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 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.

What every fashion retailer can learn from Zara

If you’re running a fashion store, you need to keep up with the latest product and service trends in the market. Zara has been one of the most successful (and most copied) brands in the fashion industry, and companies can find both inspiration and business ideas by taking a closer look at how they operate. 

Zara is a leading Spanish fashion retail brand owned by the distribution group Inditex. Founded in 1975, Zara works in textile design, manufacturing, and distribution. With over 1,700 stores across 86 countries, Zara’s profitability is still among the highest in the industry.

So, what makes Zara so successful? What operational strategies do they use? And finally, what can other fashion retailers learn from Zara? The answers to these questions can help you as you make your way towards retail success. 

Zara capitalizes on fashion trends

For Zara, its competitive advantage is its supply chain. Zara designs fashionable products inspired by trade fairs, catwalks, magazines, and more. Their designs are unique, and they are able to meet the demands of fashion-centric customers from all age groups. Whenever a new style is seen in the market, the talented designers at Zara can move quickly and capitalize while trends are at their peak. 

This flexibility means that Zara is associated with new trends in the industry, and that recognition leads to higher demand. So, how do they move so quickly? It’s obvious that Zara’s processes are very efficient. They surely have a great inventory management system that helps them automate and streamline their processes. 

Zara has a clear, defined, and consistent system

Zara designs thousands of products every year, and they deliver new products to their stores twice a week. They have a precise inventory management tool that makes it easy for them to determine which products they have in stock, how many of those products are available, and which sizes need to be delivered to what stores. 

Looking at Zara, it’s clear that having an inventory optimization model in place is essential. Zara is able to make sure that each store receives only the products they need, and no more. This way, Zara is able to stay efficient and avoid wasteful over-stocking.

Zara can go from idea to shipped product in 15 days

Zara’s stores place two orders per week, and they do it on a scheduled date and time. The shipping carriers are scheduled to leave and deliver shipments at specific times. This level of attention to detail and organization allows Zara’s staff to have clear expectations and processes.

With an organized logistic system in place, Zara also has the ability to go from idea generation, to design, and finally stocked in stores in only 15 days. The industry standard, on the other hand, is 6 months.

Zara’s distribution process is extremely efficient, too.They’re able to deliver products to their European stores within a day, and to their American and Asian outlets in 2 days or less.

Zara’s supply management sets it up for success

Zara’s flexibility, efficiency, and organization make it an outstanding organization, and a great model for fashion retailers around the world. Their cross-functional operations strategy, efficient supply management, and organized distribution methods result in well-managed inventories, lower prices, higher profits, and fantastic brand value.

Want to get organized like Zara? Request a demo here and speak to a specialist who can discuss how Cin7 increases operational efficiency and overall productivity for all kinds of retailers and wholesalers.  

5 secrets to negotiating price with suppliers

In today’s market, the supply and demand environment is more volatile than ever before. To make sure that you are not paying more for your stock than necessary, you will have to negotiate with suppliers more effectively.

It is said that the more you negotiate, the better the outcome for your balance sheet – but this suggestion should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, anyone can negotiate, but to successfully do it, it should be understood that the concept of supply and demand is the foundation for any negotiation. Failing to keep this in mind may end up straining or fracturing your relationships with suppliers, diminishing your reputation within the ecommerce community and placing your business in peril. 

So how should you negotiate with suppliers for your ecommerce business? There are myriad negotiation hacks that will help you secure the deals you seek and build your reputation as a shrewd business owner. The experts at Cin7 have created a list of five negotiating tactics to help you get better deals with a win-win outcome. Let’s get started!

#1 Research before negotiating with suppliers

Before you begin negotiations with a potential supplier, you must first conduct comprehensive research. Since they are selling you the product(s), they will have a thorough understanding of its market costs, demand, importance in the product value chain, and they know about your competitors. You should have a fair understanding of these factors too so that you bring credibility to the negotiating table and have a productive discussion. 

Doing the due diligence in researching a supplier, as well as their competition, will help you get an idea of market prices while keeping the sales goal of the supplier in mind. Based on your research, your proposal could involve promising long-term business, a shorter credit cycle, or changing the frequency of payments. Therefore, it is important to do your homework in order to proffer potential suppliers a fair, tangible, and mutual benefit in doing business with you.

Helpful Hint: As you research, be sure to note industry-specific terminology. Using it will help enhance your credibility and may be the difference in reducing the chance of suppliers quoting inflated prices.

#2 Calculate your purchasing needs 

Once you have a better understanding of the supplier’s business and its needs, your next step is to make sure your proposal fits both their needs and yours. 

To construct that proposal, determine the quantity of what you want to purchase, the order frequency, and the total cost of the purchases you would make during a given year. Having this information handy will provide you with more negotiation leverage and give the supplier a better idea as to how much potential you have as a business opportunity for them. The more your proposal meets the needs of the supplier, the more likely they are to offer you the discounts you seek.

