Posts Tagged ‘inventory management’

How Were Holiday Sales? With Too Much Data, It’s Hard to Tell.

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Posted by: Laura HillsDydacomp-Order-Management

The data has been collected but the results are confusing.  How did the 2013 holiday season sales perform overall?  Researchers seem to be divided on the numbers and what they mean to retailers.  There’s no simple answer to the big question, “was 2013 a good holiday season for retailers?” Shopper Trak and the National Retail Federation (NRF) were divided in the first seasonal measure of Black Friday Sales.  Shopper Trak reported a 2.3% gain while the NRF reported a 3.9% loss over 2012. The many reports and the varied metrics used to assess holiday sales have made the holiday season of 2013 hard to call.

MasterCard publishes a credit card purchases report; Shopper Trak uses data from its Shopper counting devices combined with cash register transaction information.  The NRF hires a polling firm to ask consumers about their spending then makes estimates based on the responses. Online sales, reported as a separate category, contributed to the confusion. comScore which tracks eCommerce figures, reported a 10% increase in online sales; however they only includes purchases made from desktop computers, not mobile devices.  Retail analysts warn that the real score for the season can’t be given in a single number – it is best to look for a separate scorecard for each retailer.  Understandably, retailers play it close to the vest, remaining positive without sharing detailed information.

Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm maintains that the only holiday score that matters to retailers are their margins and whether they come out of the holiday season profitably.  This is certainly true for small to medium-sized eCommerce retailers as they sort out their results. The big picture data may be helpful as a comparison to industry averages, but the only true and meaningful measure is how your business has performed.

As you review your 2013 holiday season results, determine where you succeeded and where you could improve.  Were you visible in places where your shoppers could easily find and interact with you?  Did you create the best possible shopping experience and did you handle all orders effectively and efficiently?  Were there any bottlenecks in your back office operations that you could be improved this year.  It’s worth the time to reflect on these questions now – it’s never too early to start thinking about the 2014 holiday season.

For additional perspectives behind keeping the retail forecast score, click here to read this article by NorthJersey.com’s Senior Writer, Joan Verdon.

 

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End-to-End EDI: The Key to Running an Efficient Business

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Posted by: Rebecca Kaelin, Marketing Coordinator, Logicbroker

It’s an indisputable fact that eCommerce has changed the way we do business  – just ask any eTailer. While each eTailer strives to be more efficient and keep up with customer demand, more effective means of communication became necessary. That’s where Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) comes in.

EDI involves the transfer of data between organizations through electronic means, replacing postal mail, fax, and email. Though email is an electronic approach, documents exchanged via email still require someone to open, read, and translate the message, which can slow down processing and open the door to errors.  Due to its speed and considerable cost savings, EDI has become the medium of choice to transmit electronic documents and business information. Typical documents exchanged via EDI include purchase orders, invoices, and advance shipment notices (ASNs).

So what can EDI do for you? Well, eTailers that elect to implement end-to-end EDI allow their businesses to perform more efficiently. Without manual touches, errors are eliminated from the order fulfillment process, saving you time and money. Tracking information can be brought over, ensuring it is always accurate, which eliminates costly shipping errors. When there are no errors, no time will need to be allocated to correct them. With manual EDI, if you were importing/exporting information multiple times a day, it would be easy to duplicate or miss orders, which would alter the authenticity of your books. If numbers were off, time would be lost painstakingly going over orders to find out where the error was. Fortunately, end-to-end EDI ensures this scenario never happens.

EDI has been praised for its efficiency and automation capabilities, but only an end-to-end EDI solution can guarantee manual touches will be eliminated from your order fulfillment process. Many retailers and suppliers will implement EDI, yet still have to log into multiple portals to verify and complete orders. If you are spending just one hour a day manually processing orders, in a typical work year that will add up to 250 hours, which is simplified to 31 work days. With an end-to-end EDI solution, you get that month back. Your end-to-end EDI provider maps to your trading partner’s EDI so documents flow effortlessly between the systems and the need for you to log into portals is eliminated.

