Posts Tagged ‘Freestyle Commerce’

Managing Amazon Orders

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Posted By: Megan Castillo

Amazon
If you’re selling on Amazon through Seller Central or using FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon], then you’re probably familiar with the challenges inherent in managing orders through Amazon.

Let’s face it. Selling on Amazon raises the profile of most products and makes them a hotter commodity. Multichannel Merchant magazine covered Amazon sales results in 2014 in their first issue of January 2015. “Amazon announced that sellers sold a record-setting more than 2 billion items worldwide in 2014. The number of sellers on Amazon adopting the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service to help scale their businesses and delight customers with Amazon’s award-winning fulfillment and customer service also grew more than 65% year-over-year worldwide. There are currently more than 2 million sellers on Amazon worldwide that account for over 40% of the total units sold on Amazon.”

Read the full article here: “Amazon Sellers Sold More Than 2 Billion Items in 2014

If you’re like most merchants selling on your website and also on Amazon, some of these challenges may be all too familiar to you:

• Inventory Updates – Inventory levels in your Amazon store(s), as well as other channels, can get out of sync. You risk overselling and tarnishing your Seller Rating.

• Order Status Updates – Once a product is shipped, does your system automatically mark that product as ‘shipped’ and immediately update inventory levels across synced channels? If not, you could face costly errors.

• Keeping Track of FBA Inventory – Another common challenge is in keeping track of inventory sent to Amazon to fulfill FBA orders. Having the ability to create ‘FBA Reserved Bins’ allows you to compare Amazon’s order calculations to your own to ensure accurate inventory counts from Amazon, and  to know when to replenish product levels.

These are such important and timely issues for the online retailers that come to us. If this is important to you, check out our on-demand webinar Solution Spotlight – Managing Amazon Orders, to learn how Freestyle can help you process and manage your Amazon orders more efficiently.

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Posted in Cloud Based Inventory Management, Ecommerce, Multichannel Order Manager, Order Management, Small Business Inventory Management | No Comments »

Why You Need an Order Management Solution for Your Magento eCommerce Site

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo

magentoYou’ve built your eCommerce business using Magento software and it’s a powerful solution that meets your unique shopping cart needs. But if you want to streamline and automate your business processes, seamlessly update your inventory across all channels, increase efficiencies, and drive new sales, you need to implement a cloud based inventory and order management software solution that integrates seamlessly with Magento.

Freestyle Commerce® allows you to effectively handle order import, inventory management, order fulfillment, and order processing automation while synchronizing communication between Freestyle Commerce, Magento, and your other systems. Without this Magento integration, your employees will have to take the time to manually transfer orders entered in your eCommerce store to your inventory management system, then to your accounting system, and again to your shipping system. Implementing Freestyle Commerce avoids the tedious manual work for each order as well as issues caused by mistakes made while transferring information.

Looking ahead for eCommerce growth will help you anticipate the needs of your business and allow you to plan accordingly. You need a solution that is scalable, integrates with Magento, and improves your business. Without a complete integrated solution, you’ll quickly run into business limitations with your online shopping cart platform. Magento’s integration with Freestyle Commerce provides you a complete eCommerce solution that is suitable for small to mid-sized businesses at the right price, and will be a valuable investment as your business expands.

Click on the link to learn more about Why You Need Freestyle Commerce.

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Posted in Cloud Based Inventory Management, Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Magento, Order Management | No Comments »

Managing Inventory & Order Fulfillment – Exciting, No. Necessary, Yes!

Friday, September 5th, 2014

inventory managementPosted by:  Megan Castillo 

Managing inventory and order fulfillment isn’t the most exciting part of becoming an eCommerce merchant, but it can make or break a web store’s operations. If you’re not managing inventory efficiently, you risk tying up funds in excess inventory or worse -losing out on a sale due to a stock out situation and ultimately letting your customers down. When done well, efficient inventory and order management can help streamline your business processes, optimizing your cash flow and improving your bottom line.

Efficient & Intelligent Inventory Management

Managing inventory is a delicate balancing act for businesses of all sizes, small and large. If you have too much invested in inventory in stock, you’ll have less money to run the rest of your business.  If you have too little on-hand, you could lose out on sales and risk losing potential customers. The tips below offer some advice on how to find that happy balance.