Helpful Hint: Ask for bulk discounts. If you have a large order, you are in a great position to negotiate prices. Request to see their discount grids, as most suppliers use them regularly to manage sales. Be sure to refer to data gathered from your  inventory management software when finalizing your tentative order size. 

#3 Offer partial advance payments and deferred discounts

The next tip is to offer a partial or full advance for the first order. This is one of the best ways to establish trust and help the supplier decide to start working with you. You can always switch to their standard credit cycle down the line.

This also presents an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to a mutually beneficial business arrangement. Specifically, when offering an advance payment, remember to ask for a discount on a total purchase volume after achieving a milestone, i.e., meeting a certain sales threshold. This is considered a deferred discounting mechanism, and it helps suppliers ensure that they are going to reach their sales goals before activating your agreed-upon discount. 

#4 Be honest and transparent

There are all sorts of reasons to seek a better price for products. For example, you might urgently need a product at a lower price to keep up with the competition or to have enough profit margin to meet your own sales goals. You might be a small business owner who needs a discount to remain profitable or a combination of any of these scenarios and yet not have much to offer in terms of value to the supplier. One thing you can offer, however, is full disclosure of your status. This is a gesture of good faith and will lay the foundation for a solid professional relationship. 

It is imperative that you do not use any deceitful tactics like negotiating under false pretenses or making hollow promises to get discounts from your potential suppliers. A business is only as good as the word of those who represent it, so make sure you are earnest in your negotiations. 

Helpful Hint: Sometimes a negotiation results in a stalemate. Don’t shy away from pausing a negotiation in the event of a failure to reach an agreement. Keep in mind that the number of sellers for the items you need may be limited based on your purchasing capacity and expected price range.

#5 Once an agreement is reached, get it in writing

One of the most important qualities of a good negotiator is to close the deal in writing. All too many businesspeople make the mistake of not signing agreements after they have completed the negotiation simply due to procrastination or lack of operational knowhow. This can lead to a situation where the other party forgets the details of your conversation, and hence, you may have difficulty reminding them. Also, if the decision-makers forget about certain details that you previously negotiated, you may miss out on the deal you thought you had secured. Therefore, it is in your best interest to finalize and ink the deal as quickly as possible.

Helpful Hint: You may use document signing tools available online to expedite the process and then email a copy of the signed agreement to the supplier. Place your first order reflecting the explicitly stated terms and conditions. 

With an inventory and order management system like Cin7, you have the option of connecting to your suppliers via a custom EDI connection streamlining future orders by placing them electronically.

In summary

Negotiating is a tough skill to master in any industry, but as an ecommerce business owner, you will put that skill into practice quite often, thanks to the shortening life cycles of various SKUs and sudden surges in demand for products. While you will naturally get better at negotiating over time, it is crucial that you apply the five tips to be a successful deal broker. Keep your eyes open for discount opportunities, negotiate your way into the best deals with your suppliers, and watch your ecommerce business thrive. 

Enter into supplier negotiations armed with accurate sales data gathered from a robust inventory and order management solution like Cin7 that updates in real time with your accounting software. Request a Cin7 demo today.

Open a no cost online store

The last two years have been very profitable for the online selling industry. The pandemic boosted ecommerce and made online shopping an integral part of all our lives. Most businesses finally made their transition online, and a lot of new online businesses were created, too. In fact, US ecommerce sales passed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2021. If you’re an entrepreneur, now’s a fantastic time to start an ecommerce store.

This guide will walk you through building your ecommerce business without paying a penny! Let’s jump right in.

Step #1 – Choose an ecommerce website platform

The first thing you should know is that ecommerce websites are significantly different from typical websites. That means you’ll need to put some extra effort into the setup process and opt for a specialized ecommerce website platform. If you already have a WordPress website, we recommend that you install the WooCommerce plugin to make a smooth, seamless transition.

Setting up your WooCommerce-based online store is pretty simple.  You can easily find a step-by-step tutorial on YouTube that will walk you through the entire process. WooCommerce is free to get started and you can run your business for a long time without needing to pay for any plugins or custom development. In just a few hours, you’ll be able to go live.

If you don’t want to use a WordPress-based website, you can go with a dedicated ecommerce website builder like Shopify, which provides you with all the necessary tools you need to build a professional online store. Shopify comes with a 90-day free trial — but you may have to shell out some money for third-party app integrations. Like WordPress, building a Shopify store is fairly simple and you can achieve great results without paying a developer.

Step #2 – Choose a social media tool to market your business

Next, you’ll need to get yourself a dedicated social media management tool for content distribution. A social media presence will help you build your audience and brand, and most platforms are providing new and exciting ways to monetize the attention you get there. A proper social media tool will allow you to save time and automate posting across different social media channels.

