Excelling With a Hybrid Workforce

Excelling With a Hybrid Workforce

Running a business in an era of labor shortages where employees are willing to quit instead of giving up working from home is challenging.  

Employees have grown to appreciate the many perks and flexibility that come with remote work – no commute, reduced Covid exposure, accessibility to family or pets, and reductions in cost of child care and gas bills. According to Bloomberg, a recent survey showed that 49% of people polled would consider quitting if their employers were not flexible about remote work.  That puts a lot of pressure on employers to remain competitive, especially during a time with labor shortages.

As a small business, you may relate to the 77% of professionals who believe they’re equally if not more effective when remote, and that 86% of employers plan to continue remote work in some form or fashion after the pandemic ends. 

A Hybrid Work Environment Approach

The eCommerce business model is unique and has a somewhat hybrid approach already. In this Covid- era, most eCommerce businesses have had to work on balancing incredible growth with scaling back employees in the office or warehouse to minimize exposure and risk of them getting sick.

Some employees can work from home for the majority of the process, whether its accounting or marketing with website updates, or sales positions.  This comes with the added benefit of limiting exposure to Covid for your teams and possibly still abiding by state mandates where there’s staff limitations in offices – also possible with this next wave of pandemic shutdowns.  

However, when it comes time to pick, pack and ship – a team member will need to be present in your warehouse or facility.  How you choose to structure it will hopefully help you to keep your team safe with reduced exposure and provide some level of flexibility so that you can retain your top talent.

A Comprehensive Software Approach in a Hybrid Work Environment

A critical component to success with balancing the hybrid approach, with some remote and others present in the office or warehouse, is a comprehensive software solution that optimizes processes and syncs everything efficiently – reducing the friction, complexity and errors that occur because not everyone is working in close proximity to one another.

Self-Driving Automation
One, self-driving, automated software solution for your EDI, order management, warehouse management and shipping processes allows your employees to be synced, efficient and working together, even when they’re apart.  It also reduces costs by consolidating multiple software packages into one, as well as driving labor costs down to fulfill growing order volumes immediately without ever again having to hire and train new staff.

Pick, Pack & Ship
Pick, pack and ship still requires someone to be present in the warehouse.  However, optimized pick, pack and shipping processes increases warehouse productivity, enabling you to increase the number of shipments per day and meet those ever shorter delivery deadlines that your retailers are asking of you.  

Strengthening Relationships

One self-driving automated software solution also proves to your retailers that your eCommerce business is accurate and efficient so they come to view you are a trusted supplier on their platform.  

As retailers continue to pursue new avenues of reaching consumers online, automation allows your business to grow with them and be ready to go for various opportunities like live branding that require automatically updated and accurate inventory levels, as well as consistent shipping on time to 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. 

With OPAL, automating your order processing will allow you to not only reach additional customers to sell more product, but prosper well through this labor shortage.

To learn more about how OPAL can help your business simplify your order processing, 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 Live Streams with Your Retail Partners in Your Future?

Are Live Streams with Your Retail Partners in Your Future?

Since walking around the store has been limited, life at home over the past year has forced marketers to get creative in educating consumers about products. Many retailers are experimenting with live streams and partnerships with social influencers, and it is projected to generate more than $11 billion in US sales this year.

What is the draw to this new “QVC style” of shopping online from home?  It’s both entertainment and advertising in a way that draws both young and old.  Retailers can partner with influencers who will draw in crowds with similar demographics matching to products and generate sales in real-time during the live stream.  

As retailers seek out trustworthy and knowledgeable suppliers for upcoming live streams, is your business prepared and ready for the volume and speed required to keep up with demand?

Nurture Your Relationship with Retailers
If you want to be a valued and trusted supplier and considered for opportunities like live streams, it is important to show your reliability and consistency in performance. 

Retailers are concerned about quick shipments, minimal late or missed shipments, reduced 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.
  • Upward scalability of your business, delivering more on-time orders each day.
  • Maximizing your warehouse’s efficiency.

To learn more about building trust with retailers through your reliable relationships and the importance of the score card, click here.

Benefits of Order Processing Software:
The most successful suppliers work to quicken their order processing and warehouse efficiencies, so that when new trends like live streaming arise, they are ready for the challenge and opportunities.

