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 can your ecommerce business improve efficiency with Volo?
5 Ways to Improve
At Volo, we see 5 primary efficiency levers for ecommerce businesses.
Inventory and Stock Control
Stock level accuracy is essential for cash flow. Keeping low stock levels at the same time as avoiding overselling is the tightrope ecommerce businesses must walk to operate at peak efficiency.
Re-ordering promptly and understanding sales velocity for different items is also key, to minimise any time spent being unable to sell an item due to stock.
Price management is also very useful – repricing on channels such as Amazon means that you can win the buy box at the highest possible price, maximising your time in the driving seat. At the same time, it allows you to adapt to other sellers, stock levels, and other stimuli.
Warehousing & Operations
Having flexible, co-ordinated processes in the warehouse keeps costs down and improves the ease with which all other systems can run – after all, this is the beating heart of your ecommerce business.
That means your back-office staff need to know what’s going on inside the warehouse. Customer service and returns can’t work effectively without easy access to dispatch confirmation, or knowing which location a product originates from when it’s returned.
Fulfilment & Dispatch
Consistency helps your staff run fulfilment tasks smoothly. For example, making sure the same product codes or information exist on all labelling across your shelving, shipping lists, manifests, invoices and delivery documentation reduces errors.
Having rules-based workflows and dedicated picking screens allows you to plan movements around the warehouse makes picking and packing faster, and reduces the amount of re-picking, re-packing and re-dispatching your staff will end up doing.
Getting customer service right requires planning. You have to understand how it impacts your business when it’s wrong – the loss of reputation and consequent loss of sales is one side, but the reduction of metrics on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay can actually put your account at risk in some cases where orders are not fulfilled correctly.
Success results from careful monitoring of these metrics, figuring out where problems lie and acting fast. Having a clear returns policy and structured processes for when things go wrong gives you and your staff the framework to prevent customer dissatisfaction.
Remember – your customers are also your best salespeople. Over-deliver where you can, because this good karma will come back around to you in new and returning business.
Taking opportunities requires you to have good relations with your suppliers – they have a great sight on what’s going on in your sector and can make good recommendations. Plus, if you’re pro-active, you might be able to get first pick of their product selection, or good deals.
You should make use of resources such as Terapeak or Algopix which provide an estimate of demand for a product or category. Being a first mover into a new or growing category can reap big rewards.
Monitor your dead stock! Don’t let products gather warehouse dust when they could be liquidated in a flash sale. Equally, be sure to be on top of your sales velocity and lead times for products – set thresholds for repurchasing fast moving lines.
The Journey to the Top
It can be hard to stay profitable when you’re selling online. Many sellers feel Amazon, eBay et cetera are simply a “race to the bottom” where price is the only thing that counts. This isn’t necessarily true, but the best way to defend against competition is by adopting best practice – that way, your margins are higher, and if you need to compete on price, you have more scope to do so.If you’re a Magento or BigCommerce customer and you’re serious about growing your ecommerce business across channels, you can get in touch with Volo today, or read what our customers say about us.