Automated vs Manual Inventory Systems

Order management is the process that takes place in a company to get purchases to the customers who have bought them. That process starts the moment items and goods are paid for online; covers their collection from the storage facility along with packing and shipping; and ends when they’re successfully delivered to your customers.

On the face of it, order management is fairly straightforward, and for the longest time, companies carried it out manually, having employees make lists by hand and checking everything off as they went. But as sales companies grew larger and the selling platforms available to buyers multiplied, manual methods became inadequate and automation was introduced. Called an order management system, like any automated system, it streamlines the order management process, which increases efficiency, and eliminates many mistakes.

In this blog, we’re going to explore the benefits of OMS, and show how this digital method trumps the manual one.


What is an order management system?

An order management system is software that’s part of the inventory management system (IMS). Programmed with details about a company’s inventory — what it’s made up of and where each item is — it uses these data as a kind of foundation, registering incoming sales and overseeing their fulfillment. It can control all of this for orders coming in from numerous platforms — online marketplaces, social media, apps, and websites, as well as offline brick-and-mortar stores — taking care of them capably simultaneously. And because the software maintains its knowledge of the inventory, it adjusts the data as items are removed or added, giving a company accurate, up-to-date information and complete oversight of everything.

An order management system is especially useful for businesses that deal with inventory, like retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. That’s the area we’re focusing on here.


A breakdown of everything OMS takes care of

  • Sales,
  • Inventory control (maintaining a specific level of inventory in the warehouse),
  • Customer relationship management (CRM),
  • Processing payments,
  • Shipping,
  • Returned goods, and
  • Reporting.


Automation with OMS vs. doing things manually

If you’re using a manual system to handle your order management — keeping records on spreadsheets and updating them by hand — and feel it’s working for you, you may think you don’t need to automate. If that’s the case, here are some pointers to take a close look at:

Preorders and backorders

Preordering — a customer putting in a request for an item before it’s in stock — is a well-used marketing strategy. By offering items ahead of time, a company hopes to create buzz for the product; it’s also a way for companies to gauge if there’s interest in a new product. Back orders are, of course, similar in that the customer is going to have to wait for their item to be in stock, but that’s because the company has run out of it.

In both instances, an automated system will maintain the orders in its memory until the items are in stock and the order can be filled. The system takes care of everything, and there’s nothing for employees to do. But if these orders are jotted down by hand somewhere by somebody, they could be forgotten, especially if it takes a long time to get the items in stock.

Real-time visibility

When it comes to inventory, it’s vital for a business to know exactly what it has and where it is at all times. This knowledge informs every business decision made, from buying new stock and storing it to implementing marketing strategies like sales quoting and discounts. An in-depth understanding of inventory and its turnover will also determine whether to expand the business or not.

While it’s relatively easy to log incoming and outgoing inventory on spreadsheets, the more platforms a company sells on and the more storage locations it has, the more complex tracking manually becomes and the more can go wrong.

If you’re going to make the best business decisions, the information you’re working with has to be completely reliable. Which is why an order management system is a good way to go. The automated system doesn’t just give accurate information, it does so in real time on a single screen. That means that anything and everything you need to know about sales flows and inventory levels, irrespective of the number of outlets or storage facilities you use, can be brought up instantly from anywhere.

Stockouts and overstocking

If a company runs out of an item, it has a stockout; if there’s too much of an item in stock, it’s called overstocking. Neither situation is good. With stockouts, prospective customers can go somewhere else and sales can be lost; with overstocking, a business can be stuck holding items that have gone out of fashion or that maybe even go past their expiration dates. Stockouts and overstocking can also throw off the whole order management system.

While a smaller company can prevent these scenarios by making sure they always have the right amount of stock, human error is always a possibility. Mistakes are less likely with an order management system. Automation will keep on top of inventory levels, make sure they’re consistent, and, in the case of items that have sell-by dates, make sure they’re only sent out if they’re still good.

Safety stock

Safety stock is a cushion. It’s a little bit more than you think is needed to cover for the unexpected. Safety stock levels are influenced by:

  • The belief that there will be a sudden rush on the items — like Christmas,
  • The time it takes for the supplier to fill an order for more, and
  • The length of time delivery will take, such as longer for a shipment from overseas.

These calculations can be complex, especially when a large number of items and suppliers are in play. But while an experienced employee is capable of making these calculations, there’s inevitably going to be an element of guesswork involved; guesswork that could result in miscalculations being made and stock running out. An automated system, however, is able to process the information with a preciseness that’s hard for most people to match.


For companies that have more than one warehouse, coordinating them is good business. For instance, if some items sell better from one location than another, more of them should be housed there. Similar items should be stored in that location in bulk. As another example, it may be logistically better to fulfill an order from one warehouse than another. In that case, the items for the order should be routed to that warehouse.

Recognizing situations like this, in good time, is difficult without automation.

Bulk actions

Items that are recalled have to be pulled from storage and sent back to their suppliers, and the customers who ordered them before this have to be told what’s happened and offered something else in its place. Without automation, each customer has to be contacted individually, but an order management system can take care of it with a single action.

Customer satisfaction

Buyers who have had a good shopping experience — measured by the fact that the buyers received the goods they wanted — are said to be satisfied customers.

An order management system helps you create satisfied customers. It automatically monitors inventory levels, reordering when stocks run low and removing them from online channels if items do run out. If an item does run out, the system lets buyers know and offers the option of backordering — placing the order and waiting until the item is in stock. Trying to handle this with spreadsheets and having someone literally look at stock to check how much of it there is is going to lead to disappointed customers.


Whatever method is used for order management, it has to be able to cope when the business grows. This might not be the case if operations are carried out manually, but when things are automated, there are very few issues, especially when it comes to order management.


Final words on manual vs. automated order management systems

For order management, an order management system, such as Cin7 Omni, with automated features is faster, more reliable, and more efficient. Ultimately, that means it helps to make your company more cost efficient and more profitable.

When you’re ready to switch up to automation, give us a call. Or if you want to know more, schedule a demo with one of our experts. You’ll be glad you did.

What is the B2B2C model? What should you consider in setting up a B2B2C model for your business?

The U.S. Census Bureau News reported that the retail ecommerce sales for the first quarter of 2022 crossed $250 billion, an increase of 2.4% from the fourth quarter of 2021. It represented 14.3% of the total retail sales. The B2B2C model is the latest addition to the ecommerce scene. Let’s learn some more about the B2B2C model.

You have seen businesses that operate on the business-to-business (B2B) model. You have also seen companies that work on the business-to-customer (BTC or B2C) model. Both the models have been successful in their own ways. Now, a new model is creating waves in the ecommerce market – business-to-business-to-customer (B2B2C). If the B2B and B2C models were successful, why should you involve another business between you and the customer? Let’s talk some more and find out about the B2B2C model.


What is a B2B2C commerce model?

A B2B2C commerce model is where one business (B1) involves another business (B2) to sell goods or services to its customers (C). If any of the involved companies use the internet to sell goods or services, it is called the B2B2C ecommerces model. In the B2B model, the businesses sell their goods or services to other companies. And in B2C, the organizations sell their wares directly to the end consumers. The B2B2C commerce model is the culmination of both these models.

So, what was the need to involve another business in the channel?

The market was limited when business was done mainly through physical channels. But with the development of ecommerce, suddenly, the markets became wider and the possibilities for business unlimited. However, it was not possible to have it all without a little bit of assistance. If one company had the product and the other company had the means to reach the consumers, they could join hands to increase the business multifold.

The following figure shows the concept of the B2B2C commerce model:

Figure 1: A visual representation of the B2B2C ecommerce model

The first company provides the goods under its brand name, whereas the other company provides additional services, including lead generation, transport, credit, maintenance, and digital payment services.

In Figure 1, you can observe the following steps happening:

  1. The manufacturer provides goods to the network seller to sell.
  2. The network seller provides customer information and sales platform to the manufacturer in return for annual fees.
  3. The network seller uses the services of a payment gateway to receive payment securely.
  4. The customer buys the goods from the network seller, fully aware that the seller is not the manufacturer.
  5. The customer makes payment and receives goods from the network seller.
  6. The network seller makes the payment to the manufacturer.

This is a classic example of the B2B2C ecommerce model. You might have gone through a similar process when buying goods from sellers, including Amazon, Flipkart, or eBay.


How are B2B2C and white-labelling different?

One shouldn’t confuse B2B2C with white labelling. White-labeling is a process where the company manufactures the goods without its brand name and sells them to other businesses. These companies sell the goods under their own brand names. So, basically, the consumers are unaware of the origin of the goods. On the other hand, in B2B2C, the customers know the goods’ origins well.

For instance, some drug manufacturers provide generic medicines to other organizations. These organizations pack the drugs under their own brand name and sell them to consumers. Consumers are unaware that the drugs of two or more brand names come from the same manufacturer. They purchase goods trusting the brand name. This is called white-labelling. And in turn, the brand holder ensures the quality of the goods. On the contrary, if you are buying Nike sneakers from Amazon, you know that Nike is the manufacturer, not Amazon. This process is called B2B2C ecommerce.


