Go Multi-channel to Multiply your Sales

Go Multi-channel to Multiply your Sales

Technology is fast changing the way retailers are selling and customers are shopping. Today customers keep shifting back and forth between offline and online channels. If retailers want to keep up with this pace then they need to quickly adapt to dynamic customer behavior and extend their presence on multiple channels. New age customers are always online so they expect their favorite brands to do the same. To satisfy the needs of customers, retailers will have to slowly expand operations to other selling channels such as online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, e-commerce platforms, social shopping sites, etc. While it may seem overwhelming at first, taking your business multi-channel is the way to go. Let’s deep dive into the many boons of multi-channel selling.

Wider Customer Base

No single shopper is the same and no shopper buys only from one place anymore. Also, customers start their buying process with research first. If they don’t find you where they are looking, say for example on Amazon, or on the web, then they will most likely move to your competitor that can be easily located. On the other hand, some will prefer to mix online and offline shopping, while others straight away visit online marketplaces to fulfill their needs. When retailers establish their presence on multiple channels, they expose their business to a wider audience. By adopting a multi-channel approach, you can attract new customers to your business, and bring existing customers online to provide them the flexibility to shop at their own convenience and time, a privilege they don’t have in a physical store.

Hike in Sales

The main aim of any seller is increased profit by engaging customers as much as possible. Multi-channel selling gives the opportunity to create many engagement points for the customer to make purchasing decisions easy. Additional channels allow retailers to communicate with existing and prospective customers via many touchpoints, helping them to increase their brand visibility and ultimately boost sales.

Get Closer to the Customer

Taking from the previous point, with multiple touchpoints for customer engagement, sellers can glean abundant data on their customers and their buying behavior. This wealth of data can then be used to provide personalized communication for every customer. For example, if a customer browsed for shoes the last time he visited your e-commerce store, you can show him specific ads about shoes on all engagement points to encourage a purchase. Or if a customer added items in their cart but abandoned it later, retailers can send them a discount voucher on those items to push them to complete the purchase. This kind of data-driven marketing can have a positive impact on consumer buying.

Money Tree for Lesser Known Brands

New online channels are giving smaller and lesser known merchants a chance to compete with popular brands. It is only natural that new shoppers coming across your brand for the first time will be distrustful. But if you have a store on a renowned online marketplace, say Amazon or eBay, then that’s your ticket to authenticity. In fact, nearly 65% of shoppers said they felt more comfortable buying from an unknown brand if it was selling on a well-known marketplace. Customers that shop through multiple channels spend more and there is increased customer loyalty and profitability.

Low Risk in Testing New Markets

Before the rise of e-commerce, business expansion was usually regarded as opening up a new physical store. Thanks, to the boom in e-commerce, setting up online stores or adding new channels have become much faster and cheaper. Speaking on the aspect of costs associated with putting up a new store, if your brick-and-mortar store doesn’t do well, all that investment in renting out the place, on interiors and employing staff goes down the drain.  With multi-channel selling, you minimize this risk. If one channel doesn’t work for you, then you can simply close your account. You will still have a backup in the form of other e-commerce stores, your website and even your brick-and-mortar store to keep the business afloat.

Finally

There are several variables to consider before expanding your business to multiple channels. But be rest assured, the gains of multi-channel selling trump the challenges that lie in the process. Multi-channel selling is the only strategy that can push retailers to stay in the game.

