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 Using outdated methods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.
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.
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 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.
Online entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates, including supply chain management, product sourcing, inventory, shipping, customer service, and marketing.
How can business owners do everything that has to be done? Outsourcing.
Outsourcing frees up time for business owners to do what needs to be done while saving costs associated with hiring full-time staff.
Let’s dive into outsourcing to see how it can benefit your business and what tasks can be easily outsourced.
What is ecommerce outsourcing?
Outsourcing is obtaining goods or services from a source outside of your business. In terms of service, outsourcing is hiring someone to complete tasks such as writing product descriptions, developing a website, handling support tickets, providing technical support, and marketing. Some companies outsource the entire ecommerce business to a third party.
Ecommerce businesses outsource to cut costs or save resources. Most businesses outsource to improve workflows when they can’t afford or don’t want to hire employees. Outsourced laborers can be hired domestically or internationally.
Advantages of outsourcing ecommerce services
There are some distinctive advantages to outsourcing.
1. Gives you time to focus on your business
Many day-to-day operations can be incredibly time consuming for new and existing business owners. For owners with just a few people on their team, it can be a lot to manage. Outsourcing gives you time to focus on your business goals while the wheels of your business keep spinning.
2. Gives you freedom to innovate
Outsourcing gives you time and freedom to innovate. By outsourcing mundane tasks, you and your creative team can spend time developing your next great product or trying out different things in new business sectors.
3. Enhances productivity
To compete in the ecommerce market, you need people who know what they are doing and who do it well. Outsourcing allows you to draw on experts who specialize in particular services, enhancing productivity because you are hiring people with the right skills for the job.
4. Improves analysis and strategies
The savviest organizations employ the systems necessary to improve their business. Using innovative tools like predictive analytics helps your ecommerce business expand. Analyzing past and current performance metrics can improve customer retention. Outsourcing analytics saves time and ensures reliable data are collected to make strategic decisions.
5. Increases cost efficiency
Outsourcing improves cost efficiency. By outsourcing, you can save the costs that you would have spent on managing customer support, inventory management, fulfillment, handling returns, and setting up the business infrastructure.
5 tasks that your ecommerce business can outsource
Here’s what your ecommerce business can outsource:
1. Content creation
With an online business, you need great content that promotes your business. It’s important to have a quality website or blog that puts a positive spin on what your business can deliver. That’s why hiring an outside content marketer is so important. A content writer has specialized skills to develop engaging content for your ecommerce business.
2. Website design
If your website takes too much time to load or its navigation is complex, visitors will leave immediately. Hiring a professional designer can help you better engage visitors by developing a user-friendly site. Ecommerce sites that are fast, visually appealing, responsive and trustworthy will more easily convert potential customers into loyal ones. Fortunately, you can find great website developers on platforms such as Freelancer and Upwork.
3. Customer service
Stellar customer service begins with product inquiries and carries through the entire transaction, including ordering, delivering, and returns or exchanges. You will need to develop customer service skills within your team, but during the learning curve and while scaling your business, outsourcing can help you keep up with business demands. Outsourcing this aspect of the business ensures that you have the resources and service expertise to expand and support scalable growth cost-effectively.
4. Social media marketing
Social media can transform your business – if it’s done correctly. A poor online presence costs you money. A professional social media marketer can help determine which platforms you should be on (e.g., Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) and how to design a social media strategy that makes sense for your business and budget.
Bookkeeping is one aspect of running a company that you may already outsource. Monitoring company finances is challenging and often requires someone who is highly trained in the intricacies of accounting. Even when your company uses accounting software for day-to-day management, you may still want to outsource to a professional for items such as annual taxes.
Cin7 can help
While outsourcing can help your ecommerce business grow, there are still many tasks you will need to do yourself. Cin7 can help.
What do manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers have in common? They all deal with inventory. Whether you’re a manufacturer or a reseller, you need to account for your inventory accurately. With proper inventory accounting, you can better understand your expenses and identify ways to cut costs and maximize your profits.
What is inventory accounting?
Inventory accounting determines how an organization shows inventory in its balance sheet and profit and loss statements. Your inventory is treated as an asset because it can be used to generate revenue. The valuation of your inventory assets depends on how you assign costs to your inventory. It’s extremely important to correctly value your inventory because its value affects your business’s overall profitability.
Understanding cost of goods sold (COGS)
The cost of goods sold is the cost that a business incurs to make or acquire the products that it sells. COGS includes everything from materials used to labor cost. However, it only includes costs that are directly related to the production process. Thus, shipping and marketing costs aren’t included in COGS. Knowing your COGS helps you understand how much you are spending to produce your product, and it directly impacts your profitability.
The formula you use for COGS depends on whether you are a manufacturer or reseller. For a reseller, the formula is
Beginning inventory + Purchases – Ending Inventory = Cost of Goods Sold
For example, at the beginning of the financial year, your inventory is valued at $4,000. Throughout the year, you purchase inventory valued at $3,500, and at the end of the year, your inventory value is $2000.
The cost of goods sold is $4,000 + $3,500 – $2,000 = $5,500.
COGS can be calculated weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. The value of COGS is partially determined by how you determine your ending inventory.
Understanding ending inventory valuation
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to sell all your inventory by the end of the accounting period. However, unsold inventory isn’t a liability because it can be sold next year. Therefore, remaining inventory, or “ending inventory” is treated as an asset in your financial statements. In fact, ending inventory becomes “beginning inventory” for the next accounting period.
There are four commonly used inventory valuation methods:
First in, first out (FIFO),
Last in, first out (LIFO),
Weighted average cost method, and
Specific identification method.
Method #1: First in, first out (FIFO)
The premise of the FIFO method is you value your inventory as if the stock you acquired first were sold first. For example, imagine you purchase 100 bottles of product in January for $10 per bottle. Then in February, you purchase 200 bottles of product for $20 per bottle. You would have 300 bottles of product in your inventory, and the value would be $1,000 + $4,000 = $5,000.
Then imagine you sold 50 bottles of product in March. What would the value of your inventory be? Using FIFO, you would say that the 50 bottles you sold were part of the 100 bottles you purchased in January. Thus, you would value the inventory sold at $500, meaning the value of your ending inventory would be $4,500.
Method #2: Last in, first out (LIFO)
In contrast to the FIFO method, the LIFO method means you assume the most recently acquired products are sold first.
Using the same example of the bottles, let’s say that in March, you still sold 50 bottles. However, with LIFO, you assume that those 50 bottles were part of the 200 bottles you purchased in February for $20 each. Thus, the 50 bottles you sold would be valued at $1,000, and your ending inventory would be $4,000.
Method #3: Weighted average cost
The weighted average cost method is best to use when your product units are indistinguishable from each other or challenging to track individually – for example, gasoline. Using the weighted average cost method, businesses assign a value to inventory based on the average cost of production of the product.
Here’s the way to calculate it:
Weighted Average Cost = Total Cost of Inventory / Total Inventory Units.
For example, you purchase 10 bottles at $20 each, and an additional 10 bottles at $30 each.
Ten bottles at $20 each = $200.
Ten bottles at $30 each = $300.
Total bottle units = 20 bottles (10 + 10).
Total cost of bottles = $500 ($200 + $300).
The weighted average cost is $500 / 20 = $25. When you sell 10 bottles you will value the sale at $250 ($10 x $25). Your ending inventory of 10 bottles will also be valued at $250 (10 bottles x $25).
Method #4: Specific identification
The specific identification method is primarily used for large items that can be easily identified because they are unique. In this method, each unit and its cost is tracked individually. Each item is assigned a specific identifier, such as can be done using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The advantage of this system is that you have a highly accurate accounting of your inventory. The disadvantage is that the method has limited uses because few businesses sell highly unique products that can be easily tracked.
Inventory accounting is crucial for businesses
Inventory accounting is vital for both manufacturers and retailers. Businesses should carefully consider their inventory valuation method and identify the best option up front, as it can be challenging to change in the future.
Inventory management software makes a huge difference and helps track and value your inventory. With real-time insights about inventory movement, orders received, and revenue generated, your business will be able to make smarter, more data-driven decisions. You’ll also be able to generate inventory performance reports and analyze your business in real time.
If you’re looking for software to track and manage your inventory, book a call with Cin7 today. We’ll assess your inventory needs and partner with you to find a perfect solution.