To get started, we recommend Hootsuite — which allows you to manage up to 10 channels for free. Hootsuite gives you access to their main features and is the perfect tool for new businesses. It’s easy to use and has tons of free resources — including troubleshooting — in case you face any problems.

While it can be a good practice to customize your marketing communications for each social media platform, there’s no need to worry about that in the beginning of your ecommerce journey.

Step #3 – Select an email marketing platform for high ROI

Email marketing is extremely important for ecommerce sellers. From cart abandonment emails to reactivation and retargeting campaigns, it’s essential to market directly to potential customers. In fact, email marketing delivers an impressive ROI of $42 for every dollar spent! That ROI is much better than any social media or paid marketing method. So, no matter what product you want to sell, or what your personal opinion is of email marketing, the fact is that it’s extremely important to collect as many email addresses as you can.

One great strategy for growing your email list involves offering a freebie or a discount in exchange for an email address. You can also choose to run referral campaigns, which we’ll discuss later in the article. For your email marketing needs, we recommend MailChimp. Not only is it the market leader, but it also has a bunch of free HTML email templates to choose from.

Mailchimp is a “freemium tool” – meaning you won’t have to pay a penny before crossing 2,000 contacts or 10,000 sends per month. It provides great marketing capabilities, an excellent drag-and-drop responsive email builder, and it integrates with your website, too.

Step #4 – Find a CRM tool to manage customer interactions

As your business grows, the challenge of keeping track of all your customers will become more complex. Disorganization will eventually lead to dissatisfied customers. Let’s face it: there’s no way for startup owners to check and respond to every social media comment, direct message, and email. On top of that, customers often reach out on multiple platforms, and keeping track of all the communication can be confusing. That’s exactly why you should be using a CRM tool to help you centralize your customer interactions.

HubSpot is a perfect place to start. It allows you to have a common dashboard to track conversations and automate future interactions. You can use HubSpot’s “free forever” plan to fuel your customer interactions with up to 1,000,000 contacts and no limit on data storage. Although many people find their pricing plans expensive, paying a premium in the future can be a great value add to your efforts. However, you can simply use the free version for now.

HubSpot also publishes a lot of courses on digital marketing and tutorials for getting the most out of the platform. Learning HubSpot is fairly straightforward, and we recommend that you brush up on the basics of your CRM to grow your business and knowledge base.

Step #5 – Get an accounting tool for your online store

Accounting can be a headache. But the worst thing you can do is ignore the need for accounting altogether. Accounting tools help you stay on top of your finances and in compliance, and it’s imperative to have one.

Xero is a great pick for ecommerce sellers. Xero offers you a 30-day free trial which is more than enough to test your ecommerce business idea — and it has very affordable prices if you do decide to continue. Integrating accounting software is a no-brainer for any business owner — so the sooner you take care of this, the better.

Step #6 – Use a payment gateway with a large user base

Now comes the best part: getting paid. You’ll need a payment gateway integration for accepting payments on your ecommerce site. There are more than 100 payment gateway providers, but we recommend you choose from those with the biggest reach in the industry: PayPal or Stripe.

Furthermore, you may also want to integrate your web store with Apple Pay and Amazon Pay, too. This will help increase your compatibility with popular payment methods. As a fledgling business, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for your hard-earned customers to pay you.

Step #7 – Add your referral and rewards software

Referrals and rewards are two of the best strategies you can implement to retain your most valuable customers. Not only do these tactics motivate your customers to return and spend more money — it also makes them feel special and valued.

The way it works is quite simple – existing customers invite new users to your store using referral links. When any new user signs up using an existing customer’s referral link, they both get rewarded. These rewards could be a discount promo code or a free voucher that they can redeem to buy an item of their choice from your store. Rewarding your customers for referrals is a great way to bring in new customers and get the existing ones to shop more frequently from your store.

There are plenty of good solutions available for both, but we would recommend starting with Referral Factory. It has a huge library of ready-to-use templates and comes with a trial period of 15 days. For rewards, you can try Marsello, which is one of the best-rated rewards software there is. Marsello also comes with a 30-day free trial, so you can try both without putting any money down.

You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference having these solutions make. They’ll also help your brand reputation and boost its value in your customers’ eyes.

Step #8 – Choose your inventory and order management software

The last, and perhaps most important step, is finding an inventory and order management software solution. If you want to be successful in ecommerce, this is absolutely essential. This software will automate your backend processes and allow you to seamlessly scale your business. When you manage inventory by hand, mistakes are almost inevitable. It’s important to avoid overordering, understocking, and losing track of inventory.

These are the kinds of mistakes that put your business in jeopardy. Frustrating customers ultimately costs you orders. On top of that, it’s important to keep customers updated on shipping status, order time, and operations. When done manually, all of these tasks add up to an unsustainable workload.

