Are You Ready for the Summer Sales Season? It’s Here!

Are You Ready for the Summer Sales Season? It’s Here!

With Amazon Prime Day just passed and several other summer extravaganza sales just around the corner, ecommerce businesses are gearing up to make the most of this season. 

Prime Day started in 2015 a celebration of Amazon’s 20th anniversary, with the goal to offer a volume of deals greater than Black Friday and encourage consumers to spend money outside of the typical end of year holiday season. It has since ballooned into one of the largest sales globally and most markets now have their own branded version, like Wayfair’s Way Days in the spring. 

Typically, Amazon promotes its own products, but last year’s push to boost its marketplace sellers resulted in more than $3 billion spent on more than 100 million small and medium-sized business products across both days. Although Amazon has not released its total sales for both Prime Days this year, the event drove total ecommerce business for those two days to a record $12.7 billion in sales.

Back to school items like Chromebooks and other tablets, as well as apparel and dorm room items will continue to be featured in sales events. Consumers are watching their spend, but they are still comparing prices and hopping on necessities when there is a solid deal.

As we move through this summer sale extravaganza season, have you used the spring to streamline your operations and are you ready?

 

Inventory Management:

By integrating robust software, you can effortlessly track, analyze, and optimize your inventory. This is the quickest area for improvement and reduces so many opportunities for human error, such as misjudging a product that may or may not be selling and sinking cash into inventory or losing sales because you aren’t stocked properly or miscounting items on hand and being short when someone has placed a sale.

With automation, you gain valuable insight from real-time data and can streamline the entire inventory management process, ensuring you have the right products available to meet consumer demand.

 

Order Processing and Fulfillment:

Efficiency is paramount when it comes to order processing and fulfillment. Opal LLC’s automation solutions simplify these crucial aspects of ecommerce operations. Seamlessly connect your ecommerce platform with their order management software to automate order processing, reducing manual errors and accelerating fulfillment. Real-time order tracking ensures visibility into each stage of the fulfillment process, providing customers with timely updates and enhancing their experience. By automating order processing and fulfillment, you can handle the increased volume of orders efficiently during Prime Day.

 

Data Integration and Analytics:

Harnessing the power of data is essential for making informed business decisions. Your automation solution should seamlessly integrate with various data sources, enabling you to gather and analyze critical information. A data-driven approach empowers you to respond quickly to optimize pricing, inventory levels, and marketing strategies for maximum summer sales success.

 

Streamlined Workflow and Efficiency:

By focusing on your end-to-end flow, automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks can significantly reduce manual efforts and increase overall efficiency. 

From inventory management to order processing, automation frees up valuable time and resources, allowing you to focus on strategic business growth initiatives. By automating essential processes, you can operate more efficiently and effectively, maximizing your chances of success.

 

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 you gear up for this summer season, it’s crucial to leverage automation to stay ahead of the competition and maximize your sales opportunities – and OPAL is here to partner with you on this journey.

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

Is the Shipping World Changing with the Potential UPS Strike Ahead?

Is the Shipping World Changing with the Potential UPS Strike Ahead?

It’s difficult to turn on the news and not have concerns about shipping lately.  As a consumer – am I going to be able to receive the items I order? And as an eCommerce business owner – will I be able to get those ordered items to the consumer for a cost that will not bankrupt either of us?

Covid has taught us that many rise to the occasion and when they do not, innovation prevails.  As shipping demands continue to rise, who will rise to this occasion?

 

USPS is Making Changes

In the wake of the UPS strike, USPS has decided now is the time to step up and stake its claim that it would like to become the backbone of the eCommerce industry.

The Postmaster General is looking to transform the aging agency as the demand for parcel service continues to increase. He estimates a 50% increase in deliveries since last year with more Americans than ever wanting everyday items delivered directly to their homes.

As many airlines are cutting flights due to decreased demand of consumer goods that are typically shipped as cargo, many other shipping providers will be forced to increase prices as costs to deliver to small towns further away from hubs continue to rise. This is where the USPS shines – they already deliver to every home and business, whether small town or large city. 

With a fleet of more than 300,000 vehicles, their infrastructure is built to reach every house and business across the US and are able to shift to meet this ever-increasing demand much quicker than many of the other larger carriers that rely on flights and hubs. 

 

UPS Employees are Hoping for Changes

As the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents employees of UPS, they are hoping the threat of a repeat of the strike in the late 1990s will provide some leverage.  