Your EDI solution can also act as an integration hub by connecting your backend systems. With an EDI integration hub, the powerful systems your business depends on can communicate seamlessly. EDI messages will be received and translated and deposited automatically into the appropriate system. Purchase/sales orders will flow from your shopping cart or trading partner directly into your order management software, and pricing and inventory updates can be brought up from your OMS into your shopping cart. Your EDI provider can also automatically trigger the sending of PO Acks (purchase order acknowledgements), ASNs (advance shipment notices), and invoices. With these backend efficiencies, your staff will not be tied up with manually fulfilling order information. If your backend is running inefficiently, customers will be turned away because of inaccurate stock and poor ratings. But, with a powerful backend that runs efficiently and reliably, your main focus can be developing your front end and growing your business.

In today’s eCommerce ecosystem, EDI is becoming a mandate. EDI opens the door to more business opportunities because of the efficiencies it creates, such as processing orders faster and eliminating manual tasks. By implementing an end-to-end EDI solution, you are optimizing your business in a way that regular EDI cannot. For more information on implementing end-to-end EDI, click here.

Access a special on demand webinar, Tools to Connect Your Online Store and Back Office, created by Dydacomp and Logicbroker to learn how Logicbroker’s deep integration with Dydacomp’s M.O.M. (Multichannel Order Management System) fully automates the EDI order process.

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Romance and Winter Deals Attract Shoppers

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

At this point consumers have received their holiday bills and they’re paying them off, just in time for the next popular gift giving occasion –Valentine’s Day.  For retailers, Valentine’s Day has become more than just a holiday to celebrate love, it’s an important part of retail’s winter season. Consumer spending on Valentine’s Day gifts results in notable retail sales, so much so that many businesses see it in their bottom line each year.

Valentine’s Day has become a global holiday celebrating love and romance that often includes gifts from chocolate and flowers to over-spending on lavish gifts.  Men reportedly outspend their female counterparts by two to one.  Fat Wallet, a growing resource for online shoppers, is predicting Valentine’s Day Sales to reach $19 billion this year and is ready with special deals and coupon offers.  In 2013 CNN reported that 40.7% of people used their smart phone to make a Valentine’s Day purchase.

So how can your customers show their love and affection while still trying to save some money?  And what about other good deals typically found in February?  We turn to Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist to help us navigate Valentine’s Day opportunities and beyond. Online and multi-channel retailers can take advantage of Jeanette’s insight and plan promotions to attract online shoppers for everything from romantic gifts to tax preparation software and more.

Here are Jeanette’s recommendations to shoppers:

  • The more than 23,000 jewelry stores in the U.S. sold an estimated $2.8 billion of merchandise in February 2013, thanks to Valentine’s Day. Engagement rings and diamonds are a good buy in February and this year the halo setting (a small circle of diamonds around a center stone) is the trendy design.  In addition, earrings and bracelets are popular and many retailers will be offering good deals to showcase their products and move their inventory.  One note of caution – be sure to keep the store tags on any jewelry that you buy until you are sure the person wants to keep the item.  Returning jewelry can sometimes be tricky.
  • Perfume is a popular Valentine’s Day gift and many retailers opt to promote fragrances by offering a gift with purchase.  Some of the best gift with purchase deals can be found in February.  Check the sizes and prices carefully; you typically pay less per ounce when buying the larger size.
  • Tax preparation software companies are getting more creative in selling their once a year products. TurboTax has teamed up with Amazon to offer special incentives on their products, offering a $50 upgrade to TurboTax Deluxe users who opt to put $500 of their refund toward an Amazon gift card.  Items that can help people get organized for tax preparation will be welcome at this time of year also.
  • Travel to Europe is a bargain because it is cold there which tends to keep people away.  Cities like London or Paris have plenty of indoor attractions and airlines are offering good deals (with the exception of President’s Day – February 17).  Europe’s Carnival season has been slow in recent years and prices are expected to remain low all winter.  Hawaii’s peak season doesn’t get underway until mid-March so if you’ve got the time, you can book before airfare and hotel rates rise. Travel accessories and off-season clothing would play well with these travelers.
  • February is Canned Food Month and you can stock up and save especially with the family-sized options.  Just keep an eye on the expiration dates and be sure to buy only what you know you’ll use.  This is a good time to buy canned goods to donate to food pantries – the items are on sale and the need is high as the holiday donation season has ended. If you have a disaster supply kit (and if you don’t now’s a good time to think about creating one), swap out your close to expiration canned goods and replace with the sale items you can pick up in February.