Heritage and SMB Consultants unlock incredible growth — thanks to Cin7
After a long trial with other, less able inventory management apps, Bill Rendell and Heritage Building found a happy home in Cin7
Heritage Building has a long, storied history. When former accountant Bill Rendell first bought the business, it was simply a supplier of recycled timber, and it was doing pretty well on that basis.
But Bill had the foresight to start selling other building materials, like doors, windows, light fittings, bathroomware — “You name it,” says Bill. “We set ourselves up to be the one-stop-shop for the heritage building industry, and started selling equivalent-new reproductions as well.”
This transformation happened fairly early in the business’s story, and at first Bill used MYOB and spreadsheets to manage the complex inventory requirements of a second-hand goods business, where nearly every item sold was in some way unique. Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. “With MYOB, there was no accountability for stock. It was just like a big box that you chucked all the information in — but I didn’t think there was anything better around at the time.”
After struggling with MYOB for almost nine years, Bill turned to what was then a new business in the very new industry of cloud software implementation and coaching — SMB Consultants.
SMB founder Jeff Atizado and his team helped set Heritage Building up with his first inventory management solution: Lightspeed. At the time, it was best-of-breed software, and the new fully-digital way of operating was revelatory for Bill’s business. But times change. The second-hand market was becoming less and less viable, and growth was stymied by the need to keep on top of manual tasks and fixing errors. “We were doing nothing but fixing stuff-ups,” Bill says.
The problem, Bill says, was that Lightspeed hadn’t moved fast enough to keep up with the rest of the rapidly-changing world of online business.
“It’s very difficult to get Lightspeed to work with Shopify,” says Bill. “We couldn’t get the shipping set up the way we wanted it. It just wasn’t possible with that program.
He turned to his trusted advisors to help turn things around. “I started speaking with Jeff about using Cin7. The more I heard about it, the more I was impressed with what it could do.”
SMB lends a hand for the second time
“It was interesting for us, because even though Bill had been a customer for eight years, the second time around is an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate their requirements and build a solution that incorporates what is important to them today. It simply isn’t just a process of replacing old with new. Businesses grow and change and you need to take the time to understand what are the new objectives,” says Jeff Atizado.
Since their first engagement with Heritage Buildings, SMB Consultants have developed a process to deeply understand the business they’re working with. How is the business changing? How has it evolved? And where does it want to go?
Together, Bill and the SMB team found that a new software solution could help him exit the secondhand goods market altogether, while growing his business in entirely new directions.
“That process at the beginning of the project, to understand how we were working, was critical,” Bill says. “Back when we first started with SMB and Lightspeed, that process didn’t exist! Doing the scoping showed me an entirely different SMB, and following the process all the way through to implement Cin7 has proved it out. They understood what we needed, and made sure it happened.”
After the initial consultation, SMB Consultants used Cin7 to create a working proof-of-concept, to introduce Heritage Buildings to new workflows and opportunities offered by the software. Once the proof-of-concept was finalized, SMB worked with Bill and his team to implement the full project.
Building back better on a strong foundation
Today, Bill has transformed his business from one that physically stored and moved a lot of second-hand goods to a modern, just-in-time purchasing model that doesn’t require carrying a lot of stock. This shift, SMB says, simply wouldn’t have been possible without Cin7.
“Some big wins from Cin7 have been being able to give Bill a tool that allows him to track which items need to be ordered, and that allows him to keep track of online sales, to order quickly, and get them shipped in time,” Jeff says. “One one side, the purchasing, on the other, fulfillment.”
Under the old system, it took up to two or three weeks for Heritage Building to get goods to their customers. But now they can get goods into customer hands in less than a week. Cin7’s ability to support a dropshipping model has enabled Heritage Building to reduce its total stock holding by a factor of more than four, with a huge accompanying reduction in administration requirements while improving shipping times.
“Our stock holding at present is about 200,000. Our stock holding was 1.5 million with half the turnover we’re doing now , and we’re doing it better. We’ve basically reinvented ourselves from the ground up, and we’re now a very viable online shop as well,” Bill says.
“With shipping, what we’ve achieved now was beyond anything we could conceive. We’ve reduced our turnaround time for orders from about two weeks per item, down to three to five days.”
Soon, with new shipping workflows they’re looking to create with SMB in Cin7, he reckons they’ll be able to use Cin7 to make shipping even faster.
“One of the things we’re doing now is looking to integrate with his dropship fulfillment provider, so we can streamline how quickly we can get orders from them, which will again cut down the amount of time it takes to get the product into a customer’s hands,” Jeff says.
As well as pivoting from second-hand goods to a thriving multichannel business selling new materials, Cin7 has allowed Bill to branch out with a hot new sideline — selling fireplaces.
“It’s going gangbusters,” Bill says. “Again, that’s because of the website, and the website is because of Cin7.” Having a modern inventory app like Cin7 as their foundation means that it’s easy to sync with best-of-breed ecommerce apps like Shopify.
“We’ve basically got a direct connection between Cin7 and Shopify,” Bill says. “We can move the products back and forwards, we can adjust counts. No drama. No chance of an error. That’s brilliant.”
“We can plug a lot of apps into Cin7. Lightspeed couldn’t do that.”
“A winning combination”
Heritage Building, SMB Consultants, and Cin7 have been a winning combination. Anytime he’s needed help, SMB has been there for support. Bill has his own specialist implementation partner at SMB, Jess, who’s helped all through the scoping and setup, and can now lend a hand whenever Bill needs it. “I’ve still got Jessica there, when I need her, whether it’s a big or a little thing. You can’t hire for that — well, I don’t think you can,” Bill says.
Likewise, Jeff says that their work with Heritage Buildings is a great showcase of how beneficial it can be for businesses to have a long-time software and coaching partner – for both parties.
“It’s been a pleasure working with Bill,” Jeff says. “It’s great being able to look back and see the changes that we’ve made. I think Bill is being a bit humble, knowing how much change he’s actually made, but when you look at how much inventory and overhead he’s reduced, while increasing sales — that’s a winning recipe. It’s been great to be able to grow together.”
Heritage Buildings had great results the first time they worked with SMB, but the second time around, with the transformation powered by Cin7, things are better by an order of magnitude.
“The difference between two years ago and now — it’s almost unrecognizable,” Bill says. “I can work anywhere I need to be. For me, that’s a lot of help.”
The new efficiencies offered by an inventory solution that connects seamlessly with other business-critical apps have paid enormous dividends for the business. After 17 years in business, growth has been unlocked.
“In the past two years, we’ve doubled our business,” Bill says. “We’ve gone from an average of about 250,000 per month to about half a million per month. And about half of that growth is our online shop. We’ve been increasing turnover every month for the last two years, and we’re now the number three distributor in our category in Australia.”
None of it would have been possible without Cin7 — and the help they’ve received from SMB Consultants.
“Without Cin7, it would have been impossible to do what we’ve achieved,” Bill says. “It’s that simple. We are who we are today because of Cin7 and SMB Consultants. Our website is going exceptionally well, and I don’t think it would have been possible before Cin7. It’s worked very well for us.”
What we've achieved with Cin7 was beyond anything we could conceive. We’ve reduced our turnaround time for orders from about two weeks per item, down to three to five days.
Collecting and storing inventory data is one of the most crucial aspects of your business. In fact, it’s essential to have an accurate understanding of what goes in and out of your warehouse at all times. Most businesses, especially while starting off, use spreadsheet tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets to store their inventory data. However, as inventory grows, these businesses run into several issues because spreadsheets are not specifically designed to deal with complex inventory data.
Here are five reasons why you should not rely on spreadsheets to handle your inventory database.
Spreadsheets are inefficient
When you work with a spreadsheet to manage your inventory, you only have an x-axis and y-axis to represent your data. Sure, rows and columns may be enough for a simple database. But as your inventory expands, you’ll need much more sophisticated tools.
As your inventory starts getting more and more complex, you’ll end up creating multiple spreadsheets that you have to refer to. Eventually, you’ll have a lot of data overlap between these sheets. Each time you update your inventory you’ll have to update each spreadsheet — which becomes more and more time-consuming, inefficient, and inaccurate.