Selecting effective software is the quickest and most cost-efficient way to do more with less.  Benefits include:

  • Save time processing orders: a shift from manual steps to autonomous processes will increase your capacity for additional and accurate orders without the need to hire additional staff.
  • Reduce overhead costs: it takes time to enter data manually and then transfer information into the accounting system, but when automated it happens within a matter of seconds.
  • Increase data control: human error is inevitable, no matter how careful your team is during data entry. Automation significantly reduces the number of opportunities for error.
  • Faster shipping: automation allows you to quickly send orders straight to your warehouse for shipping with all of the needed paperwork.
  • Build stronger relationships with retailers: Retailers expect accurate and timely communication and business processes, and automation provides real time data across all inventory, processing, shipping documentation, etc. so that your eCommerce business reflects its dependability and accuracy.

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

If you want to be a valued and trusted supplier to your retailers so that your company will have opportunities to partner on opportunities like live streaming, 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 management, warehouse management and shipping solution activities into one autonomous software platform without the need for all of the multiple software systems.  AND without the cost of EDI transactions.

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!

Options to Maximize Sales Channels and Fulfillment Processing

Options to Maximize Sales Channels and Fulfillment Processing

As people begin to return to pre-pandemic normal lives, many stores like Walgreens are reporting it has seen discretionary spending pick up online and in local stores with makeup, passport and vaccine purchases. 

Summer sales season would echo that discretionary spending has risen, as suppliers who planned ahead to have product in stock have experienced its top grossing summer sales season yet.  According to Bank of America, it is estimated that Amazon alone sold more than 255 million items during its recent prime days, making it the largest global e-commerce two-day period in history. 

As a supplier, depending on who you work with, EDI transactions alone could eat up profit margins on this massive volume of sales and may require that you hire additional staff to handle the peak shipping days.  Both issues could be easily resolved with the selection of the right software solution.

Meet a Supplier of Home Furnishings and OPAL Fanatic

He and his team transitioned to Opal after working with a well-known EDI third party company. There were lots of issues, as they had a cumbersome system to process orders, all of which differed by partner.  

The worst problem he had was that whenever there was a snag in the system, they could not reach anyone on their vendor’s team — they had to create a case and wait until they responded. Many times, the vendor’s response was that their team was not responsible for a particular aspect (integration with accounting software, shipping vendors, or sales partner setup, etc.) and the case was referred to that other team. In the meantime, they lost valuable time and many times were penalized by their sales partners for not receiving the information on time.

Why Was Opal a Good Fit for You?

I have always been able to reach someone at Opal to help if there are issues related to orders, errors, etc.  The staff is very helpful and knowledgeable and generally resolve the issues right away. To me that is the most important quality I look for in a partner processor.

What Results Have You Achieved with OPAL?

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.

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Considering OPAL?

I would definitely recommend Opal. I think their strength is the personal approach with the customer that makes you feel they value you as a customer.

 

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. 

With OPAL, not only is every EDI transaction included and free, but most suppliers are able to reach additional customers to sell more product with their current teams. 

To learn more about how OPAL can help your business simplify your order processing, 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!

Sellers Supply Chain Challenges Impact this Summer Sales Season

Sellers Supply Chain Challenges Impact this Summer Sales Season

Whether you supply products through your website, social platforms, or a national eCommerce retailer, sadly you are not immune to and are well aware of the widespread supply chain disruptions during this summer sales season.

Most suppliers were hoping this year would be a much calmer (and financially successful) summer sales season and, unfortunately, it’s shaping up to be just as chaotic as 2020.

Widespread Supply Chain Issues

As many consumers return to a quasi-normal lifestyle and unemployment continues to drop, suppliers are having challenges with stocking stores and distribution centers to keep up with consumer demand.

Globally, many countries are still impacted by the effects of Covid-19 and have limitations with the pandemic, whether due to outbreaks or government-enforced limitations on staffing. Factories have also closed, limiting the number of products available for suppliers to sell. 