Take advantage of historical sales and shopper patterns to see which of your customers could use some ideas for Valentine’s Day.  Be the online retailer to offer specials, sales and promotions to attract your best, repeat customers.  Get your offers out early and often to capture shoppers’ attention and be ready to fill last minute orders for procrastinators.  Keep your audience informed and be sure you are visible across all platforms.

The full text of Jeanette’s article, “Winter Deals That Might Surprise You” can be found at

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/
SB10001424052702304007504579347021413822800
.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day and happy selling!

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Lessons Learned: Avoiding Holiday Shipping Woes

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Posted by: Laura Hills

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse reported that U.S. retail sales rose 3.5% during this past holiday season.  According to ComScore Inc. merchandise purchased via personal computers rose 10% to $42.75 billion.   IBM Digital Analytics cited Internet sales soaring 37% over 2012 in the last weekend before Christmas as last minute shoppers rushed to order gifts at the 11th hour. Statistics indicate that while the bulk of holiday spending still takes place at physical locations, online shopping has gained immense popularity and is becoming a much larger part of holiday spending.  This is good news for online retailers.

Reliable deliveries are a crucial part of the online shopping experience, especially with shoppers that wait until the last minute to make their selections.  This year Amazon raised the bar by offering expedited shipping with Sunday package delivery via the USPS and packages guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. Many retailers followed Amazon’s lead, extending their order cut-off dates, promising same-day and Christmas delivery even if orders were placed as late as December 23rd. Shoppers’ reactions were so overwhelming that UPS and FedEx experienced overloaded systems that caused numerous Christmas and same-day delivery promises to go unmet.

The growing popularity of free shipping to entice consumers was another major factor that resulted in increased shipment volume. In the third week of December, Amazon’s Prime membership drew more than 1 million people.  Prime membership ($79 annual fee) offers free two-day shipping.  Most last minute online orders needed to ship via air or other expedited methods to reach their destination in time.  Bad weather across the nation cancelled or delayed many flights which contributed to the shipping woes.

Chetan Ghai, senior product officer at ShopperTrak feels that online businesses will continue to experience the greatest growth although he feels that next year, people who procrastinate until a few days before the holiday may be wary of relying on deliveries.  He said, “I think there will be some people who choose to go into the store, rather than risk a missed delivery.”

Being prepared comes from lessons learned and this holiday shopping season was certainly a teachable moment for both shipping companies and online retailers. Both need to pay attention to aggressive shipping options, promotional offerings, weather considerations, order volume and timing issues to avoid a repeat of 2014’s shipping woes.

There is a lot of revenue riding on the ‘run-up to Christmas’ and 2014 will only see the gain of one more shopping day (26 to 27 days) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Shipping schedules that allow for unforeseen delays will need to be factored in to deliveries.  Connecting with customers early in the season (before Thanksgiving), offering more realistic order cut-off dates, not waiting until the last minute to offer the best deals and handling logistics more efficiently can  help to avoid future holiday shipping issues.

For a closer look at the issues and opportunities surrounding shipping, please view the on- demand replay of the webinar entitled:  Why Free Shipping Isn’t Free: The Top 7 Reasons You Need Effective Retail Promotions.

