Reasons automated order management systems are better than manual order management
Reasons automated order management systems are better than manual order managementOrder management is the process that takes place in a company to get purchases to the customers who have bought them. That process starts the moment items and goods are paid for online; covers their collection from the storage facility along with packing and shipping; and ends when they’re successfully delivered to your customers.
On the face of it, order management is fairly straightforward, and for the longest time, companies carried it out manually, having employees make lists by hand and checking everything off as they went. But as sales companies grew larger and the selling platforms available to buyers multiplied, manual methods became inadequate and automation was introduced. Called an order management system, like any automated system, it streamlines the order management process, which increases efficiency, and eliminates many mistakes.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the benefits of OMS, and show how this digital method trumps the manual one.
What is an order management system?
An order management system is software that’s part of the inventory management system (IMS). Programmed with details about a company’s inventory — what it’s made up of and where each item is — it uses these data as a kind of foundation, registering incoming sales and overseeing their fulfillment. It can control all of this for orders coming in from numerous platforms — online marketplaces, social media, apps, and websites, as well as offline brick-and-mortar stores — taking care of them capably simultaneously. And because the software maintains its knowledge of the inventory, it adjusts the data as items are removed or added, giving a company accurate, up-to-date information and complete oversight of everything.
An order management system is especially useful for businesses that deal with inventory, like retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. That’s the area we’re focusing on here.
A breakdown of everything OMS takes care of
- Inventory control (maintaining a specific level of inventory in the warehouse),
- Customer relationship management (CRM),
- Processing payments,
- Returned goods, and
Automation with OMS vs. doing things manually
If you’re using a manual system to handle your order management — keeping records on spreadsheets and updating them by hand — and feel it’s working for you, you may think you don’t need to automate. If that’s the case, here are some pointers to take a close look at:
Preorders and backorders
Preordering — a customer putting in a request for an item before it’s in stock — is a well-used marketing strategy. By offering items ahead of time, a company hopes to create buzz for the product; it’s also a way for companies to gauge if there’s interest in a new product. Back orders are, of course, similar in that the customer is going to have to wait for their item to be in stock, but that’s because the company has run out of it.
In both instances, an automated system will maintain the orders in its memory until the items are in stock and the order can be filled. The system takes care of everything, and there’s nothing for employees to do. But if these orders are jotted down by hand somewhere by somebody, they could be forgotten, especially if it takes a long time to get the items in stock.
When it comes to inventory, it’s vital for a business to know exactly what it has and where it is at all times. This knowledge informs every business decision made, from buying new stock and storing it to implementing marketing strategies like sales quoting and discounts. An in-depth understanding of inventory and its turnover will also determine whether to expand the business or not.
While it’s relatively easy to log incoming and outgoing inventory on spreadsheets, the more platforms a company sells on and the more storage locations it has, the more complex tracking manually becomes and the more can go wrong.
If you’re going to make the best business decisions, the information you’re working with has to be completely reliable. Which is why an order management system is a good way to go. The automated system doesn’t just give accurate information, it does so in real time on a single screen. That means that anything and everything you need to know about sales flows and inventory levels, irrespective of the number of outlets or storage facilities you use, can be brought up instantly from anywhere.
Stockouts and overstocking
If a company runs out of an item, it has a stockout; if there’s too much of an item in stock, it’s called overstocking. Neither situation is good. With stockouts, prospective customers can go somewhere else and sales can be lost; with overstocking, a business can be stuck holding items that have gone out of fashion or that maybe even go past their expiration dates. Stockouts and overstocking can also throw off the whole order management system.
While a smaller company can prevent these scenarios by making sure they always have the right amount of stock, human error is always a possibility. Mistakes are less likely with an order management system. Automation will keep on top of inventory levels, make sure they’re consistent, and, in the case of items that have sell-by dates, make sure they’re only sent out if they’re still good.
Safety stock is a cushion. It’s a little bit more than you think is needed to cover for the unexpected. Safety stock levels are influenced by:
- The belief that there will be a sudden rush on the items — like Christmas,
- The time it takes for the supplier to fill an order for more, and
- The length of time delivery will take, such as longer for a shipment from overseas.
These calculations can be complex, especially when a large number of items and suppliers are in play. But while an experienced employee is capable of making these calculations, there’s inevitably going to be an element of guesswork involved; guesswork that could result in miscalculations being made and stock running out. An automated system, however, is able to process the information with a preciseness that’s hard for most people to match.
For companies that have more than one warehouse, coordinating them is good business. For instance, if some items sell better from one location than another, more of them should be housed there. Similar items should be stored in that location in bulk. As another example, it may be logistically better to fulfill an order from one warehouse than another. In that case, the items for the order should be routed to that warehouse.
Recognizing situations like this, in good time, is difficult without automation.
Items that are recalled have to be pulled from storage and sent back to their suppliers, and the customers who ordered them before this have to be told what’s happened and offered something else in its place. Without automation, each customer has to be contacted individually, but an order management system can take care of it with a single action.
Buyers who have had a good shopping experience — measured by the fact that the buyers received the goods they wanted — are said to be satisfied customers.
An order management system helps you create satisfied customers. It automatically monitors inventory levels, reordering when stocks run low and removing them from online channels if items do run out. If an item does run out, the system lets buyers know and offers the option of backordering — placing the order and waiting until the item is in stock. Trying to handle this with spreadsheets and having someone literally look at stock to check how much of it there is is going to lead to disappointed customers.
Whatever method is used for order management, it has to be able to cope when the business grows. This might not be the case if operations are carried out manually, but when things are automated, there are very few issues, especially when it comes to order management.
Final words on manual vs. automated order management systems
For order management, an order management system, such as Cin7 Omni, with automated features is faster, more reliable, and more efficient. Ultimately, that means it helps to make your company more cost efficient and more profitable.
When you’re ready to switch up to automation, give us a call. Or if you want to know more, schedule a demo with one of our experts. You’ll be glad you did.
How to make improvements to inventory control in 2023
Inventory is the backbone of retail and manufacturing companies, and managing it as it moves through the supply chain is a crucial task for businesses. From ordering to storing to using inventory in manufacturing processes or shipping it out to customers, there has to be oversight to ensure there’s always enough stock to meet demand.