  • Determining Inventory Amounts – To help you determine the right amount of inventory to keep on-hand it’s important to carefully track sales, monitor trends and analyze your performance over the past few years to help you more accurately forecast inventory needs relative to sales cycles.  Other things to consider include what sells and what doesn’t, what items are more seasonal than others, and what the inventory turn is on your most important products (the time it takes to sell that product and restock it).
  • Get Your (Ware)house In Order – You have to get your house in order, or in this case your warehouse, in order to run a smooth operation. Making sure your products are stocked efficiently and that you have clear guidelines on how to pick/pack/ship items will ensure items get shipped quickly and tracked accurately.
  • Make Sure Marketing & Operations Are Aligned – When determining your stock levels it’s also important to make sure your purchasing and operations teams are aware of the promotional calendar marketing has in place. For example, if marketing is running a promotion next week or next month, you may need to order and stock more of a particular item(s) to meet the anticipated demand.
  • Have Backup Vendors – As a customer, there’s nothing more disappointing than to place an order and then later find out it’s been put on backorder because the item isn’t in stock! As the merchant you can take preventive steps to avoid this situation by having a backup vendor as your ‘go-to’ if your primary vendor runs out of stock.  You may not have a backup for every product you sell, but for those you consider to be the ‘hot sellers’, whether all the time or during peak seasons, it would be beneficial to have a backup vendor.
  • Get Help! – The best way to ensure you manage your inventory and order fulfillment processes efficiently is to automate the process using an inventory and order management software solution.  With our inventory and order management solutions for small to mid-sized businesses you can manage your inventory, orders, and returns across multiple sales channels, send purchase orders to suppliers, process shipments including drop ship items, produce management level reporting, and more.  Our solutions provide you with the tools to streamline your operations by automating your processes.  In addition, our solutions seamlessly integrate with QuickBooks, the preferred accounting solution choice of small to mid-sized retailers.

Sign Up for a Free Trial of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today! 

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Posted in Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Inventory & Order Management, Multichannel Order Manager | No Comments »

Solution Spotlight – ‘Kit’ aka ‘Bundled’ Products in Freestyle

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Posted by:  Megan Castillo

Freestyle supports the online inventory management and order fulfillment of ‘Kit’ aka ‘Bundled’ products!

KittingFor those of you who aren’t familiar with these types of products a ‘kit’, or what Magento refers to as a ‘bundled’ product, is a product that is made up of various components or items and are sold as a set or group.  Managing the inventory associated with each kit can be difficult, especially when one item is used as a component in more than one kit.  However, with Freestyle, managing the inventory and order fulfillment process of kit products just got easier!

Benefits of Using Freestyle to Manage Your ‘Kit’ Products

  • Create & Edit Kits Easily:  Setting up kits in Freestyle is easy to do and manage.  At any time, you can switch, add and/or remove a component.
  • List One Item Multiple Times:  Sell one item in multiple ‘kits’ and on its own?  Freestyle allows you to connect all of those different listings to the inventory of a single item. One sale on any of the listings automatically updates the quantity on all other listings for you.
  • Manage Inventory Automatically:  Freestyle automatically publishes the ‘Available’ inventory back to Magento, which is a sum of the ‘Can Be Assembled’ & ‘Pre-Assembled’ inventory levels. These levels are calculated based off the inventory of the lowest component.
  • Avoid Shipping Mistakes:  Freestyle recognizes the SKU of the entire kit, and also knows each of the individual items that make up the kit. This insures all of your items get shipped out correctly.
  • And more…

How Selling Kits Can Increase Your Sales

There are a number of ways you can increase sales by adding kits to your product mix.  First, you have more opportunities to sell each product.  Not only can the product be listed on its own for sale, but now you can add that product to one or more kits, increasing the number of listings you and your chances of selling that particular product.  Plus, each kit is made up of multiple items, so your sales price is higher.

Some other advantages of selling kits include:

  • Offering Unique Products: Your kit is a combination of whatever products you choose, offering you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Opportunity Offer Discounts: Since your customer is buying more than one product with each kit, you may decide to offer a discount on the price.  Everyone loves a deal!  This can be a strategic way to drive more sales.

