What fashion retailers can learn from H&M

Fashion trends come and go — and more fashion retailers should take advantage of them. Most companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their business each year, often using the same strategy over and over again. The truth is that, without experimentation, these businesses are losing out on a plethora of opportunities that come from innovation. This is one of the many things that fashion retailers can learn from H&M.

Factors that determine the success of an online fashion store

Buying fashion online is a different experience than buying from a mall or department store. Considering this, online business owners need to be able to attract, engage, and satisfy potential consumers who might be more comfortable buying offline.

H&M builds trust with customers

Online shopping is quick and easy, but many retailers find it difficult to create trust among potential customers. It can be difficult to discern fabric quality, color, texture of the clothing you’re buying — especially when compared to trying clothes on when you shop in person. H&M is able to build trust online, which is one of the reasons why they remain successful.

Background

H&M’s first store opened in Sweden in 1947, and today there are over 4,000 stores in 62 different markets including Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North and South America, and Europe.

H&M offers basics for men, women, and teenagers. However, they’re also known for offering “fast fashion” clothing collections from popular names including fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, pop star Madonna, Italian designer Robert Cavalli, and Japanese Vogue editor Anna Dello Russo. Here’s what fashion retailers can learn from H&M:

Leveraging influencers and fashion shows

Buying clothing online requires that customers both trust and accept your eCommerce brand. A good example is this H&M Image gallery, which showcases H&M’s collection through events and fashion shows that are picked by key influencers in the fashion world.

Connecting your brand and products with local fashion shows and events can make your brand stand out to consumers who already shop for clothing online. You can also collaborate with local fashion brands that are known throughout your community to get a boost, too.

Leveraging great content marketing strategy

Using social media to promote your brand and products helps build your audience. However, the way you market your products and styles determines your customer base. H&M Magazine is a good example of content marketing that keeps customers updated with fashion, beauty, and cultural tips and trends.

A good content marketing strategy will intrigue your audience and make consumers spend more time on your site. It allows them to stay informed about your brand and products, and ultimately pushes them to spend more time and money on your eCommerce site.

Having an international presence

Marketing is essential for creating your audience. So, how can you generate excitement about your brand?

H&M Stores allows customers to gain access to deals and announcements from all over the world. For example, H&M India’s site just announced the grand opening of their Mumbai store and promoted steep discounts for early shoppers. Specials and press like this encourages fashion-forward shoppers to take notice of your store.

Selling across multiple online channels increases your sales; however, creating a buzz about your brand can enhance your visibility among potential audiences — both domestically and internationally.

Guiding your customers

With so many options available, online shopping can be overwhelming for many people. Giving your customers the opportunity to learn about your products can be a great way to increase site traffic and generate brand awareness.

H&M Editor’s Picks gives consumers the chance to learn about a mix of relevant product combinations. It also helps guide them to make informed decisions when shopping online.

Having a dedicated magazine or “editor’s pick” selection not only educates your customers, it gives them a chance to see products they might not have considered before. These guides are a great way to boost sales and make a name for your eCommerce brand.

Making customers feel secure

Consumers who shop online want to feel secure about their purchases. Giving your customers information about your brand’s reliability can help eliminate any second thoughts, and have them feeling good about buying clothing from your store.

H&M customer service also ensures consumers feel secure by answering any and all pre-purchasing questions. These include details about returns, payment, size-guides, contact information, product, and fabric quality.

Having a knowledge base like an FAQ goes a long way in making customers feel safe, secure, and confident when purchasing from your site.

Partnering for good causes

In addition to clothing, H&M also participates in campaigns that add value by aligning with causes that people care about.

For example, H&M partners with the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) to be a leading water steward in the industry, does good work for animal protection, and makes cotton from more sustainable sources. All of these campaigns endear H&M to its customer base and help inspire brand loyalty. It also has the chance to expose your brand to audiences who might not have heard of you.

The importance of inventory and order management software

As you can see, there are many ways to look at H&M as a source of inspiration. As you implement these tactics, it’s important to measure where you are now, and what changes happen as a result of your efforts. That’s where having the ability to track your customer’s shopping behavior becomes extremely important. If you know your brand and audience, it’s just a matter of time before you match the correct audience with the correct products. Get a demo of Cin7’s inventory and order management software today.

Why denim retailers need better order mgm

Denim retailers and the importance of order management systems

The global fashion market is worth over $3 trillion dollars, and 2% of that market is made up of denim retailers. Massive denim companies like Levi Strauss & Co. have recently realized they could be saving huge amounts of money with better order management software  — so they’ve decided to upgrade. Here’s why great order management software makes a massive difference for denim retailers — and why it might make a massive difference for your company, too.

Understanding top denim companies’ market value

What’s the market value of Levi’s and others, and what kind of sales are they doing? Let’s explore the top 5 denim companies in the world:

  • Levi’s
    • Market Value: USD $7.6 billion
    • Sales: USD $4.75 billion
  • DIESEL
    • Market Value: USD $4.4 billion
    • Sales: USD $2.1 billion
  • GStar Raw
    • Market Value: USD 1.65 billion (market value) –
    • Sales: USD 810 million (sales)
  • Pepe Jeans
    • Market Value: USD $1.1 billion
    • Sales: USD $575 million
  • True Religion
    • Market Value: USD $925 million
    • Sales: USD $470 million

 

With these kinds of numbers, even the smallest inefficiencies can make a huge difference. Let’s see why Levi’s might have decided to make a change in their order management systems.

Analyzing the denim fabric market through 2025

Let’s take a look at some numbers, according to the Global Denim Market Report:

 “The global consumption of denim fabric increased from 5.5 billion meters in 2012 to 6.6 billion meters in 2016, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of more than 4.77%. In 2016, the global denim fabric market was led by China, India, Europe, and North America. Today, the major manufacturers of denim fabric are concentrated in China and India.

In terms of volume, the global denim fabric market moved 6.6 billion meters in 2016 and is predicted to reach 9.1 billion meters in 2023, with a CAGR of 4.7% from 2016 to 2023.

Denim fabric is used in various types of clothing, household items, cowboy accessories, and more. However, the global denim fabric market is mainly driven by a growing demand for clothing. 

The global denim fabric market was valued at $19.7 billion in 2017 and will reach $25.4 billion by the end of 2025, growing at a CAGR of 3.2% during 2019-2025.”

The key suppliers of denim who are associated with denim giants like Levi Strauss & Co. are from all around the globe. Here’s a list of some of the biggest ones:

  • Vicunha, Canatiba, Isko, Arvind, Aarvee, Nandan Denim Ltd, Santana Textiles, Weiqiao Textile, Partap Group, Black Peony, Orta Anadolu, Jindal Worldwide, Etco Denim, Raymond UCO, Bhaskar Industries, Sangam, Oswal Denims, Suryalakshmi, Xinlan Group, Artistic Fabric Mills, Foshan Seazon Textile and Garment, Cone Denim, Zhejiang Sitong Textile Fashion, Weifang Lantian Textile, Bafang Fabric, and KG Denim.

