Summer Prep for Profitable Holidays

Summer Prep for Profitable Holidays4 Simple steps to creating peaceful, efficient, and lucrative peak selling season

It’s summer, which means it’s time to batten down the hatches for holiday sales. But if you’re like most sellers, you might never be fully ready. Truth is, busy SMBs just don’t have time to project and plan for additional holiday inventory and fulfillment or even streamline workflows and minimize shipping costs. At best, sellers are just guessing at the expected velocity of sales. It’s no wonder that, although online retail continues to grow at an exponential rate, profits continue to diminish. Why? Because selling on multiple channels online is inefficient without the right tools. Sellers try desperately to increase order volume, but quickly become overwhelmed by confusion around both finances and logistics when sales do surge. And there’s a price to be paid for all that incongruity—for every dollar made, businesses could be spending more than a $1 on shipping and fulfillment.Not-so-fun fact: For every dollar made, businesses could be spending more than a $1 on shipping. @Stamps.com #HolidaySales Click To Tweet

Imagine an online retail world where all of your stores, marketplaces, and business applications actually work together to optimize workflows and profit margins. An order—or even a whole batch of orders—comes in from a store or marketplace and syncs directly with a central shipping hub. You instantly compare and choose a carrier based on price and delivery date, seconds later, you click to print a branded shipping label, then confirm and send the customer tracking information. Meanwhile, all that sales data—including customer and product information—syncs with your accounting software, so you don’t have to type in jack diddly squat. Your inventory quantities update accordingly, all fees, expenses, and sales tax are recorded, and you go enjoy some coffee and a glazed donut.

Taking into account time limitations, there are four simple things you can do right away to get ready for the coming surge.

  • Clean it up. What inventory do you have in stock that needs move? Don’t delude yourself that it will finally sell this holiday season—go ahead and make room for what you know will sell this holiday season and focus on what products are most profitable for your business. To move large amounts of overstocked product quickly, you’ll likely need to take a hit on margins. Go ahead and use Amazon as a clearinghouse or create a separate Amazon store that acts as your virtual sale rack. Even better, donate what you can to nonprofits that can use the products and be sure to get a receipt for your tax deductions.
  • Break it down. Low-tech as it may sound, make a list. Write down how you spend your work days and include how much time you typically spend on each activity. Put a star next to those tasks that you find most annoying or time consuming. If you have employees, ask them to complete the same exercise. If there are inefficient workflows or bottlenecks in your business, they will be revealed here. For example, if your manual pick, pack, and ship processes are taking up 85% of your day, consider the benefits of shipping automation and batch processing. Or if you spend your day spinning between several different sales channels to ensure your inventory is up to date for each one, find a tool that connects all channels together and syncs them your master inventory list instantly. Streamlining your workflows and operations now will clear time in your schedule—and your mind—so you can better manage your business during the holidays and thereafter.
  • Sync it. Take a typical online order and walk it through its lifecycle, both literally and figuratively. The order comes in and that data needs to go in several different operational directions: shipping carriers and tracking, fulfillment and logistics, inventory management, bookkeeping and accounting, customer lists for marketing, and business analytics—and that’s just one order! Ten years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find ways to automate and sync all of that data. These days, integration is the only way to go, especially since ecommerce selling, by nature, is so disjointed. Build your business model around tools that automate one set of sales data from your stores throughout the entire workflow, and you’ll be amazed by improvements in efficiency, accuracy, and speed that affect your entire business.
  • Count it. Make another list, this time write down your business’ biggest expenses to see where you might increase your profit margins and streamline your business model. What do you pay in marketplace fees each month? Make sure you’re moving enough product on marketplaces to justify those fees. Are you easily able to compare shipping carrier costs for each order based on delivery location? And now that you’ve been in business for a few years, maybe it’s time to renegotiate your contract with your payment processor. And what about data entry? Could the time and money you spend on entering sales data into accounting, inventory, and shipping be done for less money (and more accuracy) by an automation software? Hint: Yes.

Continue reading

What’s New in Ecommerce?

Shipping Tech Crunch: Deliv now offers same-day delivery for Shopify retailers

Multichannel Selling Total Retail: What you need to know about online marketplaces

Listing Practical Ecommerce: 5 Product Page Differentiators for 2018

Business Analytics CIO Dive: Unleashing the power of mobile data: A CIO’s guide to mobile analytics

Marketing Marketing Profs: Teens’ Favorite Social Networks, Fashion Brands, and Restaurants

Business Insights Digital Commerce 360: Turning B2B customers into loyal customers

READ MORE

“The Only Solution That Could Handle It All”

Product BahnWith Unify, this ominichannel company increased sales 1000% and increased the speed of order processing 83%.

  • Product Bahn makes emergency foods and storage, camping foods and gear, natural foods, and supplements.
  • Founded 2010
  • Challenge: Quickly and accurately transfer data into QuickBooks and sync inventory to and from multiple stores and brands, plus integrate with NovelAspect
  • Solution: Webgility’s Unify automated all data entry and inventory management
  • Bonus Reconciling fees and expenses#Ecommerce Case Study: increase sales 1000% and increase order processing 83%! Click To Tweet

Some ecommerce companies are undaunted by new projects and truly take advantage of how fast moving the online industry can be. Product Bahn was originally founded in 2010 with the urls PrepareWise.com and BuyEmergencyFoods.com, starting with food storage and then expanding to emergency foods and survival gear. Unhappy with their manufacturer, within two years they started making their own food and expanded to another brand, LegacyFoodStorage.com, which sells dehydrated camping food and gear. Their latest offshoots are BannockOutdoors.com and SilverFernBrand.com which both sell healthy foods, treats, snacks, desserts, and supplements made with natural ingredients. Continue reading

Ecommerce Checklist for Success

Ecommerce Checklist for SuccessDetermined to succeed in ecommerce? You aren’t alone.

But if you take the time to properly set up your systems, you’ll have a leg up on the competition, I promise. Here’s my simple but effective checklist for success:   

  1. Define your product catalog.  Know what your differentiators are—the uniqueness of your products, competitive prices, free shipping, how your products are bundled—so that you can stand out from similar items.  
  2. Pick the right channels. If you’re selling from your own web site, you’ll need to “pull” customers to your products. If you’re selling on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, you’ll need to “push” your products, which means paying fees, and competing with pricing and shipping.
  3. Create streamlined workflows. If you’re not integrating and automating sales information into your accounting, inventory, and shipping systems, you can lose dozens of hours each week on data entry alone.
  4. Build ironclad fulfillment. A fulfillment system that is well-managed, accurate, and fast is the backbone of any e-commerce business.  
  5. Be accountable. Take steps to properly track, validate, and pay sales tax properly with a proper accounting software and data automation so it’s all timely and accurate.
TAKE A DEEPER DIVE

It’s Official: Amazon Has Been Webgilified

It’s Official: Amazon Has Been WebgilifiedNow it’s even easier for Amazon sellers to unify their entire ecommerce business

Great things are happening with your favorite ecommerce management company! To be specific, we’ve officially been chosen to participate in the newly formed Amazon Marketplace Developer Council. Sounds big, but what does that mean? Members of the Amazon Marketplace Developer Council have a unique perspective and understanding of the small and medium-sized businesses that sell on Amazon. Through the Marketplace Developer Council, we’ll share valuable insights and feedback to help shape the roadmap and priorities for Marketplace Web Service APIs and associated tools. Continue reading