Spreadsheets aren’t secure enough
Simply put, your inventory data deserves more security than spreadsheets can provide. A spreadsheet is very lightly protected, if at all. They are easily breached by a seasoned hacker.
Moreover, spreadsheets get routinely corrupted for no apparent reason. Sometimes, files simply won’t open. Other times, data is deleted by the system, or careless users. You know how important accurate inventory data is. Why would you allow it to be so vulnerable?
Spreadsheets don’t allow for varying levels of access
An inventory management team typically consists of more than one person, and each person is responsible for collecting data from a particular area. Ideally, all of them should have access to the database so that they can input data from their respective vantage points.
However, this becomes increasingly difficult to do with spreadsheets as team size increases. Moreover, sometimes you don’t want the entire database to be accessible to all. Such complex permissions are not possible with spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets don’t provide enough analytics
When you use spreadsheets, you miss out on the most important feature of an inventory management system: data analysis. Yes, spreadsheets can help you create some basic analysis, but you have to learn complicated formulas and enter them manually into the sheets.
Without looking at high-level insights from your data, your data is practically worthless. Spreadsheets don’t give you the cohesive, easy-to-read analytics you need to run a successful business.
Spreadsheets are prone to human error
Spreadsheets require users to manually input data into respective cells. Plus, most formulas have to be entered manually, too. This manual entry opens up a lot of possibilities for human errors that can be disastrous for your inventory management.
Is it time to switch to an inventory management system?
Inventory management software is much more efficient, more secure, and easier to use than spreadsheets. It allows users to enter data in a much more efficient manner. Fields are clearly marked and input types are well-defined, making the management process smooth and efficient.
The best part about inventory management software is that all formulas and calculations are done automatically, without any human intervention. Taking all this into account, do you think it might be time to switch from spreadsheets to an inventory management system? If you’re curious how Cin7 can help, book your demo today.
It’s no secret that the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for shipping and retail industries. In fact, It’s the most important time of the year for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. With increases in technology, ecommerce has become the driving force behind the yearly surge in sales. Shoppers spent $122 billion with online retailers alone in the past year. To keep up with the surge in demand in a short span of time, you need to have a streamlined shipping strategy and fulfillment process in place for the holidays.
These days, customers have high expectations when shopping online. They want free and fast shipping, free returns, and share-worthy unboxing moments. Businesses that are able to keep up logistically both bring in more customers and retain them better.
In this article, we will go through common challenges that DTC brands face during the holiday shipping season, and how you can streamline your shipping process for your online store’s success.
What is considered the holiday shipping season?
The holiday shipping season refers to the time of the year (Q4, or October through December) when order and shipment volume spikes, leading to more orders to fulfill and more returns to process. The holiday shopping season includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and general gift-giving that leads into Christmas.
In this period, supply chain management can get disrupted as online brands rush to keep up with demand, manage inventory, and fulfill a massive amount of orders. Shipping carriers get busier than usual and work harder to deliver packages on time.
When does the holiday shipping season start?
The holiday shipping season starts earlier than many people think. The shipping industry and eCommerce sales ramp up as early as October, and high demand continues until the new year. Here is an overview of major milestones and holidays that occur during the holiday shipping season.
Halloween (October 31)
Even if it’s an American holiday, Halloween is popular among consumers in Europe, too. Whether you’re selling “spooky” decorations, costumes, or other items, sales opportunities increase during this time. Many brands will try to capitalize on the holiday by running special promotions.
Thanksgiving (November 24)
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. You have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday all occurring over the same long weekend. That’s when holiday shoppers begin to search for the best deals and try to purchase their holiday gifts early.
Christmas (December 25)
Holiday shoppers expect to get gifts delivered before Christmas Day (or even Christmas Eve). You must take note of your carriers’ holiday cutoff dates and communicate those with customers. They want to know when they’ll have to place orders for on-time delivery.
New Year’s Day (January 1)
Although the holiday shopping season starts to slow down by this time, return volume is at an all-time high around January 1. This often requires more from customer service and logistics operations teams for smooth returns and exchanges.
Other important dates
Black Friday: November 25,
Small Business Saturday: November 26,
Cyber Monday: November 28,
Free Shipping Day*: December 14,
Super Saturday**: December 17.
*Participating merchants provide free shipping on all orders, with promised delivery by Christmas Eve.
**The last Saturday before Christmas is a huge shopping day for brick-and-mortar retailers.
Common challenges during holiday shipping season
Expected or unexpected, whenever there’s a major change in the supply chain, it can throw off inventory management, shipping, and more. That’s why it’s essential to find ways to build supply chain resilience and ensure a successful holiday shipping season — even if there are delays and disruptions. To prepare your supply chain for Q4, here are a few holiday shipping season challenges to be aware of.
Black Friday sales
One of the biggest challenges to growing eCommerce businesses is managing an increase in order volume. Obviously, this is most apparent during the holidays. Black Friday sales add even more chaos to the mix.
Partnering with the right 3PL can take fulfillment challenges off your plate and put it into the hands of experts (even if the volume increases by 1,200% in a couple of weeks). This is a great way to avoid making common holiday season mistakes.
If you decide to keep fulfillment in-house, you must prepare to hire more packers (and be ready to ask family and friends to step in as required). You should also plan your holidays around running promotions and fulfilling orders on time.
Supplier holidays and factory shutdowns
Many brands partner with multiple suppliers and manufacturers to ensure they are not at risk if a primary supplier can’t deliver during shortages or shutdowns. Whether it’s a planned shutdown like Chinese New Year, or an unplanned one like what happened during the pandemic, manufacturers can go through shutdowns at any time.
Unfortunately, this means that receiving and replenishing inventory can be significantly delayed or disrupted — which could affect your entire eCommerce supply chain. As part of your business contingency or continuity plan, partnering with various suppliers can help reduce the risk of the inventory shortage. You can even get ahead by ordering surplus inventory. This helps avoid stockouts and gives you some wiggle room for the holiday shipping season.
If you want to partner with a 3PL, make sure they have the expertise, technology, and experience to deal with the increased volume that comes with the holiday shipping season. The wrong 3PL partner can cause major disruptions in your fulfillment process and lead to mispicks, slower deliveries, and inaccurate inventory levels.
The right 3PL, on the other hand, will always offer visibility and transparency into the supply chain. That includes real-time inventory data, information on shipping and fulfillment performance, and much more.
How to perfectly execute the holiday shipping season
If you are curious about how you can perfect your shipping strategy during the holidays, here are a few things to try.
Break the shipping process down into smaller steps
How long does it take you to fulfill an order? If you can get accurate data on each element, you’ll be able to better answer this question. You can break things down into the following:
Time to pack a product,
Time to take out the packaging material,
Time to collect all items in one place,
Time to print shipping labels.
Once you know where every second of your time is going, you can streamline some of the processes and add some minutes back to your day. Small changes can lead to big improvements in efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Effective communication with customers is a huge part of your relationship with them. As you ship orders you should make sure they receive updates, shipping times, delivery notifications, and more. This practice keeps customers in the loop and makes them feel as though they know what’s going on with their shipment.
Give your customers multiple payment options
Allowing your customers to pay in multiple ways gives you an edge and provides your customers with the flexibility they want. Since many customers use wallet payment options, accepting payment via wallets can simplify your customers’ shopping experience.
Save time with labels
Did you know you can save a significant amount of time by printing shipping labels in bulk? You can also integrate orders with Cin7 to print your labels in seconds.
Keep an eye on your supply
Each seller predicts how many sales they will make during a holiday season. Suppose you offer 50% off on apparel. You’ll need to make sure you have adequate stock lined up to cater to urgent requirements. Print labels in advance and stock your supplies for shipping. Most importantly, make sure you don’t get stopped midway during the peak season. Purchasing supplies in bulk quantities saves you the cost and headache that comes with last minute sourcing and production.
Display a shipping rate calculator
If you don’t offer free shipping, you should provide your customers the exact cost they’ll pay while ordering any given product. You can do this by offering a shipping rate calculator. This is usually based on factors like the customer’s delivery location and is a very important part of the checkout process. In fact, 44% of customers abandon carts due to high shipping costs.
Set a free shipping threshold
Many eCommerce sellers offer free shipping during the holiday season. This can help increase sales, but it can also burden you with higher shipping costs. Instead, try the following:
Set a threshold order value before providing free shipping.
