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Regional Utilization Smart Merchandising Warehouse Management

Riding the E-commerce Wave: Prepping for Peak Season Sales

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for e-commerce brands. With the rise of online shopping, it’s more important than ever for brands to prepare for the peak season sale. In this article, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to ensure your e-commerce brand is ready for the holiday rush

Why Is peak season preparation important for e-commerce brands?

The holiday season is a crucial time for e-commerce brands to drive sales and revenue. In fact, according to Adobe Analytics, online sales during the 2020 holiday season reached $188.2 billion, a 32.2% increase from the previous year, and during the 2021 holiday season, online retail sales grew by 14.1% compared with the previous year.

With the increase in online shopping, it’s important for e-commerce brands to be prepared for the peak season to capitalize on the surge in sales. E-commerce brands must prepare for the peak season due to increased online competition and the need to meet high customer expectations to drive sales and revenue. This entails optimizing websites, offering attractive deals, and ensuring a seamless shopping experience, including timely shipping and easy returns, ultimately empowering brands to capitalize on the online shopping surge.

How to prepare your e-commerce brand for peak season sales?

Now that we understand the importance of peak season preparation let’s discuss the steps you can take to ensure your e-commerce brand is ready for the holiday rush.

1) Stock up on inventory

The last thing you want during the peak season is to run out of stock for your popular products. Make sure to stock up on inventory in advance to meet the increase in demand. Accurate inventory planning hinges on various factors, such as lead time, safety stock, planogram limitations, dynamic trends, and reorder thresholds.

Analyze your sales data from previous peak seasons to determine which products are most popular and make sure to have enough stock to meet the demand. You can also consider offering pre-orders for popular products to ensure that customers can still purchase them even if they are out of stock.

2) Ensure inventory accuracy across platforms

To ensure precise inventory and enhance customer satisfaction, deploy diverse inventory management methods. Begin by choosing a primary inventory management system, then seamlessly integrate it with various platforms. 

Many popular e-commerce systems provide APIs and apps for real-time cross-channel synchronization, a critical factor for multi-location sales. For further insights on streamlining warehouse operations during peak season sales.

3) Plan your pricing, promotions, and deals

Dynamic pricing during peak sales season is a savvy strategy to boost profits. It involves monitoring competitors’ pricing for similar products and adjusting yours to stay competitive. While this may entail occasional price reductions, it can also mean increases when warranted. 

Shoppers seek deals and promotions during the peak season, so plan and promote discounts, free shipping, and bundles in advance. Create urgency with limited-time offers and utilize effective merchandising solutions for pricing strategies and dynamic markdowns.

4) Prepare for shipping and fulfillment

During the peak season, shipping and fulfillment can become a bottleneck for e-commerce brands. Make sure to have a plan in place to handle the increase in orders and ensure timely delivery to your customers.

Consider a solution to help you optimize inventory distribution in a multi-warehouse network. Enhance proximity to customers, minimizing delivery time and logistics expenses effectively

Consider partnering with multiple shipping carriers to have backup options in case one carrier experiences delays. You can also offer expedited shipping options for customers who are willing to pay for faster delivery.

5) Streamline return management

Effectively managing returns is essential in the e-commerce business, especially as customers demand swift refunds and hassle-free return processes. This challenge intensifies during peak seasons, necessitating practical solutions. Utilizing software that allows sellers to record videos and streamline the SPF (Seller Protection Fund) claims process can significantly increase revenue and recoup losses from failed claims. Automate return procedures and offer convenience with curbside returns, ensuring a seamless experience for customers and retailers alike.

Other things to keep in mind

  1. Optimize your website– Your website serves as your brand’s digital storefront, making peak season optimization essential. Prioritize mobile-friendliness, quick loading, and intuitive navigation. Please do so during high-traffic periods to avoid slow loading, frustrating users, and losing sales. Test and enhance website performance in advance to guarantee a seamless shopping experience during peak season.
  2. Train your customer service team– In the high-demand peak season, a skilled customer service team is paramount. Training on products, policies, and procedures equips them to handle inquiries. Temporary staff can alleviate the workload, ensuring efficient customer support.
  3. Enable seamless cross-channel shopping behavior- Customers often navigate between online and offline channels. Only 10% start product discovery on a brand’s website. Retailers must ensure a seamless cross-channel experience, optimizing mobile apps and offering features like wishlists for in-store shopping assistance. Read more about implementing BORIS, BOPIS, and BOSS in the sales season
  4. Leverage technology– Technology is a game-changer for e-commerce in peak season. Personalize the shopping experience with targeted emails, product suggestions, and custom landing pages. Leverage automation tools for predicting inventory & sales, facilitating omnichannel, tracking progress, and return management.

Real-world examples of peak season preparation

Let’s look at how some successful e-commerce brands have prepared for the peak season in the past.

Amazon

Amazon’s Prime Day, established in 2015, serves as a paradigm for peak season sales strategy. Held twice a year, this massive online shopping event features exclusive deals for Prime members, driving substantial sales. Amazon, a global e-commerce giant, excels in peak season readiness, commencing preparations as early as a year back. They stockpile inventory and employ temporary staff to manage surging orders. Moreover, Amazon entices customers and enhances sales through special peak season deals, such as the yearly Prime Day sale.

Another example is BFL (Brands for Less) Group, UAE’s leading off-price retailer for fashion and homeware. The brand was finding it challenging to manage busy warehouses and distribution centers efficiently. To discover how BFL overcame peak season challenges with Increff’s cloud-based warehouse management system.

Who is responsible for peak season preparation?

Peak season preparation is a team effort and involves multiple departments within an e-commerce brand, like planning and merchandising, warehouse management, website team, etc. However, the responsibility ultimately falls on the e-commerce manager or director, who oversees the entire process and ensures that all departments are working together to prepare for the peak season.

Conclusion

The holiday season is a crucial time for e-commerce brands to drive sales and revenue. By optimizing your website, planning your promotions, stocking up on inventory, and leveraging technology, you can ensure that your brand is ready for the peak season sale.

Make sure to involve all departments in the preparation process and have a plan in place to handle the increase in orders and customer inquiries. By following these steps, you can set your e-commerce brand up for success during the busiest time of the year.

Remember, the right technology partner can help you achieve your peak season goals and pave the way for long-term success. Book a demo today!

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Warehouse Management

A more fulfilling season with retail’s dynamic trio: BOPIS, BOSS and BORIS

The festive sales season always brings a whirlwind of activity, and in the midst of this hustle and bustle, convenience reigns supreme for shoppers. Retailers have recognized the importance of providing in-store pickup and return options for online orders in this chaotic shopping frenzy. They’re leveraging their entire inventory, regardless of location, to ensure online shoppers can get what they want when they want it.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the importance of omnichannel retail, especially during peak season sales, where consumers have already cast their votes.

The above-presented data leaves no room for doubt – retailers have transcended the debate of whether to adopt omnichannel strategies. Instead, they find themselves at the cusp of a profound transformation, where hybrid models are erasing the boundaries between online and offline consumer experiences, fostering a dynamic omnichannel ecosystem. This evolution in shopping is a call to action driven by both consumers and retailers alike. 

At the heart of this transformation are retail stores themselves, which have evolved from mere transaction hubs into versatile fulfillment centers. They adapt with agility to meet the changing demands with innovative strategies like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store), BORIS (Buy Online, Return In-Store), and BOSS (Buy Online Ship to Store).

BOPIS, BOSS, BORIS: The Winning Trifecta for Modern Retailers

As more and more customers are opting for the convenience of online shopping over traditional in-store visits, the implementation of fulfillment options like BOSS (Buy Online Ship to Store), BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In-Store) has become not just a choice but an essential strategy for retailers to thrive in this changing environment.

BOSS – Buy Online Ship to Store.

BOSS allows customers to place orders online, and instead of picking them up in-store or returning them in-store, the products are shipped directly from the nearest store location to the customer’s address. This approach optimizes inventory management and leverages the retail store as a mini-distribution center.

