12 reasons why using the Cin7 inventory management system for your Amazon business is beneficial

Amazon.com is undoubtedly the number one name in ecommerce. It has dwarfed every other ecommerce platform. Thus, if you are thinking about becoming —or already are — an Amazon seller, you are on the right path to increasing your turnover. How can we help take you further? Here are 12 reasons why using the Cin7 inventory management system for your Amazon business is beneficial.

 

Reason 1: Centralized inventory management

How would you feel if you bought something on Amazon and received an email two days later telling you that your item was out of stock? Not good, right? You probably wouldn’t order from that supplier ever again.

If you are a supplier, you wouldn’t want any of your customers to go through that experience.

As a supplier, you might be selling on multiple channels. Without a centralized inventory management system, you might find yourself selling a particular product on more than one of these channels simultaneously, possibly overselling and leaving you unable to fulfill orders. The damage to your reputation as a business that a miscalculation like this can cause cannot be overstated, but it is something that can be easily avoided.

Cin7’s inventory management software allows you to maintain multiple points of sale – either physical or online – on a single system. It updates your inventory in real time on all platforms. This real-time inventory accounts for sales, purchases, transfers, and loss of goods.

 

Reason 2: Higher visibility

When you have an integrated inventory management system, you have a holistic view of your inventory, a complete overview that clearly shows you what’s been purchased, sold, and is on hand. It also lets you know the exact point at which you need to reorder stock.

An added benefit of Cin7 software is that it gives you up-to-date sales figures for each platform you use. When it comes to Amazon, Cin7’s software has an integration tool that tells you exactly how much you’re selling on that marketplace and when a sale has taken place. This information – found on your Cin7 reports – lets you know when to increase or decrease your inventory. The result: profit maximization for your company.

 

Reason 3: Cost control

If you use Amazon Central, you can add or delete your listings on its Excel sheet online. However, those changes only apply to Amazon.com. They won’t have any effect on other selling platforms you use. To do that, you’ll have to make changes to each platform you use individually.

If you use Cin7’s inventory management system, however, you can add or delete an item with just one click. The software lets you make alterations to your stock on all the platforms you use simultaneously. Being able to do this not only reduces administrative efforts, it can drastically lower your cost.

 

Reason 4: Product identification

Barcodes and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags uniquely identify every product in the inventory. This type of identification provides product details, including size, color, material, and warehousing information. These barcodes and RFID tags help keep track of your product as it moves through the system, meaning that you’ll know where an item is at all times. It also means you’ll be made aware if something is lost or stolen.

 

Reason 5: Reports and forecasting

Inventory management systems have a specific feature called reports and forecasting. The Cin7 software has higher accuracy in forecasting than others. The way it works is that the system tracks the historical data entered and uses it to make predictions about future needs for your business.

These forecasts apply to inventory needs and sales predictions on every platform. Reports of this kind help you make better business decisions, decisions that will lead to greater success.

Suppose you only sell on Amazon and use Amazon Central to manage your inventory. While that’s OK on one level, Amazon’s system won’t let you analyze your stock as easily as you could with a general inventory management system. The deeper knowledge a general inventory management system can give, like forecasting and detailed reporting, allows you to make informed decisions that could help grow your business.

 

Reason 6: Assisted decision making

Strategic decision making is probably one of the most complex, and important, parts of running a business. The key issue is to place orders in such a way that your products are neither overstocked nor understocked. Cin7’s inventory management system can help with these decisions by:

  • Calculating reorder points (ROP) for each of your products.
  • Giving alerts when the stock reaches ROP.
  • Programming automatic reorder emails that are sent to suppliers when the stock reaches the ROP.
  • Tracking price changes.
  • Tracking the inventory on each selling channel.

The inventory management system can ensure you don’t run out of stock on any platform, including Amazon. It can also reduce the time involved in making decisions about reordering.

 

Reason 7: Integrations

A first-rate inventory management system allows integrations with third-party software and apps. If your inventory management system doesn’t work with other apps you use in your daily routine, you will find yourself in trouble. Cin7 integrates with over 700 apps.

 

Reason 8: Payment portal

Cin7’s inventory management systems has an integrated payment portal that can receive online payments. This helps you maintain account receivables, handle orders through the supply chain, and email invoices to customers. Automating the payment portal speeds up the payment process and fulfillment of the order. The system also lets you email payment links to customers. This not only provides an easy-payment method for customers, it gives them an instant confirmation of their order, assuring them that they can trust you.