Examples of real-life B2B2C commerce models

If you think that B2B2C is a concept in its initial stage, you might want to rethink it. Many organizations use B2B2C ecommerce in today’s market. Here are some of the examples:

Intel Inside

Intel manufactures computer processors. Intel has teamed up with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Dell, HP, and Lenovo, for marketing/branding purposes. The synergy brings trustworthiness among the customers and thus increases sales.


Amazon is an online platform for trading any type of goods. The sellers can retain their brand name while using the network base, logistic facilities, and payment gateways provided by Amazon. This increases their turnover. In return, Amazon gets fees for the facilities they provide.

App Store

Apple has devised a plan to help its customers download reliable applications and games from an Apple-approved space. It is called the App Store. It ultimately allows Apple to earn more revenue.


The US giant Affirm is a financial organization that facilitates the customers in buying goods at present and paying later. Affirm collaborates with men’s and women’s fashion, sports and fitness goods, jewellery, electronics, and furniture brands to assist consumers in buying.


UberEats partners with the local restaurants to deliver food to the customers. The customers can enjoy the food served by any restaurant from their homes. The restaurants make more sales than they can do remotely. Uber Eats gets a commission from every delivery they make.


What are the advantages of the B2B2C commerce model?

Many companies are morphing their businesses with others to reap the benefits of the B2B2C commerce model. Every organization has something to offer to the other and two organizations would merge depending on their strengths and weaknesses. Although the advantages of the B2B2C model vary in every synergy, here are some of the common ones:


The primary goal of any business is to maximize profits, and scalability is a way in which they can achieve their goal. Scalability represents the ability of an organization to increase the output by adding resources. Instead of trying to do everything on their own, companies can adopt the B2B2C model to achieve scalability. They can partner with an existing company already providing the given services to increase growth.


Digitalization is the way to scale your business. You can widen your customer base by taking your business online. However, going online needs additional setup and management capabilities that are not available to everyone. Partnering with other companies specializing in these fields is a way to go forward. For example, instead of selling on your website, you can start selling on ecommerce platforms like Amazon or eBay to test whether you receive a good response. They can give you access to a client base you didn’t have before.

Brand recognition

In the B2B2C commerce model, you can sell your goods with your brand name. As your customer base grows, your brand image grows too. More and more people will recognize your products, and their reviews can bring in more customers. You can take on any competition when your brand value increases.

Cost control

Scaling begs for massive investment. Instead of starting an in-house unit, if you collaborate with another team to provide the facilities you require, you can save on setup and maintenance costs. Moreover, the cost of consumer data collection can be shared by all the relevant parties. Start-up costs, marketing costs, distribution costs, and customer acquisition costs can be controlled drastically by employing the B2B2C model.

Time management

When the manufacturers team up with the maintenance companies, the customers can get faster services. This will encourage the customers to buy from a company that provides faster after-sale services. The same principle applies to the companies that can deliver the products faster.

Customer satisfaction

The customers benefit significantly from the B2B2C models financially and otherwise. The companies can transfer some of the cost-saving to the customers as discounts. The customers also get the facility of dealing with just one company for their multiple needs. So, it becomes more accessible and more straightforward for them. For example, if a customer buys a television from a store and gets the facility of paying in installments from the same store, they would prefer it. Some banks and financial companies provide such facilities to customers in association with the stores or manufacturing companies.


What are the challenges to set up a B2B2C commerce model?

If you are a B2B business or a B2C business transitioning to the B2B2C model might take some time and effort. However, once you are done, the benefits are numerous. Marc Benioff, the chairman, and CEO of Inc. said, “We really see every B2B company and every B2C company becoming a B2B2C company.” Some of the challenges faced by the businesses in setting up B2B2C commerce or B2B2C ecommerce model are as follows:

Identification of area for B2B2C partnership

As a business owner, you should know whether you can benefit from the B2B2C model. Some products are not suited for such models. Secondly, you should determine whether you can cope with increased demand. If you cannot produce more to keep up with the increased demand, you might face embarrassment in your business circle.

There are mainly two types of business integrations – horizontal and vertical integrations. Horizontal integrations mean increasing the capacity of the pre-existing unit and producing more of what you are already manufacturing. On the other hand, vertical integrations involve taking up one or more stages of the supply chain in addition to the existing one.

One of the significant decisions you should be making is the area where the other business can help you. You should identify the area in which your organization needs support. For instance, if you can sell your product with an extra warranty, or you can sell more if you have a logistic partner, or if you need access to customer databases to identify your customers. By identifying a particular niche, you can narrow down on potential organizations that can help you achieve your goals.

Management of inventory

When you sell on multiple channels, it becomes cumbersome to manage inventory in real-time. Imagine a scenario where you have a brick-and-mortar store and sell your goods on multiple ecommerce platforms. If you run out of stock while simultaneously operating on all, and the stock on ecommerce platforms is not updated, you might find yourself in some soup. You might actually sell more goods than you have on hand. Therefore, inventory management is one of the crucial challenge areas of the B2B2C ecommerce model.

The solution – adopt a reliable inventory management software that will help you maintain real-time inventory of all your products. An inventory management software can help you keep real-time stock of all your goods in your locations.

Brand credit

Sharing the advantages always comes with sharing the limitations. When you adopt the brand name, it might also lead to the issues it faces. And, you don’t want yourself marked ‘guilty by association.’ It is advisable to check every aspect of the company before entering into a contract for B2B2C. If the company’s goals are not in sync with yours, you might want to reconsider the association as your brand image is online.

Software compatibility

When two businesses merge, they both must have IT systems compatible with each other to transition without any hindrance. If not, you should hire an IT expert who can assist you in morphing the two systems seamlessly.

Individual contributions

Both the companies should agree on and lay out clear boundaries of contributions towards the achievement of the common goal. The agreements should be reached with mutual consent and followed by all the parties involved.

Legal agreements

In the case of B2B2C commerce, the businesses involved getting access to private information about the other business. There should be clearly defined legal agreements to protect the stakeholders’ privacy and sensitive information. Legal teams representing both parties can work out solutions that are to be adopted for more robust security.


Final thoughts on B2B2C commerce model

B2B2C commerce models are the way forward in today’s economy. If the businesses want to tackle competition by expanding their prowess, B2B2C models are the perfect solutions. These models provide customer satisfaction akin to B2C models and growth like B2B models. B2B2C ecommerce models can help you elevate your profitability and margins by combining the best of both worlds.

Automating the B2B2C ecommerce model on Cin7 can help you maneuver the process in a simple way. You can click here to know more about the Cin7 software.

The future of retail is here: How BOPIS is changing the game

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is everything. Consumers want to shop when and where it’s best for them, and retailers are looking for ways to meet those demands. One method retailers use to give their customers what they want is “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store” (BOPIS). This strategy, which is gaining in popularity, is being offered by more and more retailers as part of their omnichannel fulfillment process. Let’s examine what BOPIS is and how it’s changing retail.


What is BOPIS?

BOPIS is a shopping method that allows customers to purchase items online and then pick them up at a physical store. It is, in fact, a great system that helps retailers streamline their operations while giving their customers a seamless shopping experience. When implemented correctly, BOPIS can facilitate flow as customers go from online to in-person shopping channels, allowing them to have the best of both worlds. By synchronizing and integrating these different channels, retailers can attract more customers, something that will give them a competitive advantage.

In addition to BOPIS, there are three related strategies retailers can adopt to improve their customers’ experience:

  1. Buy Online, Pick Up At Curb (BOPAC) – meaning that customers can collect their online purchases outside a physical store, often without needing to leave their vehicles.
  2. Buy Online, Return In Store (BORIS) – goods purchased online and delivered to a home can be returned to a physical store.
  3. Reserve Online, Pick Up In Store (ROPIS) – items can be ordered online but paid for as they’re picked up at the physical location. The advantages of this method are (a) the customer can put a hold on an item before it sells out, and (b) they can inspect the item before actually paying for it.


Impact on retail and ecommerce

It’s fair to say that BOPIS has had a significant impact on both retail and ecommerce. First, it brings more shoppers into the physical store because online shopping has a much wider reach; second, the collection method allows retailers to move inventory faster, a factor that improves the bottom line; and third, the pick-up option is good for order management and inventory fulfillment. It’s a faster process that makes stock turn over in a shorter period of time, and as a result, there’s less chance of items sitting in stores for a long time and becoming obsolete and less chance of stock running out.


Benefits of BOPIS

1. Increased sales

One of the main benefits of BOPIS is convenience for the customer. The pick-up option means they can get their item right away without having to wait days for a shipping service to deliver it, something that’s especially important when they buy perishable goods like groceries. For the retailer, BOPIS expands the reach of their physical stores, bringing many more customers into them and increasing sales.

