Supply chain as a service (SCaaS) – the ultimate guide

To quote writer and editor Stewart Brand: “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” Wise words in this day and age when more and more aspects of manufacturing and ecommerce are being automated, computerized, and digitized.

In supply chain management, an important technological development for retailers has been the creation of supply chain as a service, or SCaaS. We’re going to unpack this concept, explaining what SCaaS is, how it works, and how it impacts businesses for the better.

 

Supply chain as a service (SCaaS) explained

An SCaaS company is basically a company that specializes in providing cloud-based, supply-chain-related software and, increasingly, other order fulfillment services. It means that instead of a manufacturing or ecommerce entity taking out subscriptions to the cloud-based software they need themselves, they’re able to access them through an SCaaS company, which they hire for that purpose. These third parties can take care of anything from inventory management and warehousing to reverse logistics, or returns. In fact, with the right SCaaS company, you’ll be able to track your entire order fulfillment process. In other words, you’ll have supply chain transparency.

SCaaS companies are great for small retailers and manufacturers, especially those that are starting out, because they save these businesses from having to pay for the software they need themselves. For more established outfits, SCaaS will become an increasingly important resource as business practices become more complex. This is especially so because SCaaS companies can also offer valuable information and advice; they can be a partner.

 

A myriad other ways an SCaaS company can be a good resource

As a manufacturer or ecommerce business owner, you can outsource your entire supply chain management or any part of it to an SCaaS provider. Almost as a bonus, these third-party providers can be useful in other, related ways. Here are a few examples:

1. Finding and getting the raw materials you need

SCaaS companies can help you get what you need at the right price because they have information about suppliers. They also know about shipping companies and shipping regulations, an expertise you can tap into to ensure getting what you need in good time.

2. Facilitating coordination between retailers and their manufacturers

To make sure retailers get their stock from the manufacturers in the right quantities and at the right time, it’s important for them to be on top of the producers’ production processes, lead times, inventory levels, and quality inspections. SCaaS companies can take care of this. They have the technology and industry expertise to provide real-time updates on the manufacturing process and lead times, ensuring that retailers are in the know at all times.

3. Warehousing

Some SCaaS providers offer warehousing. They have the technology to streamline operations from receiving and slotting to picking and packing. Add this to their inventory management capabilities and you have a more efficient and resilient supply chain altogether.

4. Shipping

In addition to being able to suggest shipping companies, an SCaaS company can work out the best logistics for you when you need to move inventory from one location to another. It can identify the kind and size of transportation you’ll need — truck, rail, or cargo ship — and the capacity of each needed. Plus, the company can work out the best routes that should be taken.

Possible challenges to implementing an SCaaS model

  • Your SCaaS’s technology might not be shared by all your partners

As good as the technology and infrastructure SCaaS companies offer is, if your internal teams and trading partners aren’t up to speed, they won’t be able to communicate with your third-party providers. You have to make sure your stakeholders’ technology can interface with the kind your SCaaS uses.

  • Not knowing how and when to use SCaaS

In the complex world that is today’s marketplace, a company has to work out what part of their supply chain it can handle itself and which sections are best outsourced to an SCaaS. Retailers and manufacturers must also be flexible enough to adapt this model as the need arises, either taking on more themselves or outsourcing more.

  • Finding a good logistics partner

This can be difficult. First you have to find a third-party provider that has the top-notch infrastructure and digital programs you need, along with the right background and expertise in your area to be a good partner. When you’ve got that down, you can figure out which areas of your business to outsource.

Benefits of using SCaaS

SCaaS can redefine supply chain management in the following ways:

  1. Agility: Access information and analytics from any Internet-enabled device and make data-driven decisions quickly.
  2. Seamless communication: Easily share information and stay connected with stakeholders through every stage of the supply chain.
  3. Scalability: Add or reduce the logistics services that are outsourced according to customer demands.
  4. Transparency: Have more control over the supply chain because information is updated consistently and available in real time.
  5. Sustainability: There’s no need for you to invest in a complex IT infrastructure.

 

In conclusion

SCaaS is a revolutionary model that’s the next iteration for supply chain management, and our Cin7 Omni system can help you determine the best ways to leverage it for your business.

How can it do this? Well, our Cin7 Omni’s inventory and order management cloud-based software seamlessly integrates with various 3PL companies, connecting your online and offline stores, warehouses, and distribution centers in one platform. Through this connection with 3PL companies, you’re able to analyze them and understand which company and services are right for you.

