Merrell NZ: How to build a highly engaged customer base

This is a guest blog post written by Cin7 partner, Marsello. Learn more about our partner program.

Email marketing is a key sales tactic for retailers and product sellers, so it’s important to have an active, responsive database. That means consistent or growing engagement (open and click rates), a high repeat purchase rate, and growing average customer lifetime value.

In this article, we’ll look at how Cin7 and Marsello customer Merrell NZ builds their customer database, which boasts a 15% repeat purchase rate and an average purchase frequency of 3.5x.

Did you know? 50% of consumers buy from marketing emails at least once per month, and 59% say that marketing emails influence their purchase decisions (Salecycle, 2022).

How to build a highly engaged customer base

1. Collect high quality contacts

Merrell NZ use a clever tactic to ensure the best quality contacts are added to their database: They ask for more than just an email address.

This might seem contradictory — surely the more information you ask for, the fewer leads you get? But Merrell NZ know that their most valuable customers are those who are willing to give just a bit more information.

This pop-up has a 25% sign-up rate. That’s incredible.

Here’s why the pop-up works:

  • It gets to the point in the first two sentences.
  • It’s aligned with Merrell’s beautiful, down-to-earth brand.
  • It offers VIP rewards in return for contact information (and everyone knows giving your date of birth means birthday goodies!)

For a business that understands how valuable its database is, this tactic is perfect.

Top 3 Pop-Up Mistakes:

  • No offer, promise of value, or incentive
  • No obvious purpose (too wordy, or an unclear offer)
  • Poor user experience (for example, it’s hard to get the pop-up to close)

2. Leverage email automation

Merrell NZ is building even stronger relationships with their customers with automations. Triggered when customers take a specific action or meet certain criteria, automated emails help Merrell NZ deliver a highly personalized customer experience.

Marsello “gives us the opportunity to link customers from our retail and web stores, work around customer retention and automate email marketing flows in a really clever way,” says José Matiz, Retail Manager for Merrell NZ.

“For us, Marsello was a game-changer, we have been using it for over a year. We started with email marketing and now moved on to loyalty programs and several automations, it’s amazing,” says José.

Above: Merrell NZ’s abandoned cart automation, set up in Marsello.

Automated emails, triggered by a customer action, get 8 times more opens than manual, bulk emails. Here are two very effective automations you can set up in just a few clicks:

  • Welcome emails: More than 80% of consumers will open a welcome email, and these automated welcome emails see up to 10 times more clicks than other manual emails. You can deliver immediate value with a thank you discount or voucher to make a great first impression, introduce them to your brand, and encourage them to buy again.
  • Abandoned cart emails: Send a friendly reminder to customers if they abandon their cart. This reminds your customers to come back to your store and complete their purchase. On average, each abandoned cart email generates $5.64. In comparison, the average promotional email generates $0.02.

3. Use segmentation

Customer segmentation is the process of dividing customers into groups, allowing retailers to do more targeted and effective marketing.

Segmentation is a powerful antidote to poor database engagement and low email open rates. According to research by Hubspot, 78% of marketers reported that segmenting their database is their most effective email marketing strategy. In an analysis of more than 100,000 emails, Hubspot found that segmented email lists had 12% higher click-through rates than emails sent to an entire database.

You can segment your database in any number of ways, allowing you to discover and create different cross-sections and niche subgroups within your database:

  • Demographics: Segment by common customer characteristics such as age, gender, or life stage.
  • Geography: Segment customers based on country, state, or city.
  • Behavior: Segment customers based on their activity at your stores such as last purchase data, repeat purchase rate, or the number of loyalty points earned.
  • RFM: Segment by Marsello’s RFM groups based on purchase recency, frequency, and spend. (most valuable customers, at-risk customers, window shoppers, and more).
  • Or any combination of the above.

 

Merrell NZ: Creating segments of your best customers

Merrell NZ’s average repeat purchase rate across the database is 15%, but some groups of their customers purchase more frequently than others. Merrell NZ uses loyalty program tiers to create segments of their most engaged customers for VIP marketing.

Above: Segment your marketing lists with Cin7 + Marsello.

Sending targeted marketing to your best customers, like this, is smart. Roughly 80% of a business’s profits will come from 20% of its customers—that is, your regulars. These customers are brand-aware, highly likely to engage with your emails, and are very unlikely to unsubscribe.

Retailers can also send more frequent messages to those who are loyal brand followers (although you’ll see your best engagement if you don’t send more than five emails per week).

Some customer database tips

  1. Email marketing is all about quality, not quantity. Sending targeted, considered emails to smaller groups will often outperform bulk emails to your entire database.
  2. Database hygiene will help engagement and reduce costs. From time to time, remove contacts from your lists if they haven’t responded to win-back campaigns, or haven’t opened emails in a long time.
  3. Get more granular, detailed customer data for better segmentation. Connect your online and in-store sales channels to your marketing platform for the best results.

Cin7 + Marsello

Powered by Cin7 and your e-commerce data, Marsello works seamlessly in-store and online to provide a true omnichannel customer experience.

  • Capture in-store and online customer details
  • Deliver personalized and timely automated marketing
  • Incentivize repeat purchases with email, SMS, a loyalty program, and more
  • Grow your average basket size with advanced product recommendations
  • Accurately track and attribute sales to your marketing activity

Book a demo with Marsello

Top 10 technologies driving ecommerce growth in 2022

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

 

1. Voice and image search

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

 

2. AI chatbots

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

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

 

3. Smarter mobile shopping tools

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

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

 

4. Omnichannel presence and support

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

 

5. Fast and secure e-wallet functionality

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

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

 

6. Metaverse and other gaming platforms to facilitate sales

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

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

 

7. Livestream commerce

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

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

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

 

8. Headless and API-driven ecommerce

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

 

9. Progressive web apps

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

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

PWA’s primary functions include:

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

 

10. Cin7 inventory management

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

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

 

Wrapping up

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

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

Book your demo now!

Top 20 B2B apps to boost sales in 2022

To increase sales and beat competitors, you need the right technology. Apps that improve efficiency, like sales rep management tools, can boost your bottom line.

But it can be a challenge to determine which sales apps are the best for you and your team. So, we’ve done the research for you. We have compiled a list of the best sales apps that can improve your business performance.