Since these companies are from all over the world, it’s important that the supply management system of these retailers remains resilient. With so many players, and such massive quantities, it’s very important to be as precise and transparent as possible.

On top of that, denim retailers also divide fabric into multiple categories: light denim fabric, medium denim fabric, and heavy denim fabric. This means that order management systems need to help keep track of product type, product development stage, and varying processing techniques. So, how do these companies keep track of all kinds of stock levels, replenish their warehouses in a timely fashion, and make sure everything runs smoothly? That’s where fantastic order management software is extremely beneficial. 

Reducing waste with textile circularity

Historically, fashion companies have been very wasteful. Recently, Levi Strauss & Co., along with many other large denim companies, have started to emphasize sustainability. Concepts like textile circularity cut down on waste by using recycled materials.

The term ‘textile circularity’ is closely related to “circular economy” – where inefficiencies and waste are greatly reduced. Essentially, textile circularity allows denim to be reused, giving clothing a ‘second life’. However, In order to have true textile circularity, it’s very important to be organized. Once again, that’s where great record keeping and fantastic order management software is necessary.

So, why did Levi Strauss & Co. switch management systems?

“The previous order management system for Levi’s was reducing the company’s customer service options. The limitations of the system meant that Levi’s often couldn’t help a customer until post-shipment, which is potentially problematic for customers that wanted to alter their order or payment before it shipped,” says Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful.

Steiner further added, “With the need to reach global markets, Levi’s needed a system that would allow for global integration. Third-party retailers, distributors, and shipping companies needed to be compatible with Levi’s in order to address their fulfillment needs.”

What order management software did Levi’s choose?

Ultimately, Levi’s chose an order management software called Manhattan, Still, however, there are many questions as to whether this software will be able to fulfill their requirements. Manhattan doesn’t offer as many features as Cin7, and they also don’t offer a free trial — so it would be hard to tell whether or not it would be the right order management software for you.

With Cin7, you can add automation to your most complicated processes and seamlessly operate your online selling business. We offer real-time updates and order synchronizations — so you’ll always have precise and actionable data at your fingertips. Plus, we provide a number of vital integrations (shipping, orders, supply chain, accounting, customer support, etc.) to make sure everyone in your company is always on the same page.

Should Levi’s have gone with Cin7? We might be biased, but we definitely think so! Get a demo of Cin7 today and see how a partnership with us can help save you money, time, and effort.

Sell more with unified commerce

Product sellers who have reached a high level of success and are still bogged down by manual processes need to adopt a unified commerce software solution that allows them to interconnect each critical aspect of their operation. Many of the 8,000 product sellers we work with here at Cin7 have experienced explosive growth since the start of the pandemic made online shopping a necessity.

Often, these companies find their reliance on manual stock counts and data entry has become unsustainable and increasingly prone to human error. We find that when a company begins searching for IT help to modernize their software stack to keep up with their growth, they’re ready for the power of unified commerce.

Cin7 provides a unified commerce solution like no other on the market today. Cin7’s all-in-one unified commerce solution automates all your workflows – how and where you sell, how you manage all your inventory, how you fulfill orders and how you manage your finances.

Bring critical business functions together

Adopting and paying for disparate software programs to manage individual business needs is certainly one approach to consider, but leads to the “swivel chair” approach of having to toggle between accounting programs, spreadsheets, ecommerce backends and shipping applications. It may seem like progress, but this approach is costly in both monthly fees and staffing resources.

By bringing all of your business functions together, across sales and operations in a unified and automated workflow, Cin7 helps sell to more customers through more sales channels and process more orders – more efficiently and faster than ever before.

How unified commerce creates a top sales operation

Here’s a scenario that illustrates the concept of unified commerce:

Your company sells products to consumers both online and in brick-and-mortar locations. You also have a healthy wholesale distribution division that sells in bulk to major retailers. Over time you’ve grown to 3 branded online marketplaces, Amazon, Walmart and Ebay, 4 custom ecommerce sites and 10 physical store locations.

Adopting an end-to-end software solution that connects to marketplaces and enables you to manage your ecommerce sites combined with overall inventory management and sales tracking will streamline your operations and save thousands with the efficiencies it creates. The solution should allow you to track store inventory, transfer orders to other locations, ship orders from your stores and warehouses, and manage customer loyalty programs.

It should also let you work with the third party logistics provider (3PL) you have contracted with to manage your warehouse operations, fulfill orders, and process returns.

Because you are a fashion retailer, and fast changing trends dictate what products are popular at the moment, you require real time sales performance analysis so you are not tying up too much capital in overstocked inventory.

Unified commerce brings together all aspects of a product seller’s business. When orders are placed, either by consumers or in bulk by major retailers, transactions are automatically recorded to accounting programs like QuickBooks and corresponding adjustments are made to inventory quantities. Ongoing management of each sales outlet is maintained within the Cin7 platform.

Workflow automation is a key benefit of unified commerce. Purchase orders can be set to generate when stock levels hit a predetermined threshold. Wholesale orders can be placed directly into your system by major retailers who have established an EDI connection with you. The fulfillment process is triggered automatically, sending orders to your 3PL. Stock can be shifted from one warehouse or store location to another. A dedicated payment portal is also provided so wholesale customers can easily keep their account current.

Perhaps most importantly, the customizable analytics reporting capabilities of Cin7 give management visibility into real time, accurate financial data both in dashboard views and pivot-table ready reports.

Our research conclusively confirms that product sellers thrive, grow sales, and reduce costs when they adopt a modern tech stack with a cloud-based inventory management solution that embraces the unified commerce approach to selling.

A complete selling solution

Product sellers that capitalize on unified commerce, a holistic solution that interconnects every critical business process across sales and operations, realize several benefits:

  • Sync sales, accounting and inventory control in real time
  • Design branded B2C and B2B websites to sell to consumers and major retailers
  • Completely integrate your Shopify site and your retail location with included POS app
  • Set order thresholds to automate purchase orders when stock runs low
  • Refer to sales dashboards or customize demand forecast reports
  • Assign orders to your 3PL for accurate fulfillment and shipping
  • Maintain a modern cloud-based tech stack
  • Maximize warehouse space
  • Cut overhead and keep headcount trimmed
  • Quickly process invoices and payments from wholesale customers

About Cin7

Cin7 helps over 8,000 product sellers benefit from unified commerce to move more orders with greater accuracy to more satisfied buyers. Efficiencies created by unified commerce save on overhead and provide a great customer experience. Cin7 simplifies your ability to sell by bringing together over 700 established connections with online marketplaces, major retailers, shippers, third party logistics providers and accounting programs. At a fraction of the monthly subscription fee for a bloated ERP solution, Cin7 delivers all of the key functionality a modern product seller requires.

Gain the unified commerce advantage over your competitors. Request a Cin7 product demo and get unified.

Pure Commerce share four secrets that helped their clients achieve record growth in tough market conditions

  1. DEAR isn’t just for sorting your inventory or modernizing your business: it helps you keep your approach flexible

  2. You can afford your own, fully-customized, fully-integrated ERP (if it’s DEAR)

  3. Any product business can benefit from DEAR

  4. A great implementation partner will let you outsource the back-office

“We actually started out as a DEAR customer,” says Filipe Nicolau, owner and founder of Pure Commerce. “We were responsible for changing the entire inventory management process for a clothing company and taking the business online — and DEAR was the go-to choice of ERP. We took that knowledge, and started a business around eCommerce inventory management systems and ERPs, and DEAR was a natural fit.”