To find out more, click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts today.

What role does EDI play in logistics and supply chains?

Logistics was coined by the military to describe the complicated organization involved in moving troops and equipment from one place to another. Similarly within the supply chain, logistics is about getting everything from goods to equipment to people from one place to the other. Logistics is no easy matter. Things have to be in place when they’re needed, and they have to be there in the right quantity.

Vast in scope, both the supply chain and the logistics within it involve all the departments of a company and outside entities. This includes manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. A great deal of information has to be passed back and forth between all of these entities. Basically instructions, this information is about the goods and raw materials needed, the quantity they’re needed in, where they’re needed, and instructions about transportation. These instructions take the form of purchase orders (POs), invoices, shipping notifications, insurance documents, licenses, and more. For large-scale logistics operations, transmitting these documents between companies is best handled electronically, through a digital system called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

 

What is EDI, and how does it work?

EDI enables businesses to send digitized documentation directly from the computer of one company to the computer of another company. In order to be able to do this, and to do it instantly, EDI software converts these digital documents into a standardized format that allows them to be first transmitted, and then read, by the computer system of the receiving company.

There are three stages to EDI:

  • Preparing documents, making them EDI ready.
  • Converting the EDI-ready documents into EDI documents.
  • Transmitting the converted documents to the receiving company.

Preparing in-house documents

The POs, invoices, and shipping instructions are either digitized or collected from their digital storage and converted to an electronic file that has the information needed for EDI. This makes them EDI ready.

Converting the EDI-ready documents

This is done with an EDI translator, software that puts the documents’ data into globally-recognized EDI formats. While there are quite a number of these formats, there are four that are used the most: X12, EDIFACT, TRADACOMS, and ebXML.

Transmitting the EDI documents

For this to happen, EDI messaging protocols are used. Examples of these are AS2, OFTP, and SOAP. For the EDI system to work, both sender and receiver have to be using the same protocol.

 

The role EDI plays in logistics and the supply chain

  • It saves time.

EDI software gets documentation to the relevant companies and departments within companies quickly, keeping them on the same page and the wheels of the supply chain running efficiently. This speedy communication makes it easier to forecast needs and results in better business decisions being made.

  • It makes the supply chain process more efficient.

With EDI, suppliers, distributors, shippers, and every other entity that’s part of the supply chain can communicate with each other in real time. This cuts out chances of delays happening in receiving, dispatching, warehousing, or transportation.

  • It makes it easier to monitor and track goods.

Because EDI uses a uniform format, it’s easy for relevant parties to search for information, and it’s easy to track and keep on top of purchases, orders, and bills of any kind. As a result of this, you can reduce errors in purchasing and shipping.

  • It streamlines logistics and the supply chain.

EDI is able to retrieve data from internal computer systems instantly and send it out securely. When you automate POs, invoices and the like with EDI, it speeds everything up and reduces errors, streamlining your supply chain.

EDI software integrates seamlessly with in-house systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), accounting software, your Warehouse Management System (WMS), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

 

How Cin7’s EDI helps supply chain management and logistics

Cin7’s EDI capabilities are robust, and the system has a large EDI network. A one-stop-shop, Cin7’s system will get you:

1. Automated workflow

Cin7 EDI automates order processing and shipping by:

  • Setting triggers for automation and reducing manual data entry.
  • Using an advanced messaging system that streamlines integrations with your trading partners and 3PL warehouses.

2. A one-stop-shop automated system

Cin7’s inventory management software has it all, inventory management, order management, and EDI. When businesses set up their EDI with Cin7, they can:

  • Seamlessly manage orders and scale up your business.
  • Reduce shipping costs and save time by optimizing cartons. Print Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC) and generate Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASNs).
  • Keep their product catalogs up to date and track orders in real-time with a centralized and intuitive EDI dashboard. You’ll have absolute inventory control, and your order fulfillment will be at its optimum level.

3. Multiple fulfillment models

Cin7 EDI supports ship-to-store and 3PL.

  • Integrate with product distributors, 3PL providers, and commerce channels.
  • Fulfill orders effortlessly with an intuitive EDI dashboard.
  • Fulfill several orders simultaneously with a cartonization feature that picks the right box for items.

4. Prebuilt-in EDI mapping and protocols

  • Map order workflow between yourself and trading partners around the world.
  • Send EDI documents with these protocols: X12 American National Standards and EDIFACT- European Standards.

