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.

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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.

Facebook ads are a great medium to boost your online business

Facebook ads are a great medium to boost your online business. While paid acquisition through Facebook is fairly a large subject to deal with, Classifying ad-types for Facebook is where a retailer can start their journey.

Leanna Kelly from CPC Strategy shows a comprehensive and effective way to segregate Facebook ads. The following is an excerpt from her post.

“At first glance, Facebook advertising looks a little overwhelming.

With dozens of ad types, targeting options and placements and 11 different sales- and brand-related objectives, it’s enough to make your head spin.

Not to mention the fact that it’s hard to know what types of ads Facebook users will actually engage with.

To offer a little clarity, we’ve put together a quick and dirty guide to the Facebook ad types that work best for retailers.

  1. Carousel Ads
  2. Canvas Ads
  3. Dynamic Ads
  4. Lead Ads
  5. Video Ads
  6. Domain Ads
  7. Offer Ads
  8. Collection Ads

Carousel Ads

Goals: Clicks to Website, Brand Awareness

Interactive and visually appealing, Carousel Ads are perfect if you’ve got multiple products you want to promote or an array of services you need to build awareness of.

They’re also mobile friendly, and they can be placed right within the newsfeed, making their click-through-rates better than most.

Carousel Ads are also great for marketers, as they allow a sort of A/B testing—well, A/B/C/D/E testing, really. By promoting five different posts or products at once, spotting trends and determining what best resonates with customers is easy.

Here’s what a Carousel Ad looks like:

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Carousel Ad Specs

Here are Facebook’s Design Recommendations for Carousel Ads:

  • Recommended image size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Image ratio: 1:1
  • Text: 90 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters
  • Your image should include minimal text.

 

Canvas Ads

Goal: Clicks to Website, Website Conversions, Brand Awareness

This is as interactive as it gets in the Facebook advertising world, allowing customers to get up close and personal with your images and products by tilting, swiping, zooming and more—all with just their fingertips.

Fast (Canvas loads quickly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web), seamless and available only on mobile, it’s a great way to engage customers and get them excited about what you have to offer.

Here’s a peek at what Canvas Ads can do:

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Canvas Ad Specs

From Facebook’s Canvas Ad Design Recommendations (photos):

  • Image Ratio: 1.9:1
  • Image Size: 1,200 x 628 pixels recommended
  • Your image may not include more than 20% text
  • Text: 90 characters recommended
  • Headline: 45 characters recommended
  • Note that the feed unit may have either an image or video

Videos Canvas Ad Design Recommendations:

  • Text: 90 characters
  • Headline: 25 Characters
  • News Feed description: 30 characters
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 or 1:1
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128kbps + preferred

For technical video requirements, see Facebook’s Canvas Ads guidelines.

Dynamic Ads

Goal: Website Conversions

These are some of Facebook’s most powerful advertising methods for spurring sales. Based on your own website data, Dynamic Ads offer a form of remarketing, letting you reach users based on past actions they completed on your website or within your store.

You can target users based on the content they viewed on your site, items they added to their shopping cart, products they purchased and more.

It does require installing the Facebook Pixel on your site—but we’ve got a pretty good guide for getting that done. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.

Here’s an example of a Dynamic Ad:

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Not only are Dynamic Ads simple to set up (as long as your feed is optimized for Facebook), Facebook has added several new features over the years that add immense value for retailers:

  • Cross-Selling Functionality

For example, if a shopper purchases a skateboard on your website, retailers can feature items such as helmets, knee pads or wheels to that customer.

  • Conversion Optimization

When you optimize ads for conversions, you’ll get fewer but higher value impressions. You’ll also see more efficient spend on your Dynamic Ads.

  • Connect Shoppers Beyond Facebook

Native video and unique formats for interstitials are showing up across other publisher sites.

Lead Ads

Goal: Lead Generation

Forget setting up tedious opt-in forms or landing pages on your site in order to capture leads.

Facebook Lead Ads were designed to make the mobile signup process easier by automatically populating contact information that people have provided to Facebook including email addresses.

