Plus tips on how online sellers can adopt, adapt, and win in the coming months
A wise young man once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” That’s doubly true for ecommerce, which reaches warp speed during the holidays and skids to a stop in January as sellers breathlessly scurry around returns and clearance sales. Traditionally this is when I review my predictions for the previous year and look ahead to what we can expect in the coming months. Here are this year’s predictions, plus my take on how ecommerce SMBs canadapt and adopt to win in 2018.
1. To the surprise of no one, Amazon will continue to knock down new and interesting categories. Over the last decade, ecommerce and Amazon have both become synonymous as great disruptors. We’ve seen this coming and it’s nowhere close to an end. Same-day delivery? Of course. Fashion? Certainly. Groceries? Been there, done that. There has even been talk about Amazon entering the healthcare industry—popcorn’s on me for that price war watch party.
If your industry hasn’t yet been touched by ecommerce or Amazon, reach for technology for protection and then brace for impact. To further grow and compete, move from single channel to a multichannel model and sell on a big marketplace. Doing so will give you better exposure, SEO value, more options for moving inventory, and the ability to adjust profit margins based on the market. If you don’t have the stomach for Amazon, consider Walmart. If you can’t stomach Walmart, go with eBay or Etsy—just go with something.
Now more than ever it is vital for a business to centralize their financials.
As you know, “commerce” now involves both brick-and-mortar stores and selling on multiple channels online. And that’s just the first layer of complexity—this year at QuickBooks Connect, I learned that the average SMB uses approximately 15 applications to manage their business.
Unfortunately, many businesses are still manually entering in much of their sales, inventory, and shipping data into their QuickBooks. But why? This method creates many problems, some of them include:
- Human error
- Time wasted
- Money spent
The good news is, there are several apps out there to move data for you. The bad news is that many of these apps do not communicate with one another. Sure, there is ERP software out there that will take care of it all, but it’s generally designed for the enterprise level business and it’s expensive.”
While an ERP may feel like a logical step for a maturing SMB, I would recommend waiting. If you are considering an ERP, it’s likely that you already have many of the necessary tools, but still struggle because those tools are not in sync. When your tools are not in sync, they cause a mess and confusion, which is more manual work. Continue reading
From the first computer to the latest smartphone, it’s no secret that the world and our nation have made significant advancements in the world of technology. With each new invention or mobile advancement, we have made ourselves extremely reliant on the world wide web as our go-to resource for a plethora of things. However, with this dependency, we also have made ourselves very vulnerable to cyber security threats. Whether it’s a virus, bug, or a skilled hacker, security threats can come from all over the web. From paying our bills to signing up for the next greatest product, we are constantly putting our personal online–risking the chance of identity theft, and more. Big businesses with an online presence face the same threats every day as well.
Unfortunately, with each major advancement in technology we make, internet hackers will find ways to advance their hacking techniques. Although there’s a multitude of security softwares that will help fight against unwarranted cyber hacks, there’s always the chance that cyber-criminals will find new ways to adapt their techniques and change the way they go about their exploitations. With that being said, it’s very important to keep in mind that getting ‘hacked’ is NOT an inevitability. With the right practices, you can secure your business and your website from modern security threats. Continue reading
Written by Jim Walsh, Chief Information Officer, Right Networks
As reviewed through time, this is likely to be a fascinating milestone in the evolution of accounting technology and its impact on business. Many working professionals can still remember when technology was burgeoning. From the perspective of accountancy, paper ledgers gave way to spreadsheet applications. CPAs and accounting professionals passed files back and forth from shared drives or emailed them to peers and clients. Then those spreadsheets got more advanced – they were shared in content management systems or stored in the cloud and worked on by multiple people simultaneously. And now applications are becoming transformative in their ability to draw conclusions and anticipate trends based on the information that was once handwritten in books that wouldn’t even fit inside a backpack.
The accounting industry isn’t exempt or unique in the fact that it’s being impacted by a rush of technology advances. Thinking about all of the different ways that technology could impact any industry is as dizzying as it is speculative. It’s likely that we haven’t fully anticipated the ways that conditions and processes will merge to allow for new things. So how can a CPA firm or accounting professional prepare for a future where technology presents an unknown? Continue reading
As published in Internet Retailer
This holiday season, some of the biggest online retailers are ready to give Amazon a run for its money. Giants like Wal-Mart, Jet.com, and Costco, along with Facebook Inc. and other social media platforms have created alternative channels for marketplace sellers. These new channels are not only creating more avenues for listing products, amd pushing promotional offerings, but also an expansive marketplace to get more exposure.
“Online sellers should be selling on at least one online marketplace to increase reach,” says Parag Mamnani, CEO of Webgility, a provider of ecommerce automation software for multichannel ecommerce companies. “But in order to compete, merchants really must be selling on several different channels at once.”
According to Mamnani, online retailers are often intimidated by the prospect of selling on these different channels. But he says there are several steps they can take to fully leverage the different channels available to them. First, they should firm up their entire technology stack. “Stress test your operational workflows, make sure you don’t have any break-points in your orders management, inventory tracking, shipping or bookkeeping,” he says.
Then, Mamnani recommends, online retailers and their teams should discuss replacing any inefficient tools or processes. “Now’s the time to clean up that inventory spreadsheet and create a better system to organize it,” he adds. “Is someone doing full-on forensic research every time there’s a return or exchange? Examine your return system and do a bit of research on return optimization and automation. I promise, trimming those inefficiencies now will pay off during peak selling season.” Continue reading