 

Summing up

We’ve shown how EDI facilitates both the supply chain and the logistics that move it along by producing and transmitting documentation quickly. EDI eliminates mistakes that can be made when people input data and ensures that different players in the supply chain are kept in sync by getting the same information, at the same time.

To learn more about Cin7 EDI, book a demo.

9 key steps for the ecommerce order fulfillment process you must know

According to the eMarketer report, global retail ecommerce sales that amounted to $4.248 trillion USD in 2020 are expected to reach $7.391 trillion USD by 2025. The rise in ecommerce is indicative of the shift in consumer preference in shopping. You can sell your products online if you want to expand your business. If you are new to the ecommerce platform or want to improve your ecommerce sales profile, you are in the right place. We will guide you through the nine key steps you should take for the ecommerce order fulfillment process.

 

What is order fulfillment?

The order fulfillment process begins from the time the company receives an order to the time it is delivered to the customer. The order fulfillment process includes inventory management, as the products to be delivered should be acceptable in quality and quantity. The order fulfillment process should cover the goods returned if the customer is not satisfied with them.

A company can fulfill orders in the following ways:

  • In-house transfers: In-house transfer is when the company wants to transfer goods from one department to another. It is inclusive of transfers from the warehouse to factories.
  • Third-party logistics: Sometimes, the company uses third parties to carry out product transfers. This phenomenon is called third-party logistics (3PL).
  • Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a process where your supplier delivers the goods directly to your customer. This method of shipping saves transportation and overhead costs for the company. It is a good option for startups that want to save overhead expenses.
  • Hybrid: Companies don’t often stick to one type of shipping method but use different types of methods at once for separate orders.

As easy as it sounds, the reality is quite different if you don’t have a reliable system to follow. Inventory management systems like Cin7 can assist you in carrying out the order fulfillment process smoothly. Let’s discuss the nine key steps of ecommerce order fulfillment.

 

Nine key steps for the ecommerce order fulfillment process

If all the processes in your business organization run smoothly, your business can maximize its profits. Even if you already have an order fulfillment process, you must verify whether it is running efficiently. An optimized process can prevent damages and losses to the enterprise. The following steps should be followed for a well run order fulfillment process:

Step 1: Receive inventory

Every order fulfillment process starts with the receipt of inventory. The warehouse receives goods from the supplier. Goods received should be accounted for and adequately documented. The quantity and quality ordered should be verified. If there are any issues, concerns should be raised immediately.

As soon as the products are received and found satisfactory, identification codes, such as barcodes and QR codes, used by the company should be assigned to them. Identification codes allow the company to track these items and get information on them quickly.

Step 2: Racking the inventory

Some items need specific storage conditions, like lower temperatures, dry conditions, or sunlight exposure. All the items should be sorted and stored under the required conditions immediately to prevent deterioration.

Moreover, the goods should be arranged to reduce the space they take up in the warehouse. The storage location should be based on the frequency at which the items need to be moved from the warehouse.

Step 3: Receive orders

For receiving the order, it should be determined whether the company owns the stock and the time it would take to arrange the items. When a customer places an order, they should be informed about the expected delivery date and other delivery conditions based on the availability of the products. The company sends the confirmation of the order to the customer.

Step 4: Process the order

If you have inventory management software installed, the order fulfillment process is much simpler. It can automatically determine which warehouse or fulfilling station should be sent the order based on

  • the delivery location,
  • the warehouse location, and
  • the quantity of the goods ordered.

The order should be accounted for and passed to the relevant warehouse manager for further processing.

Step 5: Pick the order

Once the warehouse receives the order, the staff will start picking the items for that order. Picking means separating the items ordered from the warehouse inventory. A picking slip is used to list the items that are in the customer’s order. A picking slip can speed up the picking process and increase order fulfillment efficiency.

Typically, picking is carried out in the following manner:

  • Batch picking: The staff picks the items of several orders at once.
  • Piece picking: When one person picks one order at a time.
  • Zone picking: When every person is responsible for picking items for multiple orders from a specific part of the warehouse. The collected items are categorized into different orders for packing.

While picking the goods, the warehouse staff ensures that the products’ quality is according to the company standards. If the employee finds that some of the items have deteriorated in quality, they should contact the warehouse manager soon. The company’s reputation depends on the quality of the goods delivered to the consumer.

