Consignment Inventory Management – Expert Tips and Tricks

How Consignment Inventory Model be made Profitable

Consignment inventory (CI) is a model wherein the product ownership is with the vendor until the product is sold by the retailer (consignee). The retailer does not own the inventory at its locations, inventory is owned by the vendor itself. Additionally, unsold products can be returned to the vendor.

Consignment inventory flow

For e.g. a new bag brand breaks into the market and is totally unknown. Since they are new, no retailer would like to risk their capital by purchasing their stock upfront. Instead, if the brand plans on offering the bags on consignment, the retailers might agree to stock the bags in their store and pay once the stock is sold. This creates a win-win situation for everyone. Such a model is useful for even established brands as retailers try to minimize their working capital.

The consignment inventory model works well in the following scenarios:

  • New brands breaking into the market
  • Existing brands Introducing a new product line
  • An existing brand trying to expand into newer markets
  • Expensive goods that retailers wouldn’t want to invest upfront in

But consignment business isn’t that straightforward. There are factors that both parties must consider before getting into the consignment contract.

Important factors to consider before starting with consignment business

It might sound a lot easier to handle the goods on consignment from both sides. However – remember there is no free lunch ever. Let me explain the complications involved and things to remember. Following are the points you need to take care of before getting into this business:

  • The time span of holding the inventory for sale
  • Payment terms for goods sold
  • Who will be responsible for products security when stored in the retailer’s location?
  • Who should be responsible for shipping charges for returns of unsold products?
  • Who should be responsible for products damage?
  • Commission structure or margins to be shared with each party

This can sometimes carry major risks for both parties. Let us look at the pros and cons of consignment arrangement:

Pros and Con of Consignment Inventory

Pros for Vendors

–         A supplier can invest money for long term on the stock if a retailer is not ready for the same and assign it as consigned inventory.

–       Entering the market gets easier, as consignment inventory allow vendors to hold the ownership of inventory and can contact multiple retailers to carry their inventory in the market.

–        Inventory carrying cost can be reduced, as the vendor here can transfer the stock to retailers shop which will result in reducing their own holding charges.

–      Can save on labor charges and shipments, where the vendors can get the stocks delivered directly to retailers instead of shipping it to their own warehouse.

Cons for vendors

–        Inventory holding charges, the vendors here have to invest their money in shipment and carrying charges for the inventory with which they are not sure of making any profits.

–          Bear damaged and unsold inventory charges, the vendor has to bear the charges for damaged and unsold goods even if the stock is under the retailer’s supervision.

–            Fluctuating cash flow, the vendors here normally receive their payment after their products are sold. Unsold products are normally returned back to vendors.

Pros for Retailers

–          Reduced carrying cost, the retailers here can have the inventory without having the stocks in possession. This reduces their holding charge.

–          Cashflow flexibility, the retailers only pay their vendors once the products are sold. They can always hold as much consignment inventories without worrying about the stockouts or buying more stocks.

–          Low risk, as the retailers do not have to pay for the stocks upfront, this allows them to lower their risk of carrying new supplier brands and use their capital in selling more valuable products.

–          Never go out of stock, as the vendor keeps a check on the retailer’s store. If the products go sold out, they bring in new stocks. This reduces the workload on the retailers part to keep track of inventory levels and plan replenishment.

Cons for retailers

–          Reduces the floor usage, if the consigned inventory is not sold for a longer period, it eats up the floor space which could be used to store other fast selling stocks.

–         Inappropriate management between consigned and other inventory, as some retailers might manage their consigned inventory and other inventories separately. This creates confusion between the stocks and may eventually result in errors and inventory loss.

–       Stock ownership is held with suppliers: Since the stock ownership is with the vendor, they can always plan on taking back the inventory from their store. Additionally, there is a dependency on the vendor to do the replacements. Hence the retailer has very less control and might face out of stock situations for fast moving goods.

With positives and negatives involved with both the vendors and retailers business, we will later discuss how can this business be made profitable for both the parties. But, before that, I want you to understand a closely relatable term with consignment called as – SOR (Sale or return).

SOR or Consignment (What do you prefer?)

SOR (sale or return) and consignment model is almost the same. The difference is just with the ownership of goods after the products are shipped from vendors location to the retailer.

In SOR, the ownership gets transferred to the retailer whereas, in the consignment model, the ownership remains with the supplier (vendor) until the goods are sold.

During an agreement between the two parties in the SOR model, a time period is mentioned to make the sale. If the retailer fails to sell the given products at an agreed upon time span, the products are then returned to the supplier. Depending on the stickiness of the product, it can be good or bad for both parties.

Read this article by Clare on The truth about Sale Or Return which will make you think twice before going for SOR / Consignment business.