Pure Commerce is a DEAR implementation partner and digital agency that specialize in solutions for eCommerce businesses. Filipe has been helping businesses both large and small implement DEAR for a long time now, and he’s happy to recommend the software to product businesses of all kinds.

“DEAR is a.) user friendly and b.) well plugged into eCommerce titans like Shopify,” Filipe says. “Compared to competitors, it’s a tenth of the price, and yet it does everything you need it to do.”

No matter how big your company gets, DEAR can scale to meet your needs.

Clients range from blue-chip companies in South Africa that are running giant warehouses and massive eCommerce stores, to mid-market businesses with five or six shops, all the way to people with just one or sometimes no store,” Filipe says. What they all have in common is they need a proper system to function like an ERP and manage inventory for their eCommerce sites.

“Because of DEAR’s price tiers, the smaller businesses can purchase it just as easily as the blue-chip companies. It’s accessible to all our customers. And no matter what we throw at DEAR, it just keeps being able to do it.”

Any product business can benefit from DEAR

The industry you’re in, says Pure Commerce, doesn’t matter too much: so long as your business is moving product, it can benefit from DEAR.

“We’ve got clients in the clothing sector, in manufacturing, in pottery, in health and wellness — all running DEAR.”

The first benefit of DEAR for many customers is simply being able to tell where all their inventory is. But once that’s established, customers find their other requirements or pain points are taken care of as well.

“When we first started, we used DEAR just to run a warehouse — purely ERP, stock management, goods in and goods out. Not even for financials, just to track stock. That was it,” Filipe says. “But with our business expertise and the functionality offered by DEAR, we can create any system a customer requires.”

Customers find DEAR helpful for syncing inventory through to finances, using programs like QuickBooks Online or Xero, and adding inventory capability to eCommerce platforms like Shopify. They use it for manufacturing, retail Point of Sale (POS) and expanding sales channels, making it easy to add a D2C channel to a B2B business, or vice versa.

“DEAR’s B2B portal is, for a lot of our customers, something they find themselves wanting to add, and it’s super easy to implement,” Filipe says.

Pure Commerce tends to stay away from the accounting and bookkeeping side of things. Their job is to make sure the business elements are all connected up, and they make sure their customers are connected with great accounting teams who know how to make inventory systems work well with financial systems of record.

Get an implementation partner that allows you to outsource the back-office

“A lot of our customers come to us saying they don’t know where to start. They’re starting a business from scratch. Well, we’ve done that ourselves! So we give them a full implementation, top to bottom, and in a lot of cases, it’s really saved their bacon. One client was a clothing company — we helped them get online, and they’re now running an online store and just launching their third physical store.”

For these companies, Pure Commerce functions essentially as an outsourced back office.

“We act as their support team for all things, not only eCommerce, but everything related to DEAR, to the operational side of the business. We’re their go-to.”

Pure Commerce have had great successes among their clients, with a number taken from operating entirely using pen-and-paper to DEAR Systems, using a full modern ERP and software app stack.

“We’ve had companies who were in the dark ages. Now they’re walking around with tablets managing production lines and things like that,” Filipe says.

Other success stories include a blue-chip company that started 2019 with barely any online presence and thousands of physical stores — and we all know what happened next. The Covid-19 pandemic hit, the company was forced to close all its stores.

“We had the CEO call and say ‘Listen, you need to save our bacon. We need to be fully online in a minimum of four months,’” Filipe says. “We launched them all online with one DEAR ERP and stock management system. There’s a massive warehouse in Cape Town, five stories high, that’s running all the company’s brands, all on DEAR. DEAR is keeping track of everything and feeding each brand’s website with inventory information.”

The changes Pure Commerce and DEAR have brought have had huge effects on the company. “It’s definitely changed their lives. They’ve never looked back — they’re pumping out products online and they’re growing day by day,” Filipe says.

DEAR offers incredible opportunities for new directions — for both product companies and their advisors

A lot of consulting companies would be thrilled to find themselves in the same position as Pure Commerce. They have a steady business and happy clients, and over the period of turmoil wrought by Covid-19 they’ve found themselves busier than ever. But they’re not stopping there. Their experience with DEAR means they can now branch out in exciting new directions, quite different to what you’d normally expect from a self-described “outsourced back-office.”

“Last year we used DEAR to launch our own Pure Commerce third-party logistics warehouse,” Filipe says. “A lot of clients don’t have warehousing, so we offer the ability to keep their stock in ours. We have our own DEAR account, which plugs into the client’s Shopify sites, and we pull the orders through to the warehouse. We pick, pack and ship on their behalf.”

All this activity is supporting the growth of Pure Commerce’s clients, as well as Pure Commerce itself. In the last three years, they’ve quadrupled their business. “And it’s primarily due to lockdown, to the pandemic. Everyone has realized that they need to be online,” Filipe says.

You can afford your own custom ERP — if it’s DEAR

Pure Commerce says that any product company can benefit from the features DEAR offers, but the features aren’t the only factor that decision-makers weigh up when considering an inventory management system. The price is also hugely important — but here, too, DEAR is beating the competition.

“The value for money you get from DEAR is amazing. You can get a B2B portal, you can run your POS, your sales channels, integrate into Amazon or pretty much anything else, integrate your accounting systems,” Filipe says.

“It’s a cost-effective system, a one-stop shop that gives customers an ERP and that allows Experts to solve pretty much all your customers’ problems with one system. The unique thing about DEAR is it can be for selling anything — from potatoes, to clothing, to pottery. That’s why it appeals to such a wide range of implementation partners and customers.”

About Pure Commerce

Pure Commerce is a DEAR implementation partner and digital agency that specialize in solutions for eCommerce businesses. Here, they explain how product companies can benefit from implementing DEAR — and the right implementation partner.

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory management community. No matter what kind of product business you’re running, where you’re located, or what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a Cin7 Expert on DEAR who can help you achieve your ambition while saving your money and time.

Cin7 study: Inflation fears causing consumers to change purchasing habits

Global crises and ongoing macroeconomic factors like supply chain disruptions, supply shortages, and the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact consumers around the world.

With many unknowns still up in the air, fears and tensions are growing among consumers as prices of goods rise and threats of continued inflation loom. Are consumers concerned enough to change spending habits? If so, how will the threat of rising costs impact retailers and product sellers who have been managing challenge after challenge for more than two years?

According to a recent survey from Cin7, consumers are conclusively concerned about inflation, and they’re changing their preferences towards product sellers as a result. Their primary criterion for purchasing goods is now price by a wide margin, with the survey finding that the price of goods (45%) is the most impactful factor when choosing where to buy items, followed by quality of goods (18%), online ordering capabilities (12%), geographic location (9.5%), supporting a local or small business owner (9%) and lastly, speed of delivery (7%).