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4 Ways to Tweak Your Warehouse for Your Apparel Retail

Apparel Retail

If you are in the apparel retail business, warehousing is probably the least interesting yet a very important aspect of your business. Warehousing is as necessary as sales in an apparel retail business. As stocking of the right products in the right quantities important to sell more as well as avoid overstocking. Almost 46% of SMBs (Small Medium Businesses) do not use automatic systems to track their inventory and do it manually. There are 4 major ways that can help largely help you in tweaking your warehouse:

Barcode Inventory System

The use of barcodes for inventory keeping largely simplifies the process of inventory keeping. The use of a proper barcode inventory system helps the owner of apparel business in keeping track of product-related data systematically. It is very easy to generate and decode barcodes these days especially if a proper warehouse management software is used. Barcodes provide a unit specific identity to a particular product, and hence the records of each unit of a product or product variant can be maintained. Using such technology reduces not only the human labor involved but also the human errors that commonly occur during manual inventory keeping. It is very useful for tracking the quantity of inventory as the sold items are automatically updated in the inventory and newly arrived items are added to the current stock. All this in one scan, as simple as that!

Dropshipping

The scenarios such as lack of storage space for the goods or lacking the exact product ordered by a customer is very common in apparel retail. Due to these challenges, apparel retailers can largely lose on their sales and customer service. In this case, dropshipping comes as a savior for apparel retailers. It is basically the method of order fulfilment in which incoming orders from marketing channels can be transferred directly to suppliers that act as your dropshipping partner. After getting a real-time update about the stock of the item, you can confirm the order and enable your supplier to directly ship the item to the consumer. By adopting dropshipping, the storage space of the warehouse is largely saved, and also the lack of stock of a particular product doesn’t affect the sales.

Outsourcing

Apparel retailers can think of outsourcing as an option for operations like shipping so that their major focus is laid only on stock management. There are many logistics companies in every region that provide shipping services to retailers. Not only does the costing and hassle get deducted from work operations of the retailers, but the overall customer experience also improves. A logistics company will be able to provide shipping services better than the retailer because it is their area of expertise. Similarly, other functions can also be outsourced like complete warehousing operations so as to ensure proper sales and retail operations.

Bundling the Goods

The bundling of products that are usually bought together increases not only the sales but also simplifies the warehousing of these products. These bundles can be made using the trade analytics of customer orders. The use of proper inventory control system for the management of orders and then making bundles out of it is very effective when it comes to increasing sales. The picking up of these sets of products also becomes very easy for shipping to the customers.

Summing it Up!

Apparel retailing is the stream of retailing that is as unstable as the retailing of perishable foods as the trends perish equally faster. It is hard to maintain the inventory if the stock keeps changing so often. Also, it is very difficult to avoid overstocking and understocking. These challenges cannot be removed completely, but the use of a warehouse management system can help minimize the effect of these challenges. It is essential to manage and organize the warehousing operations to ensure the smooth delivery of products and services to the customers.

E-commerce KPIs Every Brand Needs to Measure

Key Performance Indicators are measurable milestones that signify how well your business is doing in tandem with the business goals and objectives and what needs to improve.

You might be wondering why KPIs are important. The answer to that is quite simple. Just like your business’ goals keep you focussed on working toward it, similarly KPIs are essential tools to map your business’ progress over time and whether you are actually moving toward that set goal or not.

When it comes to e-commerce, managing business operations becomes a challenging task since you have to juggle between suppliers, incoming and outgoing shipments, multi-channel sales, customer complaints, returns, and website performance. Under the weight of so much data and analytical reports, it makes sense to set KPIs from the start. Since e-commerce is an online business, a lot can be tracked and measured to know about business performance. So let us which are the most important KPIs that every e-commerce business should track.

1. Conversion Rate

Conversion

The Conversion rate is a percentage that reveals how many visitors to your website turned into(converted) to potential leads or ended up buying.

The conversion rate can be calculated by dividing the total number of conversions by the total number of visits.

Conversion Rate (%) = (number of conversions)  
                                            _____________________________ *100      
                                                   (number of leads)

You can set different conversion rates for different actions. For example, signing up for the newsletter, adding to the shopping cart or making a purchase.
The conversion rate basically projects how well your website is received by visitors, how well they are responding to your landing pages, website content and blogs and call to action.