For Customers

  • Faster delivery
  • Reduced out-of-stock
  • Convenient local pickup
  • Improved product availability
  • Reduced shipping costs

For Retailers

  • Increased sales
  • Efficient inventory management
  • Faster order fulfillment
  • Reduced shipping expenses
  • Optimized store utilization

BOPIS: Buy Online, Pickup In-Store

BOPIS is a retail strategy that allows customers to shop online and then pick up their purchases at a physical store location. This approach has become increasingly important during peak season sales for several reasons:

For Customers

  • Convenience, cost savings, and safety
  • Avoiding shipping delays and crowds
  • In-store exploration

For Retailers

  • Increased foot traffic
  • In-store upselling opportunities
  • Reduced shipping costs, especially when dealing with high
  • order volumes during peak sales
  • Improved inventory management
  • Competitive advantage and customer loyalty

BORIS: Buy Online, Return In-Store

The third player in the mix, BORIS offers another layer of flexibility, convenience, and efficiency, especially when shopping frenzy and return rates soar. This approach not only elevates the shopping experience but also streamlines retail operations, proving its significance in bustling sales seasons with benefits including:

For Customers

  • Convenience and hassle-free return options, especially for gift purchases or impulse buys
  • Swift, in-store refunds or exchanges
  • Savings on return shipping
  • Personalized assistance and in-store help enhancing the shopping experience

For Retailers

  • Boosts store visits, aiding cross-selling during peak sales
  • Streamlines reverse logistics
  • Reduces reverse logistics expenses, vital during high returns
  • Reinforces physical store presence, enhancing brand trust
  • Fosters loyalty, generating repeat business and referrals

What makes BOPIS, BORIS, and BOSS possible:

What makes BOPIS, BORIS, and BOSS possible:

As the peak season sale looms, retailers are reimagining their approach to omnichannel strategies, catering to the convenience-craving consumer. In this retail showdown, each player holds the power to craft a unique festive game plan as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Some opt to entice hordes of shoppers into their brick-and-mortar stores, luring them with exclusive discounts on in-store pickups. Meanwhile, others place their faith in dedicated distribution centers for online order fulfillment, with physical stores standing by as reliable reinforcements.

The omnichannel landscape, rich with possibilities, hinges on the effective deployment of the right technology and the training of employees to leverage it optimally. Those who tread this path aren’t merely eyeing sales objectives but are also curating customer goodwill, setting the stage for a promising and joyous festive season.

For more assistance on how to implement an omnichannel ecosystem for your brand, get in touch with our experts today.

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Warehouse Management

How to Streamline Your Warehouse Operations During Peak Season Sales

The holiday season is here, and we all know what that means—sales and discounts! Both consumers and businesses look forward to this time of the year for major price cuts and a significant uptick in order volume, respectively. While it’s a great time for customers, peak season sales can feel like an all-out sprint for businesses managing warehouse operations. The stakes are high, the pressure is relentless, and the ability to meet customer demands swiftly and accurately can make or break a business. 

During this time, warehouses often face significant challenges, from inventory and space management to quick order processing, handling returns, and reverse logistics. All this while ensuring that orders are fulfilled on time, and SLA requirements are met. So, businesses must streamline their warehouse and supply chain operations to ensure they do not have missed sales opportunities. 

In this blog, we will explore how your can warehouse can streamline its operations during peak sales season with some of the best practices that can come in handy.

Top strategies to overcome warehouse operational challenges during sales season

1) Efficient Inventory planning and management

Historical sales data can come in real handy during this time. It can give you insights into how much uptick in order volume your business generally sees during the sales season. This will help you prepare inventory in advance. Without demand forecasting, you will either end up with too much inventory that will hog capital and precious warehouse space or too little stock that your business won’t be able to take full advantage of the sale. 

Past data can also help you identify the top SKUs that sell the most and s for the entire sale. All this might sound like a real hassle, but a capable merchandising solution can make it really easy, and, in addition, it will help you reduce inventory holding, increase revenue, and manage discounts.

Now, once you have the required inventory in the right amount, it is critical to have real-time visibility over it. This ensures that if a product goes out of stock, you don’t take orders and cancel them later, hampering customer experience. 

2) Fast order processing and fulfillment

During a typical sales season, the order volume can increase 4-5 times or even more. So, it is difficult for warehouses to manage and fulfill orders on time. However, it is also a non-negotiable part because delays in shipping can often lead to cancellations from the customer end, which means missed opportunities and profits. 

So, warehouses must make order picking and packing as efficient as possible. This can be done by implementing methods like batch or zone picking and using pigeon holes that are far superior to put-to-light systems that many warehouses still use.

Optimizing the warehouse layout is another easy way to streamline the order fulfillment process. For example, there can be a picking area close to the packing desk with inventory that is in high demand, ensuring easy accessibility. There can also be another area with QC checkpoints to manage returns.

3) Reduce dependency on skilled manpower

While it is essential to plan and have extra manpower during the sales season, the most optimal way is to reduce dependency on skilled labor altogether. Considering the high turnover rate in warehouses, it’s time for businesses to switch to a warehouse management system that does not need high technical skills to operate and is easy to learn. It reduces dependency and means new workers can be hired and trained much quicker in a labor shortage.

It can help reduce staffing costs by about 20-25% and also get new workers up to speed in a matter of hours. This is particularly important, especially during sales when thousands of orders are processed every hour. Such a system can also help automate manual tasks, which further reduces dependency on people.

4) Returns and reverse logistics

Handling returns and reverse logistics during peak sales seasons can be complex, but it’s crucial to maintaining customer satisfaction and ensuring smooth operations. So, to manage it efficiently, businesses need to look at past data that gives a general overview of the percentage of returns from total orders.

After getting an idea, a separate space can be designated (as per volume) in the warehouse with all the necessary quality checkpoints to process returns and get them back live on marketplaces as soon as possible. The faster the process is, the easier it will be for businesses to clear the inventory during the sales period. 

Best practices to follow during the sales season

The sales season is a great time for businesses to boost sales and profitability, enhance customer satisfaction, and build brand loyalty. Here are some of the best practices warehouses must implement to make the most of this festive season.

1) Customer communication: Businesses should maintain clear and proactive communication with customers by providing information about order status, delivery times, and delays. 

2) Quality control and assurance: It is important to implement stringent quality control processes to ensure that products meet quality standards before shipping. This can reduce quality-related returns, saving a lot of cost and time.

3) Omnichannel strategy: Businesses can maximize their sales by offering a seamless shopping experience across different sales channels. However, ensuring that inventory levels and pricing are consistent across channels is essential.

4) Supply chain resilience: Before the sale begins, enhance the resilience of your supply chain by diversifying suppliers and logistics partners. At the same time, develop contingency plans for supply chain disruptions and have backup suppliers in place.

5) Data analytics: By leveraging data analytics to gain insights into customer behavior, sales trends, and operational performance, you can make informed decisions and adjust your strategies in real time.

Final thoughts

Managing your warehouse operations efficiently during peak season sales should always be the first priority because it directly affects your business profitability. So, are you ready to elevate your warehouse management and thrive during peak sales seasons? Discover how Increff tech driven solutions can streamline inventory management, reduce costs, and boost customer satisfaction. 

Contact us today for a demo and take the first step towards peak season success.

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Warehouse Management

Why Does the Increff Digital Pigeonhole System Beat Put-To-Light Systems for E-commerce Operations

The technology you use in your warehouse for the entire picking and packing process is critical to how efficiently the different processes happen. This is especially true in the case of B2C orders, where meeting the marketplace SLAs is very critical, and the volumes are high, but the number of items per order is low as compared to B2B dispatches. 

In fact, generally, in e-commerce, around 70%-80% of orders received only have a single item. The complications increase further due to multiple e-commerce sales channels like Amazon, Flipkart & Myntra that a single warehouse might fulfill orders. 

From different types of packing materials, taping, invoices, shipping labels, and stickering to image capturing and QC processes, there are a lot of variables that apply to each order. When this is combined with a generic sorter and PTL (Put/-to-light) system, the operational efficiency and speed drastically fall. 

There are a lot of limitations that such a system has as compared to Increff pigeonhole, which makes the latter a much better choice for warehouses. Let’s take a look at them.

1) Throughput and scalability

Most light-directed systems can have only one person in a work zone at a time, which reduces potential throughput. In addition, since the lights are wired to the shelving location, it can be expensive and time-consuming to expand or modify a pick-to-light system.

Whereas for Increff digital pigeonhole works on concepts of zone aisle and serialization. So, multiple operations can simultaneously work on the pigeonhole at the same time.

