eCommerce and its Digital Innovation

eCommerce and its Digital Innovation

If this past year taught businesses anything, it’s that staying relevant amidst rapid innovation of new processes and technologies is critical for survival.  Many eCommerce businesses were poised and ready for the rapid growth that the pandemic brought to online marketplaces and its suppliers had already optimized and automated processes or were able to pivot and adjust quickly. 

But not every business can maintain momentum for years at a time. Can your eCommerce business maintain its growth in the Covid surge marketplace of 2021?

 

eCommerce Continues to Grow
In 2020, suppliers had more pressure than ever to keep up with the demand of consumers on a moment’s notice with the announcement of many states enforcing shelter in place mandates.  

Overnight, suppliers were expected to provide everything from luxury food items to furniture and home goods for renovation projects to pet supplies for consumers stuck at home and making changes to their environment. According to Forbes, an estimated growth of 9.5% was blown out of the water by the actual 24% growth rate in 2020. This shift in the digital channel is only expected to grow as 2021 has promises of a vaccine, but with several cities and states under shelter in place orders.

 

Optimization is Critical
Growth is easily achieved through optimization, but knowing what and how to optimize are usually the toughest challenges for an organization to decide.

Simplify through one software solution.

Automation of your order processing and fulfillment needs allows your eCommerce business to keep up with the ever-increasing consumer demands. It also drives labor costs down and increases capacity to fulfill new orders immediately, without the hassle of hiring and training new staff – allowing you to pick, pack and ship!

 

Strengthen relationships with sales channels.

Implementation of a software solution allows you to optimize your business through timely deliveries to consumers, while managing compliant retailer transactions, real-time inventory and shipping documents, and in return serve as a trustworthy and reliable supplier to your sales channels.

Suppliers have more pressure than ever to level up to the brand standards consumers expect when purchasing products from the major marketplaces like Amazon, Target, Wayfair and many others. Optimization keeps eCommerce businesses viable and competitive.

 

Delivery Costs Rapidly Rise
eCommerce rose to the occasion when consumers were in need throughout the shelter in place orders and holiday season in 2020, but at the cost of astronomically higher shipping prices to maintain consumer expectations of two-day shipping with the long list of logistical limitations caused by Covid. 

Many marketplaces are looking for innovative solutions to enhance product delivery to reduce shipping costs, with the end goal of not having to raise prices for consumer. In addition to new shipping methods, many organizations are strengthening their digital presence and simplifying the order process in the hope of reducing errors and better managing the higher purchase volume. 

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

As your business looks to optimize processes and remain relevant, simplify your processes with OPAL.

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.

To learn more about how to optimize your eCommerce business with OPAL, click here!

 

Surviving 2020 to Thriving in 2021 with eCommerce

Surviving 2020 to Thriving in 2021 with eCommerce

As we bring this holiday season to a close, it’s time to reflect on everything that brought us to a record year of growth for online holiday sales. As Covid numbers continue to skyrocket across the nation, some consumers choose to stay home and shop from the safety of their own home, while others are being forced to do this due to shelter-in-place regulations determined by their local government. Both put pressure on the eCommerce and supply chain & logistics industries to deliver a record number of products for a happy holiday season!

Holiday Consumer Trends in 2020
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) survey in October, 96% of retailers polled expected their online holiday sales to increase and the consumers polled confirmed this assumption – more than 60% planned to shop online, up from 52% in 2019. 

In addition, 76% of Thanksgiving weekend shoppers were purchasing gifts for the holiday and 54% of consumer holiday purchases were influenced strongly by sales and promotions at stores. It seems many were holding out to see if the promotions run in October and November would be better on thanksgiving weekend, but 53% said the sales and promotions were exactly what they saw earlier in the season.

Small Biz Daily highlights that 73% of consumers have tried new shopping behaviors this December and are more open to trying new stores and brands, whether they tried curbside pickup or delivery apps, new brands, or different retailers and websites. In addition to behaviors, the top growing online sales are in skincare, makeup and accessories, with household supplies trailing behind them.