 

Reason 9: Customer satisfaction

Customers who don’t have issues to face when they make a purchase, like problems with delivery and payment, tend to develop trust in you as a seller and are more likely to return for their next purchase. Cin7’s inventory management system takes care of all these aspects of your business, which promotes maximum customer satisfaction. This frees you up to concentrate on improving the quality of your products.

Satisfied customers don’t just give you repeat orders, they are also more likely to give you positive feedback online, helping to attract new customers. Increasing your overall customer base this way will lead to higher turnover. Online reviews, in fact, are very important to online marketplaces. With Amazon, for instance, it’s been observed that 90% of customers typically read reviews before visiting a business or making product decisions.

 

Reason 10: Calculation of Amazon commission

Amazon lets you sell your products on their platform for a commission. When customers make a purchase from the Amazon website, the full amount they pay goes to the online marketplace. Before Amazon passes that money on to the seller, they deduct their commission. The calculations for these sales and commissions are straightforward if you only sell a couple of products. But they become more complicated the more your business grows. Cin7’s inventory management software reduces your calculation woes. It will help you track your sales and keep on top of commissions Amazon has deducted.

 

Reason 11: Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Amazon has warehouses that can store and ship your products to your customers for an extra charge. The system is called Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA. If you choose to sell your products through FBA, Cin7’s inventory management system will let you track:

  • FBA shipping plans,
  • Route orders for dispatch from the stock location closest to the customer, and
  • Direct Fulfillment (for Amazon Vendor).

The processes for selling, shipping, and payments can be made easier when you use a reputable inventory management system for Amazon sales.

 

Reason 12: Built-in electronic data interchange (EDI)

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is the electronic exchange of information between two or more companies in a standardized format. An Amazon seller is a person who sells goods they manufacture. An Amazon vendor is a business who resells or trades goods manufactured by somebody else. The customer is fully aware if they’re buying from a manufacturer, the seller, or a vendor.

If you’re a manufacturer and you have multiple vendors, it can be difficult to manage their accounts and keep track of the stock they have. Cin7 Amazon integration helps you by managing the EDI with your vendors easily. It allows you to do the following:

  • Product mapping,
  • Order downloads,
  • Order status updates,
  • Stock adjustments,
  • Stock availability, and
  • Bill of materials (BOMs) for product bundles.

Thus, whether you’re a manufacturer with multiple vendors or are a vendor with multiple suppliers, Cin7’s inventory management software makes it easier to run your business.

 

Final thoughts on 12 reasons why using the Cin7 inventory management system for your Amazon business is beneficial

A reliable inventory management system should reduce administrative expenses and clerical tasks. If you sell on multiple channels, being able to organize your inventory to make sure you aren’t overstocked or understocked is crucial.

Amazon is one of the biggest ecommerce platforms, and listing your products with them can widen your market. Using a Cin7’s inventory management system is a good way of managing your online and offline points of sales. It helps you stay on top of every stage of your selling business, from buying your inventory to fulfilling your orders.

Contact us today for a demo of the Cin7 software.

How retailers can thrive in tough economic times

The last few years have been really hard for retailers. Disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to slow or halt operations altogether.  Factory shutdowns created a production backlog, with 38.8% of small businesses facing delays from suppliers, according to the US Census Bureau.  At the same time, consumer demand for many products spiked as people panicked about the future, making it difficult for retailers to meet demand.

Today, there are new challenges for retailers. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has destabilized the energy and commodity markets. Labor shortages have made it difficult to find workers, and inflation is at 40 year highs. In fact, in a survey conducted by Small Business for America’s Future (SBAF) 60 percent of 1,576 small business owners said that inflation is their top challenge.

 

What can retailers do to improve their situation?

 1. Improve your inventory management

Inflation makes it expensive to replenish your inventory from suppliers. You need to either raise your budget to get the same level of inventory that you got before the inflationary period, or you must lower your order quantity.

It is important to be strategic about your inventory, as piling up unsold inventory raises storage costs and freezes your working capital.

ABC analysis is a popular inventory classification method that can help you sort your inventory. It helps identify the critical SKUs that generate the majority of revenue for your business.

To learn more about ABC analysis, refer to our detailed guide.

Using your sales data, you  can eliminate underperforming SKUs. You can channel your working capital to acquire the best sellers by removing the bad ones. To ensure that you don’t overstock underperforming products, it is important to always have a clear picture of what is in your inventory.