Since there is no need for any integrated hardware, it’s as easy to scale up as to add new shelves and put barcodes on them. Suppose you need to downscale; that is also easy by just disabling the pigeonhole in the system.   

2) Maintenance and dependence on hardware 

A PTL system is highly dependent on hardware as it uses a physical light that a worker must find and press to do a put-to-light. These hardware lights require a lot of maintenance, and every item put in needs to be manually entered into the system. In case the warehouse is very large, the efficiency decreases further because multiple workers are required in different areas just to make sure when a light is turned on, it is visible to someone.

However, in the case of Increff Pigeonhole, everything is done digitally. The only requirement is to do stickering with a barcode. Once that is completed, the exact location is shown to the sorter where they need to collect their item. In the case of larger warehouses, the locations can also be divided into multiple layers like shelves, isles, and more.

3) Item count accuracy

In put-to-light systems, multiple lights turn on for consolidating one SKU in multiple orders, so there are high chances of operators making mistakes in putting the right number of items in the right order. 

Increff pigeonhole works on serialization. To keep any item in the pigeonhole, a serialized item code has to be scanned. This ensures that there aren’t any errors. 

4) Path optimization post consolidation 

In the case of large warehouses with thousands of square feet in space and 100+ pigeonholes, picking consolidated orders post-pigeonholing becomes a big deal.

If a worker has to pick items from 50 orders before bringing them back to the packing desk, just collecting them at random reduces their productivity, as it takes time to find where the next light is on, and then turning it off becomes difficult if there are 100 – 200 shelves. A PTL system is incapable of offering an optimized pick path route post consolidation because when 15 lights are on in different bins, and all of them are not even visible to a worker, they won’t know the best route to take. 

In Increff pigeonhole, once orders are consolidated, Increff shows a dashboard that tells operators which pigeonhole aisle has orders of what channels and SLA. Once an operator starts picking for consolidated orders, the Increff system automatically optimizes their pick path and gives guided picking. Increff pigeonhole also allows marketplace-wise order picking, which gives a very high rise in productivity if there are marketplace-wise packing stations. In traditional PTL systems, this kind of filtering is not possible.

Why do we even need a pigeonhole if 70% of orders are single pieces? 

Absolutely correct observation. Let’s go a step back from order consolidation and go to picking. In traditional WMS, which works on SKU bases and not on serialization, for example, if 100 items are picked for e-commerce, there is no good way to sort the 70 items that are for single-piece orders vs. 30 items that are for multi-piece orders. Hence, all have to be taken to the pigeonhole. 

Increff WMS works on serialization, and every item that is getting picked gets instantly mapped to an order. So, just by a single sorting scan, the 70 items for single pieces can be segregated from 30 items for multi-piece orders and even on channel level. These 70 items don’t need to go to pigeonhole and can be directly taken to packing stations of respective channels. 

This reduces the need for pigeonhole by a large factor and saves a lot of time as well by only doing consolidation where it’s required.

TLDR Increff Pigeonhole a must-have in your warehouses

  1. Increff pigeonhole acts as both a sorter and consolidator.
  2. A single pigeonhole can be used for multiple orders, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. In general, the first item of an order can go to any pigeonhole, and the second item onwards goes to the same one. 
  3. When there are multiple bins with fewer SKUs than the limit, they will be consolidated to empty more bins. Once this happens, the consolidated bin will be prioritized for picking.
  4. Fast-moving items like top-sellers will be kept in pigeonholes closer to the packing zones to fastrack picking and packing.
  5. In large warehouses, Pigeonholes can be categorized into shelves, isles, and zones for easy locating.
  6. For B2C orders with only one item, once the picker picks it, it will bypass the pigeonhole and go directly to the packing table.

Also Read: Top 5 KPIs That a CEO Must Be Tracking in the Warehouse

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Warehouse Management

The Frugal Warehouse: 5 Ways to Save Costs in Logistics

Warehouses play a vital role as the pivotal hubs where products await their journey to customers’ doorsteps. However, as indispensable as they are, warehouses can also become significant cost centers if not managed with precision and foresight. However, businesses often invest significantly in warehousing, either because of a lot of manual work contributing to labor costs or not implementing the right technology.

As efficiency and optimization reign supreme, the need to reduce warehousing costs while maintaining quality service has never been more critical. From managing inventory and process optimization to implementing automation and data-driven decision-making, in this blog, we will explore the different aspects of warehouse operations with a keen eye on how to save costs.

1) Investing in the right tech stack

Using the right technology can transform a warehouse into a cost-efficient, agile, and responsive operation by minimizing paper-based operations and reducing labor dependency. The overall impact can be as high as a 20-25% reduction in costs. This is possible due to the digitization of processes and the implementation of intelligent pick-paths increasing picking and packing efficiency.

Additionally, a capable WMS can also help in processing B2B and B2C orders from the same platform, thereby eliminating the need to juggle between different applications. This results in reduced training time and helps in getting new workers up to speed in a matter of hours. 

There are many other benefits of finding the right solution for your warehouse operations, like optimized space allocation, end-to-end inventory tracking, data analytics, and more.

Finally, you should choose a reliable solution that has historically proven to work well without any bugs that could affect the warehouse operations. Customer care should also be exceptional because the operations team is bound to need some support, especially when starting out. All of these factors contribute to better operations and save warehouse costs.

2) Streamlining inventory management for enhanced efficiency

Effective Inventory Management is mission-critical for businesses. It can help minimize carrying costs, reduce stockouts and overstocking, optimize storage space, and improve overall warehouse operations. This can be made possible by gaining real-time visibility into inventory levels, locations, and movements. It also allows managers and workers to quickly identify where specific items are located within the warehouse.

With the right system in place, there will be no need for cycle counting for regular inventory. This ensures that inventory accuracy is maintained without requiring extensive, time-consuming annual physical counts. Businesses can also implement models like just-in-time (JIT), which allows them to get inventory just in the nick of time. This means they can save on tons of excess storage costs and free up tied-up capital. 

3) Accurate demand forecasting and resource allocation

Precise demand forecasting and resource allocation are fundamental to efficient warehousing practices. They help minimize the inefficiencies and costs associated with excess inventory, stockouts, labor misallocation, and other factors that can drive up warehousing costs.

Reliable demand forecasts enable you to anticipate an increase or decrease in demand and manage stock levels accordingly. This means you won’t lose out on sales opportunities when the demand is high and won’t end up overstocking in the opposite scenario. 

Demand forecasting also helps in understanding your future needs. It helps in building better relationships with your suppliers and gives you an upper hand when negotiating costs and delivery times. This allows you to allocate capital more efficiently getting better ROI.

4) Retaining employees and building morale

The warehousing industry has among the highest turnover rates among all at 37%, which is 10 times higher than the average of 3.6%. This calls for a fool-proof system that prevents errors, ensuring newly hired employees are not affecting business. However, the primary focus should be to retain old employees and build strong relationships with workers. 

A motivated and stable workforce tends to be more productive, efficient and committed to maintaining a well-organized and safe warehouse. It also reduces costs as for every new employee, there is an advertising, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding cost alongside the training they need to go through, which also requires a lot of time.

From an overall operations perspective, older employees also tend to be more productive and make fewer errors, resulting in fewer returns, rework, and customer complaints. Combined with a highly motivated workforce, all of these reduce the labor costs significantly for a warehouse.

5) Adapting a strategic approach to risk management

By proactively identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks, warehouses can operate more efficiently and cost-effectively by minimizing unexpected disruptions and losses. Being proactive is important because the damage will already be done if a business is reactive. So, investing in measures and strategies to prevent inventory loss or damage is critical.

For example, businesses also need to ensure that the system they implement is stable and doesn’t have any bugs that can affect the operations or risk system data.

There are many other aspects to risk management, like having multiple vendors to prevent supplier risk, safety management so that warehouses are compliant with laws and regulations, and much more. However, the most important aspect would be to manage the workforce efficiently to reduce turnovers and absenteeism, as they are the core of operations.

Final thoughts

If your business hasn’t yet started implementing these measures, it’s high time to get started. By adopting a holistic approach that encompasses all the above points, you can significantly bring down your operational cost while improving efficiency and customer experience. Connect with our experts today to explore how Increff WMS can help you achieve your warehousing goals.