What this Means for eCommerce
Covid has definitely left its mark this year and changed consumer behavior for the near future – whether its state regulated shelter-in-place lockdowns, essential vs. non-essential businesses, online shopping vs. retail shopping, or simply keeping the workforce healthy and able to make deliveries to consumers, there’s so many challenges and issues out of your control as a business owner.

What is in your control, is your ability to look back on this holiday season, and 2020 as a whole, to see what processes worked and areas of opportunity for your organization.

  • Automation: drives labor costs down and increases capacity to fulfill new orders immediately without the hassle of hiring and training new staff.  Also, it strengthens your backend processes so that you can deliver more product quicker.
  • EDI: transactions with all retailers, suppliers and warehouses can drastically eat away at your profit margin, but a software that includes this in its monthly fee reduces costs.
  • Inventory across multiple sales channels: without automated real-time inventory, this manual process is tedious and likely to cause over-selling or underselling with how fast consumers purchase across multiple sales channels. 

One software can solve all of these headaches in one easy solution — OPAL. After this holiday season, treat yourself to a software solution that can automate and streamline your processes, while also saving you money with free EDI and reductions in labor costs.

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management | Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.

To learn more about how to make your eCommerce business scalable with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

Is EDI Going to Eat You Alive This Holiday Season?

Is EDI Going to Eat You Alive This Holiday Season?

If you are one of the many suppliers that have been blessed with large quantities of sales this holiday season, you are probably also suffering a bit from the cost of meeting that demand.  According to projections by Deloitte, holiday sales are forecasted to rise conservatively 1.5% up to a more aggressive projection of 3.5%, with consumers starting even earlier this holiday season and shopping through January.

 

To meet this demand over a short few months, suppliers will have to burden additional operating costs to excel this holiday season. This ranges from extra labor costs with hiring additional people or paying expensive overtime to current employees, to meeting increased demand, to additional costs for the EDI documents that you’ve incurred because of drop shipping. 

 

Why Does EDI Cost So Much?

There are at least four transactions required for every single drop shipped order and can add up to as many as five or six transactions potentially! At a minimum of $.06 per document received or sent, when you start multiplying that by the number of orders it can get very expensive very fast.

 

The pennies for a few transactions were not a big deal when you were shipping pallet orders, but when you are drop shipping smaller orders directly to customer doorsteps, that is a very different story and can drastically skew your overhead projections and profits.  

 

EDI service companies LOVE IT when that happens.  Drop shipping means hundreds of more orders, hundreds of more EDI documents to process, HUGE COSTS to you and HUGE REVENUE for them.

 

At OPAL, EDI is free!
We’ve never understood why EDI should ever incur additional cost and why your business should be penalized for growing and shipping to additional customers. After all, the internet is essentially free, so why charge for it.  

Just as a point of reference – If you were paying EDI rates and streamed a movie online – that movie would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $240,000! Why would you pay for this antiquated process for your business?!

OPAL passes along the cost savings to our clients by utilizing the direct EDI or API links that are now provided by retailers and e-tailers, cutting out the expensive middle man charges and enabling suppliers to process drop ship orders with $0 cost for EDI documents – or an LTL, Full Truck Load or container order for that matter.  OPAL downloads POs (Document 850) from retailers and e-tailers, sends back Acknowledgements (Document 997), ASNs (Document 856), Invoices (Document 810) and Product Inventory (Document 846) with no EDI charges and is 100% compliant with each retailer. For additional resources on EDI click here! 

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management |Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.  

As a client of OPAL, the cost for EDI document charges and management are all included, as well as troubleshooting labor, minimizing order processing labor, reduced order exceptions to less than 5% of your order volume, and accomplishes it with a total cost of CENTS rather than DOLLARS per order, wouldn’t that be worth checking into?

To learn more, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

Building Trust with Your Sales Channels

Building Trust with Your Sales Channels

Suppliers face many challenges today, with the emphasis shifting away from brick and mortar and towards e-commerce, suppliers need to constantly grow and evolve in ways that improve both relationships with sales channels and with customers. 