Cin7 inventory management software offers advanced reporting features that can improve your inventory planning. In addition to inventory tracking, you can gauge the performance of your SKUs and forecast the demand accordingly. With the right data at your fingertips, you can make better decisions around inventory replenishment and avoid overstocking situations.

2. Use inventory management software to leverage multichannel sales

Using specialized inventory management software can be a gamechanger for multichannel sales.

Without inventory management software, you’ll have to manually allocate inventory for your offline and online stores, which can lead to a loss in opportunities. For instance, say you sell smartphones on Amazon, Shopify, and your bricks-and-mortar store. If you have 100 units of iPhone 13 ready to sell, then you have two options:

Option 1: Placing maximum inventory for all channels

In this option, you put the same quantity (100) on the online and offline store. The problem is if you receive 60 orders online and 60 orders offline at the same time, you cannot fulfill all the orders as you have oversold your inventory. You have a total of 100 units, but the ordered quantity is 120.

Option 2: Dividing the inventory
Another option is to divide the inventory across all the channels. You can allocate 33 units for Amazon, 33 units for Shopify, and 34 units for your offline store. In this case, the issue is underselling. If someone wants to place an order of 50 units on Amazon, but you’ve listed only 33 units, you’ll miss out on potential sales despite having inventory in your backend.

An inventory management solution saves you from the trouble of allocating inventory. It syncs your inventory in real-time, so if you receive 60 orders from Amazon, it automatically reduces the available inventory to 40 in Shopify and your offline point-of-sale system.

In addition to multi-channel sales, offering omnichannel support (i.e., unifying the online and offline buying experience) can sweeten the pot. Joe Troyer (CEO of Review Grower) says, “Customers are smoothly switching between online and offline experiences, and they are willing to shop at businesses that can make this transition as simple as possible. In-store research and showrooming, the practice of inspecting a product in-store only to make the buy online, are now more widespread than ever thanks to the development of mobile retail.

By incorporating real-time feedback across channels and devices and engaging the customer wherever they may be, they may use the right customer data to build an omnichannel customer experience that enables consumers to participate whenever and however they choose.”

3. Learn from competitors

You should carefully monitor the actions of your close competitors. Ask:

  • What are my competitors doing to attract more customers?
  • Are they making any changes in their pricing strategies?
  • Are they offering any discounts or bundling products to offer more value?
  • How are they promoting their business across various channels to attract new customers?

The insights you collect will help you in determining the price changes in the market so that you can maintain price parity.

For those who are pondering over offering products much cheaper than the competition, with the intent of attracting their customers — this can backfire. For instance, low pricing might signal that your quality is inferior to your competitors (tarnishing your brand image). Additionally, increasing your sales volume by reducing prices doesn’t necessarily lead to higher profits when there is inflation.

4. Outsource fulfillment to 3PL

Being strategic in what you outsource can be of immense help in reducing your operational costs and freeing up working capital. You should focus on cutting costs without sacrificing the product’s quality.

Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are businesses that take care of an organization’s supply chain and logistical operations. 3PL providers can offer a lot of fulfillment services such as

  • Warehousing,
  • Shipping and receiving,
  • Order picking and packing, and
  • Returns management.

If you do all this on your own, you will incur the hassle of setting up your warehouse, hiring and training employees to fulfill the orders efficiently, managing payroll, and maintaining the warehouse. Outsourcing this to a 3PL can help you save money. Additionally, as they specialize in fulfillment, you can expect a lower error rate in shipping orders.

Altogether you get better efficiency and professional experience while saving you time and resources.

Speaking of logistics, Amazon has made it a norm for customers to expect free shipping. However, offering free shipping at this time can put you in a very tough spot. Here is a suggestion from Anders Ekman (COO at Ingrid delivery platform):

“Interestingly, there is a “sweet spot” where paying for delivery might mean selling fewer products, but still earning more. It turns out that free shipping is not always the best solution for every e-retailer after all.

To give you an example, one of our customers at Ingrid started experimenting with paid delivery options instead of offering free shipping for all orders. Once they began to charge 10 SEK more for the delivery, the conversion decreased by 2.5% but the value of an average shopping cart increased by 4.2%. At the end of the day, revenue from deliveries alone increased by 11% and the profit margin increased by 5.5%.

