7 tips for warehouse safety

Warehouses can be hazardous. First, the items they hold are stacked high and close together to make the best use of space. Second, a lot of pickers and machinery are going back and forth between the aisles and up and down the storage bins all the time. If the items haven’t been stored properly, if a worker is careless, or if a machine malfunctions, an accident can happen. 

To prevent this, there should be strong safety measures and procedures that everyone should follow, and they should be enforced. We’ve honed them down and categorized them into seven main areas.

 

7 measures to take to ensure safety in warehouses 

#1 Keep all spaces clean and tidy.

Dirt, grease, or messes of any kind can be a hazard. Workers could slip on them, and machines could stumble. At the very least, if these obstacles don’t cause a bad accident, they could severely affect workflow in the warehouse. 

It’s important, then, for floors and work areas to be kept as clean as possible, which means not just sweeping, but washing them frequently. Any spills should be swept or wiped up immediately; and if any of that spillage could be from harsh chemicals that are being stored, having a special spill kit that can deal with it on hand is imperative.  

Hygiene is also a factor to take into account, especially when Covid is still around. Have hand sanitizer prominently placed in several areas, keep all equipment clean, and request that your employees stay home if they feel ill.

#2 Provide regular safety training. 

While safety training for new employees happens frequently, it’s just as important for existing staff to review safety precautions regularly. Safety training should cover everything from ensuring work spaces and equipment are kept safe to instructions on actions to take when anything goes wrong or an unforeseen emergency happens. Providing training every three or four months is ideal. It’s also a good idea to distribute a safety manual to your workforce.  

In addition to making everyone aware of safety in the warehouse, all employees should know what to do in an emergency like a fire or an earthquake. Training and drills should take place on a regular basis. It’s also important to have exit routes clearly marked and accessible at all times and to have enough of them in the building for the size of the space.  

#3 Put up clear signage. 

Signs that warn about potential hazards are essential. These signs should let employees know where dangerous or inflammable materials are stored, if heavy equipment is nearby, or even which items in storage are heavy. When it comes to the building itself, letting everyone know about design elements that could trip them up, like steps at the end of an aisle, is a good idea. 

Since warehouses are more often than not huge spaces in which one section looks the same as another, finding your way can be a challenge in an emergency. To overcome this, there should be large signs with bold lettering that point to emergency exits. 

#4 Have the right safety equipment. 

Proper safety gear, like lifting belts, should be provided to ensure your employees’ well-being. Depending on the type of material your workforce has to handle or the conditions they’re working in, other forms of safety equipment, such as respirators or hearing protection, might be needed. Utility knives with protective sheathing and walkie talkies also come under this category, the latter being especially needed in ultra large warehouses.    

On a wider level, fire and smoke alarms should be adequately placed, along with fire extinguishers. If your company handles hazardous materials, your fire extinguishers should be the right ones for whatever the materials are. And, of course, first aid kits should be available in easy-to-locate areas. 

All safety equipment should be checked regularly. 

#5 Give out protective clothing.

Here we include safety goggles, safety vests, safety gloves, hard hats and even steel-toe boots. Protective clothing should be a good fit for the individual worker. Loose clothing could get caught in machinery, and a badly fitting hard hard is no use to anyone. 

#6  Ensure heavy equipment is used correctly.

Forklifts and pallet jacks could cause serious injury if not handled correctly or if someone gets in their way. Make sure heavy equipment is only operated by properly trained personnel, and that the equipment has its own pathways in the warehouse. Equipment should be restricted by a speed limit that is enforced.  

#7 Store items properly.

Warehouses store items on high shelving where they are packed tightly together. To prevent anything from falling and causing injuries, everything should be placed with care, one thing stacked straight on top of another, and heavier pieces should be stored on lower shelves. 

 

Make the most of your warehouse with Cin7

When you put recommended safety measures in place, you’re less likely to have downtime caused by injuries. Plus, your workforce will feel much safer.

To optimize warehouse operations even more, there are warehouse management systems (WMS) like Cin7.  This software helps organize your warehouse, which helps you maintain a safe working environment. 

To find out more about Cin7’s WMS and how it can make your life as a warehouse manager easier, book a free consultation with one of our experts

A quick and easy guide to good retail management

When shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for in a store, they leave happy. And when they leave happy, the store management is happy because the chances are those customers will come back again, or better yet, give a good recommendation to one of their friends.

It takes a lot of work and planning to get to this point, of course. The store has to have the right look and be open and inviting, and merchandise has to be displayed appealingly. The inventory also has to be managed well. This means having enough of an item in stock to be able to replace it quickly in the store when it’s sold – because it looks better if everything is well-stocked – and having enough of it in storage to be able to do this. This means ordering more, knowing when to do this, and doing it early enough to cover lead times – the length of time it’ll take a supplier to turn purchase orders around. The umbrella term for all these activities is retail management. In this blog, we’re going to break down the areas that make up retail management and look at them in detail.

Understanding the importance of retail management

The word retailer comes from the Old French retaillour or retailleor, and it translates as someone who sells items in small quantities. This interpretation pretty much stands today: store owners stock goods in limited amounts, and their customers usually buy items in ones and twos.

You may be wondering why we’re going into etymology. Well, it’s to give an understanding of the scope of the businesses we’re talking about. And when you get your mind around that, we can delve into the challenges and decisions that are specific to retail stores.

The central challenge of a retailer is to give their customers a good experience, to let them know they’re welcome, understood, and appreciated. It’s how you get them to come back. This experience runs from creating a look that reflects the interests of the shoppers to streamlining the checkout. For instance, a book store will have subtle color tones, be crammed with books, have quiet areas to check out reading material, and could be playing easy-listening classical music in the background. A shop selling clothing to young people, on the other hand, mayl use bright colors to decorate their interior, should have the right mood lighting, and may be playing Top-Ten music hits very loudly.

Differences aside, there are aspects that all retail establishments have in common. First among these is internal organization. When a customer walks into a store, they should very quickly be able to work out where everything is. In our bookstore example, the works will be categorized by genre, each one having its own section; and within that each book will be placed on a shelf alphabetically. In the clothing store, it’s garment type – jeans will be on one rack, coats on another – and to make everything even easier to find, each rack will have its clothing grouped by size.

The second thing all stores have in common is salespeople. There’s an art in choosing the right sales people, but more on that later.

The third characteristic shared by retail is the checkout. paying. Nowadays, there are several options for this: cash, card, or online via an app on a cell. It should be a smooth, simple process.

Taken together, all these facets add up to what’s called retail management, and when it’s done well, it’s good retail management.

The process of retail management

If you own or manage a retail store, you’re responsible for everything that goes into the running of it, from getting the right inventory to giving customers a good experience to handling employees. We’re going to break your job description down into its component areas and take a close look at each one.

#1 Planning

Like any endeavor, the first step in any retail enterprise is to plan it out. This covers everything from interior design and layout to choosing what goods to get from suppliers.

We’ve already covered design, so let’s get down to layout. As described in our examples, depending on the kind of items you’re selling, a potential customer has to feel comfortable in your space. If you’re selling tech, that means spacing out your devices and lighting them brightly to invite those entering your store to “play” with each one; if you have a thrift shop, you’ll want your items to be thrown together in batches to appeal to your customers’ bargain-hunting instincts. It’s all part of driving foot traffic to your establishment.

Irrespective of the kind of items you’re selling, you have to give careful consideration to where you place your checkout. You’ll want your shoppers to be able to see it easily, but you won’t want it to block the free flow of customers. For these reasons, it’s probably not a good idea to place it near the entrance. Similarly, if you run a clothing store, you shouldn’t put it near the changing rooms – that would not only block access, it could look like a brazen grab for a sale and put customers off.

Keeping the interior of the store clean and tidy is also important. It’s part of making your walk-ins feel they’re welcome.