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Warehouse Management

Top 5 KPIs That a CEO Must Be Tracking in the Warehouse

Utilizing and monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential operational metrics that reflect warehouse performance and present a strategic approach to identify issues and capitalize on opportunities for enhancing efficiency and expediting order fulfillment with precision.

For instance, establishing a target to enhance picking and packing accuracy allows for adjustments to the picking processes. The subsequent measurement of these changes enables a data-driven assessment of their effectiveness in attaining the set objective. By employing this systematic approach, businesses can drive continuous improvement, ensuring smoother operations and an elevated ability to meet customer demands promptly and accurately.

As a CEO overseeing warehousing operations, there are several key metrics and aspects you should be tracking to ensure efficient and effective performance. These top 5 warehouse KPIs will help you monitor your warehousing operations’ health and identify improvement areas.

1) Number of daily dispatches

The number of daily dispatches serves as a vital performance metric for a CEO overseeing a warehouse. It provides valuable insights into operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall business success. As the primary metric for measuring operational efficiency, the number of daily dispatches helps the CEO understand how well the warehouse is performing in meeting customer demands.

The number of daily dispatches has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Customers expect timely deliveries, and a higher number of daily dispatches implies faster order processing and shipping times. Satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat buyers and advocates for the company, contributing to long-term business growth.

2) Rate of returns and cancellation

High return rates can be indicative of underlying issues that demand immediate attention and resolution. As returns incur additional costs for the company, including transportation, inspection, restocking, and potential refurbishment or disposal of damaged items, the CEO needs to closely monitor this metric to minimize financial losses and maximize profitability.

Performing a root cause analysis of returns can reveal valuable information about customer preferences and pain points. By analyzing return reasons, the CEO gains a deeper understanding of why customers are dissatisfied or encountering issues with certain products. This knowledge can guide product improvements, inform marketing strategies, and even lead to the introduction of new, more desirable products. Addressing these root causes proactively can help enhance customer satisfaction and create a competitive advantage in the market.

3) Percentage of not found

The percentage of “not found” refers to the proportion of customer orders that cannot be fulfilled because the items in the warehouse are lost. One of the most apparent consequences of not found is lost revenue. When customers come to make a purchase but find the desired items are not available, they may abandon the purchase altogether or delay it, resulting in a direct loss of sales. For the CEO, this translates to missed revenue targets and decreased profitability.

It also points to lost items or theft, which can be an alarming concern. Stolen inventory or equipment directly affects the bottom line, reducing profitability and hindering business growth. These losses can be especially concerning if they go undetected for an extended period, exacerbating the financial impact.

Warehouse staff may spend valuable time dealing with the aftermath of theft, such as filing reports, cooperating with investigations, and implementing security measures. This diverts their attention from core warehouse tasks, leading to decreased productivity and efficiency.

4) Rate of QC fail items

It is the proportion of items that do not meet the quality control (QC) standards in a given batch or production run, expressed as a percentage of the total number of items inspected. In various industries and manufacturing processes, quality control is crucial to ensure that products meet predetermined specifications, performance standards, and safety requirements.

A high percentage of QC fail items can result in multiple problems that a business must address as soon as possible. By having checkpoints in quality control, businesses can pinpoint the problem, be it at the vendor end, raw material suppliers, or shipping.

Monitoring this metric over time also helps in implementing corrective actions and process improvements to reduce the number of failed items, leading to better overall product quality. At the same time, business leaders can ensure that the cost of production is kept to the minimum and customer expectations are met.

5) Picking/packing efficiency

Picking and packing efficiency refers to the effectiveness and speed at which items are selected from a warehouse inventory for customer orders, manufacturing, or distribution purposes. It measures how well a warehouse can fulfill orders accurately and quickly. Warehouse leaders must track picking efficiency to minimize travel time and maximize efficiency during order picking.

Tracking efficiency also helps warehouse leaders allocate their resources, such as labor and equipment, more effectively. This results in fewer man-hours required to fulfill orders and can reduce overtime costs and potentially downsize the workforce during periods of low demand.

Another major advantage of taking this KPI seriously is the ability to optimize organizing the warehouse layout for high accessibility and minimal travel time between picking locations. It helps identify opportunities for layout improvements and better space utilization.

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Warehouse Management

Top 5 Warehouse Management Systems in India for Optimizing Your Supply Chain Efficiency

Have you ever contemplated the intricacy involved in operating a selling platform like Amazon, Flipkart, or eBay? The immense challenge lies in managing billions of products, catering to millions of buyers, and handling a vast array of warehouses, employees, and machines. Due to this monumental scale, manual management of these processes becomes exceedingly arduous. This is precisely where a Warehouse Management System (WMS) can make a significant impact by enhancing efficiency and reducing errors.

However, with numerous options available, choosing the right one for your business can be challenging. In this blog, we will compare five leading WMS solutions: Increff, Infor, SAP, Unicommerce and Vinculum (in alphabetical order). By evaluating their key features, and benefits you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business requirements.

Key features of an Ideal WMS System

An ideal Warehouse Management System possesses several key features that contribute to its effectiveness and efficiency. Here are some essential features that make a WMS ideal:

  • Inventory Management: Comprehensive inventory control, real-time tracking, accurate stock levels, and visibility across multiple warehouses or locations. It should enable efficient order fulfillment and prevent stock outs or overstock situations.
  • Order Processing and Fulfillment: Streamlined order processing and fulfillment workflows, automating tasks such as order allocation, picking, packing, and shipping.
  • Integration Capabilities: Seamless integration with various systems and platforms including e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, shipping carriers, and other essential software solutions to exchange data and streamline operations.
  • Real-time Visibility and Reporting: Immediate access to inventory levels, order status, and performance metrics.
  • Warehouse Optimization: Features for layout optimization, slotting, and picking strategies.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Ability to accommodate growth and adapt to changing business requirements.
  • Mobile Functionality: Mobile apps or responsive interfaces for improved efficiency.  Mobile apps or responsive interfaces enable warehouse staff to perform tasks, such as receiving, picking, and inventory updates, using handheld devices, improving productivity and accuracy.
  • Integration with Automation Technologies: Support for robotics, conveyor systems, and barcode scanners.
  • Exception Handling and Alerts: Mechanisms to detect and address issues, with proactive notifications.
  • User-friendly Interface: Intuitive and easy-to-navigate interface, requiring minimal training.

Top 5 Warehouse Management Solutions in India

Increff

Increff WMS is a cloud-based solution specifically created for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands, retailers, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to ensure precise inventory management, error-free operations, efficient multitasking through inventory serialization and rapid employee training. Increff is an effective web-based software for multi-channel order fulfillment and warehouse management. Its WMS solutions offer a comprehensive overview of inventory across all marketplaces and enable seamless order management. Increff provides the following services:

  • Manpower management
  • Simplified operations
  • Designed for scalability
  • Complete tracking with 100% scan-based system and integration of unpaid principal balance
  • Integration with multiple systems
  • Streamlined end-to-end operations through a single interface
  • Remote deployment of warehouse management system in under 7 days.

Key features:

  • Intelligent Inventory Management: Utilizes advanced algorithms and real-time data for accurate inventory visibility, batch tracking, and automated stock replenishment.
  • Robust Order Processing: Automates order workflows, including allocation, backorder management, and optimized pick list generation, reducing errors and ensuring prompt fulfillment.
  • Warehouse Optimization: Implements intelligent storage allocation, optimized picking paths, and efficient put-away strategies to minimize travel time and enhance resource utilization.
  • Seamless Integration: Integrates with ERP, CRM, and e-commerce platforms for smooth data flow and real-time updates, eliminating data silos and enabling end-to-end visibility.
  • Data Analytics and Reporting: Provides customizable reports and actionable insights into warehouse performance, order accuracy, and inventory turnover, facilitating data-driven decision-making.

Pros:

  • Ability to reveal the final component of an SKU and meet the demand for it.
  • Complete tracking of even rejected items for full transparency.
  • Individual-level measurement of performance, including speed, productivity, and error rates.
  • Elimination of the need for cycle counts.
  • Addresses labor hiring challenges – requires basic literacy skills to operate.
  • Resolves attrition concerns – only 5 minutes of training per screen.
  • Real-time synchronization of inventory and orders, with enhanced integration across online platforms to resolve order excess problems.
  • Enables the generation of any type of report or Management Information System (MIS) without the need for software coding, as data is captured at a highly detailed level.