 

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SMB Retailers – It’s A Good Time to Prepare for Growth

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Working with many SMBs, the newspaper headline “Advice for small companies: Take stock, take risks” caught my attention.  This article by Joyce Rosenberg, small business editor at The Associated Press, encourages small business owners to step back from their day-to-day operations to evaluate how they are running their companies.  According to Rosenberg, crisis mode has passed and business owners need to be sure their companies are poised to take advantage of growth opportunities expected on the horizon.

A recent National Small Business survey taken in June and July indicates that small business owner confidence is up 38% from six months ago.  The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index July survey shows that confidence has risen 9 points from the start of 2013.  Indications are positive and business owners need to be ready to respond to customer and market demands that are to come.  One issue that small businesses are facing is the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act.  Businesses don’t have a clear picture of what it will ultimately end up costing to provide health care coverage for their employees.  Paul Sarvadi, adviser to small business owners and CEO of Insperity, a Houston-based human resources provider advises not letting this uncertainty limit or stall future plans.

Rosenberg cites three major steps that small business owners should be taking right now as they prepare for a strong year end and continued growth in 2014.

  • Look Ahead –Step back and take a hard and realistic look at where improvements are needed.  Reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction and differentiating yourself from your competitors are all areas that need to be explored.  Don’t be afraid to be critical in analyzing your business and don’t be locked in to how things have been done in the past.
  • Take Risks – Business is risky and doing nothing can be the riskiest behavior of all.  Be prepared to respond to opportunities.  Consumer spending and the economy can rebound quickly and you’ve got to be ready to jump in to take advantage.
  • Be Good to Employees – The backbone of your organization – retaining good employees needs to be a priority.  Determine what rewards would be appreciated by your staff and implement incentive programs that will have the best return.

The growth trends cited in this article are consistent with those we observe for multichannel etailers transacting business through our order management and eCommerce solutions.  Running an SMB retail business is as much of an art as it is a science.  Connecting back office retail operations with the eCommerce store is essential to bridge the gap between the orders coming in through your online store, the fulfillment of orders and inventory visibility on the back end.

To access Joyce Rosenberg’s full article, click here: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/advice-small-companies-take-stock-take-risks.

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Managing Inventory During Peak Selling Periods

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Dydacomp-Santa-2014-1

Inventory management can be a time-consuming and error-prone process for multi-channel eCommerce businesses.  The quality and accuracy of inventory management is especially critical during the peak holiday selling season, which can be can be the single most important time of the year for these retailers.  According to the NRF, nearly 20% of retail sales happen from Black Friday through Christmas with close to 40% of sales taking place between November 1 and December 15.  Having the right amount of inventory on hand to meet consumer demands can make all the difference in the success of a retailer’s holiday season.

Putting time into some advance planning can better prepare you to meet the unpredictable demands that your business will face, especially this year with only 26 shopping days.  Without proper planning, this peak holiday selling season can create a perfect storm of inventory management challenges.  By recognizing problem areas likely to cause problems, you’ll be better equipped to weather the season. Avoiding stockouts, fulfillment bottlenecks and meeting delivery demands can make the season merry and bright for you.

So how do today’s multichchannel retailers address these challenges?  Here are suggestions based upon our research and our customers’ experiences:

  • Get an Early Start

Synchronize your schedule of marketing campaigns with the availability of products featured in promotions. Actively manage merchandise assortments in conjunction with marketing plans to know what items you’ll need to keep the demand plans balanced. Get areas of your warehouse or store ready to receive the products you’ll need and have a logistics plan to efficiently move these items. If you’re drop shipping, coordinate schedules with drop shippers and/or warehouses that store and distribute your products.

  • Create a Holiday Sales Forecast

Analyze previous holiday sales, consider anticipated consumer trends and, if the research is available, evaluate recommendations in your industry segment.  Determine what worked and what areas are in need of improvement.  Consider orders from your best shoppers and look at their buying behaviors during peak selling periods. Look at impulse or fast moving items that tend to sell out quickly and be sure you can readily restock these items to meet demand.