Step 6: Pack the order

The next step of the order fulfillment process is packing. The items should be packed in appropriate containers and wrapped in protective covering to ensure safe delivery. Delicate items must be packed separately and labeled accordingly. The containers must be sealed and a packing slip attached. The packing slip contains all the details of the order, including

  • Customer name and address,
  • Item details,
  • Payment method, and
  • Dimensions and weight of the package.

The packing slip should contain information on whether the delivery person is supposed to collect any amount for the delivery.

Step 7: Ship the order

A company has several options to ship the goods. They can ship the order themselves, use an agency to ship it for them, or ask the supplier to ship the goods directly to the customer (dropshipping). Except for when a company chooses dropshipping, it has to prepare the goods for dispatch. The company hands over the packed goods to the shipping partner.

The customer is informed that the goods are shipped and receive the tracking number. The company also has a tracking number to determine when and where the packet arrives.

Step 8: Deliver the order

The order is delivered to the customer. Typically, automation allows the company to notify the customers that their order has been fulfilled. Delivering the goods on time can boost the company’s reputation. The customer can communicate delivery preferences to the company, such as having their parcel left with a neighbor or changing the delivery timing for convenience.

Delivery is usually followed with customer feedback about the product and delivery experience. If the customer is happy, the fulfillment process is complete. If not, the customer initiates a return.

Step 9: Process the return

The company must handle the return of goods if the customer is unsatisfied with the products. It must arrange the return pickup and delivery. It is a crucial part of the ecommerce experience.

 

In a nutshell

In-person fulfillment doesn’t involve the complexity of the ecommerce fulfillment process, and therefore, the latter needs more attention. We have discussed the nine steps necessary for an efficient fulfillment process for ecommerce sales. Every company in ecommerce must audit their steps for optimization, and if they find some issue, they must resolve it immediately. This will increase the profitability of the company.

You can request a demo with our experts to learn how Cin7 can help you fulfill your ecommerce orders.

Application integration and the significance it has for inventory management software

In today’s automated world, retail and manufacturing companies control their business processes with several different software applications, each of which performs a specific function. For instance, there are applications for accounting, supply chain management (SCM), and inventory management (IMS). While they’re separate and perform their own clearly defined tasks, it’s vitally important for them to communicate with each other and for the data they use to be passed between them. Simply put: If your SCM can’t pass its data on to your IMS, information about your stock would have to be input manually.

When these different applications are able to communicate, you have application integration.

 

Different ways application integration can be performed

Application integration sounds simple enough, but there are four basic ways it can take place.

Data level integration

Called data level integration, this method puts the data stored in each application into a single, separate database. This separate database is called an enterprise database or an enterprise database repository. To create this centralized system, the data stored in each individual application are extracted, cleansed, and reformatted to be consistent with whatever standard the enterprise database uses. From that point, individual applications can tap into the central system to get the data it needs.

This method is the lowest-cost application integration due to the minimal amount of programming needed to set it up and the speed with which that can be done. Data level integration only takes the data an application stores, not the coding of the application itself.

Application interface level

Known as application interface level, this method doesn’t have a centralized database that stores everything. Instead, data extracted from one application are converted into a standardized format and then loaded directly onto the target application. Hence, application to application.

Application interface level is currently the most popular method for data sharing because most application codes now provide interfaces. Cin7’s IMS, for instance, offers over 700 integrations, and new integrations are being added regularly.

Method level

Here, it’s not data that are shared, but business functions. This may sound precarious, but the actual business functions are not included in the code that’s passed along. An evolving way of exchanging data, method level is promising because it’s compatible with technologies like Java RMI, DCOM, and Cobra. A big drawback, however, is that the application code has to be changed before it can be used.

User interface

User interface (UI) is about having the different applications designed in such a way that users (human) can log on to their company’s network and bring up the data they need from any computer in the network. Application codes don’t have to be changed for this method to work  – a factor that makes the cost minimal – but that also gives it less flexibility.

Benefits of application integration for inventory management software

When it comes to inventory management, application integration is essential. Having the ability to input data from other applications into IMS software or passing the data it stores into another system, and being able to do so accurately and quickly, is vital to business operations. The benefits are:

Inventory optimization

Inventory optimization, or having the right amount of inventory, means carrying enough to fill orders and prevent stockouts, while not having too much of it.

If your inventory management software is integrated with accounting and ecommerce applications, you’ll have a clear idea of the quantity of items you should be warehousing as well as information about which actual items you should stock. You’ll also be alerted when you need to reorder.  This means less worry about overstocking or understocking.