If you’re still skeptical, you can start small – A/B test your delivery checkout alternatives, and offer different delivery options and prices based on what margin you have on the product (for example, a high-profit margin item should have a lower delivery cost and vice versa). Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to start charging customers for deliveries. Experiment with your delivery strategy and different software integration – the results might truly surprise you, despite the current economic climate.”

5. Revamp your pricing and promotional strategy

High inflation also strikes your supply chain partners, and they are likely to offset the “extra” expenses upon you. For instance, if you use a fulfillment partner to deliver your products, rising fuel prices could force them to raise their fees and increase your expenses. You need a strategy for pricing because drastic price changes can negatively impact your sales.

Here’s what Lou Haverty (CFA and founder of Enhanced Leisure) recommends: “Retailers feel a pinch on both sides. Retailers face higher costs sourcing their products, but face slowing consumer demand. They can either lose margin or risk lower customer sales if they raise prices.

Their best option is to reduce product quantity instead of price. Keep the price the same, but slowly reduce the quantity sold at a given price point. This creates the least amount of negative customer feedback.”

Rethinking the product assortment is also crucial for maintaining healthy sales. “Due to rising prices, customers are less likely to stick with a single brand and are instead purchasing private-label items.

Retailers may take advantage of this by revising their category strategy frequently. Product-specific inflationary pressures and quickly altering customer preferences must be balanced by winning retailers. For example, their balance of private and national brands might be reconsidered.” says Sina Will (Marketing manager at Foxbackdrop). You can also bundle your low sellers with best sellers to clear off your inventory and offer a better value to the customers.

At tough times like this, you need your loyal customers more than ever. Here are some tips by Amar Vig (MD at London-fs) to build customer loyalty, “Remember that most customers also serve others in their day jobs, so when they are behind the counter, they want to feel significant.

Promotions and freebies can undoubtedly help customers feel special, but personalization is the actual secret to a truly memorable experience.

Retailers can increase customer loyalty by getting to know their clients through their prior purchases and hobbies. These conclusions can be drawn from statistics or even from a straightforward chat. Which of these approaches is most practical will undoubtedly depend on the size of the company, but no company should be too big to have a casual chat with a regular client.

The customer’s preferred form of communication may be used to give customized content and offers that anticipate their desires and requirements and direct them down the sales funnel toward their next purchase. Even a personalized email subject line can make all the difference.”

6. Leverage working capital

You need a consistent cash flow to combat inflation. If your expenses exceed the income generated, you have a negative cash flow. Conversely, if you’re making more cash than paying – you are cash flow positive.

The benefit of having liquidity can’t be overstated. Thanks to consistent cash flow, you can continue running your operations as usual. You’ll be able to pay your staff on time, boosting their morale and productivity. Moreover, you can avoid out-of-stock situations by having enough money to buy more inventory.

If you’re running an offline store, then negotiating better rental terms with the landlord can help alleviate the monthly overhead. Leveraging your bargaining power can also help in saving some working capital. “While small retailers don’t exert the same sort of control as big retailers, there are still ways to reorient your supply and distribution networks for cost and distance efficiencies, even if it means saying goodbye to some old suppliers and making friends with new ones,” says Alice Li (Founder of First Day).

In case your retail store isn’t able to generate enough consistent cash flow, you can resort to retail borrowing solutions. You can get a business line of credit to get some relief. Finding a suitable financing option can help your retail business to cover up for the extra expenses led by inflation.

7.Refine the buying experience at your retail store

To survive, retailers need to find ways to deliver better value to the customers. The rise in online shopping has made competing tough for some traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

Brandon Wilkes (marketing manager at The Big Phone Store) highlights the importance of cleanliness, “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of health and safety, and this is likely to be a key consideration for consumers in the future. Retailers will need to ensure that their stores are clean and safe, and that their products are sourced from reputable suppliers. They will also need to be transparent about their health and safety policies and procedures.”

“Brick-and-mortar retailers can use their physical locations to create unique customer experiences that cannot be replicated online. In addition, retailers can focus on providing personalized service and developing relationships with their customers. By doing so, they can create a loyal customer base that will continue to support them in the future.” says James Jason (founder of Notta.ai).

To deliver a stellar buying experience, you need to listen to them. In the words of Bill Glaser (CEO of Outstanding Foods), “Retailers can also improve customer retention (guaranteeing profitability) by innovating according to customer feedback. Small businesses have the unique advantage of adjusting quickly to changing consumer demands. Your business can survive and thrive during economic downturns if you hone in on customer needs.”

