Drop Shipping

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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Pre-Orders for Woocommerce Stores

If you sell a product that is something your customers anticipate and can’t wait to purchase as soon as it hits the stores, then offering the ability to pre-order is a great way to attract new customers and entice existing customers back to your store.

The xocbox pre-order module was designed with your Woocommerce store in mind.  Unlike some of the pre-order plugins that are available, the xocbox module has the advantage of allowing customers to shop in the normal way and add items to their shopping cart, and also add pre-order items to the same cart.

When it’s time to checkout the whole amount of the cart is authorized, but only the available items are charged to the customer, and shipped.

When the pre-order items arrive in your store, funds are collected from those who have pre-ordered, and the items are shipped to them together with their tracking information.

This year  we worked with a publisher who added the pre-order module to their book store, and it has been a great hit with their customers.    They offer titles as ebooks, print books, or a combination of print and ebook.

As new titles are prepared for sale, they can keep in touch with customers and update them on pre-order dates and publication dates for both ebooks and print books, and their customers are then the first to receive new titles they are interested in.

xocbox worked with the publisher to create custom product pages and messages on their website, and also create custom email messages for each stage of the pre-order process.

Pre-orders are a great addition to any store that sells new and seasonal products where the store owner can predict the product arrival date in their store.

Books, games, electronics and fashion items are perfect products for pre-order, and enable you to keep in touch with past customers to let them know of new products they may like, and be the first to receive.

If you would like to learn more about the xocbox pre-order module, call 858-752-3803, or read more here.

xocbox Pre-Order Module

 

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Same Day Delivery Shipping Wars Heat Up

In December 2017 we learned that Target had acquired Shipt for $550m in order to let Target customers order groceries and other products online and have them shipped to their home addresses from nearby Target stores.

The goal of this acquisition is to allow Target to offer same day delivery from approximately half of its stores by mid-2018, adding even more stores by the holiday season.

Not all categories of products will be included but it will start with groceries, electronics and other household goods and plans to include all product groups by the end of 2019.

Today Bloomberg reported that Amazon is considering acquiring some of the properties left vacant by the recent bankruptcy of Toys R Us. There is no information on what exactly Amazon plans to do with these stores, but it could continue to expand its bricks and mortar store operations and expand its bookstores which also serve as retail outlets for its Echo devices.

Another possibility for Amazon is that the acquisition of more retail outlets would allow for a bigger network to place inventory closer to where shoppers live, and would allow faster delivery to ecommerce shoppers in more areas.

Amazon has already placed merchants under pressure with the amazing speed and success of its Prime delivery, and as Amazon’s advancement with drone deliveries continues, the competition to keep up with faster delivery times grows more fierce.

Amazon’s goal is to develop a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles that can deliver packages to shoppers in under 30 minutes, and today it was reported that it has been granted a patent for a delivery drone that can respond to human gestures, with the hope that this will help Amazon to figure out how drones will interact with customers who are in the vicinity of their doorsteps.

Walmart’s approach is slightly different, but equally important. Walmart announced that it is planning to put Fedex Office locations in 500 of its stores over a two year period. Not only will they provide the usual FedEx services, but Walmart customers can also have online orders that are being delivered by FedEx held at a Walmart store for pick up.

As big box retailers think or more ways to get products to our doorsteps in the quickest possible time, the shipping challenge continues for niche online stores to compete.

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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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Amazon robots lead to better fulfillment

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Amazon revealed today that it had deployed 15,000 robots in ten of its fulfillment centers throughout the US. This will allow Amazon to increase the performance of its already super fast fulfillment centers.

After purchasing Kiva Systems Inc, a logistical provider of robot technology, Amazon anticipated it would have approximately 10,000 in centers by 2015. The retail giant estimates that the introduction of robots will not only increase the speed of fulfilling orders, but also eventually reduce operating costs by as much as $450 million.

Amazon is really raising the standard for retailers with super-fast shipping, and super-fast fulfillment. So what can smaller retailers to do attract buyers to their store when confronted with this competition?

Small businesses need to automate as many of their processes as possible to improve the service they offer to shoppers, and also to free up some of the time their associates would otherwise spend on routine tasks.

Retail predictions for 2015 are betting on a customer-centric year, where customer service, customer interaction with products and services and custom items for customers are a high priority. Small and medium sized businesses focusing on personalized products can make a big impression on shoppers with superlative service and the clever use of technology.

Contact xocbox to learn about automating your business processes.

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