Factors making consignment Inventory business model profitable

It is always great to learn the tricks that can be used to develop a profitable business. Check the below strategies that a vendor or retailer can follow to get rid of financial issues and develop plans to grow the business.

Prepare a strategic plan with 3-6 months goal:

Normally, few consignment agreements have an effective period of time and some others don’t. After the agreed-upon period is over, the unsold goods can be returned back to the vendor. This period can be extended with mutual understanding between the two.

With businesses taking time to build their trust among customers, both the parties can apply their plan and marketing strategy to grow over time.

Once the sales start to happen, the process will get complex and the production will increase. With a growing business, both the parties also need to plan their financial strategies, profit sharing and commission percentage. Which means the strategy does not only involve the money making process but also the marketing, profit generation, and the capital investment. Being a retailer or vendor you must constantly be reviewing the plans. That way you will be able to achieve your goals within time.

Identify factors affecting profitability

While working together, vendors and retailers get to know each other and develop an honest relationship with each other. Their supply chain relationship also gets stronger with time as the processes get more streamlined and systems get aligned. The vendor here gets a trusted retailer, selling the consignment inventory efficiently and the retailer gets a supplier who can maintain the inventory on time with a proper quality process in place.

Vendor and retailer need to have an integrated system in place for the consignment business to be successful. That provides visibility of sales run rate of various products and also visibility into damaged/lost inventory reports.

Identifying non-moving inventory

These type of products often eats up money time and space. There needs to be a plan and data sharing between the parties to find such items and they must be dealt with urgency. Nothing hurts more in retail than the dead inventory at stores. Removing stuck inventory and replacing with faster moving goods will enable faster turnover and hence more money for both parties.

Special consideration has to be given for items with a limited shelf life. Deadstock for SKUs having an expiry date coming up need to be cleared on priority. Hence special promotions or price discounts must be offered in consultation with the vendor in order to clear such items.

Consignment model friendly application

Supply chain management relationship between the vendors and retailers in consignment inventory business is not possible to manage with excel sheets/manual entries with a pen and book or on normal inventory managing software.

One has to opt for software having consignment inventory as a feature where:

  • Consigner is able to track the consignee’s inventory
  • Consigner must have near real-time sales visibility in order to plan replenishments to avoid stock outs
  • Any surge in sales activity for certain SKUs must generate an auto alert for both parties
  • Consigner should be timely updated on what goods need to be shipped
  • Consigner should be able to track the shipped stock to the consignee
  • Consigner should be able to track the shipped stock to the consignee
  • These process can be made simpler and quicker with an integrated platform.

How your consignment inventory management workflow can be simplified?

Let us hear it from Jack about his experience with EasyEcom to manage his consignment business,

Using robust software like EasyEcom to manage your consignment inventory model will help you maintain a profitable business in the long run. It will help both retailers and vendors to have transparency in business. Check the EasyEcom platform below to manage your consignments.

1. Manage multiple customers from a single window:

Being a vendor, you will have to deal with multiple customers from different locations, selling multiple goods. So go ahead and add as many customers under your business and deal with each of them your own way.

2. Create a returnable gate pass to keep track of consignment inventory sent to various parties

If your goods remain unsold for long, you can always provide an option to your customers to return or transfer and do the in-house adjustments.

3. Create passes as per return request

Once you create an adjustment there will be a gate pass created against every selection. This pass can be used as an entry or exit for the selected products.

Find a returnable/consignment gate pass created below.

4. Upload sales and create invoice against a gate-pass:

Once the gate pass is created, the consignee can upload the sales made against that particular gate pass. The consigner can then create and send the invoice against the same gate pass number. This process can be carried on monthly, weekly or any customized interval basis.

Conclusion:

Now that you know about consignment inventory model, you can plan your retail business in a comprehensive way. An integrated platform will surely enable the proper planning and hence profitability in the long run. Staying systematic and having proper trackers in place will enable transparency which is a must in a consignment business model.

CrossBorder eCommerce – how to prepare for selling internationally

Cross-Border eCommerce benefits – how to prepare for risks

Every growing brand dreams of becoming a global brand like Nike, Reebok one day. Now that’s easier than ever with growing cross border eCommerce. What Nike did in almost 50 years, internet first brands are doing it in a couple of years by riding the eCommerce wave.

Brands sitting in China and India are selling in the USA and European markets like there is no tomorrow. Some of the fastest growing brands globally don’t even have any physical presence anymore. Amazon and eBay are fueling that international growth for brands.

Regional eCommerce marketplaces like Lazada, SOUQ, LINIO, Flipkart, PayTM provide massive opportunities for brands looking to expand their business globally. If you are a brand having an ambition of growing rapidly, timing cannot get any better to start exploring these opportunities.