Shipping challenges have proven to be the headache and media highlight of 2021. Many watched as the ship stuck in the Suez Canal blocked waterways for six days, essentially delaying and backlogging deliveries for weeks.  In April, more than twenty cargo ships were anchored off the coast of LA and Long Beach waiting to dock and unload, but due to congestion and limited staffing at the docks, the deliveries were delayed for days.

As consumer demands continue to increase, shipping industries are going to be stretched and challenged to innovate to be able to keep up.

Product Shortages

Whether it’s empty shelves at a retail shop, delayed delivery for online orders, or signage at a fast food restaurant about limitations on the menu – product shortages are quickly becoming the norm. 

According to Business Insider, there are shortages across all industries in this post-pandemic, reopening economy.  Consumers are having issues with products used daily – with everything from baby diapers to furniture to chicken wings. Some industries are facing challenges with computer chip and plastic shortages, drastically reducing the amount they can produce and sell to consumers.

Computer chip shortages are impacting production of cars, iPads and innovative technology that runs several industries. Basically, anything with a computerized component, which is practically everything we as consumers desire, has either limited production or is non-existent at this time.

Increased Cost

Limited or no access to supply is a prime driver for inflation and is proving to be quite challenging for both suppliers and consumers.  

Many started shipping and prepping months ago to have inventory on hand for the summer sales season, and it will likely pay off since they have the inventory to meet demand for these quick online lightening sales, even at the higher asking price.

For the average small business that does not have the cashflow or assets to float inventory and pay for storage for an additional three to four months ahead of the summer season, their eCommerce businesses are heavily impacted with this inability to have product to participate. If they are able to get it in time, they are also facing higher shipping expenses leading to much slimmer profit margins.

A recent survey of NRF’s 16,000+ membership revealed that more than two-thirds of members have been forced to add two to three weeks to their supply chains, resulting in reaching out to the President with a call for action to the port challenges.

As consumer demand remains high and inventory is limited, prices will continue to inflate across most industries. Unfortunately, many speculate that these issues will only continue to worsen over the coming months and eCommerce suppliers need to plan ahead for this upcoming holiday season.

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

As you approach this summer sales season and begin to plan ahead for the upcoming holiday season that will be here before we know it, simplify with OPAL.

With OPAL, your order fulfillment and inventory management will allow your team to keep up with demand, minimize errors and maximize your on-hand inventory to retailers and consumers.

To learn more about OPAL can help your business simplify, 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!

How One Company Uses OPAL to Automate Fulfillment in this Global Shipping Crisis

How One Company Uses OPAL to Automate Fulfillment in this Global Shipping Crisis

As we continue to hear more in the news every day about delays and capacity constraints as the new normal in every form of shipping, it becomes more crucial that eCommerce businesses reduce errors so that the inventory on hand can efficiently get to the customers who have purchased it.

Online shopping continues to grow and in addition to the shipping challenges, many product supply chains are also overstretched and unable to keep up with capacity. Errors not only eat up small profit margins, but sour customer loyalty.

As eCommerce businesses weather this storm of supply chain and shipping challenges, have you considered automating your fulfillment and shipping processes for efficiency during this hardship?

 

Meet This Supplier of Kitchen & Bath Décor and OPAL Fanatic

Prior to Opal, this team was experiencing the typical headaches and challenges that most business owners have with keeping up with sales with manual processes in eCommerce.

They were manually processing orders, which was very time-consuming because the fulfillment team would have to consolidate orders from different e-commerce channels, manually generate shipping labels, and manually upload tracking information into each partner’s vendor portal.

There were also the occasional (and costly) human errors that resulted in items being mis-shipped or already fulfilled orders mistakenly fulfilled again.  In the beginning, they only had a few SKUs and the manual tracking worked, but as her company and the number of SKUs grew— inventory tracking became a nightmare.

Low-inventory items oftentimes were double-sold, and then inventory mistakes would mean they would have to cancel orders and give the customer a poor experience. Finding items in the warehouse was also difficult, since there was no way for inventory/warehouse staff to track. All of this contributed to a slow shipping turnaround time and provided the customer with a poor experience—regardless of the amount of hard work that went into the manual processes to get products shipped to customers. 

Why Was Opal a Good Fit for You?