That’s where all-in-one solutions like Cin7 come in handy. You’ll be able to seamlessly manage your inventory, process your orders, facilitate your shipping, and more. The ability to automate workflows, integrate with hundreds of platforms, and access cutting-edge analytics is integral to your ecommerce store.

Step #9 – Get started!

Now it’s your turn to put what you’ve learned here to the test. You have most of the tools you’ll need to be successful in building your ecommerce store — with zero investment!

If you have any questions about the exciting journey you’re about to take, feel free to get in touch with the experts at Cin7. They’re more than happy to help you as you make your way towards ecommerce success.

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.

Accelerate B2B wholesale selling with built-in EDI

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): The electronic exchange of business information using a standardized format; a process which allows one company to send order information to another company electronically rather than by paper or email.

The top 30 retailers in the US, UK and Australia will buy over 2 trillion dollars of products from their suppliers this year. Are you getting your fair share of these purchases? Do you have the EDI technology to be a great supplier to these retailers?

Imagine if Walmart wants to order $100,000 of products from you. Which type of supplier are you? Type 1 or Type 2?

Type 1 suppliers – You’ve adopted a robust inventory and order management system that has a built-in EDI connection direct to Walmart. When Walmart needs to order from you, the purchase order is immediately received electronically by you for fulfillment because the required commercial documents have been coordinated between both parties ahead of time. And, as an added bonus, your inventory system has a seamless, bi-directional integration with your accounting software, so all of the appropriate journal entries are made and your stock count has been updated, all in real time. Supplier type 1 has a fully automated sales workflow designed to sell fast and scale over time.

Or, are you type 2?  The Walmart procurement rep has to manually complete your required form fields by navigating a PDF purchase order template, double check it for accuracy, and email it to you. Then your employee has to email the procurement rep several times to clarify the order details before manually entering the PO information into an Excel spreadsheet, accounting system or inventory tracker without making any mistakes. 4 or 5 days later, the order is ready to be fulfilled. As you may already know, Walmart will stop doing business with Type 2 sellers after their first experience. So, there are very few type 2 sellers left in the world.

Wholesalers and distributors who sell products in bulk to retailers have a vested interest in streamlining the sales process as much as possible by leveraging the latest advances in transactional sales automation.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the electronic exchange of business information using a standardized format; a process which allows one company to send information to another company electronically rather than by paper or email.

EDI software provides built-in templates that are used to establish unified field formats before transferring data between vendor and retailer systems, making repeat orders a snap.

EDI is an asynchronous data transfer technology that uses a file-based, batch transfer model. The standardization levels for EDIs have matured and been accepted almost universally. Experienced EDI providers maintain these standards and customize them to meet industry-specific requirements.

Adopting an inventory and order management software solution that integrates seamlessly with accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero and that offers a full service, built-in EDI capability with hundreds of major retailers is the key to quickly growing a flourishing wholesale distribution operation.

The benefits of EDI to wholesalers and their retail customers are numerous.

  1. Retailers who can predictably work with distributors that reliably fulfill electronic sales transactions will order more products, more often, engendering loyalty for years to come.
  2. Wholesale sellers that offer electronic order processing and retailers who take advantage of it can both cut staffing costs.
  3. EDI shortens the initial sales transaction, shaving days of admin work off of fulfillment time that may already be delayed due to supply chain disruptions.
  4. Electronic order processing reduces incidents of human error resulting from manual data entry and paper-based record keeping.

Wholesale sellers that choose inventory software with hundreds of pre-built EDI connections see their operating expenses shrink and sales grow exponentially. With the right inventory and order software, wholesale distributors enjoy the following:

  1. Secure, industry-compliant electronic connections that speed sales transactions compared to paper or email-based order processes. The faster a retailer can transact business, the more business they’ll bring you.
  2. Retailers that prefer to do business with you over your competitors who still rely on manual transactions and can’t provide the same simplicity and immediacy that you can with built-in EDI.
  3. Customized and automated workflows that minimize error risk, increase sales volume and lower staffing costs. When ordering is easy, retailers order more often.
  4. Dropping that expensive third party EDI provider. It’s a much better idea to go with a comprehensive inventory management solution that has all the EDI connections you need ready and waiting.
  5. Being directly connected to your third party logistics provider (3PL) warehouse the way you need to be. EDI connections to 3PLs streamline and automate fulfillment workflows and make the ordering process transparent from download to dispatch.
  6. Quick and efficient electronic exchange of other types of required business documentation with retail trading partners. These include invoices, order receipt confirmations, transaction updates, order status notifications and detailed shipping status updates.

Request a demo of Cin7 today to learn even more about the advantages of an inventory and order management system with full service, built-in EDI.

For a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of EDI, check out our extensive EDI resource here.

The next time Walmart, Target, Tesco, Costco, or any large retailer opens the door for you to sell to them, will you be ready?