In this article, we will talk about how to prepare to go global. We will end with a check-list for you to circulate with your team.

Remember, your summer might be someone’s winter and your winter might be someone else’s spring (hint for fashion brands 😉 ). Staying ahead of your target country time would help you in long run. If you are a brand dealing in beachwear, why restrict yourself to 2-3 months long season only. There is always summer somewhere on this planet.

From a consumers perspective, Cross-Border e-commerce now allows them huge selection that was earlier not possible.  Now manufacturers sitting in China can showcase their entire catalog rather than depending someone like Walmart to only sell selected items. Obviously, there are numerous challenges to be able to sell in the US for example for a Chinese brand that earlier only did white label manufacturing for Nike or a retailer like Walmart. Granted, it has become simpler with Google’s translation feature to communicate well in native languages. Still that doesn’t make it 100% straightforward, there are many more things to worry about. We will talk about some of these challenges in this article.

Without wasting any more time, let us dive deep into what a brand or seller requires to go cross-border.

Are you ready to sell Cross-Border?

You should always be prepared for what is coming next. Before jumping into a gigantic loop, here is the initial set of questions to check if you have the basics in place:

– What amount of investment is required to sell international, how much can you really invest?

[Charges for international shipping: taxes and duties, courier charges (DHL/FedEx/USPS) and extra surcharges involved]

– Is your target market familiar with your chosen product?

[If it is not, then you must be prepared to invest in marketing or on educating customers about the product]

– Are you prepared to handle multi-currency, multi-lingual, multi-tax and multi-assortment sale?

[Check if you are prepared to initiate international currency transactions; do you understand their language or have a native speaker on your end; keep a check on applicable taxes on a variety of products you have chosen]

– Are your resources and company flexible enough to handle the initial phase?

[Understand the culture and know your customers, build a relationship, try to live temporarily in the country to know your customers and understand their pricing structure]

I suggest you go through the blog post and then decide if your answers were satisfactory.

While you are working through the initial setup related questions, let me quickly discuss major advantages and challenges along with small tips related to selling globally via eCommerce.

Advantages of Cross-Border business

International reach in eCommerce:

The uninterrupted services by the World Wide Web are already helping users to market their businesses across the globe. With multiple online e-commerce websites like Alibaba and Amazon, you will be able to publish your products and increase visibility and reach.

In the below image, you will see the top 5 Leaders competing in the eCommerce industry. The GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) is based on the total value of products sold on these marketplaces. (Source)

Tip: If you deal in niche products that aren’t available globally, you pretty much have hit a gold mine here. Imagine someone specializing in Jaipuri Quilt which is only made in Jaipur, India. Now Indian diaspora is spread across the world. All over the world, Indian people will want to purchase that. If that manufacturer suddenly starts selling in the US/UK besides Flipkart in India, obviously there will be a huge demand. The icing on the cake is the fact that these customers will not even mind paying a bit more to get the product easily delivered vs carrying it all the way from India on their next trip back home.

Increased revenue by selling internationally:

With an international reach, the audience will increase steadily and with that, you will generate more sales and revenue. The foreign website products might seem cheaper and better to customers than in the home market.

Cutting out the middlemen:

Brands which used to rely on partners to distribute products are now adapting direct to consumer sales.  In the past, the products were passed between multiple hands, shipping industries, distribution companies/warehouse and as a result products cost used to go multiple times of the actual cost. Whereas now brands can easily setup their stores online and reach their customers across the globe. That provides brands the ability to interact directly with their customers and alleviate the extra charges associated with middlemen.

Tip: Evolution in the eCommerce industry is making it easy for the brands to launch their online stores. Many brands and manufacturers are jumping on to this opportunity hence competition is already becoming fierce. It’s prudent to have a distinguishing factor in your product or marketing techniques. That will help you capture the market quickly.

You also need to understand the structure behind the transactions and the challenges you will come across.

Challenges and their solution with Cross-Border selling

Know about Local Laws and Regulations 

– Every country has their unique set of restrictions and limitations based on categories like alcohol, medicines, weapons, relics, raw materials etc. So while shipping products to customers country, you need to meet their regulations to abide by their local laws. For example, there are some products which you cannot ship to US or which you cannot take out of US (like, guns, prescription drugs, non-FDA approved medicines and military equipment).
– As a cross-border seller, you must also have all the judicial rights and authorities in place. It’s a must to be on a safer side and having the strength of a legal framework to protect from any legal trouble.

– You can find your country specific shipping details from here.

Tip: The solution here is to know your limitations and country laws before planning to expand your business. So research extensively before you select a country to expand into.