Consumer concerns and buying behavior

The vast majority of consumers (81%) state that they’re worried about inflation. Only 22% of consumers said they’re not reducing their spending right now, meaning that it’s doubly important for sellers whose products are not considered “essential” to make their value known and do everything in their power to keep demand up even when spending is being reduced.

Consumers consider buying on price in wide margins, at the expense of smaller and local product sellers and are instead gravitating towards big box retailers – with 49% stating they’d make purchases wherever is cheapest and 26% saying they’d purchase in-store from big box retailers. The survey results suggest that consumers don’t have major qualms about shopping at big box stores – and while they are still shopping online, a growing percentage of people would cut back if supply chain issues caused prices to rise.

Convenience and location matter, as 46% of respondents claim they’d purchase from locally-owned businesses if the price of goods were the same at different stores, followed by big box retailers (40%), and online from small businesses (14%). This signals trouble for online sellers as they’ll need to ensure their customers feel it’s just as simple and convenient to shop online from them, even if they can get the same product elsewhere. Otherwise, they risk losing out to local product sellers with brick and mortar presences, as well as big box retailers who have both online and in-store presences.

Buying behavior has already shifted as consumers look to reduce spending. The top two things they’re cutting back on – going out to eat at restaurants (67%) and purchasing non-essential items like clothes and toys (65%) – are not only detrimental to local and small businesses, but also signal challenging times ahead for two industries that have been hit hard during two years of the pandemic.

Adapting to shifting demand

As the price of goods increases globally and supply challenges continue, product sellers need to do everything they can to keep costs down. To do this, sellers must implement cloud-based technology to optimize operations to enable them to focus on better managing inventory and warehouse capabilities to keep up with fluctuating demand, accurately forecast and plan for the future, gain end-to-end visibility and more. This will be critical to fight the supply chain headwinds that are driving costs up and margins down.

Sellers also need to do everything they can to expand their sales channels with the help of integrated inventory and order management technologies – nearshoring product where it makes sense to get items into consumer hands quicker and outsourcing to third-party logistics (3PL) providers to compete with big box retailers who hold a lot of power in terms of addressing the warehouse and labor shortages impacting sellers today.

Find out how Cin7’s inventory and order management solution cuts operational overhead allowing you to price your products competitively. Let a Cin7 consultant show you how workflow automation and ready integrations with over 700 major retailers, online marketplaces, ecommerce sites, and 3PLs reduce costs. Request your free demo here.

New Cin7 Study: Spotting the Selling Opportunities this Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again. But for many product sellers, there’s an unexpected Grinch preventing holiday gifts from making their way to customers: the supply chain.

Supply chain delays have been making headlines for nearly two years. Starting with drastic shortages and hoarding, through the Ever Given and the backlog of container ships off the California coast, the ongoing string of bottlenecks has caused frustration for unsuspecting consumers and headaches for product sellers. There’s a mainstream perception of the supply chain as increasingly unreliable and unnecessarily expensive.

These disruptions have shaped product seller actions going into the holiday season. Sellers have embraced early Black Friday kick-offs and warning consumers to get their holiday shopping done early to avoid shipping delays and shortages. But are consumers paying attention to their advice?

According to a recent survey from Cin7, the answer is yes. We surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to help us better understand how Americans view the latest supply disruptions and their sentiment around the industry overall. The results can help guide how product sellers navigate the end of a tumultuous shopping season and adapt their inventory practices as a result.

The topline takeaways include:

They’re Shopping Earlier

58% of people are aware of supply chain delays and have shifted their shopping behavior as a result. Over half of respondents (55%) started their holiday shopping within the September/October timeframe, with only 25% of consumers waiting for the unofficial kick-off of Black Friday deals to hit before actually purchasing gifts.

But their changed behavior came with a tradeoff for product sellers to execute on their orders: while 65% of consumers expect to pay more this holiday season, 53% would return the purchase and want a refund if it didn’t arrive in time for the holidays.

They’re Shopping Local

Consumers may have moved up their shopping timetable, but the majority are still worried about shopping online. In fact, only 25% of shoppers DON’T have concerns about online shopping – the top concerns being the cost of shipping, speed of shipping and package theft.

In response, 87% of respondents are making the effort to shop local and shop at small businesses. 47% are doing so more than last year, 40% noting about the same. The majority of people (55%) are also paying attention to the location/locality of where their purchases are coming from. And 63% of people would prefer to see and touch a product in-person before buying it.

People don’t buy small and local, however, because they’re necessarily woke to Amazon or wary of big retail. Only 14% of people don’t shop at Amazon because of ethical or environmental concerns. In fact, 49% don’t have any concerns at all, and 31% have concerns but still shop on Amazon.

For product sellers, it’s critical to understand how consumer behavior is shifting this holiday shopping season. They can adapt to shifts by having a variety of channels and options to make all buying possibilities a reality for consumers. And for those consumers making more of an effort to shop small and local, product sellers must lean into this sentiment to navigate the tail end of the shopping season that has the potential to go “out with a bang” beyond Small Business Saturday.

As Product Sellers move to adapt to the “new normal” of consumer behavior and look to have continued success in the future, it is critical that they have the solution infrastructure to successfully scale their business. With more businesses taking advantage of eCommerce to expand their offering by channel and region – utilizing the right software to handle inventory and order management is crucial to an efficient multichannel operation. Adequate planning, management and execution of supply chain movements will ensure fulfillment capabilities across multiple channels and help suppliers take advantage of larger customer bases.

We’ve all been impacted by supply chain challenges, but it’s the season of good cheer after all. By diversifying inventory and changing selling strategies in response to consumer behavior, this tumultuous holiday season can still be merry and bright.

How Inventory Management Software Can Revolutionize Your Business



Managing inventory can be a challenging task for companies, especially in a volatile market like the one we’re in today. Companies need to closely monitor the flow of goods through the supply chain to avoid any potential outages.

An inventory management system is software that tracks your products as they move through the supply chain. It is a powerful tool that can give you real-time visibility into your inventory and put you in greater control.

Benefits of Inventory Management Software

Automation

One of the biggest advantages of a robust inventory management software system is that it allows you to automate mundane, repetitive and error-prone tasks. This is not to say that these tasks bear any less importance than the ones that require human intervention.

Some of the most repetitive tasks are also some of the most important ones. For example, the process of reordering items once the stock level breaches a threshold of minimum quantity is a crucial inventory management activity. And this can be easily automated with the help of inventory management software.

When you automate repetitive tasks, you’ll have a lot more time in your day for working on long- term business strategy.

Cost Savings

Running with lean inventory is a well-known way to increase your profit margins and cut down on wastage. However, companies who still manage their inventory using manual legacy processes often carry large amounts of inventory. Moreover, when they try to implement inventory control manually, they often end up severely understocking and underperforming.

In contrast to this, businesses that adopt inventory management software can be more strategic, significantly cutting down on excess inventory without having to suffer from understocking. This is due to the real-time tracking of stock and laser sharp reports and analysis that the right software solution can provide.

Accurate Reporting of Data

Data-centric decision making is a key ingredient in successfully managing inventory. Any business that wants to run on lean inventory relies heavily on accurate reporting and analysis of data collected through various channels.

