Posts Tagged ‘inventory control’

How to Simplify Purchasing throughout the Inventory Process

Thursday, 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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Is it Time to Take on Order Management?

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

order management

There is no question whether online shopping will continue to grow, as the web becomes more of a go-to resource for everything retail.

“In 2015, over 200 million U.S. online shoppers are projected to shop online at least once a month.”
-invespBlog

But, the real question is; how will you as a retailer use this knowledge to your benefit?

Stable and reliable eCommerce platforms have significantly improved online shopping experiences, and as eCommerce shopping habits amplify, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to keep up. Utilizing all of the functionality of an online order management system will help your business thrive in the long run.

Why Use Freestyle O.M.S.?

eCommerce Shopping Habits

The ultimate goal of an order management and inventory system is to make the merchant’s life easier and customers happier. An order management system benefits your business by encompassing all behind-the-scenes efforts, like managing the inventory purchasing process, after the customer places their order.

Not only does it ensure the order is processed efficiently, but the system makes sure it is shipped promptly and arrives quickly, with as little hassle as possible. You can easily accomplish this by taking steps to manage your customer’s experience.

If you sell a product, ship it to customers or outsource that function, research confirms order management system benefits will continue to grow, particularly if you’re processing more than 10 orders a day. An OMS frees you to focus on the essential back office activities to fuel the growth of your business.

An Intuitive, Fast Solution to Order Processing 

If you’re like most retailers looking for an OMS, you’re looking to technology to give you flexibility and make your life easier. You want a solution that’s easy to use, intuitive and uncomplicated.

Why not discover the many order management system benefits, like processing orders faster, cheaper and without error. All of this can be done through our seamless integrations. Order processing has never been so simple. Snapshot accessibility to control inventory in real-time will leave you wondering why you didn’t start this process sooner.

At the end of the day, having satisfied customers will help your business expand, increasing the chance of repeat business and referrals. ” If someone on Yelp mentions good customer service, they are over 5 times as likely to give a 5 star review, rather than a 1 star.

“Focus on great customer service and the ratings and reviews will come.”
Yelp

In order to provide the best customer service as a multichannel retailer, your OMS should:

  • Have visibility into your customers’ orders across all of your sales channels
  • Be able to quickly respond to customer inquiries and engage them
  • Give customers the ability to view the status of an order online or be able to call and get information in real-time from a customer service team member.

Give your business room to grow, and find out more about order management system benefits in the Multichannel Order Management for eCommerce eBook below.

eCommerce Shopping Habits

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5 Secrets to Growing Apparel Sales

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

4 Secrets to Growing Apparel Sales from the Pros

Secrets secrets are certainly no fun, but that is especially true when the busiest time of the year is upon us. As the holidays creep up, retailers have the reputation to go a little insane. And, when it comes to apparel, there is no exception to the rule.

As apparel retailers turn out new fashions and innovative buying experiences, it can get even more difficult to keep up with ever-demanding apparel sales.

Apparel markets are reaching exceedingly high numbers this year. The women’s apparel market is expected to account for 55% of apparel sales and 60% of growth, due to the increasing weight of emerging markets, according to McKinsey & Company.

With these strategies, you can start to see a dramatic difference in your apparel sales, by delving into what makes your customers tick and more.

1) Learn from the Pros

There are a few key takeaways to gather from the big-box apparel retailers out there, including H&M and Nordstrom to name a few. They pride themselves on producing items where they sell. By doing so, they are able to attain shorter lead times for trending clothing ideas.

They do this by incorporating extremely tight integrations with design, merchandising and production, so they can be flexible for whatever situation may arise.

Knowing how consumers will react to certain products is crucial to developing a strong retail strategy. H&M is well known for their in-depth research and ability to predict upcoming trends for a few different reasons.

So apparel pros have clearly mastered strategizing their price plans, inventory levels and more. Find out how a small business owner can keep up below.

2) Master Fashion Pricing

Pricing for fashion retail can get tricky, with high SKU complexitystock-outs and orders flooding in. Therefore, retailers often have a challenging time pricing fashion. Applying some science to your pricing can benefit you in the long run. Let me explain. According to McKinsey & Company, using statistical tactics to all products, even the seasonal variety like fashion shorts, can boost your sales and margins.

Technical pricing is not a new solution, but most tend to stay away from it due to skepticism. Margin distribution and competitive benchmarking are just some ways merchants tend to go with instead, as a way to find out what the consumer is craving.

McKinsey & Company recommends this scientific approach to pricing, so retailers can enhance their business judgement with something more than just their intuition. Since staying away from intuitive thoughts alone is not the only way to succeed in pricing, here are some other factors commonly brought to the table.

 factors merchants consider

Although these can be applied to a bunch of different retail industries, there are some that specifically stand out in the fashion world, mainly internal economics and consumer input. So what does that mean for fashion retailers? While elasticity (see consumer input) is a common business practice, fashion retailers tend to look the other way, when the benefits can be plentiful.

