Posts on Oct 2014

Improving Supply Chains


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 – we would be pleased to discuss your business needs.

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Apple Makes Headline News Again

apple introduces apple pay


This week Apple announced that it had sold an astonishing 39 million iPhones in the quarter ending September 2014, up from 33.8 million sold in the same quarter last year.

There is no doubt that we love our smartphones, and yesterday the iPhone just got smarter with the introduction of Apple Pay, described on their website as “Your Wallet. Without the Wallet”.

Many major banks have already signed up to parter with Apple, and more are scheduled to follow.

The convenience that Apple Pay presents for shoppers, and the huge number of iPhones sold, suggests that consumers will readily adopt this new way of paying.

Apple Pay can be used with retailers and chains such as Open Table, Panera Bread, Target and Staples, with more scheduled to follow.

What About Your Store?

So can your store use Apple Pay yet?

Most retail stores that accept contactless payments that are based on wireless-chip technology, or NFC, should be able to use Apple Pay. If your store has the hardware in place, but has not activated the functionality yet, now may be a good time to do so.

Shoppers can also use Apple Pay within store apps, without having to enter card numbers, or any other personal information, using fingerprint ID to authorize a transaction.

Research indicates that the majority of stores in the US are not equipped at this time to do contactless transactions, and smaller retailers may be wondering how they are going to keep up with yet another new piece of technology.

However, due to a requirement coming into force in 2015, merchants will need to upgrade equipment to include an enhanced security system or EMV, so now may be a good time to also enhance the system with NFC capability.

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What is Drop Shipping?

shipping boxes and supplies

When you open an online store, the main thing you need is inventory.

Without any products to sell, you don’t have a store.  This seems pretty obvious.

However, many people are surprised when they start listing products online, as it often takes many more product lines and categories than first anticipated to fill an online store.

So if you don’t have the funds to buy hundreds of different product lines, or simply don’t have the storage space, then drop shipping may provide the answer.

How Does Drop Shipping work?

Basically, you do not purchase products to store in your own warehouse until sold.  Instead, you make arrangements with a wholesale supplier to list their products on your website, and when a product is sold, the supplier ships the product.  Sounds simple.

The arrangement is straightforward enough, however, there are a few things you should be aware of.

  • Firstly, you lose control of the inventory, and this may ultimately cause customer service problems.  For example, if there is a delay in shipping, or a product is damaged on arrival.
  • Also, since drop shippers usually sell to many retailers, keeping track of their inventory, as well as your own is difficult.
  • Profit margins on sales are also lower than if you were to purchase products and sell them directly to your customers.

The benefits of drop shipping are:

  • You can add more products to your website, and give your customers greater selection.
  • You don’t have to deal with the packing and shipping of products yourself.
  • You can begin your retail store without the expense of buying inventory to stock your store, so this can be a good way to get started.
  • You can “try out” a new product or new category, just to see if it’s a good fit for your store, without actually buying the product.

In conclusion, drop shipping has many advantages, and some disadvantages.  Retailers often find a combination of products housed in their warehouse, and those shipped directly from drop ship suppliers is a good way to go.

Once you have elected to work with a drop shipper, always monitor their performance in regard to product fulfillment and customer service.  If you find that a particular supplier does not perform well for you, it is better to stop selling that product, rather than risk your online reputation.

For information about selling through drop ship vendors, and how xocbox systems can help you keep track of shipments and inventory, please contact xocbox.





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