Payment Methods for Cross-Border transaction

– Having a strong payment system is a basic requirement in the e-commerce industry or while dealing in any cross-border business. Check out Paypal, Payoneer, Stripe and choose what works for you.
– Furthermore, there is a possibility of coming across fraud cases in few transactions. Payment might get rejected or the third party application may charge you extra. Having a strong reconciliation in place and identifying such instances early on will be a lifesaver.

– You need to properly safeguard the customer details stored on your website. Hackers can reach your servers and steal customers usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and so on.

Tip: Ensure your system is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. Accept payment in methods that your customers prefer. The credit card is globally preferrable method to pay for e-commerce transactions. Some of the third-party applications include Payoneer and Paypal.

Logistics & Warehousing Support to sell internationally

– Another main strong point you need to develop is with the logistics part. With a quality product, your strong logistic support will also help you gain trust and make the buyers your repeat customers.

– With this, you need to take care of forward and reverse logistics and make sure the logistics charge do not exceed a reasonable limit.  The logistics charges include customs duties & documentation, delivery charges, international shipping if you are drop shipping.

– The main challenge here is with customs clearance, paperwork submission on time, multiple carriers, security of the shipped products, delays due to bad weather etc. So plan in advance and have contingency plans in place. Also, strong communication with the customer will go a long way here, we will discuss that below.

Tip: Contact third party delivery companies like UPS, DHL, NZ post, Royal Mail, etc. Because of the competition being high in e-commerce, there are a lot of sellers present in the market and everyone aims at attracting customers. So, it is very important for you to offer quality products at an affordable price and shipping cost so that you don’t lose them to your competitors.

Communication gap with international customers

Communication gap with customers is because either you do not know their language or is not having a local contact number to communicate.

– With the networks being spread wide, there are more channels of communications opening up. Whatsapp, Wechat, Skype, Google chat etc are becoming increasingly popular ways to interact with your customers.

By now you must have got a good sense of what is required to start selling globally. Now let us see if you are actually ready to go cross border:

Are you ready for Cross-Border eCommerce?

With that being known now, you need to make your systems and processes ready to interact with domestic and international customers and avoid the manual tasks as much as possible.

If you sell on multiple platforms like, your online store, Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Flipkart, etc, you will need to use a system which can help you with multiple requirements.

Your requirements should have the following:

  • Inventory management for multiple marketplaces
  • Multi-currency support with transactional capabilities
  • Easily customizable system
  • Logistics partner integration for Domestic/International shipments

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of all your requirements, start your research and get ready for some action with international customers. Furthermore, Get a virtual phone number and email ID of the country you are planning to serve in, this will provide your website with some benefit in local ranking. Also, hiring a native speaker wouldn’t be a bad choice to go with.

Click here to download the checklist for Cross Border eCommerce!


Best PO Management Software – Magento/Shopify/Amazon FBA

Magento, Shopify, Amazon with best
Purchase order Software

When retail was offline, once a month or quarter purchasing worked. Customers would walk into the stores and buy whatever is available. eCommerce is exactly the opposite in nature. Customers come to your site expecting a certain item to be available. If they don’t find it, It’s not only the loss of business for you, it’s a reputation that the customer carries about your brand.

Managing purchasing has become extremely critical now. Without an efficient process in place, you cannot grow your brand. Amazon has now set a benchmark for companies to manage their supply chain with utmost priority. While the excess stock is going to kill your working capital account, out of stock upsets the customer like none other.

The main challenge with eCommerce business is the necessity of having the right products available at the right time and in the right quantity.

Let us see how inefficient management of purchase order system can affect your sales, ranking on e-commerce websites and more. Let us see how:

Challenges with Purchase Order Management for Amazon and Magento /Shopify powered eCommerce brand portals –


1. Sales momentum loss due to out of stock on Amazon, eBay etc:

Portals like Amazon favor brands or sellers who have inventory available whenever a customer wants to buy. Like I said above, otherwise, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth for the customer. Hence its very important for eCommerce managers to keep track of products with fast sell-through rate. Obviously equally important is to track products that don’t sell well and end up being dead stock. Without any detailed reporting of fast-moving products, you will always end up ordering at whim.

Tip: Consider using an inventory system that auto-suggests how and when to place orders with vendors. It must take into account previous sell-through rate and be able to predict ahead.

2. Losing rank as a seller:

eCommerce is all about consistently delivering quality items within the given timeframe. A happy customer is a customer for life. Hence if you go out of stock for a few products on Amazon and don’t replenish in time, it will hamper your seller account rating adversely. Not having an idea about when to order particular product results in losing your ranking on marketplace platforms like Amazon, eBay, Flipkart etc. Very simply Amazon pushes such sellers down in the ranking algorithm.