Posted in EDI

How to avoid costly SKU proliferation

Imagine the demand for one of your products is through the roof. In response, you purchase more of that product with several variations. Your goal is to capitalize on the popularity of the product by giving your customers choices like color, style, and size.

That describes SKU proliferation. It is the process of adding products or variations of products to your inventory. Each of those variants receives its own unique SKU.

SKU proliferation impacts almost every aspect of your business. In this article, we will describe the pitfalls of SKU proliferation and its implications on your business as well as how to manage it effectively.

A SKU is a unique number assigned to a specific product

SKU stands for stock keeping unit. It is an alphanumeric code assigned to a product that helps easily track and manage inventory. SKUs differ from UPCs and GTINs. SKUs are individual to the business and are used to make purchasing decisions to improve profitability. UPC is a Universal Product Code used primarily in North America and GTINs are Global Trade Item Numbers used throughout the rest of the world and every product has its own distinct code number. Competing businesses that carry the same product will have the same UPC/GTIN but a different SKU.

Here’s how it works. A clothing company might have several variants of the same item including size, material, and color. Each variant is assigned a unique SKU. For example, a medium-sized blue t-shirt can be assigned the following SKU: BLUTEEMEDCF26.

SKUs enable businesses to display similar items to customers based on common features. This is where upselling and cross selling shines – it’s that suggestion just before checkout that reads “frequently bought together” or “you might also like.”

SKU proliferation and its causes

As trends fluctuate and competitors enter the marketplace, businesses strive to keep up with customer demands. SKU proliferation is the process of adding more products (SKUs) to your inventory to meet those needs. SKU proliferation can be considered a byproduct of multichannel selling – customers are used to having multiple choices at their fingertips.

Before we discuss the problems associated with SKU proliferation, let’s explore why businesses encounter this problem in the first place.

1. Technology upgrades

Technology has changed the way we do business. Multichannel selling has forced wholesalers and retailers to carry more inventory in an effort to provide a seamless shopping experience. Without proper sales forecasting, businesses overstock to meet anticipated sales through multiple channels.

2. Faster delivery preferences

Imagine how quickly you would be out of business if every time you sold a product you had to wait for the product to reach your store before sending it to your customer? To accommodate delivery demands, more and more businesses are stashing inventory to dispatch if and when an order is placed.

3. Poor inventory management

Inefficient inventory management leads to a stockpile of unwanted or obsolete inventory, each with individual SKUs.

Problems created by SKU proliferation

As the variety of products (SKUs) increases, so does the complexity of running your business. SKU proliferation disrupts the logistical process, forces rigorous inventory control, and increases costs.

Here are just a few of the larger problems created by having too much inventory.

1. Increase in storage costs

Storage costs are directly correlated to the amount of inventory a business has. The more inventory you keep, the higher your storage costs will be. In addition to the costs of the actual space, anticipate rising costs in utilities, insurance, and staff to manage storage.

2. Difficulties in fulfilling orders

As inventory increases, it can become more challenging to fulfill orders accurately and in a timely manner. Having too much inventory can be confusing, leading to errors caused by similar SKUs or incorrectly assigned SKUs. As a consequence, the wrong product might be shipped, increasing costs and hassles associated with returns and a potentially negative reflection on your brand.

3. Inefficient cash flow

Securing more inventory comes at the expense of something else. Funds allocated towards inventory can decrease cash flow when your business needs it most. According to a US Bank study, 82% of business failures result from poor cash flow management.

4. Increase in order fulfillment times

Having too much inventory slows down the fulfillment process. Overstuffed warehouses create time-consuming efforts to find products and package orders. This is on top of errors that might be caused by too many SKUs.

SKU rationalization is the remedy to SKU proliferation. It is a method of reducing the overall number of SKUs by identifying obsolete or poor-performing inventory. Just keeping your best sellers cuts storage and management costs and improves profitability.

SKU management for businesses

As your business grows, SKU proliferation may seem inevitable. But it doesn’t have to ruin your business. Using SKU rationalization, you can identify those products that are actually making you money and return or “fire-sale” the rest.

Effective SKU management not only saves money but also time. Decreasing inventory will allow you to easily find and package online orders and replace items on the sales floor.

It might seem like SKU proliferation is a good thing. After all, it’s a strategy to ramp up sales while the buying is hot. The catch is its impact on business logistics. Proactively monitoring your SKU base allows you to implement corrective measures to effectively scale your business. It is part of an inventory management solution that enables you to forecast sales and keep up with trends without busting at the seams.

Cin7 was built with modern businesses in mind. Its inventory and order management software offers a cloud-based solution that integrates all your sales channels into a single platform. Cin7 facilitates advanced automation processes creating seamless transactions centered around a positive customer experience.

Ditch the spreadsheets and stop manual data entry. Conquer new markets with Cin7’s inventory and order management system.