2. Improved inventory management

When shoppers pick their items up directly from the brick-and-mortar store, inventory moves through the system quicker. This increased speed helps retailers keep a closer eye on their stock levels, enabling them to anticipate stockouts or predict obsolescence. Another benefit of inventory moving faster is that it creates room in storage for new products and styles, keeping the store fresh and relevant. All in all, the result is better inventory management.

3. Increased customer loyalty

BOPIS builds loyalty because it provides a positive and convenient shopping experience. Customers can examine items before they take them home, ensuring their satisfaction with the product and trust in your service. Plus, when customers are at the store for their pickup, they could be enticed to look around inside and get something else.

4. Reduced shipping costs

When customers pick up their purchases themselves at a store, there are fewer shipping costs for the business. While they may need to ship the item to the store, moving items in bulk is less costly than individually shipping items to the customer’s home. These savings are increased even more when it comes to large or heavy items since they can be really costly to ship.

5. Improved online and in-store integration

When retailers offer BOPIS, they can integrate their online and in-store operations, creating a seamless shopping experience for customers. By integrating their channels in this way, retailers can also give customers a better selection of products more efficiently at a lower cost. A cloud-based order management system can be a great asset when implementing this personal pickup system. It offers a unified ordering and tracking system, which in turn streamlines the whole process and reduces errors. This helps retailers to keep track of their inventory, manage their orders, and secure payments more efficiently.


Challenges to implementing BOPIS

Some retailers may find it difficult to coordinate their online orders with the inventory they have in their stores. Alternatively, a company might find it difficult to find a convenient pickup location for a customer, one that can fulfill the order quickly. Roadblocks like this could be stockouts and delays.

One way around this is to have a dedicated employee, or employees, take care of BOPIS orders. Another is to create a designated area in the store specifically for the pickups, somewhere that’s easy for customers to find and has room for them to line up without getting in the way of anyone else. It’s also important to have an inventory management system that works in real time. The Cin7 Omni system does this as it tracks your inventory in every storage facility you manage and across each one of your sales channels.


BOPIS in action

Despite these challenges, many retailers are turning to BOPIS to meet consumers’ needs and boost their bottom lines. Walmart and Target are two of the biggest retailers offering the service, and since doing so they’ve seen their online sales increase. These chains have also introduced technology that makes the process even more efficient for customers, technology that gives them online notifications when their order is ready for pickup and facilitates mobile check-in when they get to the store.



There’s no question that BOPIS is revolutionizing the retail industry. It gives consumers a convenient and personalized shopping experience they like, while boosting sales and reducing shipping costs for retailers. The BOPIS method can present challenges for sure, but with the right tools and software, any challenge can be overcome.

If you’re thinking about introducing BOPIS to your online retail business, consider Cin7 Omni software. It’s an all-in-one platform that offers a number of useful features, many of which you’ll find helpful when you introduce these in-store pickup options.

If you’d like to know more, schedule time with one of our experts and be given a demo.

How to avoid being stuck with obsolete inventory

A retailer’s mark of expertise is shown when they stock items people want to buy and have them in the right quantities to meet demand. But this skill is not an exact science. Even with the tracking and forecasting capabilities of inventory management systems, surveys, and knowledge of the market, mistakes are made. Sometimes stock can’t be sold; sometimes it just goes out of style. And then there’s the factor of safety stock, having a little bit extra to make sure orders can always be filled. While it’s important to have safety stock, there’s a limit to the amount of it a company should carry.

The point is that no company wants to end up holding inventory they can’t sell – obsolete stock. This blog is going to explore how companies end up with this obsolete stock, give suggestions to get rid of any you have, and put forward ways to prevent this overstocking from happening in the first place.


What is obsolete inventory?

When you’ve ordered a lot more of a particular item than there’s a demand for, or miscalculated the market and added items no one wants to your inventory, you’re left stuck with it. It’s become obsolete because you can’t sell it. Obsolete inventory takes up valuable space that could be used for items that shoppers want. And depending on what it is, it may also need attention, in which case it’ll be taking up your employees’ time without benefit to you.

This situation doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, sales for these items will gradually drop off until they stop altogether. Sometimes it can take years to realize this useless inventory is still there gathering dust; sometimes a retailer may have decided to hold onto something in the hope that they’ll be renewed interest in it at a later date.


Reasons inventory may become obsolete

1. Poor inventory forecasting

Nothing is foolproof, but sometimes people don’t use the data available to them as assiduously as they could. They don’t do enough research on past sales histories, market trends, or customer demands to gauge future needs, and they don’t take enough notice of the metrics they do gather.

2. Inadequate inventory management

Sometimes, retailers are left holding excess stock because they didn’t follow the movement of their stock through the supply chain closely enough. They didn’t exercise stock inventory management, which provides details on items they’re holding in the warehouse prior to sales and the number of items that are sold, details that are used to make the right decisions when ordering more.

When it comes to omnichannel sales — sales from several different online platforms and physical stores — keeping tabs on the level of inventory that needs to be held is complex but vital. Every sales channel is different, and a product that does well on one may not sell on another. Guesswork has no place in this model — a company has to have the right goods in the right amounts at the right place at the right time, or they’ll end up with that obsolete stock somewhere.

3. Lack of inventory control

Inventory control describes having a thorough oversight of each item in the warehouse. It differs from inventory management in that it focuses much more on the actual number of each item held in storage, ensures the right levels are there at all times, and keeps on top of purchase orders. If this isn’t done with enough care, overstocking can occur, and there’s a danger of that becoming obsolete.

4. Long lead times

When it comes to managing inventory, the lead time refers to the period it takes to receive a stock item after ordering it from a supplier. Because these lead times can vary, decisions about what to order when can be a bit of a head scratcher. If the lead time is lengthy, a sales company will have to order way in advance of needing the items, and if demand for those items eases off in the meantime, they could become redundant by the time they arrive. They’ll be obsolete stock.

5. Inappropriate products

If bad buying decisions are made, sellers will end up with products no one wants. Conversely, if a company is offering items that can be found everywhere else, there’s a chance they could be stuck with them. Either way, we’re talking obsolete stock.


How to avoid ending up with obsolete inventory

1. Do thorough inventory forecasting.

Make the data work for you. Dig deeper into those past sales histories, market trends, and customer demand. A robust inventory management system like Cin7 Omni can do the heavy lifting for you. The software produces reports, insights, and advanced analytics you’ll find invaluable when making decisions about buying new inventory. When you base your buying decisions on information like this, you have a much better chance of having best-selling items in stock and avoiding those slow movers that can end up being obsolete.

2. Automate your inventory.

An automated system tracks your inventory, keeping tabs on its levels in the warehouse and maintaining records of the numbers that are sold. And it will do this in real time. With detailed information like this, there’s less chance of your buying decisions coming back to haunt you.

It’s actually difficult to see how businesses that sell on multiple online channels and physical outlets and run several warehouses can function without an automated system to fall back on. Cin7 Omni’s inventory and order management software connects your warehouses, online sales channels, and offline stores into one automated system, tracking the level of inventory at each place and taking note of what is selling where. It’s how you ensure having what you need where you need it without being stuck with too much of anything.

3. Make sure your teams coordinate with each other.

If the different teams in your sales company work in their own separate silos and don’t exchange information, mistakes will be made, mistakes like bad buying decisions. The way to avoid this is by giving every department access to information like purchase and sales orders. This means the warehouse team working with the purchasing team and the purchasing team working with the receiving team. Likewise, the inhouse teams should be working in tandem with suppliers and shippers. It’s supply chain management.

A cloud-based inventory management system like Cin7 Omni can do the coordination for you. It will send those purchase orders to your suppliers and those sales orders to your customers through one system, and the fact that it centralizes its data means that all departments can access information and be in the know.


How to get rid of obsolete inventory

Here are some tips:

  • Throw a clearance sale and sell the goods you’ve been stuck with at discounted prices.
  • Bundle items with similar products and sell at a competitive price.
  • List clearance sales on online marketplaces.
  • Offer customers an incentive like free shipping.
  • See if you can return items to your supplier, if not for cost, at least for a lesser amount.


Final thoughts

No one wants to be stuck with obsolete stock, but it can happen. Automating with a system like Cin7 Omni can help prevent it.

To learn more about our software and how it can be advantageous for you, click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts.

What is demand planning, and why is it crucial for supply chain management?

Guesswork plays no part in today’s business world. Every decision that’s made, every action that’s put into place is based on verifiable needs, and this verification comes from precise data. When manufacturers order raw materials for the products they make, they do so with a knowledge of the quantity they’ll need to complete their orders. And when retailers get items from their suppliers, they do so using models that tell them the number they’re expected to sell. In other words, they plan.

Unforeseen circumstances aside, this planning eliminates the chances of being left with unwanted inventory – overstocking – or finding out too late that there isn’t enough of it – stockouts. If the latter happens, the ramifications could be damaging. When orders can’t be filled, reputations are put on the line and customers could go somewhere else. A retailer that sells on Amazon could even have its ranking lowered if it can’t fill orders. On the other hand, being stuck with too much inventory is a wasteful use of resources, including financial.