At the time, more than 185,000 workers walked and operations came to a standstill.  The 15-day strike overwhelmed USPS and FedEx and ultimately impacted businesses across the US for months. Their threat is that the current strike could do so much worse, since the demand for deliveries is so much more than it was 25 years ago.  

UPS workers are hoping the talk of strikes will encourage UPS to improve working conditions (such as AC in the delivery trucks), increase the number of full-time workers with benefits, and increase wages after years of no increases.

Thankfully there are several more alternatives for shipping today than there were in the late 90s and experts predict this strike may not be as devastating as the UPS strike of 1997, but it will still impact many. Most eCommerce businesses are used to supply chain issues after the last few years since Covid, however one of the largest carriers striking will still cause a ripple.

 

eCommerce Prepares for More Changes

This strike comes right at the beginning of the back-to school season and as many begin preparing for the peak holiday season in a few months. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of diversification and tightening the efficiency of processes to be ready for whatever may lie ahead.

Shipping processes are critical as you may need to switch carriers quickly, plan for delays, increased costs, and challenges getting packages to consumers to meet their expectations. There will most likely be inventory challenges with supply chain issues as we have seen over the past few years.

As packages are waiting to for a carrier to distribute them, that is product that you show as inventory but are not able to sell to consumers because it’s sitting on a truck waiting to get to your warehouse to then be shipped to a customer. Managing customer expectations through this will be critical, so as not to tarnish your brand or the retailer or marketplace where you partner and sell products.

As USPS and others begin to make the shift to evolve, unfortunately the cost will ultimately impact eCommerce businesses and be passed along to consumers. The Postmaster General does warn consumers that this upgrade to the agency will require price hikes over time, but should be relatively lower than the other shipping carriers due to how many restrictions they will have with freight on flights and increased transportation costs to smaller towns.

As the shipping industry continues to evolve, we will have to wait and see how it impacts demand for the eCommerce industry as a whole.

 

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

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

As you are assessing your shipping and inventory processes to prepare for the supply chain issues ahead — OPAL is here to partner with you and automate and simplify your processes for success.

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

Back to the Basics of eCommerce

Back to the Basics of eCommerce

Whether you’re a newcomer venturing into the world of eCommerce or an experienced player looking to refine your strategies, understanding the fundamentals is the key to success. 

eCommerce tends to focus on three main areas — business-to-business (B2B) with suppliers to their sales channels, business-to-consumer (B2C) with marketplaces like Amazon, or consumer-to-consumer (C2C) with markets like eBay, and staying ahead of the curve is essential for your business to thrive in this quickly changing economy.

A recent survey in Digital Commerce 360 reported that of 403 companies with annual revenue of at least $20 million located in the US, UK, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden found that 78% of organizations have an ecommerce site or digital self-service portals.  An addition 64% of those companies plan to increase their ecommerce investment this year. 

Even amidst the talk of recession and wavering consumer demand, companies are still growing eCommerce opportunities and it’s an exciting time to grow or start your business!

Identify Your Niche:

To thrive in the competitive eCommerce space, it’s essential to identify a niche market that aligns with your passion and expertise. Conduct thorough market research to understand customer needs, preferences, and existing competitors. 

By leveraging software, you can streamline product research, gain real-time market insights, and optimize inventory management to meet the demands of your niche market effectively.

 

Build a Strong Online Presence:

Creating a compelling online presence is crucial for attracting and retaining customers. Develop a visually appealing and user-friendly website that reflects your brand’s identity. Or choose to only provide product to your sales channels and provide the top-notch user experience to maintain the brand’s customer engagement. 

Building trust with your sales channels will build your online presence. This simplifies your need to overextend your operations through multiple channels, across websites and marketplaces, until you’re ready to do so.

 

Streamline Operations with Automation:

Embracing automation software is a vital component to streamlining operations and maximizing efficiency. 

By automating processes such as inventory management, order processing, and customer support, you can minimize errors, reduce manual workload, and deliver a seamless shopping experience. 

OPAL seamlessly integrates across all of your platforms, providing real-time inventory updates, automated order fulfillment, and serves as an extension to your ERP and accounting systems so that you can automate accounting transactions and connect directly with trading partners, shopping carts, shippers and warehouses. This ultimately ensures a smooth and hassle-free customer journey.

 

Prioritize Customer Experience:

In the eCommerce realm, providing an exceptional customer experience is a differentiator. Prioritizing customer satisfaction through personalized communication and responsive support is an important piece customers expect today. 