Book your Demo now.




How the latest inventory software can streamline ecommerce selling

Ecommerce is fiercely competitive and the competition has only increased due to the pandemic. Retailers must adapt accordingly and keep pace with changing market conditions. As an ecommerce business owner, you are required to handle multiple jobs simultaneously and you are often pulled in many directions. Learn more about inventory software for ecommerce in this article.

Those directions could include stocking the hottest products or fulfilling orders across multiple channels. That does not even take into account the marketing and customer service efforts.

So, how do you build your customer base and keep your current customers happy? The answer is ecommerce automation.

The technology that is available today provides you with lots of ecommerce automation options to address your business requirements. The concept is simple – using software to convert manual operations into automated workflows.

Technology can accomplish a broad set of operational tasks without human intervention. Sending emails to different customers, generating support tickets, and fulfilling orders are examples.

Not only does ecommerce automation save time, it also saves money. Automation gives your business team back time to focus on customer service, innovation, and creativity.

Now, let’s have a look at how technology can help your ecommerce business run more smoothly and profitably:

1. Automated and centralized inventory management for multichannel ecommerce

A cloud-based, multichannel inventory management system (IMS) lets brands optimize the supply chain and avoid losses due to stock-outs. AN IMS helps manage business inventory flow through a single dashboard with real-time access to sales and stock movement data.

An inventory management system enables you to list your products across multiple ecommerce platforms and brick-and-mortar locations and process orders through a centralized hub that updates your accounting software.

Take out the manual factors from inventory management, and minimize the possibility of human error.

Here are some key value-adds that an IMS would bring:

  • Reduce understocking & overstocking
  • Reduce headcount for daily operations
  • Avoid shipping errors & returns
  • Accurate inventory forecast and planning
  • Increase order fulfillment rate
  • Detailed inventory and sales reports
  • Reduce hits to overhead because of human error
  • Real-time updates to your accounting program

2. Zero effort sales recognition and accounting automation

One of the big benefits of digital businesses is not needing the large sales team of yesteryear. A small sales team can make operations effective through automated procedures and assessment tools like a CRM.

CRMs help manage tasks like adding new leads, call scheduling, contact information, and users can allocate follow-ups transparently and quickly. CRMs also help prevent two people approaching the same lead.

Most importantly, sales teams can keep records of call specifics and outcomes, which can be useful in future follow-ups. Hubspot, Zoho, and Salesforce are some of the most popular CRMs to try out.

Accounting and sales must coexist harmoniously and share inputs to bookkeeping. There are several accounting solutions to choose from, just make sure it will integrate with your inventory and order management software.

3. AI-enabled customer service desk increases brand loyalty

Customer service is a critical aspect of your business and directly impacts customer loyalty and brand image. There are several customer service platforms to choose from that should allow you to automate repetitive tasks. Chatbots, for instance, are still the most common way to do so.

Chatbots are programs that help to automate customer interactions by responding to a set of specified conditions, events, and question triggers. Product-focused chatbot interactions are increasing in popularity.

As per a Facebook poll, more than half of customers said they were more likely to shop with a company that allows them to communicate via chat.

Customers want to find the information they need in a matter of seconds with a click. Chatbots solve for that. Plus, various solutions can be used to integrate chatbots into ecommerce websites and social media accounts with minimum development expenditures.

Chatbots are an integral part of a company’s customer service strategy – Octane, MobileMonkey, and Bostify are some of the most common chatbots for ecommerce. Chatfuel is another shareware option and is one of the finest ecommerce chatbot services.

4. Technology driven and seamless payment options

Customers want personalization and seamless ecommerce experiences. According to Business Insider, global customers will make 1.1 trillion cashless payments by 2024 by acquiring products and services using a mix of mobile, web, and linked devices.

Passive authentication like face and touch ID has become more popular as technology advances because your credentials are already loaded into your ewallet and ready to pay. This is made possible by services like AmazonPay, ApplePay, GooglePay, Paytm, PhonePe, PayPal, and similar services.

5. Transition to a multichannel experience

Your customers expect your products to be available across the spectrum of selling channels they have to choose from. Web stores, physical stores, social media, and online marketplaces are all part of multichannel retailing. Today, single-click buy on ecommerce sites, a social media presence, brand awareness, and overall lifestyle affinity all play a role in purchasing behavior.

The main objective of multichannel selling is to make sure that marketing techniques enable clients to convert via each type of sales channel. With the proper automation technology at hand and a multichannel strategy, your brand can offer a seamless customer experience.

Walmart’s “order-by-text and chat services” was one example of how brands can leverage technology as part of their multichannel strategy. The service let customers place orders with a text message and offered same-day delivery.

The service is no longer offered, but it paved the way for other ecommerce brands to provide something exceptional to their customers.

