This week we’re featuring a guest blog from Volo’s Ethan Morgan. Volo is one our key partners, connecting via Mothercloud to support real-time integrations for Magento 1.x, Magento 2.1 and BigCommerce
Mothercloud’s any-point integration allows BigCommerce and Magento users (1.x and 2.1) to connect their webstores to the Volo platform. Volo is the leading multichannel solution provider, offering end-to-end automation from supply chain management to fulfilment.
We talked about the problems multichannel businesses suffer from in last week’s introduction, so let’s get to business: how could your business improve with great data and fast insight?
The Master Lever
We’ve talked in previous blogs about levers for growth and efficiency – well, reporting and data is like the master switch that enables the rest of those decisions to be made.
Too many businesses don’t see enough of their own data – they miss opportunities to grow, ways to cut costs and get better, and struggle to decide on quick and effective action.
Using Data to Grow
See the whole picture
Aiming for great information quality isn’t just to make your life easier: it also directly affects buyers. Identifying items which are supplied with inaccurate or partial product data can help you improve the range of products you carry – and of course, the inverse is true where you can identify suppliers who provide great product information to you, and by extension to your customers.
Using supplier feeds is a great way to manage your inventory as a whole. You want to be able to check stock and sales across channels, locations, SKUs and suppliers.
Being able to easily access this information means you can tailor your strategy appropriately. Changes in a metric like sales velocity can give you actionable information. For example, a dip in sales velocity might indicate the end-of-season for a product, or it might result from the competition lowering prices and making you uncompetitive. A large jump in velocity might mean your price is too low, and you may be missing out on margin.
Offering the same stock across multiple channels enables you to get in front of many more potential customers. However, it can be hard to identify which products sell best on which channels – perhaps your website is the perfect venue for certain items, where others offer better returns on eBay.
The key to unlocking the potential of your inventory is being able to break down your sales data by product, region, channel and over different time periods.
It’s vital to know which products have a decent net margin. There’s nothing wrong with having a high-volume low-margin strategy, but this requires very careful monitoring. It’s amazing how frequently businesses will put time and energy into products which see them make almost no money.
You need to be able to define all of your costs, set targets and monitor your performance against those targets across channels, suppliers and regions.
Fulfilment and Shipping
Mistakes made in your warehouse cut into your margin. Accurate reporting can help you target training, or identify processes which need to change to reduce error count.
Aside from picking, packing and dispatching, you need to look more broadly at your courier setup. Investing some time using your data to evaluate the options available to you by region, size and volume forecast can pay dividends.
Getting the Data in Front of You
That’s really what this comes down to: we’d all love to know exactly what was happening at every stage of the business, and be able to act on that level of insight.
Sadly, we live in a real and complex world where, in most businesses, that information is contained in many different places and updated according to different procedures. The challenge is to integrate those systems and get everything working together so that you can see the whole picture.