Companies get the data they need for this planning from software that oversees and manages their supply chain. When it comes to getting the right inventory levels, this information is used to make predictions about upcoming needs — that’s demand forecasting; and when actions are taken on these predictions, we have demand planning. These are the areas that we’re going to look at today. And we’re going to look at them with an emphasis on how the combination of these two impacts the supply chain and overall profitability of the company.


Demand planning overview

As outlined above, demand planning is about taking the expectations for future inventory needs gleaned from forecasting, and acting on them. In other words, if forecasting predicts that x number of a particular product is going to be needed, planning will issue the sales orders for them.

To parse that out and explain it more, forecasting gathers data from the company’s historical sales, consumer buying patterns, and market trends, and then combines that with variables like weather conditions, shipping issues, and lead times to get an accurate picture of future needs: which items they should order, the amounts they should order, and when they should order.

Demand planning, then, is putting this forecasting into operation. It’s putting in the sales orders for the right items in the right quantities to prevent overstocking and stockouts; it’s making sure there’s enough space in the storage area for them; it’s making sure there are enough cardboard boxes in the shipping department to get them out the door; it’s making sure every section of the supply chain is ready and can process orders with as little downtime as possible and with the least amount of waste.

When demand planning is done right, the supply chain is humming. Inventory is at optimum levels and orders can be filled in good time, efficiently, with the least amount of expenditure.


Components of demand planning

1. Analyzing sales data across multiple channels and locations

Analyzing the sales history across sales channels tops the list. However, when you sell on multiple online platforms and have your physical stores at various locations, gathering and analyzing all the sales data can take time and effort. And it’s also not productive to do it manually, as you have other important things like your business expansion and customer satisfaction that need your attention.

Cin7 Omni’s inventory and order management software connects your online and offline sales channels, enabling you to access all the sales data at your fingertips. You can view the sales history of each customer from every sales channel on Cin7 Omni’s homepage dashboard. Thus, you can understand the customer’s purchasing behavior, buying pattern, best-selling products, and slow movers and target the customers with relevant products.

2. Calculating inventory turnover ratio

The inventory turnover ratio indicates how efficiently your company uses its inventory and your overall business performance. With Cin7 Omni’s insight tools and precise inventory and sales data reports, you can accurately measure Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and inventory turnover ratio. You can intervene earlier if you find any excess inventory or lag in your sales and put things back on track the earliest. You can also derive competitive price offerings to stand out from the competition to meet existing customers’ demands and attract new customers.

3. Independent Demand

The demand here refers to the end product. For manufacturers, this means finished pieces; for retailers it means the items shipped out to customers. Knowing the quantity of end product needed is the first step in demand planning.

4. Dependent Demand

This is about the components that make up the finished, or end, product. Basically for a manufacturer, the planners have to make sure they have all the bits and pieces and raw materials needed to put whatever it is they’re producing together, and they need them in the right quantities to satisfy the independent demand.

Cin7 Omni’s inventory and production management software is a useful tool for dependent demand planning. It can generate a detailed Bill of Materials (BOM), which is an itemization of the raw materials needed to put particular goods together and the quantities they’re needed in to fill a particular order. It can also produce weekly reports on both materials used and the progress production is making, statements which allow you to check that your demand planning is on target. As a bonus, the digital system can even instruct the machinery on the shop floor to start up, and it can do this as soon as it detects that there’s a predetermined minimal amount of orders in the works, a predetermined level set by you.

5. Monitoring the production process

If you’re a manufacturer, monitoring the raw materials, tracking the finished goods, and keeping the production time down is mandatory to run a successful business and meet the customers’ demands on time.

6. Monitoring, tracking, and managing inventory

Stocking the right inventory levels across your sales channels is mandatory to meet the customer’s needs on time. Besides stocking right, having optimal inventory control is crucial — preventing inventory from turning obsolete, maintaining goods at optimal conditions, and ensuring no discrepancies are all a part of managing inventory.

With Cin7 Omni’s inventory management software, you can readily conduct regular stock takes to ensure your stock is in optimal condition. You can also assign a batch or serial number to track the goods and dispatch the old stock first. Thus, you can minimize the risk of your inventory turning obsolete and sell goods on time at better profits. The right inventory at the right levels at the right place at the right conditions ensures a smooth supply chain.

The software also supports product bundling, enabling you to bundle relevant products and sell them at a competitive price. To top it all, you can rely on Cin7 Omni for managing your returns as well.

7. Internal processes demand

Here, we’re talking about demand planners making sure there’s no hitch in the supply chain. It’s about ensuring there’s enough space in the warehouse or storage area to place items for those projected orders as they come in from the suppliers. It’s about ensuring that everything is in place to move items from the warehouse to the end consumer — the right equipment, the right level of packing materials, the right shipping services. And it’s about having enough spare parts on hand to cope with machine breakdowns along with enough staff to keep everything flowing smoothly.

8. Managing product portfolios

Demand planning requires businesses to understand their products and lifecycles from introduction to phase-out. Product portfolio management is a part of demand planning that involves maintaining the entire portfolio of products you sell. Products are often interconnected, and the sale of one product affects the sales of another. Maintaining a product portfolio is helpful, especially when you add new products to your portfolio, as it helps you understand how the new product impacts the sale of existing products.

9. Analyzing current trends

Besides internal factors, external factors like weather, health, or economic crises impact business performance. Thus, apart from analyzing sales data and other internal factors, considering these external factors are also vital. Having a dedicated team to acquire external data on current events like health crises or natural disasters will help your business to promptly adapt to market volatility and prevent possible supply chain disruptions. A transparent system like Cin7 Omni will help you stay connected with your suppliers and track your goods during uncertain times. Therefore, you can efficiently manage the supply chain and ensure the timely delivery of products to your customers.

10. Managing trade promotions

While marketing and promotions may seem tangential to demand planning, arranging for advertising, discounts, and giveaways is an actionable part of the sales cycle and so should be included. The same goes for trade shows. In effect, this is because publicity attracts interest and helps sell the products and goods a company offers.

Cin7 Omni can be a great help in this area. It can set up discounts and set start and end dates of a particular promotion, and it can apply those promotions to whatever of your products you choose.


Demand planning and supply chain management

Demand planning affects supply chains in the following ways:

It streamlines inventory management.

  • It puts relevant sales strategies in place.
  • It makes sure all resources are used efficiently.
  • It encourages companies to negotiate with suppliers for better deals.
  • It results in high levels of customer satisfaction.

Wrapping up

Having the right amount of everything in place in the right quantities when it’s needed is at the heart of a well-run business, and why getting demand planning right is so crucial.

Cin7 Omni is a great way of maintaining flow from one stage of the process to another. It has features that can make supply chain management hassle free, and the data it produces can be put towards forecasting and, as a result, better demand planning.

To find out more, click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts today.

Supply chain as a service (SCaaS) – the ultimate guide

To quote writer and editor Stewart Brand: “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” Wise words in this day and age when more and more aspects of manufacturing and ecommerce are being automated, computerized, and digitized.

In supply chain management, an important technological development for retailers has been the creation of supply chain as a service, or SCaaS. We’re going to unpack this concept, explaining what SCaaS is, how it works, and how it impacts businesses for the better.


Supply chain as a service (SCaaS) explained

An SCaaS company is basically a company that specializes in providing cloud-based, supply-chain-related software and, increasingly, other order fulfillment services. It means that instead of a manufacturing or ecommerce entity taking out subscriptions to the cloud-based software they need themselves, they’re able to access them through an SCaaS company, which they hire for that purpose. These third parties can take care of anything from inventory management and warehousing to reverse logistics, or returns. In fact, with the right SCaaS company, you’ll be able to track your entire order fulfillment process. In other words, you’ll have supply chain transparency.

SCaaS companies are great for small retailers and manufacturers, especially those that are starting out, because they save these businesses from having to pay for the software they need themselves. For more established outfits, SCaaS will become an increasingly important resource as business practices become more complex. This is especially so because SCaaS companies can also offer valuable information and advice; they can be a partner.


A myriad other ways an SCaaS company can be a good resource

As a manufacturer or ecommerce business owner, you can outsource your entire supply chain management or any part of it to an SCaaS provider. Almost as a bonus, these third-party providers can be useful in other, related ways. Here are a few examples:

1. Finding and getting the raw materials you need

SCaaS companies can help you get what you need at the right price because they have information about suppliers. They also know about shipping companies and shipping regulations, an expertise you can tap into to ensure getting what you need in good time.

2. Facilitating coordination between retailers and their manufacturers

To make sure retailers get their stock from the manufacturers in the right quantities and at the right time, it’s important for them to be on top of the producers’ production processes, lead times, inventory levels, and quality inspections. SCaaS companies can take care of this. They have the technology and industry expertise to provide real-time updates on the manufacturing process and lead times, ensuring that retailers are in the know at all times.