Set a countdown for free shipping.
Send coupon codes for free shipping.
Setting a threshold on orders may help increase your average order value and encourage customers to buy items they might not have previously. Plus, opting for lower-cost regional couriers might be a smart option, too.
Offer international shipping
Scaling your business to ship internationally could be an excellent opportunity for sellers during peak season. Even if you haven’t shipped internationally before, there is no reason why you should not ship internationally this holiday season.
Seasonal peaks are an excellent opportunity to expand your options — especially when audiences look forward to shopping outside their borders for holidays. There are many low-cost global shipping options from Cin7, so you can quickly ship with premium carriers like FedEx, Aramex, and DHL.
Partner with an experienced 3PL
Partnering with an experienced 3PL company can help make the chaotic holiday season more manageable, especially for businesses that are:
Transitioning fulfillment from in-house to third party,
Preparing to launch a new brand,
Looking for new inventory management options or a hybrid approach.
Fulfilling holiday demands by your own can be challenging, and leasing a warehouse can be time-consuming and expensive. The sooner you start with a 3PL, the easier the process becomes. Cin7 can help you get onboarded quickly to start preparing for the busy holiday season that’s right around the corner!
One of the best ways to improve customer satisfaction during the holiday season is by making sure your shipping is quick, organized, and transparent. If you want to build your brand, stand out from your competition, and win repeated business — shipping times is a great place to start. Cin7 can help you manage your supply chain and help you reach your goals. Our inventory management software makes the process easy, painless, and profitable. Book a demo now to get started today.
Digitization has reached almost all aspects of businesses — including supply chains. New technology like embedded sensors, RFID, and GPS have helped companies transform their traditional supply chain structures into flexible, agile, open, and collaborative digital models.
In fact, according to a McKinsey survey, 93% of supply chain executives say they are actively planning to make their supply chains more resilient. And in this day and age, “resilient” means digital. Many companies are seeing the need to become more organized — and they’re doing that by regionalizing their supplies and nearshoring their processes. This type of organization ensures products don’t have to travel long (and expensive) distances.
Either way, there’s no denying that digitizing supply chains will allow these companies to improve their agility, visibility, and efficiency. Digitization allows for organizational flexibility and accelerates innovation.
Now, let’s dive into the meaning of digital supply chain management, understand how it’s different from a traditional supply chain, and explore the benefits of supply chain digitization.
What is a digital supply chain?
In a traditional supply chain, companies need to source parts and raw materials to make their product. After they understand demand for their product, companies will then find the correct sales channels and use logistics to provide customers with visibility into their orders.
A digital supply chain, in contrast, offers significantly more visibility throughout the process. The integration and application of advanced digital technologies allows customers and stakeholders to monitor supply chain operations — from procurement data and inventory management, to distribution and transportation.
For example, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) asset tracking can offer instant updates on location, including when cargo is in transit. The main goal of supply chain digitization is to enable insight for greater efficiency. This, in turn, can cut down on redundancies and greatly increase profits.
Companies with digital supply chains can move their resources, assets, people, and inventory to where they need it at any given time. Digitization helps you reduce costs by giving you the ability to respond proactively to both transportation and manufacturing risks.
The potential payoffs of any fully-realized digital supply chain include saving time, money, and resources. It will allow your company to be less wasteful and more environmentally sustainable.
Traditional vs digital supply chains
Traditional supply chains work based on historical transactional inputs, while digital supply chains function in real-time. Digital supply chains are networks, while traditional supply chains are linear. Supply chain networks communicate almost instantaneously, whereas linear supply chains move slowly and inefficiently.
Digital supply chains are also more accurate. Information from operational technology and IT systems are integrated with digital supply chain management, while traditional supply chains rely on standalone systems. When companies go digital, they can more efficiently find potential problems and predict likely risks.
Traditional supply chains rely on humans to make nearly every decision. Digital supply chains, on the other hand, have built-in automated decisions that are monitored by humans. Because of this, digital supply chains are exponentially faster.
Why your supply chain should go digital
Digitization in supply chain management empowers planning, sourcing, and logistics teams to collaborate. It also allows those teams to automate processes and leverage analytics. This type of synergy among teams drives growth, mitigates risk, and optimizes costs. Here are some more supply chain digitization benefits:
More organizational flexibility
A digital operating model gives management more freedom and flexibility. For instance, what degree of centralization is needed to support specialization? How can you minimize process costs when you factor in local labor? How can your processes become more productive? With Digitization, you can answer these questions by analyzing data in multiple ways. And then you can be more flexible when implementing solutions.
Better decision making
Once you integrate your supply chain with digital technologies, you can also make faster and more informed decisions for each function. Digitization helps you measure performance accurately and efficiently by aggregating and organizing transactions. This, in turn, allows you to access information at both the micro and macro levels.
For example, BASF (a German multinational chemical corporation) uses AI and machine learning-based technologies to predict the optimal time to replenish supply when stock is running low. This type of automation leads to increased inventory visibility that supports smarter replenishment planning, more efficient decision-making, and better customer service.
An end-to-end digital platform can improve data accuracy, enhance efficiency, and increase supply chain efficiency by automating many labor-extensive processes. From determining the most appropriate shipping mode, implement smarter scheduling, and more — automation saves time and money.
Alerts can also be generated automatically, especially if purchase orders are in danger of delays or complications. This helps companies take precautionary measures and be prepared to handle customers who may have logistics-related complaints.
All digital transformation processes inevitably lead to innovation. Why? When data becomes available, it’s much easier to see trends and inefficiencies. This improvement over conventional supply chain management helps to strengthen the company’s business model over time and builds stronger relationships with suppliers and customers.
End-to-end customer engagement
Digital transformation in supply chain management also increases customer engagement throughout their buying journey. For instance, when placing an order, digitization allows your customers to automatically stay updated with their order details. They know their order status all the way up to receiving it — thanks to the supplier’s automated tracking system. Here, digitization ensures that customers feel more secure and in control when buying.
For example, Farmer Connect uses Blockchain technology to connect coffee growers with the consumers they serve. By launching a mobile application, “Thank My Farmer,” they allow coffee lovers to trace the origin of their coffee and directly support the farmers who grow the beans. The app is a win-win for companies, workers, and customers. It connects the purchaser to traders, farmers, brands, and roasters.
Top trends for supply chain digitization
If you’re looking to improve your organizations overall productivity and performance, here are some supply chain trends you should try:
Integrate your eCommerce website
Integrating eCommerce helps provide a more seamless customer experience and makes your operation more efficient. Once again, the free flow of information across departments is key. Thus, companies immediately see the benefits of interconnected supply chains for eCommerce operations.
Utilize artificial intelligence (AI)
AI in the supply chain helps companies analyze data, enhance performance, and perform routine tasks. AI also helps supply chain leaders solve problems with increased visibility across networks that were previously disparate or remote.
Leverage the Internet of Things (IoT)
An IoT is a network of physical objects connected to the internet. The IoT already plays an important role in the supply chain, and it will gradually grow in importance with increasingly diverse applications. As a matter of fact, within a few years, up to 50% of companies could be using these advanced technologies to support supply chain operations.
IoT has the ability to improve fleet tracking, warehouse management, inventory control, and even technological and mechanical maintenance. Plus, imagine how “smart” warehouses and fleets might increase the accuracy and efficiency of multiple areas of the supply chain.
Blockchain can be greatly beneficial for businesses to minimize supply chain disruption and improve customer service. In fact, by 2024, global blockchain spending is expected to reach almost 19 billion U.S. dollars.
Blockchain has already helped integrate carriers, logistic providers, and shipping lines into a single platform. The transparency offered by blockchain technology helps to identify issues and cut out waste early in processes.
Create a supply chain digital twin
A digital twin is a model that simulates the supply chain’s performance with AI and advanced analytics, and explores the complexities that show risks and vulnerabilities. Basically, it’s a virtual representation of the supply chain that consists of hundreds of warehouses, assets, inventory, and logistics positions.
Having a digital twin helps increase visibility. It also allows leaders to be more strategic and ready to take advantage of opportunities — especially in complex supply chains.
