Combatting Inflation

Combatting Inflation

In a world where consumers expect online retailers to “meet or beat competitors’ pricing,” this year will prove challenging with inflation.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Product Price Index for February 2022, reporting wholesale prices had jumped up 0.8% for the month and in the past year have increased by 10%. Raw materials, finished goods, gas and transportation prices all continue to increase and will ultimately impact and increase the end price of products for consumers.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 79% of American retailers surveyed last month reported price increases.  Though price hikes are not surprising at this time of global unrest with the supply chain, there are several factors you should complete before changing the price. 

Update the Product Offering:

Reducing underperforming SKUs, adding private label products, bundling items to provide additional value and reducing quantities (think 8-ounce packaging instead of 10-12 ounces) will all help keep the price stable for consumers

Boost productivity:

Making your business much more efficient from automation with software solutions that reduce the need to hire additional workers to ship more product.  It also allows you to have a clean read on which inventory is performing and which is not to make accurate decisions in streamlining products on hand.  

Outsourcing:

Selecting a third-party fulfillment service to position products nearer to customers and cut down on shipping time and costs may make more business sense to overcome inflated prices throughout the supply chain.

A new concept that’s rising across the country – dark stores.  They’re local micro-fulfillment centers strategically placed in old store fronts and warehouses that allow for cheaper fulfillment of online orders, but are “dark” to the public. To read more click here.

Consumers are well educated after the last few years of online shopping.  Many larger retailers can match or beat prices, but getting to the point of uniformity is challenging.  “Online competition is a force for price uniformity, and therefor also inflation equalization” in this era of constant supply chain issues.

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.

As inflation continues to impact prices and your profit margins, partner with OPAL to increase efficiencies through automation.  

To learn more about how OPAL has partnered with many to scale their business to new levels of success, 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!

Inventory Management is Critical for Many New eCommerce Trends

Inventory Management is Critical for Many New eCommerce Trends

In an age where consumers expect their needs to be met quickly at the click of a button, pressure is on for a rapid growth of eCommerce businesses and their infrastructure.

It’s critical to evolve and build a strong infrastructure to meet the modern consumers’ needs, and inventory management is often the most overlooked piece of supply chain management.

What is a Dark Store?

A new concept that is rising as local micro-fulfillment centers, or warehouses, are strategically placed and dedicated to fulfilling online orders. Dark stores are not open to customers and are “dark” to the public, but serve as drop off points for suppliers and collection points for delivery services.

They emerged to solve issues with high demand, slow shipping, and the desire to remain dark without needing to build an infrastructure that requires foot traffic to sell product.

It’s a win/win for eCommerce businesses because it provides the additional warehousing needed to hold more inventory for orders and reduces shipping times by choosing dark stores closest to your most active regions across the country.

Why is Inventory Management So Important?

Poor inventory management can have repercussions felt throughout the organization that detrimentally affect its bottom line. Too much inventory and over-ordering complicates warehouse management and can result in a loss due to outdated or expired product or items going out of season and style. Whereas too little inventory means lost sales opportunities and potentially damaging relationships with your partner sales channels.

Software solutions and automation are critical components to success in this market, especially when considering storing inventory across multiple dark stores while continuing to sell online on multiple retailer marketplaces.

Knowing your inventory level is accurate will help you to plan better for your warehousing needs and to keep up with customer demands.

Benefits to automation also include cost savings, cash flow improvement, real-time inventory management data, reduction in errors and incorrect sales, which ultimately all impacts retailer and customer satisfaction.

Software solutions help your eCommerce business to improve forecasting and better optimize and balance inventory based on demand seen through data, which then improves warehouse management with storage, distribution and fulfillment processes.

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.

As your eCommerce business looks to automate your inventory management system or take advantage of this new dark store trend, OPAL is here to help.

To learn more about how your eCommerce business can thrive, click here! , 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!

Are You Current with the Shipping Trends?

Are You Current with the Shipping Trends?

As shipping costs continue to rise, and many are still traumatized by the long list of challenges this past holiday season, eCommerce businesses and retailers are beginning to shift towards new shipping trends. 

Many are looking for ways to better plan for the year ahead and help reduce overstocked inventory, whether it’s from product that arrived late and missed the holiday season or to better plan for the ebbs and flows of the upcoming busy seasons.

Are you well versed in the new shipping trends for success this year?

Just in Case Approach

 

The biggest trend and shift for eCommerce businesses right now is away from the just in time approach and implementing the “just in case” approach

Operating lean and efficiently are the hallmarks of the just in time approach, but in when challenges arise with supply chains and products become difficult to get to consumers quickly, it may lead to backorders and products arriving much later than customer expectations and demands.  Long term, this could impact returns, increased inventory, upset customers and unfortunately decrease the overall customer experience that your team has worked so hard to provide. 

The just in case approach, however, encourages businesses to plan for the unexpected and make more upfront investments to secure operations for the longer term, reducing the probability of products selling out and accounting for surges in demand and lapses in supply.