Another major consideration when working out layout is shoplifting. Arranging items so that your employees can see as many of the areas as possible is a good way of preventing this. If shoplifting becomes a serious problem, however, surveillance cameras should be installed.

#2  Choosing suppliers

When you’ve worked out your layout, you need to get your products in. You’ll probably know what kind of store you’re opening when you sign a lease for the space, so buying comes down to finding suppliers and setting up accounts with them. Then it’s a matter of working out your markups, guesstimating returns, and researching your competition. Purchasing inventory is such a crucial part of store management.

When you’re looking around for suppliers, you should be checking out the following:

  • Their selling price – best to go with someone who offers the lowest price,
  • Whether they can deliver to your store,
  • Length of time it will take them to deliver items to you – their lead time – this has to be taken into account when reordering,
  • Their after-sales service,
  • Their return policy,
  • Terms of their invoices – specifically length of time they give you to pay, and
  • How much credit they’ll give you.

It’s a good idea to find several suppliers to work with. This way, if one doesn’t have what you want or can’t deliver, you have a fallback.

Then it’s a matter of working out your markups, guesstimating returns, and researching your competition.

#3 Receiving, storing, and displaying

First thing when a shipment comes in from a supplier is to check the goods against your purchase order and their invoice to make sure you’ve received everything you’re being charged for, and you should inspect each item for quality. If anything is damaged or incorrect, you send it back.

Next comes storage. If you have a small shop, this could be a back room; but if your business is larger, say something like a box store, you’re going to need a bigger space, a much bigger space, something that’s more like a warehouse.

When it comes to displaying items in your store, several matters should be taken into account. Things that are more likely to catch a customer’s eye should be right up front, near the entrance.If some of the things you sell are heavy, they should be on shelves that are near the floor, not on high levels; items that are similar should be grouped together; and small items that could be last-minute purchases, like socks or small packets of candy, should be next to the checkout.

The placement of any discounts you’re running is also important when trying to encourage sales.  These should always be clearly labeled, preferable on their area of the shelving as well as individually on the product. Essentially, you’re building goodwill with your customers, and if an item they pick up—thinking it’s discounted—turns out not to be, they’re going to be upset. For some types of things, like clothing, however, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated area for all discounted items.

Of course, as a retailer selling in ones and twos, you’re probably going to be stocking a lot of different items in different colors and sizes. This makes keeping track of everything  a challenge. Technology can come to the rescue here, technology like Cin7’s inventory management software. Cin7 tracks inventory in real-time, letting you know exactly what you have and how much of it you hold. It can also automate your purchase orders, registering when your stock is low enough to warrant reorder and taking care of it. 

#4 Hiring and managing employees

This is important because a salesperson can make or break your retail business. Number one when checking out prospective hires is that they should like people. They have to have bright personalities and show a degree of patience. In short, they should enjoy interacting with customers, be happy to help them find what they want and be willing and able to answer any questions. Plus, they should be able to calmly listen to complaints and be willing to resolve issues. It also helps if they have knowledge of your business category. Thus, if you have a hardware store, you’ll want salespeople who know a lot about home improvement; if you have a beauty store, you’ll want salespeople who love and are up-to-date on things like make-up trends.

Your sales staff should also be adept at using your checkout, otherwise known as your point of sale system. Depending on the size of your store, you may have an employee dedicated to taking customer payments, so it’s important they be well-versed in whatever system you use.

And for you as a retail manager, once you’ve selected the right people to work for you, it’s your responsibility to keep a subtle eye on them to make sure they’re not taking advantage, and to resolve conflicts and grievances they may have. If your staff is content in the workplace, it’s reflected in the way your business performs.

#5 Service and sales

As indicated in the section directly above, your sales staff should be able to give your customers a gentle nudge when they’re undecided about whether to buy or not. That, essentially, is what a good sales person is defined by.

To make your customer experience complete, a smooth checkout is the cherry on the cake. While a point of sale (POS) can be defined as an old-time cash register, today much more sophisticated, online-based systems are the norm. In addition to adding up the cost of items, if several are purchased, these modern-day systems can scan barcodes and process different payment types, from cash to credit cards and cell-phone apps. They can also store your customer’s information – useful if there are returns or you want to send them marketing materials – and keep track of your inventory.

Cin7’s POS can do all this and more.

 

Optimize your retail operations with Cin7

To sum up, when a retail store is run well, customers have a good experience and walk out happy with the item they want, and your staff are content and put in that extra effort for you.

Then there’s control of your inventory, getting the right stock in and ensuring you have enough of it at all times to satisfy demand. That’s where Cin7 can be helpful. Cin7’s cloud-based software gives you a bird’s eye view of all your inventory, and can produce data to keep you on top of what items are selling best. Cin7 can also create loyalty programs and, as discussed, streamline your checkout.

If you want to learn more about Cin7 and how it can bring improvements to your retail business,  call one of our experts today and book a demo.

Helping LOCATE customers find a new home

The choices for inventory and order management software are narrowing by the month. In July 2020, Square sunsetted Stitch Labs. In June 2021, Intuit/QuickBooks announced it was sunsetting its TradeGecko platform. In November of 2021, Xero announced October 10, 2022 as the date it will be sunsetting its LOCATE software.

The field of inventory software providers is undergoing a trend of consolidation because the few top full-featured players are becoming established as the solutions of choice.

If you’ve started an ecommerce business, are in the planning stages for one, or are expanding your brick-and-mortar to include online, implementing a flexible, cloud-based, all-in-one inventory and order management system should be top of mind.

The sunsetting of LOCATE may leave you in need of another software solution for managing  your inventory. If that’s the case, how would you feel about getting an online system that could do more than LOCATE? Is your business sufficiently prepared for robust growth, for instance? Cin7 is an inventory and order management solution built to position your business for growth for years to come.

There are still several options out there, even without LOCATE. How can you know which solution to choose? How do the leading providers that are left compare to each other? Which solution is best for you?

 

Choosing the right alternative to LOCATE

Here are some important considerations to keep in mind as you begin to research inventory control providers.

A solution that will grow with you

The software you choose should be able to keep up with the growth of your business. A good way to estimate the future growth of your business is to take the quantity of goods you’re currently selling and increase it by a reasonable growth factor each year for the next five years.

Higher complexity online sellers are adopting Cin7, which supports multichannel sales operations and boasts over 700 built-in integrations that connect to popular accounting, shipping, and 3PL providers to handle warehousing and fulfillment.

When selecting an inventory management system, you should make sure it’s  completely SaaS-based. SaaS stands for Software as a Service, which essentially means it operates totally in the cloud. Some providers are not completely SaaS based, and require physical servers to be installed in each of your locations. Of course, these servers have to be maintained.

Highly configurable multichannel D2C options

We recently conducted a survey of 4,000 online sellers. We wanted to find out what strategies the most successful sellers were applying. Of the 4,000 businesses we polled, 47% rated multichannel selling as their #1 priority.

Building a variety of sales channels allows for a more agile business strategy, one that’s less vulnerable to market disruptions. Cin7’s integrated ecosystem enables multichannel selling from all of your online and physical store locations.

We even published the survey as a fact-filled eBook. It’s available for free right here.

Strengthen your supply chain

We’ve all heard about the current state of the global supply chain. Experts tell us the disruption may not be resolved until 2024 or beyond. This underscores the importance of choosing a software provider with the richest feature set for the price to mitigate the impact of supply chain disruption wherever possible.

Compared to competitors, Cin7 comes out way ahead when it comes to feature depth. As your business grows, the ability to connect directly to major retailers via built-in EDI simplifies bulk orders and payment processing. Cin7 seamlessly connects inventory and order management to point of sale, online marketplaces, accounting software, shipping, and 3PL providers. It also includes a warehouse management system.