The right inventory management software accumulates pertinent data and creates insightful information. Companies using powerful inventory management software can generate timely reports on the fly and make business decisions accordingly.

Happier Customers

Let’s start with production. An inventory management system provides an accurate picture of procurement and storage of raw materials and component parts for assembly. It also stores valuable information about where the finished products are stored.

When orders are placed, the software checks the inventory and updates the stock levels so that customers can be given realistic delivery timelines. When a product is about to run out of stock, the software places wholesale orders for replenishment.

When a product is returned by a customer, the software processes the product back into inventory and updates the stock levels accordingly. This saves time and energy otherwise spent on tallying inventory levels and return orders.

These are just a few examples that reflect the benefits smart companies enjoy when they adopt inventory management software to ensure great customer experiences.

Conclusion

Businesses around the world are competing against known and unknown competitors, thanks to the global supply chains taking shape. In a competitive climate such as this, every efficiency matters.

Robust inventory management software can make the difference between success and failure in business. It’s an investment with benefits that vastly outweigh the cost and one that puts you closer to the finish line by miles.

Download our report to read more in detail!

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See how Cin7 will help you increase your efficiency and sell more

One of our team will walk you through a solution, customized for your business goals.

Leveraging Technical Talent to Boost Profitability



Cornering the market with a can’t lose product line is not enough to generate profitability and ongoing growth. Today’s retailers require a highly knowledgeable staff with fresh expertise ranging across product, customer support, digital marketing, finance and IT.

Sellers must hire the right technical talent to manage their business and increase operational efficiency. Having a strong technical team will always improve the chances of success.

Our recent industry study of over 4,000 online eCommerce sellers and 7,000 Cin7 customers gave us critical insights into specific business practices of the most successful retailers.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the report chapter that focuses on the importance of technical talent. The below-graph depicts why technical talent is must for growth associated with operational efficiency.

How a company obtains, shares, and leverages business insights can significantly impact its capacity to grow.

 

How will I know when it’s time to contract with or hire technical talent?

  • Lack of growth and profitability.
  • Feeling stuck.
  • No solid business plan.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.
  • Unable to accomplish your business goals.
  • Doubting your skill-set.

If you are facing any of these challenges, then now is the right time to consult with a technology coach and benefit from their guidance.

 

How Technical Resources Can Help Increase Business Efficiency:

Identify Areas of Improvement

Hire coaches and consultants experienced in advising market leading product sellers. An experienced technical advisor can quickly identify improvements to internal processes that result in greater efficiency and profitability. Your technical stack may need additional or more modern versions of important software programs. A forward-thinking technical expert with experience in your specific market or product category can identify the common issues seen in your business and put you on track for expansion. The objective viewpoint of an impartial outsider can help isolate what’s not working for your business and suggest practical solutions.

Regain your Confidence

If an honest look inward tells you that you’ve lost confidence in your ability to manage your business, it may be time to follow the advice of a technology coach. A technology coach or technical hire will directly help you build effective strategies that put your business back on track to succeed and take it to the next level.

 

Question Your Approach

Running your business in a personal vacuum without any unbiased guidance can hold you back. Bringing in technical resources will give you perspective and reveal new options and strategies.

Hiring a technology coach will help you to move beyond the status quo by adopting current, relevant technical solutions that solve business challenges and boost operational efficiencies.

An innovative technology coach can see the bigger picture and plan for the future of your business and assist you in setting some big goals for growth.

 

Getting Unstuck

If you feel stuck – don’t worry! A skilled technical coach will help you figure out where you are stuck and how to overcome any blocks. A coach who combines experience with an analytical approach and creativity will make every effort to get your business moving forward again.

Define Business Goals

It is essential to update your business goals on a regular basis and modify your business plan accordingly. If you’re busy handling day to day business tasks, a technology coach can step in and help you refresh and prioritize your business goals. They will also help you define the tasks you should be focusing on and improve your time management skills.

Providing Accountability

If you find yourself awash in to-dos and days that fly by without a feeling of deep accomplishment, it may be time to leverage an accountability partner. In addition to defining a clear path forward for your business, touching base with a skilled technical coach on a regular basis can keep you on track to accomplish the specific business goals that will add up to greater success.

Coming up with Great Ideas

Increasing the number of people on staff who can bring creative ideas to your business will directly impact its growth. A technical team that stays current with the latest trends in software automation can streamline outdated, manual processes freeing you and your other teams up to focus on their specialties. It may be time to abandon unproductive assumptions in order to pursue more profitable priorities.

Brainstorming and Feedback Sessions

Brainstorming and feedback sessions are essential to developing better business practices. Regular sessions encourage business owners to identify new challenges and come up with solutions. Your technology coach can be your sounding board to hear your ideas and they will share their thoughts and concepts.

Well Rounded Guidance

Everybody needs guidance at some point in life. This is especially true in business. Your technical resources should be able to provide you with advice and business tips. Their input will ultimately help you grow your business and keep it on the path to success.

 

Summing Up

Keeping all these points in mind will take your business to new heights of success.

Check out these success stories included in the recent report-

  • How Meghan Fabulous gave manual business processes an extreme makeover resulting in 69% revenue growth
  • Halkin helps Arms of Eve embrace Cin7

Download our report to read both the success stories in detail!

Get a demo

See how Cin7 will help you increase your efficiency and sell more

One of our team will walk you through a solution, customized for your business goals.

Integration-First Ecosystems: The Future Of Multichannel Selling



The Internet became a mainstream technology that found relevance at universities and corporations in the 2000s and it paved the way for multi-billion organizations like Facebook and Google. Ten years down the line, the online software industry was becoming a part of our daily lives, with eCommerce and cloud software solutions becoming the major disruptors that everyone was very enthusiastic about, at least in silicon valley.

However, despite eCommerce being widely adopted by consumers, very few businesses have realized its vast potential. Today, eCommerce isn’t limited to selling your products on your website – it’s much, much more. We are talking about social selling, online marketplaces, affiliates, resellers, brick and mortar stores and a lot more.

All these various facets of today’s retail landscape benefit from being integrated into one technology stack or ecosystem. In fact, if you are reading this article, you are among the most informed decision-makers in the online retail industry. And that’s the agenda today – integration-first ecosystems for multichannel selling.

At Cin7, we knew this fact first hand and we set out to help our customers remain viable in the ever changing retail landscape. We recently conducted a wide-scale study on multichannel selling. To our surprise, the market’s awareness of what can be achieved by combining a robust ecosystem of interconnected software with data and automated processes was lower than we expected.

Here’s what our study found. An inventory management solution is only as good as the number of seamless integrations it can support. As a result, Cin7 continues to focus on expanding the ecosystem of integrated eCommerce solutions we offer to provide further efficiencies to run your business smoothly.

As a result, we can proudly say that we have over 550 apps onboard Cin7 and this is one of our biggest competitive advantages.

The Role Of Integrations In eCommerce

You, like many others, are working hard to increase your eCommerce sales. It becomes more difficult to control sales volume as you expand and scale. Your eCommerce system needs other 3rd party systems to operate and manage major aspects of your growing business. Getting all these individual systems to communicate with one another is a separate matter.