Irrespective of the experience that you deliver at the offline store, there are still some strong merits of having an online store. For starters, you can reach out to more people than in your local vicinity. Even the operational costs of scaling are marginally lower than an offline store. Thus, instead of competing with online stores, it’s wise to also complement your offline store with an online store. Cin7 can help with that.

8. Make product returns a win-win situation for consumers and you

At a time when consumers are thinking carefully about their purchase decisions, you should do everything possible to mitigate their purchase risks. Allowing product returns is one such tactic that you can use for risk-reversal.

However, stores must weigh the cost of receiving returns. For starters, it increases storage costs, and you don’t want to pile up excess inventory that doesn’t get sold. In this regard, Gary C. Smith (President of NAEIR) says, “Returned products are a headache. They need to be inspected and repackaged, which takes valuable time. Plus, the retailer is taking a chance that the product won’t go out of style or expire before it can be resold. It’s unlikely most returns can be resold at full price, so even brand-new merchandise can end up at a liquidation warehouse or in the trash heap.

Rather than trashing merchandise or selling to a liquidation warehouse, where brand identity can be at risk, retailers have another option: Making in-kind donations to a nonprofit. The resulting tax break may be quite handsome, and it may even be more financially beneficial than reselling the merchandise at a cut-rate price.”

9. Use an inventory forecasting tool

In normal circumstances, retailers can accurately forecast product demand. However, with an inflationary environment, the market is volatile, so forecasting demand can become… demanding.

Incorrect inventory forecasting leads to situations like understocking or overstocking, both of which aren’t desirable for any retailer. Read our inventory planning guide to learn best practices to improve your forecasting. 

If you’re looking for a sophisticated software solution for inventory forecasting, you should check out StockTrim. Based on the demand levels and your supplier’s lead time, you can get details about the quantity that you should order to ensure that you don’t face stockouts. You can also analyze the current demand trends from StrockTrim. With the tool, you can even predict the demand for new products (without any sales history).

In addition to all this, Stocktrim perfectly integrates with Cin7

 

Way Ahead

Navigating economic challenges is part of the business of retail. Successful navigation is made easier with the right tools. Cin7’s inventory management tools offers real-time inventory visibility, advanced reporting features, and multi-channel sales management to give you better insights and improve your operations. Book a demo with our experts today.

Complete guide to expedited shipping

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

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

 

What is expedited shipping?

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

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

 

How fast is expedited shipping?

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

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

Standard shipping vs expedited shipping

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

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

Express shipping vs expedited shipping

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

 

Benefits of offering expedited shipping

#1 Meets customers’ expectations

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

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

#2 Minimizes cart abandonment

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

#3 Retains customers

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

#4 Ensures delivery of fresh items

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

#5 Reduces loss or theft

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

 

Challenges associated with expedited shipping

There are some drawbacks to expedited shipping.

#1 Higher cost

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

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

#2 Limited availability

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

 

How does your inventory management speed up your shipping?

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

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

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

Effective inventory management: The secret to Black Friday success

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

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

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

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

 

Inventory management and supply chain for online merchants

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

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

 

Tips to manage your supply chain and inventory this holiday season

Choose the best suppliers

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

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

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

Plan the fulfillment process

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

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

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

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

Talk to supply chain partners early

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

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

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

Price your products strategically

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

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Book your demo today!

Dock & Bay

Ben Muller might be one of the world’s most notable towel enthusiasts. He’s the co-founder of Dock & Bay, a brand with a single, noble goal: create the world’s greatest quick-dry beach towel entirely from sustainably sourced materials.  

The company’s founding idea was incredibly simple: to merge the concept of a compact, quick-dry travel towel with a nice, big, bright, colorful beach towel. Since then, they’ve had an incredible journey. It began with launching sales via Amazon and their own website, and — having barely reached the milestone of their first million in revenue — they had a lucrative layover at the Dragons’ Den, the UK’s cut-throat equivalent of Shark Tank.

“We had a nice little head-start in 2017 when we were on Dragons’ Den in the UK,” Ben says. “One of the dragons, Deborah Meaden, took us under their wing. It’s been a really good experience, to take the business from an idea into a bit of a startup.” 

The quick wins from the Dragons’ Den appearance was a huge hit of exposure to worldwide audiences via the popular TV show. “That brand awareness gave us a real head-start to moving forward as a business, as well as some goalposts to aim for, as we expanded around the world,” Ben says. “And when we took on Deborah as an investor, she made us more accountable — we weren’t just doing a little side-project anymore, we had to be professional and respectable. It was a good kick up the bum to take things seriously and do things properly.”