Here’s the list of the top 20 proven sales apps to boost productivity.

 

1. Slack – team communication

Connect your remote teams and centralize communication with this best-in-class messaging app. Communicate seamlessly with your team and boost collaborative productivity using Slack. It’s one of the most reliable sales team tools.

You can discuss projects, share files, and maintain transparency within the team. Plus, Slack integrates with other CRM tools to manage sales efficiently.

  • Work with external contacts, adding them as guests.
  • Create channels for different topics.
  • Engage with team members to share vital messages quickly.
  • Set reminders to complete tasks on-time.

 

2. LinkedIn – lead development

While technically LinkedIn is a social platform, our clients still rank it as one of the top tools for lead development. LinkedIn is an excellent place to find leads and nurture sales prospects – especially when selling to companies. You can search profiles of key decision-makers and even contact them through LinkedIn messages.

Knowing the key players saves sales reps from navigating multiple gatekeepers before reaching decision-makers.

 

3. MailChimp – email marketing automation

MailChimp is a cost-effective way to manage your email subscribers. With over nine million users, MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing platforms.

Their tools allow you to send well-designed emails to targeted audiences. MailChimp has advanced analytics to measure the effectiveness of outbound emails. MailChimp integrates with numerous third-party apps to sync customer data and streamline workflows.

 

4. Saleslion – sales proposal creation

With Saleslion, you can create interactive proposals and sales materials online which will help in closing more deals faster. The platform allows you to optimize every step of your sales process – be it clarifying audience motivation or comprehending the sales message.

Ultimately, you can design smarter processes and sales strategies to close deals with prospects. Be prepared for any sales objections and confidently handle sales calls with Saleslion.

 

5. Snov.io – outreach and lead generation

Snov.io is a CRM that saves you time. Snov.io’s toolset is easy to navigate so you can spend more time nurturing and converting leads than searching for them. The app uses personalized automation for email campaigns designed to engage and convert, including follow-up.

Snov.io has over 2000 integrations to boost efficiency. Connect with customer service platforms, multi-channel marketing apps, and productivity tools.

 

6. Hunter – email hunter

Hunter connects you with professionals who matter to your business. Search first and last names or company websites to find the email address of the person you want to reach – provided the company has a verified domain that’s publicly available.

It’s one of the best apps for finding business emails for sales prospecting.

 

7. Badger Maps – route planner for sales

Badger Maps is a multi-stop route planner designed for in-the-field salespeople. With Badger Maps, you can meet the right prospects at the right time, using the fastest route with over 100 stops.

With features like check-ins, lead generation, and follow-up reminders, Badger would streamline every aspect of a field salesperson’s job. Badger Maps is one of the best sales route planners for sales reps and their teams, with the selling capabilities of a CRM and a prospecting tool.

Badger Maps is available for iPhone, Mac, PC, and Android. It also syncs seamlessly with multiple CRMs to keep important customer information in one place.

 

8. Zoom – video conferencing

Cut down the travel expenses and save time by holding conferences, meetings, and webinars online with Zoom. It’s a leader in modern enterprise video communications and a perfect solution to conduct distance meetings.

With this advanced sales productivity tool, you can easily share screens with prospects and give effective sales presentations from anywhere at any time of the day – it’s a perfect solution for today’s global marketplace.

 

9. MakerMove – tools and resources

MakerMove is a special platform for makers and founders to discover useful resources and tools. There are numerous curated lists of resources available, but MakerMove puts them all together in a nice interface. This allows you to quickly discover innovative products to help you succeed.

Get inspired by the best podcasts and books to help you grow. Find journalists to get press coverage or connect with the best investors to fund your startup. Discover anything you need to boost your project – all in one place.

 

10. Track-POD – route planner software

Track-POD is the emerging leader in contactless and paperless delivery solutions. It’s more than proof of delivery.

The app provides route planning and optimization, real-time driver tracking, fleet management, customer portal and notifications, e-sign, and paperless proof of delivery. You can level up and scale your delivery management with Track-POD.

 

11. CircleBack – address book management

Good communication is crucial to building long-lasting relationships. But it isn’t easy to maintain meaningful connections when the contacts are outdated, or worse, scattered on post-its or other places. Avoid clutter and manage contacts with ease using CircleBack.

CircleBack is one of the best sales productivity tools to keep your information up-to-date and organized.

  • Scan business cards to add new contacts instantly.
  • Remove duplicate entries to keep your address book clean.
  • Connect multiple networks in one unified address book.
  • Integrate with CRM tools to ensure your contacts and deals are updated.

 

12. Feedly – news aggregator application

Don’t miss important news related to your industry. Now you can stay updated with the latest trends in the global marketplace with Feedly. Find news, content, and articles you like on a single platform.

Track what you read using Feedly’s history option. As well, receive suggestions for new blogs that may interest you.

 

13. Evernote – note taking app

Take the market research beyond bookmarks and eliminate scrap paper with Evernote. It’s a digital storage facility for vital data. Not only can you maintain a wide range of content but also store images, record notes, and upload PDF files using this smart note-taking application.

  • Tag the notes for quick reference.
  • Manage content from any internet-connected device.
  • Attach pictures and audio directly to notes.
  • Create shortcuts to frequently accessed files.
  • Set reminders for projects and tasks.

 

14. Tripit – itinerary and travel planner

Streamline travel plans in one place to stay organized with Tripit. Everything from flight details to hotel bookings are easily available within this app. Tripit offers a master itinerary for all your trips to ensure seamless and hassle-free traveling.

 

15. Basecamp – project management

Complete sales tasks on-time and collaborate with your team using Basecamp. Basecamp is a project management app and one of the best sales team tools. Eliminate complexity and keep projects and communications centralized. Basecamp organizes the who, what, where, and why for company projects.

  • Receive an email notification when new tasks are assigned or old ones are due.
  • Keep everyone in the loop with real-time project discussions.
  • View each detail related to a project in one place.
  • See deadlines, tasks, and events in one view using Basecamp Calendar.
  • Share large files hassle-free.

 

16. Doodle – meeting scheduling

Simplify the process of setting meetings and finding convenient times to meet with potential prospects using Doodle. Stay away from conflicting bookings and stay on track with this amazing daily sales app.