Like the above screenshot shows the  Amazon sales rank of a product. There were 6 units sold in the first week, and then there was a sudden drop in the sale. With a drop in the sale, Amazon sales rank also drops slowly. (Source)

Tip: Look out for a PO system which can notify you on reaching reorder point of a particular product. Additionally, the system should be able to calculate the time taken for the delivery to reach your warehouse and factor that in the algorithm.

3. Limited storage for brands in Amazon FBA Warehouses:

FBA provides limited storage for brands and having stocked it up with slow-moving products will result in less space for fast-moving products. That might result in a stock out-situation for your must-have products. Again it will adversely affect your overall business. On top of that Amazon storage fees are usually very high as they only store items that move.

Tip: You may consider having a secondary storage warehouse beside FBA. That way you keep the FBA location available for whatever stock is selling fast. Secondary locations are usually cheaper, hence end up saving quite a bit on the storage costs levied by FBA.

4. Unable to track products en-route delivery:

There are circumstances due to which the delivery might be delayed. This can be either due to national holidays/adverse weather conditions/human error. Tracking that is important and accordingly must take actions to manage inventory at the warehouse.

Tip: Consider using a system which can help you keep a track of your delivery partners or reach out to delivery services to check the issue and keep customers updated with the updates.

5. Not staying updated with the expiry date of perishable products:

Dealing with perishable products is tricky for any business from an inventory management perspective. These short-lived items require express delivery. For example, food items, medication, cosmetics or anything else that has a short expiration date, requires special consideration while ordering inventory and shipping to customers.

You must keep track of the expiry date and use FEFO (first expiry first out) method to ship out. Any items that are about to expire can be put on special sale. Lastly must have a liquidation strategy in place for items that are at the end of their shelf life.

Tip: There are expiry date trackers wherein you can be notified of the products reaching their shelf life. Consider updating it in the tracker along with the product while inwarding.

6. Failure to track stock levels at Freight Forwarder or any interim storage:

If you are importing goods from China / India or any other country, you must have a view of what stock is lying with the freight forwarder. Otherwise, you end up ordering more. That stock must be tracked and handled on a need basis. Freight forward might be able to also do inspection and QC on your behalf. Hence very important to have detailed inventory management there.

Managing all these and coordinating with various stakeholders is a challenging task and calls for a system that can aid in the process. In this article, I am going to talk about EasyEcom solution for inventory holders, Manufacturers, wholesalers to manage their stocks/PO/GRN’s/Reconciliation.

Read further to know more on how EasyEcom can be helpful with resolving all the challenges involved with Purchase Order Management:

Best Purchase order generator software features:


1. Barcode generator for products

Generating Barcode for products is one of the primary things which brands do in-order to track their inventory. EasyEcom helps you in generating barcode and barcode labels, and also stores all the necessary information. This usually helps the product to have a unique identity.

2. Serialize inventory

Inventory serialization helps keep track of individual units using unique serial numbers. Expensive items such as jewelry, mobile phones, laptops etc need more detailed tracking to ensure no inventory shrink.

It is mainly a system generated unique serial number assigned to each item during the inwarding process. EasyEcom platform supports this feature in its enterprise edition.

3. Ability to handle multiple vendors for your product lines

Create, manage and track your vendor list from a single platform. With the help of EasyEcom PO system, handle multiple vendors for the same item along with their pricing structure. This is to make sure you receive your products at the best possible price.

4. Handling multiple currencies and manage Purchase from different countries

If you deal in more than one currency and purchase product from suppliers in other countries then, EasyEcom helps you create the purchase order for international suppliers in their currency.

5. Multi-stage, multi-status, multi-party Purchase Order system

Most companies usually require a staging system to handle purchasing. Purchase plan is usually made by the warehouse team and the finance department approves it. Any system should be able to handle that. In EasyEcom, the approval process can be configured before submitting it to the vendor. After you create a PO successfully, you will be asked to approve the created PO wherein you can check if the right quantity of product is going to the right vendor.

6. QC process at inwarding

Quality Check at inwarding is like inspecting incoming products. For e.g. you ordered 100 quantities of a water bottle. While inwarding, you do the QC of these bottles where you verify if any of the bottles are damaged or has a missing cap (suppose 10). The data is then being captured by the EasyEcom system and later you deal with your vendor for damaged bottles.

The vendor either refunds the amount of those 10 bottles or send you extra 10 quantities in your next order.

7. Keep a track of products with expiry dates  (Perishables)

The concept followed here is FEFO, that is the products with early expiration will be sold first. It is useful for food & pharma companies dealing with the products having a strict shelf life. So to stay stocked up with fresh products in your inventory, EasyEcom helps you keep a track of products nearing their expiry dates. By updating expiry dates during the inwarding process, the system allows you to apply FEFO on these products.