Consider all of the systems on which your growth plan is based. If they aren’t already connected, think about how this could be influencing your business model. For perspective, let’s consider one of the findings from our study and resulting ebook on multichannel selling: integrating your sales and accounting apps can increase your profitability by 43%.

Is your company ready to get started with a fully integrated inventory control system?

The synchronization of a company’s front end with its backend systems, such as inventory management software or a CRM system, is known as eCommerce integration.

In theory an integration, like an API, allows software programs to exchange data to maintain accounting records, share insights and inform business decisions. Integration centralizes the front end operations and keeps your business processes on the same page. Multichannel selling requires multiple layers of support for different functionalities, be it payment gateways, logistics partners or client servicing methods.

Without interconnecting your front and backend apps, your operations remain primarily manual and exposed to human error. You may undersell or oversell; miship, misquote; and even end up leaving customers unserviced. Multichannel selling sounds very interesting and lucrative, but it can easily turn chaotic if you don’t have the right eCommerce integrations in place.

For instance, if your backend isn’t integrated with a particular sales channel, you’ll have to manually update the inventory count in both your inventory system and in the selling channel.

This is where the value of a well-implemented multichannel eCommerce integration ecosystem becomes abundantly evident. Integration ensures that your technology stack is homogeneous, that insights travel smoothly and every program executes its tasks accurately.

Benefits Of Integrating Your Sales Channels With Your Backend

As more businesses embrace online sales and brick-and-mortar storefronts become less important, the demand for multichannel integration has skyrocketed. Here are four advantages of using multichannel integrations:

#1 Ditch Manual Order Input

Connecting your selling channels with your backend system minimizes manual and redundant data inputs and enhances data interchange speed. Since you need to input the same data at multiple locations for every transaction, automation becomes a critical component of successful multichannel selling.

#2 Enhanced Data Utility

With seamless connectivity across different functions of your business ecosystem, accuracy is never a guessing game. Inventory synchronization, real-time tracking updates and pricing; every sphere improves with data pooling. It all results in improved data utility because you can capture data across touchpoints and convert it into utilizable insights that trigger coordinated sales.

#3 Improved the Customer Experience

When your sales channels and backend are connected, your support reps can provide quick problem resolution and handle queries like product availability and shipping updates. You will also be able to reach out to the same user on different platforms according to their preferences and maintain a consistent brand presence.

#4 Expanding Into New Markets

Integrations allow your company to expand into more online markets while maintaining operational efficiency. New clients become available with each additional sales channel. Diversified income sources, greater customer experience and increased operational margins are all icing on the cake when it comes to expanding your brand through eCommerce integration.

Multichannel Selling Integration Roadblocks

Multichannel selling requires a free flow of information, automation and timely human intervention. Integrations can be cascading or real-time synchronous in nature, depending on the type of transaction.

Benefiting from a modern technical stack necessitates a technological workflow that rises above a legacy system.

Organizations frequently ignore the need for a closely-knit, advanced ecosystem of dedicated apps out of fear of high expense. They may also fear disrupting what established mechanisms have already been doing for them.

There are a few challenges that businesses must overcome to build a successful multichannel selling integration platform. Here are four potential roadblocks:

#1 Not Understanding Requirements

One of the most common problems that businesses experience occurs before they have even started to use a centralized integration platform. Many businesses are unsure where to begin.

IT stakeholders are unsure of what their company requires in order to effectively manage trade partners, customers and other internal and external connectors that make up their digital ecosystem.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the decision process. IT managers are concerned about having enough IT employees to support and maintain an integration platform in addition to their usual responsibilities. There’s also the fear that migrating data from one system to another may lead to mistakes, security concerns or data loss.

Companies must first achieve internal alignment before beginning a integration modernization path. They should figure out what they want to accomplish through integration, what obstacles they’ll have to overcome and what systems they’ll be integrating.

Further, businesses must determine whether data should be synced between systems and which procedures and workflows can and should be automated.

With the end goal in mind, the proper eCommerce integration project can begin.

#2 Systems That Are Obsolete Or That Are Part Of A Legacy System

While everything appears to be running smoothly on the service, the truth is that depending on legacy and obsolete technology leads businesses to drop and miss orders. Their technology does not allow them to see every single online order from beginning to end.

Legacy systems are clumsy and difficult to work around when compared to a contemporary integration platform.

Sometimes the tools and processes you’ve relied on for years still work for you and will satisfy your day-to-day company demands for the foreseeable future. When it comes to bringing on new partners and services, migrating apps to the cloud or supporting big data projects, legacy systems sometimes fall short of what your business needs to succeed.

It’s probably time to modernize your eCommerce solution if you’re getting chargebacks from your trade partners or don’t have the technical expertise to fulfill API connectivity needs.

#3 Lack Of Multichannel Management Capabilities

Traditionally, an eCommerce platform has provided businesses with technology that allows them to sell to their consumers on their website using a standard web browser. This disregards two critical considerations:

Call centers, brick and mortar storefronts, mail order catalogs, online marketplaces and other marketplace websites are other ways that retailers sell.

Customers want to buy using their own devices, whether it’s an iPhone or a personal laptop, so acquiring master data that can sync with the other systems connected to those customer contact points is a continental consideration.

#4 Lack Of Visibility

Product sellers that have yet to update their technical stack suffer from a lack of visibility, which prevents them from making real-time, performance-based choices. Companies may consolidate the amount of control they have over a piece of data and get end-to-end visibility by combining outdated integration platforms to improve business operations.

Companies may begin to obtain total visibility for every online order after completely adopting a modernized integration platform. Consider the benefits of having comprehensive omnichannel integration visibility. With full EDI and API connections, you can see all of your online, retail and wholesale orders in one place.

Getting Ready For Multichannel Selling Integration

Many firms put off multichannel integration because it seems complicated and they are concerned that projects will go over budget or take too long. However, integration is easier than you may think. The trick is to plan and prepare ahead of time and choose a solution provider with extensive onboarding services.

Begin by determining which of your manual procedures are prone to mistakes. When you find sluggish, complex or superfluous procedures, you can employ integration methods to eliminate them so that your team can focus on more important and high-value work.

The next phase in the planning process is to consider your customer’s journey. You may find areas that can be simplified with eCommerce integration by reviewing consumer shopping behavior.

Then you should think about how data travels between your systems. Examine how your data is transported, how you maintain customer information and how your accounting system manages payments, among other things. You may then determine which functions can be merged or automated.

You may choose the proper integration technique via APIs after knowing which areas might benefit from integration. As long as the appropriate functions are included, you will be able to meet your present and future eCommerce demands.

Summing Up

Your eCommerce business may become considerably more productive if you employ integrations in the right manner. You may obtain insights from integrated data that can help you make wiser decisions that are in line with your business goals. Increased demand may also be handled more easily with an eCommerce integration platform without the need for extra staff.

A modern technical stack also aids in the elimination of mistakes and allows your company to improve the customer experience. As a result of all of these advantages, your eCommerce operation will generate more income and minimize costly errors.