6. Integrate social commerce into ecommerce strategy

Most businesses use social media platforms for advertising. It helps customers purchase by leveraging social media’s convenience, usability, and reach.

Facebook Marketplace was mainly created in 2018 to compete with Amazon, Google Shopping, and Etsy. Instagram adopted product tags in 2016 to help users recognize the products and prices they see in adverts.

With the integration of BigCommerce and Shopify in 2017, customers would go to a web page to make a purchase.

Pinterest has a similar appearance to Instagram, added buyable pins to select brands in 2015, and their user numbers rose in 2016. A shopping cart was also introduced to help buy from multiple merchants simultaneously.

Conclusion on inventory software for ecommerce

Working in the ecommerce space requires dealing with competitors and meeting customer expectations and demands. Current technology solutions can automate mundane tasks and streamline operations.

Choosing an Inventory Management Software (IMS) like Cin7 increases operational efficiency and overall productivity for all kinds of retailers and wholesalers. Get your inventory software for ecommerce today!

Hop Revolution

New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes and boutique products, but it’s not yet on the international map for its hop crop. However, if Hop Revolution has anything to say about it, that is about to change. 

Hops, for the uninitiated, are a key ingredient in many beers. A relative of the much more famous cannabis sativa, hops contribute flavour, smell and the tasty bitterness that beer fans crave. Just like grapes and wine, hops have their own special characteristics depending on where they’re grown. With their unusually-high acidity and unique cool-climate flavours, the New Zealand crops that Hop Revolution takes to market are rapidly achieving cult status among craft brewers and their distributors.

“Hop Revolution is a relatively young hop-growing sales and marketing business,” says Hop Revolution Supply Chain and Sales Analyst, Nick Evans. “We have the view that we are going to scale up growing New Zealand hop varieties, and take that to brewers in export markets. At the moment, our hops go predominantly into the US, UK and European markets.” 

Hops are a delicate product. The commercially valuable part is the unfertilized flowers, and for it to retain its qualities for successful export, hops must be carefully prepared within moments of being picked. This means each hop garden must have its own picking and drying equipment., where hops are processed into bales. Once this is done, the hops can be safely transported for further processing to export markets around the world. 

That’s where the Hop Revolution starts. They manage two hop farms, and export the hops to brewers all over the world. 

But the exacting nature of the product, as well as the vagaries of the commodities export market —  where goods tend to be bought in large quantities and are often sold on consignment — means that good inventory management is critical. Hop Revolution have only been running for a couple of years, but they put Cin7 in place after the business had only been selling for only a few months. 

“Getting something in place and helping us manage that inventory was pretty high up the list once we got started,” Nick says.

Early Cin7 implementation means early success 

This isn’t the usual inventory management story. A lot of businesses wait until they’re well established before investing in cloud inventory management software, relying on spreadsheets or manual processes to bridge the gap. But, while spreadsheets are fine right at the start, once things get complicated, relying on them can throw business systems into chaos. Forward-thinking product sellers know that the best time in the business cycle to get started with inventory management is as soon as possible. 

“It was that scaling factor, really,” Nick says. “It was pretty simple to begin with, but as soon as you start ending up in different markets, with three different distribution locations, and with consignment inventories in different countries, it’s a bit too complicated to manage it with a spreadsheet. Having a way to tie all that together is key.” 

Nick’s background in farm technology and supply chain management meant that he was the perfect hire to look after Hop Revolution’s complex inventory and supply chain requirements. Luckily, Cin7 came recommended by a hop grower that already used the software. 

“We did the full review across all the potential options out there, including Unleashed, and landed on Cin7 with the view that if we could tie it in with our other supply chain partners, then that’d make life a lot easier all round. It showed promise early on,” Nick says. 

Cin7 is the cornerstone of a powerful business software stack

While it’s perfectly fine to implement Cin7 in your business without outside help, to get the most out of Cin7, the top product sellers either hire someone with expertise, or use a Cin7 implementation partner. Hop Revolution chose to use Powerhouse Solutions. 

“We used an implementation partner to get us up and running, and that was really good,” Nick says. Despite not having as many products as some Cin7 users – Hop Revolution only had four to start with – the complexities of their market and selling methods meant that having outside help to get up and running was invaluable. What’s more, their implementation partner offered training to the staff members who needed to use Cin7, drastically reducing the time required to use the product to its full potential. 

“The training aspect of it’s really important, I think,” Nick says. “You know, there’s a lot of buttons to click and there’s a lot of ways to do things. It’s good to have a bit of a steer out the gate, to have someone with knowledge and experience show us the way.” 

Cin7 is now the cornerstone of a powerful software stack that powers the entire business, customised to their niche and needs. It functions better than an ERP  —  and without the enormous upfront and ongoing costs associated with legacy ERP systems. 