Whether you’re coordinating with 30 volunteers for a huge event or a small team for a monthly meeting, Doodle keeps everyone on the same page by seamlessly scheduling meetings and events.

 

17. Leadfeeder – website visitor tracking

Keep an eye on website visitors using Leadfeeder. Know who visits your site and what pages they look at with this high-end marketing tool. It is one of the best ways to convert site visitors into leads.

Leadfeeder integrates with numerous marketing tools to capture and manage leads.

 

18. Expensify – expense management

Tracking expenses is a necessity for business travel. Expensify is the easiest way to simplify and streamline expense management. Expensify is one of the best expense management apps, with more than 2.5 million users worldwide.

  • Create expense reports by clicking a photo of trip receipts.
  • Link credit and/or debit cards with your Expensify account to automatically place charges in expense reports.
  • Convert expense reports into customized invoices with just one click.

 

19. Chorus – conversation intelligence platform

Chorus uses artificial intelligence to record and transcribe sales calls into notes in real-time. This enables sales teams to store valuable information from phone conversations quickly and efficiently.

Chorus extracts insights from sales calls, which can help you fine-tune your communication strategies with clients.

  • Analyze sales calls and meeting recordings.
  • Discover top performing sales reps.
  • Create a playlist of great calls for training new sales reps.
  • Track performance and compare it with teammates by viewing the leaderboard.
  • Share recordings with the sales team.

 

20. Lastpass – password manager

This list would not be complete without a password manager. Our customers rely on LastPass as their password management app. LastPass stores your passwords in one location that you can access from anywhere.

LastPass syncs with multiple devices and is easy to use.

 

App integration with Cin7

As a small business owner, part of your job is staying one step ahead of your competitors. One way to do that is to streamline your processes – which is exactly what these sales apps do. Explore the extensive features of all these popular apps and leverage their benefits to improve your business’s bottom line.

Speaking of integrations, Cin7 integrates with 700+ business tools that your sales team can use to boost your business. Cin7 integrates with sales and marketing apps, 3PL providers, payment gateways, EDI suppliers, and a lot more. You can access the full list of our integrations from here. 

Use integrations to increase sales and reorders and win new customers.

Contact us to book your demo now. We’ll take the time to understand how we can help your business.

5 things to look for in a retail point-of-sale (POS) system

Customers expect to make purchases quickly and easily. An efficient point-of-sale (POS) system lets you provide multiple options to your customers to make their shopping experience seamless.

What makes a good POS system?

#1 Wide choice of payment options

From credit and debit cards to buy now, pay later (BNPL), as well as wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, there are many easy payment options for customers today.

Your POS system should provide a range of payment options so customers can conveniently pay in the manner that best suits them. The benefit for you is that if you give customers the freedom to pay by the method of their choosing, they tend to shop more frequently and buy more.

 

#2 Omnichannel integration and management

Customers interact with your products through multiple channels, such as websites, social media, and mobile apps. A POS system that integrates these channels and provides omnichannel support creates a unified experience for the customer. Providing omnichannel support means you can handle orders coming from multiple channels, devices and platforms.

 

#3 Mobility

If the customer doesn’t come to you, go to the customer. Mobility is one of the most important features of a POS system, as it enables you to take payments on-the-go.

The best example of a mobile POS can be seen at some restaurants today that have quick response (QR) codes right at the table. Customers can view the menu, order food and even pay the bill by simply scanning the code with their smartphone. It provides a quick and easy experience for customers, as they don’t have to wait in line to pay the bill.

All of this is possible if your POS system is capable of handling mobility.

 

#4 Third-party software integrations

Third-party integrations give you access to a wide range of services from within your POS system. If your POS system offers integrations with all the major third-party software, you can easily share data across all the platforms and don’t have to go through the hassles of manual updates.

Services such as customer relationship management (CMR) and a human resource management system (HRMS), when integrated into your POS system, become an incredibly powerful tool. They can manage customer experience data, run loyalty programs and even monitor individual personnel performance from the POS system.

 

#5 Promotions and discounts

Nothing hypes a product like a steep discount. Customers absolutely love a deal, and running promotions is a sure way to sell more products.

As you set out to create appealing offers for your loyal customers, your POS system should help you by telling you which product is selling less, so you can create a promotion.

A POS system should also let you create a variety of promotions on the desired item(s) by creating bundles. When you create a bundle (such as a “Buy Two, Get One” offer on socks), the POS system should be able to sell it seamlessly.

Sales will be reflected in the inventory count immediately and help you keep track of how your promotion is faring.

Cin7 POS for your retail business

If you’re looking for a robust POS system for your business, look no further than Cin7. Our solution has all the POS functionalities required to streamline product sales. Additionally,  Cin7’s POS system automatically updates inventory levels in real time.

Cin7’s POS is designed for omnichannel sales. It allows you to transfer orders to other locations as well as ship directly from the store.

Book a demo with Cin7 to learn how we can help you deliver a stellar retail experience.

Top supply chain trends to watch in 2022

Covid-19 has changed the way many businesses operate, and new trends are emerging daily. Many industries have sustained massive losses and others have made huge gains. In fact, entire supply chains have transformed in new and interesting ways.

Here’s a list of key trends that will take over in the supply chain industry in the coming year. In modern times, the supply chain is an essential part of every organization. We expect a year full of supply chain improvement and evolution. Let’s jump right in.

Improved artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) will become a primary driver in the ever-growing supply chain industry. AI algorithms have the capability to automate basic operations by processing data from previous operations. AI has the potential to save a lot of time and remove a substantial amount of human error. These two improvements will make supply chains much more efficient.

AI can also decrease the amount of human capital needed for performing both basic and complicated tasks. Because of this, the potential for AI is enormous. It can help businesses identify patterns in data and give managers access to a range of useful insights. As businesses take advantage of AI, operations in the supply chain will become more accurate and efficient.

Robotic automation

Robotic automation, including drones and driverless vehicles, can improve the supply chain by streamlining logistics operations. In the coming year, some executives will start using self-driving drones to make small goods deliveries.

In 2019, nearly half of U.S. companies spent up to $869 million on at least 16,400 robots. Robotic automation is playing a massive role in the supply chain and supply chain management companies.