2. Shopping Cart Abandonment

Shopping

This is probably the most vital KPI for an e-commerce business. Why? Cart abandonment has a huge impact on online retail sales. A visitor came to your website, browsed through your site and products, added some to the cart, which means they were ready to pay. But something held them back and left you with nothing. You can calculate the shopping cart abandonment rate using the formula:

Cart Abandonment Rate (%) = (number of checked out carts)  
                                                              _______________________________ *100
                                                                (number of carts in store)

3. Average Order Value

Average.JPG

The Average Order Value (AOV) is a good way to monitor customer purchase behavior. It shows the average amount of money spent by each customer per order. This metric measures how much money you spend on acquiring each new customer and ROI out of them. You can calculate AOV during a given time using the formula below:

AOV = (orders value in time)
_______________________________

(number of orders in time)

In order to boost your revenue, you can increase your AOV, one of the most effective and cheapest ways possible. You can increase AOV through some of these tricks-

  • Upsell
  • Selling product bundles
  • Loyalty programs
  • Discount on minimum spend value

4. Customer Lifetime Value

Customer.JPG

The average Customer Lifetime Value gives you an idea about the amount of revenue generated from each customer during the course of your entire relationship or lifecycle with you. This KPI is directly linked to customer retention.

The idea behind this is that your e-commerce store should be earning more than what you have spent on acquiring that customer. To calculate CLV, us this formula:

CLV = (average order value) x (average number of orders) x (average customer lifecycle)

5. Website traffic

Website.JPG

Website traffic is a very important KPI that should be measured by e-commerce businesses. In fact, tracking website traffic has become even more detailed. Not limited to the only number of visits, e-commerce business owner can track many other metrics to gain valuable insights into their website’s performance. These include:

  • Page views
  • Traffic source
  • Unique and returning visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Keyword relevance
  • Page rank

Conclusion

Hope that this was a worthful read, and the insights we gave were efficient enough to give your e-commerce business the right boost. Once you are all set with the goals and selected KPIs, to monitor them has to be your daily practice. Crucial advice: your set business goals and decisions should steer the KPIs to drive confident actions.

Top 4 Multi-Channel Strategies for Sure Business Success

4 Multi-channel

Multi-channel inventory management is an art of collaborating and linking all the stock management processes across different channels. Manufacturing companies sell their stock from various channel partners like Shopify, WooCommerce, eBay, Amazon, etc. Online businesses might have one major selling store from where they sell their stock. However, they might also want to sell the same stock from other stores as well. Here is an example to explain how this works.

Suppose, an online business is selling its T-shirts on Shopify, which is their main store. However, it also wants to sell them on other channels like Amazon and WooCommerce. The issue is that, the inventory from which it is selling these T-shirts – is same for all its channels. It doesn’t have separate bundled stocks for selling on other channels. All this boils down to the fact that, the business might run into the risk of overselling. It has to update its inventory by logging on to both the channels. Selling one thing from two different channels can result in Out of Stock, consumer dissatisfaction, and loss of revenue.

How a Multi-Channel Inventory Software Simplifies This

A study done by UPS shows that the percentage of buyers searching on one channel and actually purchasing it from another channel is almost 36%. Multi-channel management of stock helps businesses in re-evaluating their stock levels from a single platform across different channels. A single login from such a software enables updating, managing and sales of stock on various platforms.

A crucial part of multi-channel success is strong relationship with the suppliers for an effective inventory control system. This requires implementation of a strategy which would help businesses in taking proactive and planned decisions. Businesses need to formulate a contingency plan which they can use to fill up with cancelled orders from the vendors. For stock backup, businesses need some trusted major suppliers on whom they can rely to be able to meet any sudden unforeseen circumstances. For maintaining strong relationships with suppliers, businesses need to be in regular communication. Top management needs to be fully involved with the suppliers and that can be possible by expanding their presence on different channels.