Managers and company owners have to balance this demand with the cost of both the product and storing it. That’s what inventory control is all about. We’re going to look at the ways good inventory control makes businesses more efficient and put forward ideas to make the system better.
Why inventory control is important
More chance of items staying in peak condition
Any stock that’s damaged in storage is a financial loss for your company. Inventory control can reduce or eliminate damaged goods by tracking items closely as they move through the supply chain. When carried out thoroughly and accurately, stock gets rotated through the system faster. This means items spend less time in storage where they could sustain damage, resulting in a higher probability of goods being top quality.
Maintains the right levels
While there always has to be enough in stock to satisfy demand, having too much of any item is not good for the bottom line. Good inventory control finds those correct levels, ensuring they’re maintained while adding a bit more for emergencies – safety stock.
When the inventory control is on point, all the information needed for an audit is at your fingertips. This saves a company time and money.
Inventory control doesn’t just mean keeping a close eye on stock as it moves through the supply chain and its levels in storage, it also provides data about which items are selling and which are not. This informs buying decisions, ensuring you’re not left holding unwanted stock. Unwanted stock is a drain on resources, both space in the warehouse and finances.
Ways to improve inventory control
Create a good floor plan.
A good floor plan in a warehouse makes everything easily accessible and facilitates movement around it, giving a boost to productivity. To achieve this, items that move faster should be upfront, heavy items should be in low shelving, and walkways should be easy to navigate. Signage that’s large and clear needs to be posted everywhere too. It’s how warehouse workers find their way around.
Strengthen relationships with suppliers.
Good relationships come down to communication, and that starts with getting to know the contact person at each of your suppliers. When you have a dialogue, you build trust, something that, in turn, puts you in a position to negotiate better rates, return anything unsold, and turn your purchase orders around faster.
Use a warehouse management system.
An inventory control system keeps tabs on items as they move through your entire supply chain, and a warehouse management system maintains complete oversight over the storage facility. Adding a warehouse management system increases efficiency and reduces errors and confusion.
Conduct regular audits.
It’s important to know that your financial records accurately reflect the stock you actually have. That’s why you have to conduct these audits regularly. Fortunately, your inventory control system makes this relatively easy and painless.
For your supply chain to work as efficiently as possible, every item has to be clearly and correctly labeled. Nowadays that means using barcodes, QR codes, and scanners. These digitized systems also help with real-time inventory control.
Inventory control systems collect and store a lot of data, and the data can be incorporated into reports about your inventory. These reports can contain information that stretches from stock levels to items that are out of stock to items that have become obsolete to financial statements. Configure this information in whatever way you want, but do produce the reports regularly. It will help you keep oversight on your business.
Basically a quicker and more efficient method for stock taking, a cycle count only involves a small section of the warehouse at a time. It’s usually practiced as a continual process, systematically working from one end of the facility to another, then starting at the beginning again when the process reaches the end. Cycle counting means you don’t have to shut operations down for a few days, as with traditional stock audits that count everything at the same time. In addition to keeping the supply chain in running order, counting a section at a time like this is actually more accurate.
Having good control over inventory is essential for a business to thrive.Cin7 Omni can be a great help. With an array of tools to track inventory and maintain good levels, you’ll have the control you need to have. Our experts are standing by to tell you more and give you a demo. Click here to schedule a time that’s right for you.
What is the B2B2C model? What should you consider in setting up a B2B2C model for your business?
The U.S. Census Bureau News reported that the retail ecommerce sales for the first quarter of 2022 crossed $250 billion, an increase of 2.4% from the fourth quarter of 2021. It represented 14.3% of the total retail sales. The B2B2C model is the latest addition to the ecommerce scene. Let’s learn some more about the B2B2C model.
You have seen businesses that operate on the business-to-business (B2B) model. You have also seen companies that work on the business-to-customer (BTC or B2C) model. Both the models have been successful in their own ways. Now, a new model is creating waves in the ecommerce market – business-to-business-to-customer (B2B2C). If the B2B and B2C models were successful, why should you involve another business between you and the customer? Let’s talk some more and find out about the B2B2C model.
What is a B2B2C commerce model?
A B2B2C commerce model is where one business (B1) involves another business (B2) to sell goods or services to its customers (C). If any of the involved companies use the internet to sell goods or services, it is called the B2B2C ecommerces model. In the B2B model, the businesses sell their goods or services to other companies. And in B2C, the organizations sell their wares directly to the end consumers. The B2B2C commerce model is the culmination of both these models.
So, what was the need to involve another business in the channel?
The market was limited when business was done mainly through physical channels. But with the development of ecommerce, suddenly, the markets became wider and the possibilities for business unlimited. However, it was not possible to have it all without a little bit of assistance. If one company had the product and the other company had the means to reach the consumers, they could join hands to increase the business multifold.
The following figure shows the concept of the B2B2C commerce model:
The first company provides the goods under its brand name, whereas the other company provides additional services, including lead generation, transport, credit, maintenance, and digital payment services.
In Figure 1, you can observe the following steps happening:
- The manufacturer provides goods to the network seller to sell.
- The network seller provides customer information and sales platform to the manufacturer in return for annual fees.
- The network seller uses the services of a payment gateway to receive payment securely.
- The customer buys the goods from the network seller, fully aware that the seller is not the manufacturer.
- The customer makes payment and receives goods from the network seller.
- The network seller makes the payment to the manufacturer.
This is a classic example of the B2B2C ecommerce model. You might have gone through a similar process when buying goods from sellers, including Amazon, Flipkart, or eBay.
How are B2B2C and white-labelling different?
One shouldn’t confuse B2B2C with white labelling. White-labeling is a process where the company manufactures the goods without its brand name and sells them to other businesses. These companies sell the goods under their own brand names. So, basically, the consumers are unaware of the origin of the goods. On the other hand, in B2B2C, the customers know the goods’ origins well.
For instance, some drug manufacturers provide generic medicines to other organizations. These organizations pack the drugs under their own brand name and sell them to consumers. Consumers are unaware that the drugs of two or more brand names come from the same manufacturer. They purchase goods trusting the brand name. This is called white-labelling. And in turn, the brand holder ensures the quality of the goods. On the contrary, if you are buying Nike sneakers from Amazon, you know that Nike is the manufacturer, not Amazon. This process is called B2B2C ecommerce.