A successful transition from lean operations to more on-hand inventory isn’t necessarily all guess work on which inventory to bulk up on.  eCommerce businesses and retailers who are successful with this lean heavily on data to know which products have higher demand, areas of the country to store products in warehouses for more efficient shipping, and which economy carriers they can partner with for consistency in delivery times – all working to increase customer satisfaction. 

 

Reverse Logistics

 

Many retailers and eCommerce businesses offered extended return windows this past holiday seasons due to supply chain issues. With this much longer lag time between purchase and receiving the product, many times the return window could have already passed by the time the customer received the product – all due to issues mostly out of eithers’ control.

This extended return window causes several issues for eCommerce businesses – from increased costs which include additional postage to ship the product back to a warehouse, refunding the product cost to the customer, additional costs to then store the product in inventory, disposal costs of damaged products, and the list goes on.  

The “reverse logistics” trend allows customers to hold on to purchases that do not work out and they wish to return and shifts the responsibility from the company to the customer for final disposal of the no longer desired product.  Many are implementing this strategy when a product value is below the cost to return the product, simplifying the return process for both sides.

 

Bundling

 

Many eCommerce businesses are looking for ways to enhance their inventory offering to take advantage of the “Frequently bought together” component on most online platforms today.  The retailers’ algorithm utilizes data from past purchases and items that are highly complementary to help entice customers to purchase additional products.

The emphasis for bundling is not only to provide a better customer experience with products that work well together, but to sell them simultaneously so that the shipping and packing expenses are reduced to one box and one shipping expense, which leads to increased profits for the exchange.

The critical component is to select products that are highly complementary and a unique bundling – making this a win-win for both the eCommerce business and the consumer.

 

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.  

Your eCommerce business will be up and running quickly, with no downtime required for setup, allowing your team to focus on your strategic shipping approach and be ready for the upcoming busy seasons.

To learn more about how OPAL has partnered with many to scale their business to new levels of success, 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!

The Delivery Revolution

The Delivery Revolution

Since the start of the pandemic, companies everywhere have risen to the occasion to meet consumer demand for faster at home delivery, but have still fallen short. Younger generations are driving demand for more flexible and much faster delivery times, leading companies to get creative through delivery systems or partnerships with new delivery companies.

Back in 2018, Domino’s Pizza launched what they termed the “delivery revolution,” with hotspots around the city allowing people to have pizza delivered to parks, sports fields and beaches. They listened to their customer’s demand for pizza delivery to non-traditional places and formulated a plan.

Years later, eCommerce and retailers are beginning to adopt a similar mindset – how do we get purchases to consumers faster amidst this supply chain crisis and era of delivery revolution?

Challenges

According to experts, consumer spending increased from November 1 to 24th by 19.2%, decreased 1.4% during Cyber Week (Thanksgiving to Monday, and then increased by 5.6% After Cyber Monday. It seems the “extended holiday season” helped kick off the shopping season quite strong and consumer spending still was able to grow in the typical cyber week and holiday weeks for shopping.

Another major milestone hit his year was a significant uptick to days with more than $3B spent. Last year, there were 25 days with more than $3B spent daily, and this year there were even more with 38 days.

The food industry has worked with delivery services like Doordash, Uberteats and Grubhub because they have more optimized supply chains, multilayer distribution and software-assisted delivery expectations of its drivers and restaurant partners. There is a time sensitivity when delivering food that may not transfer over when trying to provide similar delivery services for products consumers purchased for same day delivery.

There also needs to be a shift to leverage customers’ transaction data to better understand purchasing patterns and behaviors. Many eCommerce organizations have relied on their retailers for this for years, and as the shift continues to the more popular D2C approach (Direct to Consumer sales), each individual eCommerce business will now be responsible for understanding purchasing trends to buy smart for upcoming seasons.

Are Consumers Ready for Drone Delivery?

Royal Mail is testing drone delivery in the UK and instead of a typical delivery van arriving with your package, a small aircraft, slightly bigger than a microwave oven, hovers above your driveway and lowers your package secured with something similar to fishing line onto the ground. The potential to improve logistics efficiency with speed, mobility, and tracking are huge, as well as the opportunity to reduce labor costs in a market that has such a huge labor shortage would be monumental.

However, though this is technologically viable option right now, there are still several scenarios that are needing additional testing and strategizing. For instance, this particular drone being tested at Royal Mail is quite reliable and affordable, but can only carry packages under 7 lbs. and are limited to a max of 6.25 miles.

Drones are also regulated by the FAA in the US and will require filing certain standards and operating procedures for delivery. This may not be a challenge in more rural areas, but then delivery companies are facing the maximum of a 6-mile delivery in a testing area that may have tens to hundreds of miles between homes and ranches.