The emerging scope of IoT (Internet of Things)

Like AI and robotic automation, organizations are increasingly interested in using IoT devices to improve visibility. The Internet of Things will benefit the supply chain industry in many ways.  Companies will be able to fit sensors into vehicles, warehouses, and outlets to provide data that enhances visibility in inventory management, production, and maintenance.

End-to-end IoT services are rapidly being adopted by supply chain organizations. IoT will help increase transparency across the entire supply chain. Everything will be tracked in real time as GPS sensors are fitted in different kinds of transportation.

Sensors play a vital role in warehouses by providing visibility into inventory management. It will also play a large role in gauging demand for retailers, too.

Blockchain

Customers want same-day delivery of their products, but this level of speed and efficiency can be difficult to manage for logistics teams. This is where blockchain technology can help supply chain management.

Blockchain can help businesses eliminate intermediaries and communicate directly with potential customers. Blockchain technology can also assist in distributing data transparently. However, blockchain’s most significant advantage in supply chain management is that it offers complete protection for securing information. Because it’s decentralized, blockchain helps keep data protected from unwanted edits. Customers, shipping lines, logistics firms, and vendors can communicate over a single, protected platform where information is stored.

Agility in supply chain management

Thanks to the pandemic, the supply chain industry is becoming much more agile. Supply chains are becoming increasingly flexible, and they now have the ability to deal with changes, disruptions, and challenges that arise.

Thanks to AI and machine learning, many companies can adapt on the fly. Shipments are becoming more personalized as pre-orders specify exact requirements. As industries move forward, customers are becoming more prioritized. The ability to customize is becoming a total necessity. Companies are starting to build infrastructure that permits customized orders in the supply chain without adding any cost.

Smart contracts

Automation is escalating in multiple ways. Along with AI and robotic automation, smart contracts are starting to emerge, too. Companies are starting to use smart contracts to settle payments with cryptocurrencies automatically, which removes the need for arbitration and makes the payment process much quicker.

Smart contracts are transaction protocols that are executed when required conditions are met. They can also be useful for generating invoices when shipments reach their destination. The most common use case, however, is when financial transactions are being performed between parties.

Omnichannel is the new trend

Customers are starting to expect better customer experience, and omnichannel can help by providing a quicker, more direct shopping experience. Omnichannel services will help customers as they shop online or in stores.

People want to purchase and receive goods as quickly as possible. This is why the demand for streamlined logistics is increasing every day. Omnichannel supply chains are helping customers get a smoother, more transparent experience.

ScaaS (Supply chain as a Service)

As supply chain management teams become smaller, companies are starting to hire groups of skilled individuals who focus on making strategic, supply-chain-enhancing decisions.

Most businesses still manage their supply chains in-house. However, as trends and technologies evolve, many companies will adopt the ScaaS (supply chain as a service) business model. It’s a great way for companies to outsource logistics, inventory management, packing, and more.

 

Stay on top of new trends to streamline your supply chains

As new technology emerges, processes will become both smarter and faster. If you follow the trends, your supply chain has the potential to become more sustainable and customer-centric. Trending technologies like IoT, AI, and blockchain can help simplify your current processes and automate your operations.

By staying updated and well-informed on evolving supply chain trends, you can stay flexible and adopt the technology that makes more sense for your business. As you do this, you will reduce supply chain disruptions. Ultimately, this knowledge will help your business boost efficiency and productivity.

With Cin7, you can get real-time inventory insights. You can also automate your purchase orders to avoid stockouts. Cin7 also integrates with 3PL providers to help you streamline your order fulfillment. Book a demo with our experts to learn more about using Cin7’s capabilities for scaling your operations.

5 Common invoicing mistakes businesses make & how to avoid them

Retail and wholesale-based businesses need to realize as many efficiencies as possible to survive in the marketplace. Today, success is dependent upon modern tech stacks with cloud-based software that best suits inventory-centric operations.

The adoption of cloud-based software has helped product sellers succeed in an industry that has been disrupted by COVID-19 and global conflict. By taking full advantage of the move to the cloud, thriving businesses are enabling their remote workforces, automating the increasing demands of digital commerce, and protecting their intellectual property with the latest in web security.

 

Avoid paying interest on cash borrowed from business credit lines to bolster cash flow

Few aspects of business are more critical than timely and accurate accounts receivable. Meticulous invoicing keeps cash flowing into the business. Leaving such a crucial function to error-prone, manual processes is a mistake that small businesses can no longer afford. And the process doesn’t end at sending invoices to customers. Accurate, real time data supports follow-up on receivables – also key to maintaining cash flow.

When it comes to invoicing, errors and delays lead to lost revenue so it is vital to understand what mistakes businesses often make and how to avoid them. We preface the following tips by generally advising that by adopting cloud-based accounting software from a respected vendor that is custom integrated with an inventory control platform ensures all financial data is managed on an accurate and timely basis. Here’s a comprehensive list of common invoicing mistakes businesses make and the solutions to ensure you can prevent repeating them.

1. Sporadic invoicing

When businesses send invoices to customers inconsistently, it’s easy to fall behind. Invoicing on different dates each month can also lead to receivable delays. This mistake is likely to occur because some businesses only invoice on specific days of the week.

This can be an issue for customers as well. Customers have difficulty planning their cash flow because they have no idea when to expect an invoice. Random invoicing results in delayed payments causing receivables to age beyond 30 days. To rectify this, select specific dates every month on the calendar to regularly send invoices. The best solution is to automate the process with invoicing software. Customers will be well aware and have enough time to arrange the payment.

2. Timely collections

Simply sending invoices doesn’t complete the job. It is essential to follow up with customers who haven’t made payments within agreed credit terms. Organization is key to success here and failing at collections hinders growth and long-term viability.

Once an invoice is sent, it is recommended to set a reminder to follow up on debts. When the time comes, a persuasive email that urges customers to take action immediately can be effective. Best practices encourage the use of accounting software that helps manage receivables and sends reminders of past due invoices.

3. Unclear terms of payment

Always clearly specify Terms and Conditions regarding payment terms. This should include details about late fees, pricing, and other details about products and services. State all payment policies on invoices so that customers aren’t confused and can make payments on time.

Be as specific as possible. For example, a customer may wonder if “net 15 days” excludes weekend days or not. Instead, specifying “net 15 business days” will offer clarity.