At the end of the day, the eCommerce industry is saturated, so making your firm stand out requires a lot of effort. Thus, integration-first inventory management ecosystems are the first step into leveraging the capabilities employed by the biggest players in your sectors.

Read the detailed report on “How Product Sellers Adapted to Change and Sold More” to know how other players in your industry are making integrations in multichannel selling work for them.

Get a demo

See how Cin7 will help you increase your efficiency and sell more

One of our team will walk you through a solution, customized for your business goals.

Multichannel Sales: Understanding the Dynamics of a Post-Pandemic World



 

It’s no secret that the pandemic disrupted retail, forcing businesses to reevaluate their entire operational models. Now that we are finally transitioning out of the pandemic, eCommerce merchants need to rethink their approach towards their sales and distribution channels.

Besides the degree of disruption faced by retailers, life during the pandemic has also altered consumer behavior to a great extent. Multichannel sales are one of the best approaches to deal with the change in buyer behavior as it increases the number of sales touchpoints. It also helps you gather large and more relevant datasets regarding your customer base and increases your odds of retaining them.

As we continue to ease out of the pandemic, wisdom dictates that there may be unseen risks associated with over-expansion and the intricacies of multichannel sales. As the resurgence in online purchases over the last two years transitions into the next “new normal,” any significant changes that you decide to make should be taken slowly and weighed against expert advice from leaders in the inventory and order management space.

In this article, we will evaluate the multichannel seller landscape and see how you can make the most out of opportunities as they arise.

Risk Mitigation Strategies For Multichannel Sales

Online sellers need to revisit their multichannel sales risk mitigation strategies in order to stay relevant with evolving market conditions. Many industries have observed changes in consumer behavior, supply chain, finance, socio-economic presets and selling platforms. This has, in turn, impacted how different players compete and collaborate when it comes to online sales.

Cin7’s recent large-scale study found that 82% of 4,000 product sellers across the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are adding two or more sales channels in the coming months. Our latest ebook on multichannel selling has even more of these deep insights that point out why businesses are expanding their sales reach.

Let’s dive deeper into the risk factors and the counter efforts that current times require.

#1 Demand Forecasting

Successful online retailers need to integrate their backend systems (e.g., inventory management, order management, accounting) with their eCommerce website, social media, marketplaces, portals and third party logistics provider, and be able to do so at scale.

Each sales channel poses the inherent challenge of accurate demand forecasting and each channel needs to seamlessly interface with inventory to avoid over or underselling.

Another important factor that online retailers need to consider is that consumer behavior on each social media app is driven by an entirely unique set of motivators. Using a ‘one size fits all’ approach can sabotage demand forecasting capabilities. The best approach is to only sell on marketplaces that you fully understand.

Making an instantaneous change to your selling strategy to accommodate new sales channels like heavyweights Target or Walmart isn’t always advisable. The smart approach is to develop a foolproof sales forecasting strategy for every channel individually and cultivate an understanding of their performance as a collective over time.

#2 Branding Consistency Across Sales Channels

Brand consistency across sales channels is another challenge that continues to baffle businesses. Maintaining brand consistency on your own website is within your direct control, but when it comes to various marketplaces and social media you need to put in extra effort.

Product sellers need to ensure that their branding is consistent across all touchpoints. Failing to do so may cause your customers and prospects to distrust your brand as they might suspect counterfeiting. The same applies when you are communicating with your customers. This calls for an umbrella solution that groups your sales channels under a common strategy and provides you with a modular approach.

Creating a content stack is a powerful and cost-effective solution since it ensures that your branding stays consistent through a well-planned distribution strategy. Even your replies in comment sections and private messages on social media should follow standard templates and you can use inbox chatbots to serve this purpose.

#3 Inventory Management

Efficient inventory management is the primary challenge for product sellers looking to build or expand their presence over multiple sales channels. As discussed earlier, it’s important to synchronize your inventory seamlessly across all your sales channels and this is only possible with an inventory management system that allows for this type of integration. Ideally, when you confirm an order on one sales channel, inventory data is updated on all other sales platforms, maintaining a single source of truth.

Real-time inventory synchronization will also help you get a comprehensive picture of overall sales, thereby preventing overselling and overstocking. Better order fulfillment creates another advantage, but the post-pandemic inventory management strategies will need to go beyond these factors. Our recent survey also found that over 52% of online product sellers are planning to add four more sales channels in 2021 making them even more dependent on a reliable inventory management system. You can get more insights on this topic by simply downloading our new multichannel selling ebook.

Additional factors that sellers need to consider are smart automation and the ecosystem of solutions that cater to different target audiences and deliver the functionalities they seek. Big data, AI-enabled decision making, predictive customer queries and reduction of operational issues by moderating human intervention are among the top priorities, especially for SMBs.

#4 Customer Relationship Management

Customer experience is the ultimate differentiator when it comes to online selling, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to curate and measure. The reason is simple: a huge number of sellers have surfaced in the current eCommerce boom and it’s increasingly difficult for your brand to stand out from the others unless you are ready to spend.

Your spend should focus on a redesign of your CRM workflows, documenting new SOPs and orchestrating client-facing functions with fresh customer journeys. But before you start making drastic changes to your customer relationship management strategy, you should reach out to your customers to understand their motivators.

At the same time, make sure to invest in the right people and train them to handle customer inquiries. Taking an iterative approach is best to prevent making sudden policy changes. Allow time to reveal how a post pandemic consumer adjusts.

#5 Handling Shipping And Returns Management

The post-pandemic scenario will require you to rethink your shipping and returns management strategy to mitigate bottlenecks. This requires choosing the best third party logistics provider to meet order demand most efficiently.

Contracting with a third party logistics provider also requires seamless integration between your backend processes and sales channels. To begin with, you need to strategize your shipping and returns policy while also designing an automated framework for returns processing if you don’t already have one.

This should be followed by optimizing your internal operations to meet the fresh requirements of your shipping partners. This may also be the time to update your pricing policy and make sure to evaluate special cases like product bundling since it is one of the most common trends we’ve witnessed in 2021.

Summing Up

Throughout this article, one aspect remains constant: The need to expand in a sustainable manner. Successfully managing your sales ecosystem is going to be the key to success in post-pandemic eCommerce.

Get a demo

See how Cin7 will help you increase your efficiency and sell more

One of our team will walk you through a solution, customized for your business goals.

Retail Gets Back to Work

While many organizations had planned to bring employees back into offices by September 2021, the Delta variant reminded them yet again of the pandemic’s watchword: agility. Many employers have now delayed re-opening.

It’s yet another challenge for retailers responding to changes in products ordered online as employees prepare to return to the workplace.

“Retailers have to be nimble because things are changing fast and it’s not always obvious which way they’re going,” says Craig Ross, vice president of sales for the e-commerce platform offered by TrueCommerce.

Even so, retailers already see an uptick in certain types of “back to work” products purchased online by both businesses and consumers. Some products, including cosmetics and workplace apparel, are in categories that saw a significant drop in sales when people began working from home. Others, such as computer hardware and other technology gear, see changes in who’s making the purchase, the size of the order, and where it’s being delivered.