3. Warehousing

Some SCaaS providers offer warehousing. They have the technology to streamline operations from receiving and slotting to picking and packing. Add this to their inventory management capabilities and you have a more efficient and resilient supply chain altogether.

4. Shipping

In addition to being able to suggest shipping companies, an SCaaS company can work out the best logistics for you when you need to move inventory from one location to another. It can identify the kind and size of transportation you’ll need — truck, rail, or cargo ship — and the capacity of each needed. Plus, the company can work out the best routes that should be taken.

Possible challenges to implementing an SCaaS model

  • Your SCaaS’s technology might not be shared by all your partners

As good as the technology and infrastructure SCaaS companies offer is, if your internal teams and trading partners aren’t up to speed, they won’t be able to communicate with your third-party providers. You have to make sure your stakeholders’ technology can interface with the kind your SCaaS uses.

  • Not knowing how and when to use SCaaS

In the complex world that is today’s marketplace, a company has to work out what part of their supply chain it can handle itself and which sections are best outsourced to an SCaaS. Retailers and manufacturers must also be flexible enough to adapt this model as the need arises, either taking on more themselves or outsourcing more.

  • Finding a good logistics partner

This can be difficult. First you have to find a third-party provider that has the top-notch infrastructure and digital programs you need, along with the right background and expertise in your area to be a good partner. When you’ve got that down, you can figure out which areas of your business to outsource.

Benefits of using SCaaS

SCaaS can redefine supply chain management in the following ways:

  1. Agility: Access information and analytics from any Internet-enabled device and make data-driven decisions quickly.
  2. Seamless communication: Easily share information and stay connected with stakeholders through every stage of the supply chain.
  3. Scalability: Add or reduce the logistics services that are outsourced according to customer demands.
  4. Transparency: Have more control over the supply chain because information is updated consistently and available in real time.
  5. Sustainability: There’s no need for you to invest in a complex IT infrastructure.


In conclusion

SCaaS is a revolutionary model that’s the next iteration for supply chain management, and our Cin7 Omni system can help you determine the best ways to leverage it for your business.

How can it do this? Well, our Cin7 Omni’s inventory and order management cloud-based software seamlessly integrates with various 3PL companies, connecting your online and offline stores, warehouses, and distribution centers in one platform. Through this connection with 3PL companies, you’re able to analyze them and understand which company and services are right for you.

To find out more, click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts today.

What is just-in-time inventory? Is it the right inventory management method for you?

Storage facilities and large stocks of inventory can be a huge drain on a business. The physical area has to be taken care of, rent has to be paid, and personnel have to spend time overseeing and maintaining all the stock. But what if a company could function without having to have a large store of goods? What if a business could operate by getting the raw goods and items it uses as, and when, they’re needed?

There is such an inventory management method, and it’s called just-in-time. This lean approach to inventory management is not for everyone, but for some it’s a great benefit, keeping outlay low while meeting manufacturing and order demands and keeping customers satisfied.

We’re going to take a close look at the pros and cons of just-in-time inventory, so you’ll be able to judge for yourself if the system is right for you.


What is just-in-time inventory management?

As the name implies, just-in-time inventory management means only having the raw goods and items on hand that are needed at any given time, no extra. That means getting in raw goods and items from your suppliers only when there are orders to be filled, and only in enough quantity for those orders. By extension, for a manufacturing company, just-in-time means ending up with the right amount of product for an actual order, and no more.

Conducting a business in this way cuts down the need for a separate storage facility and all its associated costs.


How does just-in-time inventory management work?

The just-in-time inventory management method is dependent on two things: accurate forecasting and reliable suppliers that are nearby.

Accurate forecasting – just-in-time inventory management can’t work without it; it’s as simple as that. That’s because, when you’re working with stripped-down inventory levels, you have to have a good idea of your needs ahead of time. These projections could be based on seasonal demands, known trends, or an upcoming event. Either way, automated inventory management systems are very good at doing these forecasts, basicinng their predictions on historical data.

Reliable suppliers – Because just-in-time inventory management is about getting inventory in at the last minute, or only having the minimal amount you need on hand, you have to be sure that your suppliers will deliver. You have to be able to depend on them.

When it comes to retailers, the just-in-time approach may mean passing an order directly to the wholesaler or a third-party logistics company (3PL) for fulfillment. This way, the retailer doesn’t have to physically handle the items at all.


Advantages of the just-in-time inventory method

Reduces carrying costs

Carrying costs are incurred when raw materials or finished goods are stored somewhere. The longer these items are stored, the higher the carrying costs. When goods are sold before they are even produced, and inventory is only brought in as and when needed for a particular order, there’s an immediate turnaround that reduces these carrying costs to a minimum. These savings can be used to lower the price of the goods produced or items sold.

Reduces inventory losses/damage

Inventory that’s stored is open to degradation, especially if it’s held there for a long period of time. Depending on what the items are, problems can include: the wrong temperature causing spoilage, products breaking, or dust and dirt causing its own damage. And that’s not to mention the possibility of having to throw inventory out because it’s passed sell-by dates or has gone out of style. Any of these possibilities has a monetary cost that will cut into the profit margin.

With just-in-time inventory management, inventory is used as soon as it’s received, or almost as soon as it’s received, eliminating the need for lengthy storage times and avoiding the negative impacts that can have. The big upside here is that overall inventory costs can be reduced, and those are savings that can be used in other areas of your business or passed on to your customers.

Promotes local suppliers

The just-in-time method is based on getting supplies only when there are specific orders to be filled. Because by definition this means getting those supplies as soon as you have the order, getting them quickly is important. That’s why it’s best to use local suppliers.

Using local suppliers has other benefits. Reduced transportation cost is one; less impact on the environment is another. A third benefit of having suppliers nearby, one that can be overlooked, is that it’s easier to nurture good relationships with them. If they’re not far away, you can pop over and see them.

Less money tied up

In addition to the cost of warehousing, the inventory held there has had to be paid for and so is, in itself, a large investment. When you need minimum stock, you don’t have money tied up and can invest it in other areas of your business.


Limitations of the just-in-time inventory management system

Less flexibility

While just-in-time inventory management cuts down costs associated with inventory, sporadic orders will affect workflow, and if a run of orders stops, a company might have to shut down. On the other hand, if a company gets too many orders at once, without the capacity to store inventory it might not be able to cope. Any change in an original order or cancellation will also cause issues for the company.

A production management feature in Cin7 Omni that generates a production order directly from a sales order can give a manufacturer flexibility.

Supplier dependency

If the good part about having a local supplier is the speed at which goods are delivered, the bad part is that they may not have much competition, which could make it more difficult to negotiate rates. Also, if that supplier runs out of the items you need, you’re going to have to scramble to find another quickly.

Inaccurate forecasts

The just-in-time method is based on accurate forecasting. But if those forecasts are flawed, the preplanning necessary for the system to work will be wrong and the company could fail.

A robust inventory management system like the Cin7 Omni can help prevent this from happening. With a clear view of the market, Cin7 Omni can give you more accurate forecasts you can rely on.


Is just-in-time inventory management right for you?

Just-in-time inventory management is the perfect system for contractors working on tight budgets because they don’t have to lay out money for raw materials until there are orders to fill. It’s why contract manufacturers who work with large companies like Toyota, IBM, Apple, and McDonald’s operate on this system. Apple, for instance, contracts its manufacturing out to many different factories in China, but these contractors will only start production when the tech giant authorizes them to.

To judge if management your inventory with this method is right for you, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your customers OK with the time gap between you receiving an order and being able to deliver the completed goods?
  • Can you rely on your supplier to deliver the items you need quickly?
  • Can you start the manufacturing process as soon as you have an order?
  • Can you be sure your customers won’t change their orders?
  • Is your supply chain efficient enough to support a system like this?
  • Do your products go out of trend, making it redundant to store them?

If you answered yes to several of the above, the just-in-time inventory management system is probably a good bet for you.


Winding up

Just-in-time inventory management has upsides and downsides. If you can make the method work for you, however, there can be huge financial advantages.

If you do decide to take up just-in-time inventory management, Cin7 Omni can be a great help. To find out more, click on this link to request a demo.

What role does EDI play in logistics and supply chains?

Logistics was coined by the military to describe the complicated organization involved in moving troops and equipment from one place to another. Similarly within the supply chain, logistics is about getting everything from goods to equipment to people from one place to the other. Logistics is no easy matter. Things have to be in place when they’re needed, and they have to be there in the right quantity.

Vast in scope, both the supply chain and the logistics within it involve all the departments of a company and outside entities. This includes manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. A great deal of information has to be passed back and forth between all of these entities. Basically instructions, this information is about the goods and raw materials needed, the quantity they’re needed in, where they’re needed, and instructions about transportation. These instructions take the form of purchase orders (POs), invoices, shipping notifications, insurance documents, licenses, and more. For large-scale logistics operations, transmitting these documents between companies is best handled electronically, through a digital system called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).