Making good financial decisions

Information about how well certain goods have sold in the past and predictions about how well they’re expected to do going forward informs decisions that are made in the present. In order to get this information, reports and forecasts have to be accessed from several applications in real time.

When this information is available to IMS systems, better decisions can be made about which stock to carry. Additionally, application integration with a variety of systems makes audits more accurate. You’ll be able to verify that the stock listed in your books is a real reflection of the goods you have in storage, and you’ll have complete information about items that are in transit.

 

Types of integrations available on Cin7

There are more than 700 integrations in Cin7’s software, but they can be categorized into the following business operations:

Accounting apps

Accounting software records and manages your financial transactions, everything from purchases and sales to operating costs and payroll. Cin7’s system can integrate popular accounting software like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and QuickBooks.

Ecommerce platforms

Cin7 can integrate with ecommerce platforms that include Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, and others. If you’re selling through any one of them, IMS integration will give you oversight and let you know how your sales are going. If you’re selling items through more than one of these ecommerce platforms, Cin7 will allow you to integrate their data and accounts into a single platform on your system.

EDI retailers

Electronic data interchange (EDI) is the system through which documents like invoices and purchase orders are transferred electronically. There are several electronic standards to choose from for these exchanges, but whichever one is used, both sender and receiver have to be using the same one. Cin7 can facilitate most of them. Some larger retailers like Scheels, Sears, Sephora and Walmart have their own EDI systems, and Cin7 can be synced with them also.

EDI suppliers

EDI suppliers are organizations that provide EDI-compatible solutions and technologies to other companies. Two of the leading suppliers are Synnex and Tech Data, and Cin7 can integrate seamlessly with both.

Marketplaces

If the website you’re selling your goods through is charging you commission for each sale, you’re on a marketplace. Marketplaces are a good way to get your product out and make a name for yourself, especially if you have a new company or are small in size. To keep on top of your business in these marketplaces, you’re going to have to integrate them with your inventory management system. Cin7 can do this for all the major marketplaces, including Amazon, Etsy, Iconic, and eBay.

Payment gateways

When you sell online, you need a payment gateway to process payments. You also need to integrate this payment gateway with your IMS. More than just getting paid for your goods, integration with your IMS streamlines their flow and ensures you have enough in stock.  To make this easy, Cin7 can integrate with payment interfaces like PayPal, Dejavoo, EVO Payments, and others.

Sales and marketing

Sales and marketing software uses technology to get your advertising to the right audience. That means customizing and posting it on social media and other pertinent sites. To facilitate this, Cin7 inventory management software integrates with Customer Relations Systems (CRMs) such as Salesforce, Mailchimp, Senter, and HubSpot.

Shipping

The very nature of ecommerce involves shipping. Goods that are purchased online have to be physically transported to their buyers. If you hire a third-party to take care of this shipping, you still have to keep track of the items and maintain your records. Cin7’s software can integrate with shipping partners Shippit, GoSweetSpot, Shiptheory and many others, ensuring you’ll always have the information you need at your fingertips.

Supply chain planning

The supply chain covers every step in the fulfillment/manufacturing process from purchasing and inventory management to sales and deliveries. To organize all this in the best possible way, Cin7 integrates with supply chain planning apps like StockTrim, Streamline, and Easy Insight.

Third-party connectors

Sometimes a company uses another organization, a third party, to provide the application integration software (API) that allows different applications to speak to each other. To enable this, Cin7 can communicate with Syncware, Hyperspace HQ, and Pipe17.

Third-party logistics

Logistics is the physical act of moving items and people from one area of a business to another. If you’re parceling out your warehousing and transportation to another company, you’re using third-party, or 3PL logistics. Some of the companies that provide 3PL include JAS, JD Smith, Quiet Logistics, and Ship Depot. Cin7 lets you integrate your systems with any one of them.

 

Winding up

In summary, application integration refers to the process of connecting two or more applications so that the data each holds can be exchanged. When it comes to IMS systems, this ability to share data makes the entire inventory side of the business operate efficiently, and ensures that there’s enough of it all times in the right quantities.

Cin7’s inventory management software lets you integrate with all the relevant apps, making sure you have all the information you need to keep your inventory at optimum levels.

If you want to learn more about Cin7, book a demo by clicking here.

Everything you need to know to prevent deadstock from accumulating

It’s common practice for retailers to have a bit more inventory than they think they’ll need. It’s for contingency, and it’s called safety stock. The reason for doing it is sound: it means never having to turn a customer away.