One of those kicks up the bum? Dock & Bay needed to get a grip on their inventory. You could perhaps say that the problem was they didn’t know where their towels were — and they needed to find out. 

Poor inventory management almost made Dock & Bay throw in the towel 

“Inventory management was the most horrible part of our existence, for the entire business,” Ben says. “It was always a challenge. In the past, our warehouse owned the source of truth for inventory, and they put their numbers into our eCommerce platform. What that meant was, essentially, we didn’t have any control over what we were selling.” 

Tired of using spreadsheets as a temporary fix, Dock & Bay team went shopping for an inventory management solution. Their main pain points were simple: inventory visibility, and an inability to do stock forecasting. “We didn’t have control over what inventory we had listed, because the systems around us seemed to be controlling what we were selling. The most we’d managed was Band-Aid fixes to our eCommerce platform.” 

The Dock & Bay team needed help, from somebody who knew how inventory management worked and what the best systems were, and could help them get their system implementation right the first time. They found exactly what they were looking for in SMB Consultants. 

SMB Consultants are Cin7 Experts. Their job is to help their clients find the best solution to grow and manage their businesses, and once that solution has been found, they work to seamlessly implement it. The foundation of their success is having a careful process that they go through with all their clients — first seeking to understand how the company is working, what the pain points are, and what changes need to be made to optimize operations. 

“We originally reached out to SMB to say ‘We’ve got a problem,’” Ben says. “We knew there were a lot of inventory management programs around — TradeGecko, DEAR Systems, Cin7, and so forth. We said, ‘We don’t know which one would be best, but in general, each of these seems to do something like what we need.’” 

Through a collaborative, in-depth scoping process, SMB helped Dock & Bay land on Cin7. 

“SMB helped us throughout,” Ben says. “The first step was to understand how we’re operating now, and SMB have a really good view of how business operates, the challenges that businesses face, and how those solutions fit into software. When we first started talking, it wasn’t just “here’s what Cin7 does and why you should use it and we’ll install it for you” — instead, they understood the business and the challenges it faced, and they could pinpoint why Cin7 was the best solution.” 

What clinched it for Cin7, Ben says, is the advanced level of integration Cin7 offers with Amazon. “It’s quite advanced compared to every other software available. All software has its own strengths and weaknesses, but Cin7 was the most well-rounded, best approach for us. SMB coached us, and their Cin7 expertise helped us understand how to implement our workflows in Cin7, and then train up our teams.” 

The towel company that always knows where their inventory is 

Dock & Bay have been with Cin7 for over a year, and a lot has changed. 

One of the main differences is that the Dock & Bay team has fantastic inventory visibility, and confidence in their data. They no longer have to manually update convoluted, unreliable spreadsheets. Reporting is reliable, and gives decision-makers access to up-to-the-minute sales and operations information. 

“The amount of data we’d have to deal with would break a spreadsheet,” Ben says. “But that’s where Cin7 comes in — we have trust in the data. And that’s the most important thing, because if you don’t trust your information, you can’t trust any reporting you try to get out of it. Cin7 gives us faith in our data, and automates the process of running reports, so we can make informed decisions.” 

Cin7 now acts as the source of truth for inventory information across all the apps and platforms that Dock & Bay make use of. Sales made on Amazon and Shopify stores all pull from availability data in Cin7, and the software also looks after the routing of products in and out of their third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses. 

Dock & Bay has five warehouses run by 3PL partners, one for each region they’re selling in — the UK, Canada, the US, Europe, and Australia. They also work with Amazon fulfillment in each of those regions, for a total of 10 warehouses across the business. On top of this, they also have different Shopify websites for either B2B or direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales for each region, in addition to third-party marketplaces like The Iconic and Nordstrom selling their products. This geographically disparate, multi-channel picture would be a near-impossible nightmare to manage, if not for Cin7. 

“Cin7 manages the inventory in all of those warehouses,” Ben says. “It knows how many open orders there are, and that gives you your available stock. Every time an order takes place on one of our sales channels, it comes to Cin7, which knows it needs to update the other sales channels and say ‘You can’t sell this item any more.’” 

Having this level of control means that Dock & Bay have been able to set up some routing rules, which simply wasn’t possible before Cin7. 