  • Have Accurate Information

Accurate inventory and sales data enables you to make efficient and effective decisions before the season starts and throughout your busiest holiday times. And don’t forget to manage your customer list along with any mailing lists you may purchase.

  • Automate the Inventory Management Function

An inventory management system allows you to track and control your inventory across all sources. Inventory management software that integrates data across multiple selling channels adjusts your inventory levels when an order is placed or a sale is made. Inventory management software allows you to track your inventory status and will make it easy to manage and fulfill orders from shopping to shipping all year long.

  • Connect with Suppliers

Your vendors have holiday sales goals just like you and are likely to be looking for ways to get their customers to buy from them. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices or delivery terms which can help you save money and keep you stocked with the items you need.

  • Don’t Overlook the Details

If you ship your own merchandise, in addition to having the right amount of inventory available, you also need to be sure that you are well stocked with other retail holiday essentials including gift wrap and bags, gift cards, bows, special holiday packaging, extra shipping boxes, packaging tape and other supplies.  You can’t move your inventory if you don’t have the packing and shipping supplies you need.  If you work with a drop shipper, drop shipping transfers the pick, pack and ship tasks to the shipper.

  • Think Ahead

Give some thought to how you’ll handle returns and the impact anticipated return levels will have on your inventory levels.

Take the necessary steps now to ensure you have the inventory on hand meet your shoppers’ demands.  For additional tips to help you have a great holiday selling season, access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes”.

Happy & Successful Holiday Selling!

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Attracting Shoppers Is Critical to a Successful Holiday Shopping Season

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing

Facing the shortest holiday selling season in quite some time, many U.S. retailers are already well into their holiday promotions and special offers to get shoppers into their stores and placing their online orders as early as possible. Traditionally, U.S. merchants have focused on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, to get their holiday sales season underway. Black Friday is followed by Cyber Monday when the best online deals are typically offered.gift-card-bow

Kimberly Greenberger, an analyst with Morgan Stanley predicts this year’s holiday season to be the most promotional-oriented and discounted since 2008 with eCommerce sales accounting for between 12 and 13% of overall retail sales.  Last year’s eCommerce figure was 11% of total sales.

This year, Black Friday is November 28th and Cyber Monday is December 2nd, which are both late in the holiday shopping game.  Hanukkah is early this year and all of this has prompted many retailers to get a big jump start on this critical selling season.  Wal-Mart has already kicked off its online deals, starting with an online sales event on November 1st – a full month earlier than usual.  They offered some of the lowest prices to be found this season along with free shipping on 99% of online items – more typically the type of promotions that were previously reserved for Cyber Monday.

Wal-Mart isn’t the only major retailer to get an early start.  Toys R Us started their holiday ads earlier than ever before and even offered cash back incentives to loyalty rewards customers who purchased specific toys by October 31 – Halloween.  They’ve added another incentive and are offering their Black Friday deals to their loyalty rewards members on the day before Thanksgiving.  Target is also spending more on holiday advertising, extending its price-match policy and expanding its buy online/pick up in store service.  Best Buy has run Holiday Kickoff sales via email and in the stores while L.L. Bean and Lands End are offering early discounts as well, both online and in store to attract this year’s budget conscious shoppers. Many retailers have even opted to open on Thanksgiving this year to give shoppers more time for their holiday shopping.

So how can you as an SMB retailer attract customers to your site to do their holiday shopping? Follow the lead of the big box retailers and get out there early and often.  Look to promote your products in the online and social media places where you know your customers will be congregating.  Take advantage of social media channels that your shoppers will likely be visiting this season and become highly visible. This could be the time for Our Staff’s Holiday Picks Pinterest page.

Use third party sites to feature your items and associated promos.  Many customers time their purchases according to coupons and other promos that you can easily distribute.  Keep in mind that mobile device usage for product and gift research as well as actual ordering is growing rapidly so be sure to make your offers attractive and easy to read on all platforms.  The larger retailers will continue to use Free Shipping, often with a minimum purchase, to entice customers which means you should too, if at all possible.  After a decade of offering free shipping on orders of $25.00, Amazon has raised their limit to $35.00 for orders to receive free shipping.  If free shipping isn’t possible for you, link your order management and fulfillment system directly to your carrier so that you can provide the lowest shipping price options.