Here are some strategies businesses can implement for a smoother and customizable management process:

Analysing, Planning and Forecasting

All the data related to various channels can be consolidated on one single platform. Purchasing and liquidating of the inventory present across all the channels can be put to use for analysing and forecasting. Every set of inventory on every channel requires different requirements regarding order timings, processing, and shipping. When all the relevant data is accessible through a single platform, order processing system can be interpreted and analysed accordingly. Managers can decipher all the market trends and develop a set of plans keeping all the inventory requirements in their minds.

Developing Strategic Processes

Separation of purchasing processes and stock management processes provides the businesses to concentrate on the needs of the consumers. These include essential factors like inventory specifications, where can they source their merchandise, and negotiations with the suppliers. Operating all these processes from one platform helps businesses in making different strategic processes too. These include analysing the consumer demands, planning of merchandizing, balancing the relationships with suppliers, keeping the stock quality standards in check, buying and re-purchasing, and formulating dedicated campaigns. The division of these processes gives the businesses enough time to concentrate on planning and forecasting.

Expanded Marketplace Power

As mentioned earlier, many customers who want to buy something would search on one channel and purchase from another. This is called cross-channel purchasing, which has increasingly emerged through the use of different devices. In simple words, if a person is browsing about headphones on Flipkart from his/her PC, he/she might purchase after comparing its prices with Amazon or Shopify from his/her phone. Hence, multi-channel provides the power to the businesses by spreading their online presence across them. Diversification of business across distinct marketplaces also provides a smoother shipping management and supply chain operations.

Empowering Inventory Managers

Inventory of a business has many important characteristics which need attention from inventory managers. These include, how much new stock has arrived, overstocked or understocked inventory, and backorders. Maintaining a record of all this data is essential for managers to forecast about future decisions about the quantity of stock they need. Hence, comparison of a new inventory with a similar sale/purchase in the history is crucial to arrive at these decisions. With multi-channel purchasing software, it gives an empowered role to the managers which can help in calculating lead times.

For manufacturing businesses, inventory is considered to be a vital asset – whether it is coming in, or going out. Incoming inventory means strong supplier relationships, while outgoing inventory means a strengthened customer base. However, if managers don’t have adequate knowledge about the levels of inventory, their businesses might run into revenue losses. Multi-channel inventory management enables an easy tracking, managing, and organizing stock sales and purchases present across distinct channels. These systems used barcode labelling for identifying different shipments. The barcoding on the cartons helps businesses in properly storing and dispatching the inventory with minimal errors. It helps in increasing revenues, improving sales and smoother management processes.

Important KPIs To Determine Effectiveness of your 3PL Partners

KPI

With changing business environment, organizations, shippers, and even small enterprises are relying increasingly on 3PL or 3rd party logistic companies.  Companies tie up with 3PL providers to manage logistics and supply functions, get access to capacity and ability to tap latest technologies. 3PLs help clients reduce their costs through tactical improvements, and enhance overall supply chain performance.

When a company decides to employ a 3PL it is often founded by certain needs such as seasonal warehousing or transportation capacity and costs.

The demand for 3PL providers goes beyond delivery. They are also involved in other operations such as warehousing, distribution, customer service, order management and fulfillment. Since 3PL perform a wide range of duties it is important to gauge their effectiveness. Set certain expectations or KPIs to measure their performance over time and investigate the value that your 3PL provider is creating for you. These will help you understand if your business relationship will work or not.

Below are the essential KPIs you must have for your 3PL provider-

1. Freight costs

Tracking cost per shipment, costs per case, location, modes of shipment and delivery are all essential metrics that you should be monitoring. Since these costs will ultimately affect your product pricing , they have to be reasonable and meet business goals.

2. Percentage of timely deliveries

This is the most important KPI. You need to be sure that customers are getting deliveries on time as per your agreement with the 3PL provider. They must meet customer demands because if 3PLs are unable to deliver on time, you could be losing customers.