But sometimes miscalculations are made. Items may go out of style or something in the market may change. Either one of these instances will result in a business being stuck with the extra inventory, and when that happens the goods turn from safety stock to deadstock.

In this blog, we’re going to look at deadstock in detail – how you end up with it, how to deal with it, and how to avoid prevent deadstock in the first place.

 

Deadstock – the definition

If you have inventory in stock that’s been gathering dust on a warehouse shelf for a long time, you’re holding deadstock. It’s stuff you can’t sell and are probably never going to sell.

 

How good stock becomes deadstock

1. Not enough demand

An item was selling like hotcakes before it wasn’t, or items you thought would do well didn’t. Alternatively, outside forces like extreme weather or a downturn in the economy could have impacted your sales.

2. Too much competition

You’ve stocked up on the same products that everyone else has. Maybe you’re a small player that can’t beat the prices of larger competitors, or maybe the market has become too flooded with those particular items.

3. Slow reactions to the market

You waited too long to react to slow sales and didn’t offer discounts when you should have.

4. Not getting customer input/not doing research

Someone didn’t put enough effort into getting feedback from your customer base through methods like emails or online reviews, so you weren’t aware of the kind of products customers wanted to buy.

5. Low-quality products

Some of your products were of low quality, customers were not happy, and they returned them. Or maybe the low quality resulted in bad word of mouth.

6. Predictions weren’t right

Maybe data and research told you that particular items would be good sellers, but the information didn’t take everything into account.

 

Good reasons to do something about deadstock

Deadstock can have negative effects on your business. Here are a few of them:

  • It occupies space you can and should be using for items that move.
  • It stops you from buying new items.
  • It ties up your cash flow – money you could to buy more popular products.
  • It increases your warehouse costs, like cost for employees and storage space.

 

Ways to prevent deadstock

If you’re in the business of sales, you know that getting inventory planning right is important. What to order, when to order, how much to order, the list goes on. If you get any of these areas wrong, you’re in danger of ending up with deadstock. It can happen to anyone, but there are steps that can be taken to make it less likely.

1. Invest in inventory management software.

Ditch your spreadsheets. They’re not only old school, they’re time consuming and prone to error. Automating your buying decisions with the data inventory management software (IMS) gives you is efficient and much more accurate.

The precise data, reports, and advanced analytics you get from IMS software does more than help you identify best-selling items, it will also separate out those that aren’t selling quickly. When you have that information, abra cadabra, no more deadstock.

2. Improve your forecasting.

Product forecasting analyzes competitors, works out pricing strategies, studies market trends, and “learns” customer preferences. Put together, this information gives you an invaluable forecast on your market, and when you have this information, you’re much more likely to acquire inventory that’s going to sell.

3. Use your buyback option.

If you have an agreement that allows you to sell unsold items back to the supplier, this is a good time to use it. If you don’t have such an agreement in place, try to get one. Of course, you should always check to see if buyback is even an option during early negotiations with your suppliers.

Keep in mind that those manufacturers and suppliers that do offer buyback are usually the more reputable ones, and that the products they handle are usually high quality.

 

How do you get rid of deadstock?

If you do find yourself saddled with things you can’t sell at their standard price, there are things you can do:

1. Have a clearance sale.

This is the time-honored method for reducing unsold stock. You don’t want these goods tying up your storage space for years, so anything that has been hanging around for six months should be discounted. You could start this at 20% off and increase that amount if you have to.

Advertising clearance sales and other discounts on your website and social media is the best way to get the word out. Sending emails about the event to your mailing list should also get good results. And depending on the size of your company and the market you operate in, you could consider investing in local radio and television advertising.

While this strategy should help you clear out a lot of deadstock, it’s still way better to avoid having it in the first place. If bad inventory management has been the cause, it’s time you consider a good automated inventory management system like Cin7.

2. Take advantage of the fear of missing out.

There is a marketing term called “Fear of Missing Out.” It’s about creating a sense of urgency in shoppers, letting them think that if they don’t buy something right there and then, they’ll be missing out.

Marketing strategies for this usually boil down to putting limits on offers. These could be in the form of an end date to a sale, or letting customers know that there’s only a limited number of items on offer. In other words, you could advertise an “end of sale by Thursday,” or “50% off this week only,” or offer “last (x number) of products left.”