When it comes to integrations, no other solution can beat Cin7. With over 700 built-in connections, Cin7 creates a centralized network of real-time 360° visibility across your business and builds efficiencies in finance, order fulfillment, EDI, and 3PL.

Cin7 immediately syncs all sales and purchasing transactions with popular accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero.

When it comes to financial analysis and reporting, Cin7 boasts extensively configurable reporting analytics including pivot table-based reports to help with sales analysis and inventory forecasting.

B2B and Wholesale

Cin7 ensures you can handle inventory control, sales, purchasing, order fulfillment and payment processing for B2B orders. Cin7 includes a configurable payment portal that allows you to set payment terms, take wholesale order deposits of any amount, and process all payments.

Cost

Cin7 is priced in the mid hundreds, includes multiple users, and connections to third parties in the monthly subscription fee. Most other solutions require middleware providers to create connections and charge a recurring monthly fee per connection.

With the number of connections required to run your business, it’s financially wise to go with a provider that has already built direct connections to the leading third parties you’re going to need to work with and includes them in your monthly fees.

 

Don’t delay researching

October 10, 2022 is just around the corner. If you’re a growing product seller and multiple sales channels is your goal, book a demo here. One of our Cin7 sales specialists will help you find out if Cin7 is a fit for your growing business.

Why is purchase order management important?

There are two areas of purchase order management: the number of POs issued and the timing of them. The first means finding the right balance – failing to write up enough of the orders could result in stock shortages, which could lead to you being unable to fill your customers’ orders; writing up too many could result in you being overstocked. If you’re overstocked, the additional cost of extra storage space and labor mean your business runs inefficiently. The second, your timing, refers to when you actually issue the PO. Do you wait until you’ve used up all your stocked items, or do you take care of restocking before reaching that point? When making these decisions, you have to keep in mind not just the amount of stock you want to keep tied up in storage, but the length of time it will take for your supplier to get your goods to you. If your supplier is in another country, for instance, your order could take months to get to you. It’s all about making sure you have enough of your items on hand at all times to keep your customers supplied and happy, but not too much of it.

You can see that managing your purchase orders can help your business run better. Let’s explore purchase orders in detail.

 

What is a purchase order?

A purchase order is a contractual agreement between a buyer and a supplier. In the United States, it becomes legally binding when the supplier accepts it. Purchase orders are issued by a company when it wants to purchase more goods from its supplier. Basically it is an instruction for the supplier. The description lists the names of the products, their stock numbers, colors, quantity, cost, the place they’re to be delivered to, and any other requirements.

Now that you know what a purchase order is, let’s check out the role they play in the buying process.

1. Issuing purchase orders

A purchase order is written up when a company needs to add items to its inventory. If the company is small, this can be the responsibility of the owner. But if it is a large company with many divisions, the PO may have to go through several administrators for approval. The PO will be sent over to the supplier at the completion of this stage.

2. Supplier approval

When the supplier receives the PO, they go over it to make sure they can fill the order and are comfortable with any stipulations it contains. They may ask the buyer to make some changes, and there may be some negotiating between the two parties. When both parties reach an agreement, the supplier has, in effect, accepted the PO, and it’s then that it becomes a legally binding contract.

3. Delivery of goods

The supplier sends the items requested on the PO to the buyer and issues an invoice. This invoice itemizes the goods the supplier has packed and shipped off, as well as the cost of each item and the full amount the buyer owes the seller. An invoice lets the buyer check a) that it is receiving everything it has ordered, and b) that it has been sent everything it is being charged for. The buyer will also, at this stage, carefully inspect the items to make sure they’re of high quality.

4. Payment

The buyer indicates that the items are accepted by sending the supplier a goods received note (GRN). The GRN is a confirmation of having received the goods in good order. Like the PO and the invoice, it lists the products, but as a legal document, it indicates the date and time of delivery and is signed by someone who has the authority to do so.  Payment of the invoice is dependent on the terms of the PO. These terms could indicate an immediate payment by the buyer, or a stated period of time after satisfactory receipt of the goods.

 

Explaining purchase order management

Purchase order management is an umbrella term that covers the process a business uses to handle their purchase orders. It covers everything from creating POs to dispatching them to maintaining records of them.

For a new company that’s still small, this process can be simple. Along with emails and phone calls, in these early days, a spreadsheet could be all that’s needed to record and keep track of purchase orders. But the information on spreadsheets has to be put in manually, making the system time consuming and prone to human error. These downsides only get worse as a business grows and the volume of orders increases. When that happens, a better, more manageable system is needed. That’s where purchase order management software comes into the picture.

Before we jump to PO management software, however, let’s check out the benefits of managing your purchase orders efficiently.

 

The importance of purchase order management

When you pay attention to purchase order management, your organization benefits in the following ways:

1. Better control over the amount you spend

Having department heads or managers approve purchase orders is a good way to control spending. In addition to making warehouse staff think about the items they put on a PO, it gives these supervisors the ability to make sure that everything being ordered is really needed and that their cost will not exceed the budget that’s been allocated for inventory. This approval process also gives managers a clear picture of how their department’s money is being spent.

2. Reduced storage costs

Keeping hold of more inventory than you need may ensure that you’ll always be able to fill an order, but it also means using up more storage space than is necessary. This unwanted, additional warehousing cost can be cut by controlling the amount you purchase. Controlling the amount you purchase is a major part of purchase order management. It means you only order when your stock is too low to cover your sales.

3. Help when it comes to avoiding stockouts

Purchase order management software automates the restocking process. This is how it works: The computer program recognizes when the inventory, or particular items in your stock, falls to a set lower limit. When that happens, the system automatically sends a PO to the supplier for more goods.

Computerizing your warehousing this way means always having the right amount of inventory to cover sales.

 

How Cin7 can help you with purchase order management

Cin7 is an integrated tool with several power-packed features. It can help you manage and control everything from the inventory you keep on hand to your restocking of it.

Cin7 keeps a record of all the purchase orders you create through our platform. With Cin7, you can instantly pull up specific purchase orders and generate reports for each one of them. These reports, customized by you, can include vital information such as the currency used for the order, exchange rates, customs and freight fees.

Our computerized system also allows you to save supplier details in the database. This information can be used to automatically add addresses and telephone numbers to forms, or it can generate purchase orders. It can even send the PO to the supplier. More than a time saver, when you can take care of your restocking like this, you get peace of mind.

As mentioned, Cin7 can be programmed to take care of restocking automatically. When the amount of stock you’re holding reaches a predetermined low, the system will automatically trigger a PO and send it directly to your supplier. You won’t have to worry about stockouts, and your business operations will run smoothly.

In addition to keeping track of your inventory and POs, Cin7 integrates accounting software like QuickBooks. This feature enables you to import all your POs and PO reports into your accounting system. It’s another aspect of Cin7 that improves and streamlines your business, making sure it’s as efficient as it can be.

To learn more about how Cin7 can help you manage purchase orders, schedule a call with one of our experts today.

Why your business should use supply chain visibility

All businesses need a strong supply chain to ensure the goods they want to sell are delivered on time, in perfect condition, and at a competitive price. Yet, the supply chain is a complicated system with many players, each with its own goals and strategies. Every step in the production process — from sourcing materials to shipping products to customers — is handled by a dedicated group of people or systems.

Having a well-functioning supply chain can save you time and money. For example, if you have trouble finding a specific product type, you can use your network of suppliers of your other products to help find it. In many ways, your supply chain is critical to the success of your business.

In recent years, there’s been a revolution in how businesses use the supply chain. As the way we buy things changes, the supply chain has undergone a transformation, changing how companies operate in many ways. One essential part of this transformation is the use of technology. Today’s businesses rely on digital tools to manage their supply chains more effectively than ever. This includes electronic data interchange (EDI), which allows companies to send and receive information.

 

What is supply chain visibility?