The challenge for some retailers is the flip-flop between business-to-consumer and business-to-business ordering, reports Samuel Parker, product evangelist at inventory management platform provider Cin7. For example, work-from-home employees who needed to outfit their new remote workspaces typically ordered what they needed online for home delivery and were reimbursed by their employers.

To meet that demand, some brands that typically sell wholesale to retailers began shifting to direct-to-consumer fulfillment. Today, with offices staffing up again, those brands need to maintain that option for those working remotely while returning to filling wholesale orders, too.

Parker is seeing this play out at his Colorado workplace, where people who returned during the summer had new monitors waiting. “During the pandemic, the manufacturer wasn’t selling these monitors wholesale to Office Depot and Staples—it had shifted to selling directly to individuals,” he says. Now they have to resume pallet shipping alongside pick-and-pack fulfillment.

Amazon Business reports an increase in office furniture orders as organizations ease the transition back to the workplace with creature comforts that include ergonomic chairs and standing desks. They’re also purchasing other tech products such as videoconferencing headsets for office use.

“Video conference-based work is still going strong and will continue to be strong even with a return to the office because most people will still be in virtual meetings from here on out,” notes Petra Schindler-Carter, director and general manager for Amazon Business.

DRESS FOR SUCCESS 2.0

Retailers are also struggling to understand whether workplace dress codes are relaxing after 18 months of remote work hoodies and pajama bottoms.

Wall Street workers have ditched suits in favor of a more casual look—jeans with a blazer, for example, the New York Times reports. And apparel retailers who figure it out can’t get inventory quickly enough because of supply chain challenges.

“Before the pandemic, retailers could switch seasons and get new apparel from Asia to shelves in four to six weeks,” says Ross. “Now, it’s not only a question of getting the right mix, but they also have to be right about that earlier because lead times are a lot longer today.”

And where do those products get delivered? Pre-pandemic, many online shoppers had orders sent to the office for reasons that include protecting their goods from porch thieves. With hybrid work schedules and fluid delivery timelines, it can be difficult to decide which delivery address to select for that new business-casual outfit.

The delivery location decision could lead to a facilities challenge. “What happens if your mailroom isn’t fully staffed every day?” asks Krish Iyer, head of industry relations for ShipStation. “This can have a cascading effect on receiving and loading docks. I don’t think enough employers have thought about it, especially small to mid-sized enterprises with limited space.”

Retailers can reduce anxiety about delivery dates by giving e-commerce customers in-cart delivery timelines to help them make more informed decisions, Iyer says. Make it possible for shoppers to change delivery addresses or dates mid-order with intercept tools such as those offered by UPS and FedEx.

Iyer also advocates for moving inventory as close to the customer as possible so that it’s easier to pinpoint delivery timing.

But warehouse space is at a premium (see sidebar). Kaspien, which sells private label products and assists other brands selling on large retail platforms, had to make warehouse adjustments to meet back-to-work and other seasonal demands after Amazon reduced its available warehouse space.

“We had to diversify our warehouse and fulfillment options to two to three other dropship locations rather than using Amazon,” says Denise Abraham, Kaspien’s director of private label sourcing.

As part of this strategy, she uses sales data to create “heat maps” that help determine what inventory to place in which warehouses. It’s a strategy that Inna Kuznetsova, CEO of 1010data, recommends because product demand is shifting based on regions that are and aren’t returning to offices.

“There’s a huge need to look at the data on a granular level,” she says. “The big chains have started looking at this by state, ZIP code, and community to drive adjustments on a granular level.”

LABOR DAY

Warehouses and fulfillment centers are getting creative to address a labor shortage, too. “Companies struggling with a labor shortage might consider temporary workers, going to agencies for help, or outsourcing a portion of their operations to a third-party logistics provider,” advises Angela Jones, assistant professor of supply chain management at Howard University School of Business.

Agile. Nimble. Resourceful. It’s more than gymnastics commentary. It’s the strategy e-commerce retailers need in place to help people return to workplaces that might look a little different than before—in more ways than one.

 

Originally published by Inbound Logistics here.

“How Cin7 saves us $130,000 a year.”

Jennifer Xidias on how Cin7’s inventory management integrations saves Peta+Jain time and hundreds of thousands of dollars, every year.

One of the most quantifiable things in my decision to go with Cin7 as my software choice was not only its futuristic focus, but also the amount we could save on our IT spend.

 

Most companies allocate a spend for marketing or IT improvements. We spend a lot of money on marketing. As one of Australia’s fastest-growing fashion companies, we have to keep relevant with competing brands. Unfortunately, because of Covid-19, everything was postponed.

So, when I was looking for an inventory management solution, I needed a good IT product that suited what we did and was great value for money.

Cin7 is that product. It has seriously saved us about $130k this year alone, through not having to employ extra warehouse and admin staff. And when it comes to time savings, with our Shopify, The Iconic and Starshipit integrations now operational, it saves hours every day not having to key in the data manually or create spreadsheets to import.

 

Over the last 12 months, orders through our own website (powered by Shopify) and the Iconic Marketplace have steadily grown, from around an average of 50 orders per week to well over 200 per week. At sale times, this can reach around 100 per day.

Before Cin7, we were manually entering the shipping details into Australia Post and Excel to create consignments and picking lists, and then updating the tracking numbers in The Iconic and Shopify. As you can see, this was extremely labour-intensive during peak volume times!

We then moved to downloading the orders and creating spreadsheets to upload into Australia Post and update the tracking numbers. This was less labour intensive, but still a time-consuming process. It would still take at least one hour of time twice a day for the warehouse to just do the paperwork. The other downside of this system was that someone would generally have to then key all of the Shopify and The Iconic orders into MYOB to remove the stock and record the sale. This could then take at least another hour of time per day or if 100 orders, several hours.

The last issue that we had was that we would then have to remove The Iconic invoices every two weeks, and re-key their invoice to align with the actual statement from The Iconic, so that our records matched with what we were getting paid.

 

Our Cin7 implementation has removed all these issues. With our new, automated workflow, we’re saving at least 30 hours a fortnight. Also, with Cin7 integrating directly with The Iconic, reconciling orders from that channel only requires a two-second journal, each fortnight, to take up the commission amounts as all orders and stock are automatically taken care of. This makes for an additional saving of three hours a fortnight.

As well as the colossal time saving, we’re also saving $130,000 a year on not having to hire employees to do hours of tedious work. If we hadn’t used Cin7 to integrate our systems to deal with our rapid growth, and replace those manual processes, we would have required an additional two employees (one in the warehouse, and one admin person) to assist with all of the paperwork. Shopify and The Iconic are only part of our business, and we’d still need to deal with all of the other wholesale customer orders each day, and pack and ship their orders too.

The cost of each additional employee is approximately $65k per year, which gives us a cost saving of $130k a year.

The Cin7, Iconic, Shopify and Starshipit integrations give the warehouse manager and I approximately two day’s worth of time per week to concentrate on other parts of our business, without having to get other staff. I love Cin7. I think it’s a fantastic product.