Automated order confirmations, shipping notifications, and personalized follow-ups can ensure timely and proactive customer service. Gaining valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and pain points, enables you to optimize your offerings and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

 

Embrace Scalability and Adaptability:

eCommerce businesses must be prepared for growth and adapt to changing market dynamics – something everyone has experienced since the beginning of the pandemic. Automation through software provides scalable solutions that enable you to automate repetitive tasks, expand your product catalog, and seamlessly integrate with multiple sales channels. 

Through advanced analytics and reporting features, you can better analyze sales data, monitor market trends based on inventory data, and adapt your strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

 

As eCommerce continues to thrive and evolve, new entrepreneurs must arm themselves with the foundational knowledge required to succeed in this dynamic landscape. 

 

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

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

Harnessing the power of software and embrace the unique benefits automation offers — like streamlined operations, enhanced customer experience, and scalability — OPAL is here to partner with you and unlock your true potential.

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

Streamline Your Operations and Meet Evolving Consumer Demands in the Era of Personalized Shopping

Streamline Your Operations and Meet Evolving Consumer Demands in the Era of Personalized Shopping

The way consumers shop has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years. Personalized shopping experiences have become the new standard, and businesses must adapt to meet these evolving consumer demands. 

It’s now more critical than ever for eCommerce business owners to automate their processes to enhance operational efficiency, streamline inventory management, and enable businesses to deliver the personalized experiences that consumers crave.

 

Understanding the Shift in Consumer Behavior

According to a recent article by CMSWire, the retail landscape has been greatly influenced by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in ecommerce and 58% of consumers expect personalized experiences when shopping online. 

Whether it’s following a favorite influencer and watching videos on social or scrolling and clicking on targeted sponsored ads, consumers are consuming and shopping in personalized innovative ways.

Aligning your business strategies with current consumer behavior trends is now a necessity to remain competitive in this competitive, and constantly shifting, market.

 

Enhancing Operational Efficiency 

AI-powered automation can reduce operational costs by up to 30% and plays a pivotal role in streamlining operations for ecommerce businesses. By automating inventory management and order fulfillment processes, businesses will essentially eliminate manual errors and save valuable time so that small business owners and their teams can focus on core business activities while ensuring seamless operations. 

Accuracy and efficiency also builds trust with your multiple retailers and marketplaces, as well as have a better understanding of which products are selling and which are growing cold so that you don’t have to sink cash into stagnant inventory.

 

Delivering Personalized Experiences

Personalization has become a cornerstone of modern shopping experiences, and automation software allows businesses to keep up with this ever-growing expectation. 

As AI-driven personalization algorithms constantly improve and increase conversion rates by up to 50%, businesses of all sizes are now able to get your product in front of your targeted consumer with great ease. 

You’re able to analyze customer data, such as purchase history and browsing behavior, to provide tailored product recommendations. By leveraging this technology, businesses can deliver a personalized and engaging shopping experience, ultimately driving sales and customer loyalty across your multiple platforms.

 

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.  

In the era of personalized shopping experiences, automation software has become an indispensable tool needed in order to thrive in today’s competitive market. Embracing automation is crucial to streamline your operations and meet the ever-evolving demands of the modern shopper and OPAL is here to partner with you.

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

From Expertise to Customer Service: The Advantages of 3PL Warehouses

From Expertise to Customer Service: The Advantages of 3PL Warehouses

Ecommerce businesses are facing an ever-growing demand for effective warehousing and fulfillment solutions. To meet this demand, many ecommerce suppliers are turning to third-party logistics (3PL) providers to outsource these operations.

According to Forbes, research reveals that “order status” is by far the most common customer support question category, accounting for 33% of all questions asked. After years of Covid and supply chain issues, people are lacking compassion for products that are not arriving on time.

If your shipping process is struggling, have you considered the benefits of developing a relationship with a 3PL to reduce the number of customers and profits lost to poor shipping?

 

Benefits of 3PLs:

Cost Savings

Outsourcing warehousing and fulfillment to a 3PL provider can lead to significant cost savings. “While the upfront cost may seem daunting, outsourcing can actually save you money in the long run, as you’ll be able to take advantage of economies of scale and more efficient processes,” according to Forbes.  By avoiding the expense of setting up their own warehousing and fulfillment operations, ecommerce suppliers can redirect those resources to other areas of their business.