Five steps to digitize your supply chain
Transforming your traditional supply chain into a digital one is a complex process. However, it’s absolutely necessary to stay competitive. Here’s how to do it in five steps:
Step #1: Define your vision
The first step in implementing digital transformation in the supply chain is to define a clear vision and set some clear, attainable goals. These goals can be related to business objectives like faster decision making, improved supply chain visibility, and automated operations. When defining a vision, you need to:
Assess your resources and existing systems: Identify where you are, and see where you can improve. Do your existing systems use technology that supports your new goals? Can you Identify digital solutions that help you achieve desired business outcomes?
Access your current ability to analyze data: Can you currently collect, generate, and analyze data? If not, it may be hard to come away with actionable insights.
Access your workforce’s skills: Does your team have the necessary skills to work with and adapt to the new business model?
Step #2: Unify your processes
When you unify your processes into one system, you gain end-to-end supply chain visibility. That means you get enhanced transparency to streamline core functions including warehouse management, inventory management, logistics, demand forecasting, and more.
Step #3: Automate as much as possible
Wherever you can, you should replace recurring or routine tasks with automated processes. Not only does it help you simplify tasks, it also allows you to derive meaning from large volumes of data. Make sure not to automate processes that include complex situations or require collaboration between planners — but look at each part of your business and see what can be automated.
#4. Leverage data and analytics
Supply chain leaders need access to real-time data to make more informed decisions. Access to data and analytics helps you deal effectively with partners, suppliers, and your workforce. Real-time data also helps you identify potential disruptions and greatly increases visibility across the supply chain.
You can use AI-powered analytical tools for improving planning processes and drawing actionable insights. For example, using analytics, you can help prevent stock from being depleted completely and adjust your inventory accordingly.
#5. Align your people with your processes
Even if you are looking to shift to a digital supply chain, the switch would be worthless unless your team members are aligned with your new techniques and processes. Always make sure your shift integrates technologies with people, processes, and management. Without full integration, teams won’t be able to achieve your desired results with your new business model.
Allow Cin7 to help with your digital transformation
The quickly evolving technological landscape and increasing customer expectations are causing organizations to revisit how they do business. Adapting new technologies and integrating your supply chain leads to greater flexibility, efficiency and resilience.
For businesses re-evaluating their supply chains, now’s the time for action. Supply chain digital transformation isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it. If you have any questions about digitizing your supply chain, get in touch with Cin7 today and we’d be happy to assist you on your digital transformation journey.
Businesses can effectively manage company finances by using purchase orders, also referred to as POs. POs help businesses stay within their budgets for planned purchases. Using POs also allows businesses to easily track purchases.
Businesses rely on their vendors to get the supplies they need when they need it. A purchase order helps clearly communicate supply requirements and purchase terms. This helps eliminate errors and delays.
This article explains four common types of purchase orders, provides examples of each, and describes their best use.
The purpose of purchase orders
Purchase orders are a vital part of the procurement process. POs specify pertinent information including what you’re buying, how much you’re buying, and other relevant information – mode of delivery, payment method, and terms of service.
When your vendor formally accepts the purchase order, it turns into a legally binding agreement between you and the vendor. Therefore, it is best to be detailed to ensure that the terms and conditions related to products, pricing, and delivery are fulfilled are accurate. In the event, the PO is not fulfilled in compliance with the terms, you can file legal action against the offending party – just understand both the business or the vendor can be the offending party!
The following components should be included in your purchase order:
An internal PO number linking the transaction to other documents and records in the system,
Description of the type of goods being purchased,
Quality and quantity specifications,
Detailed vendor information,
Mutually agreed upon pricing information,/li>
Terms and conditions associated with the delivery, and
Payment-related terms and conditions.
Purchase orders can vary, just keep in mind that more detail is better. Purchase orders can also be used to audit overall spending and the financial health of your business.
Before jumping into the types of purchase orders, here are some basic terms you should be familiar with:
Legally binding. Once approved, all purchase orders become legally binding, meaning both parties are responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions or legal ramifications may apply.
Accounting distribution. This refers to the monetary amount issued to the vendor account after placing the order.
Encumbrance. A burden or impediment. This is the money set aside to fulfill your obligation under the purchase order. The PO encumbered a certain amount of money to pay for the goods listed.
Release. A written notice from the buyer authorizing the supplier to process the order.
Types of purchase orders
Below are the four basic types of purchase orders. Once you understand the purpose of each, you’re better able to select which will work for you.
1. Standard purchase order
Standard purchase orders (SPOs) are the simplest and most common type of PO used. Businesses typically use SPOs for infrequent, irregular, one-time purchases, which they do not expect to incur regularly.
Because SPOs are used for one-time or infrequent purchases, the approval process can take longer. SPOs require more detail. The vendor is expected to fulfill the one-time order without any assurance of future orders.
SPOs includes these components:
List of items to be purchased,
Quality and quantity of each,
Individual item price and extended price,
Delivery date for the items ordered,
Delivery location for the items, and
Terms and conditions associated with the order.
Here are a few examples of when to use an SPO:
Replace tables and chairs for those that are broken or worn out at a restaurant.
Purchase a 3D printer for an architect’s office.
In some cases, businesses may elect to expense basic items rather than initiating the purchase order process.
2. Planned purchase order
A planned purchase order (PPO) is used to replace or regularly restock inventory. PPOs include everything in an SPO except delivery details, i.e., the date and location of delivery. Because items are often restocked at irregular periods, a schedule release is used to confirm delivery and details of delivery. The PPO guarantees the products will be available and the release informs the vendor the buyer is ready to receive those items.
Also included in the PPO is purchase frequency and whether items are purchased batches, sets, or bundles.
List of items to be purchased,
Quality, quantity, and sets (batches, sets, bundles),
Price of each,
Purchase frequency, and
Terms and conditions associated with the order.
These items are not included on PPOs:
Confirmed delivery location of the items ordered.
Confirmed delivery date of the items ordered.
There may be instances where the PPO can include some tentative schedules. However, such schedules must always be confirmed by a release before the order is confirmed for delivery.
Here’s an example of how to effectively use a PPO: A restaurant that uses 20,000 disposable placemats annually can use a PPO to secure purchase of those placemats. The PPO will provide details of the order as well as a tentative release schedule. A release is used when the placemats are needed that details delivery information.
3. Blanket purchase order
Use a blanket purchase order (BPO) to order specific items of unknown quantity or timeframe. BPOs are also referred to as standing purchase orders and can prove helpful to lock down pricing terms with the vendor before making any purchase. When it’s difficult to accurately predict product forecasting, blanket purchase orders can be useful.The difference between a BPO and a PPO is that a PPO has an undefined delivery schedule. A BPO has both an undefined delivery schedule and an unidentified quantity.
Blanket purchase orders can be beneficial for buyers, but they can pose fulfillment challenges for vendors. Because quantity is unknown, vendors often set a maximum number of units available per BPO. Vendors can also limit ordering timeframes and, in some cases, provide discounts for meeting quantity thresholds within the lifespan of the BPO.
Releases created against BPOs are called blanket releases. Just like PPO, a release against the BPOs is required before delivery takes place.
Here is what is typically included on BPO:
List of items to be purchased.
Terms and conditions associated with the order.
A BPO does not include:
Confirmed delivery location of the ordered items,
Confirmed delivery date of the ordered items, and
Confirmed quantity of the items.
However, the vendor and the buyer can mutually negotiate and confirm pricing details for each item, along with any quantity discounts.
Here’s an example of when to use a BPO: In the previous restaurant scenario, the restaurant estimated an annual need for 20,000 disposable placemats. However, in the case of a new restaurant, it can be tricky to estimate how many placemats will be needed. In this case, the restaurant can place a blanket purchase order for disposable placements to secure a better price even through recurring purchases even though the quantity is unknown.
4. Contract purchase order
Of all the purchase order types, the contract purchase order (CPO) is the most complex. It also contains the fewest details. The purpose of the CPO is to establish a relationship between the business and its vendors – it establishes the contract between the two.
CPOs take the place of drafting individual purchase orders. They create long-term agreements with specification about terms and conditions of future purchases without specifying any product or delivery information.
CPOs are beneficial when you’re unsure of what, when, and how much to order. Contract purchase orders do not come with an expiry date and can be used as a baseline to create a framework for future purchase orders. As such, CPOs contain:
Negotiated terms and conditions that act as a foundation for creating other purchase orders in the future.