Examples of real-life B2B2C commerce models
If you think that B2B2C is a concept in its initial stage, you might want to rethink it. Many organizations use B2B2C ecommerce in today’s market. Here are some of the examples:
Intel manufactures computer processors. Intel has teamed up with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Dell, HP, and Lenovo, for marketing/branding purposes. The synergy brings trustworthiness among the customers and thus increases sales.
Amazon is an online platform for trading any type of goods. The sellers can retain their brand name while using the network base, logistic facilities, and payment gateways provided by Amazon. This increases their turnover. In return, Amazon gets fees for the facilities they provide.
Apple has devised a plan to help its customers download reliable applications and games from an Apple-approved space. It is called the App Store. It ultimately allows Apple to earn more revenue.
The US giant Affirm is a financial organization that facilitates the customers in buying goods at present and paying later. Affirm collaborates with men’s and women’s fashion, sports and fitness goods, jewellery, electronics, and furniture brands to assist consumers in buying.
UberEats partners with the local restaurants to deliver food to the customers. The customers can enjoy the food served by any restaurant from their homes. The restaurants make more sales than they can do remotely. Uber Eats gets a commission from every delivery they make.
What are the advantages of the B2B2C commerce model?
Many companies are morphing their businesses with others to reap the benefits of the B2B2C commerce model. Every organization has something to offer to the other and two organizations would merge depending on their strengths and weaknesses. Although the advantages of the B2B2C model vary in every synergy, here are some of the common ones:
The primary goal of any business is to maximize profits, and scalability is a way in which they can achieve their goal. Scalability represents the ability of an organization to increase the output by adding resources. Instead of trying to do everything on their own, companies can adopt the B2B2C model to achieve scalability. They can partner with an existing company already providing the given services to increase growth.
Digitalization is the way to scale your business. You can widen your customer base by taking your business online. However, going online needs additional setup and management capabilities that are not available to everyone. Partnering with other companies specializing in these fields is a way to go forward. For example, instead of selling on your website, you can start selling on ecommerce platforms like Amazon or eBay to test whether you receive a good response. They can give you access to a client base you didn’t have before.
In the B2B2C commerce model, you can sell your goods with your brand name. As your customer base grows, your brand image grows too. More and more people will recognize your products, and their reviews can bring in more customers. You can take on any competition when your brand value increases.
Scaling begs for massive investment. Instead of starting an in-house unit, if you collaborate with another team to provide the facilities you require, you can save on setup and maintenance costs. Moreover, the cost of consumer data collection can be shared by all the relevant parties. Start-up costs, marketing costs, distribution costs, and customer acquisition costs can be controlled drastically by employing the B2B2C model.
When the manufacturers team up with the maintenance companies, the customers can get faster services. This will encourage the customers to buy from a company that provides faster after-sale services. The same principle applies to the companies that can deliver the products faster.
The customers benefit significantly from the B2B2C models financially and otherwise. The companies can transfer some of the cost-saving to the customers as discounts. The customers also get the facility of dealing with just one company for their multiple needs. So, it becomes more accessible and more straightforward for them. For example, if a customer buys a television from a store and gets the facility of paying in installments from the same store, they would prefer it. Some banks and financial companies provide such facilities to customers in association with the stores or manufacturing companies.
What are the challenges to set up a B2B2C commerce model?
If you are a B2B business or a B2C business transitioning to the B2B2C model might take some time and effort. However, once you are done, the benefits are numerous. Marc Benioff, the chairman, and CEO of Salesforce.com Inc. said, “We really see every B2B company and every B2C company becoming a B2B2C company.” Some of the challenges faced by the businesses in setting up B2B2C commerce or B2B2C ecommerce model are as follows:
Identification of area for B2B2C partnership
As a business owner, you should know whether you can benefit from the B2B2C model. Some products are not suited for such models. Secondly, you should determine whether you can cope with increased demand. If you cannot produce more to keep up with the increased demand, you might face embarrassment in your business circle.
There are mainly two types of business integrations – horizontal and vertical integrations. Horizontal integrations mean increasing the capacity of the pre-existing unit and producing more of what you are already manufacturing. On the other hand, vertical integrations involve taking up one or more stages of the supply chain in addition to the existing one.
One of the significant decisions you should be making is the area where the other business can help you. You should identify the area in which your organization needs support. For instance, if you can sell your product with an extra warranty, or you can sell more if you have a logistic partner, or if you need access to customer databases to identify your customers. By identifying a particular niche, you can narrow down on potential organizations that can help you achieve your goals.
Management of inventory
When you sell on multiple channels, it becomes cumbersome to manage inventory in real-time. Imagine a scenario where you have a brick-and-mortar store and sell your goods on multiple ecommerce platforms. If you run out of stock while simultaneously operating on all, and the stock on ecommerce platforms is not updated, you might find yourself in some soup. You might actually sell more goods than you have on hand. Therefore, inventory management is one of the crucial challenge areas of the B2B2C ecommerce model.
The solution – adopt a reliable inventory management software that will help you maintain real-time inventory of all your products. An inventory management software can help you keep real-time stock of all your goods in your locations.
Sharing the advantages always comes with sharing the limitations. When you adopt the brand name, it might also lead to the issues it faces. And, you don’t want yourself marked ‘guilty by association.’ It is advisable to check every aspect of the company before entering into a contract for B2B2C. If the company’s goals are not in sync with yours, you might want to reconsider the association as your brand image is online.
When two businesses merge, they both must have IT systems compatible with each other to transition without any hindrance. If not, you should hire an IT expert who can assist you in morphing the two systems seamlessly.
Both the companies should agree on and lay out clear boundaries of contributions towards the achievement of the common goal. The agreements should be reached with mutual consent and followed by all the parties involved.
In the case of B2B2C commerce, the businesses involved getting access to private information about the other business. There should be clearly defined legal agreements to protect the stakeholders’ privacy and sensitive information. Legal teams representing both parties can work out solutions that are to be adopted for more robust security.
Final thoughts on B2B2C commerce model
B2B2C commerce models are the way forward in today’s economy. If the businesses want to tackle competition by expanding their prowess, B2B2C models are the perfect solutions. These models provide customer satisfaction akin to B2C models and growth like B2B models. B2B2C ecommerce models can help you elevate your profitability and margins by combining the best of both worlds.
