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.


strategies stores are using to stay ahead

The latest sales data indicates that online sales are continuing to grow, while the pace of in-store sales is slowing down for many retailers.

Big box stores are adopting different strategies to deal with this shift in the way consumers shop, but there is no question they are taking this trend seriously.

Target announced recently that its fourth quarter online sales grew by 30% in 2016, while its store sales dropped by 6.1% year over year, prompting Target to cut its prices at the expense of profits. They are also planning to make better use of stores as fulfillment centers, and equipping all sales associates with mobile point of sale devices. The concept behind this strategy is that shoppers will think of Target as a great place to shop with great prices.

The brand Tommy Hilfiger who in the past derived sales not only from their own stores, but also from high street giant Macy’s, chose a different route. Tommy Hilfiger’s in store sales were lackluster and Macy’s is planning to close many of its stores, further contributing to the brand’s decline. Deciding to modernize the brand, Tommy Hilfiger looked to social media to bring the brand to the attention of younger audiences, and then debuted its latest collection with a fashion show in Venice Beach, California – an unusual move for a brand that would typically show its products in New York. The results were astonishing, with a surge in sales online in the 24 hours following the show, and 50% of traffic from first time visitors.

In line the with these stores, Kohl’s has also seen growth in its online sales and a decline in its in store sales. To counter this, they are reducing the size of their stores from around 88,000 square feet to something smaller, and reducing inventory by 3% across all stores for the next three years.

Whether it’s a price change, a new way of marketing your brand, or re-evaluating the use of the square footage in your bricks and mortar store, the pace of change in today’s retail industry requires continual assessment to keep the attention of today’s consumers.

Small and medium sized retailers also have to be innovative looking to more control of inventory, switching from in-store to online sales, using physical space not only as a store but also as a fulfillment center, and using technology to bring it all together – and who said retail was easy!


pre-orders add sales to your woocommerce store

If your customers are counting the days for one of your products to arrive in your store, and you know it is going to be in high demand, then adding the ability to take pre-orders is a great way to attract buyers and enable them to buy your product first.

We recently worked with a book publisher whose readers were waiting for a long-anticipated title to arrive, and adding pre-orders to their store was an incredible way to boost sales.

Pre-orders work well for books and media, apparel and electronic goods.

If you are considering adding a pre-order and / or back-order module to your store, xocbox can help – contact us for details.

 


meet xocbox and aabaco at IRCE, june 7, 2016 in chicago

The Aabaco Small Business Roadshow will be held in Chicago on June 7, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and xocbox is excited to be taking part in one of the panel discussions covering back office processes.

xocbox has been working on some innovative solutions for Aabaco merchants such as our drag and drop tool for section pages, EDI solutions and managing multi-stores.

We will be available at the Aabaco Small Business Conference throughout the day to answer questions and discuss your store, and during June 8 and 9 at IRCE.

If you are an Aabaco / Yahoo merchant, why not stop by and see how xocbox can help, or contact us now to set up an appointment.


as ecommerce grows, recruiting gets tougher

The recent headline on the front cover of Internet Retailer magazine screamed out Always Be Recruiting. What is happening in the etail world?

Due to the improved economy, and huge growth in e-commerce, experienced e-retail staff have found themselves to be in great demand.

While this is great news for those seeking work, it is making life difficult for employers trying to find the help they need to remain competitive, and is especially frustrating for small and mid-sized companies whose staff may be moving on to greener pastures.

The US Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting strong growth technical jobs that are essential to e-commerce. In fact, a survey by Dice.com which finds jobs for technical staff, found that 71% of those surveyed expected to see an increase in the number of technical staff they employ by as much as 11% in the first quarter of this year, and this scenario is expected to continue throughout the year.

One way companies are approaching this problem is with the use of technology in their own systems and processes to fuel growth, and this is where xocbox can help.

One of our customers recently observed that a process his staff had been doing manually before incorporating it into xocbox’s system, had taken about 15 minutes to do and involved cutting and pasting information from one place to another and possibly reformatting the data.

Since xocbox provides a central place to manage data from different sources, we were able to include this task into their processes, allowing staff to update data in their site in a matter of minutes by simply pressing a button and cutting out hours of tedious work.

If you are thinking of hiring more staff to keep up with an increasing workload, and ever changing demands, contact xocbox to see how we might be able to help.


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.


xocbox offers Ingram Books EDI compliant solution

sell ebooks and print books onlinexocbox.com now offers a fully integrated EDI solution for publishers working with Ingram Books.

Working with a publisher who offered ebooks on their own Woocommerce website, and also sold print books through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, xocbox has now enabled them to sell print books directly from their own website through their partnership with Ingram Books.

The Ingram EDI compliant solution offered by xocbox.com means that the publisher can now offer their customers  a choice of purchasing an ebook, a print book or a bundle of ebook and print.

The system is managed through the xocbox product manager where all book details, such as ISBNs, retail price, sales price, author information, publish date and book covers can be organized and pushed through to the Woocommerce website.

xocbox makes managing data an easy process, with user friendly screens and drop-downs.  The variations screen lets you choose the medium for the book you are selling.

 

xocbox option screen

 

 

When a customer buys a print book, the order is passed through the xocbox middleware to Ingram and processed for delivery to the customer.

xocbox manages the data ensuring that all transactions comply with Ingram’s EDI guidelines.

Ebooks are fulfilled by the publisher in the normal way, and Ingram drop ships the print books.

Contact xocbox for more information about EDI and Ingram Books, and integration with your website.


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!