8. Shows suggested quantities to Manage Purchase

With not being aware of quantities to purchase for future sale, the inventory forecasting feature with EasyEcom will suggest you the quantities you should purchase based on your past sale.

For e.g. The system will provide you with the suggested quantities to fill your inventory based on the previous monthly average daily sale or previous season sale. In addition to that, the time taken by the vendor for delivery will also be calculated and factored in.

9. Shipment Tracking

Tracking incoming shipments is equally important in the procurement process. As the products move out of vendors location, until it reaches the buyer, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Especially when there is no contact or update provided on delivery, it can create complications for the sales team. EasyEcom tracks the tracking number for the incoming shipment and provides options to update the status as the items move along.

10. Get notified when a product reaches its reorder point

Receive system generated notifications on your personal device once a product reaches its reorder point and stay updated with your inventory in order to avoid losing on sales. Here, the sales teams will be made aware by the alerts based on the reorder points for the given SKUs.

The best part?

EasyEcom has easy integration with Magento/WooCommerce/Shopify/Amazon etc…

An automated system like EasyEcom can help you generate an error-free purchase order in a fraction of time. Evidence?

Consider use case of an existing EasyEcom client who uses Purchase Order management to grow their sales.

Luffy pets, being one of the best stores for providing best care foods and toys for our pets have started using EasyEcom to improve its perishable products sale.

Luffy Pets buys pet products from its multiple vendors spread across different countries. The major challenges which company had come across are,

1. Delay in shipments:

Shipments used to arrive at vendors location later than expected, which could either be due to national holidays or bad weather conditions. Because the vendors were not provided with any tracking number of courier services, Luffy Pets had to answer multiple calls if the package doesn’t get delivered on the expected date.

Solution: EasyEcom provided an option to update AWB number with courier service details in Purchase Order approval form. With this, the Package can be tracked on a timely basis and can be coordinated accordingly through courier service directly.

2. Managing expiry dates for perishable products:

The company deals with perishable products on a daily basis. Fresh food, meat, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals are examples of perishable items that used to get spoil or become unusable after some finite time. They had issues with managing similar products with different expiry dates.

Solution: EasyEcom helped them update the expiry of a product during inwarding process and apply FEFO process on these products at the time of shipments. This helped them save a lot of time and products from getting spoiled.

With the upgrades in technology, let us now see how the Purchase orders were managed when there was no system to work with. How this process was manually taken care of.

Comparison of Purchase Order Management, manual v/s automated:

Conclusion:

It is important for you to know that it is never late to get started with an efficient procurement process. If you feel like your business needs control of its expenses and improve its profit, then an automated cloud-based system like EasyEcom is a solution for you to keep an active eye on your business growth.




Prepare Yourself for Holiday Inventory Planning, Like a Pro.

Prepare Yourself for Holiday Inventory Planning, Like a Pro.

Excited for holiday season? That’s a lame question to ask! Who wouldn’t be excited about the holidays?

To make our holidays enjoyable, who helps us in making it more exciting? The restaurant owners, caterers, eCommerce companies, shop-owners, event planners, entertainment companies and more, in order to make their customers happy and earn profits!

This blog is a discussion on tips and tricks for successful holiday stock planning by retail stores or brands. How businesses do their stock planning before the holiday, during holiday and after the holiday season will decide their bottom line for that year.

Few tips to be prepared for a successful holiday season

By taking customers survey and feedback on their expectations or requirements will always help companies to understand what is going to make a store more appealing and can plan on strategies beforehand to improve sales.

  • Comparing previous year data helps businesses to plan for their upcoming season sales.
  • Keeping a note of mistakes done in the previous sales period and strategize on making the upcoming sale more productive.
  • Keeping up with the recent trend by being updated with social media happenings, upcoming movies, shows and events in order to design products and advertising strategies to successfully attract customer with relevant deals.
  • Making the store more customer-centric in order to drive repeat business, making it more organized to earn customers loyalty and profits.
  • Planning on product promotion through banners, social media sites or by organizing product launch events to reach more people and generate sales.
  • Tracking the amount of time taken for a particular product to arrive. This will help in keeping up with inventory level planning.
  • Placing orders in advance to be ready with the stocks well before the start of holiday season to avoid any last minute rush
  • Using an Inventory Management tool for inventory planning, to be updated with online or offline sales of a particular product.
  • For online sale, using an omnichannel platform to maintain multiple channel visibility will help brands to expand their business across channels

What needs to be done as you approach the date of holiday rush or during the holiday?