Automating the B2B2C ecommerce model on Cin7 can help you maneuver the process in a simple way. You can click here to know more about the Cin7 software.
The future of retail is here: How BOPIS is changing the game
In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is everything. Consumers want to shop when and where it’s best for them, and retailers are looking for ways to meet those demands. One method retailers use to give their customers what they want is “Buy Online, Pick Up In Store” (BOPIS). This strategy, which is gaining in popularity, is being offered by more and more retailers as part of their omnichannel fulfillment process. Let’s examine what BOPIS is and how it’s changing retail.
What is BOPIS?
BOPIS is a shopping method that allows customers to purchase items online and then pick them up at a physical store. It is, in fact, a great system that helps retailers streamline their operations while giving their customers a seamless shopping experience. When implemented correctly, BOPIS can facilitate flow as customers go from online to in-person shopping channels, allowing them to have the best of both worlds. By synchronizing and integrating these different channels, retailers can attract more customers, something that will give them a competitive advantage.
In addition to BOPIS, there are three related strategies retailers can adopt to improve their customers’ experience:
- Buy Online, Pick Up At Curb (BOPAC) – meaning that customers can collect their online purchases outside a physical store, often without needing to leave their vehicles.
- Buy Online, Return In Store (BORIS) – goods purchased online and delivered to a home can be returned to a physical store.
- Reserve Online, Pick Up In Store (ROPIS) – items can be ordered online but paid for as they’re picked up at the physical location. The advantages of this method are (a) the customer can put a hold on an item before it sells out, and (b) they can inspect the item before actually paying for it.
Impact on retail and ecommerce
It’s fair to say that BOPIS has had a significant impact on both retail and ecommerce. First, it brings more shoppers into the physical store because online shopping has a much wider reach; second, the collection method allows retailers to move inventory faster, a factor that improves the bottom line; and third, the pick-up option is good for order management and inventory fulfillment. It’s a faster process that makes stock turn over in a shorter period of time, and as a result, there’s less chance of items sitting in stores for a long time and becoming obsolete and less chance of stock running out.
Benefits of BOPIS
1. Increased sales
One of the main benefits of BOPIS is convenience for the customer. The pick-up option means they can get their item right away without having to wait days for a shipping service to deliver it, something that’s especially important when they buy perishable goods like groceries. For the retailer, BOPIS expands the reach of their physical stores, bringing many more customers into them and increasing sales.
2. Improved inventory management
When shoppers pick their items up directly from the brick-and-mortar store, inventory moves through the system quicker. This increased speed helps retailers keep a closer eye on their stock levels, enabling them to anticipate stockouts or predict obsolescence. Another benefit of inventory moving faster is that it creates room in storage for new products and styles, keeping the store fresh and relevant. All in all, the result is better inventory management.
3. Increased customer loyalty
BOPIS builds loyalty because it provides a positive and convenient shopping experience. Customers can examine items before they take them home, ensuring their satisfaction with the product and trust in your service. Plus, when customers are at the store for their pickup, they could be enticed to look around inside and get something else.
4. Reduced shipping costs
When customers pick up their purchases themselves at a store, there are fewer shipping costs for the business. While they may need to ship the item to the store, moving items in bulk is less costly than individually shipping items to the customer’s home. These savings are increased even more when it comes to large or heavy items since they can be really costly to ship.
5. Improved online and in-store integration
When retailers offer BOPIS, they can integrate their online and in-store operations, creating a seamless shopping experience for customers. By integrating their channels in this way, retailers can also give customers a better selection of products more efficiently at a lower cost. A cloud-based order management system can be a great asset when implementing this personal pickup system. It offers a unified ordering and tracking system, which in turn streamlines the whole process and reduces errors. This helps retailers to keep track of their inventory, manage their orders, and secure payments more efficiently.
Challenges to implementing BOPIS
Some retailers may find it difficult to coordinate their online orders with the inventory they have in their stores. Alternatively, a company might find it difficult to find a convenient pickup location for a customer, one that can fulfill the order quickly. Roadblocks like this could be stockouts and delays.
One way around this is to have a dedicated employee, or employees, take care of BOPIS orders. Another is to create a designated area in the store specifically for the pickups, somewhere that’s easy for customers to find and has room for them to line up without getting in the way of anyone else. It’s also important to have an inventory management system that works in real time. The Cin7 Omni system does this as it tracks your inventory in every storage facility you manage and across each one of your sales channels.
BOPIS in action
Despite these challenges, many retailers are turning to BOPIS to meet consumers’ needs and boost their bottom lines. Walmart and Target are two of the biggest retailers offering the service, and since doing so they’ve seen their online sales increase. These chains have also introduced technology that makes the process even more efficient for customers, technology that gives them online notifications when their order is ready for pickup and facilitates mobile check-in when they get to the store.
There’s no question that BOPIS is revolutionizing the retail industry. It gives consumers a convenient and personalized shopping experience they like, while boosting sales and reducing shipping costs for retailers. The BOPIS method can present challenges for sure, but with the right tools and software, any challenge can be overcome.
If you’re thinking about introducing BOPIS to your online retail business, consider Cin7 Omni software. It’s an all-in-one platform that offers a number of useful features, many of which you’ll find helpful when you introduce these in-store pickup options.
If you’d like to know more, schedule time with one of our experts and be given a demo.
How to avoid being stuck with obsolete inventory
A retailer’s mark of expertise is shown when they stock items people want to buy and have them in the right quantities to meet demand. But this skill is not an exact science. Even with the tracking and forecasting capabilities of inventory management systems, surveys, and knowledge of the market, mistakes are made. Sometimes stock can’t be sold; sometimes it just goes out of style. And then there’s the factor of safety stock, having a little bit extra to make sure orders can always be filled. While it’s important to have safety stock, there’s a limit to the amount of it a company should carry.
The point is that no company wants to end up holding inventory they can’t sell – obsolete stock. This blog is going to explore how companies end up with this obsolete stock, give suggestions to get rid of any you have, and put forward ways to prevent this overstocking from happening in the first place.
What is obsolete inventory?
When you’ve ordered a lot more of a particular item than there’s a demand for, or miscalculated the market and added items no one wants to your inventory, you’re left stuck with it. It’s become obsolete because you can’t sell it. Obsolete inventory takes up valuable space that could be used for items that shoppers want. And depending on what it is, it may also need attention, in which case it’ll be taking up your employees’ time without benefit to you.