To learn more about Kit Products and how Freestyle can help you manage the inventory and order fulfillment processes associated with each kit product:

Watch the recording from the Freestyle Commerce Solution Spotlight:  Kitting product demo.

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Posted in Cloud Based Inventory Management, Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Magento, Product Updates | No Comments »

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.  Register for a Demo of our Inventory & Order Management Solutions today and see for yourself.

 

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Posted in Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Inventory & Order Management, Multichannel Order Manager | No Comments »

IRCE 2014 Recap & 4 Key Take-Aways

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Posted by Laura Hills, VP of Marketing

Dydacomp participated as a sponsor in recent 2014 Internet Retailer Conference Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. This year IRCE celebrated its 10th year as the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition and our staff had a fantastic experience at the show!

We spoke with many retailers, fulfillment, distribution, and wholesale businesses of various sizes who were eager to discuss the latest developments in internet retail. Our days at the conference were filled with informative meetings and great conversations about the challenges and opportunities businesses face when managing their continued growth.

So what was the buzz at this year’s show? Here are our top 4 key take-aways from IRCE 2014:

irce

#4 Opportunities abound for best-in-class inventory and order management software solutions with multichannel retailers. At IRCE we heard how order and inventory management automation, efficiency, and insight have delivered real value to the bottom line of many multichannel sellers. These businesses shared experiences of how their multichannel operations continue to expand the needs emanating from their ‘back office silos’. The successful businesses view order and inventory management operations as essential solutions that drive their business’ ability to compete and win from the point in which a customer engages with them through their shopping cart to the receipt of their orders at their door, and beyond.

#3 The Magento Community fully embraced a tightly integrated cloud-based OMS solution. Visitors to Dydacomp’s booth at IRCE were excited to experience Freestyle Commerce first-hand! Freestyle is Dydacomp’s latest innovation—a cloud based online inventory and order management system that complements Magento eCommerce platforms and Amazon. Those who had the chance to see Freestyle in action were quickly delighted with the benefits its tight integration provided, including:

• Unification of the workflows for ALL Magento and Amazon sales channels orders into a single stream for expedited pick, pack, ship and bill processing.

• Complete visibility into on-hand stock levels, and the tasks involved with purchasing, receiving and updating new inventory counts across sales channels; combined with the ability to manage drop ship supplier operations.

• Connected customer insight and business intelligence tools to help make more informed business decisions and help manage the growth of businesses to their full potential.

#2 SMB retailers focus on drop shipping to drive efficiencies and cost savings. For many start-up and established small to medium-sized (SMB) growing businesses drop shipping was a hot topic. Drop shipping provides a way for savvy business owners to aggressively expand their product offerings without incurring the upfront costs of purchasing new inventory or having to directly manage the pick, pack and ship process for those orders. To further support these businesses, we were able to demonstrate how easy it was to include drop shipping operations into their order management mix through our solutions to meet their business objectives and growth goals without the overhead costs of maintaining inventory locally.

#1 Experience matters when it comes to technology solution providers. Many SMB retailers who sought us out at IRCE were looking for a solution provider that could relate to their specific business needs and who had the experience and the know-how to take businesses like theirs to the next level of success. We were proud to share our own personal success story. Many were surprised to learn that Dydacomp is a technology company that was started by retailers with solutions for retailers. Today, thousands of multichannel merchants rely on our Freestyle Commerce™ and Multichannel Order Manager (M.O.M.®) solutions to automate their retail back office operations and drive business growth. In total, our clients collectively generate nearly 10 million in gross merchandise sales every day! So how can we help you?

We hope to see you at next year’s IRCE but don’t wait until then to get started!

For additional information on operational improvements through automating order management, read this eBook entitled “Drive Your Retail Sales Growth With Operational Efficiencies.”

 

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

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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Posted in Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Industry News, Inventory & Order Management, Multichannel Order Manager | No Comments »

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 inventory and 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 Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Industry News, Inventory & Order Management, Multichannel Order Manager | 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 eBook, What’s the Deal with Drop Shipping?  

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Posted in Drop Shipping, Ecommerce, Freestyle Commerce, Industry News, Multichannel Order Manager, Shipping | No Comments »