4. Lack of company branding

Company branding is an invoice element that can have an impact. Undoubtedly, branding is crucial for every facet of business, and invoicing is no exception. Including branding on invoices means customers can easily identify who the invoice is from.

Moreover, using a company logo and clear branding on invoices ensures that customers can easily spot invoices from your business. Each branding opportunity can help improve awareness in the marketplace. Leveraging the benefits of invoicing software like QuickBooks Online offers custom invoice templates and the ability to add branding elements.

5. Inconsistent back-ups

Invoice data is an important part of an overall back-up plan. Depending upon location, a business may be legally obliged to archive invoice data for a specified period of years. Furthermore, an ability to provide customers with archival invoice data upon request demonstrates that their account is being managed properly.

Every invoice sent should be backed up either as a physical copy or a digital one. Keeping a paper copy is not highly recommended as it is prone to be misplaced or damaged. Backing data up using a cloud storage service or adopting cloud-based accounting software are both compliant solutions.

 

Wrapping up

Accurate and timely invoicing is critical for long-term success and growth.

In this article, we have covered some of the most common invoicing mistakes and how they can hamper receipt of payments. If a business is reaching the point where it can no longer afford to rely solely on error-prone, manual data entry to manage invoicing, or relying upon legacy invoicing software, we suggest upgrading tech stacks to modern, cloud-based solutions.

Intuit and DEAR Systems have recently partnered to offer an Advanced Plan bundle that includes a subscription to both QuickBooks Online and DEAR Systems inventory and order management beginning at $375 per month. This offers the perfect opportunity for growing product sellers to easily enjoy the very latest cloud-based solutions to manage cash flow, inventory, and order fulfillment.

5 ways your inventory spreadsheet is hurting your business

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.

Furthermore, when you use an inventory management system, the chance for human error is substantially reduced.

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.

How to successfully launch your ecommerce brand

The pandemic era and a massive shift to digital experiences have made the prospect of launching an ecommerce business very tempting. However, starting and sustaining an ecommerce business is easier said than done. You need the right business idea, suitable ecommerce solutions, a well-planned strategy, and more.

Still, if you’re thinking about starting an ecommerce business, you’ve come to the right place. This blog post will provide you with a step-by-step guide to start and run your online business. We’ll go through idea generation, technology options, online store management, maintenance, and more.

Here’s what you need to know to start and run your online business.

 

How profitable is ecommerce?

Trends show ecommerce business is becoming increasingly profitable. For established businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, ecommerce is a profitable model as both the sole focus of a business and an additional selling channel.

Data shows that in three months, a new ecommerce store can make more than $63,000 in monthly revenue. In just one year, a successful ecommerce store can average $127,000 in monthly revenue. After three years, a successful ecommerce store can earn an average monthly revenue of $352,000, which is an increase of about 175% between years one and three. On average, your successful ecommerce company can make as much as $39,000 of revenue in the first month in business, and some jump up to $6.5 million in total after three years.

 

A step-by-step guide to starting your ecommerce business

The ecommerce business journey begins well before you launch your business. A successful ecommerce business demands tremendous research early — whether you’re starting an online store or doing an ecommerce integration.

Thanks in large part to the pandemic, there’s more competition than ever. To succeed in this market, you need to think strategically and act methodically.

Step #1: Research your business model

An online business is a big investment, and you need to take it seriously. Your ecommerce business isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition— you must have a unique online business model. You need to map out marketing, manage inventory, coordinate shipping, and more. Because of all of these factors, research is extremely important. You should make sure to talk to an ecommerce consultant to ensure you have a viable plan. Look for an ecommerce development company as soon as you have a rough plan.

Step #2: Validate your target market

It’s time to identify your target market and the type of products you want to sell. Before finalizing your offerings, it’s essential to understand buyer personas. Begin with a few, well-defined product ideas. You can always expand gradually from there. Before you invest in products, you must evaluate them and think about leveraging low-cost methods like drop-shipping.

Step #3: Know your competition

Competitor analysis is crucial in any business. When you analyze your competition, try to understand them categorically. The presence of competition validates the niche you have selected.

For example, you must know all direct competitors and top players in the market. You will learn a lot from your competitors. Hence, analyze them and observe them closely. Take note of things you like and dislike about them. It’s also important to understand the kind of ecommerce platforms they use. For instance, if a competitor uses Magento ecommerce development, you should understand all the pros and cons that went into that decision.

Step #4: Create a brand name and register your business

It’s crucial to develop a brand name and logo that reflects your business model. In a world dominated by ruthless competition and brand identities, it’s impossible to succeed without a brand name. Make sure you’re sending the right message to your target audience through your brand image.

Register your business name and company name to get tax benefits, legal protection, and more. Make sure to apply for a business license, permits, and other certifications to operate without legal obstacles.

Step #5: Build your online store

The kind of online store you build determines a lot about your long-term strategy. If you want to build a customized online store, you need to make sure to choose the right ecommerce development company.

There’s a  large number of ecommerce solutions out there, and it can be overwhelming. The ecommerce platform you pick will impact your store’s performance and profit. It’s important to make an informed decision based on both comparison and research. Choose an ecommerce platform that suits your business needs. For example, smaller companies might find that Shopify solutions are the perfect selection.

For fully customized B2C and B2B ecommerce, we recommend Magento, which is popular among medium to large companies. While building your online store, you should think about mobile-optimized design, SEO, and secure payment gateways.

Step #6: Showcase your products

It’s important to display your products properly and professionally. You need to include well-written product descriptions and visually captivating images to entice your customers. Product pages should be custom-built and create an immersive experience for shoppers.  Reviews and testimonials are essential elements of your product pages, and you need to be strategic about displaying prices, too.

Step #7: Attract customers with great UX and marketing

Competition is more intense than ever, so you need to stand out and attract the right audience to your store. SEO plays a vital role in attracting the customers you want. The most successful ecommerce operators meticulously manage their brand and digital marketing strategies.

You can use paid marketing like pay-per-click or free marketing like content curation. Social media marketing is also huge for online store visibility. In order to be successful, you need to develop a loyal base of customers. Make sure to take advantage of loyalty programs, gift cards, coupons, and more. It’s important to keep your customers as engaged and loyal as possible.

