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!

Preparing for the Supply Chain Crisis to Continue to 2022

Preparing for the Supply Chain Crisis to Continue to 2022

This past year has been a challenging time for many companies as they scramble to meet higher consumer demands for essential goods and an assortment of physical goods, while dealing with supply chain issues globally.

Prior to the pandemic, personal consumption of physical goods had steadily decreased as consumers focused on entertainment, travel and dining out.  However, with so many staying home or reducing activities outside of the house to limit exposure, personal consumption has grown to 20% above what it would have been had the pandemic not ever occurred.

This shift has wreaked havoc on eCommerce businesses as they maneuver supply chain issues and ever-increasing inflation rates.

 

Challenges

  • Buying Habits

With more than 60% of buyers altering they way they shopped in the past year, it’s no wonder the challenges eCommerce businesses and supply chains are experiencing.

 

As consumers face issues with backordered products, more than half will change their selection to different products that are more readily available.  Businesses who can update online systems or train customer service representatives to provide the next level of customer service and offer alternatives within their own inventory will see success and not lose the business to other competing businesses.

 

  • Inventory

Everyone has a story from the past year of experiencing shortages with essential items like toilet paper and disinfectant cleaning supplies.

 

Unfortunately, this is due to “zero inventory models,”the trend in how companies typically handle inventory with only keeping on hand what they can immediately sell.  This does not include overstock because it is viewed as reducing waste, but as we’ve seen does not allow for the increased demand causing shortages and empty shelves.

 

Many companies utilize inventory management software that tracks patterns, such as when cities were shutting down to shelter in place and shelves were empty of essential items or seasonal demands.

 

Software has allowed businesses to find the balance between excess inventory (waste) and having enough for consumers to purchase to better handle the increasing demands of consumers.

 

  • Employees

This pandemic allowed many to jump to new opportunities with completely new career paths and has led to a labor shortage.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 11 million job openings, with the largest deficit in accommodations and food services.

 

The unskilled labor market, which includes restaurants, fast food, retail or manufacturing facilities, has the largest challenge with attracting and keeping good talent.

 

Businesses are having to pay premium wages, focus on company culture, and offer benefits and numerous perks to entice employees to sign on and stay.

Overcoming Challenges in the New Year

Analysis of the past few years and strategic thinking for growth ahead will be critical for the coming year. As your business begins tweaking and automating more processes, keep these critical components in mind as you consider new approaches with software.

– One Comprehensive Solution

Reduces the cost of multiple software packages needed for your order processing and fulfillment needs, so that you can keep up with increasing consumer demand.
A shift from manual steps to autonomous processes increases your capacity for more, accurate orders without the need to hire additional staff.

– Pick, Pack & Ship

Automation drives labor costs down and increases capacity to fulfill new orders immediately, without the hassle of hiring and training new staff.

– Strengthen Relationships with Sales Channels

Optimizes on time delivery to consumers, while managing compliant retailer transactions, real-time inventory and shipping documents.

– Eliminate EDI Charges

Connection to all retailers, suppliers and warehouses without 3rd party charges.

– Up & Running Quickly

No downtime required in setup and syncs to all accounting and ERP systems without customization required.

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 optimize processes for this coming new year ahead, 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!

The Evolution of Cyber Monday

The Evolution of Cyber Monday

Though it is difficult to remember a holiday season before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the traditions themselves are relatively young. 

Black Friday started small in Philadelphia in the mid-1950s, where people would come to town after Thanksgiving for the annual Army-Navy football game held every year on Saturday.  Businesses were packed to the brim and sales were high, but with the extra shoppers came the extra shoplifters – and police quickly termed the day Black Friday.  

It was not until later in the 1980s, when profits were down and retailers were looking for the holiday boost that Black Friday was picked up nationally and proven to help launch holiday sales and record profits for year end.

Cyber Monday began as a new online shopping trend in the early 2000s.  They even considered calling it Black Monday to better accompany Black Friday, or Blue Monday after the blue hyperlinks.  Neither seemed to click, as black Monday references the day the world stock markets crashed and blue Monday does not exactly provide the upbeat holiday image marketers were looking to emphasize.

How It All Began

The term “Cyber Monday” was debuted in 2005 through a press release by the National Retail Federation (NRF) to highlight the recurring spike in online revenue and traffic on the Monday following Thanksgiving.  In the initial press release in 2005, claims were made that “77% of online retailers had seen their sales increase substantially since the previous year” and this trend was expected to continue to grow.  

It was believed that shoppers would eat their way through Thanksgiving, shop their way through the sales on Black Friday, and then Monday be at work and online to shop because the internet connections were much faster and the kids could not see what would be under the tree.

The New York Times report picked up the story, helping to educate consumers about online shopping opportunities on the upcoming Monday, and that Monday reached almost a half-billion dollars, a 26% increase from the prior year.