3. Percentages of loads that are accepted by primary and secondary carriers

What your carriers can carry at a time can have an impact on costs and customer satisfaction. You also want to exercise some control over when and how your goods would be delivered. You want to find out before hand if there are any costs to be incurred in the supply process. Hidden costs can blow your transportation budgets.

4. Technological innovations

Your 3PL provider should keep abreast of the latest technological innovations critical to the industry. Technology improves their efficiency and increases your productivity. A 3PL company that operates with advanced technology, experiences a lower margin of error which consequently benefits everyone in the supply chain.

Well, the services that your 3PL provides for you and your customer can make or break your business reputation. It is foolish to assume that the 3PL will do a good job by themselves. It is advisable to continuously monitor them by tracking KPIs to judge their efficiency.

The above are the KPIs that you set for your 3PL provider. But along with these here are 4 factors companies should take into account when assessing 3PL performance:

  • Control

3PLs control the capacity of transportation and distribution. They liaise on their client’s behalf when partnering with carriers.

A primary reason why 3PL partnerships fail is poorly defined expectations. Customers need to exert some control as well. It is you who needs to assertively communicate and continuously benchmark KPIs that are most important to you—not them.

  • Optimization

3PLs must create value by optimizing existing client transportation and logistics functions. They do so by collecting and filtering data, analyzing it, to identify anomalies and redundancies. With this data, they can then find quick fixes for certain processes. They can also find strategic system-wide improvements upstream and downstream in the supply chain that turn problems into new opportunities to drive greater efficiency and economy.

  • Reporting

Reporting is a key aspect in understanding and recognizing 3PL performance. It is important to know about the movement of goods and their location in real-time. Clients need to tell them which status reports are most critical to their needs so they can view performance. Using metrics like these may help companies determine if the service providers are striking the right balance between service and cost.

3PLs collect, archive, and analyze past reports to identify improvement areas, expose inherent problems,  alert customers to recurring problems, and explore opportunities to increase efficiency.

  • Execution

If a 3PL service provider is responsive to client expectations and executes according to plan, both will see vast improvements with regard to customer service, efficiency, cost savings, and innovation.

Conclusion

Clients should have a detailed contract spelling out the KPIs for the 3PLs. It would also be better to mention the actions that would be taken if expectations are not met, or result in poor customer service, logistics costs, or transportation issues occur by the 3PL provider.

The most effective ways to improve the order fulfillment process

Order Fulfillment Process

Retailers or e-commerce sellers – all strive hard for perfect orders every time, but then it’s a tricky thing to achieve. Every business – big or small – faces several challenges throughout the order fulfillment process that are categorically related to demand planning, inventory management, supply chain optimization, logistics planning, and several other complex concerns.

One of the best ways to judge the efficacy of the order management process is the Perfect Order Metric. A perfect order from a supplier is one that contains the right product or service being delivered to the right customer at the right place:

  1. At the right time (100% on-time delivery)
  2. In the right quantity (100% fill rate)
  3. In the right condition and packaging (100% “quality” related to fulfillment)
  4. With the right documentation

Going further, if we look at an order fulfillment process, it refers to all the steps from the moment an order is received till the time it reaches the customer. For any company, the order fulfillment process typically looks like this:

  1. Order is received
  2. Order is entered into the order management system
  3. Customer is notified that the order has been received
  4. Order is sent to the warehouse
  5. A warehouse operator finds the item, picks it
  6. The order is packed and ready for shipping
  7. Order is shipped
  8. Customer is notified the order has been shipped
  9. Customer receives order

‘Success in order management and fulfillment depends on the speed of decision making and continuous monitoring of the impact of those decisions at all levels in the organization. This can be achieved with advanced systems, which enable best-in-class processes across the order chain’

Here are some very practical but deep insights to help your business fulfill orders more quickly, accurately and efficiently.

