As the holiday season approaches, retailers are exploring additional sales channels in order to capture a new audience and increase revenue. Whether it’s adding a new branded website through Shopify, a marketplace store on Amazon, or exploring a point-of-sale (POS) application such as Square, the trend of “more is more” is catching on quickly in the commerce industry and retailers are responding. Although multichannel selling can be a profitable business approach, it can also be quite daunting to restructure your inventory and sales order process just before the holiday rush.
To help you successfully manage your multiple channels, increase sales and stay organized, here are four applications that will get you through the holiday bustle and then some.
Stitch Labs - inventory and order management, sales reporting
Let’s start with your inventory. How do you distributing your inventory quantities across multiple channels? Most retailers do one of two things. Either they split their inventory across the channels, in an effort to avoid stockout or confusion or they list their full inventory amount on all channels and risk the chance of selling out and angering customers. The problem is that neither of these scenarios are optimizing sales for your business nor decreasing stress for you.
To assure accurate stock quantities and maximum revenue across all of your sales channels, integrate a central platform, like Stitch Labs, that will sync your sales and inventory data between channels. As orders are processed from Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Square and more, Stitch will import the data and keep your channels up-to-date, preventing stockout. You can represent your full stock quantities on each of the channels, allowing for optimal selling and simple inventory tracking.
Stitch will also unify all of your sales data, providing you with a centralized view of your sales and beautiful, easy-to-read reporting. You can view your best selling products, low stock quantities and aggregate sales orders all in real time.
1. Leverage Stitch’s purchase order feature to quickly create new PO’s if you run out of stock before the holiday rush. You can send PO’s online in just a few clicks.
2. Import historical orders from your online sales channels into Stitch to review what your best selling products are. Use this information to make smarter decisions about your inventory plan this holiday season.
3. If you’re adding new systems before the holidays, dedicate time to train your employees. This will lessen mistakes later and allow you to delegate tasks rather than take them on alone.
ShipStation or Amazon FBA - shipping and fulfillment
One of the most stressful and time-consuming tasks of the holiday season is order fulfillment. If you’ve added sales channels since the last holiday season, tackling multichannel fulfillment can present a big challenge. To keep your multiple sales channels running smoothly, simplify your shipping and fulfillment process with software like ShipStation or a service like Amazon FBA.
If you plan to fulfill orders yourself, ShipStation is a great solution to keep things moving. The online shipping software integrates with multiple shopping carts and online marketplaces (and Stitch Labs!), automatically importing order information. Your shipping labels are created with one click, and you’re able to mix and match them depending on your preferred carriers. ShipStation even pulls in your discounted carrier rates for easy calculation.
If you are expecting to sell inventory on a grander scale, Amazon FBA might be a better solution. Amazon FBA integrates with several online ecommerce platforms, making it easy for you to get orders out faster and assure customer satisfaction. The great thing about Amazon FBA is that you don’t necessarily have to sell through Amazon in order to use this service. You can use their fulfillment service for all of your online sales channels, passing off this monstrous task to their fulfillment warehouses all over the country.
Exciting news! Stitch is launching its Amazon FBA integration soon! Follow along on Twitter to stay updated.
1. Nail down your shipping process now, well before the holiday rush comes.
2. Beware of fees. Make sure you research the costs for shipping services to avoid surprises later and better calculate shipping fees for your customers.
3. Make it clear on your website when customers can expect packages based on your carrier. The last thing you want is an angry customer who didn’t receive his shipment on time.
Xero - accounting
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of the holiday season, forgetting about what’s to come in the new year. Although we hate talking taxes, it’s important that you are prepared ahead of time. With Xero’s beautiful accounting software, you’re able to seamlessly integrate directly with Stitch and import financial data that your accountant will need.
When you integrate Xero with Stitch, your invoices will automatically sync every ten minutes along with inventory financials such as COGS, assets, purchases and adjustments without manual entry. Save time with one centralized stock count and make smarter decisions with detailed sales information.
1. Have additional expenses during the holidays? Keep track of them all in real-time with Xero’s mobile app.
2. If you’re adding more employees to help carry the load, use Xero to calculate payroll, pay employees and file your 1099s online.
3. Stitch customers who switched from Excel spreadsheets have reported saving up to 40 hours per week. Save even more time with Xero and Stitch together this holiday season and get back to enjoying the celebrations.
Zendesk - customer support
Zendesk recently reported “31% of customers purchase more from retailers after a positive shopping experience and 7.8% of abandoned online transactions could have been converted into sales with better service.” During the holidays, when sales tend to spike, you can imagine how critical a positive customer experience is to your overall revenue.
In order to keep customers happy and increase sales, implement a simple support system like Zendesk that allows you to quickly and easily respond to customer requests. With the increased activity during this busy season, mistakes are inevitable. However, you can avoid customer catastrophes just by implementing the right solutions.
1. Upload the Zendesk mobile app on your phone so that you can respond immediately to emergency related support tickets.
2. Never neglect customer requests, as they can lead to publicly damaging reviews.
3. If possible, make yourself available for live chat during peak selling times to discourage shopping cart abandonment.
What other tools will help you survive this holiday season? Check out some of our tips on Twitter by following @StitchLabs.