Infor® WMS

Infor offers its flagship Warehouse Management Solution, known as Infor® WMS. This system enables businesses to achieve agile fulfillment by combining advanced warehousing capabilities, customizable rules, integrated labor, task, and inventory management, as well as 3D visualization in a single user-friendly solution. This unified approach allows businesses to comprehensively evaluate their requirements, incorporate value-added services, prioritize tasks, and eliminate bottlenecks. By doing so, Infor facilitates the attainment of perfect order fulfillment while enhancing throughput and reducing costs.

Key features

  • Receiving & Put-Away: Streamline scheduling, inspections, put-away, returns, cross-docking, and flow-through. Configure locations dynamically. Support voice and RF activities, as well as mixed, rainbow, and multi-pallet operations.
  • Inventory Management: Optimize fulfillment in multi-site and multi-owner operations. Reduce obsolescence with rotation rules and LPN-controlled tracking. Enhance visibility down to bin location level. Conduct real-time, system-driven cycle counting.
  • Picking & Replenishment: Support order, cluster, and consolidation picking, as well as dynamic replenishment. Incorporate voice, RF, ecommerce, kitting, and allocation requirements. Improve stock rotation and space utilization with automated triggers.
  • Wave & Task Management: Prioritize and interleave tasks for B2B and B2C fulfillment. Use configurable rules to optimize cycle times, balance workloads, and build shipments. View outstanding work with flexible graphic queries.
  • Labor Management: Measure, assess, and view DC activities to increase operational efficiency. Identify bottlenecks and balance resources related to inventory, location, workflow, labor, or equipment. Utilize engineered labor standards and real-time performance metrics to inform scenario analyses.
  • 3D Visual Warehouse: Visualize DC activity using an embedded, interactive interface. Infor WMS system serves as a virtual decision hub, allowing users to ‘see’ workflow, bottlenecks, and at-risk inventory. Seamlessly initiate corrective action to alleviate delays and increase productivity.

Pros

  • Advanced inventory management
  • Real-time visibility into warehouse operations
  • Process automation for increased efficiency
  • Labor management for optimized workforce productivity
  • Integration capabilities with other enterprise systems
  • Scalability and flexibility to adapt to changing needs
  • Built-in analytics and reporting for data-driven insights
  • Mobile functionality for improved mobility and efficiency

SAP

SAP offers a versatile warehouse management software (WMS) that enables sellers to efficiently handle a large quantity of goods while conducting agile operations through streamlined and accelerated warehouse processes. Its key features are:

  • Flexible Deployment Options: SAP provides both on-premise and cloud-based deployments, allowing sellers to choose the most suitable option for their specific needs and infrastructure.
  • Comprehensive WMS Solutions: The software offers a comprehensive set of warehouse management solutions, encompassing various aspects such as inventory control, order fulfillment, and warehouse optimization.
  • Integration with Quality, Production, and Track-to-Trace Processes: SAP’s WMS software seamlessly integrates with quality management, production management, and track-to-trace processes. This integration ensures a holistic approach to warehouse operations and enables end-to-end visibility and control over the entire supply chain.
  • Real-time Control of Warehouse Automation Equipment: The software enables real-time monitoring and control of warehouse automation equipment, such as automated picking systems, conveyors, and robotics. This feature enhances operational efficiency and accuracy while reducing manual labor requirements.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive functionality
  • Integration capabilities with other SAP modules
  • Scalability for handling high volumes of goods
  • Real-time visibility into warehouse operations
  • Support for warehouse automation

Unicommerce

Unicommerce WMS software solution is a powerful tool for e-commerce businesses, streamlining warehouse operations with features like inventory management, order processing, integration, and analytics. Unicommerce’s advanced WMS software recognizes the dynamism necessary in a warehouse solution, whereas conventional warehouse management software merely handles the stock location and stock level of commodities in a warehouse. Unicommerce helps you:

  • Centralize the critical functions that are required in omnichannel retail situations
  • Maintain healthy stock levels and ensures location-allocation in numerous warehouse sites
  • Manage 6000+ warehouses
  • Automate purchase management while tracking and routing shipments.

Key Features:

  • Inventory Management: Real-time visibility into inventory levels, multi-warehouse tracking, stock transfers, and automated reconciliation.
  • Order Management: Centralized order processing, order tracking, order splitting, and bulk order processing for multiple sales channels.
  • Warehouse Operations: Wave picking, batch processing, automated task allocation, and efficient pick, pack, and ship processes.
  • Returns Management: Track return orders, automate inspection and re-stocking processes, and facilitate refunds or replacements.
  • Integration and Compatibility: Seamless integration with sales channels, marketplaces, and ERP systems for data synchronization and eliminating manual data entry.

Pros:

  • Streamlined operations
  • Multi-channel support
  • Scalability
  • Built-in analytics

Vin eRetail WMS (Vinculum)

Vin eRetail WMS (Vinculum) is a cloud-based system that assists businesses in effectively handling their inventory, order fulfillment, and logistics. It offers real-time oversight and control over warehouse operations, boosting overall efficiency and customer satisfaction. The solution simplifies catalog management for multiple marketplaces by providing tailored import templates. It ensures precise inventory tracking, batch management, virtual bundling, and efficient logistics with shipping rules and guidelines. Additionally, it seamlessly integrates with ZPL/EPL-supported printers, eliminating the need for external printing platforms. By employing batch and wave picking methods, it improves inventory accuracy, productivity, process efficiency, and space utilization.

It provides the following services:

  • Specific templates tailored to each category for consolidating all product-related information onto a single platform
  • Intuitive interface allowing users to easily access and review item details and select desired marketplaces for listing
  • Creation of marketplace-specific upload templates for streamlined preparation
  • Cloud storage for maintaining and managing master data
  • Real-time payment and inventory reconciliation with seven available options
  • Sales analytics dashboard for monitoring performance
  • Monthly business analysis report for comprehensive insights

Key Features

  • Inventory Management: Vin eRetail WMS solution simplifies inventory control by tracking stock levels, monitoring product movement, and automating replenishment. It provides accurate inventory information for multiple warehouses and sales channels, ensuring better control and minimizing stockouts or overstocks.
  • Order Fulfillment: The system automates order picking, packing, and shipping, streamlining the fulfillment process. It optimizes order routing, assigns tasks to warehouse staff, and provides real-time updates, improving order accuracy and reducing fulfillment time.
  • Warehouse Optimization: Vin eRetail WMS system optimizes warehouse layout and resource utilization. With features like bin mapping, put-away strategies, and picking algorithms, it minimizes travel time and maximizes productivity. It supports advanced order picking methods such as batch picking and wave picking.
  • Integration and Scalability: The WMS seamlessly integrates with e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, and shipping carriers, facilitating smooth data flow and automated processes. It supports scalability, enabling businesses to handle increased order volumes and expand operations without disruptions.

Pros:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Enhanced visibility
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Scalable and flexible

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the choice of a warehouse management system depends on your business needs, size, industry, and budget. It is essential to thoroughly evaluate and prioritize the features and capabilities that align with your specific requirements.

By implementing an efficient WMS, businesses in India can optimize their supply chain operations, reduce costs, enhance customer satisfaction, and gain a competitive edge in the market. The top five systems highlighted in this blog provide excellent options for companies seeking to improve their warehouse management and drive overall supply chain efficiency.

Remember, investing in the right WMS is an investment in the future success of your business, so choose wisely and embark on the journey toward an optimized supply chain.

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Warehouse Management

5 B2B Order Management Essential Capabilities You Can’t Ignore

Gone are the days when B2B customers were content with a lackluster experience. The tide has turned, and B2B buyers now crave the same level of satisfaction they receive as consumers. Surprisingly, the B2B Future Shopper Report 2023 reveals that a staggering 46% of B2B buyers feel frustrated with their online purchasing encounters. What’s more alarming is that 40% of global B2B buyers have ditched their suppliers in the past year alone. It’s evident that the world of B2B commerce is evolving rapidly, with B2B e-commerce projected to skyrocket to a whopping $3 trillion by 2027.

