inventory control leads to happier customers

As 2017 progresses, and retailers are confronted with the uncertainties of the border tax and an ever-shrinking labor market, staying on top of inventory is still a guaranteed way to keep customers happy.

I read recently that one of the major turn-offs for shoppers is when they have spent time online choosing a product, especially if the product requires them to spend time choosing variables, such as a piece of furniture which has fabric, finishes and sizes to consider, only to find when their purchase is added to the cart (or later) the product is not available.

Most of these companies use some type of inventory management system to track products that are in stock, sold out or coming soon, yet accurately representing inventory is still one of the most difficult areas for retailers to stay on top of.

The one size fits all approach offered by many of the inventory control products available still leaves enough friction in the process of managing stock to turn customers away.

xocbox works with many different types of retailers, and we see that all have unique business scenarios that make managing their inventory unique. We work with retailers, suppliers and manufacturers and see the supply chain from both ends of the puzzle. Whether you choose EDI, assistance with supplier feeds or are a manufacturer looking to expand your selling outlets, talk to xocbox to see how we can help you fulfill orders and keep your customers happy.


supply chain for small to medium sized business

shirts
 
 
Supply chain is again one of the hot topics and is predicted to be one of the biggest areas of investment in technology for retailers during 2016.

In fact, the scramble to get ahead by retailers can be seen in the recruitment of new faces to manage the supply chain operation in companies such as Target and Wayfair.

Target announced that they had hired Amazon veteran Arthur Valdez as executive VP and Chief Supply Chain and Logistics officer, while home furnishings etailer, Wayfair LLC, hired Staples veteran, Sharif Sleiman, to lead its supply chain operations (Sleiman has also held managerial positions at Groupon, eBay and Oracle).

At the last ProMat Supply Chain Management show the focus was on supply chain management software, with an emphasis on systems integration, and the ability to fulfill increasingly complex orders.

Many businesses (including some large companies) still rely heavily on manual processes, and according to a report from Supply Chain Insights, managing procurement and supplier relations is still one of the most time consuming tasks they undertake.

Why is supply chain so important to the retailing giants, and how can small and midsized companies compete?

Software integration is integral to an organization’s success. If all the processes required to carry out your business don’t “talk to each other” then a person will have to step in to connect everything together.

A growing number of smaller businesses is now realizing that the investment in technology to solve these problems can greatly improve existing processes, and save valuable time and dollars.

xocbox can help

xocbox offers semi-custom automation solutions for small to mid-sized businesses and has provided EDI solutions to allow communication with suppliers and the electronic placing of website orders for fulfillment, inventory management, and can provide integration with third party products.

A recent project working for a small manufacturer of custom products, allowed orders to be placed via multiple ecommerce platforms and processed through the xocbox management system, and a work-order was then produced from the system to be passed on to the shop floor to make the product.

Previously the work orders had been generated manually, and as the products usually involved more than one trade to complete, had to be generated multiple times by hand. This new process has saved many hours of administrative time, and reduced errors (and frustration).

If you are considering automating a process in your business and are not sure where to begin, contact xocbox to discuss how we may help.


etsy and woocommerce integration with xocbox

handmade clay pots

Woocommerce stores can now sell their products on Etsy using the xocbox product manager and integration tools.

Etsy offers Woocommerce stores that sell unique and/or handcrafted products another channel without any additional work when using xocbox.

Once your product information is in xocbox, you can push it to both Woocommerce and Etsy, and if you want to make your product descriptions unique for each store, additional form fields allow you to do this before publishing.

If you currently sell on Etsy and would like to open a Woocommerce store using your Etsy listings to get you started, no problem!

Once your Etsy products are in the xocbox product manager, any new products added can be pushed to one or both stores, as you move forward.

Selling more products just got a whole lot easier with xocbox!


Improving Supply Chains

shopping
 
 
In a recent study carried out by Boston Retail Partners that surveyed 500 North American retailers, one of the main areas of concern was supply chain.

Of those respondents, 93% were working towards solutions that would allow them to integrate operations and sales from physical stores, and online sales from desktop and mobile devices.

Ensuring that the flow of products to customers is seamless from the purchase order issued to a supplier, right through to delivery – whether via drop ship or through the retailer’s own store has been made more efficient through the use of electronic data interchange, or EDI.

In fact, many of the major big box stores will not work with smaller suppliers if they do not carry out their operations in this way.

Rigid guidelines and standards must be followed to enable EDI to work smoothly, and universal forms and messaging formats, for example, Invoice 810, Advance Shipping Notice 856, are recognized formats.

There is no question that EDI is efficient as a business to business tool.

However, if you are a retailer trying to respond to customer demand as indicated by social media, Google data or other web signals, you may need additional monitoring tools to meet your company’s demand.

If your company is facing challenges with any aspect of its supply chain, drop ship or delivery, contact xocbox who would be pleased to discuss your business needs.


do you need omnichannel retailing?

desktop-gf-storeMost retailers know that being able to offer their products online is an essential part of their marketing strategy, rather than an option.

However, a recent report by comScore revealed that 173 million people in the US now own a smart phone, and are using this device to check emails and text messages all day long.

They are also using it to shop.

As retailers, whether we like it or not, omnichannel retailing is here to stay, and marketing-savvy retailers have been making sure their websites are mobile-optimized, and ready to offer features and services to customers during the holiday season, so they don’t miss out to the shopping giants and big-box stores.

So what can you do to get your store up to speed?  Omnichannel retailing really means that all the places where your customers can buy … physical store, online via desktop, smartphone, ipad or tablet … work together seamlessly for your customers.

Put yourself in the position of your customer and try to buy something from your own store through all the channels that you offer.  How was the experience?  Did you get smoothly to checkout?  Were there frustrating delays or screens that didn’t display correctly, or not at all?  Once you have pinpointed the sticking points, get your tech team and staff to iron out the issues.

You have probably already figured out your holiday marketing campaign, but research is showing that email is still a favorite by many retailers.  In the study mentioned above,  it was found that 42 percent of emails sent were opened on smartphones, and an additional 17 percent opened on tablet devices.  So definitely make sure your site is mobile optimized.

Follow the lead of large bricks and mortar stores, such as Staples,  who are aggressively using email campaigns to drive customers into their stores, and tempting them with a series of coupons and special offers.

Keeping in close contact with your customers through all devices will be key this holiday season, and those who don’t will lose out on precious holiday sales to retailers who have planned their omni-channel strategy to create an excellent customer experience at all of their store touchpoints.

If you would like information on omichannel retailing for your online or bricks and mortar store, contact info@xocbox.com.