Supply chain visibility is the ability to see everything that happens in the supply chain. This includes tracking the progress of products from their origin all the way to your customer. It allows you to make sure that products are delivered on time and in accordance with your specifications. You can also track inventory levels and forecast future needs.

When a supply chain is visible, you track the flow of products and materials to ensure they are delivered on time, in the correct quantity, and at the correct cost. This helps you identify and fix problems early, preventing the development of larger issues that could disrupt your operations. Many different tools can be used to track your supply chain, including internal systems, cloud-based ERP systems, and third-party suppliers.

 

The increasing complexity of strategic supply chains & role of technology in managing them

One of the most critical aspects of the supply chain transformation is the increasing complexity of strategic supply chains. A strategic supply chain is essential to your overall success, and it involves multiple steps and connections between different companies. The more complex the supply chain, the more difficult it is to manage.

One way that technology has helped to manage this complexity is by making it easier to track products throughout the supply chain. This tracking can be done with electronic data capture (EDC) systems or radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. EDC systems allow you to track products as they move through the manufacturing process, and RFID tags allow you to track products as they move through the distribution process. These systems allow you to detect problems early in the process and fix them before they become significant.

Another way that technology has helped to manage the complexity of supply chains is by making life easier for purchasing and planning departments. Purchasing departments now have access to more information about their suppliers, including information about the products those suppliers are manufacturing. This allows purchasing departments to be more efficient in selecting the best suppliers and helps them stay competitive in their industry. It also helps companies ensure that their supply chain remains stable and reliable.

Another benefit of technology is that it allows you to expand your sales worldwide and across different regions of the country. For example, you might have factories in several other countries or need goods produced and shipped directly to stores in another region. With modern technology, this kind of operation can take place with ease, as each factory in the supply chain can use technology to get information on how to produce, package, and ship all of the goods they’ve been tasked with supplying.

 

How does technology help make a supply chain visible?

Technology has helped in increasing supply chain visibility. One of the most important ways technology has done this is by creating a digital trail. This trail records all the actions that have been taken along the supply chain, from the sourcing of materials to the delivery of goods to the customer. This information can be used to track down any issues that may have occurred and to make adjustments as needed. It can also help companies to improve their communication with their suppliers. Two technological advancements in the supply chain are the use of big data and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Improve analytics with big data

With automation of the supply chain, more data are available for statistical analysis. This can lead to better decision-making at every stage of the supply chain. For example, in your warehouse, picking zones and warehouse space allocation can be determined by analyzing data on the most popular products and efficiency of workers. Similarly, production scheduling and transportation processes may be improved by analyzing such facts as cost, inventories, capacities and consumer patterns.

See more with Internet of Things technology

Although not widely used in the supply chain yet, IoT technology has huge potential. IoT refers to objects that are connected to one another or to a central sensor and communicate with one another. For instance, sensors may be placed on freight containers that report their location and condition to a central source. By tracking devices and data in real time, you can take corrective actions, such as replacing a shipment of food that has been exposed to unsafe temperatures. You can also collect data that over time can reveal patterns, such as where you consistently have bottlenecks in your distribution, that can be used for predictive analysis and preventative measures.

 

How does supply chain visibility enable better inventory management?

By digitizing and automating various aspects of your supply chain, you can improve your inventory management.

Improve inventory management

Inventory management is an important part of any business. It’s essential to be able to track inventory so that you can make sure that you’re always getting the supplies that you need and minimizing the amount of inventory that you have on hand. By having high supply chain visibility, you can ensure that all the different parts of your business are working together as a cohesive unit. This will lead to increased efficiency and reduced costs overall.

Maintain healthy inventory levels

Maintaining healthy levels of inventory allows businesses to avoid excess stock that can lead to increased costs and reduced profits. By automating your inventory, you’ll be able to submit orders for high volume products and make decisions about poorly performing products more quickly, allowing you to maintain healthy inventory levels. This will help to ensure that the inventory remains in good condition and does not exceed the company’s needs.

Boost demand forecasting

By using big data analytics to understand which of your products sell well at certain times of year, you can better predict demand, plan for shortages and manage your inventory effectively.

 

How can Cin7 improve your inventory and supply chain visibility

There are many possible reasons brands lose track of their stock. Generally speaking, though, a lack of visibility tends to come down to inadequate inventory management. If your inventory management system doesn’t automatically include purchases, sales, and other activity that impacts the big picture or if it doesn’t track information in real-time, the information you have about your inventory is not complete nor up-to-date. Here are two common examples:

1. Using manually updated spreadsheets

This is one of the biggest reasons for lack of visibility. Small companies that sell few products can manage fine with spreadsheets. With even a little growth, however, spreadsheets can get out of date quickly, giving you a lack of visibility of what’s in your inventory. Reported stock levels will not match reality, and you may not realize it’s time to restock.

2. Managing sales channels and inventory separately

When you use separate systems for sales channels and inventory, you risk overselling your inventory. For example, if you are a company with a Shopify store and you add Amazon Seller to your channel mix, you will now have at least two places to track inventory, plus any spreadsheets or siloed inventory software you may use as a “master.” The information in your master inventory depends on the people who collect and update the information. If the information is even a little off, the company could end up selling customers a product that isn’t available.

Inventory visibility cannot be an estimate of the products you think you have. It must be the actual inventory based on current sales and any other activity that impacts accurate stock levels and locations, such as purchases, which increase inventory, and branch transfers, which move products to different locations.

 

How to achieve inventory visibility

Proper stock visibility requires accurately recording everything that happens to products in your inventory. This includes purchases, sales, stock transfers, returns, and any workflow that changes inventory quantity, location, or cost. To that end, visibility can only be achieved if all data are integrated with and tracked in a central inventory master, including:

  • All purchases that increase your inventory of components and finished goods,
  • Production jobs that lower component inventory and increase finished goods inventory,
  • Sales orders that reduce your inventory,
  • Dispatched orders that reduce stock on hand and change order status,
  • Purchases and sales that adjust inventory at each stock location,
  • Stocktakes that confirm or adjust inventory at each stock location, and
  • Stock transfers that decrease inventory in one location and increase inventory in another.

The key to visibility is to integrate your data so that you can track products in real-time as they move through your supply chain, affecting stock levels and inventory value along the way.

The benefits of inventory visibility

Integrating data allows your company to

  • Reduce data entry and eliminate related errors.
  • Eliminate the use of redundant software and portals.
  • Increase order accuracy.
  • Maintain optimal inventory levels / reduce overall storage costs.
  • Fulfill orders faster and increase order transparency.
  • Build customer satisfaction and drive future purchases.
  • Increase forecast accuracy for improved inventory planning.
  • Reduce losses due to obsolete inventory.

 

Achieving inventory visibility is simple with Cin7

By providing real-time visibility into the status of shipments, Cin7 helps companies to identify potential issues in a timely manner and take corrective action. By using Cin7, businesses can confidently rely on the software to help them make informed decisions about their business operations. Book a free, no-obligation demo below to learn more about how Cin7 gives product companies complete, real-time inventory visibility. Request a Demo.

How can third-party logistics (3PL) improve your supply chain?

Nowadays, when it comes to businesses moving their goods through their internal systems, disruption seems to be the new normal. Events like a pandemic, trade sanctions, and war can seriously affect this supply chain, creating problems for internal logistics, and ultimately, the delivery of goods. To avoid this, companies should be thinking of ways to overcome these obstacles, putting strategies in place to ensure the smooth running of their supply chains.

A good solution to these problems is third-party logistics (3PL) software.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into 3PL and show how partnering with a 3PL company can streamline your business and make it more efficient.

 

What is 3PL?

There’s 1PL, 2PL, and 3PL, and PL stands for party logistics. The first, 1PL, describes  a business that directly delivers its orders to its customers. The second, 2PL, means that a business hires an outside courier service to deliver goods to customers.