The CPO does not include:
Details about items to be purchased,
Quality and quantity of items to be purchased,
Price of items to be purchased,
Delivery dates for ordered items to be purchased, and
Delivery location of items to be ordered.
A contract purchase order is flexible, and generally benefits both parties. While there’s a wide range of possibilities to serve as examples of a CPO, here’s just one: A CPO can establish an agreement between a business and a vendor where the business hosts several events throughout the year. During the events, the business purchases items from the vendor at a 20% discount in exchange for listing the vendor as an official sponsor.
Knowing which type of purchase order to use largely depends on your business, how long you’ve been in business, and being able to accurately forecast inventory and business needs. Often businesses will use more than one type of purchase order throughout the lifecycle of the business.
Use this easy table to compare the different purchase order types to identify which will work best for you and the needs of your business.
Established terms and conditions
Specifies details regarding goods and services
Specifies pricing information
Specifies quantities identified
Predefined accounting distribution
Established delivery schedule
Can be encumbered
Can encumber releases
Technology plays an important role in the inventory process, including automating the purchase order process. Implementing an order management software allows you to streamline your purchase orders.
You can configure reordering points whereby a purchase order would be automatically placed to your vendor whenever your stock falls below a predetermined threshold. That way, you do not have to worry about running out of inventory.
Schedule a free call with Cin7 experts to discover how we can help you streamline your purchase orders.
In today’s economy, small to medium sized businesses are competing with global conglomerates. Efficient inventory and order management is one way for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and small business managers to level the playing field and grow their brand.
Inventory management functionality is what fast-growing businesses need to stay competitive. This article is your definitive guide to inventory management to scale your business efficiently and effectively.
What is inventory management?
Inventory management is the process of ordering, storing, using, and selling business inventory. It is a system that tracks raw materials, components, and finished products to ensure enough supplies are on hand to meet the purchasing demands of the customer.
Inventory management is measured as inventory turnover. It reflects how often your products are sold within a specified time period. A measure of business health is maintaining adequate inventory turnover where your business does not have more products than sells – or excess inventory. Poor inventory turnover leads to deadstock or unsold stock/product.
Retail inventory management
Retail is a general term used to describe businesses selling physical products to consumers. Although not exclusive to retail, inventory management plays a more critical role in this industry over others.
There are a growing number of ways to sell products including the following:
A company uses a physical brick-and-mortar location to sell its products.
A company sells its products over the internet using an ecommerce website or marketplace.
This employs multiple ways a company sells to its customers including an online store or marketplace or a physical location. Increasingly, companies also use social media sites to sell products. With multichannel selling, each channel operates independently of each other.
This way of selling creates a unified, integrated experience for customers across all offline and online channels. Where multichannel selling operates independently, omnichannel is focused on a seamless experience for the customer.
Wholesale distributors sell products to other businesses rather than individual consumers. This form of selling is referred to as business-to-business (B2B) or B2B ecommerce. B2B selling can include any of the above methods.
Regardless of how a company chooses to sell its products, inventory must be managed. However, inventory management is different depending on the constraints of how products are sold.
Importance of inventory management
Good inventory management is an essential part of running a successful retail business. It provides a seamless customer experience, maximizes profits, and improves cash flow.
A company’s inventory management system should optimize fulfillment and avoid shrinkage and waste. Without an effective system in place to manage inventory, retailers risk running out of products during peak demands from their customers.
Good inventory management includes the following:
Enterprise resource planning (ERP). ERP software manages key business operations including human resources, accounting, procurement, warehousing, production, marketing, and sales. ERP systems optimized for inventory management help maintain optimal levels of stock by combining the inventory needs of staff, customers, and suppliers.
Proper warehouse management. The barcode system, first-in-first-out (FIFO), and last-in-first-out (LIFO) techniques offer a clear picture of present and past inventory available with the company and optimize warehouse functions.
Managed sales operations. Sales is a continuous process that depends on manufacturers for goods or services. Efficient inventory management minimizes the risks of unavailability of raw materials needed in manufacturing.
Understanding the customer buying journey mitigates risks associated with insufficient stock to fulfill orders.
Shrinkage results in inventory loss attributed to employee and customer theft, administrative or cashier error, vendor fraud, damage, and spoiling.
Inventory levels are key to maintaining a good cash flow that ensures all aspects of the business run smoothly. Excess inventory ties up cash in products that could rather be spent on operations including salaries and other fixed costs.
Product availability is essential for fulfilling orders quickly. A good inventory system delineates where products are along the supply chain.
Types of inventory management
There are numerous types of inventory management systems. Which is best for your organization depends on budget, cost, utility, and accessibility.
Barcode inventory management
The barcode system is an automated and simplified way to manage inventory. A unique number or barcode is assigned to each product. Data points assigned to that number can include information about the supplier, the product, and the inventory or stock.
When a product is sold, the barcode is scanned and inventory adjusted automatically. Additionally, management can find key inventory metrics by scanning the barcode to bring up the item on a computer database.
Continuous/perpetual inventory management
A continuous or perpetual system manages inventory in real time, recording changes in inventory at the time of the transaction. It uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to passively identify tagged objects (inventory) for tracking along a supply chain.
Periodic inventory management
This is a manual process used to determine the inventory at a particular time point such as end-of-day or year’s end. This form of inventory management is most time-consuming as it involves physically counting the products on the shelves. Periodic inventory management is used primarily for inventory valuation and accounting purposes.
Identify actual stock on hand and the inventory requirements for the goods sold to determine if gaps exist between demand and supply, and reasons for those gaps.
2. Analyze spending patterns and consumer demand
Market demand forecasting helps organizations estimate production quantity to determine what is needed to maintain adequate inventory.
3. Evaluate the cost involved
Cost of goods sold includes different expenses like warehousing, maintenance, bulk discounts, transport, and supply chain costs. Each of these needs to be well analyzed.
4. Identify the extent of process automation
It is not possible for each organization to completely automate the inventory management process. However, it’s important to identify those particular areas where automation is possible.
5. Inspect supplier’s performance and practices
The supply chain is critical for maintaining adequate inventory. Identifying any holes in the supply chain or supplier’s performance is necessary. And, if needed, identify additional or alternative suppliers.
6. Classify inventories into various categories
Products must be segregated into categories based on the product type, maintenance cost, customer class, or profit margin.
7. Set objectives for all inventory categories
Set benchmark objectives and goals to efficiently track and manage the performance of all inventory categories. This can identify any issues within each of the categories.
8. Prioritize the areas of improvement
Analyzing goals and objectives allows companies to prioritize improvement needs. Improvement prioritization should be based on the impact of problems identified. Implement a hierarchy to address those areas.
The final step in implementing a good inventory management strategy is consistent and timely evaluation to determine what changes and improvements are necessary to add value and create an improved customer experience. These changes can be based on a number of factors, most notably supply and demand.
Choosing an inventory management system
Which inventory management system is right for your business depends on a number of factors. Here are just a few things to keep in mind.
There are various signs you have outgrown a standard inventory system including inventory errors and constant over stocking. When you find you’re spending more time on manual, operational tasks than growth, it is likely time to automate your inventory process.
Prepare a list of “must-haves” for your inventory management system. Do you ship orders or use digital packing? Does your company process both wholesale and retail orders? Are you manufacturing your products? All of these affect which type of inventory management system is best for your company.
Customer support is essential for set-up as well as troubleshooting should things go wrong. Support includes phone, chat, and/or email contact. Consider support hours – is the support team available when you need support?
Ease of use
Determine your staffing needs and the technical prowess of your staff. Will the inventory management system meet those needs and ability levels? The system you choose needs to be easy to use as well as transferable between departments.
Prepare a list of must-have integrations, e.g., ecommerce platform, accounting, shipping, marketplace, POS, 3PL, etc. It’s essential that the new inventory system integrates directly without requiring additional applications, middleware providers, or software managed by third parties.
Your inventory management system will manage a critical part of your business. Finding innovation-driven software using the latest technology is vital.
Cin7’s inventory management solution for multichannel selling
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 provides advanced automation processes to create seamless transactions centered around a positive customer experience.
Ditch the spreadsheets and stop manual data entry. Reach new markets with Cin7’s inventory and order management system.
As a consumer who shops online, you are aware of the benefits that an ecommerce platform provides, including convenience, discounts, wider variety, and more. As a business owner, leveraging ecommerce can bring a plethora of benefits.
