is a great opportunity for parents and/or grandparents to connect with their kids and grandkids.  Get in on this celebration and offer crafting supplies, ideas and specials to entice your customers to stock up on craft items.  Post a video with step-by-step instructions and offer all of the items needed for a special price. Know which of your shoppers are families with kids and the same for grandparents and create a promotion just for them. Offer teacher discounts if possible to attract volume purchases.

 

  • We typically see winter coats, outerwear and other cold weather gear heavily discounted in February.  This year with much of the country still in the grips of severe and record cold weather, it is likely that the best sales on cold weather gear will take place in March. Some retailers were hard pressed to keep cold weather gear in stock and reordered in mid-season so they still have some inventory available. This year’s winter apparel got heavier than normal usage and shoppers will be looking to replace worn items while shopping for the best prices.  We recommend not going with the trendy colors that this season offered, but look for muted or neutral colors that will be in style next year and beyond. Promote coats or jackets one or two sizes up for kids so that they are ready and outfitted next year. If possible, offer hats, gloves and other accessories as a bundle to go with the outerwear to drive even more sales.  Here again, it pays to know your shoppers and their family make-up so that you can design promotions that will definitely draw them in. If possible, offer an opportunity for people to donate coats that they have outgrown or will no longer be wearing; there are many of these available and it makes people feel good to donate. Jeanette recommends onewarmcoat.org which offers information on coat drives across the US.

 

  • Even if where you live is still snow covered, it’s not too early to think about spring gardening and property maintenance.  Many garden centers host planting season kickoff sales and promotions and online retailers can also get in on this opportunity. If you offer gardening tools, yard decorations, patio furniture and other like items, it’s not too early to load your site with pictures of how you can transform a bleak landscape into a beautiful one.  As with the craft supplies, post easy to follow videos that walk customers through the gardening and planting processes and promote the items needed to actually complete a project.  Offer seeds, yard decorations and other outdoor spruce-up items that get your customers thinking about Spring. Gardening, planting and property maintenance offer opportunities for ongoing communication with your customers as you guide them from Winter recovery through Spring and back again to Fall plantings.

 

  • The National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association has declared March as the 31st annual National Frozen Food Month.  To promote this national initiative, they will be distributing 36 million coupon inserts with participating brand and stores will be encouraged to offer their own in-store promotions.  Now you may not offer frozen food on your site, but if you offer grocery services including home delivery, you can certainly jump on this bandwagon and create shopping campaigns to feature National Frozen Foods Month.  If your site features spices, baking ingredients or kitchen items, you can post easy-to-prepare recipes that utilize frozen foods along with the specialty items that you offer to grab the attention of your busy shoppers.  We all appreciate help in the kitchen.

 

  • As the parent of any high school senior, or junior in some cases, girl knows it is never too early to start shopping for the perfect prom dress and all of the must-have accessories that complete this year’s prom look.  Waiting until the last minute is definitely a recipe for disaster.  Jeanette recommends wedding outlet stores as the perfect place to find special occasion dresses and accessories. Shopping online for a prom dress broadens your range of options and minimizes the chance that you will have the same dress as someone else in your class – a total social no-no. As an online retailer of dresses and accessories, be sure to post your return/exchange policy in case your prom attendee changes their mind on a dress. Use your site to display the entire package – dress, shoes, small handbag, jewelry and other accessories that will make the dress stand out from others.  I already know two high school seniors who have ordered their dresses and are now hoping for dates to go along with them.

Knowing your customers gives you the advantage to target them for special March deals based upon their sales histories and shopper patterns. As we’ve said before, offer specials, sales and promotions to attract your best, repeat customers and be sure to get targeted offers out often to capture shoppers’ attention.  If you don’t tell them about your offers, who will?

Click here for the full text of Jeanette’s article, “March Deals – Prom Dresses to Cruises.”

(http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303880604579405330530919394?mg=reno64-wsj)

Welcome Spring and happy selling!

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