Lead Ads allow Facebook users to sign up for things like newsletters, price estimates, follow-up calls and business information, which can be extremely valuable to retailers looking to expand and improve their customer interaction.

Here’s how a Lead Ad is displayed:
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The most effective way to retrieve lead information is to set up lead ads to sync with a CRM solution from one of Facebook’s integrated marketing platforms.

Facebook currently partners with:

Through these integrated marketing platforms, retailers can collect lead information in real-time, helping them maintain communication with their customers.

They can also collect leads in real-time by setting up a custom integration between the CRM and the Facebook API. (Or you can download lead information manually into a CSV file.)

Garnered contact information can also be used to create Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences, ultimately allowing retailers to remarket to current customers, or find and approach new ones that share similarities with people who have filled out your form.

While this approach may not drive immediate results in terms of sales, it increases the likelihood of increased conversions in the future.

Rather than targeting specifically based on interests or behaviors, retailers now have the ability to focus on individuals that have, in one form or another, already engaged with their brand.

Pro-Tip: Advertisers with the Facebook pixel implemented on their website can also set lead ads to be shown to people who are likely to sign up for information and are also able to measure cost-per-conversion from lead ads.

 

“With every campaign you plan on running, you need to first ask yourself what your objectives are,” says Casey Edwards, Social Marketing Manager at CPC Strategy. “If you decide to run a lead ad, your goal probably isn’t revenue. It’s email signups, gathering information, and finding value in various conversion types.”

Lead Ad Specs

Here are Facebook’s Design Recommendations for Lead Ads:

  • Recommended image size: 1,200 x 628 pixels
  • Image ratio: 1.9:1
  • Text: 90 characters
  • Headline: 25 characters
  • News Feed description: 30 characters
  • Your image should include minimal text”

We are left with Video Ads, Offer Ads and Collections ads. To read about them, go to the post.

About Orderhive:

Orderhive is a SaaS based inventory management system that syncs inventory across channels and automates your online business.

Follow our blog and learn about growing your online business, selling on multiple channels and cool growth hacking techniques.

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Pay With Amazon – A step closer towards Data mining

This April we bid farewell to Amazon’s CBA process. Amazon has been giving you enough notices and you are expected to make the necessary changes.

From books to grocery, Amazon Prime to Amazon Go, it has come a long way in terms of innovation and customer satisfaction. If this wasn’t enough, Amazon also launched its own payment gateway “Pay with Amazon” in october 2013 and so far a cumulative total of more than 33 million unique customers have used Amazon Payments since the service launched.

Pay with Amazon

Amazon is aiming at acquiring as much as business as could reasonably be expected from shoppers moving their spending from stores to desktop PCs and cell phones, regardless of the possibility that the exchange isn’t done on Amazon.com. Preparing installments is another approach to do that by charging dealers 2.9 percent in addition to 30 pennies for every exchange took care of by Amazon

Amazon aims at expanding in all possible ways. It plans to reach out to even those who do not buy from Amazon.com through its processing payments. The added advantage is the credibility it offers and of course the brand name associated.

Riveter, a North Carolina company that sells bags made by the spouses of U.S. soldiers, switched from PayPal to Amazon Payments in February, two days before the company was featured on the television show “Shark Tank.” In anticipation of the show airing, founder Lisa Bradley expected a surge in orders, prompting the switch.

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What’s in the store for you

For pioneers, you get inline address and payment widgets that keeps you centered on website. Hence, as a seller if you are selling service that needs monthly renewals, drop your worries. Pay with Amazon will handle your payment method so you can focus on more important work.

Pay with Amazon is aptly optimized for your mobile sites as well.

Finally, Amazon’s “Pay with Amazon” also bears the payment for digital products. So let’s say you are selling a software service you can offer your customers a Pay with Amazon Options

However, PayPal is still at number one on the list of most prefered online payment, processed by  $82 billion in transactions for nearly 180 million shoppers. The driving force behind this is also that other giants like Walmart will not let amazon sneak in so easily into the datahive. Given the tech forces Amazon has, all it need is Data and within no time it will monopolize the market.