What is EDI, and how does it work?

EDI enables businesses to send digitized documentation directly from the computer of one company to the computer of another company. In order to be able to do this, and to do it instantly, EDI software converts these digital documents into a standardized format that allows them to be first transmitted, and then read, by the computer system of the receiving company.

There are three stages to EDI:

  • Preparing documents, making them EDI ready.
  • Converting the EDI-ready documents into EDI documents.
  • Transmitting the converted documents to the receiving company.

Preparing in-house documents

The POs, invoices, and shipping instructions are either digitized or collected from their digital storage and converted to an electronic file that has the information needed for EDI. This makes them EDI ready.

Converting the EDI-ready documents

This is done with an EDI translator, software that puts the documents’ data into globally-recognized EDI formats. While there are quite a number of these formats, there are four that are used the most: X12, EDIFACT, TRADACOMS, and ebXML.

Transmitting the EDI documents

For this to happen, EDI messaging protocols are used. Examples of these are AS2, OFTP, and SOAP. For the EDI system to work, both sender and receiver have to be using the same protocol.


The role EDI plays in logistics and the supply chain

  • It saves time.

EDI software gets documentation to the relevant companies and departments within companies quickly, keeping them on the same page and the wheels of the supply chain running efficiently. This speedy communication makes it easier to forecast needs and results in better business decisions being made.

  • It makes the supply chain process more efficient.

With EDI, suppliers, distributors, shippers, and every other entity that’s part of the supply chain can communicate with each other in real time. This cuts out chances of delays happening in receiving, dispatching, warehousing, or transportation.

  • It makes it easier to monitor and track goods.

Because EDI uses a uniform format, it’s easy for relevant parties to search for information, and it’s easy to track and keep on top of purchases, orders, and bills of any kind. As a result of this, you can reduce errors in purchasing and shipping.

  • It streamlines logistics and the supply chain.

EDI is able to retrieve data from internal computer systems instantly and send it out securely. When you automate POs, invoices and the like with EDI, it speeds everything up and reduces errors, streamlining your supply chain.

EDI software integrates seamlessly with in-house systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting software, your Warehouse Management System (WMS), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.


How Cin7’s EDI helps supply chain management and logistics

Cin7’s EDI capabilities are robust, and the system has a large EDI network. A one-stop-shop, Cin7’s system will get you:

1. Automated workflow

Cin7 EDI automates order processing and shipping by:

  • Setting triggers for automation and reducing manual data entry.
  • Using an advanced messaging system that streamlines integrations with your trading partners and 3PL warehouses.

2. A one-stop-shop automated system

Cin7’s inventory management software has it all, inventory management, order management, and EDI. When businesses set up their EDI with Cin7, they can:

  • Seamlessly manage orders and scale up your business.
  • Reduce shipping costs and save time by optimizing cartons. Print Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) and generate Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASNs).
  • Keep their product catalogs up to date and track orders in real-time with a centralized and intuitive EDI dashboard. You’ll have absolute inventory control, and your order fulfillment will be at its optimum level.

3. Multiple fulfillment models

Cin7 EDI supports ship-to-store and 3PL.

  • Integrate with product distributors, 3PL providers, and commerce channels.
  • Fulfill orders effortlessly with an intuitive EDI dashboard.
  • Fulfill several orders simultaneously with a cartonization feature that picks the right box for items.

4. Prebuilt-in EDI mapping and protocols

  • Map order workflow between yourself and trading partners around the world.
  • Send EDI documents with these protocols: X12 American National Standards and EDIFACT- European Standards.


Summing up

We’ve shown how EDI facilitates both the supply chain and the logistics that move it along by producing and transmitting documentation quickly. EDI eliminates mistakes that can be made when people input data and ensures that different players in the supply chain are kept in sync by getting the same information, at the same time.

To learn more about Cin7 EDI, book a demo.

9 key steps for the ecommerce order fulfillment process you must know

According to the eMarketer report, global retail ecommerce sales that amounted to $4.248 trillion USD in 2020 are expected to reach $7.391 trillion USD by 2025. The rise in ecommerce is indicative of the shift in consumer preference in shopping. You can sell your products online if you want to expand your business. If you are new to the ecommerce platform or want to improve your ecommerce sales profile, you are in the right place. We will guide you through the nine key steps you should take for the ecommerce order fulfillment process.


What is order fulfillment?

The order fulfillment process begins from the time the company receives an order to the time it is delivered to the customer. The order fulfillment process includes inventory management, as the products to be delivered should be acceptable in quality and quantity. The order fulfillment process should cover the goods returned if the customer is not satisfied with them.

A company can fulfill orders in the following ways:

  • In-house transfers: In-house transfer is when the company wants to transfer goods from one department to another. It is inclusive of transfers from the warehouse to factories.
  • Third-party logistics: Sometimes, the company uses third parties to carry out product transfers. This phenomenon is called third-party logistics (3PL).
  • Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a process where your supplier delivers the goods directly to your customer. This method of shipping saves transportation and overhead costs for the company. It is a good option for startups that want to save overhead expenses.
  • Hybrid: Companies don’t often stick to one type of shipping method but use different types of methods at once for separate orders.

As easy as it sounds, the reality is quite different if you don’t have a reliable system to follow. Inventory management systems like Cin7 can assist you in carrying out the order fulfillment process smoothly. Let’s discuss the nine key steps of ecommerce order fulfillment.


Nine key steps for the ecommerce order fulfillment process

If all the processes in your business organization run smoothly, your business can maximize its profits. Even if you already have an order fulfillment process, you must verify whether it is running efficiently. An optimized process can prevent damages and losses to the enterprise. The following steps should be followed for a well run order fulfillment process:

Step 1: Receive inventory

Every order fulfillment process starts with the receipt of inventory. The warehouse receives goods from the supplier. Goods received should be accounted for and adequately documented. The quantity and quality ordered should be verified. If there are any issues, concerns should be raised immediately.

As soon as the products are received and found satisfactory, identification codes, such as barcodes and QR codes, used by the company should be assigned to them. Identification codes allow the company to track these items and get information on them quickly.

Step 2: Racking the inventory

Some items need specific storage conditions, like lower temperatures, dry conditions, or sunlight exposure. All the items should be sorted and stored under the required conditions immediately to prevent deterioration.

Moreover, the goods should be arranged to reduce the space they take up in the warehouse. The storage location should be based on the frequency at which the items need to be moved from the warehouse.

Step 3: Receive orders

For receiving the order, it should be determined whether the company owns the stock and the time it would take to arrange the items. When a customer places an order, they should be informed about the expected delivery date and other delivery conditions based on the availability of the products. The company sends the confirmation of the order to the customer.

Step 4: Process the order

If you have inventory management software installed, the order fulfillment process is much simpler. It can automatically determine which warehouse or fulfilling station should be sent the order based on

  • the delivery location,
  • the warehouse location, and
  • the quantity of the goods ordered.

The order should be accounted for and passed to the relevant warehouse manager for further processing.

Step 5: Pick the order

Once the warehouse receives the order, the staff will start picking the items for that order. Picking means separating the items ordered from the warehouse inventory. A picking slip is used to list the items that are in the customer’s order. A picking slip can speed up the picking process and increase order fulfillment efficiency.

Typically, picking is carried out in the following manner:

  • Batch picking: The staff picks the items of several orders at once.
  • Piece picking: When one person picks one order at a time.
  • Zone picking: When every person is responsible for picking items for multiple orders from a specific part of the warehouse. The collected items are categorized into different orders for packing.

While picking the goods, the warehouse staff ensures that the products’ quality is according to the company standards. If the employee finds that some of the items have deteriorated in quality, they should contact the warehouse manager soon. The company’s reputation depends on the quality of the goods delivered to the consumer.

Step 6: Pack the order

The next step of the order fulfillment process is packing. The items should be packed in appropriate containers and wrapped in protective covering to ensure safe delivery. Delicate items must be packed separately and labeled accordingly. The containers must be sealed and a packing slip attached. The packing slip contains all the details of the order, including

  • Customer name and address,
  • Item details,
  • Payment method, and
  • Dimensions and weight of the package.

The packing slip should contain information on whether the delivery person is supposed to collect any amount for the delivery.

Step 7: Ship the order

A company has several options to ship the goods. They can ship the order themselves, use an agency to ship it for them, or ask the supplier to ship the goods directly to the customer (dropshipping). Except for when a company chooses dropshipping, it has to prepare the goods for dispatch. The company hands over the packed goods to the shipping partner.

The customer is informed that the goods are shipped and receive the tracking number. The company also has a tracking number to determine when and where the packet arrives.

Step 8: Deliver the order

The order is delivered to the customer. Typically, automation allows the company to notify the customers that their order has been fulfilled. Delivering the goods on time can boost the company’s reputation. The customer can communicate delivery preferences to the company, such as having their parcel left with a neighbor or changing the delivery timing for convenience.