In 3PL, a business outsources its supply chain management to a third party. This could include everything from internal logistics to order fulfillment, or any aspect of it.

3PL services you can use include:

  • Warehousing,
  • Transportation,
  • Picking up,
  • Packing, and
  • Last-mile delivery.

You can choose the services offered by 3PL according to your needs. However, since 3PL providers focus totally on logistics, using their expertise to streamline your internal processing and order fulfillment can only improve your supply chain.

How does 3PL work?

Well, that depends on which services you use. But as an overview, this is how a typical 3PL arrangement works:

  • Your entire inventory is stored at a 3PL warehouse. Here, SKU numbers are assigned to your items for easy identification, and they are separated into designated bins.
  • When a customer places an order with you, it’s forwarded to the 3PL company for  fulfillment. To make it even easier, modern order management software will  automatically send the order to the 3PL provider’s warehouse. You don’t have to do anything.
  • At the warehouse, a team breaks down your customer’s order, identifies the storage location for each item, and retrieves them.
  • When all the necessary items have been collected, they are packed in a delivery box, which is sealed shut. An order receipt and shipping label are then printed and attached to the outside of the box.
  • A shipping carrier, organized by the 3PL provider, picks the box up from the  warehouse and delivers it to the customer.

This is how a 3PL provider helps you with order fulfillment.

 

How leveraging 3PL in a supply chain can help your business

Let’s discuss how a 3PL provider can benefit you.

1. Cost benefits

If you choose to do it alone, you’ll have to buy or rent your own warehouse space. That, of course, would mean hiring and training staff to work in the warehouse.

3PL can eliminate this expense, enabling you to put more money into other areas of your business, such as sales and marketing. A move like that could increase your revenue. What’s more, since 3PL providers specialize in logistics, extensive networks they have in the supply chain means they can negotiate better rates.

2. Focus on core competencies

Handling the fulfillment process on your own, means going through a painful trial and error period while you set the system up. Inefficiencies in your warehousing and order processing will cost you time and money.

You won’t have to worry about any of that if you use 3PL. They’ll take care of warehouse management, carrier selection, the paperwork, and choosing the best shipping routes. After all, who better to handle your fulfillment than those who specialize in it, right? Using 3PL will free up time you can spend on your core competencies, leaving the 3PL you use to leverage theirs.

3. Access to expert knowledge

In the logistics industry, 3PL companies are well regarded. Their deep knowledge and  technical know-how could be a game changer for your business if there’s a disruption in the supply chain. That’s because if an unforeseen circumstance occurs, they are able to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that your order gets fulfilled as quickly as possible.

The fact that they specialize in supply chain management means that they’re constantly   upgrading their systems and using sophisticated technology like a warehouse management system (WMS).

All this helps track inventory in real time, giving you information you need to make good, data-driven decisions for your business.

4. Flexibility

If you are planning to expand into new territories, a 3PL can offer you flexibility. It can enable you to test new ground without having to put money into warehousing or staffing.

It means, in short, that you can try out a new market with limited upfront cost to see if it’s  worth it or not.

5. Ensures compliance

Whether you plan to fulfill orders locally or globally, you need to comply with many federal, state and local laws. Joining hands with a 3PL provider can help.  Regulations can be complex, and constant updating means they change over time.  Working with a 3PL ensures that your logistical operations are compliant with the law.

For instance, if you deal with consumer packaged goods (CPG), a 3PL can make sure that  perishable items are not only kept at the stipulated temperature, but that they’re handled properly until delivered to the customer’s doorstep. This includes proper labeling, like clearly showing when a product is hazardous. Taking care of these issues shelters you legally.

When it comes to international compliance, 3PLs are especially helpful. They can take care of all the required paperwork, from customs to transportation documentation,  ensuring that your international deliveries are smooth and stress-free.

 

Let Cin7 help you integrate 3PL into your business

Now that you’re clear about the advantages of 3PL, you may want to use it to streamline your business.  Cin7 could be a good way to do this.

Cin7 works with 200+ 3PL providers, and the list is constantly updated. By using Cin7, your orders will immediately be routed to a 3PL warehouse for fulfillment,  freeing you from the cost and hassle of having to take care of that yourself.

In addition to 3PL, Cin7 provides a complete suite of features that do everything from managing your inventory to giving real-time visibility. Cin7 lets you manage your inventory, orders, and fulfillment in a much better way.

Book a demo with our experts to learn more about how Cin7 can help you with 3PL.

Complete guide to expedited shipping

Your customers hate waiting to receive their products. According to a study by Oracle retail, 13% of them won’t buy from you again if you don’t deliver on time.

Offering expedited shipping can help you meet your customers’ expectations and increase your profitability.

 

What is expedited shipping?

Expedited shipping is performed to deliver orders faster than the regular shipping time. For instance, if your standard shipping time is a week, then using expedited shipping would ensure that consumers receive the product in two days.

Expedited shipping allows you to serve time-sensitive customers, many of whom don’t mind paying a premium to receive their shipments as fast as possible.

 

How fast is expedited shipping?

The exact turnaround time for shipments varies based on factors such as the size and weight of the products and the location of the customer. It’s possible that your standard shipping time could be equivalent to another seller’s expedited shipping.

Let’s look at different shipping options and compare them with expedited shipping.

Standard shipping vs expedited shipping

Cost-wise, standard shipping is cheaper than expedited shipping. That’s why standard shipping is often incentivized with free shipping.

Standard shipping is best for orders that aren’t urgent, whereas expedited shipping is ideal for situations where you need goods faster. Pharmaceutical supplies, seasonal products, and perishable items such as frozen food are suitable for expedited shipping.

Express shipping vs expedited shipping

Express shipping can be used to deliver items on the same day of ordering or the next day. Expedited shipping is simply quicker than the standard shipping delivery time. That can be within three days or the same day as well. If a seller offers both express and expedited shipping, the express shipping option is generally faster.

 

Benefits of offering expedited shipping

#1 Meets customers’ expectations

There is a rising trend of customers preferring faster shipping. Infact, a survey by MetaPack found that speed of delivery is a top priority for 26.6% of respondents. Another survey found that 77% of consumers are more likely to make the purchase if the delivery time is two days or less.

Your potential customers will likely opt for your competitors if they have faster shipping options. Therefore, offering a faster delivery option can provide you with a competitive advantage and help you build brand loyalty. Partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) company can help with strategic warehousing so that there’s less distance between the warehouse and the customer. In addition to choosing a fast shipping provider, a lesser distance to travel can be another crucial component in executing expedited delivery.

#2 Minimizes cart abandonment

In the 2016 State of Ecommerce Delivery Report by MetaPack, 39% of the respondents admitted to abandoning their cart if the delivery option they wanted was not available. By offering expedited delivery, you can prevent cart abandonment issues and boost your sales.

#3 Retains customers

Consumer satisfaction is essential for repeat purchases. By meeting their expectations about faster delivery, customers will not just buy more from you but also generate positive word of mouth, increasing your profitability.

#4 Ensures delivery of fresh items

Perishable items like fruits, frozen food, and dairy products face the risk of getting spoilt over time. Shipping them using expedited delivery can ensure that your customers receive fresh items.

#5 Reduces loss or theft

During standard shipping, products often need to stop at various points, which increases the risk of transit damage as well as theft. Through expedited shipping, the packages stop at fewer locations, reducing the odds of cargo loss.

 

Challenges associated with expedited shipping

There are some drawbacks to expedited shipping.

#1 Higher cost

Around 80% of people preferred to buy from Amazon in 2020 because of their free and fast shipping. Amazon also offers free same-day or two-day delivery with its prime membership.
To remain competitive, you may want to offer expedited shipping. However, expedited shipping costs more than standard shipping, and most retailers don’t have deep enough pockets to offer expedited shipping services for free.