 

How to launch a successful ecommerce business

The ecommerce economy is poised for significant growth in the coming years, but you can only expect to see results if you approach your launch the right way. The following tips are critical for a successful ecommerce launch.

Don’t rush the launch

One of the biggest mistakes ecommerce entrepreneurs make is rushing or forcing the launch of a website. You only get one shot to launch your website, so you shouldn’t mess it up.

It’s okay to purchase your domain name and throw up some sort of “coming soon” page, but you should avoid the big reveal until you lay some substantial groundwork (content marketing, SEO, social media, paid advertising, etc.).

Focus on your customers

Many ecommerce businesses fail because potential customers can’t touch, smell, feel, and see (firsthand) products before making a decision. Obviously, there’s no perfect solution to solve this problem. But you need to compensate for the lack of real-life experience in other ways.

Make sure you price your products well, offer free shipping, and make the checkout process as simple as possible. You need to make customers comfortable online if you expect to make sales.

Test everything

Invest in testing and analytics before, during, and after launching your ecommerce business. Think like a potential customer and figure out what works, what doesn’t, and the “why” behind those answers.

Leverage social media

An ecommerce entrepreneur who completely outsources social media is going to have trouble succeeding in ecommerce. Social media is the heartbeat of the business. It offers you an uninterrupted glance into the lives of your customers. While it’s okay to have a social media manager, it’s pertinent that you are involved with it, too.

Use testimonials and product reviews

Testimonials, product reviews, follow buttons, and social login options are huge in the world we live in. You need to leverage your customers, as well as their positive experiences, to make other customers feel comfortable enough to shop at your ecommerce store.

Make sure your mobile experience is seamless

Bill Siwicki of Goldman Sachs says, “Tablets will play an important role, as worldwide consumer spending via mobile jumped from $204 billion in 2014 to $626 billion in 2018.”

Those are huge numbers. And when you factor in the growth of the post-pandemic era, mobile is becoming even more popular. Simply put, you need to make sure that you are thinking about mobile shopping in every single decision you make.

Leverage SEO

As the ecommerce economy grows, more and more businesses will enter an increasingly crowded space. That means it will be increasingly important to stay on top of SEO and stand out from your competition. Connecting with a skilled SEO company can pay huge dividends in the long run.

Collect as much customer information as possible

Unless you plan to launch a single site and step away, you must collect as much customer information as possible. They will help with customer satisfaction, repeat business, and even future launches. Start building your customer database today.

Be flexible and adaptable

Never stop evolving. Technology, customer tastes, and trends all change. You must do the same if you want to succeed in such a fast-moving market.

Be creative with your brand

As you visualize your brand, try to be creative as possible and think out of the box. Mood boards, for example, are a fun and creative exercise that can help you visualize your brand’s overall direction.

Creativity helps keep you inspired and on track. Think about your brand’s fonts, images, and colors. What does it say about your brand? What will your customers think? It’s important to work with a designer to create a professional logo and other branding elements to use on the website and packaging.

 

If you’re consistent and focused, you will succeed

A lot goes into starting an online business, The process may be intimidating, but you can make it happen. Work through it step by step, and never worry about making things perfect right out of the gate. Most importantly, you need to learn by doing.

Success requires a lot of time, patience, and research. However, it’s also very important to have help along the way. Cin7’s inventory management software will make your ecommerce brand’s launch a lot easier and allow you to leverage useful integrations. Ultimately, we can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches. If you have any questions, or are curious about how we can help, book your demo today.

The future of warehouse management systems

When managing a warehouse with thousands of products and having to determine and organize inventory, monitor delivery dates for incoming stock, and ensure the correct delivery schedule, human error is all but certain to occur.

Thankfully, new technologies have emerged that are designed to specifically address warehouse management issues. With a comprehensive and an efficient warehouse management system, a warehouse operating at optimum levels is within reach.

Defining a warehouse management system

A warehouse management system manages and controls all activities, such as shipping and receiving, picking of goods, and inventory control, within the warehouse. Having such a system increases efficiency across all warehouse operations and inventory management, making sure products are handled until they are delivered or sold once they enter the premises.

What is a warehouse manager responsible for?

Warehouse management operations are complex and require attention to detail to keep business operations running smoothly.

The most common tasks that warehouse managers undertake include but are not limited to:

  • Managing and optimizing warehouse space,
  • Accurately calculating inventory,
  • Scheduling deliveries and purchase orders,
  • Managing fluctuations in product demand,
  • Managing return orders and damaged goods.

There are many more responsibilities that warehouse managers must perform, but, thanks to technology, warehouse management can be more automated and precise.

Future of warehouse management system

1. Warehouse management robots

The warehouse management robot is a classic example of an automated system, and they ease labor-intensive jobs to a great extent. From transporting goods from one panel to another to streamlining the warehouse operations, warehouse management robots seemingly do it all. They save time, energy, and help eliminate human error.

There are various types of warehouse management robots, but ones designed for picking, packing, and storage are:

  • Collaborative robots (“cobots”),
  • Articulated robotic arms.

Note: In fact, cobots also come with sensors that help them smoothly navigate a warehouse.

2. Drones for warehouse management system

We have seen drones being used at large functions such as weddings and corporate events.

Drone technology has improved so much that it can be used as a modern world application in warehouses. Drones are known to complete warehouse activities 50% faster than people can. The drones scan and record each barcode on every panel, capturing their product details, location, and relevant information.

As a result, organizations save a lot of time and effort by properly utilizing drone tech.

3. Smartphones for warehouse management system

Smartphones for warehouse management are also known as mobile warehouse management systems.

We have seen technology progress in the past couple of years, from tracking inventory through paper and pen to using computers (and then laptops). But now getting things done on the go is possible because of smartphones.

We can do all kinds of work with the help of our smartphones, like scanning QR codes, capturing data, tracking inventory and productivity, and installing workforce applications to unburden the working process.

This way, you can always track the most recent information, receive real-time updates, and have the warehouse management operations at your fingertips.

4. Real-time inventory management for warehouse management system

Real-time inventory management is an integral component of a sustainable and robust warehouse management system. With instant access to data on inventory, picking, packing, and shipping, an organization gets a clear picture of incoming and outgoing inventory, damaged goods, returned goods, and customer reviews. As a result, they know what products to order and when to order them, keeping the inventory flow running smoothly.