Delivery is usually followed with customer feedback about the product and delivery experience. If the customer is happy, the fulfillment process is complete. If not, the customer initiates a return.

Step 9: Process the return

The company must handle the return of goods if the customer is unsatisfied with the products. It must arrange the return pickup and delivery. It is a crucial part of the ecommerce experience.


In a nutshell

In-person fulfillment doesn’t involve the complexity of the ecommerce fulfillment process, and therefore, the latter needs more attention. We have discussed the nine steps necessary for an efficient fulfillment process for ecommerce sales. Every company in ecommerce must audit their steps for optimization, and if they find some issue, they must resolve it immediately. This will increase the profitability of the company.

You can request a demo with our experts to learn how Cin7 can help you fulfill your ecommerce orders.

Are you considering EDI software for your business?

If you are a business owner, you must communicate with other organizations, including your suppliers, customers, and stakeholders. Communicating in an old-fashioned way using a ton of paper is slower, less secure, and less efficient. With the world moving towards digitalization, business communication should also be digitized. This will not only improve the speed, security, and efficiency of communication but will also leave a legitimate document trail for future reference. So, if you are considering EDI software for your business, you are in the right place.

The electronic format for these basic business exchanges is called Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI.


What is EDI?

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is an automated system that puts documents like invoices, shipping bills, purchase orders, and payment confirmations into a standard digital format that can be read by both the senders’ and recipients’ servers and transfers the files directly from one business’s computer network to another.


What are the benefits of EDI?

Instantaneous communications

When you’re ranking the advantages an EDI system can provide you with, speed probably comes out on top. EDI-generated documents go from being produced to the intended destination in practically the blink of an eye. The automated system saves time, and as a consequence, money.

Greater efficiency

EDI streamlines and improves the tasks it takes care of. It also sharply decreases human intervention to make the whole process of sending and receiving documents much more efficient. What’s more, it’s the level of efficiency in communication that impacts all the other areas of an organization. With EDI, employees can do other things, like focus on activities that will grow the company; communication gaps become virtually nonexistent; and more business can be generated.


Most companies that have not yet automated their business management systems, use basic spreadsheets, like Excel and Google sheets to maintain inventory records. Documents are sent to various stakeholders via emails or printed hard copies. Although this method is cheaper and simpler in some ways, it has its drawbacks.

Inventory management software, like Cin7, can offer EDI benefits by securely transporting the required data to other networks using standardized and encrypted methods. Cin7 also builds two-way connections and our experts carry out compliance testing for you.


Climate change isn’t something that can be ignored anymore, and any steps taken to mitigate it count. EDI can be considered one of those steps. It cuts paper use to practically zero since it does away with the need for mail or transport systems to get documentation from one company to another. This reduces the carbon footprint of the organization significantly and contributes to making it more sustainable.


How does EDI work?

Put very simply, a document is first put into a digital format that makes it readable by another computer system; then it’s converted into a format that will actually get it to the other computer system.

Step 1 – making documents readable:

One company might conduct business in one currency, another might use a different one; similarly, measurement systems may differ – metric vs. imperial. EDI overcomes this by giving documents a standardized format that creates uniformity. While there are several of these  formats, the rules they adhere to are recognized globally.

Called EDI standards, these formats are:

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI): ANSI defines the standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States.
  • United Nations/Electronic data interchange for administration, commerce, and transport (UN/EDIFACT): UN/EDIFACT is a standard developed for the United Nations and approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as ISO 9735. It provides syntax rules for data structure, standardized message format between multiple countries and industries, and interactive exchange protocol (I-EDI).
  • Trading data communication standard (TRADACOMS): TRADACOMS is an older UK standard that is on the brink of being obsolete today. However, it is still in use in the UK.
  • Electronic business extensible markup language (ebXML): ebXML is an exhaustive standard for secure business communication. After a couple of upgrades, ebXML is presently in its 3.0 version.

Sometimes, of course, the company sending a document may use a different standard than the one receiving it. For cases like that there’s EDI translator software. This puts the document into an EDI standard that allows it to be transmitted; the computer that receives it is able to convert it into the format it uses and recognizes.

EDI follows an envelope structure. Rather like paper envelopes, this structuring of the data puts one piece of information inside another. A design that has security in mind, the outer envelope shows the sender and receiver along with general information about what’s inside.

Typically, there are three types of envelopes: interchange, functional group, and transaction set. The first contains several documents; the second several of the same type of document, like associated invoices; and the third has something transactional inside.

Step 2 – Getting one computer system to speak to another

This is done with what’s called EDI protocols. The most popular of these protocols are:

  •  SFTP – secure file transfer protocol
  •  SOAP – simple object access protocol
  •  AS2 – applicability statement 2

For the interchange to work, both systems have to use the same protocol.


Transmitting documents with EDI

EDI uses the Internet to transmit documents. It does this in two basic ways:

  • Direct connection: This is a point-to-point connection. Put simply, a document goes from a computer in one company to a computer in another. The secure protocols described above are in place during this.
  • Value-added network (VAN):  VAN is a third-party intermediary, an EDI broker that converts the original document into EDI data and then routes it to the receiver. Again, a secure protocol is used.


How to make your business EDI compliant

In essence, this means adopting an EDI system that lets you communicate digitally with your trading partners. Trading partners include all the organizations you exchange data and documents with: your suppliers, customers, and contractors. Many large corporations have specific EDI requirements for their trading partners, and if you want to do business with them, you’re going to have to comply.

Did you know Cin7 inventory management software is equipped with built-in EDI that’s EDIFACT and X12 of ANSI compatible?


To sum it all up…

If you are considering EDI software for your business, you are not alone. When you’re aware of the speed, efficiency, transparency, and security digital gives you, you’ll wonder what took you so long to convert.

Cin7 can be the right stepping stone for you. Book a call with one of our experts by clicking here.




Application integration and the significance it has for inventory management software

In today’s automated world, retail and manufacturing companies control their business processes with several different software applications, each of which performs a specific function. For instance, there are applications for accounting, supply chain management (SCM), and inventory management (IMS). While they’re separate and perform their own clearly defined tasks, it’s vitally important for them to communicate with each other and for the data they use to be passed between them. Simply put: If your SCM can’t pass its data on to your IMS, information about your stock would have to be input manually.

When these different applications are able to communicate, you have application integration.


Different ways application integration can be performed

Application integration sounds simple enough, but there are four basic ways it can take place.

Data level integration

Called data level integration, this method puts the data stored in each application into a single, separate database. This separate database is called an enterprise database or an enterprise database repository. To create this centralized system, the data stored in each individual application are extracted, cleansed, and reformatted to be consistent with whatever standard the enterprise database uses. From that point, individual applications can tap into the central system to get the data it needs.

This method is the lowest-cost application integration due to the minimal amount of programming needed to set it up and the speed with which that can be done. Data level integration only takes the data an application stores, not the coding of the application itself.

Application interface level

Known as application interface level, this method doesn’t have a centralized database that stores everything. Instead, data extracted from one application are converted into a standardized format and then loaded directly onto the target application. Hence, application to application.

Application interface level is currently the most popular method for data sharing because most application codes now provide interfaces. Cin7’s IMS, for instance, offers over 700 integrations, and new integrations are being added regularly.

Method level

Here, it’s not data that are shared, but business functions. This may sound precarious, but the actual business functions are not included in the code that’s passed along. An evolving way of exchanging data, method level is promising because it’s compatible with technologies like Java RMI, DCOM, and Cobra. A big drawback, however, is that the application code has to be changed before it can be used.

User interface

User interface (UI) is about having the different applications designed in such a way that users (human) can log on to their company’s network and bring up the data they need from any computer in the network. Application codes don’t have to be changed for this method to work  – a factor that makes the cost minimal – but that also gives it less flexibility.

Benefits of application integration for inventory management software

When it comes to inventory management, application integration is essential. Having the ability to input data from other applications into IMS software or passing the data it stores into another system, and being able to do so accurately and quickly, is vital to business operations. The benefits are:

Inventory optimization

Inventory optimization, or having the right amount of inventory, means carrying enough to fill orders and prevent stockouts, while not having too much of it.

If your inventory management software is integrated with accounting and ecommerce applications, you’ll have a clear idea of the quantity of items you should be warehousing as well as information about which actual items you should stock. You’ll also be alerted when you need to reorder.  This means less worry about overstocking or understocking.

Making good financial decisions

Information about how well certain goods have sold in the past and predictions about how well they’re expected to do going forward informs decisions that are made in the present. In order to get this information, reports and forecasts have to be accessed from several applications in real time.

When this information is available to IMS systems, better decisions can be made about which stock to carry. Additionally, application integration with a variety of systems makes audits more accurate. You’ll be able to verify that the stock listed in your books is a real reflection of the goods you have in storage, and you’ll have complete information about items that are in transit.