Determining your level of elasticity can be used to guide price adjustments, add new volume and profits, and measure net revenue. Retailers can also be more confident when using internal economics, because estimating the impact of price changes on product sales is a win win for all.

3) Understand Your Customers Across all Platforms

Managing your customer’s experience does not have to be a difficult process. With some simple tactics, you can increase your customer retention rates and drive in more prospects.

After all, your customer determines whether or not you are going to succeed, so extra focus is ideal across all platforms, including social media and mobile devices, to name a few. With consumers craving more product information on social media and mobile devices, retail marketing is essential.

If you are the business of giving customers what they want, you are on the right track, as they will be more likely to do business and buy from you. Consumers tend to favor small businesses because of their customer focus, so it is important for to strive on.

And, since apparel retail sales are ever-demanding, the time to start is now.

Now onto the next step to understanding your customers, social media. Social media marketing trends for small businesses are forever expanding, since most small businesses spend six or more hours a week on these platforms, and a large percentage spend 11-20 hours per week.

 small business social media

Simply giving your customers the accessibility to reach out to you on multiple platforms is helpful in itself, but also posting materials that are valid to your industry and entertaining as well will help boost your brand.

Be sure to have a quick response time on all social media platforms (ideally within 12 hours) and follow some more of tips to give your small business can use social media to boost sales and improve customer service!

4) Enhance Customer Service by Building on Personalization

This may seem like an obvious one, but small businesses need to pay particular attention to customer service efforts, especially during the upcoming holiday retail season.

But, the holidays are not the only reason to stay on top of your customer service game; as eCommerce sales increase, so does the need for new and innovative personalization ideas.

Unlike emerging fashion trends, providing excellent customer service will never go out of style, but learning the key aspects to hone in on is forever expanding.

“How people define customer service — that is where the battle will continue to be won and lost,” said 
Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct

Popular apparel stores including, Nordstrom, Rebecca Minkoff, Topshop, SportChek and more are moving with technology trends to keep their customers coming back. Can your business start to do the same?

Both online and offline shopping can be amplified by looking into how the big box retailers are incorporating technology to better serve their customers.

 online shopping

Nordstrom is just one of the many retailers using technological advancements to drive customer engagement, such as Pinterest tracking for trending products and their in-store shopping experiences through touch screen fitting rooms.

Now, it may be a bit more complicated for small business owners to incorporate high-tech touch screen fitting rooms, but something you can do is incorporate the social media tactics mentioned above to improve your brand.

5) Control Your Inventory

Learning from the pros does not stop at social media tactics, high-tech fitting rooms and customer service; they too have to control their inventory. But, what can the small business owner learn from them.

Nordstrom wanted to create the best possible system for them and their customers, both online and in store. So, the popular store set out to enhance their customer service efforts, giving consumers a truly personalized experience, without bombarding them with ads. Instead, they use big data solutions.

They implemented a project to allow their customers to see data in real-time. There they can easily see what products to promote to consumers and at what time.

“Some strategies and ideas will work. Others won’t. If you don’t test new things, you’ll never innovate. Don’t panic if something doesn’t work — celebrate it!”
-Jamie Nordstrom, President Nordstrom

Retail giants like H&M stand out for their innovative technological advancements and keen attention to detail towards their supply chains. Staying ahead in the industry with the some fashion expert knowledge can only help increase sales overtime.

So how can you as a small fashion business retailer keep up?

As an apparel multichannel retailer, consider:

  • Taking Advantage of Dimensional/Configurable Products
  • Checking Product Quality During the Shipping Process
  • Maintaining Clear Records of Your Inventory
  • Utilizing Technology to Prevent Theft
  • Capturing & Processing Orders Automatically
  • Expanding Your Reach to Sell Across More Sales Channels
  • Stocking Slow Moving Inventory

Learn more about how to take on apparel sales and stay current with emerging technology trends in the free eBook below. 

apparel retailers ebook

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How to Take on the Holiday Retail Season Like a Pro

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

How to Take on the Holiday Retail Season Like a Pro

With consumers spending more and more online each year, you want to learn the best ways to get your website up to speed, recover from the high-volume shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday and most of all, keep your customers content and coming back.

Keeping Your Customers Happy

The holidays tend to create anxiety among consumers. They are no longer only trying to find the best deal, but with the never-ending buying options, they need the quickest and most seamless shopping experience out there. Think about your strategy for the upcoming holiday retail season and consider implementing the following:

  • Email Marketing & Planning

Having a successful email marketing strategy can really help during the holiday retail season. Feel free to get creative with promotional emails that highlight specific deals for certain holidays. Most importantly, gather as many emails as possible so you can promote more when the busy time hits.