5. Wearable devices for warehouse management systems

Small, computerized devices fitted on the arms or wrists for easy accessibility is another area of innovation that enhances any warehouse management system.

What these devices lack in size is more than compensated for in robust software, voice recognition, and even Bluetooth applications. They help with the picking and sorting of goods, entering prices, and scanning products.

These wearable devices help with inventory management and increase productivity and efficiency along the way.

6. Smart forklifts and automated vehicles

Smart forklifts and automated vehicles have been a welcome addition to warehouses and organizations. Smart forklifts and automated vehicles have the ability to place the goods on their designated shelves and pick the assigned items from their allotted spaces for deliveries.

Like wearable devices, they have rapidly reduced the need for human resources and manual assistance, thereby ensuring smooth day-to-day warehouse operations.

In summary

Effective warehouse management will only help a business’s bottom line. Higher and more efficient productivity will improve profits.

It is imperative to monitor the latest trends and innovations in warehouse management. Doing the due diligence will help companies to better distribute their workforce and resources and concentrate more on generating revenue.

Get a demo of Cin7 today and see how a partnership with us can help save you money, time, and effort.

The Cin7 quick reference guide to inventory management

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:

  • Offline.
    A company uses a physical brick-and-mortar location to sell its products.
  • Online.
    A company sells its products over the internet using an ecommerce website or marketplace.
  • Multichannel.
    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.
  • Omnichannel.
    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.
  • Customer experience.
    Understanding the customer buying journey mitigates risks associated with insufficient stock to fulfill orders.
  • Shrinkage avoidance.
    Shrinkage results in inventory loss attributed to employee and customer theft, administrative or cashier error, vendor fraud, damage, and spoiling.
  • Cash flow.
    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.
  • Fulfillment.
    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.

 

Inventory management process

Below is the step-by-step method to improve an organization’s inventory management system.

1. Determine the loopholes

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.

9. Take advice from experts

Designing a proper inventory management system cannot be overemphasized. Employing consultants or experts will ensure the inventory management system meets the company’s needs and stays within their desired budget.

10. Frame suitable inventory management policy

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.

Timing

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.

Features

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.

Support

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.

Integrations

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.

Development

Your inventory management system will manage a critical part of your business. Finding innovation-driven software using the latest technology is vital.

Ready for even more in-depth inventory management coaching? Download our complete guide on inventory management here.

 

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.

Book your demo now. 

Why your offline business needs an online store

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

If you’ve followed all these steps, you’re almost there! Your offline business has an online presence, but it won’t run smoothly until you have 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.

Why wait? Book your demo now.

The top 8 ecommerce trends of 2022

Ecommerce has revolutionized the way we shop. In today’s world, you’re just a click away from ordering anything and then receiving it at your doorstep within days. You can order products at nearly any moment — when you’re watching TV, listening to music, or doing household chores.

Recently, lockdowns and work-from-home arrangements have only accelerated the switch to online shopping. It’s estimated that the number of online shoppers will soon reach 2.14 billion. When you take into consideration the world’s population (around 7.8 billion), that means approximately 1 in 4 people shop online.

Because of this, online businesses need to be aware of the latest ecommerce trends to stay both relevant and competitive. For example, Amazon was the first to offer free shipping and quick delivery. Today, many of the major ecommerce players have done the same.

To make sure your store is as competitive as possible, here’s a comprehensive list of emerging ecommerce trends in 2022. Let’s dive right in!

 

Trend #1: Accepting crypto payments

There’s an unspoken rule in the ecommerce industry — customers should have the flexibility to choose their preferred payment method. This is exactly why most online stores offer multiple payment options including credit cards, EMI, PayPal, cash, and gift cards.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are also emerging as viable methods of payment. Even though crypto started off as fringe technology, it’s now accepted by the masses. On top of that, there’s a growing percentage of people who consider crypto the future of currency.

Prominent banking and payment platforms (such as PayPal and Visa) now allow their customers to transact with crypto, and US-based customers can also use PayPal’s “Checkout with Crypto” feature. Through PayPal, your customers can convert their crypto into fiat currency (like dollars and euros) based on the current exchange rate.

A survey conducted by Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) found that around 36% of small to medium-sized businesses in the US now accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. There are even governments trying to launch their own cryptocurrencies, such as El Salvador, which has started to accept crypto as an official form of payment. 

Tech giants like Microsoft have also adopted crypto. Customers can load up their Microsoft account using Bitcoin, which can be used to pay for Microsoft apps, Xbox Live, and other digital content. The wide acceptance of crypto from governments and prominent companies will surely act as a catalyst for making crypto mainstream.

This is precisely why you should adopt crypto, too. Here are some benefits of allowing your customers to pay with cryptocurrency:

  • Better security – It’s incredibly challenging to counterfeit and steal cryptocurrencies, due to their complex encryption. Using blockchain to validate transactions can reduce the risk of digital payment fraud.
  • Lower fees – Transaction charges can add up with credit cards, especially through third parties. Cryptocurrencies have lower transaction costs and allow ecommerce businesses to increase their profitability. Cryptos can also make international transactions much easier and faster.
  • New customer acquisition – Accepting crypto payments can help you increase your target market and attract customers who prefer to pay with crypto.

Cryptocurrencies leverage blockchain technology, which does more than simply accept payments. Blockchain keeps safe records — like a ledger — and keeps track of transactions that cannot be altered. Blockchain’s implementation in the supply chain, and the increased transparency that comes with it, can provide greater confidence to your customers.

To stay ahead of your competition, your ecommerce business should make sure to embrace this new and exciting form of payment.

 

Trend #2: Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI)

We’re all in the middle of a transition from product-centric business models to customer-centric business models. Businesses are delivering what the customers demand — rather than creating a product and finding customers who want it.

The current market is both competitive and filled with similar products, and that means winning customers requires you to offer tailor-made solutions that really resonate with them. AI and machine learning algorithms allow businesses to deliver the personalized shopping experiences customers crave.

So, how does AI work? When customers purchase items, the AI captures their data. AI harnesses this data to learn about customers’ buying behavior – like how they shop and what they search for – and uses that information to curate product recommendations. Analyzing that much data in real-time is not feasible for humans, but it’s no problem for AI. And that’s just one reason Artificial intelligence can be extremely lucrative for businesses.