To deal with this, you can often pass on the higher shipping costs to your customers. This way, customers who want fast shipping pay a premium for the benefits. You can also add a minimum cart value to make the order eligible for expedited shipping.

#2 Limited availability

Expedited shipping isn’t offered by all delivery companies. You may need to change your existing delivery partners if they don’t offer expedited shipping.

 

How does your inventory management speed up your shipping?

There’s no magic spell that can miraculously help in teleporting your products. Instead, optimizing your fulfillment process and using effective inventory management can smooth operations and make expedited shipping easier.

Cin7 can help you in this. With Cin7, you can optimize your warehouse’s picking and packing processes, and the software integrates with shipping software, such as Shipstation, so you can expedite delivery.

If getting your products to your customers quickly is a priority for your business, book a call with our experts, to learn more about how Cin7 can help with shipping.

7 Common mistakes wholesalers and distributors make

Business models such as ecommerce and direct-to-consumer (DTC) are giving a tough time to wholesalers as well as retailers. You may already be struggling with razor-thin margins, and during such situations committing mistakes can cost you dearly. You need to be on top of your game.

This article will share some common mistakes that wholesalers and distributors make while running the business. Understanding these mistakes is a stepping stone to avoiding them.

 

Some common mistakes that wholesalers and distributors make

1. Using outdated methods

It’s surprising to think about how many businesses still rely on manual approaches, like using pen and paper to manage their businesses. Although pen and paper do have their own merit, for starters, they don’t need any electricity to run. However, papers can be easily misplaced or stolen, which you don’t want. Storing them can be a headache too as it will take significant space in your office premises. Plus, it’s not convenient to share them with your business partners.

While some people have migrated to digital forms like spreadsheets, it’s not enough to be successful today. Spreadsheets can get really messy, and you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time updating them regularly. Plus, it’ll take digital storage space, which is risky if your storage drive gets corrupt.

The best solution is to use a cloud-based inventory management solution. The data gets updated in real-time, so you get accurate visibility over your inventory. As the data is securely stored in the cloud, there’s no risk of losing it.

 

2. Sales representatives lacking information and resources

Sales is the primary revenue generating activity for your wholesaling business. Your sales representatives are entrusted with the responsibility to drive sales, and thus, they must be equipped with all the right tools and knowledge. They need to have full visibility over your inventory and should be well versed with your product and promotional information.

It’s best to also acquaint them with your business process so that they can confidently answer queries about delivery time and product returns. Failing to do this will affect your customer service, and you’ll lose out on loyal customers.

You can leverage Cin7’s inventory management solution to empower your sales team. They can easily get data about your customers, suppliers, and all necessary product-related information. The features of Cin7 aren’t just limited to inventory management. You can also use it to streamline your sales quoting process. Cin7 allows you to offer accurate quotes/prices to your B2B customers and also set the payment terms. On top of that, you can receive payments and generate invoices.

Cin7 is your one-stop solution for managing your sales and inventory.

 

3. Inadequate customer management

Customers can make or break your wholesaling business. You need to ensure that you manage them well and satisfy their expectations so that they continue doing business with you. It is necessary to take their feedback about their experiences with your service, and you should improve accordingly.

You should be fair in your treatment of your business customers irrespective of the revenue that they generate. On top of that, you should also regularly communicate with your customers. Thanks to digitalization, this process is easier than it has ever been. You can use email sequences to broadcast information to your customers so that they feel informed and valued. You can also segment your customer base and then target them effectively with specific messaging in emails.

 

4. Monitoring stock levels

Being a wholesaler, you deal in large volumes of stock. It can be challenging to monitor your stock levels when you’re dealing with multiple buyers and deliveries being made daily. But you can’t afford to lose track of inventory as poor inventory management can lead to situations such as understocking and overstocking (both being undesirable).

You need clear visibility about when the items enter and exit your warehouse. This way, you’ll be able to track and share inventory updates with your customers. Cin7 can help you with inventory control as you get real-time visibility over your inventory in the warehouse. This would help in optimizing your processes to ensure a smooth workflow.

 

5. Ignoring business relationships

In the race to raise your profits, you shouldn’t overlook business relationships. Relationships are necessary, especially in the B2B arrangement that you deal with. Positive experience with customers can lead to more business opportunities as they can endorse you to their business partners. This is the key to long-term success.

Better relationships will ensure that your customers stick even through market fluctuations. Do your best to build these relationships by offering great customer service, making transactions convenient, and fulfilling orders quickly. Good relationships can also help in better negotiation with the suppliers so that you can lower your costs.

 

6. Not monitoring the cash flow

Healthy cash flow is the fuel for your business. Offering credit to your customers can help with increasing your sales. However, overextending the credit is risky for your business as it can lead to defaults.

You should thrive to proactively remind your customers about their payables and you should make it easier and more convenient for them to pay their invoices.

Cin7 can generate sales reports using which you can not only gauge the financial health of your business but can also ascertain your inventory’s performance. To sweeten the pot, we have integration with several accounting softwares such as Xero and Quickbooks.

 

7. Not following up with your customers

The relationship between you and the customers shouldn’t end after finalizing the sale. You need to nurture them so that you make repeat purchases.

You should follow up with your customers after they receive their offerings to check whether everything happened as per their expectations or not. You can send a follow-up email after the product is delivered.

 

Conclusion

Avoiding these common mistakes will help you improve your business practices. As you look for solutions to some common mistakes, consider new software, like Cin7’s inventory management, as part of your solution.

Book a demo now.

How to execute a year-end inventory count

Whether you’re running an auto body shop, a law firm, or a retail store, doing a year-end inventory count helps your business close the books on the past 12 months and organize yourself for the year ahead. In fact, the year-end inventory count is necessary for successful inventory management throughout the year. It allows you to clean up records and gives your business verified data to analyze.

Since retailers have a lot of inventory to manage, counting inventory correctly is crucial and allows you to make informed buying decisions later. Learn how to execute a year-end inventory count and how your annual count can help forecast demand for the year ahead in this article.

 

What is a year-end inventory count?

A year-end inventory count is a physical count of all the inventory on hand at the end of the year. The count is performed to verify that the physical inventory matches the numbers in your inventory management system.

A year-end inventory count is different from an inventory cycle count, which audits a smaller portion of inventory. While a cycle count allows you to monitor your inventory by sampling your inventory throughout the year, a year-end inventory is a physical count of everything you have on hand at one given point in time.

 

How do you conduct a year-end inventory count?

These are the steps that you need to follow for inventory counting:

  • First and foremost, you need to plan the day for conducting inventory count. It’s crucial to pause your warehousing operations while you do perform the counting so that you get an accurate snapshot of your inventory. You should plan a day that causes minimal impact on pausing the operations.
  • Once you finalize the date, you should form the team who will perform the stock counting. It is important to train them about your counting process and acquaint them with the warehouse’s premises. Dry runs can be organized a few days before the actual counting day.
  • You should also prepare your warehouse for the stock counting process. It should be thoroughly cleaned, and steps should be taken to ensure that there’s no scattered inventory. If there are boxes lying around the warehouse, it will slow down the workers who are counting.
  • The warehouse should be organized, and the areas (count zones) should be divided amongst the counting team so that everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • It’s crucial to equip your team with the right tools for counting. For manual counting, you can use counting tags. If you are using tags, then it’s best to let your team work in pairs so that one person can count the inventory while the other can note the values in the counting tag and stick it near the inventory. It’s best to get the counting tags signed by the respective team as it gives you clarity about the person associated with counting for a specific section.
  • To cross-check the accuracy of the counting, you can personally examine the areas to cross-verify the values mentioned in the counting tags. Otherwise, you can allocate members from other teams to cross-check the tag values. Cross-checking is crucial to get an accurate representation of your inventory. In case your inventory is also stored at other locations, you should coordinate to get the accurate values from those locations as well.
  • Performing inventory counts using manual sheets and counting tags can be time-consuming and prone to human errors. Using an inventory management software like Cin7 can be of great help. Instead of using tags and sheets, you can use barcode scanners to scan the inventories on the shelves. The software reconciles the inventory values with the ones already present in the system. This way, you can easily gauge the discrepancies in the inventory that’s physically present with you.