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How do you inculcate Pay with Amazon

It totally depends on your website and the platform you sell on. As of now Pay with Amazon is supported on following hosts

  • Shopify
  • Big Commerce
  • PrestaShop
  • Opencart
  • 3Dcart
  • Lemonstand

There are several significant platforms too where Pay with Amazon is integrated. However, if you aren’t using the hosted platforms where it is already integrated, you can still use Pay with Amazon on your website.

Amazon does offer you an option where you can generate your own Pay with Amazon button.

The bottom line: Amazon will hold you regardless of how your site is set up. You very well might need to enlist the guide of some expert engineers to get it going.

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How does it affect your business and why should you integrate Pay with Amazon

  1. Increase Conversions:   

Pay with Amazon offers smoother and a familiar checkout experience. CBA is more order management process while Pay with Amazon is more oriented towards payment procedure. Customers click due to smooth and familiar checkout experience as they need to spend minimum time on entering details as it lets your pre store it

       2. Increases Personalization and  strengthens CRM

Amazon creates a set of API that lets merchant “Check in and Checkout”. Once you checkout, you will put credentials and your password to pay, once you are done with it. It eventually decreases the redundancy of filling credentials all the time.

The prime benefit of check in is that it enables you to connect to your CRM. This gives you clear idea of your customers and their preferences. The process authenticates and validates the customer. Judging by  this, you can shape your business module.

       3. Fraud protection and enhancing buyer confidence.

Help reduce your costs and protect your business with Amazon’s proven fraud protection, at no additional cost to you. Enhancing buyer confidence offers protection against defects, delays and customer support to buyers on your website through the 100% Buyer Protection Guarantee.

FInal Thoughts:

Making the service effortlessly accessible to prevalent e-commerce business, fundamentally augments Amazon’s span and impact over the online retail universe. Shopify, for instance, one of its Premier Partners at dispatch, serves 243,000 shippers; each of them can now introduce Amazon’s installment procedure administration, and make checkout swifter and less demanding for

Amazon’s expansive base of customers. Amazon’s developing nearness in different features of the E commerce background can keep the brand top of mind for a great millions out there.

Amazon depends on the analysis of data, both substantial scale and granular, to drive its techniques and strategies, and to tailor the offers, services, items, and messages it uses to pull in and hold clients.

In the online world, insightful retailers can transform Data into power and few, assuming any, retailers are savvier than Amazon.

 

Why your business needs an inventory management software?

Why your business needs an inventory management software?

A shocking amount of capital is tied up in inventory. Inventory along with accounts receivable and accounts payable has tied up $1.1 trillion in cash – equivalent to 7% of the U.S. GDP. (Source: REL)

In fact, U.S. retailers are currently sitting on about $1.43 in inventory for every $1 of sales they make.

Imagine the effect it will have on your small and medium sized business if you are managing your inventory manually or not managing at all.

As an online retailer, you do not want to tie up additional capital inventory carrying liability. Especially if you are still an old school managing it on a spreadsheet.

And no Kidding,

Your challenges for managing Inventory manually will cost you a fortune. For instance

  • It may happen at times that you run short of resources to lease your facilities, and hence you may end up operating a rather larger and ineffective warehouse then you need.
  • Under such circumstances, Inventory Management spreadsheet is often prone to errors and will drain you to the last drop of your time and energy in maintaining the same.  
  • You will never be assured of accuracy, and it’s not worth a risk.

Poor management is one of the top-notch reason why small business fail. Though Inventory Management Software is a crucial tool for retailers, 46% of SMB’s with 11-500 employees still don’t currently track inventory or use a manual inventory process.

It is vital to keep track of Inventory Management, as it directly affects the cost and time of your business. Hence, automating Inventory Management is crucial for business.  Automation facilitates your business in terms of ROIs, Diversification and most importantly in.. ( Click to read)