Scalability

As ecommerce businesses grow and order volume increases, the ability to scale up quickly becomes essential. A good 3PL provider will have the infrastructure and staffing in place to rapidly scale up as needed, without sacrificing quality or service levels. This is crucial, as Vitasek points out in Forbes that “if you’re not able to scale your shipping process, you’ll quickly run into issues with delays, customer complaints, and lost revenue.”

Expertise and Experience

Third-party logistics providers have significant expertise and experience in warehousing and fulfillment operations. They have the technology, processes, and systems in place to ensure that orders are fulfilled accurately and on time. Ecommerce suppliers can leverage this expertise and experience to improve the quality of their operations and the overall customer experience. As Vitasek notes, “partnering with a 3PL provider can bring new expertise to your shipping process, including access to new technologies and best practices that can help you improve efficiency and service levels.”

Customer Service

A good 3PL provider will provide excellent customer service and be responsive to the needs of ecommerce suppliers. They should be easy to communicate with and be willing to work with ecommerce suppliers to address any issues or concerns that arise. By partnering with a 3PL provider that provides excellent customer service, ecommerce suppliers can ensure that their customers are receiving the best possible experience. “Your shipping process is a critical part of your overall customer experience and working with a 3PL provider can help you deliver a better experience to your customers.”

Technology Capabilities

Another key benefit of using a 3PL warehouse is technology capabilities. A good 3PL provider will have a robust warehouse management system (WMS) and other technology solutions in place that can help streamline operations and provide visibility into inventory levels, order status, and other key metrics. By leveraging this technology, ecommerce suppliers can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and provide a higher level of service to their customers.

 

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.  

If you’re looking to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide a higher level of service to their customers through partnering with a 3PL and in need of automating internal process for this to succeed – OPAL is here to partner with you as you make this transition.

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

Is Your Business Ready for a Recession?

Is Your Business Ready for a Recession?

We have heard repeatedly for the past few years that there could be a recession in the next six months, yet it hasn’t panned out. With unemployment extremely low at 3.4%, even amidst the many tech and banking layoffs in the news, there are still plenty of job openings. The biggest indicator of all, however – consumers are not cutting back on spending for essential or nonessential goods and services.

Economists believe that if the Fed continues hiking interest rates to lower inflation, eventually this will cause consumers to cut back on spending, leading to a drop in sales and eventually layoffs. As a business owner, you know that the economy can be unpredictable and with a potential recession looming, those who are unprepared may struggle to survive. 

But with the right preparation, your eCommerce business can weather any economic storm that comes your way. Are you prepared?

Analyze Demand for Your Products

To ensure your business is recession-ready, you must analyze the demand for your products. It is important to re-examine customer needs, especially during a recession when customers tend to be more cautious with their spending. By understanding these changes, you can adjust your products or services accordingly.

Another crucial aspect to focus on is inventory management. Knowing what products you have in stock, how much of each product you have, and the rate at which these products are selling is essential during a recession. 

By keeping an eye on your inventory, you can adjust your orders and avoid having excess stock that may not move, freeing up cash and storage space for products that are more likely to sell during a recession. Removing slow-selling products from your inventory is also important, as they can tie up your cash and valuable storage space. To learn more about the importance of inventory management practices, visit our recent blog.

Analyze Efficiency

In addition to analyzing demand for your products, you must analyze efficiency. During a recession, it is essential to do more with less. Reevaluating your business processes and cutting ineffective products and processes can streamline your operations, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.

Your retailers and marketplaces should also be analyzed during a recession—where do you sell the most product and which do you have the best relationships. Your retailers and marketplaces are focused on the customer’s journey from start to finish, including accurate inventory records, minimal errors in shipping, and timely shipping. 

By focusing on these areas, you can provide a better customer experience, which can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty for both you and your retailers.

Keep an Eye on Cash-Flow

Keeping an eye on your cash flow during a recession is crucial. Knowing what products are moving and which ones are not will allow you to avoid sinking cash into products that will not sell. Monitoring your accounts receivable and accounts payable will ensure that you are getting paid on time and paying your bills on time.

A recession can be challenging for businesses, but with the right preparation, you can ensure that your business is ready for whatever is ahead. Now is not the time to panic but to focus on the areas that can make your business stronger in the long run. 

 

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 business looks to be proactive and ready for whatever 2023 holds, OPAL is here to help your team develop the right strategies through automation and process improvement to be prepared for the year ahead.

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