This situation doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, sales for these items will gradually drop off until they stop altogether. Sometimes it can take years to realize this useless inventory is still there gathering dust; sometimes a retailer may have decided to hold onto something in the hope that they’ll be renewed interest in it at a later date.
Reasons inventory may become obsolete
1. Poor inventory forecasting
Nothing is foolproof, but sometimes people don’t use the data available to them as assiduously as they could. They don’t do enough research on past sales histories, market trends, or customer demands to gauge future needs, and they don’t take enough notice of the metrics they do gather.
2. Inadequate inventory management
Sometimes, retailers are left holding excess stock because they didn’t follow the movement of their stock through the supply chain closely enough. They didn’t exercise inventory management, which provides details on items they’re holding in the warehouse prior to sales and the number of items that are sold, details that are used to make the right decisions when ordering more.
When it comes to omnichannel sales — sales from several different online platforms and physical stores — keeping tabs on the level of inventory that needs to be held is complex but vital. Every sales channel is different, and a product that does well on one may not sell on another. Guesswork has no place in this model — a company has to have the right goods in the right amounts at the right place at the right time, or they’ll end up with that obsolete stock somewhere.
3. Lack of inventory control
Inventory control describes having a thorough oversight of each item in the warehouse. It differs from inventory management in that it focuses much more on the actual number of each item held in storage, ensures the right levels are there at all times, and keeps on top of purchase orders. If this isn’t done with enough care, overstocking can occur, and there’s a danger of that becoming obsolete.
4. Long lead times
When it comes to managing inventory, the lead time refers to the period it takes to receive a stock item after ordering it from a supplier. Because these lead times can vary, decisions about what to order when can be a bit of a head scratcher. If the lead time is lengthy, a sales company will have to order way in advance of needing the items, and if demand for those items eases off in the meantime, they could become redundant by the time they arrive. They’ll be obsolete stock.
5. Inappropriate products
If bad buying decisions are made, sellers will end up with products no one wants. Conversely, if a company is offering items that can be found everywhere else, there’s a chance they could be stuck with them. Either way, we’re talking obsolete stock.
How to avoid ending up with obsolete inventory
1. Do thorough inventory forecasting.
Make the data work for you. Dig deeper into those past sales histories, market trends, and customer demand. A robust inventory management system like Cin7 Omni can do the heavy lifting for you. The software produces reports, insights, and advanced analytics you’ll find invaluable when making decisions about buying new inventory. When you base your buying decisions on information like this, you have a much better chance of having best-selling items in stock and avoiding those slow movers that can end up being obsolete.
2. Automate your inventory.
An automated system tracks your inventory, keeping tabs on its levels in the warehouse and maintaining records of the numbers that are sold. And it will do this in real time. With detailed information like this, there’s less chance of your buying decisions coming back to haunt you.
It’s actually difficult to see how businesses that sell on multiple online channels and physical outlets and run several warehouses can function without an automated system to fall back on. Cin7 Omni’s inventory and order management software connects your warehouses, online sales channels, and offline stores into one automated system, tracking the level of inventory at each place and taking note of what is selling where. It’s how you ensure having what you need where you need it without being stuck with too much of anything.
3. Make sure your teams coordinate with each other.
If the different teams in your sales company work in their own separate silos and don’t exchange information, mistakes will be made, mistakes like bad buying decisions. The way to avoid this is by giving every department access to information like purchase and sales orders. This means the warehouse team working with the purchasing team and the purchasing team working with the receiving team. Likewise, the inhouse teams should be working in tandem with suppliers and shippers. It’s supply chain management.
A cloud-based inventory management system like Cin7 Omni can do the coordination for you. It will send those purchase orders to your suppliers and those sales orders to your customers through one system, and the fact that it centralizes its data means that all departments can access information and be in the know.
How to get rid of obsolete inventory
Here are some tips:
- Throw a clearance sale and sell the goods you’ve been stuck with at discounted prices.
- Bundle items with similar products and sell at a competitive price.
- List clearance sales on online marketplaces.
- Offer customers an incentive like free shipping.
- See if you can return items to your supplier, if not for cost, at least for a lesser amount.
No one wants to be stuck with obsolete stock, but it can happen. Automating with a system like Cin7 Omni can help prevent it.
To learn more about our software and how it can be advantageous for you, click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts.
What is demand planning, and why is it crucial for supply chain management?
Guesswork plays no part in today’s business world. Every decision that’s made, every action that’s put into place is based on verifiable needs, and this verification comes from precise data. When manufacturers order raw materials for the products they make, they do so with a knowledge of the quantity they’ll need to complete their orders. And when retailers get items from their suppliers, they do so using models that tell them the number they’re expected to sell. In other words, they plan.
Unforeseen circumstances aside, this planning eliminates the chances of being left with unwanted inventory – overstocking – or finding out too late that there isn’t enough of it – stockouts. If the latter happens, the ramifications could be damaging. When orders can’t be filled, reputations are put on the line and customers could go somewhere else. A retailer that sells on Amazon could even have its ranking lowered if it can’t fill orders. On the other hand, being stuck with too much inventory is a wasteful use of resources, including financial.
Companies get the data they need for this planning from software that oversees and manages their supply chain. When it comes to getting the right inventory levels, this information is used to make predictions about upcoming needs — that’s demand forecasting; and when actions are taken on these predictions, we have demand planning. These are the areas that we’re going to look at today. And we’re going to look at them with an emphasis on how the combination of these two impacts the supply chain and overall profitability of the company.
Demand planning overview
As outlined above, demand planning is about taking the expectations for future inventory needs gleaned from forecasting, and acting on them. In other words, if forecasting predicts that x number of a particular product is going to be needed, planning will issue the sales orders for them.
To parse that out and explain it more, forecasting gathers data from the company’s historical sales, consumer buying patterns, and market trends, and then combines that with variables like weather conditions, shipping issues, and lead times to get an accurate picture of future needs: which items they should order, the amounts they should order, and when they should order.
Demand planning, then, is putting this forecasting into operation. It’s putting in the sales orders for the right items in the right quantities to prevent overstocking and stockouts; it’s making sure there’s enough space in the storage area for them; it’s making sure there are enough cardboard boxes in the shipping department to get them out the door; it’s making sure every section of the supply chain is ready and can process orders with as little downtime as possible and with the least amount of waste.