Start planning ahead by finding a way to bring customers back. Avoid shopping cart abandonment by looking into adding extra features to your business model, like Bigcommerce’s cart closer app. You can learn to keep up with the competition this holiday retail season if you take some time to implement the proper planning and tools necessary. You’ll be glad you did in the end.

  • Offer Promotions, Without Going Overboard

Offering crazy deals during the holiday retail season is a given, but if you can’t afford to run deep promotions, don’t feel pressured to. Always do what makes sense for your budget and customers. Even though it may be tempting to run a high discount, planning ahead for targeted promotions is your best option. You can always try to offer free shipping, or even incorporate eCommerce kits and bundles for a chance to stand out from the competition and offer discount pricing at the same time.

how to take on holiday retail - mobile shopping

  • Mobile Commerce

Mobile traffic made up 45% of all online circulation during last year’s holiday season, which was a 25.5% increase from the previous year.
IBM

Mobile sales increased 27.2% and made up 22.6% of all online sales as well. Keeping these numbers in mind, if your site is not fully optimized and mobile-friendly, now is the time to do so.

With the increase in mobile sales comes highlighting the critical days during the holiday retail reason. Compared to last year, online orders from small and medium sized businesses increased by 24% between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to a Bigcommerce report. With online sales continuing to rise and mobile purchasing becoming more common, numbers are expected to grow for the upcoming holiday retail season.

  • Load Testing

Is your website ready for the traffic spikes the holidays can bring? Businesses are easily targeted during this time of the year, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Testing load time for API’s, site security and more is always beneficial to avoid running into any issues.

Avoiding Shipping Woes

Fulfillment and managing the purchasing process around the holidays are often overlooked, leaving room for error, and keeping your customers waiting. Shipping woes tend to come up during popular shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Issues with shipping have been known to arise no matter what distributor you are using, such as UPS or FedEx. UPS attempted to avoid the holiday shipping delays, and by doing so, contributed to a $175 million rise in operating expenses last year.

If you have your own drop shipping business, make sure you are keeping up-to-date on back orders and any other deterrents that are extremely common during the holiday rush. Always revise your shipping methods for updated protocol and the most budget-friendly approaches.

Staying on Top of Your Inventory

Do you process and send out orders through multiple sales channels? With the holiday craze, managing multichannel sales can be difficult, as keeping track of certain products can get complex. But, it doesn’t have to be with a streamlined order flow. Implementing an inventory software can help avoid running into any problems when the holiday flood gates open.

Unnecessary errors in your order process can be easily avoided with a simple solution to inventory management for retailers. With very little effort, you can be on your way to centralizing your sales channels, allowing for more accurate calculations, and giving you one less thing to worry about for the holiday retail season.

Check out the free eBook below to find out what you may be missing.

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How Kits and Bundles Can Solve Your Ecommerce Woes

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

ecommerce kits and bundles

Every retailer needs to be sure their customers find the exact items they need, in the fastest time possible.

And, managing your supply chain is not a simple one-size-fits-all approach anymore. As competition continues to grow, eCommerce immediacy will follow suit. Giving your customers the accessibility to purchase as many products as possible in the fastest time is the way of the future, so why not jump on board?

Adding eCommerce kits & bundles is a quick, simple solution to expand your product offering, and increase online store sales.

What Are ‘Kits’ aka ‘Bundled’ Products?

If you’re not familiar with these types of products, a ‘kit’, or ‘bundled’ product is made up of various components or items, sold as a set or group, also known as product bundlingThat’s what makes adding kits to your product mix so easy. You already have the individual components, but instead of offering each product on its own, you create a new offering by grouping similar or complementary products together.

Boost Sales with Ecommerce Kits and Bundles -1) Increase Store 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, making managing multichannel sales even easier. 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 for that particular product and your chances of selling it. Plus, each kit is made up of multiple items, so your sales price is higher.

2) Differentiate Yourself

Your kit is a combination of whatever products you choose, offering you the opportunity to be unique and differentiate yourself from the competition.

differentiate yourself-ecommerce kits and bundles

3) Make Room for Discount Pricing

Since your customer is buying more than one product with each kit, you may be able to offer discounted pricing. This can be a strategic way to drive more sales. After all, everyone loves a deal! This strategy, combined with efficiently managing the inventory purchasing process, will provide clear visibility to your products, avoid stock outs and much more.

Managing Your Kit Products

Adding kits to your product mix may be easy, but sometimes the inventory control can be difficult, especially when one item is used as a component in more than one kit. It’s never been easier to manage your inventory and order fulfillment processes associated with each kit product.

Check out the short video on managing kits products, and see how simple it can be. 

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