It is also quite challenging to deliver in cities where one drop could service entire buildings with hundreds of different consumers. There are pilot programs in effect with robots, similar to the kiosk approach. The consumer is given their unique code that then opens the kiosk robot to provide access to only their purchase. This solves the access issue, but opens the door for many other points of error in the delivery process.

The Delivery Revolution is Here

As consumers begin to see successful same-day delivery of products, demand will only continue to rise making this a critical revolution to prepare for in this odd post pandemic supply chain crisis.

Studying the competition to see how newly announced partnerships like Ulta Beauty and Doordash work and knowing your eCommerce businesses data will help to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

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.

Knowing your consumer data as the evolution of D2C (direct sales) continues to grow, is critical. It is made possible by partnering with software solutions like OPAL to better understand your customers buying patterns, trends, areas of growth and weaknesses so that when the opportunity arises for same day delivery in this delivery revolution, your business is poised and ready.

OPAL is here to partner with you and help automate systems and data so that your eCommerce business can thrive. 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!

Historic Holiday Season In Spite of the Supply Chain

Historic Holiday Season In Spite of the Supply Chain

Despite so many supply chain issues this holiday season and media constantly warning consumers to plan ahead and shop early, there was still a record breaking $204B in online shopping spent between November 1 and December 31 – an almost 9% growth over last year.

What does this mean for eCommerce? That it is still strong, in spite of all of its flaws, Covid shutdowns, and oceans to travel this past holiday season!

The Stats

According to experts, consumer spending increased from November 1 to 24th by 19.2%, decreased 1.4% during Cyber Week (Thanksgiving to Monday, and then increased by 5.6% After Cyber Monday. It seems the “extended holiday season” helped kick off the shopping season quite strong and consumer spending still was able to grow in the typical cyber week and holiday weeks for shopping.

Another major milestone hit his year was a significant uptick to days with more than $3B spent. Last year, there were 25 days with more than $3B spent daily, and this year there were even more with 38 days.

Challenges for consumers

Consumers faced challenge after challenge this holiday season and were warned early on to allow plenty of time for products to arrive. As the season progressed, many items were out of stock and consumers would have to wait weeks for products to be restocked (if ever).

Another challenge was the drastically lower level of discounts offered this holiday season. Typically, electronics are discounted roughly 20%, but this year had less than 8% level of discount. This occurred across many different products and, yet according to the numbers, consumers still chose to purchase.

Inflation also impacted the price of most goods and living expenses. As consumers try to stretch the dollar further, many still chose to pay the inflated prices of merchandise this holiday season.

According to experts, the biggest take away from this past holiday season is that “demand for online shopping was not deterred by persistent supply chain challenges, as retailers contend with congested ports, carto delays and disruptions overseas manufacturing.”

In spite of all of the restrictions like access to products, inflation and reduced discounts, consumers were able to ultimately spend and provide the holiday season of their choosing after two long pandemic years of being apart from loved ones.

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.

As your eCommerce business looks to grow and remain flexible for this year’s new trends and upcoming holiday seasons, OPAL is here to partner with you in your growth. 

To learn more about how your eCommerce business can thrive 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!

Simplifying Through Automation

Simplifying Through Automation

Simplifying Through Automation
In today’s chaotic environment, customer expectations have grown more complex and lead to fragmented supply chains with short cycles.

Success used to mean operating at peak efficiency, but now efficiency alone is no longer sufficient. It is now critical for eCommerce business to remain flexible enough to keep up with global trends and supply challenges that often change quickly.

This past year alone, we’ve seen issue after issue with the global supply chain. Everything from shortages, to inventory sitting on ships waiting to dock for weeks, to lack of delivery trucks ready to take materials to retailers or customers.

With so much out of your control, why not focus on what you can?

Automation

Remaining flexible is made easier by automating through a software package for your eCommerce business. A shift from manual steps to autonomous processes not only increases your capacity for additional and more accurate orders, but may do so without hiring additional employees. And with more than 11 million job openings in the US right now, efficiency with the team you have is critical.

Real-Time Inventory

Accurately representing inventory across multiple sales channels and retailers to prevent overselling and underselling of products is critical. Automation not only simplifies the customer’s ordering process, but it improves accuracy up to 99%.

Additionally, as new trends become available, knowing your accurate inventory levels at every moment will allow your team to make proper buying choices for what to keep on hand and what to not purchase again to make room for new consumer trends.

Efficiency and Cost Savings

Automation improves order accuracy up to 99% and reduces processing costs to just cents per order – in addition to not charging EDI for every single transfer of information. It also allows for unlimited order capacity without having to hire additional employees, while reducing processing cost to just cents per order.

Maximizing warehouse efficiency will ultimately increase the number of shipments per day by 25-50% and allow your business to ship to customers faster since it only takes 8 seconds to generate the backend – then pick, pack and ship!

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.

As your eCommerce business looks to automate your process to remain flexible for this year’s new trends, OPAL is here to partner with you in your growth.

To learn more about how your eCommerce business can thrive in the holiday season ahead 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!