Higher visibility helps lead to higher sales and there are ways to attract large numbers of motivated and ready-to-spend holiday shoppers.  Incorporate a third-party service, such as buySAFE, to verify that you are a reputable merchant and all information shared over your site is guaranteed secure. According to buySAFE, displaying this seal has resulted in a six-percent increase in conversion rates.

Study shopping abandonment data on an ongoing basis and reach out to those shoppers.  Consider running targeted campaigns to drive consumers back to your site to complete their orders – sweeten the deal, if needed with additional incentives.  Come up with catchy headlines and text to cut through the deluge of holiday promotions out there.  Help your shoppers by counting down the shopping days and devise promotions that tie into time, such as a gift a day promotion, featuring different items each week, or play off the 8 Days of Hanukkah or 12 Days of Christmas. Consider a Wrap It Up Early theme or ‘Tis the Season to Be Shopping with special items and prices offered.

For additional tips to help you have a great holiday selling season, access our on-demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes”.  There’s no such thing as over reaching your customers this holiday season, especially with targeted and enticing promotions and offers.

Happy Holiday Selling!

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November Deals Can Help Shoppers Stretch Holiday Budgets

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing, Dydacomp

Black Friday has been the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, featuring unbeatable prices especially for popular electronic gifts, gadgets and gizmos. But this year that has changed.  With only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas, this is one of the shortest shopping seasons in the past decade with retailers and shoppers facing six fewer days to shop than in 2012.

According to a recent survey from Shop.org, 32% of retailers will be offering discounts earlier than they did last year which helps shoppers who want to maximize their holiday budgets. To see what’s trending for your customers to stretch their budgets and manage their expectations in November, we’ve taken a few tips from Jeanette Pavini, MarketWatch columnist.

Below are Jeanette’s November deals and promotion suggestions to shoppers that range from gifts, home improvements and turkey dinners to help make the holidays bright. We’ve included a few of our own suggestions as well.

  • In addition to shopping and comparing early holiday promotional pricing for electronics, Jeanette recommends shopping on Mondays as additional discounts and rebates are often offered earlier in the week. Trade-in/trade-up programs are becoming more popular which can go a long way toward making holiday electronics purchases more affordable.
  • Photos and portraits are popular holiday gifts and November is the month to get these done. You’ll have the finished photos in time for the holidays and many studios offer photo greeting cards at reduced rates if you are having photos done.
  • Start home winterizing projects now to help reduce utility bills and also save on winterizing materials and products including insulation, weather stripping and programmable thermostats.  Consider a switch to LED lighting for the holidays – the electrical savings can offset the cost of the replacing the lights.
  • Look for food retailers to be luring shoppers in with extra coupons, low price guarantees on popular holiday food items and other holiday special offers. Look for free shipping if you are purchasing holiday food items online either for yourself or as gifts.  Don’t overlook the free with qualifying purchase items when shopping since you’ll likely spend over their qualifying amount as you stock up for parties, family dinners and extra food and holiday goodies to have on hand.
  • If you are not already a loyalty club member at the places you do a lot of shopping, now’s the time to sign up. These programs typically offer both savings and rewards which can help to stretch holiday budgets. Check credit card promotions for those that offer significant incentives and rewards (think cash back) that you can enjoy throughout the season and beyond.

Reach your shoppers early and often and keep them informed about special products, pricing or promotions that you are offering. View Dydacomp’s webinar, The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Seasonal and Holiday Rushes for additional holiday sales strategies.

The full text of Jeanette’s article can be found at The Wall Street Journal.

Happy holiday selling!

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Shorter Holiday Selling Season Calls for Creative Retailing

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Posted by: Laura Hills, VP Marketing

Retailers aren’t letting a shorter holiday selling season in 2013 [there were 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2012 but only 26 days this year] dampen their sales expectations as they gear up for this year’s holiday shopping.