Yet despite the documented success of ecommerce, many business-to-business (B2B) owners still use antiquated methodology to sell their products. They still lean on exchanging business cards and using account managers and sales representatives to make the sale.
The origin of ecommerce can be traced back to the 1970s, and it was predominantly for business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions. However, ecommerce adoption in B2B is gaining traction.
B2B ecommerce influences the digital platform to perform commercial transactions. While B2B ecommerce focuses on facilitating the transfer of goods and services amongst manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and distributors, B2C emphasizes directly transferring it to the consumers.
Unlike B2C businesses, B2B businesses have not leveraged much of ecommerce since their operations rely upon networking with other companies, building rapport, and then providing their offerings.
The lockdown related to the pandemic forced many businesses to shun their physical stores, acting as a catalyst to progress toward online transactions. The trend of B2B ecommerce is on the rise, and businesses cannot afford to not adapt to this shift.
Let’s explore seven benefits that B2B businesses can avail themselves through ecommerce.
#1 Flexible payment
Offering multiple payment options to customers enables them to select one that best suits their budgets. While multiple payment options ease the payment process for the customers, it can be challenging for the B2B vendor to keep tabs on all the payments and orders.
In such a scenario, having a B2B ecommerce platform can be the best option for your business as it more efficiently manages your accounts receivable and reduce the administrative burden. Moreover, payment flexibility can be far more in B2B than in B2C. Apart from conventional card payments, there can be credit lines, installments, deposits, and mixed payments.
Altogether, having an ecommerce platform allows you more flexibility in managing multiple payment options.
#2 Eases cross-border transactions
To increase your profits, you need to either lower costs or increase the number of customers. There is a threshold to the amount of cost reduction, but when it comes to acquiring new customers, the sky’s the limit!
Businesses strive to reach as many customers as possible, but they face severe limitations such as competition, geographical boundaries, and limited working hours. Thanks to technological advancements, increasing customer reach is possible (in fact, it is easier than ever).
With the help of B2B ecommerce, you can enter new markets filled with opportunities without needing to incur the hefty investment of setting up a brick-and-mortar store. ecommerce is a fantastic way to attract new customers, educate through product descriptions, and learn more about your company through an ecommerce website.
By utilizing SEO (search engine optimization), you can organically grow the presence of your B2B business and generate inbound purchases. As a result, the ecommerce platform will empower you to build your brand locally and globally.
With the help of a B2B ecommerce platform, you can not only perform cross-border transactions easily, but it can also solve plenty of international logistical issues. Local law compliance becomes easier, and customs and taxation are streamlined (since the buyers are required to pay purchase-related customs only at the time of receiving the product).
Unlike stores, an ecommerce website does not shut down, and customers can make purchases anytime and anywhere. Having a B2B ecommerce platform can do wonders and handle payments, take care of logistics, and sell while you sleep!
#3 Omnichannel customer preference
Gone are the days when people would hesitate to make an online purchase. Today, many consumers prefer the convenience and ease of shopping online.
There is a great likelihood that your close competitors are already using B2B ecommerce to sell online. If you fail to adapt, you will end up losing to the competition. In such a time, building an ecommerce platform for your B2B business brings you one step closer to making your future-proofing your business.
“Customer is the king” is a popular business saying, referring to how companies need to meet a customer’s preferences to become successful. Today’s customer comes from a new generation.
As buyers now prefer to use different channels to shop online, it is essential to use an omnichannel strategy for B2B eCommerce. Your platform should be easy to use on mobile and desktop.’
Omnichannel presence includes unifying data and breaking silos. It integrates different channels like websites, social media, email, chatbots, and even brick and mortar stores. It is all about offering a holistic buying experience to the customer.
Customers today do not frequently shop in a linear fashion. Instead, they move across multiple devices and platforms. This makes it crucial for you to use an omnichannel strategy.
Helpful hint: An example of a company excelling in this approach is Amazon which allows its customers to shop on the website, mobile app, tables, and even voice assistant Alexa.
#4 Cost mitigation
If you have ever shopped online, you know that there is a seemingly unlimited number of promotional offers that can lead to savings and offer the product at a rate cheaper than retail outlets. So how can ecommerce help B2B sellers to mitigate their costs?
For starters, it can help minimize the costs to acquire new customers. With the help of SEO and social media, you can organically find new customers (which is predominantly done in B2C). Even for existing customers, it is relatively easy to provide services and support through chatbots and automation.
If your B2B business relies on intermediaries, having an ecommerce platform would help cut costs by reducing their role. Intermediaries act as a bottleneck, as they eat away a chunk of your profit. It is little wonder, then, why brands are now adapting D2C (direct-to-consumer).
With ecommerce, your buyers can visit your website and make the purchase without ever interacting with an intermediary. However, it may not be feasible for all businesses to eliminate their distributors.
But even in that case, integrating your ecommerce platform with an inventory management system can offer a centralized hub to track your sales funnel, offer you much-needed visibility in your inventory transmission, and help you identify the inefficiencies in the processes that increase your cost.
#5 Retaining recurring buyers
If you are into B2B, your success depends upon fostering better relationships with your clients and offering timely delivery of the products. As you provide better services, your clients are more likely to make you their preferred supplier.
Rather than mandating them to contact your salesperson, your business can provide an ongoing subscription service. With the help of a B2B ecommerce platform, you can allow your customers to speedily purchase/repurchase your offering without even contacting a salesperson.
Artificial intelligence can also be used on your ecommerce platform to upsell or cross-sell your other offerings to repeat buyers. An ecommerce website generates useful data that can be used to segment your customers to offer specific discounts, memberships, or create loyalty programs.
#6 Faster fulfillment
B2B businesses can leverage the ecommerce platform to speed up their order fulfillment process. As the ecommerce store would be using a cloud-based solution to keep track of the inventory and order processing, it can streamline the fulfillment process.
Integrating your B2B ecommerce platform with an order management system can help you connect with the suppliers and makes it a smooth process to transfer the inventory from your end to the customer.
Considering order management software is also cloud-based, it can minimize the technical errors in the process of order placement and tracking. Another advantage of using a cloud-based system is that your software provider can automatically update it, and you do not need to have a dedicated technical team for it.
Altogether, integrating the order management software with your B2B ecommerce platform will allow you to monitor the received orders and inventory in hand and offer transparency to show the exact delivery time to the B2B users.
Helpful hint: You can even automate the reordering process to ensure that you do not run out of inventory.
#7 Better customer experience
In today’s competitive marketplace, having a good product is simply not enough. You also need to create a good buying experience for your customers. For example, if you had to purchase shoes online, would you prefer to buy them from a speedy website that looks easy to use or from a site that tests your level of patience with long loading times?
Failing to improve the user experience can seriously hinder your business by causing existing customers to switch to your competitors who offer a better web-based experience. Today’s consumer researches products prior to purchasing, and technology has made it easier to look up information instantly.
You should provide all the necessary product-related information in an easy-to find-location on your ecommerce website. Using ecommerce turn your website into a self-service portal, where your customers can easily track their order history, product availability, shipping conditions, and reviews from other fellow buyers.
Using third-party marketplaces to sell your products digitally may appear to be a lucrative low-cost option, but it comes at the cost of losing margins to the marketplace, and most importantly, you do not get the data of your customers.
You can gain complete control over scaling your B2B business’ online presence by creating an ecommerce platform. You can use its data to understand your customers’ buying behavior better and adjust your products accordingly.
The eCommerce platform will boost your efficiency by automating several manual processes that are prone to human error. Considering the size of B2Borders, such mistakes can cost you dearly.
Now is the perfect time to upgrade your B2B business through ecommerce. Avoiding this can cost you several potential customers and stunt the growth of your business. If you keep relying on the traditional approaches to selling your products, you will lose your competitive advantage to the new entrants that use modern technology for B2B sales. If you are looking for a modern product to optimize your B2B business, try Cin7!
With Cin7, you can easily create a B2B website to showcase your product catalog. It syncs your sales and inventory in real-time, giving you a bird-eye view of B2B operations. You can also generate invoices and collect payments from customers.
Cin7 has over 700 integrations that will cater to all the requirements for successfully operating your B2B business – be it accounting, shipping, or fulfillment.Cin7 is loved by more than 8000 product sellers.