  1. Classify your inventory to ensure rapid handling: Grouping your inventory from fastest moving to slowest moving items helps to ensure that you maintain the right stock levels on your most important items. Put the most popular items in a centrally located area of the warehouse to ensure that they can be picked, packed and delivered to the shipping dock as fast as possible. Classifying inventory not only helps to save time in the order fulfillment process, it will also save money on labor costs in the warehouse.
  2. Integrate systems for more visibility into all aspects of order fulfillment: In order to quickly fulfill an order, visibility into several areas is essential such as demand forecasting, sales, inventory, and logistics. This requires some integration between the inventory management systems, the ERP system that maintains the financial data and sales order management system. Systems integrations can provide better reporting and analytics that can assist in greater decision-making and profitability.
  3. Automate processes: After your systems are able to provide more visibility into all aspects of the process, you should also look at how the processes themselves can speed up. Automation does not have to necessarily mean investing in robots or high-end machines, but simple scanners can also do the trick. Process automation not just speeds order fulfillment process but also provides accurate data for future orders.

While we have listed all major and possible avenues for improvement of order fulfillment, we suggest that an order management software is the must-have tool that can deliver immediate benefits, including: greater transparency and a single source of inventory information, reduced cycle times for orders and fulfillment, and improved ability to address complex customer needs more quickly and with minimal data errors.

But as anyone that works in the complex world of e-commerce and supply chains will know, that this alone is not enough. As to ensure success, companies must strive to continuously enhance their order management and fulfillment processes to improve both their competitive positioning and business results, and strategically adapt to change in technology and new developments.

What are the challenges you face with your order fulfillment process, and what are you doing to boost it up? We want to hear from you in comments.

Things to remember while designing your warehouse

The warehouse is one of the biggest assets for any business. The warehouse stands in the center of the entire supply chain process, receiving and distributing products to keep the business going. Therefore, designing the layout of the warehouse is crucial for the smooth sailing of supply chain operations.

Some of the factors to consider when designing a warehouse:

  1. Flow

Flow is the easy rotation and circulation of goods within the warehouse space. It entails all the movements the products go through that is dispatch, receiving, order preparation. It is also connected with the knowledge of where the material is located and handling equipment and medium.

  1. Accessibility

It allows warehouse operators quick and easy access to each pallet within the warehouse. The space in the warehouse must be organized in such a way so as to offer convenience in obtaining and identifying items.

  1. Space

The dimensions and allotment of space for items play a vital role in deciding the layout of the warehouse. This impacts the designing of the shelves, calculating the capacity of the installations and distribution of goods within the warehouse.

  1. Throughput

To calculate the throughput rate, you need to track the movement of goods through the warehouse for a specific period of time. Divide the number of items moved through the warehouse by the number of labour hours consumed. This is the throughput time per item. By nature, this is the handling characteristics, dimensions and any other factors that will impact on how products move through the flow such as hazard, bulk, fragility, security requirements and compatibility with other products.

  1. Personnel

The amount of working personnel in the warehouse is a deciding factor in designing the warehouse layout. The number of people, their level of training, the shifts they work, can help to define the design of the warehouse. If you have automated systems or warehouse management software, you need to make sure the staff knows how to operate it. Safety and health standards, working conditions for the staff can help to decide the layout of the warehouse.

  1. Location and budget

The site where the warehouse needs to be set up is an important consideration, whether it’s located near the shipping docks or the supplier’s location or the stores. The connectivity, ease of distribution for the goods will help in chalking out the layout.

The most important factor in deciding the layout of the warehouse is the budget. The entire functioning of the warehouse and its operations will depend on how much money a business is able to shell out to maintain the warehouse functions. The budget will include the rent, maintenance cost, inventory cost, storage facilities for products and much more.

To conclude..

Designing the warehouse is a complex task. It is necessary to have accurate information about the location, budget, amount of inventory to be stored, number of people required. Since the warehouse is a hefty investment for any business, the layout must be made with utmost clarity.