When demand planning is done right, the supply chain is humming. Inventory is at optimum levels and orders can be filled in good time, efficiently, with the least amount of expenditure.
Components of demand planning
1. Analyzing sales data across multiple channels and locations
Analyzing the sales history across sales channels tops the list. However, when you sell on multiple online platforms and have your physical stores at various locations, gathering and analyzing all the sales data can take time and effort. And it’s also not productive to do it manually, as you have other important things like your business expansion and customer satisfaction that need your attention.
Cin7 Omni’s inventory and order management software connects your online and offline sales channels, enabling you to access all the sales data at your fingertips. You can view the sales history of each customer from every sales channel on Cin7 Omni’s homepage dashboard. Thus, you can understand the customer’s purchasing behavior, buying pattern, best-selling products, and slow movers and target the customers with relevant products.
2. Calculating inventory turnover ratio
The inventory turnover ratio indicates how efficiently your company uses its inventory and your overall business performance. With Cin7 Omni’s insight tools and precise inventory and sales data reports, you can accurately measure Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and inventory turnover ratio. You can intervene earlier if you find any excess inventory or lag in your sales and put things back on track the earliest. You can also derive competitive price offerings to stand out from the competition to meet existing customers’ demands and attract new customers.
3. Independent Demand
The demand here refers to the end product. For manufacturers, this means finished pieces; for retailers it means the items shipped out to customers. Knowing the quantity of end product needed is the first step in demand planning.
4. Dependent Demand
This is about the components that make up the finished, or end, product. Basically for a manufacturer, the planners have to make sure they have all the bits and pieces and raw materials needed to put whatever it is they’re producing together, and they need them in the right quantities to satisfy the independent demand.
Cin7 Omni’s inventory and production management software is a useful tool for dependent demand planning. It can generate a detailed Bill of Materials (BOM), which is an itemization of the raw materials needed to put particular goods together and the quantities they’re needed in to fill a particular order. It can also produce weekly reports on both materials used and the progress production is making, statements which allow you to check that your demand planning is on target. As a bonus, the digital system can even instruct the machinery on the shop floor to start up, and it can do this as soon as it detects that there’s a predetermined minimal amount of orders in the works, a predetermined level set by you.
5. Monitoring the production process
If you’re a manufacturer, monitoring the raw materials, tracking the finished goods, and keeping the production time down is mandatory to run a successful business and meet the customers’ demands on time.
6. Monitoring, tracking, and managing inventory
Stocking the right inventory levels across your sales channels is mandatory to meet the customer’s needs on time. Besides stocking right, having optimal inventory control is crucial — preventing inventory from turning obsolete, maintaining goods at optimal conditions, and ensuring no discrepancies are all a part of managing inventory.
With Cin7 Omni’s inventory management software, you can readily conduct regular stock takes to ensure your stock is in optimal condition. You can also assign a batch or serial number to track the goods and dispatch the old stock first. Thus, you can minimize the risk of your inventory turning obsolete and sell goods on time at better profits. The right inventory at the right levels at the right place at the right conditions ensures a smooth supply chain.
The software also supports product bundling, enabling you to bundle relevant products and sell them at a competitive price. To top it all, you can rely on Cin7 Omni for managing your returns as well.
7. Internal processes demand
Here, we’re talking about demand planners making sure there’s no hitch in the supply chain. It’s about ensuring there’s enough space in the warehouse or storage area to place items for those projected orders as they come in from the suppliers. It’s about ensuring that everything is in place to move items from the warehouse to the end consumer — the right equipment, the right level of packing materials, the right shipping services. And it’s about having enough spare parts on hand to cope with machine breakdowns along with enough staff to keep everything flowing smoothly.
8. Managing product portfolios
Demand planning requires businesses to understand their products and lifecycles from introduction to phase-out. Product portfolio management is a part of demand planning that involves maintaining the entire portfolio of products you sell. Products are often interconnected, and the sale of one product affects the sales of another. Maintaining a product portfolio is helpful, especially when you add new products to your portfolio, as it helps you understand how the new product impacts the sale of existing products.
9. Analyzing current trends
Besides internal factors, external factors like weather, health, or economic crises impact business performance. Thus, apart from analyzing sales data and other internal factors, considering these external factors are also vital. Having a dedicated team to acquire external data on current events like health crises or natural disasters will help your business to promptly adapt to market volatility and prevent possible supply chain disruptions. A transparent system like Cin7 Omni will help you stay connected with your suppliers and track your goods during uncertain times. Therefore, you can efficiently manage the supply chain and ensure the timely delivery of products to your customers.
10. Managing trade promotions
While marketing and promotions may seem tangential to demand planning, arranging for advertising, discounts, and giveaways is an actionable part of the sales cycle and so should be included. The same goes for trade shows. In effect, this is because publicity attracts interest and helps sell the products and goods a company offers.
Cin7 Omni can be a great help in this area. It can set up discounts and set start and end dates of a particular promotion, and it can apply those promotions to whatever of your products you choose.
Demand planning and supply chain management
Demand planning affects supply chains in the following ways:
It streamlines inventory management.
- It puts relevant sales strategies in place.
- It makes sure all resources are used efficiently.
- It encourages companies to negotiate with suppliers for better deals.
- It results in high levels of customer satisfaction.
Having the right amount of everything in place in the right quantities when it’s needed is at the heart of a well-run business, and why getting demand planning right is so crucial.
Cin7 Omni is a great way of maintaining flow from one stage of the process to another. It has features that can make supply chain management hassle free, and the data it produces can be put towards forecasting and, as a result, better demand planning.
To find out more, click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts today.
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.
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.
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:
- Agility: Access information and analytics from any Internet-enabled device and make data-driven decisions quickly.
- Seamless communication: Easily share information and stay connected with stakeholders through every stage of the supply chain.
- Scalability: Add or reduce the logistics services that are outsourced according to customer demands.
- Transparency: Have more control over the supply chain because information is updated consistently and available in real time.
- Sustainability: There’s no need for you to invest in a complex IT infrastructure.
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.
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.
The strategic importance of order processing in supply chain management
For an online sales business or a manufacturing company, it’s all about the supply chain. It covers everything from the procurement of items for sale, or raw materials for the production process, to delivery of the items or products. Controlling the supply chain and keeping oversight on it is, as would be expected, supply chain management (SCM). Order processing is the central pillar of SCM; in a way, it’s the heart of the whole fulfillment process.