Online shopping has become an integral part of the post-pandemic era. If you had a business with one or more stores, you probably had to shut your doors during the lockdown. While most brick-and-mortar stores had to close, online stores continued to flourish. Experienced companies got creative and started selling online, on social media, and more.
However, selling online begins with an ecommerce website. During the pandemic, these websites became a vital complement to a physical retail space. Moving forward, online stores will be indispensable for companies, including those that never needed them before. ecommerce is open 24/7 and attracts buyers from anywhere you have the ability to ship to.
An online store doesn’t only expand your potential customer base. It also gives your existing customers an easier shopping option, and it allows them to encourage their friends and family to do the same. ecommerce stores diversify your selling channels, reduce costs, and make it easier to scale your business.
Here’s why your offline business needs an online presence.
Reason #1: It improves your company’s image
This reason alone is enough to start a new website today. It’s a crucial factor, as prospective clients might wonder how serious your business is without a website, blog, or online presence.
Today, companies of all industries and sizes need to establish an online identity. Without one, your potential customers might not take you seriously, and you might lose business to competitors who are active, professional, and effective online.
Reason #2: You’ll provide better customer support
Having an online presence allows you to interact with more customers in real-time. Just having a website isn’t enough — you need to manage it, too. For most brick-and-mortar businesses, there simply isn’t an option to offer 24-hour service to customers.
Your online store can use live chats or contact forms to communicate with your customers. You can also create a space for them to leave reviews, post comments, and ask questions. It’s very important that your customers and prospects are able to get the information they need at any time —and being online is a great way to do that.
Building relationships is part of your job, and one of the best ways to do so is by making customers feel at home while using your site. Online customer support allows you to be quick to respond and apologize, especially if people are experiencing issues.
Communicating with new customers, and especially customers that have complaints can be stressful. Always make sure to stay positive and ask if they have any unanswered questions. Here are some tips for better online customer service:
Make it easy for people to contact you
Nurture relationships as much as possible
Provide upfront access to information
Be available to help in real-time
Walk customers from problem to solution
Invest in your customer service team
Direct your customers to both offline and online customer experiences
Reason #3: Your employees can work remotely
Brands should utilize multiple distribution channels to better connect with customers. The “bricks-and-clicks” business model means that you operate both on- and offline, and it allows you to be more effective in multiple ways.
Why operate in both spaces? A physical presence helps humanize your brand and offers memorable shopping experiences, while an online presence helps maintain convenience and excellent customer service.
Businesses with a great digital presence can also allow some personnel to work remotely— as long as they have a solid internet connection. This enhanced flexibility boosts productivity, saves time, and increases profits.
Some areas of work may be impossible or difficult to do remotely. That’s why traditional offline businesses can begin small and scale up later to support brand recognition, customer service, marketing efforts, relationship building, and more — and do it all remotely.
Reason #4: You can target both local and global markets
When your business is online, you can market to the masses and increase the number of direct relationships with your customers. You can also effectively target your local market by getting valuable online data.
So, how do you find the right balance between local and global targeting? As your business grows, so must your market. You don’t want to limit yourself from the beginning. That’s why establishing an online presence should be your first step in this journey. A website or an app allows you to access various markets, attract new customers, and have a higher chance of converting more people.
Reason #5: You’ll have lower start-up costs
How much does it cost to establish your brick-and-mortar brand’s online presence? Truthfully, not much. Building an online presence and marketing yourself takes time, but the costs are very low compared to launching an offline business from scratch.
Physical businesses demand high rental costs and several employees, while your selection of goods are always limited by physical space. You can eliminate or reduce those costs by establishing an online channel.
Plus, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on your website or mobile app development. In fact, a good website or app can be quickly made for somewhere between a few hundred to a thousand dollars.
And, if you contact Cin7, we’ll quickly get you an estimate for your true startup costs.
Reason #6: You’ll gain an edge on your competition
The sooner you have an online presence, the more of an edge you can enjoy over your competitors. As the saying goes, “Either you have to be first, or you have to be best.” And being the best is really hard.
When your company is online and your competitors aren’t, you have the chance to dominate. Even if you’re not the first, we highly recommend having an active and growing presence on all major social media platforms. At this point, a website and social media presence is almost mandatory.
How to get your business online in 4 simple steps
Now that you’re ready, let’s jump right in. This is how you get your business online in 4 simple steps.
Step #1: Set up your ecommerce website
Setting up your ecommerce website is not as complex as it used to be. You can easily do it yourself, or you can pay someone to help. First, choose a domain name (for the website’s URL). If you want to do business internationally, it’s a good idea to buy a “.com” domain name.
You’ll also need to use an ecommerce platform, and the one you choose depends on what you need. We partner with some of the best ecommerce platforms that make the process fast and simple: Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, and WooCommerce.
Shopify is great because it has themed templates to select, and you can make a great-looking website in minutes. If you need any additional help building your website, no problem. Simply go to https://experts.shopify.com for a directory of professional website builders.
Another good practice is to look for other ecommerce websites from similar businesses. You can share those examples with a professional of your choice and tell them to imitate the look, feel, and function of the website.
Step #2: Upload your products and prepare to sell
Your online store is where many of your customers will first encounter your products. Make sure your products have good descriptions, accurate sizing, and excellent product images.
If you sell apparel, it’s worth noting that it sells better when customers see it being worn. You should also provide text that includes details you can’t see in the image. Make sure to use a decent camera and find a good space with a clean background.
Product images on a white background are great, or you can try to obtain high-quality images from your suppliers. Also, make sure you’re ready to ship your products. Our partners StarShipIt, ShipStation, and others will help make this process seamless.
Step #3: Make your logo and create your brand
It’s time to make your website’s logo. Modern logos are simple to produce on your own, but if you’re feeling “design-challenged,” it isn’t hard to get help from professionals via gig sites like Fiverr and Upwork. Alongside a logo, you should consider some basic branding, too. It’s important for a brand to have a consistent message and experience.
It’s also essential to set up some basic web pages from day one. There should be “About Us,” “Shipping Information,” “Contact Us,” and “Returns Policy” pages. You’ll also want to promote your physical store’s location and opening hours.
Making these pages tells your customers about your brand. Who are you, and what are your values? More than ever before, consumers base their purchasing decisions at least partially on whether or not a company aligns with their values.
A final tip: never let perfection get in the way of a web store launch. The key is getting online fast. You can always update and improve your website as you move forward.
Step #4: Promote your online shop
If you have a healthy customer database, you should try to contact them via email, phone, and mail. Sending emails and branded postcards is a good way to personalize your website’s launch.
You can also use social media networks to promote your online store. For instance, if you are on Instagram, you can create a post and tell customers that they’ll be entered into a raffle for store credit by tagging three friends.
Marketing is about getting creative and thinking outside the box to raise awareness. For instance, it doesn’t hurt to try to get an article published by the local newspaper or news. You can also advertise your new online store at your existing physical store.The more exposure, the better.
Post-launch, you should send a monthly email to customers. We recommend using Mailchimp to send bulk emails with mobile-friendly layouts and solid branding. Mailchimp also helps manage your unsubscribe list. That way, you’re not sending unwanted emails.
Finally, digital marketing plays a crucial role, and it includes:
Paid advertising like Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
SEO, which increases the chance for your website to appear in Google search results and help potential customers find you.
Content marketing, like writing blogs and adding helpful web pages to help attract potential customers.
Social media presence, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even Twitter.
Step #5. Get your automated Inventory Management software
Properly managing inventory can either make or break your business, so it’s crucial to have insight into your stock levels at any given time. With the right inventory software, decision-makers can manage their inventory effectively and cheaply.
Cin7 is great because it offers a suite of tools to track inventory in multiple locations. You can determine reorder points, manage stock, and cycle counts. Plus, you’ll be able to find the right balance between demand and supply across your entire organization with our demand planning and distribution requirements planning features.
These solutions are a perfect fit for businesses of any size.
See what Cin7 can do for you
Keeping track of your inventory and understanding your sales data is vital to making a multichannel business a success. Cin7 can integrate your ecommerce and brick-and-mortar businesses in one easy system. You’ll be able to manage your inventory and ship without an issue — as long as you have the right tools.
Remember, our team is always here to help — and we’d love to show you exactly how today.