How It’s Going

It took years for it to live up to the initial claim “biggest online shopping day of the year.” In its first decade, many retailers and consumers believed it was more about the marketing gimmicks than sales. 

However, in 2014, everything changed. That Cyber Monday marked the actual biggest online shopping day in the country’s history and each year since it has been beaten.

Amidst a global pandemic, Cyber Monday in 2020 broke the nation’s record with Americans spending more than $10.8 billion online, crowning it the biggest eCommerce sales day in the country’s history. Part of this success is at the cost of brick-and-mortar stores who were closed or running at limited capacity due to shelter in place restrictions, causing a drop by more than 40% during Cyber Week.   

With so much uncertainty with the supply chain and many shoppers taking advantage of the extended holiday season, many are still predicting a strong Cyber Monday with sales more than $11.8 billion this year.  

How did you fare on the Biggest eCommerce Day of the Year?

 

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 optimize processes for this coming new year ahead, 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!

Are You Ready for an eCommerce Platform?

Are You Ready for an eCommerce Platform?

With the busiest single online shopping day still approaching, suppliers and retailers are feeling the pressure this year to survive and thrive through this extended holiday season and still have inventory for Cyber Monday.  

As the holiday season progresses, it’s important to stop and take note of bottlenecks and areas that are doing well so that as things calm in the new year, your business can assess what changes need to be made.  Part of the solution to bottlenecks may be finding, or changing to, a software solution that will help your organization achieve its goals.

Are you considering a new eCommerce software solution?

 

Why Use an eCommerce Platform—

A software solution empowers you to take your business to the next level through production almost instantaneously.  It helps streamline how your business interacts with your retailers, customers and employees.  

It also helps execute complex functions on both the front end and back end of the business with simplicity, such as reducing the time to fulfill orders and reducing errors from manually entered data at every stop in the process.

 

How to Select your eCommerce Software Solution—

A software solution successfully achieves the desired outcomes and objectives of your business.  Before this can happen, your organization must accurately assess how your business is handling such persistent high consumer demands and inconsistent supply chain issues.  

Inward reflection and assessment will help call out the processes and areas of the business that are excelling, as well as the bottlenecks that would be made more efficient with the implementation of a simple software solution.

Understanding the competitive landscape will also help to better select the type of software solution your organization needs.  If the products you sell have several variations, then a robust inventory management system is mandatory.  Individual SKUs and how you organize the layout of the inventory in the warehouse are all critical components for your team to pick, pack and ship to consumers in a timely manner.

Another important area to assess is your partnership and processes with your retailers.  They are under high pressure to assure that products are delivered quickly (same-day in some instances) and correctly to consumers, and suppliers who cannot keep up under this pressure are unfortunately cut from the list of suppliers when errors begin to arise and trust fades.

 

What Factors to Consider in your Software Selection – 

  • Vendor Experience & Expertise:  When you meet with the software vendor, it is important to discuss how they have impacted and grown other eCommerce businesses.  
  • Support & Scalability:  Implementation is key for the software solution to work, so a supportive software vendor will provide training custom to what your organization’s needs and goals. 
  • Compliant Processes with Retailers:  Communicating who you supply products to and current processes will help the vendor to better personalize your package to your organization.  
  • Unlimited Order Capacity and EDI Included:  The shift from a few bulk orders to thousands of small packages drop shipped to consumers everywhere has drastically increased the price of EDI for many organizations.  Find a software solution that includes this as part of the package to drastically reduce costs per transaction.

 

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 and the system syncs to all accounting and ERP systems without any customization required.  

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!

Black Friday in October?

Black Friday in October?

Retailers are urging consumers who have specific items in mind to shop early this holiday season, something made evident with numerous Black Friday sales launching the week before Halloween.  

Everything from face wash and home goods to toys and craft supplies are on sale at retailers across the nation and online right now.  Global supply chain disruptions around the world have increased the cost of manufacturing and shipping, forcing prices to sky rocket for consumers. 

The cost of shipping containers alone has soared in the last quarter.  A 40-foot container from Shanghai to New York cost $2,000 before the pandemic began.  However, now it runs close $16,000 and takes months to get overseas, through a port and to retailers and consumers.  This is just one of the many expenses that are being passes along to consumers.

Local stores are facing empty shelves in some areas where products were ordered more than eight months ago and still have not arrived.  Challenges could be based on shipping issues, others are based on raw material shortages.   Both force prices up for the actual product, in addition to an even more inflated price based on the increased demand and supply shortage.  

  • Continued Uncertainty

eCommerce cannot seem to catch up lately, with more people than ever shopping online and several areas of the supply chain are either down or operating below capacity, causing backups down the coast and preventing ships from being unloaded and products getting shipped to retailers and consumers.

