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UPS, FEDEX, AMAZON, TARGET, WALMART AND BEST BUY ARE KILLING IT IN E-COMMERCE. HERE’S HOW.

e-commerce

UPS, FEDEX, AMAZON, TARGET, WALMART AND BEST BUY ARE KILLING IT IN E-COMMERCE. HERE’S HOW.

COVID-19 has sped up e-commerce adoption across all industries as many businesses emerge from the global pandemic battered and bruised. At the end of 2019, e-commerce represented 11.3 percent of total U.S. retail sales. This percentage inched up to 11.8 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year. For the second-quarter, some estimates suggest this percentage could double, at minimum, as businesses closed, and consumers stayed home because of COVID-19.

Indeed, while increased online sales is not a new phenomenon, the speed with which new generations of customers have gone online is and has led to a change in demand that is unlikely to reverse quickly according to McKinsey & Company’s latest COVID-19 Briefing Materials: Global Health and Crisis Response (June 1, 2020). McKinsey estimates that 20-60 percent more U.S. consumers are digital as a result of COVID-19. Stickiness of digital, localization, and selectiveness in spending are major trends that businesses will need to address as the pandemic alters the way business is conducted.

McKinsey also found that consumers are shopping online more and are more willing to switch across brands. This can be seen in one the biggest “winners:” groceries. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, online groceries grew 110 percent in daily sales between March and April. However, there were delays in last-mile deliveries as companies including Amazon, Walmart and Instacart had to hire more workers to assist with the increased consumer demand.

In March, Amazon had to restrict non-essential shipments from third-party sellers and other retail vendors and focus on receipt, restocking and delivery of essential products that were most in demand. Meanwhile, Walmart touted not only its online store capabilities but also curbside pickup. The result was a strong first-quarter earnings for the period ending April 30 with comparable-store sales up 10 percent and e-commerce sales up 74 percent. Strongest sales were in food, consumables, health, and wellness.

Retailer Target also noted strong first-quarter sales. While comparable-store sales increased only 0.9 percent in its first-quarter ending April 30, e-commerce sales jumped 141 percent with 80 percent of e-commerce orders fulfilled in Target’s stores. Food and beverages rose over 20 percent, essential and beauty 10 percent, and home rose in the single digits.

As more workers work from home, electronics and furniture sales also increased. Best Buy noted in the eight days ending March 20, sales jumped 25 percent as customers purchased work-from-home-related items. As stores closed, online sales increased more than 250 percent, with half of those orders using curbside service available at most Best Buy stores.

For small parcel carriers including FedEx and UPS, the e-commerce volumes proved to be a boon. Both carriers have been preparing for rising e-commerce volumes by introducing such service offerings as seven-day deliveries, faster delivery times, later pick-up times, returns solutions, fulfillment solutions designed for e-retailers, alternative delivery pick-up and drop off locations and more. By all accounts, FedEx and UPS appeared prepared to handle the sudden e-commerce volume increases.

Just as the COVID-19 impact was being felt in the U.S., UPS noted in its first-quarter earnings that March volumes were 70 percent business-to-consumer (B2C) with April trending similar. FedEx also noted a similar trend with higher than usual B2C volumes.

The result was a sharp increase in residential volumes for both carriers and delays occurred. It should be noted that residential deliveries are typically more costly for FedEx and UPS versus business-to-business moves in which batches of parcels can be picked up and delivered at once.

A number of consumers took to social media to voice their frustrations and share photos of overflowing packages at carriers’ facilities. However, not only were carriers faced with higher than normal volumes, but they were also dealing with the coronavirus itself, affecting an unknown number of FedEx and UPS employees who would otherwise be sorting packages, loading and unloading delivery vehicles and delivering packages. Networks slowed as a result.

Having temporarily suspended all service guarantees and implemented international peak surcharges in March to handle a surge in international volumes, FedEx and UPS introduced new temporary peak surcharges to address the U.S. domestic situation.

UPS’s latest surcharges took effect on May 31 and addressed Residential, SurePost, and Large Parcels. Meanwhile, FedEx’s domestic temporary peak surcharges took effect on June 8 and addressed Residential for FedEx Ground and FedEx Express parcels, SmartPost, and Oversize Parcels for FedEx Ground and FedEx Express parcels. Keep in mind, these temporary peak surcharges are in addition to already existing surcharges and individual shipper’s contracted rates.

Besides surcharges, FedEx also capped some shippers’ volumes. This is a similar approach to what the carrier does during the holiday season if a shipper exceeds agreed-upon volume commitments. However, this is not the traditional holiday season and many shippers were caught off guard by this tactic. UPS also took a page out of their holiday season playbook and dispersed managers and supervisors across the U.S. to pitch in and help at sorting facilities and deliver parcels.

The rapid increase in e-commerce parcels seemed to catch FedEx and UPS off-guard and significantly impact their lower margin service, Residential. Moving beyond the COVID-19 crisis, e-commerce will play a bigger role in B2C as well as B2B. Businesses will utilize a number of creative ways to handle the last mile – curbside pickup, buy online, pickup in-store, residential, third party locations for pickup and delivery, and more. FedEx and UPS will need to work closely with customers to share capacity availability and concerns.