We decided to go with OPAL because of the high level of customizability to make the system fit our very specific needs. We also felt that for what it was, the system was a good value.

What Results Have You Achieved with OPAL?

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.

What Would You Say to Someone Who is Considering OPAL?

OPAL was the right system for us and I would highly recommend it to anyone considering an inventory tracking and order processing system. However, anyone considering OPAL should understand that the system wasn’t perfect “out of the box”. We worked hard with the OPAL team during the onboarding process to customize the system to our needs. 

If you are considering OPAL, this can absolutely be the system for you, but you need to clearly understand what your operating pain points are and what your ideal system needs to look like, and you must be ready to communicate extensively with the OPAL team to build that ideal system. This doesn’t happen overnight (for us, it happened in waves over the course of weeks and months), but in retrospect, the lengthy process was worth it and I would absolutely do it again.

This OPAL fanatic and customer realized that her teams’ manual errors were costing them financially with products shipping to wrong addresses or overselling products across various sales channels due to errors in reported inventory.  But she quickly learned how easily these errors were reduced through simplifying with automation.

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. 

With OPAL, your order processing will allow you to not only reach additional customers to sell more product, but you will build trust and prove dependability with your many sales channels.

To learn more about how OPAL can help your business simplify your order processing, 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!

Coping with Current eCommerce Supplier Business Obstacles

Coping with Current eCommerce Supplier Business Obstacles

With eCommerce sales soaring and consumer demand for product high, life should be pretty good, right?  However, there are a number of underlying obstacles keeping suppliers from reaping the benefit of this demand.

As companies push to capitalize on a reopening economy, the competitive search for available labor has become more and more challenging, even with the US currently reporting near-record highs of job openings.

However, even if you’re fortunate enough to find the people that you need, following Covid there is still the huge obstacle of a seriously disrupted supply chain.  

Who saw that coming?  

These supply chain issues range from the inability to get adequate quantities of raw material or manufactured product from off-shore sources, to delayed shipping and its escalating cost.  Then, of course, there are over-the-road trucking delays and more escalating costs.  

The consumer sees it and is getting frustrated when everything they want is available on-line but marked as out-of-stock when they attempt to order it.

So, how can your eCommerce business come out ahead with all of these issues in your way?  

Unfortunately, much of it is outside of your immediate control.  But as a business owner you know that the only option is to reduce operating costs and maximize the management and sale of the stock you have on hand.

The only real way to do this is through the digitization of business processes that optimize the resources – product and people – that you have, and consequently derive more business sustaining profit during these difficult times.

Think about it.  It’s not a leap.  You advertise your product digitally, you sell it digitally – why not digitize its fulfillment process as well?  

If you consider your current cost per order, is the combined cost of order management systems (including people), EDI, warehouse management systems and your shipping systems less than $1.00 per order?  It should be, AND it can be.

Digitally Streamlining Order Fulfillment

Digitally processing orders enables you to remove labor intensive aspects of order management and improve order accuracy up to 99%.  This enables you to either not hire or reallocate personnel that are currently tied up with mundane tasks to revenue producing and mission critical business activities.

Maximizing available inventory is also critical.  This includes real time inventory balances on hand and what’s in transit, as well as easily representing your inventory to your sales channels in a way that prevents underselling on slow moving channels and over selling on high volume channels – in other words, making your stock count to increase revenue.   

With digital tools, highly efficient pick, pack and ship processes makes it possible to maximize your shipments per day.  Not only do daily shipments increase drastically, but you can ship more without having to hire additional employees and spend the time training and bringing them up to speed.  

Choosing one software package to manage all of your order processing and fulfillment needs drastically reduces the cost of and time to manage multiple packages.  It is critical to find a solution that integrates easily with your accounting system and covers EDI transactions – a small expense per package shipped that adds up quickly when drop shipping directly to consumers.   

In fact, more than one year into the global pandemic, UPS believes supply chains have achieved in a matter of months what would have taken years to accomplish. With ever-increasing orders, automation improves order accuracy and reduces processing costs to just cents per order. 

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. 

With OPAL, automating your order fulfillment will allow you to not only reach additional customers to sell more product, but survive and thrive through these difficult times.  

To learn more about how OPAL can help your business simplify, 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!