It is all going to take most of the time in planning out the marketing strategy to attract customers. This is regardless of the fact whether the company is into selling fashion apparels, electronic items, home decor, vehicles or whatsoever. Towards the end of the article, we will talk about a successful product launch by a major electronics brand. It’s interesting to note how their first launch was a major failure and then subsequent launch during holidays brought them to the promised land. Exciting story ahead, but for the time being let’s discuss a few things that brands need to be doing as they approach the season:

  • Brands will have to carefully plan on marketing their businesses to gain sale through different mediums like radio, TV commercials, flyers, social media sites or promotional email.
  • Targeting the right customers when planning for the campaign through Google / Facebook PPC and in social media. Segmenting the right audience and then aggressively going after them results in increased sales vs mass marketing.
  • The more the offers during holiday season, more customers get attracted towards the store. Offers can include a heavy discount on products, while ensuring minimum required profit margin, providing freebies to customers on spending particular range of amount in shopping from their store.
  • Urging buyers to post a selfie with product and coming up with a contest on social media for them to win free goodies from store. This can be a game changer for consumer brands. Consumers have a habit of following social media religiously. Getting few early adopters to post their selfies on social media can create a viral effect that too organically. Brands can also create mass following by getting celebrities to post selfies on social media using their products. This has a huge pull and can bring in exponential high sales.
  • Readiness to procure items in short notice, they can plan to set their reorder point and be ready with stock replenishment plan. Otherwise, can buy extra inventory in advance and maintain safety stock.
  • Store with multiple locations should be ready with a plan to transfer their stocks from one location to the other if last-minute surge happens at one location. In the case of eCommerce, quickly the fulfillment can be routed to the other location. You will require a multi-location WMS solution for that.

What if the stocks are still left in bulk after the season rush? What should stores be doing in order to avoid huge loss on the left out or unsold products?

Managing Business after Holiday Season

After the holiday season is all about clearance. If the inventory level looks easy and the stock is almost cleared, plan on restocking the store with new goods. If not, then you need to plan for clearance sale on slow moving products.

  • Providing heavy discount on slow moving products. Companies can plan to sell overstocked products at low prices.
  • Strategizing on selling products with one on one offer. Brands can apply offers applicable on these products as one on one or one on two sale offers in order to clear the stocked up items.
  • Distributing discount coupon to employees as a token of appreciation for successful implementation of holiday rush.
  • Open a poll with employees to suggest clearance idea and provide goodies to the employee and family for the best suggestions.
  • Making a note of mistakes done this time will come handy with the start of next holiday planning.

At last this is all about maintaining profits and improving sales and marketing in the retail (online and offline both) industry.

We are sure there is a lot more to these suggestions. It is not that easy to carry out the above process. The main issue is definite on practical implementation. Ones the brands start getting hands on experience, it starts getting nonchalant in executing the plan successfully.

It is always imperative to start planning as soon as possible for the big holiday rush like, Christmas, New Year, Halloween etc for a successful year ahead.

Now let’s talk about the major brand that used holiday season to promote their new product line.

Successful Product Launch by Phillips during Holidays

Philips being one of the largest electronic company across the world came up with a new product launch, Philips Air fryer, in July 2012. The company thought it would be a great success without running a whole lot marketing campaign or promotions. As, this product provides healthier and tasty food with 80% less oil consumption, company thought more customers would be interested in buying without much persuasion.

Problem with Initial Launch of Philips Air Fryer

They faced lot of issues with the launch in the market as the cost of the product was high and was used to prepare only 2 to 3 dishes only. Also, the big question was, how cooking without oil would make the food taste good.

This failure was right before the holiday season. A failed product during holiday means dead inventory and end of life for the product. However Phillips didn’t want to wind down so easily on its Air Fryer, hence assorted to a bunch of aggressive moves to drive much higher sales during holidays.

Subsequent Actions and then the Final Launch of Philips Air Fryer

So the company came up with an idea to launch smart marketing campaigns for the product to educate the customers.
In order to improve search results on Google, Philips marketing team came up with an idea of promoting on social Media and YouTube channels by starting an online cookery show.

The YouTube channel featuring healthy daily recipes through an online chef celebrity and sharing it on social media, promoting the recipes with 80% less oil.

After their campaign was live across the social platforms, they started getting engagement from customers and their sale started boosting up.

Digital media is a huge platform to grab the attention of the targeted audience only if used correctly. Philips Airfryer has used it wisely whether it is targeting audience through video, creating interactive contents on Facebook, uploading videos or opening a community forum. They have used it all to leverage product recognition and to create awareness about it.

The whole campaign helped them to connect with more audience and increase sale by 266%.

Below is a beautiful picture of Philips Air Fryer.