Types of integrations available on Cin7

There are more than 700 integrations in Cin7’s software, but they can be categorized into the following business operations:

Accounting apps

Accounting software records and manages your financial transactions, everything from purchases and sales to operating costs and payroll. Cin7’s system can integrate popular accounting software like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and QuickBooks.

Ecommerce platforms

Cin7 can integrate with ecommerce platforms that include Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, and others. If you’re selling through any one of them, IMS integration will give you oversight and let you know how your sales are going. If you’re selling items through more than one of these ecommerce platforms, Cin7 will allow you to integrate their data and accounts into a single platform on your system.

EDI retailers

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is the system through which documents like invoices and purchase orders are transferred electronically. There are several electronic standards to choose from for these exchanges, but whichever one is used, both sender and receiver have to be using the same one. Cin7 can facilitate most of them. Some larger retailers like Scheels, Sears, Sephora and Walmart have their own EDI systems, and Cin7 can be synced with them also.

EDI suppliers

EDI suppliers are organizations that provide EDI-compatible solutions and technologies to other companies. Two of the leading suppliers are Synnex and Tech Data, and Cin7 can integrate seamlessly with both.


If the website you’re selling your goods through is charging you commission for each sale, you’re on a marketplace. Marketplaces are a good way to get your product out and make a name for yourself, especially if you have a new company or are small in size. To keep on top of your business in these marketplaces, you’re going to have to integrate them with your inventory management system. Cin7 can do this for all the major marketplaces, including Amazon, Etsy, Iconic, and eBay.

Payment gateways

When you sell online, you need a payment gateway to process payments. You also need to integrate this payment gateway with your IMS. More than just getting paid for your goods, integration with your IMS streamlines their flow and ensures you have enough in stock.  To make this easy, Cin7 can integrate with payment interfaces like PayPal, Dejavoo, EVO Payments, and others.

Sales and marketing

Sales and marketing software uses technology to get your advertising to the right audience. That means customizing and posting it on social media and other pertinent sites. To facilitate this, Cin7 inventory management software integrates with Customer Relations Systems (CRMs) such as Salesforce, Mailchimp, Senter, and HubSpot.


The very nature of ecommerce involves shipping. Goods that are purchased online have to be physically transported to their buyers. If you hire a third-party to take care of this shipping, you still have to keep track of the items and maintain your records. Cin7’s software can integrate with shipping partners Shippit, GoSweetSpot, Shiptheory and many others, ensuring you’ll always have the information you need at your fingertips.

Supply chain planning

The supply chain covers every step in the fulfillment/manufacturing process from purchasing and inventory management to sales and deliveries. To organize all this in the best possible way, Cin7 integrates with supply chain planning apps like StockTrim, Streamline, and Easy Insight.

Third-party connectors

Sometimes a company uses another organization, a third party, to provide the application integration software (API) that allows different applications to speak to each other. To enable this, Cin7 can communicate with Syncware, Hyperspace HQ, and Pipe17.

Third-party logistics

Logistics is the physical act of moving items and people from one area of a business to another. If you’re parceling out your warehousing and transportation to another company, you’re using third-party, or 3PL logistics. Some of the companies that provide 3PL include JAS, JD Smith, Quiet Logistics, and Ship Depot. Cin7 lets you integrate your systems with any one of them.


Winding up

In summary, application integration refers to the process of connecting two or more applications so that the data each holds can be exchanged. When it comes to IMS systems, this ability to share data makes the entire inventory side of the business operate efficiently, and ensures that there’s enough of it all times in the right quantities.

Cin7’s inventory management software lets you integrate with all the relevant apps, making sure you have all the information you need to keep your inventory at optimum levels.

If you want to learn more about Cin7, book a demo by clicking here.

Everything you need to know to prevent deadstock from accumulating

It’s common practice for retailers to have a bit more inventory than they think they’ll need. It’s for contingency, and it’s called safety stock. The reason for doing it is sound: it means never having to turn a customer away.

But sometimes miscalculations are made. Items may go out of style or something in the market may change. Either one of these instances will result in a business being stuck with the extra inventory, and when that happens the goods turn from safety stock to deadstock.

In this blog, we’re going to look at deadstock in detail – how you end up with it, how to deal with it, and how to avoid prevent deadstock in the first place.


Deadstock – the definition

If you have inventory in stock that’s been gathering dust on a warehouse shelf for a long time, you’re holding deadstock. It’s stuff you can’t sell and are probably never going to sell.


How good stock becomes deadstock

1. Not enough demand

An item was selling like hotcakes before it wasn’t, or items you thought would do well didn’t. Alternatively, outside forces like extreme weather or a downturn in the economy could have impacted your sales.

2. Too much competition

You’ve stocked up on the same products that everyone else has. Maybe you’re a small player that can’t beat the prices of larger competitors, or maybe the market has become too flooded with those particular items.

3. Slow reactions to the market

You waited too long to react to slow sales and didn’t offer discounts when you should have.

4. Not getting customer input/not doing research

Someone didn’t put enough effort into getting feedback from your customer base through methods like emails or online reviews, so you weren’t aware of the kind of products customers wanted to buy.

5. Low-quality products

Some of your products were of low quality, customers were not happy, and they returned them. Or maybe the low quality resulted in bad word of mouth.

6. Predictions weren’t right

Maybe data and research told you that particular items would be good sellers, but the information didn’t take everything into account.


Good reasons to do something about deadstock

Deadstock can have negative effects on your business. Here are a few of them:

  • It occupies space you can and should be using for items that move.
  • It stops you from buying new items.
  • It ties up your cash flow – money you could to buy more popular products.
  • It increases your warehouse costs, like cost for employees and storage space.


Ways to prevent deadstock

If you’re in the business of sales, you know that getting inventory planning right is important. What to order, when to order, how much to order, the list goes on. If you get any of these areas wrong, you’re in danger of ending up with deadstock. It can happen to anyone, but there are steps that can be taken to make it less likely.

1. Invest in inventory management software.

Ditch your spreadsheets. They’re not only old school, they’re time consuming and prone to error. Automating your buying decisions with the data inventory management software (IMS) gives you is efficient and much more accurate.

The precise data, reports, and advanced analytics you get from IMS software does more than help you identify best-selling items, it will also separate out those that aren’t selling quickly. When you have that information, abra cadabra, no more deadstock.

2. Improve your forecasting.

Product forecasting analyzes competitors, works out pricing strategies, studies market trends, and “learns” customer preferences. Put together, this information gives you an invaluable forecast on your market, and when you have this information, you’re much more likely to acquire inventory that’s going to sell.

3. Use your buyback option.

If you have an agreement that allows you to sell unsold items back to the supplier, this is a good time to use it. If you don’t have such an agreement in place, try to get one. Of course, you should always check to see if buyback is even an option during early negotiations with your suppliers.

Keep in mind that those manufacturers and suppliers that do offer buyback are usually the more reputable ones, and that the products they handle are usually high quality.


How do you get rid of deadstock?

If you do find yourself saddled with things you can’t sell at their standard price, there are things you can do:

1. Have a clearance sale.

This is the time-honored method for reducing unsold stock. You don’t want these goods tying up your storage space for years, so anything that has been hanging around for six months should be discounted. You could start this at 20% off and increase that amount if you have to.

Advertising clearance sales and other discounts on your website and social media is the best way to get the word out. Sending emails about the event to your mailing list should also get good results. And depending on the size of your company and the market you operate in, you could consider investing in local radio and television advertising.

While this strategy should help you clear out a lot of deadstock, it’s still way better to avoid having it in the first place. If bad inventory management has been the cause, it’s time you consider a good automated inventory management system like Cin7.

2. Take advantage of the fear of missing out.

There is a marketing term called “Fear of Missing Out.” It’s about creating a sense of urgency in shoppers, letting them think that if they don’t buy something right there and then, they’ll be missing out.

Marketing strategies for this usually boil down to putting limits on offers. These could be in the form of an end date to a sale, or letting customers know that there’s only a limited number of items on offer. In other words, you could advertise an “end of sale by Thursday,” or “50% off this week only,” or offer “last (x number) of products left.”

When it comes to presenting deadstock as a deal in this way, the underlying point is that you’re appealing to customers who are more interested in getting a bargain than the product. That doesn’t matter, though; you’ll still be offloading your old, otherwise unwanted, goods.

3. Bundle.

This option is about grouping similar products together and offering them at a special price.

By using this technique, you could combine something in your deadstock with top-selling items. You won’t get top-dollar for everything, but you will greatly minimize your losses.


Wrapping up

Deadstock is a drag in more ways than one, and it’s important to minimize it. Technology is the best and most reliable way of doing this. So why not invest in a robust inventory management system like Cin7?

Cin7 inventory management software is an ideal choice for businesses of any size.  By automating workflows and stock levels in real time, you’ll always know what you have and can ensure you’re stocking the right amount of the right product. That means an end to deadstock. And if that’s not enough to streamline your business and improve your bottom line, the software also connects all your storage locations and marketplaces – online and offline – into one system.

If you’d like to know more, contact our Cin7 team and arrange a demo today.