In this blog, we’re going to take a close look at how order processing works, and explore its importance to supply chain management.
What is order processing?
Order processing goes into effect the minute customers select and pay for goods online and continues until those goods are received. Broad in scope, it follows defined steps to get to that end point.
Here’s how the process breaks down:
Step 1: Orders are received
As soon as customers have filled their online carts and paid for their goods, their orders are transmitted to the warehouse or fulfillment center. Here they’re broken down into their component parts, which means product, quantity, size/color (if relevant), etc.
If the sales or fulfillment company is large enough, these order details are processed by an automated inventory management system (IMS). This sophisticated software will know if customers’ goods are in stock, and if so where they are. In essence, the system is able to determine the best warehouse to route the order to; and if some items aren’t available right away, it will give instructions to send them as, and when, they are. In addition, if a customer has put in more than one order, the IMS can consolidate them into one package.
Step 2: Items are picked
Picking describes the actual job of collecting items for an order from their storage spaces. Pickers do the job. Warehouses can be large—some are gargantuan—so getting organization into this process can be complicated. Picking can either be done on an individual-order basis, by warehouse zone, or in bulk – which means picking for several orders at the same time.
Irrespective of the method used, the whole process starts with a picking list that itemizes everything according to its storage location and sets out a route round the warehouse for the pickers to take. The aim, of course, is to cut down the picking time.
Step 3: Orders are sorted out
After picking, items are taken to a sorting area. If they were picked in bulk or by warehouse zone, this is the area where they’ll be sorted into their individual orders. This is also the time when items are checked against the original orders to make sure everything is there, is in good order, and of high quality.
Step 4: Order are packed up
Making sure the appropriate packaging is used is trickier than might be thought. The box itself should be the right size for the items and strong enough to hold them during shipping, and the padding inside should be enough to protect the contents, but light enough to keep transportation costs down. Sometimes this padding has to be specialized. If food is being packed, for instance, it might have to be kept cool with gel packs or dry ice.
After being packed up, shipping labels are attached.
Step 5: Orders are shipped
We’re now near the end of order processing. After boxing and labeling, shipments are organized by geographical location and assigned to their respective delivery trucks. Size and weight might also be a consideration when selecting transport: extra heavy items, or those that need refrigeration, will need specialized trucks. At this stage, the type of delivery a customer paid for also has to be taken into consideration. Expedited delivery, for example, will be given priority. The point is that it’s important to deliver an item at the time the customer expects it.
Step 6: Orders are delivered
Order delivery is the last step of the order processing system. The customer can choose a particular time to have their order delivered, or they can leave special instructions, like having the package be left with a neighbor. If a customer has opted for Cash on Delivery (COD), the delivery drive will be the one who collects the payment.
The importance of order processing in supply chain management
Order processing is the core, the beating heart at the center of the supply chain system that everything else more or less has to service. In essence, for any sales, fulfillment, or manufacturing entity, processing orders – getting them together and getting them to the right customer in time – is what they’re about. It’s true that without proper management in any area of the supply chain businesses won’t perform at their best, but when it comes to order processing, its efficiency, speed, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness are actually the determining factors of success and, ultimately, profit.
Whatever way you look at it, though, supply chain management is a complex operation. That’s why it’s a good idea to automate it.
The upsides of automation are:
- maximized profits,
- minimized costs,
- improved customer satisfaction,
- increased market share,
- reduced workload for employees, and
- an overall boost to the company’s brand and reputation.
Final thoughts on order processing and its importance to the system as a whole
Having looked closely at the complete supply chain, we can see that everything centers on the order processing part. Putting orders together and getting them to customers is, in effect, the commercial activity that reasons for the company’s existence.
Automating all or some of the areas of supply chain management with an inventory management system can be of great benefit to a company, both logistically and financially. Cin7 is one of the best.
To learn more about how Cin7 can help your business, you can book a demo from one of our experts by clicking here.
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.
A quick and easy guide to good retail management
When shoppers find exactly what they’re looking for in a store, they leave happy. And when they leave happy, the store management is happy because the chances are those customers will come back again, or better yet, give a good recommendation to one of their friends.
It takes a lot of work and planning to get to this point, of course. The store has to have the right look and be open and inviting, and merchandise has to be displayed appealingly. The inventory also has to be managed well. This means having enough of an item in stock to be able to replace it quickly in the store when it’s sold – because it looks better if everything is well-stocked – and having enough of it in storage to be able to do this. This means ordering more, knowing when to do this, and doing it early enough to cover lead times – the length of time it’ll take a supplier to turn purchase orders around. The umbrella term for all these activities is retail management. In this blog, we’re going to break down the areas that make up retail management and look at them in detail.
Understanding the importance of retail management
The word retailer comes from the Old French retaillour or retailleor, and it translates as someone who sells items in small quantities. This interpretation pretty much stands today: store owners stock goods in limited amounts, and their customers usually buy items in ones and twos.
You may be wondering why we’re going into etymology. Well, it’s to give an understanding of the scope of the businesses we’re talking about. And when you get your mind around that, we can delve into the challenges and decisions that are specific to retail stores.
The central challenge of a retailer is to give their customers a good experience, to let them know they’re welcome, understood, and appreciated. It’s how you get them to come back. This experience runs from creating a look that reflects the interests of the shoppers to streamlining the checkout. For instance, a book store will have subtle color tones, be crammed with books, have quiet areas to check out reading material, and could be playing easy-listening classical music in the background. A shop selling clothing to young people, on the other hand, mayl use bright colors to decorate their interior, should have the right mood lighting, and may be playing Top-Ten music hits very loudly.
Differences aside, there are aspects that all retail establishments have in common. First among these is internal organization. When a customer walks into a store, they should very quickly be able to work out where everything is. In our bookstore example, the works will be categorized by genre, each one having its own section; and within that each book will be placed on a shelf alphabetically. In the clothing store, it’s garment type – jeans will be on one rack, coats on another – and to make everything even easier to find, each rack will have its clothing grouped by size.
The second thing all stores have in common is salespeople. There’s an art in choosing the right sales people, but more on that later.
