Automation

How the pandemic is shaping tech decisions

There is no doubt that the decisions that retailers made early this year about where to focus their tech spending are changing rapidly as the year unfolds.

Whether it’s trying to attract a new, shelter-at-home shopper, the addition of new more relevant product lines, or how to carry out regular retail processes more efficiently with a smaller number of employees all working remotely, retailers large and small have been struggling to meet the challenge of COVID-19.

We have found that the pandemic has affected our retail customers differently, with some becoming busier than they were during the holiday season and looking for ways to automate more of their processes, some looking to boost their supply chain processes and source new products, and others trying innovative new marketing strategies such as live webinars, allowing them to connect on a more personal level with their customers.

xocbox has also been working to find innovative solutions to help our customers by working with their existing websites and technology, and introducing new integrated custom solutions to enable them to remain competitive and keep selling products during these difficult times.

If you are looking for cost-effective ways to manage your retail operation with the help of technology, we would love to help you – call us today at 858-752-3803.

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A new way for furniture suppliers to onboard products

Furniture suppliers and retailers know that onboarding products to an ecommerce store can be a time-consuming task. Retailers often offer at least 50 to 100 different furniture manufacturers on their websites, and would gladly offer more, but to get started with a new supplier can often take weeks of data entry and mapping, and no two suppliers are ever exactly the same.

xocbox is now working with suppliers to catalog their products in order to provide aggregated content and images to retailers, and can support a variety of ecommerce platform APIs which eliminates the need for manual data entry.

If you are a furniture supplier looking for ways to assist retailers onboard your products in order to reach more sales outlets, read more here, or contact xocbox today at 858-752-3803.

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Predicted Retail Trends in 2018

Five  important retail trends to look out for in 2018 were outlined in a recent report by Synchrony using data from a consumer survey carried out in January 2018.

As you would expect technology and AI featured heavily in the list, and here are the highlights below:

1. Voice Technology – 51% Shop Using a Smart Speaker

The report shows that 30 percent of consumers now own a voice-controlled device, and this is good news for retailers as consumers are using these devices to shop.  51 percent of these owners are shopping using a smart speaker.  Many retailers are also looking into ways to use voice technology coupled with AI, such as using purchase data to automatically order regularly purchased items.

2. The Car as a Connected Shopping Channel

It is expected that by 2020, 75% of new cars will be connected to the internet.  This will mean that drivers will be able to make purchases in advance from their car.  This is an exciting opportunity for retailers and many are already investing in location technology and the connected car is a great way to use location marketing to drive additional sales.

3. Using AI to Create Customized Shopping Experiences

Many companies are already exploring this technology.  A Gartner survey of  IT and Business Leaders carried out in March 2017 found that over half of those taking part in the  study expect to be using machine learning within the next three years.

Retailers are exploring AI in connection with personalization, as studies have shown that 51% of shoppers said that receiving a relevant offer from a retailer would make them more likely to shop there more often.

Retailers are also exploring more ways to use machine learning for automating customer offers based on past behavior, managing stock and inventory levels, and personalizing offers, and gifts.

4. Retail Mobile Apps

The Synchrony Study revealed that 63 percent of those in the US, and 81 percent of Millennials, have downloaded a retailer mobile app and the time spent shopping with a retailer mobile app is on the rise.

Retailers have a perfect opportunity to find out more about customers shopping habits and preferences with an app, and are able to present further relevant information and offers through the app, and shoppers love apps because they have access to more offers and the ability to purchase items quickly.

5. Social Responsibility

Shoppers love shopping at retailers that share their values and some shoppers have said they will even stop shopping at a store that is at odds with their beliefs.  In response to this many retailers are donating to charities or disaster relief, or working with a group to help achieve their core beliefs.

So there are many considerations for retailers to take into account over the coming year, as consumers embrace technology and information in innovative ways to change the way they shop.

 

 

 

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EDI for Yahoo Stores Eliminates Data Entry

As ecommerce stores try to compete with Amazon and Walmart, they continue to seek ways to not only speed up the process from the time the customer places an order to actually receiving the product at their door, but also try to cut their own costs and become more efficient.

These two scenarios present a challenge because at first glance it appears that it is difficult to present the customer with a more efficient process from purchase right through to delivery, and lower administrative costs at the same time.

Yet xocbox has helped Yahoo Store Merchants do this by offering an EDI solution which enables them to eliminate some manual tasks, and frees up employees’ time so they can work on higher value projects.

Unlike some of the web-EDI solutions offered to online stores, the EDI solution that xocbox offers Yahoo stores is a fully integrated product which means that you do not have to re-key data into a third party product in order to pass the data on to the EDI trading partner.

A great benefit to Yahoo merchants is that this has allowed them to trade with suppliers who will only sell to them if they use EDI, enabling them to offer a much greater selection of products, and increase their sales revenue.

xocbox provided the back-end system required to achieve this, and worked with their suppliers to ensure that transactions were processed correctly. Once all testing was complete, they were up and running with a new supplier. No additional staff or training was required by the store to do this, and they were able to introduce a new line of products to their store.

With xocbox EDI Yahoo stores are able to manage their orders, and also product onboarding and inventory.

By transacting with your partners electronically you can save time, offer a greater range of products, and free up time to do other valuable tasks within your business.

If this sounds like something that would work for your store, learn more about the Benefits of xocbox EDI products here, or call xocbox at 858-752-3803.

For those looking to automate just about everything – from product onboarding, taking orders, and shipping products – read about the xocbox No Touch Store, where you literally don’t have to touch a thing.

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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!

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Does Your Store Need Automation?

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With the amazing speed of delivery and array of products offered by Amazon, and the recent acquisition of Jet.com by Walmart, it is no wonder that we are getting more and more inquiries from small and medium sized retailers about store automation. The bar has definitely been raised on customer expectations in the online shopping world by the leading retailers.

xocbox provides solutions to Woocommerce and Yahoo (Aabaco) stores to automate many processes allowing owners to have products and prices be dynamically updated, and have orders pass through to suppliers for fulfillment.

We recently worked with a Yahoo store owner who requested that we automate as many of the processes in his stores as possible, so we did! Working with his suppliers, the resulting stores we have designed are practically “no touch” stores, as xocbox has eliminated much of the manual work normally required to process orders.

Orders that come in to the Yahoo store pass through to the supplier to be fulfilled via drop ship EDI, and shipping details and tracking notifications are then sent to the customers.

We have set up the process to check inventory, and automatically update complex products which vary not only by size and color, but also have option level pricing. The xocbox system also includes fraud checks, and customer risk assessment and if an order passes all checks, it can be sent directly to the supplier. Alternatively, the store owner can review an order, and approve it via a checkbox in the xocbox backend system before passing it on to the supplier for fulfillment.

If you are interested in learning more about EDI, drop ship or automating other processes in your store, call us today at 858-752-3803, or email info@xocbox.com.

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