“Our whole ethos at the moment is to run SaaS for anything and everything,” Nick says. “We’re hooked into Xero. We have a ShipStation integration. We’ve also got GoSweetSpot — because we’re shipping in three different countries at the moment, we’ve just got to have that flexibility to have multiple accounts for different shipping destinations. It’s really useful. Having it all integrate together with Cin7 is giving us that flexibility, ticking all the boxes, and kicking the goals.” 

“Cin7 means I can sleep at night”

Cin7 has proved vital in efficiently managing Hop Revolution’s sales process. After they’ve produced a batch of hops, much of their stock gets allocated to a purchase contract, which may or may not be drawn down for up to 12 months or more. 

“It sits in inventory for quite a long time, but it still can’t be sold because it’s allocated to a customer,” Nick says. 

Because of this, Cin7’s Open to Sell functionality is a god-send. It means Hop Revolution always knows how much of their stock they can sell to new customers, while still completing open orders. “We love the order tracking and Open to Sell, as it’s pretty powerful for knowing what’s available to sell.” Nick says.

Cin7’s market-leading reporting capability is also hugely beneficial, giving Hop Revolution — which often has stock in multiple stages of production and sales all over the world — the transparency it needs to to make decisions. 

“We pull a lot of reports,” Nick says. “It’s useful to be able to have multiple locations and manage inventory in all the different ones. Of course, that’s what all inventory solutions do, but the beauty of Cin7 is it’s flexible and customizable, and the guys are great at tweaking stuff if you ask for it.” 

Nick says the most mission-critical feature of Cin7 is the way it allows them to maintain order integrity right across the supply and sales chain. As sellers need to be able to order up to 48 months in advance of receiving goods. Cin7 allows Hop Revolution to load in a sales order “then and there” and track it in advance, into the future. 

“That’s got a lot of value to us. Pricing fluctuates year to year, but if we know that that customer’s pricing on that day is locked in, then that gives us good traceability back through the process,” Nick says. 

“The orders we process are relatively high value. And it’s reassuring to sit securely in the knowledge that Cin7 is storing those orders that have been placed years before.”

Once Cin7 had been implemented for a while, it became a treasure trove of historical data on how Hop Revolution’s business operated, giving them the ability to tweak their existing operations for maximum efficiency and make predictions about the future. 

“It’s not hard to go back and track and trace stuff with a few clicks. That to me is really powerful when you’re just trying to work backwards and see what’s gone on,” Nick says. “Now, we can start to forecast three years into the future, where our demand is, and do it via location, and do it by customer. It’s one thing that is really crucial, and means I can sleep at night.” 

Heading off supply chain dysfunction with accurate inventory tracking

Since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains worldwide, product sellers are scrambling for more visibility into their operations, so both they and their customers can stay across shocks. For this, Cin7 has been absolutely critical. It can’t make the ships sail faster, or clear backlogs at ports, but it can tell you exactly where your inventory is at any point in time, and allow you to set customer expectations. 

“I think it’s everything, right? You’ve got customers who are relying on you getting orders right, and getting them to them at the right time. We only act as an agent for our farm owners, so we need to be able to show them that we’re managing their inventory in a good way, and accurately, and keeping track of all of it all,” Nick says. “For me, a really good aspect of Cin7 is being able to pull a report out of the program, and show our customers what’s happened and where it’s happened.” 

The upshot, Nick says, is that Hop Revolution’s customers know when they’ve placed the order, that the order is being tracked well, and that they’re going to deliver when they say they’re going to deliver. And when things go wrong that are outside of Hop Revolution’s control, then it’s easy to keep customers across events. 

“The great thing with Cin7 is, you can update customers in bulk, you can keep people in the loop. It’s useful to be able to send out a bulk email and just say, “Hey. Look, this stuff’s been delayed. Here’s an ETA.” 

Get the visibility your product business needs with Cin7

Hop Revolution is happy to recommend Cin7 to other commodity businesses looking for an inventory management solution. Before choosing a solution, Nick suggests “looking at the software pretty hard,” and making sure that you have your workflows and product journeys mapped out so you can test them against the software’s functionality in a demo environment. 

“Get an implementation partner, or get a solid work plan in place to demo through all the scenarios you can,” Nick says. “Don’t worry so much about the customization and stuff to get you started because that can come down the track. Just get that real core workflow nailed down first.”

Hop Revolution says that the time invested in understanding how your business processes tie together in Cin7, as well as training in and learning the software, will reap huge dividends for the business down the track. Reporting is a critical aspect, and can be customised to an individual business’ needs. 

“Cin7 is a handy tool for giving you that visibility. That’s one of the key parts of running a good supply chain, right? It gives you the ability to track and trace, and shows what you need to know at any given time. And I think that’s really powerful. It’s awesome,” Nick says. 

“It’s a solid product and it just keeps getting better. It comes with my recommendation.” 

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.

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!

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