The third characteristic shared by retail is the checkout. paying. Nowadays, there are several options for this: cash, card, or online via an app on a cell. It should be a smooth, simple process.
Taken together, all these facets add up to what’s called retail management, and when it’s done well, it’s good retail management.
The process of retail management
If you own or manage a retail store, you’re responsible for everything that goes into the running of it, from getting the right inventory to giving customers a good experience to handling employees. We’re going to break your job description down into its component areas and take a close look at each one.
Like any endeavor, the first step in any retail enterprise is to plan it out. This covers everything from interior design and layout to choosing what goods to get from suppliers.
We’ve already covered design, so let’s get down to layout. As described in our examples, depending on the kind of items you’re selling, a potential customer has to feel comfortable in your space. If you’re selling tech, that means spacing out your devices and lighting them brightly to invite those entering your store to “play” with each one; if you have a thrift shop, you’ll want your items to be thrown together in batches to appeal to your customers’ bargain-hunting instincts. It’s all part of driving foot traffic to your establishment.
Irrespective of the kind of items you’re selling, you have to give careful consideration to where you place your checkout. You’ll want your shoppers to be able to see it easily, but you won’t want it to block the free flow of customers. For these reasons, it’s probably not a good idea to place it near the entrance. Similarly, if you run a clothing store, you shouldn’t put it near the changing rooms – that would not only block access, it could look like a brazen grab for a sale and put customers off.
Keeping the interior of the store clean and tidy is also important. It’s part of making your walk-ins feel they’re welcome.
Another major consideration when working out layout is shoplifting. Arranging items so that your employees can see as many of the areas as possible is a good way of preventing this. If shoplifting becomes a serious problem, however, surveillance cameras should be installed.
#2 Choosing suppliers
When you’ve worked out your layout, you need to get your products in. You’ll probably know what kind of store you’re opening when you sign a lease for the space, so buying comes down to finding suppliers and setting up accounts with them. Then it’s a matter of working out your markups, guesstimating returns, and researching your competition. Purchasing inventory is such a crucial part of store management.
When you’re looking around for suppliers, you should be checking out the following:
- Their selling price – best to go with someone who offers the lowest price,
- Whether they can deliver to your store,
- Length of time it will take them to deliver items to you – their lead time – this has to be taken into account when reordering,
- Their after-sales service,
- Their return policy,
- Terms of their invoices – specifically length of time they give you to pay, and
- How much credit they’ll give you.
It’s a good idea to find several suppliers to work with. This way, if one doesn’t have what you want or can’t deliver, you have a fallback.
Then it’s a matter of working out your markups, guesstimating returns, and researching your competition.
#3 Receiving, storing, and displaying
First thing when a shipment comes in from a supplier is to check the goods against your purchase order and their invoice to make sure you’ve received everything you’re being charged for, and you should inspect each item for quality. If anything is damaged or incorrect, you send it back.
Next comes storage. If you have a small shop, this could be a back room; but if your business is larger, say something like a box store, you’re going to need a bigger space, a much bigger space, something that’s more like a warehouse.
When it comes to displaying items in your store, several matters should be taken into account. Things that are more likely to catch a customer’s eye should be right up front, near the entrance.If some of the things you sell are heavy, they should be on shelves that are near the floor, not on high levels; items that are similar should be grouped together; and small items that could be last-minute purchases, like socks or small packets of candy, should be next to the checkout.
The placement of any discounts you’re running is also important when trying to encourage sales. These should always be clearly labeled, preferable on their area of the shelving as well as individually on the product. Essentially, you’re building goodwill with your customers, and if an item they pick up—thinking it’s discounted—turns out not to be, they’re going to be upset. For some types of things, like clothing, however, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated area for all discounted items.
Of course, as a retailer selling in ones and twos, you’re probably going to be stocking a lot of different items in different colors and sizes. This makes keeping track of everything a challenge. Technology can come to the rescue here, technology like Cin7’s inventory management software. Cin7 tracks inventory in real-time, letting you know exactly what you have and how much of it you hold. It can also automate your purchase orders, registering when your stock is low enough to warrant reorder and taking care of it.
#4 Hiring and managing employees
This is important because a salesperson can make or break your retail business. Number one when checking out prospective hires is that they should like people. They have to have bright personalities and show a degree of patience. In short, they should enjoy interacting with customers, be happy to help them find what they want and be willing and able to answer any questions. Plus, they should be able to calmly listen to complaints and be willing to resolve issues. It also helps if they have knowledge of your business category. Thus, if you have a hardware store, you’ll want salespeople who know a lot about home improvement; if you have a beauty store, you’ll want salespeople who love and are up-to-date on things like make-up trends.
Your sales staff should also be adept at using your checkout, otherwise known as your point of sale system. Depending on the size of your store, you may have an employee dedicated to taking customer payments, so it’s important they be well-versed in whatever system you use.
And for you as a retail manager, once you’ve selected the right people to work for you, it’s your responsibility to keep a subtle eye on them to make sure they’re not taking advantage, and to resolve conflicts and grievances they may have. If your staff is content in the workplace, it’s reflected in the way your business performs.
#5 Service and sales
As indicated in the section directly above, your sales staff should be able to give your customers a gentle nudge when they’re undecided about whether to buy or not. That, essentially, is what a good sales person is defined by.
To make your customer experience complete, a smooth checkout is the cherry on the cake. While a point of sale (POS) can be defined as an old-time cash register, today much more sophisticated, online-based systems are the norm. In addition to adding up the cost of items, if several are purchased, these modern-day systems can scan barcodes and process different payment types, from cash to credit cards and cell-phone apps. They can also store your customer’s information – useful if there are returns or you want to send them marketing materials – and keep track of your inventory.
Cin7’s POS can do all this and more.
Optimize your retail operations with Cin7
To sum up, when a retail store is run well, customers have a good experience and walk out happy with the item they want, and your staff are content and put in that extra effort for you.
Then there’s control of your inventory, getting the right stock in and ensuring you have enough of it at all times to satisfy demand. That’s where Cin7 can be helpful. Cin7’s cloud-based software gives you a bird’s eye view of all your inventory, and can produce data to keep you on top of what items are selling best. Cin7 can also create loyalty programs and, as discussed, streamline your checkout.
If you want to learn more about Cin7 and how it can bring improvements to your retail business, call one of our experts today and book a demo.