As evidence of the optimistic outlook, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that the country’s retail container ports are anticipating a 5.1% increase in the number of cargo containers in September 2013 over September 2012.  Import volume at the New York and New Jersey ports is expected to rise 10.6% over 2012 in the fourth quarter of this year and first quarter 2014 deliveries are expected to increase 6.7% over 2013.  It looks like retailers are eager to stock up to be ready to meet customer demands.

Several factors are contributing to the positive outlook for holiday sales.  Ben Hackett, founder of Hackett Associates who produced the NRF’s Global Port Tracker Report noted that “Second quarter GDP was well above expectations and surprised most forecasters, the unemployment picture is improving, and we believe consumer confidence will translate into increased sales during the fourth quarter.”  Despite ongoing concerns related to the shorter selling season, the consumer spending impact of a government shutdown, increased payroll taxes, unemployment levels, and small income gains, the National Retail Federation expects U.S. sales in November and December to rise 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion. That would surpass the 3.5 percent increase seen in 2012 and average growth of 3.3 percent over the past decade.  Retailers have already started the big holiday push and will keep this up to attract shoppers across all channels.

Retailers who don’t want to wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up with creative ways to attract customers sooner.  Here are some suggestions to attract more people to your site this holiday season:

  • Be mobile optimized.  You can’t ignore the trend.  More and more shoppers are using smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices not only to browse, but also to shop and place orders.  There’s no telling when, where and on what device your shoppers will be accessing your site so it’s up to you to be sure everything looks great and works well across all devices and across all of your shopping channels.
  • Have real people available to respond to inquiries.  Help shoppers resolve any ordering issues that they encounter.  Don’t lose or frustrate customers by not being able to talk to a ‘live’ person during the holiday season.
  • Put together gift suggestion guides on your website and email the link to your loyal customers.  It’s not always easy coming up with just the right gift and shoppers will appreciate your help.
  • Attract early shoppers by starting now.  Twenty percent of shoppers will start their holiday shopping in October, so don’t wait for Black Friday to get their attention.  Time your promotions and let customers know that you’re fully stocked and ready to meet their holiday shopping needs.
  • Plan a holiday season contest.  Contests are a good way to drive business and get new customers for your brand.  According to Listrak, three to four percent of recipients of contest offers place orders from the registration confirmation email.  Contests such as name Santa’s newest elf will engage shoppers.  Encouraging your audience to vote for their favorite names enables you to widen your reach even more.

For additional information on how to be prepared for the upcoming holiday season, access our on demand webinar, “The Top 5 Insights to Help Prepare for Season and Holiday Rushes.”  Happy selling!

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Are You Achieving 60% Growth? You Could on Amazon

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Posted by:  Craig Abramson, Director of Marketing 

Are you ready to reach over 150 million potential new customers, extend your geographic range, build brand awareness, and increase overall revenue?  Third party merchants on Amazon Marketplace are doing just that, recording 60% growth in the first quarter of 2012. In fact, almost 40% of all merchandise sold by Amazon is from these merchants. There is tremendous opportunity for your business to enter this channel and take advantage of Amazon’s brand to drive new revenue.

Join us for a 30 minute webinar that will uncover the astounding results you can achieve as well as how you can effectively manage this new channel with the help of Multichannel Order Manager. It’s a must attend for anyone considering Amazon Marketplace or trying to find a more efficient way to manage their account. learn how your can easily manage your inventory across all marketplace channel.

By attending, you’ll discover how to:

  • Gain insight into the growth potential of your Amazon store
  • Discover how other merchants have successfully entered this business channel
  • Learn why you need to get started immediately to capitalize on holiday sales

Find efficient ways to manage and sync your inventory with Amazon and other channels.

Title: Are You Achieving 60% Growth? You Could on Amazon 

Date: Wednesday, May 23rd

Time: 2:00PM – 2:30 PM EDT

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