“For instance, we can prevent orders going straight to the warehouse if it’s a pre-order, or if the customer hasn’t paid or is using an alternative payment method, we can set up some rules to make sure those orders don’t go out straight away — we can put in a delay of say, two hours. Being able to control that workflow really saves us a lot of time, hassle, and ultimately costs.” 

Scaling up safely & sanely

Having Cin7 on their side has also given Dock & Bay something crucial: the ability to scale up safely. “Once a business hits a particular size”, Ben says, “a level of trust necessarily comes into the operations, as it’s impossible for any one person or team to check everything that happens. And if your system isn’t trustworthy, things can spiral out of control very quickly.” 

“You need to trust that things are happening the way you want them to, without human intervention. Cin7 gives us the ability to create rules and automations to run the business, rather than having people do all those steps,” Ben says. “Cin7 has allowed us to grow with confidence.” 

The high level of trust in their systems has been repaid with smooth operations, even over periods that typically give product companies nightmares. The Black Friday sales rush is awaited with dread anticipation by operations in the eCommerce world, with floods of consumers testing system integrity across the board. In the past, it’s been a huge bugbear for Dock & Bay. This time around, ready for anything, Ben told the support team they could call him anytime, 24/7. In the end, though, it wasn’t needed. Thanks to Cin7, Dock & Bay’s Black Friday went off without a hitch.

“In the past we had chaos, leading to weeks and weeks of issue resolution,” Ben says. “But this Black Friday we had no issues, because for the first time we had control of our data in all of our systems, and had the process down pat. I really do, 100 percent, put that down to the fact we’ve taken control of our business processes, and Cin7 is key to that.” 

Customer service is now a snap

A further benefit of the Cin7 implementation has been a sharp reduction in customer service issues. Thanks to a much clearer view of inventory and more control over stock, the classic eCommerce bugbear of overselling has been almost eliminated. 

“It’s reduced the number of customer service issues significantly,” Ben says. “Because we now own the information, and the process around it, we’re not overselling like we used to. The second thing is we now have a very valuable source of truth to look into where things may have gone wrong. In the past, we couldn’t really pinpoint where the issue was. Whereas now, we can analyze what happened in Cin7 and then identify where the issue is, and often even fix it ourselves.” 

Ben gives a typical example of the sort of trouble they’d often face before Cin7 was implemented. If the warehouse system they were previously relying on was reporting incorrect numbers, Dock & Bay had no option but to remove the product from the website altogether. Now, they can simply adjust the stock figure in Cin7 or put a hold on the item, and that will stop the product selling across all sales channels. “Now, we can solve the problem and get on with business. That’s where Cin7’s helping us.” 

Dock & Bay say that Cin7 has also saved them needing to expand the operations team. But that doesn’t mean skimping on hiring, or firing employees. Instead, they can run an efficient, high-performing, lean operation, and increase headcount in areas that will help grow the brand. 

“Because we have trust in the process and the data that’s flowing through Cin7, we don’t have to intervene very often. This means our operations team can run pretty slim, and we can invest in roles like marketing and sales that add more value to the business. We’re just much more efficient,” Ben says.  

Cin7 is Dock & Bay’s heart of gold and single source of truth

With the Cin7 implementation over a year behind them, Dock & Bay have a clear view of exactly how much being helped by a trusted Cin7 expert has benefited the company. The impact, Ben says, is absolutely huge, to the point where he says they “couldn’t have done it alone.” 

To other businesses considering implementing Cin7, Ben says that if you’re going to be using a platform that controls so much of your business, you may as well do it properly, and get a certified Cin7 expert like SMB Consultants to help. 

“SMB Consultants brought the dream to life. Having Cin7 has meant we could become more efficient, and trust the information in our systems. But we couldn’t have done that without SMB. We had to work with the right people as well as the right system to get where we are today.” 

It’s safe to say that knowing exactly where their towels are has made Dock & Bay a much better business than they were before. It might seem improbable, but having Cin7 at the heart of the company makes everything possible. 

“Cin7 is the heart of our business,” Ben says. “It controls what we sell, and where we sell it. It manages information from customers, through the warehouse, through our supply chain, into our accounting system, and all the way around our operations and support team. It touches every part of the business. We take all our trusted information from Cin7, and it’s our single source of truth.” 

“We’d be very lost and very sad without Cin7, because there’s really no way to visualize how the business could operate without it.”