In this transformative landscape, traditional methods just won’t cut it. Manual processing, spreadsheets, and outdated legacy applications or ERPs designed for back-office tasks can no longer meet the demands of B2B order management. To succeed, companies must embrace a new approach—one that encompasses flexibility, agility, scalability, customization, intelligent decision-making, real-time inventory visibility, and customer-centric capabilities.

For B2B organizations, it’s high time to reevaluate their approach to order management. In this blog, we will explore five essential order management capabilities that no B2B supply chain can afford to overlook.

5 key features a B2B Order Management Solution

Real-time Inventory Visibility

A comprehensive order management system should provide real-time visibility into inventory levels across multiple locations and channels. This capability ensures timely restocking, prevents stockouts, and avoids overstocks. By implementing centralized inventory management, businesses gain a unified view of their inventory, allowing quick assessment of stock levels, monitoring replenishment needs, and tracking product movement. Enhanced visibility enables proactive inventory management, minimizing stockouts and overstocks. Real-time updates ensure accurate inventory counts, enabling reliable information for selling systems. Balancing customer satisfaction and cost control ensures the availability of the right products when customers need them.

Real-time Order Tracking

Real-time order tracking is a fundamental capability in B2B order management, delivering transformative benefits. It provides visibility and transparency throughout order fulfillment, reshaping business operations and customer interactions. With real-time order tracking, businesses boost customer satisfaction, proactively resolve issues, ensure timely delivery, optimize operations, and improve communication.

  • Customer Satisfaction: Real-time order tracking provides B2B customers with visibility and transparency, leading to increased satisfaction and confidence in the buying process.
  • Proactive Issue Resolution: Businesses can quickly identify and address any potential issues or delays in order fulfillment, allowing for proactive communication and problem-solving to maintain a smooth customer experience.
  • On-time Delivery: Real-time order tracking enables businesses to closely monitor orders, ensuring timely delivery and meeting the strict timelines and dependencies of B2B customers.
  • Operational Efficiency: Access to real-time tracking data allows businesses to analyze their order fulfillment processes, identify areas for improvement, streamline workflows, and optimize resource allocation, leading to improved operational efficiency.
  • Effective Customer Communication: Real-time order tracking facilitates accurate and timely updates to customers regarding order status, shipping information, and estimated delivery times, enhancing transparency and minimizing customer inquiries.

Unit of Measure (UOM)

This is a crucial aspect of inventory management in a B2B OMS because it enables efficient shipping of inventory in bulk and facilitates seamless stock transfers. Here are several reasons why UOM is important in this context:

  • Bulk Shipping: Many B2B transactions involve large quantities of products being shipped from one business to another. The UOM allows for standardization and consolidation of inventory units, enabling efficient packaging, handling, and shipping of goods in bulk. Instead of shipping individual items, which can be time-consuming and costly, businesses can optimize logistics by grouping items into larger units of measure (e.g., pallets, cases, or cartons).
  • Accuracy in Stock Transfers: When businesses transfer inventory between different locations or warehouses, having a consistent UOM ensures accurate and seamless stock management. Each location can have its own preferred UOM for receiving and tracking inventory, ensuring compatibility and minimizing errors during transfers. It simplifies inventory reconciliation and reduces the risk of discrepancies or misunderstandings between the transferring parties.
  • Inventory Control and Replenishment: Effective inventory management relies on accurate tracking and control of stock levels. UOM helps businesses accurately measure and monitor inventory quantities, facilitating timely replenishment and preventing stockouts or excess inventory. By setting reorder points and utilizing UOM-based inventory control methods, businesses can optimize their supply chain, improve customer service, and reduce carrying costs.

Integration with Partners and Suppliers

B2B supply chains require seamless integration with partners and suppliers for effective collaboration. An ideal order management system supports standardized communication protocols like EDI and APIs, enabling real-time data exchange. Integration enhances supply chain visibility, optimizes demand forecasting, and reduces lead times, enabling businesses to respond swiftly and improve performance.

Managing partner codes for B2B marketplaces and ERPs is crucial for seamless integration. These codes serve as unique identifiers, allowing accurate tracking and differentiation. By assigning partner codes, the system efficiently manages orders, inventory, and data associated with each partner. Mapping these codes to external systems establishes a reliable connection.

Partner codes streamline order processing and fulfillment by quickly identifying associated partners. This enables efficient order routing and accurate inventory allocation. Automatic application of pricing and contract terms based on partner codes ensures consistency and reduces errors.

Pool-Based Inventory Exposure and Allocation

In a B2B Order Management System (OMS), the use of pool-based inventory exposure and allocation brings numerous benefits, that include

  • Optimized Inventory Management: Pool-based inventory exposure ensures efficient allocation of inventory across B2B sales channels, preventing overstocking and stockouts while maximizing utilization and reducing carrying costs.
  • Fulfillment Flexibility: Reserving inventory specifically for B2B sales channels guarantees availability for fulfilling B2B orders, meeting the unique needs and preferences of B2B customers, such as larger quantities or specialized products.
  • Improved Order Accuracy and Efficiency: Pool-based inventory allocation streamlines order processing, reduces errors, and minimizes overselling by providing accurate inventory tracking and dedicated allocation for B2B sales channels.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: B2B customers benefit from improved product availability and reliable order fulfillment, leading to higher satisfaction, stronger relationships, and repeat business.
  • Scalability and Growth: Pool-based inventory management supports business scalability and growth by efficiently allocating inventory across multiple channels as B2B operations expand, avoiding bottlenecks and optimizing operations.

By investing in a good OMS that offers these capabilities, B2Bs can improve their order management processes, increase customer satisfaction, and boost their bottom line. But, it is important to note that regardless of whether the business operates in a B2B or B2C environment, there are several key features that a good Order Management System (OMS) should possess. These features not only enhance operational efficiency but also contribute to the overall success of the business. Some of these essential capabilities include:

Routing and Splitting: A robust OMS should have the ability to intelligently route orders to the most suitable fulfillment centers or distribution channels. It should also support order splitting, allowing the system to divide orders with multiple items and fulfill them from different locations if necessary.

Omnichannel Order Handling: With the rise of multichannel selling, an OMS should be capable of seamlessly managing orders from various sales channels, such as online stores, marketplaces, and brick-and-mortar locations. This ensures a consistent and unified customer experience across all touchpoints.

Returns and Exchanges Management: Handling returns and exchanges can be a complex process, but a good OMS should have built-in capabilities to efficiently manage these scenarios. It should provide easy return initiation, automated refund or exchange processes, and real-time visibility into return statuses.

Fast Inventory Synchronization: Timely and accurate inventory updates are crucial to prevent overselling and stockouts. A reliable OMS should offer real-time inventory synchronization, ensuring that inventory levels are accurately reflected across all sales channels and preventing discrepancies.

Seamless Integration: A robust OMS seamlessly integrates with e-commerce platforms, webshops, and multiple WMS. This enables smooth syncing of product information, order details, and customer data, ensuring effective order management. Integration with various WMS platforms optimizes inventory management, order routing, and fulfillment across multiple locations, enhancing operational efficiency.

Store Fulfillment Options: In an omnichannel environment, where businesses may have physical retail stores alongside their online presence, an OMS should facilitate store fulfillment options. This allows customers to place orders for in-store pickup or ship-from-store, providing greater convenience and flexibility.

By incorporating these key features into their OMS, businesses can establish a strong foundation for effective order management, regardless of whether they operate in a B2B or B2C setting. These capabilities empower businesses to streamline their operations, enhance customer satisfaction, and ultimately drive growth and success in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

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Smart Merchandising Warehouse Management

How to sell effectively on online marketplaces?

Success in the fast-paced world of diverse marketplaces hinges on selling efficiently. As an e-commerce seller, you face a daunting challenge: standing out in a crowded digital marketplace while streamlining your operations to meet customer demands swiftly. To navigate this intricate landscape, you need the right tools and strategies to optimize your selling process and stay one step ahead of the competition.

Recent statistics demonstrate the undeniable impact of marketplaces in the retail industry. An eMarketer’s Worldwide eCommerce Forecast report indicates that 2023 e-commerce sales will contribute 20.8% of the total retail sales at $6.31 trillion. With millions of potential customers just a click away, it’s clear that embracing marketplaces is essential for businesses seeking exponential growth.