When it comes to presenting deadstock as a deal in this way, the underlying point is that you’re appealing to customers who are more interested in getting a bargain than the product. That doesn’t matter, though; you’ll still be offloading your old, otherwise unwanted, goods.

3. Bundle.

This option is about grouping similar products together and offering them at a special price.

By using this technique, you could combine something in your deadstock with top-selling items. You won’t get top-dollar for everything, but you will greatly minimize your losses.

 

Wrapping up

Deadstock is a drag in more ways than one, and it’s important to minimize it. Technology is the best and most reliable way of doing this. So why not invest in a robust inventory management system like Cin7?

Cin7 inventory management software is an ideal choice for businesses of any size.  By automating workflows and stock levels in real time, you’ll always know what you have and can ensure you’re stocking the right amount of the right product. That means an end to deadstock. And if that’s not enough to streamline your business and improve your bottom line, the software also connects all your storage locations and marketplaces – online and offline – into one system.

If you’d like to know more, contact our Cin7 team and arrange a demo today.

What does “awaiting delivery scan” and other USPS notifications mean?

Globally, the number of parcels shipped has increased dramatically in the past decade. In 2020, there were more than 131 billion shipped parcels, and by 2026 that number is expected to rise to 236 billion. This volume is forcing sellers and shippers to improve their services, and that includes the ability to track packages.

Tracking has become very important to online shoppers. Their eagerness to get their purchases has them checking the delivery status almost from the minute they click the “buy” button. There’s this need to see where the packages are in the system at all times, up until they’re delivered to the door.

Sometimes, though, tracking comes up with a message that indicates a glitch, though there’s no explanation what that is. One such message is the “USPS awaiting delivery scan.” In this blog, we’re going to explain this term and several other notifications of the tracking system.

 

What exactly does the “USPS awaiting delivery scan” mean?

It could mean two things:

The package may not have been scanned at the last checkpoint when it was loaded onto the mail truck. The item will be in the truck and will probably be delivered on time, but without being scanned before loading it up, the tracking page will still show the delivery scan holdup.

Another possibility is that the package wasn’t scanned by the mail carrier when it was dropped off at the buyer’s house; or if they did the scan, it didn’t register in the system for some technical reason. Either way, the package will have been delivered.

 

Other notifications on the USPS online tracking system

These are the most common ones:

1. Package acceptance pending

Getting this notice is an indication that the post office has received the package, but that it’s waiting to be put into the system. What’s happened is that a seller has taken a large number of packages to the post office at the same time, and while they’ve put a separate shipping label on each individual piece, they’ve presented the postal worker with a single itemized sheet. It’s a way to speed things up at the post office. It’s that single sheet that gets scanned. The post office knows it has all the packages, but it hasn’t yet scanned them individually. When the packages are individually scanned, the online notification will change from “acceptance pending” to “accepted.”

2. USPS awaiting item

As this term indicates, it means the postal service hasn’t received the package, or hasn’t actually put it in their system yet. The postal service “knows” it’s going to be getting it because of a tracking number on the shipping label. This tracking number shows up in the USPS system the minute the seller generates the shipping label. So, until the seller drops the package off at the post office, “awaiting item” means just that.

3. In transit

When this is the message, the package is going through the postal service system and is safely on its way.

4. Out for delivery

This is the good one. It means that the package is on the mail truck and is scheduled to be dropped off. Most likely, that will be at the regular time the mail is delivered.

5. Status not available

A message like this on the tracking page could indicate that USPS is having some technical problem, or it may just mean that the system is not updating. On the other hand, it could be a sign that the package has been lost or damaged.

 

What to do when your customers receive the awaiting delivery scan notice?

Having a notice like this on the tracking page won’t show the seller in a good light. In a way, it looks like the seller is sloppy and doesn’t care much about getting the package delivered on time. That’s negative PR that could make a customer lose confidence.Fortunately, there are ways for the seller to overcome the delivery hitch and come out looking good.

Good communication is a good start. Personal emails that keep customers abreast of the shipping situation are not only reassuring, they tell customers that you care.

Another way is by having a top-notch inventory and order management software, one that helps you get your products out and delivered quickly and efficiently. Being able to stay on top of logistics through a system like this is really important for good customer relations

If you’re in the market for a good order management system, you might want to take a look at Cin7. Cloud-based, it will streamline your entire fulfillment process and leave your customers feeling like they’ve been treated well. Part of that comes from our third-party logistics feature, which puts you in touch with these service providers when you’re looking for a faster way to deliver your goods.