Since AI is able to make unique recommendations to each buyer, the likelihood of customer purchases also becomes much higher. Customers expect businesses to treat them like individuals, and AI can make that happen.

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Trend #3: Using chatbots

Like crypto, chatbots are becoming mainstream. Studies show that more than 2/3 of online customers interacted with them in 2020. Chatbots are becoming more and more personalized, and they’re able to offer a much-improved shopping experience for online shoppers.

In the fast-paced world we live in, customers can get frustrated if they don’t find the product they want in a few clicks. Chatbots can help make personal shopping recommendations that lead to sales.

Just as in-store sales agents assist shoppers, chatbots can do the same for your online shoppers. They help you cross-sell, upsell, and make recommendations based on past purchases.

Apart from becoming valuable sales associates, chatbots have also been widely utilized to offer 24/7 support and reduce expenses that come with hiring a round-the-clock support team. You can add answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the chatbot’s system so they can instantly solve the most common problems. By integrating the live chat function, you can also let your support staff monitor conversations and jump in when the bots are struggling.

If you aren’t using chatbots for your ecommerce business, now’s the time to start.

 

Trend #4: Leveraging augmented reality (AR)

Despite an online store’s convenience, there are still some factors where physical stores outperform ecommerce. A study shows that around 30% of consumers prefer physical stores so they can see and feel products before purchasing.

Augmented Reality might help bridge this gap. Through AR, potential customers can see items they plan to purchase as a 3D model. This can be a gamechanger in the fashion and home decor industries, as customers are able to really understand the product before purchasing.

IKEA’s Place App is an excellent example of using AR, by allowing customers to test out furniture at their homes or offices before purchase.

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A primary concern when purchasing furniture is figuring out whether certain pieces fit into certain spaces. Shoppers also want to know whether or not potential pieces would complement existing furniture. IKEA Place solves these issues. Customers can simply point their camera at a location they’d like to put an item they’re thinking about purchasing, and then they can browse through IKEA’s product catalog and “place” it in their desired spot.

In the Place App, customers can see products from different angles, try out different colors, and ultimately find the most suitable piece for their space. By taking “try it before you buy it” to the next level, AI allows customers to see furniture where it would go — without having to actually move it there.

As you can see, augmented reality provides an immersive buying experience for your customers, and has a real potential to increase your sales.

 

Trend #5: Emphasizing sustainability

We’ve all witnessed the adverse effects of global warming and climate change, and as governments become more proactive in conserving the environment, consumers are also becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases.

According to Shopify’s Future of Commerce Report, approximately 50% of customers prefer to purchase from brands that demonstrate a clear commitment towards sustainability.

Simply put, promoting sustainable products boosts your sales. As more businesses adopt this strategy, it can be challenging to determine which brands are “greenwashing” their brands, and which ones are truly taking initiatives. Because of this, customers prefer visibility over companies’ supply chains.

They want to know where products are produced, how they’re distributed, and how they’re managed. Pangaia, for example, is a clothing brand that shares the science behind the sustainable materials they use.

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By honestly communicating your business’ impact on the environment, you have the chance to gain the trust of your customers and maximize your revenue.

 

Trend #6: Collecting zero-party data

As the trend of data privacy proliferates, businesses are getting serious about data protection. Last year, Apple launched iOS 14.5, which allows users to opt out of sharing data with Facebook. ecommerce brands have suffered since they can no longer access accurate data for ad targeting.

This iOS update drastically reduced ad efficiency and led to a big dip in revenue. As data from third parties like Facebook gets phased out, brands need to explore new ways to collect information about their customers.

The most effective way to achieve this is by collecting data directly from their customers — which is called zero-party data – and use that data to personalize their shopping experiences. Using zero-party data gives brands greater data control and makes them more self-reliant.

There are several options when collecting zero-party data. You can conduct quizzes, send email surveys, and add conversational pop-ups to your site. Post-purchase feedback from your customers will also allow you to get valuable nuggets of information.

 

Trend #7: Implementing voice search

Increasingly, voice assistants like Siri and Alexa have gained popularity and are becoming a big part of many people’s lifestyles. Customers are getting much more comfortable conducting searches with their voice, too. That’s why your ecommerce website should be optimized to allow users to search for products using voice — especially from mobile devices.

As more people adopt smart speakers, voice assistants are being used to take care of daily tasks and online shopping. This creates an opportunity for you to optimize keywords and rank for voice searches. At the bare minimum, you should make sure your address, phone number, and email are available through voice search.

As per Juniper Research, the total number of digital voice assistants will reach 8 billion by 2023, and the value of voice commerce will exceed $80 billion. That’s exactly why you should invest in technology to upgrade your conversational commerce capabilities.

 

Trend #8: Social commerce

Social media platforms used to be predominantly populated by Gen Z. However, due in part to the lockdowns and pandemic, even the Millennials and Baby Boomers are now highly connected on social media.

Social Media content creates opportunities for people to both discover and buy your products. It’s estimated that social commerce sales will reach $2.9 trillion by 2026. On top of that, around 36% of US social media users make direct purchases through social media channels.

Social media platforms are making a strong push towards social commerce. From Facebook Marketplace, to Pinterest boards, Instagram shop, and even Whatsapp business, brands should make sure to take advantage of these platforms.

Using data from social media, brands can also better understand consumer behavior and use that data to target people who are most likely to purchase the products. Each social media platform has its pros and cons, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Deciding which platforms to target — and what kinds of communities you want to build — are strategic decisions that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Ultimately, brands need to get creative while using social media. In order for your content to resonate with your audience, you must understand them thoroughly — and then deliver the correct message in their preferred language.

 

The power of inventory management software

Now that you’re aware of the latest ecommerce trends, you should try your best to adjust your business strategy accordingly — and reap the benefits! As the volume of your ecommerce transactions increases, it’s crucial to efficiently manage your inventory and deliver on time. These two factors can severely impact your reputation.

As a savvy business owner, you should use inventory management software to get real-time visibility of your inventory and on-time stock replenishment. By integrating this software with your ecommerce store, you can also gain valuable insights into your store’s performance and metrics.

If you’re interested in inventory management software for your ecommerce business, book a call with our Cin7 experts to see how we can help scale your business.