In the words of retail magnate Jeff Bezos, “Obsess over customers: when given a choice  between obsessing over competitors or customers, always obsess over customers.” These words underline the central pillar of successful marketplace selling – prioritizing the needs and expectations of your target audience. 

However, achieving this customer-centricity requires a robust infrastructure seamlessly integrating inventory management, order processing, and fulfillment. By harnessing the power of technology, businesses can supercharge their selling capabilities, enhance operational efficiency, and elevate customer satisfaction to new heights.

This blog will delve into the fundamental strategies and best practices that will empower you to sell efficiently in marketplaces. 

Understanding the online marketplace landscape

E-commerce has transformed the way businesses and customers interact. While earlier, you would go to your favorite shop and restaurant if you wanted to buy some clothes or have food, things have changed now. 

With internet access and countless online platforms, it has become easier to compare multiple options and choose the best. This poses a very fundamental challenge to businesses in offering customer service, product availability, pricing, and more.

But the online landscape also gives businesses a serious advantage. It is the access to a vast customer base, allowing them to tap into a global audience that would otherwise be challenging to reach. 

Moreover, marketplaces provide a tremendous advantage in terms of built-in traffic. With millions of potential buyers browsing marketplace platforms daily, sellers can capitalize on the high visibility and exposure, significantly reducing the need for extensive marketing efforts and customer acquisition strategies. The changing dynamics between customers and businesses mean companies must adapt and change their strategies to sell efficiently on these online platforms.

Strategies for efficient selling in Marketplaces

How to sell effectively on online marketplaces?

The online marketplace landscape is a dynamic and ever-evolving ecosystem that presents many challenges and immense opportunities for sellers. To stay relevant in the market, businesses need to rethink their strategies and stay updated with the latest trends in the e-commerce landscape.

1) Branding

Building a strong brand presence instills trust and credibility among online shoppers. A well-defined and consistent brand image sets you apart from the competition in a marketplace environment where multiple sellers offer similar products. Customers are more likely to choose a brand they recognize and trust, which can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.

A survey conducted by Salsify in the United States suggests that 43% of consumers are willing to pay extra for the brand they trust. This highlights how important branding is to sell in online marketplaces. As a brand, you must also revamp stories about your classic core products, which you end up reordering from time to time.

Effective branding helps you create a unique identity that resonates with your target audience. A strong brand can also evoke emotions, forge deep connections with customers, and shape their perceptions of your products. 

All in all, branding is a really powerful tool for selling effectively in online marketplaces. By establishing trust, creating a differentiated identity, building emotional connections, and leveraging brand advocacy, you can increase your visibility, attract loyal customers, and drive sales in the competitive marketplace.

2) Inventory optimization 

Optimizing your inventory is crucial for ensuring efficiency in managing online sales in marketplaces. Now there are a lot of aspects to this. Firstly, brands must expose 100% of their inventory on all marketplaces instead of segregating stocks for different sales channels. It will ensure that no matter which platform a customer finds you on, they can access all your stock. This can increase sales by 2 to 3 times.

Brands must also strive to understand style performance. As an online brand always searching to satiate newness in your customers, you might end up buying huge depths in quantities for new styles, which will later end up in landfills. The correct way here will be to launch new designs in small Minimum order quantities/MOQs and check the style performance day to day over a short time. Assessing the Rate of sale (ROS) then and the inventory left in the warehouse, the brand can then take a call on whether to order the style in a large quantity. 

However, the most important aspect of inventory management would be real-time visibility of all your stock, preventing overstocking and stock-outs. It helps track product movement and will allow you to make informed decisions regarding the replenishment or discontinuation of products. A study by Zepra shows that reducing stock-outs and overstocks can lower inventory costs by 10%. 

Real-time inventory visibility also prevents discrepancies, improves operational efficiency, and ensures high order fulfillment . This improves customer satisfaction and loyalty which will benefit your online marketplace ranking in the long run. 

3) Work with data

Data plays a vital role in selling over online marketplaces by providing valuable insights and enabling data-driven decision-making. By analyzing customer data, including demographics, purchase history, preferences, and browsing behavior, sellers can identify trends, patterns, and buyer personas. It can also provide valuable insights into market trends, competitor performance, and customer demand. 

However, with the increase in sales comes the problem of making the in-season decisions of what to put a style on an offer, discontinue it, market aggressively, or re-order it. These decisions are crucial since they directly impact each sales partner’s revenue uplifts and margins.

For this, Increff has built the MS Analytics module to help brands take intelligent actions for each style for every sales partner by recommending data-backed actions at a very granular level. It analyzes the sales KPIs (quantity sold) and the online metrics (page views) data for a particular period and recommends actions like Re-ordering, Marketing, Liquidating & Killing against each style code for every sales partner.

According to Mckinsey Global Institute, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable! This approach helps businesses make data-backed decisions, optimize product listings, refine marketing strategies, and allocate resources effectively.

4) Store fulfillment 

Store fulfillment can enhance online selling by leveraging physical retail locations to fulfill online orders efficiently. It enables faster delivery to customers because online orders can be fulfilled from stores instead of warehouses which are generally located much farther away. This increases customer satisfaction and improves the overall shopping experience, giving sellers a competitive advantage in the online marketplace.

Fulfilling orders from stores also allows sellers to leverage the inventory available in their retail shops to fulfill online orders. This ensures that customers can access a wider range of products, including those that may be out of stock in centralized warehouses. By tapping into local store inventory, sellers can provide a seamless shopping experience, reducing the risk of lost sales due to stockouts and increasing customer loyalty.

With store fulfillment, businesses can also implement the BOPIS (Buy-online pick in-store) model, which combines the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of brick-and-mortar stores. Data from FitSmallBusiness suggests that the BOPIS industry is going to grow at 19.7% annually, reaching $703.2 billion by 2027.

It allows customers to browse, buy online, and then pick up their purchases in-store. It is a great way to sell for businesses as it increases the footfall in the stores, leading to more impulse buying.

Conclusion

Marketplaces have revolutionized the retail landscape by providing a platform that connects buyers and sellers on an unprecedented scale. So, it is clear that if businesses want to unlock their full potential, they need to do so by growing online sales. The easiest way to do so is by managing inventory efficiently and fulfilling orders quickly and reliably. 

Brands must also stay on top of offering exceptional customer experience as they can be easily replaced in the e-commerce landscape if they don’t. Customer service expert Shep Hyken says in her Forbes article that 58% of customers are even willing to pay extra for better service.

And ultimately, staying in touch with the latest market trends and incorporating them into the business’s marketplace strategy is paramount for selling online.

Categories
Warehouse Management

​​BOPIS, ROPIS, and BORIS: Solving the pieces of the Omni Puzzle

In an era characterized by the increasing dominance of digital platforms, retail strategies have taken on new dimensions to meet evolving customer expectations. One of these is the rise of omnichannel retailing strategies, such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store), ROPIS (Reserve Online, Pickup in Store), and BORIS (Buy Online, Return in Store). These strategies are revolutionizing the way retailers operate, and consumers shop.

BOPIS combines the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of brick-and-mortar stores, allowing customers to browse and buy online and then pick up their purchases in-store. Customers choose this when they are sure about the product they are buying.

ROPIS, on the other hand, provides the opportunity for customers to reserve their desired item online before heading to the store to finalize their purchase. This means the final decision of whether to buy the item or not happens in the store after trying or checking out the product.

Lastly, BORIS offers customers the option to return online purchases in-store, providing a quicker and more convenient way to process refunds or exchanges.

In this blog, we will explore these strategies in detail, delving into their importance and implementation in the fashion industry and how retailers can navigate the ‘omni puzzle’ by leveraging these models. 

BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store)

BOPIS is a retail strategy that fuses the convenience of e-commerce with the immediacy of traditional shopping. In the realm of fashion retail, BOPIS allows customers to browse collections, make selections, and purchase items through an online platform. Once the online transaction is complete, customers can collect their purchases from a physical store at their convenience.

This omnichannel approach offers a swift shopping experience enabling consumers to shop at their leisure from anywhere, avoiding the hassle of in-store searching or waiting for a delivery. While from a business perspective, it eliminates the shipping cost, the benefit of which is also passed to the end consumer.