Call one of our experts today, and book a demo.

Lockabox®

Like a lot of the best product ideas, Lockabox® grew out of a simple day-to-day frustration.

When he was living with hungry roommates, founder Peter Morris found himself asking that question a lot more than he’d have liked. After a long night, Peter would wake up and shuffle to the refrigerator looking for a slice of last night’s pizza for breakfast — only to find that someone had gotten there before him.

“Who stole my lunch?”

The solution Peter came up with was simple: a combination of a simple three-digit combination lock with strong polycarbonate construction. In short, a lockable storage container. Manufactured in the UK, these portable, lightweight boxes are today used for much more than food storage. Their primary product, Lockabox One®, is used by elder care facilities to store patient medications, and office admins are putting desk sensors in Lockaboxes® to gauge office traffic and optimize floor plans.

With annual sales of £2M GBP, Lockabox® expects to grow from a small product seller into a major player by investing in R&D over the next 12 months and expanding the Lockabox® product range. They’re moving from success to success — all with the help of Cin7.

Cin7 and Xero provide a single source of truth

Lockabox® Operations Specialist Rory Fitz-Gerald says he’s “relieved” to have put Cin7 into action in early 2021, especially as the company creates new SKUs and sales increase. Their old system, Rory, says, simply wasn’t up to the task.

“Our previous system was very inaccurate. We could never really trust the information we were working with,” Rory says. “I feel like we can trust what Cin7 is telling us on stock. Which obviously, for a small business like ours, is quite a big advantage.”

Lockabox® relies on Cin7 to help them to reconcile their weekly inventory counts (stocktakes). Without Cin7, coordinating stock between 10 warehouses across the globe could be an incredibly complex task. Luckily, Cin7 makes everything much simpler. Rory easily runs weekly stock and sales reports from Cin7 to facilitate stock audits and reconcile any discrepancies. He says the software acts as the single source of truth against which he can compare manual counts, and that Cin7 on side, Lockabox® needs far fewer people than it would otherwise need to manage operations.

The efficiency boost from Cin7 is multiplied by its powerful integration with Xero accounting software, with invoicing and sales data shared between Xero and Cin7 in real-time.

“Cin7 gives us that extra accountability because all sales go through it,” Rory says. “With the reporting coming out of it too, we know where stock has gone, and we can better manage distribution.”

On the B2B side of the business, Rory credits Cin7 for expediting wholesale orders. Once a quote is generated, “having the ‘accept now’ button on the quote automatically flips the quote to a sales order, so our wholesale customer can make immediate payment.”

Cin7 helps avoid financial setbacks

Lockabox® leverages Cin7 to manage their multiple Amazon and WooCommerce sales channels, as well as third-party logistics (3PL) and fourth-party logistics (4PL) partners who are directly integrated with Cin7. The system proved its value when the operations team suffered a mishap that could easily have become a costly catastrophe.

One of Lockabox’s® 4PL partners failed to log a shipment of 700 units with a retail value of £30,000. Fortunately, Cin7 exposed the discrepancy during a weekly reconciliation, and Rory was able to investigate and determine what had happened.

Without Cin7, Rory explains, the operations team would have assumed that the warehouse had 700 more SKUs of one particular product than was actually being held. The warehouse would have run out of stock prematurely and Lockabox® would have suffered a temporary outage of product to sell.

“Cin7 is our failsafe system,” says Rory. “We were able to pin the 3PL to the wall and say ‘no, our stock numbers are correct – you have made the mistake.’ Having Cin7 alongside gives us the ability to keep accurate branch transfer data to catch human errors.”

Cin7 is the key to product business growth

Lockabox® says that Cin7’s flexibility is key to the future growth of the brand, and they’re already gearing up for expansion, with the introduction of a new and improved version of Lockabox One™ Shelf Packs which help to organize and partition contents. With their expansion into accessories, Rory says the team is looking forward to leveraging Cin7’s ability to support product bundles.

Here at Cin7, we’re excited to have Lockabox® join a family of over 8,000 businesses that rely on Cin7 to manage their inventory and online sales. Lockabox® is currently building a manufacturing facility in the US, and with Cin7 as their foundation, we’re going to enjoy watching them grow.

If your business could benefit from the extraordinary inventory visibility and increased efficiency that Cin7 brings, don’t miss out — book a demo with one of our brilliant sales staff today.