 

Why do year-end inventory count?

The year-end inventory count is essential because it ensures the stock you have on your shelves matches your records. By getting an exact look at your inventory, you can comply with tax requirements, manage corporate audits, and offer accurate data to your accounting team.

Once you complete your inventory count, you’ll have the data you need to complete an annual financial analysis. You also get the data you need to detect inventory shrinkage and forecast how much inventory you’ll need in the year ahead. On top of that, you get the chance to get inventory organized for the new year.

Knowing your year-end inventory allows you to

  • Get a better understanding of what products you have.
  • Hold accurate inventory records for accounting purposes.
  • Gain insight into products that don’t sell well that you shouldn’t order in the future.
  • Understand which products require a new selling strategy.
  • Know the demand and profitability for expansion consideration.
  • Consider adjusting periodic automatic replenishment (PAR) levels for top-selling products.
  • Determine the cost of goods sold and total net income.
  • Make business decisions based on data instead of intuition.
  • Analyze pricing strategy and identify room for improvement.

 

Does your business have inventory shrinkage?

Inventory shrinkage occurs when there’s less physical inventory than what’s listed in your inventory records. Shrinkage occurs due to human error, damaged stock, vendor shortages, lost inventory, or stolen inventory. It can drastically affect profits and is a problem that always needs to be investigated further. Businesses usually uncover inventory shrinkage as they do their year-end inventory counts.

How to handle inventory shrinkage

If you uncover inventory shrinkage during your year-end inventory count, your team should look for more information about what happened. If you are using inventory management software, you can examine past inventory records to determine if there are any trends that need investigation. Significant, widespread shrinkage can indicate theft or fraud, while one-off mistakes tend to reveal clerical errors. Damaged goods are self-explanatory.

Once you uncover and investigate the cause of inventory shrinkage, you can put guardrails on processes to prevent further loss. Some common preventive measures include:

  • Tightening security where inventory is stored.
  • Installing cameras or locking up high-value items.
  • Training employees about proper inventory counting.
  • Allowing only trained employees to accept and inspect new inventory.
  • Reviewing daily transactions on inventory apps.
  • Verifying purchase orders, invoices, and delivery slips when new inventory arrives.
  • Checking inventory shrinkage via cycle counts.

Discovering inventory shrinkage isn’t fun — but it’s a wake-up call for many businesses.

 

What if you have too much inventory?

Once you complete your year-end inventory, you might realize that you have more physical inventory than expected. If you have a lot more inventory than you need or want, you may have to figure out how to deal with the surplus. The first step is to determine if the excess inventory is still good to sell. Then you can adjust plans, orders, and budgets accordingly.

Once you figure out what your business needs for the year ahead, it’s time to get creative. What kind of promotions or sales can you have? What items should be sold at a discount? There may also be items in your inventory that can be repurposed or donated. If you donate excess inventory, talk to your accountant about writing them off for tax purposes.

Finally, you should talk with a liquidator about buying excess inventory. It may not be very profitable, but you can cut losses, clear up space, and move on.

 

Using year-end inventory to predict next year’s demand

One of the best reasons for conducting year-end inventory counts is to understand how your business used (or didn’t use) items over the past 12 months. A detailed snapshot of available inventory helps your business forecast demand for the year ahead.

By reviewing what hasn’t sold, you can plan sales, promotions, and marketing campaigns. These strategies can help you move old inventory and lets you focus on restocking only what your customers want.

 

Cin7’s inventory management software simplifies inventory counts

Cin7 inventory management software allows your business to track inventory using modern technology and powerful automation features. Cin7 is the best choice for inventory management software because it helps save you time, money, and stress. When you switch to Cin7, you’ll be able to:

  • Access your data at any time and place.
  • Set it up quickly, easily, and to your liking.
  • Use ready-to-scan barcodes with your phone’s camera.
  • Customize and allow access to teams, vendors, and suppliers.
  • Generate custom barcodes for unlabeled stock.
  • Create data-rich, shareable reports to help you understand inventory.
  • Get alerts when you’re running low on a product, if it’s expiring, or approaching warranty.
  • Create product histories to answer who, what, and when details.

Ready to see how our inventory software makes your year-end inventory count easier? Book your Demo now.

How consumerization in B2B is driving growth in sales

In today’s crowded space, businesses are doing what they can to grab and keep their customer’s attention. As a result, marketing has gotten much more personal. This trend began with B2C companies creating personalized, relatable content for their audiences, and is known as consumerization.

However, a popular myth associated with consumerization is that it only applies to B2C companies. This simply isn’t true. Consumerization is visible today in the marketing strategies of most B2B companies as well.

In this blog, we’ll try to understand the phenomenon of B2B consumerization and how it impacts sales.

 

What is B2B consumerization?

In simple words, B2B consumerization is the result of companies using more technology to engage with their clients. As in the B2C space, where consumers expect to be able to immediately access information and purchase products through digital means, B2B buyers now expect such options from the companies they do business with.

The shift towards B2B ecommerce is widespread. According to 2020 Gartner research, 80% of total B2B sales interactions will be digital by the year 2025. What’s in it for the B2B Sellers?

Makes sales more efficient

Any B2B marketer will tell you that, conventionally, B2B sales have relied heavily on personal relationships with clients. The biggest investment is the time put in to close a sale.

However, with digital products, companies are able to save their sales teams valuable time. By developing deeper insights into the targeted audience’s behavior before approaching the sale, sales teams can curate personalized sales strategies and offerings for their potential clients. This makes it easier to close more deals faster.

Leverage multiple access points

An access point, or a customer touchpoint, is any point through which the customer comes in contact with your brand. That includes radio ads, pay-per-click (PPC) banners, or elevator pitches.

Today, your business most likely interacts with your target audience using multiple touchpoints. Some of the most commonly used channels for B2B marketing are:

  • Blogs/articles,
  • Emails and newsletters,
  • Push notifications,
  • Digital and conventional advertising, and
  • Social media.

Using multichannel selling, your clients become familiar with your products or services while you have the opportunity to directly interact with potential customers.

Naturally, you’ll  want to reach your target market using as many touchpoints as possible. By collecting data from your customers, and with a bit of computing prowess, you can monitor and predict how your target market will react to your products or services.

 

And the result?

A much more efficient sales strategy with higher sales numbers. If you wish to scale your B2B business, try Cin7. Cin7 not only makes it effortless to manage your B2B orders but also helps in creating an online B2B store. Use it to showcase your product portfolio and boost your sales. Cin7 also comes with built-in inventory management features, so you efficiently manage your stock and prevent stockouts.

To learn more about how Cin7 can help in boosting your B2B business, book a demo with our experts.

Effective inventory management: The secret to Black Friday success

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday traditionally kick off the holiday shopping season. Large and small businesses often prepare for months to capitalize on shoppers looking for deals on these days.

Any glitches, such as not having enough inventory or problems with shipping and delivery, can lead to substantial reductions in profit.

Automated inventory management can ensure the entire sales cycle is managed well throughout the holiday shopping season. And the bonus? When customers have a good experience, they become returning customers.

This blog discusses how a seamless supply chain impacts online merchants and suggests inventory management tips for your upcoming holiday season.

 

Inventory management and supply chain for online merchants

In retail, the supply chain is defined as the process from order inventory to product delivery. Supply chain management consists of manufacturing, fulfillment, storage, and shipping. If any part of the process weakens, sales are negatively affected.

Merchants selling products online must plan for issues that could come up this holiday season.