The BOPIS model also enables cross-selling as it increases the footfall in the stores which leads to more impulse buying. At the same time, it reduces returns because the customers come in to pick up the product, so if it doesn’t meet their expectations, they can immediately return it, which cuts down logistics and operational costs.

Data from FitSmallBusiness suggests that the BOPIS industry is going to grow at 19.7% annually, reaching $703.2 billion by 2027.

BOPIS is often confused with BOSS (Buy online, ship-to-store), which is technically a part of BOPIS. It involves the customer purchasing online and picking up their items from the store. However, in BOSS, the purchased items are out of stock and are shipped from the warehouse to the store after the customer completes the purchase.

Overall, both these models are game changer for retail businesses as it benefits both ends of the transaction. For businesses, it increases profitability, while for customers, it is convenient and enhances satisfaction.

Luxury department store chain Nordstrom, successfully implements BOPIS model

One of the early adopters of the BOPIS model was Nordstrom, an American luxury department store chain. The company promised that customers who order online can pick up their items in-store on the same day, often within just one hour of placing the order. For even greater convenience, they offer curbside pick-up, allowing customers to stay in their vehicles while a Nordstrom employee brings their purchase to them. 

Nordstrom’s successful BOPIS implementation extends beyond just the customer-facing elements. They’ve also invested heavily in their inventory management systems to provide real-time inventory visibility across all their locations. This ensures that online customers always have an accurate view of what’s available, and store associates can quickly locate and prepare items for in-store pickup.

The result of this successful BOPIS implementation is reflected in their sales figures. The company has reported that customers who use the BOPIS service spend more and make more frequent purchases compared to other customers.

ROPIS (Reserve Online, Pick Up In-Store)

ROPIS allows customers to reserve items online before going to a physical store to finalize their purchase. It enables customers to browse and select items online from a brand’s entire catalog and ensure their chosen pieces will be waiting for them at the store. 

This model gives customers the security and flexibility of online shopping and the instant gratification of walking out of a store with their purchase. Like BOPIS, ROPIS also leads to more in-store walk-ins, allowing brands to cross-sell products and increase their overall sales. It also eliminates delivery costs, saving brands a significant amount of money.

Another major advantage of ROPIS is that customers can try on clothes before purchasing them. Since there is no guesswork associated with sizing or the feel of fabrics, it leads to higher customer satisfaction and reduces return rates. It also makes it possible for brands to offer customers a more personalized shopping experience by preparing for their arrival in advance.

Global fast-fashion brand, Zara, introduces ROPIS service to customers

Recognizing the potential of blending the digital and physical shopping experience, Zara introduced its Reserve Online, Pick up In-Store service to customers. One distinctive feature of their ROPIS model is the quick turnaround time. In many cases, reserved items can be available for pick-up in-store within a few hours of the online reservation. This is possible due to Zara’s robust and responsive inventory management system.

Zara has also ensured that the pick-up process is seamless. Some stores have automated collection points where customers can collect their reserved items by scanning a QR code, saving time and enhancing the overall customer experience.

More importantly, Zara’s ROPIS strategy has helped increase foot traffic in their physical stores. Customers who come in to try on and pick up their reserved items often end up making additional purchases. This boosts sales, increases customer value, and encourages deeper engagement with the brand and its products.

BORIS (Buy Online, Return In-Store)

BORIS allows customers to purchase products online and make returns in-store. This service combines the convenience of online shopping with a physical store’s immediate, in-person service. So, in case of immediate need, customers can visit a store and return or replace their product.

This omnichannel strategy saves business logistics costs and increases customer satisfaction by offering a quicker and more convenient return process. It also allows retailers to offer superior customer service as the store staff can handle any issues directly and help customers find alternative products if a return is due to dissatisfaction with the original purchase.

BORIS is also great from an inventory management perspective. Returns that are processed in-store can be returned to inventory more quickly, reducing the amount of stock held in warehouses.

Apparel retailer Gap allows store returns for online purchases

Gap Inc. has long offered the BORIS option across its various brands. Customers can easily return online purchases to the right physical store locations. This approach simplifies the return process for customers, saving them the time and effort of repackaging the product and shipping it back. It also gives the company a chance to save a sale by offering exchanges or finding alternative products that suit the customers needs better.

The brand has found that offering BORIS has positive effects on sales. Customers returning products in-store often browse and make additional purchases. Therefore, this strategy improved the customer experience and helped in cross-selling, creating a win-win situation for both parties.

Major challenges brands face while implementing these omnichannel strategies

The omnichannel strategies discussed in this blog are essential for retail businesses to stay relevant and not fall behind the competition. However, it is not easy for brands to implement them. The biggest challenge is training the staff to handle these orders and process returns efficiently.

Brands also often lack the necessary technology to determine which inventory should be made available online. This leads to a situation where products not selling online remain stuck in physical stores while fast-selling items frequently experience stockouts and size cuts. Controlling the variety of products also becomes challenging, as brands cannot stock every item in their stores while exposing the entire inventory online.

Plus, the incentive for stores to prioritize online sales is also limited. Selling on online platforms from physical stores requires brands to bear the operating costs of the stores in addition to the sales channel margins. This combination often makes it economically unfeasible for brands to sell online directly from their stores.

Best practices for adopting BOPIS, ROPIS & BORIS in fashion retail

Considering the immense benefits of these omnichannel models, it is crucial that businesses start incorporating them into their retail operations. Here are some best practices that will you help you along the way.

1) Robust inventory management: It is crucial to have a real-time, accurate inventory management system. For this, businesses need a simple tool that can manage their inventory efficiently, like Increff O2O (Offline to Online). It will also allow customers to see what items are available at their local store when shopping online, preventing the problem of selling items online that are out of stock in the store.

2) Communication: Once an order is placed, keep the customer informed about when and where they can pick up their order by providing regular updates about their order status through email or text messages.

3) Designated pickup areas: Have specific areas in your store for BOPIS, ROPIS & BORIS. These areas should be clearly marked and easily accessible where customers can swiftly collect their items. If possible, consider curbside pickup options for even more convenience.

4) Speed and efficiency: One of the main attractions of these omnichannel models for customers is the promise of convenience and speed. Strive to have orders ready for pickup or process returns as quickly as possible and aim for a seamless and efficient process that enhances the customer experience.

5) Cross-selling and upselling: Use the in-store pickup opportunity to cross-sell or upsell additional items. Consider special in-store offers or personal shopping assistance to encourage further purchases during pickup.

6) Easy returns: It is crucial to provide an easy return process. Since customers are coming to the store to pick up items, make the return process possible in-store as well, which is essential for implementing BORIS.

7) Leverage data: It’s important to track and analyze data. Understand your customers, what they’re shopping online. This data can help improve your marketing strategies, enhance the customer experience, and cross-sell other products.

The Importance of Omnichannel Technology

Research by ThinkWithGoogle shows that omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of in-store visits. This shows that an effective omnichannel strategy is no longer optional but a necessity in the fashion industry. 

It ensures that customers receive a consistent brand experience, whether they’re shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store. This consistency builds brand loyalty and enhances customer satisfaction.

From a retailer’s perspective, it enables them to collect and analyze data across various touchpoints, providing insights into customers’ shopping habits and preferences. Hence, businesses find it easy to offer personalized shopping experiences, enhance customer engagement, and increase sales. 

At the same time, it allows them to maintain accurate inventory records across multiple locations and platforms. This can reduce overstock and stockouts, improving operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

If your business wants to adopt these strategies, the first step would be to have real-time inventory management and a single view of all your stock. This will ensure that customers can view and order your products seamlessly, and out-of-stock products never show up for sale. Increff O2O (Offline to Online) solution allows you to do this by bringing your stores online and exposing 100% of your inventory in all marketplaces.

All you now need to do is give customers the option to either buy/reserve their product online and pick it up from the stores instead of shipping it to them. If the product is in the warehouse, then the sale will count under the BOSS (Buy Online ship-to-store) model, and if it is already in the store, then it will fall under BOPIS or ROPIS.

Finally, to implement BORIS, you need to start processing returns at your stores. This will allow for faster processing and speed up the process of making the returned inventory online. Increff O2O solution can also assist you in the same with additional tools and features like quality checks during return processing, 100% traceability, and optimization of resale value.