 

Nearly half of American companies report they are short on skilled workers, with goods-producing sector hit the hardest.  Suppliers and retailers are not able to keep up with demand, making it harder to survive against so many new eCommerce businesses ready to compete on small profit margins and similar products. 

 

Inflammatory holiday season is a new term for many this holiday season, resulting in fewer goods to unwrap this holiday season. Unfortunately, a speedy recovery from this looks slim as backlogs and elevated shipping costs are likely to persist through at least the middle of 2022.

  • Increased Customer Expectations

Online shopping allows and encourages consumers to refine their search for more particular products, rather than perusing retail stores looking for interesting items for gifts this holiday season.  

 

Many consumers now demand free returns and free shipping, reliable and quick customer service, accurate and responsive websites, and varieties of payment methods, all while receiving a personalized shopping experience. In a good year, where companies are fully staffed, this is both costly and demanding.  This year, those who can rise to meet this premium standard of service will be set apart from others.

 

Customer retention is also incredibly challenging.  Though it is typically valued more so over new prospects, with so much competition in the market it is extremely difficult to guarantee a customer becomes a repeat customer. Suppliers are at the mercy of retailers to provide loyalty perks, discounts like black Friday sales as we approach this holiday, and doorbusters that will help promote products in store or online.

  • Increased Cybercrime

With the unprecedented expansion of so many online stores, shoppers are spending more time and more money than ever online, and with this increase comes theft.  

 

Trends show that there’s a huge increase in hacks and breached data from sources that are common – such as mobile phones, loT devices like smart watches and remote working conditions that may not have top of the line security like an office would.

 

Research also suggests that smaller companies may not have the resources needed to protect data properly, making them vulnerable to data loss.  Whether it’s paying vendors or accepting payments directly from customers or retailers, having sound security practices in place is critical for ongoing 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 your eCommerce business looks to optimize processes for this coming holiday season and a new year ahead that will not slow down, OPAL is here to assist you so that you can grow your business and meet the demands of consumers and retailers.

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!

Fulfillment Strategies for this Holiday Season

Fulfillment Strategies for this Holiday Season

In the recent months, retailers and suppliers have done everything in their control to help stabilize the global supply chain as we approach this holiday season.  With many countries still shut down due to Covid restrictions and parts shortages for a wide range of products, it’s no wonder there are delays throughout the entire supply chain process worldwide.  

Biden announced the White House’s plan to help ease supply chain bottlenecks in the US by funding key West Coast ports to stay open 24/7, as well as ramping up nighttime operations for freight railroads in warehouse and shipping hubs. 

FedEx and UPS were first to announce expanded-hours operation plans to assist with delivering the backlog of packages that sit in the long line of cargo ships down the west coast. As this plan moves closer to execution, many other larger retailers have since joined together to help solve this crisis. 

The holidays are the most lucrative time of year for businesses.  As we enter this crunch season over the next ten weeks, and hopefully more products begin hitting store shelves, supplier warehouses, and online inventories, here are a few key fulfillment strategies to focus on to thrive this holiday season.

Effective Warehouse Management
It is key to quickly and efficiently receive the goods, process them and send them back out to the correct address on time.  eCommerce businesses that succeed typically implement a software solution that helps automate and streamline daily operations.  It simplifies and directs the team to know what to pick, pack and ship.  

Warehouse layout is also a critical component to efficiency.  After the summer and fall rushes, it is important to see what is working and what needs to be adjusted so that the holiday season can run smoothly.

Trained Employees
The holiday season is like the eCommerce championship games in sports and not the time to train new employees for their first game.  Everywhere we look there’s help wanted signs and those fortunate enough to snag talented employees need to focus on keeping everyone motivated and engaged so that they are content and not looking for other opportunities.

It is critical to walk new employees through the entire fulfillment process — from inventory to order management to the picking and packing process. Partnering new employees with seasoned employees will help keep the flow and speed needed each day, reduce common errors that are both expensive and timely, and provide on the job training to new employees.

Efficient Shipping Strategy
Consumers have high expectations and many believe the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.  Many online retailers promote two-day shipping and provide online guarantees for shipping before December 24th.  No matter what the size of your ecommerce business, it can be daunting with all of the shipping delays across the country. Having a plan in place and communicating with your retailers will be critical during this time.

 

Any normal year would have retailers and ecommerce businesses ready to officially launch the holiday season at Black Friday, but with shortages and shipping delays, consumers started shopping much earlier than expected this year.  Reducing costly errors through efficient warehouse management, training employees and efficient shipping strategies will help as we enter this holiday shopping season.     

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 optimize fulfillment processes, OPAL is here to assist you in each of the strategies above with a significant Return on Investment outcome.

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!