Sales channels are also quickly evolving to shift with consumer trends and desire to provide the best online products and customer service to customers who have several competitors to choose from, knowing that the sale comes down to consistency in service, quality products and unique offerings. 

With so many areas of focus for suppliers, what develops a solid relationship and builds trust with your retailers?

 

The Power of the Score Card
Every e-commerce retailer has developed its own score card unique to its standards and expectations so that suppliers have a clear understanding of its brand reputation, its promises to the customers, and guidelines for success to continue to partner and provide customers with the highest quality products and experience.

In addition to protecting its brand through communicated expectations, the score card provides the retailer the opportunity to provide feedback and take action in the case expectations are not met. Underperforming suppliers are hurting e-commerce retailer’s competitive advantage in the marketplace and are costing them financially due to rework and errors.  Across the industry this can be worth billions of dollars each year in unnecessary costs.

 

Nurture Your Relationship with Retailers
If you want to be a valued and trusted supplier, it is important to show your reliability and consistency in performance. Retailers are concerned about short shipments, late shipments, missed shipments, invalid tracking information and late deliveries to the consumer because ultimately it is the retailer that will pay the consequences and their brand suffers.

In order to nurture your relationship with retailers, you should focus on:

Compliance with retailer’s business processes:

      • This compliance makes you valuable to a retailer by reducing their expenses surrounding order issues and rework. This includes processing a retailer’s orders, complying with all of the necessary transactions, PO pricing, packaging, labeling, shipping documentation and accurate, frequent inventory feeds.

Scalability of your business upward, delivering more on-time orders each day:

      • This provides the retailer with the ability to increase sales capacity – especially if you can process orders 24×7.  Once again, this makes you valuable to a retailer and will result in your revenue increasing from that retailer.  However, to do this without also increasing your operating costs, you need real-time order processing software that manages without human involvement, 24×7.  

Maximizing your warehouse’s efficiency:

    • To do this requires installing the analytics and tools required to dramatically increase the number of shipments that can be made each day and tracking their accuracy.  To learn more about making your warehouse efficient with OPAL, click here.

 

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management |Warehouse Management | Shipping

If you want to be valued and trusted supplier to your retailers, it is important to be responsive and meet the expectations clearly communicated.

The bottom line is that OPAL addresses all of this for you and so much more.  It combines all of your order processing and warehouse management activities into one autonomous software platform without the need for all of the multiple software systems.

 

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.  To learn more, click here! 

 

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

Is Your Warehouse Efficient Enough for the New e-Commerce World?

Is Your Warehouse Efficient Enough for the New e-Commerce World?

In a typical year, suppliers and their warehouses have ample time to reset and prepare for the big holiday rush, but 2020 has thrown the supply chain industry for a loop. Consumers have required nonstop shipment of both essential and non-essential items even through Covid and shelter in place regulations, leaving the industry to balance remaining open while still prepping for this year’s holiday rush.

According to Forbes, as life begins to adapt to this new normal, the logistics industry has risen to the occasion to meet consumer demands, but should review the data before settling back into its old normal. Most supply chain business continuity plans are built upon data from the past with little to no consideration of challenges that could arise, making it virtually impossible to plan accordingly for when challenges like the pandemic happen. 

As warehouses continue to evolve, manual operations will simply not cut it. Even if your warehouse seems efficient and manually is able to accept and process tens of hundreds of orders each day from your sales channels –automation through a software like OPAL will make the warehouse more efficient, instead of serving as the organization’s bottleneck to achieving timely shipments and higher revenue levels goals.

How OPAL Clients Succeed in Warehouse Efficiency
Most warehouses simply are not capable of manually processing the incoming volume of pallets AND picking, packing and shipping the tens of hundreds of drop ship orders– it is incredibly labor intensive.  To overcome this, selecting a simplified approach through software automation allows your warehouse to efficiently pick, pack and ship and optimize warehouse productivity.

OPAL simplifies the backend fulfillment and creates picklists, packing slips, shipping labels, UCC129 labels and Bills of Lading for you — all without human intervention to save a great deal of time and reduce human error.