 

Tips to manage your supply chain and inventory this holiday season

Choose the best suppliers

Online merchants usually work with international suppliers as a cost-saving measure. It’s better to work with domestic suppliers as you can:

  • Prevent customs delays and cross-border shipping.
  • Avoid unexpected new tariffs.
  • Replenish stock quickly and easily.

If you still work with international suppliers for your business, diversify your suppliers. By ordering from suppliers in several countries, you have a backup if there are problems with delivery from one country.

Plan the fulfillment process

If you are a merchant with a large volume of inventory, you can send it directly to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. The 3PL company can handle fulfillment and shipping on your behalf and let you focus on what you do best: ecommerce strategy and marketing.

You must think carefully while choosing warehouses whether or not you work with a 3PL service. Use a warehouse close to the suppliers and begin ordering inventory early. By planning ahead with time, you will give the warehouse staff enough margin to organize and categorize the products correctly.

Merchants with unused brick-and-mortar stores should consider using the space as a warehouse. Using your own space as a warehouse gives you an excellent visual idea of how quickly your stock sells. It helps you decide which products to push with holiday sales. Thus, you can save money on external services and have more control over stock management.

Another popular holiday season shopping method is buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS). This method became popular during the Covid-19 pandemic. These click and collect options remove complications related to shipping and let you enhance the customer service you can offer. If you look to implement store pick up this season, ensure your customers know how it works by including instructions on your site’s checkout page.

Talk to supply chain partners early

Your partners in the supply chain are your suppliers and manufacturers. You all must work and succeed together, so take the time to discuss order volume and develop a process that works for everyone.

Contact your suppliers as soon as possible to work out potential issues in the supply chain. The earlier you begin, the more you can anticipate and head off any problems. When discussing the order volume of the inventory, be specific and tell suppliers exactly how much you expect. If they flag any potential holiday supply issues, adjust the product range or diversity accordingly.

Keep in touch with 3PL companies regularly for likely changes as well. They could have staff shortages or a lack of drivers, delivery restrictions, or warehouse closures. Integrated warehouse management software can help you head off fulfillment issues.

Price your products strategically

After deciding on inventory value, vary product prices to control stock levels. Lowering the rates of well-stocked products means you can sell more. Raising the prices of items you have less of may reduce the number you sell.

Adjusting prices is all about finding the sweet spot to meet your inventory goals while maintaining your brand image. The rule of thumb is to keep pricing consistent. Making your products too cheap or too expensive can confuse the customers.

If you look to position yourself as a luxury brand, increase the prices and do a cost-benefit analysis to see what is more beneficial for your company. Lower prices on the products can shift more inventory, but higher prices return better profits and prevent you from running out of stock quickly.

One alternative to amending the products’ prices is to give discount coupons. You can shift the discounts to emphasize different products across your holiday sales season based on inventory levels.

 

Conclusion

Black Friday and other holiday sales events are so much more than placing a few ads and expecting high sales volumes. From a business perspective, they’re more about effective inventory management and best fulfillment practices.

Optimizing warehouse operations for accuracy and speed should be a top priority for any business during the holiday season.

That’s what Cin7 inventory management software is all about.

If your business sells hundreds or thousands of products towards the end of the year, you need an inventory management software with forecasting tools from a reputed company like Cin7. The Cin7 team will be more than happy to help you with your inventory management solution decisions.

Book your demo today!

Top 10 technologies driving ecommerce growth in 2022

New technologies continue to drive innovation in the ecommerce world. How is your site keeping up? Check out our predictions for the top 10 technologies that will drive ecommerce growth in 2022.

 

1. Voice and image search

Increasingly, consumers are using their voice and images to search online. As a result, businesses that want search bots to find them should incorporate text that mimics spoken questions into their sites along with high quality images.

 

2. AI chatbots

AI chatbots may be the future for the ecommerce industry. Their sophisticated programming allows the AI chatbot to respond to customers as if the chatbot were a real human being.

Unlike rule-based chatbots, AI chatbots are constantly learning from their conversations and can develop unscripted responses to queries. They are designed to read tone and emotion as well as help customers get the best recommendations for the products and services they are seeking.

 

3. Smarter mobile shopping tools

Brick-and-mortar retailers do not like seeing customers looking at their phone screens, for it indicates that the customer is price shopping or using their store as a showroom for a later online purchase elsewhere.

Therefore, savvy retailers offer their own GPS-enabled mobile shopping experiences to help customers buy in-store or anywhere else. For any retailer, a mobile-optimized site and store is a fundamental element of a positive ecommerce experience.

 

4. Omnichannel presence and support

The term omnichannel refers to the integration of multiple channels for ecommerce, such as an online storefront, website, or social media page. When you offer omnichannel support, your customers can enter information in one channel, and you can access it in another, providing a more seamless customer experience across channels.

 

5. Fast and secure e-wallet functionality

Speedy and secure e-wallet technology allows customers to store all of their payment information digitally in one place. This increases efficiency when shopping online because instead of having to enter information for each purchase, customers can check out of a site with just one or two clicks of a button.

Businesses equipped to accept e-wallet payments can level themselves up in the ecommerce market with better scalability of services and reciprocal security to attract even more customers.

 

6. Metaverse and other gaming platforms to facilitate sales

The concept of the Metaverse is still evolving, and it isn’t ready as an advertising platform. However, it represents a potent potential marketing channel for various ecommerce brands. Global brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Vans, and Gucci are already gearing up to treat their customers with virtual products.

Various gaming systems have also opened their platforms to ecommerce brands. For instance, leading fashion brand Balenciaga recently teamed up with Epic Games to launch its Fortnight clothing line. Nike turned to Roblox to launch Nikeland for purchasing virtual Nike gear for the gaming avatars.

 

7. Livestream commerce

Remember TV shopping channels? Livestream commerce or Livestream shopping is almost like that. It is a video streamed on a commercial platform where the host shows viewers various goods in real-time. Thus, the audience can easily buy products directly from the shopping site.

This type of ecommerce is very popular in China. For instance, in 2020, during the Global Shopping Festival on the Taobao platform, live broadcast generated sales of about $6 billion. Companies in the US have also noticed a tendency toward this upgraded version of ‘shoptainment.’

This approach to online retail lets you present items in every dynamic and develop client interest by creating urgency with limited-quantity or limited-time offers.

 

8. Headless and API-driven ecommerce

Headless commerce is a solution that lets an online store’s ecommerce platform de-couple from the front-end presentation layer. More ecommerce businesses have adopted headless technology due to its flexibility on the backend, added SEO and digital experience capabilities, and content marketing.

 

9. Progressive web apps

The progressive web app is a technology that lets you create web applications that look like native mobile apps. While building these solutions, developers use web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Retail giants like Walmart and Alibaba have used PWA to generate more revenue and increase conversion rates. Progressive web apps are perfectly suitable for any small and medium-sized organization.

PWA’s primary functions include:

  • Offline application access
  • Application access via the smartphone’s home screen
  • Push notifications

 

10. Cin7 inventory management

Popular brands know that the bigger your business, the more crucial it is to have a scalable infrastructure. Cin7’s flexible, future-proofed and hyper-scalable inventory management software is purposely built for retail businesses.

It offers various integrations with a speedy, expert-led implementation having a success rate of 97%.

 

Wrapping up

More innovations in ecommerce technology are likely to evolve in 2022. As you evaluate whether a new technology is worth incorporating in your business, consider magnitude, relevancy, and functionality. While some may provide a huge value, others might be out of touch with your particular customer demographic or be too costly. One technology we certainly recommend is Cin7 inventory management software.

Cin7 inventory management software makes all your business operations, like purchasing, selling, warehousing, accounting, and shipping, hassle-free and virtually effortless in order for you and your management team to focus more on other aspects of your business.

Book your demo now!