Happy Frying Without Frying 🙂

Amazon Multichannel Fulfilment (MCF) and International FBA Order Routing Simplified

International Order Routing for Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF)

A vision towards Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment

Finding it difficult to manage orders from multiple channels? Or is it an issue of setting up warehouses to expand your business internationally?

Not to worry, Amazon FBA has it all sorted for the brands wanting to multiply their business across geographies and channels.

Amazon MCF – Boon for multi-channel sellers

Amazon FBA has expanded further allowing its sellers to use FBA for non-Amazon orders as well. Being a seller using multichannel fulfillment (MCF) at FBA, a lot of companies have been utilizing it as an advantage and running their businesses across channels. They drive sales on products from eBay or other online websites and web stores on Shopify / Magento etc. Amazon takes care of warehousing, shipment & return process.

Amazon MCF is available in USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Japan. To be eligible in MCF, brands have to list their inventory on Amazon for sale as well unless they are registered with their Pro Merchant accounts. Using their Pro Merchant accounts in MCF, brands are allowed to sell on non-Amazon sites without listing their inventory on Amazon.

Now let us see how multi-channel fulfillment works with FBA:

Step by Step Guide for MCF Process:

  1. Open a merchant account on Amazon
  2. Selected inventory is submitted to Amazon fulfillment center
  3. Create inventory listings for those products on required websites (other than Amazon)
  4. Customer buys the product from another channel
  5. Create a shipment order with Amazon as per chosen shipment option along with customer details,
    Standard (3-5 business days)
    Expedited (2 Business days)
    Priority (next day)
  6. The order gets picked, packed and shipped by Amazon
  7. Tracking details get shared with the customer In order to process the return, Amazon receives the returned product and adds it back into the inventory if it’s in sellable condition.

How FBA handles International Amazon Orders

Brands wanting to sell in multiple Amazon sites such as UK, France, Italy etc can create a connection between their primary FBA location (for example US) and other international Amazon sites using Build International Listings tool:

  1. By clicking on the above link, start with building an international listing
  2. Select your source and target marketplace
  3. Create offers to be applied on inventory
  4. Define pricing rule as per your currency
  5. Set the shipping priorities, whether by self-fulfillment or FBA
  6. Review the settings and continue.

Source Marketplace is where sellers have set-up their primary Amazon seller account such us USA. Target marketplace is the place where sellers want to expand their business to such as European Amazon sites.

After setting up their pricing and shipping settings according to the International Shipping charges, the listing done in source marketplace will be shown in the target marketplace where they can change and adjust the prices accordingly.

Clicking on Language switcher at the top right of the page, one can switch between the marketplaces where changes in settings are required.

Selling Internationally outside of Amazon and fulfilling using MCF from Single FBA location

Amazon allows shipping international orders from supported FBA locations. So for example, if you are running a Shopify store focusing on UK, you can still fulfil those UK orders from the USA FBA. However as the volumes increases, this becomes increasingly more expensive to ship internationally. Hence brands need to analyze their order patterns and establish local FBA locations.

International FBA setup

Amazon has separate warehouses available in different countries. So, if you receive an order from Canada, you will want to have your products delivered from Canada FBA; on receiving an order from Mexico, you will want it to be delivered from Mexico FBA to avoid extra charges applied for distant delivery. In order to do this, follow the following process:
Open local FBA locations in countries wherever major volume is coming from.
Link the local Amazon store with the local FBA setup

Selling Internationally and fulfilling using MCF from Multiple FBA location

Once a brand opens multiple FBA locations and is generating orders through sources other than Amazon in local markets, it creates a problem to route the orders. Amazon doesn’t provide any solution currently to dynamically route orders to different FBA locations.

This can be solved using a dynamic order management solution that has advanced order routing capabilities. If the solution has ready integration with FBA and other channels from where the brand is getting orders, it can help to reroute the orders to nearest FBA warehouse.
This order rerouting feature will help you avoid extra charges involved in distant delivery with FBA. At the same time, reduced delivery timelines will ensure happy clients and hence better brand perception.

Detailed Process of Order Routing between Multiple FBAs for MCF:

The brand registers with the order management solution
Integrates the required FBA accounts along with other channels
On receiving an order which needs to be fulfilled by Amazon, it can fetch the customer details and depending on the distance and stock availability can route the order to the nearest FBA location that is able to fulfill the order.

This is a powerful capability in a competitive market. Brands are increasingly going global both via Amazon and through other sources. This setup enables them to grow their business across geographies without having to worry about opening fulfillment centers on their own and also save tons of costs by doing local fulfillment using FBA enabled MCF.

Spotlight on your key business objectives with Amazon MCF and proceed further with a favored opinion. Go selling!