Improving warehouse efficiency is a core benefit to partnering with OPAL and will provide your warehouse with the following productivity enhancements, just to name a few: 

  1. Picklists that route pickers through the warehouse in the most efficient manner – drastically minimizing time and motion in the pick process. 
  2. Picklists that pick the items in the business priority required based on carrier arrival times or sales channel priority.
  3. Scanning during the pick process to ensure the right item is being picked and inventory is being decremented accurately in real-time.
  4. Scanning during the shipment process to ensure that all item orders are accurate, none have been missed and tracking numbers are being sent to your sales channels in real-time.

Introducing OPAL software into a warehouse is proven to increase productivity by as much as 50%, significantly improving your chances for achieving shipments and the realized revenue goals desired.

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management |Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world.  To learn more, click here! 

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!

2020 e-Commerce Holiday Season has Set Sail – and May Stay in 2021

2020 e-Commerce Holiday Season has Set Sail – and May Stay in 2021

All aboard as 2020 is coming to a close and things are so different from how anyone forecasted them at the end of 2019! 

The pandemic has turned the world upside down with e-commerce sales drastically escalating and brick and mortar sales diminishing. This is causing a huge operational shift for suppliers by minimizing the number of pallet shipments out each month, which translates to an extraordinary number of small parcels out each day.

In fact, 2020 e-commerce sales are projected to have yet another record-breaking year.  Even retailers are rethinking their business model, seeking to reduce the number of distribution centers owned and asking their suppliers to do smaller drop shipped orders directly to stores so they’re not carrying excess inventory in these uncertain times. 

With the 2020 holiday season already sailing, and it’s not even Halloween yet, surveys show that consumers expect both fast and free delivery still, despite the supply chain challenges due to Covid and social distancing demands (ZD Net). However, 30% of consumers are planning to start holiday shopping earlier for fear of not getting what they want if they wait until after Thanksgiving.

Evolving shopping habits and tighter consumer and business budgets have also led to companies rolling out holiday cyber sales in mid-October and Amazon hosting its Prime Day then to clear space for holiday inventory.

It’s going to be an extremely difficult and intense workload for suppliers and warehouses supporting their retailers over the next few months as order volumes ramp up.  Unfortunately, suppliers’ options for efficiency are limited this close to the holiday shipping craze and other than hiring and training additional seasonal workers, it is best to work as efficiently as possible with processes currently in place and start 2021 off by simplifying with software.

Get Ready for 2021 with OPAL
This next year can be significantly better by partnering with OPAL to automate your order fulfillment systems.  Our customer testimonials say it all:

  • We dramatically reduced processing time per order (measured from time we took shipping labels off the printer to posting payments in A/R). Our end to end processing time was reduced to 2 to 2.5 minutes per transaction vs 10-12 mins before OPAL.

  • We have been able to scale the business without adding staff. In the pre-OPAL days we were handling approximately 200 orders a week with much effort and labor costs.  With Opal we’ve been able to increase our business and now we regularly process over 1,000 orders weekly with the staff redeployed to sales generation activities rather than order processing efforts.

  • We have benefited tremendously from the automation OPAL provides. From an order processing standpoint, the system automatically generates labels and pick lists, making our fulfillment process highly efficient. Our team is now able to process more orders in less time than before. The automation also provides peace of mind, as our team is unable to fulfill the same order twice, or fulfill an order with the wrong item. Inventory tracking is also much easier. The system is able to record bin locations so our warehouse team is able to easily find and pick items from inventory. 

  • Our process has been streamlined to a very user-friendly system. We have been able to add partners and customization is available if the need arises.  We have grown our business tremendously without having to add staff to process orders.

Simplify with OPAL’s 4-in-1 Software Solution
EDI | Order Management |Warehouse Management | Shipping

OPAL is the innovative solution to simplify your small to mid-sized to enterprise business fulfillment needs in today’s rapidly transforming retail world. 

To learn how to make your eCommerce business scalable with OPAL, click here!

Click here to book your customized demo today.  We are here to support you through this time of change and are here to help you innovate and thrive!