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John Haber is the founder and CEO of Spend Management Experts. With more than 25 years of supply-chain experience, John has helped some of the world’s leading brands drive greater efficiencies through their supply-chain operations while reducing transportation, distribution and fulfillment costs. He began his career at UPS, where he held various executive level positions in corporate finance and corporate strategy and was instrumental in developing profitability and costing models. He also managed the carrier’s National Accounts Profitability Group where he audited the pricing and profitability of UPS’ top customers. John’s finance background combined with decades of experience working with high-volume shippers enables him to offer unique insights on strategic supply chain planning, including distribution model optimization, transportation cost analysis and carrier contract optimization and compliance.

trade

THE “HOMEBODY ECONOMY” AND TRADE

Mindful Spending

An estimated 2.6 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – continue to live under some form of quarantine conditions. These are trying circumstances for individuals and businesses. From a consumer demand perspective, the longer we all engage in some form of quarantine or social isolation, the more likely our new habits will take hold.

The emergence of this “homebody economy” is becoming apparent in consumer spending. Only China seems to be rebounding in consumer spending – the rest of us are still cutting back on discretionary spending. We are focused on essentials, being cost-conscious and cutting back on services and travel. We are even spending less on apparel and footwear, which impacts millions of jobs worldwide as workers in global value chains face uncertainty in their employment.



According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 93 percent of the world’s workers live in countries experiencing workplace closures due to COVID-19. ILO estimated the reduction in working-hours for the second quarter of 2020 as equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs. Job losses, reduced hours and foregone income are having a clear dampening effect on spending habits and demand in international trade, which in turn creates more job insecurity.

No Contact

In most countries, the vast majority of people have turned to e-commerce and other digital or contactless services such as curbside pickup and drive-throughs. Many consumers are likely to delay resuming “normal” shopping and other behaviors until after a vaccine is widely available. That includes, unfortunately, the resumption of preventative healthcare. The hidden health impacts of foregoing routine health screenings and other interventions will be felt in national economies for years to come.

On top of all this, we know that the impacts of recession – layoffs, loss of income and the growing effects of income equality are closely correlated with reduced health outcomes and life expectancy. The World Health Organization has cautioned about the long-term consequences of lockdowns and isolation on mental and physical health, noting that depression and anxiety under normal circumstances cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

No doubt we’re all feeling some level of anxiety, mood swings, and changes in sleep patterns. McKinsey’s consumer sentiment survey shows, in another twist of cruel circularity, that people are spending more time inactively, consuming digital content, which could have negative implications for people’s happiness.

Trade Antidote for the Irritable, Anxious and Exhausted Among Us

Lest we leave you further depressed, might trade in some goods and services provide a much-needed antidote to the mental and physical wear and tear of COVID-19? We think so. Here are some ideas.

Yoga – Global demand for PVC has been hit hard with a major drop in demand in China. So, why not do your small part by buying yourself a fresh, new vinyl mat. The PVC-based mats are cushy, which might be nice for your next savasana. If you’ve gained a little weight during the lockdown, you can rely on American textile engineers – the same ones medical personnel turn to for durable emergency wear – to also deliver yoga pants that will hold your belly in place as you stretch in downward dog.

Guided Meditation – Evidence of meditation practice dates back to approximately 1500 years BCE, but we generally thank Chinese Taoists and Indian Buddhists from the 6th to 4th centuries BCE for developing forms of practice that spread throughout the world. These days, Andy Puddicome, a Brit who studied meditation in the Himalayas and became ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India, can be credited for making meditation accessible, modern – and available online – for the masses through his app, Headspace. Through Headspace and others, you can have guided meditation through an app on your phone, a service traded across borders thanks to the Internet.

incense

Incense – The use of incense can be traced back to ancient Egypt where it was used by priests for fumigating ceremonies and tombs. It was thought to hinder the presence of demons and served as an offering to their gods during worship and ritual, which is how incense came to be used in India and throughout southern Asia and China. Resin-based incense such as frankincense traveled to Europe and the Mediterranean along a trading route known as the Incense Route. Today, you can buy very high end and exotic incense like the brand, Astier de Villatte, which is handmade on the Japanese island of Awaji by masters of aroma who have been honing their craft and handing it down for hundreds of years. Also popular is incense made from palo santo (which means holy wood), a tree that grows along the coast of South America.

A Cleanse – If you’ve tried any form of keto, paleo or cleanse diet these days, chances are you had to look online to find far-flung ingredients from around the world. Popular ingredients include Maca powder derived from root vegetables grown in the Andes mountains in Peru, carob, which is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, and the Schisandra berry, which comes from mountainous regions throughout China. Another exotic ingredient is moringa, a nutrient-rich plant derived from “the miracle tree” native to North India. If your diet has you cutting back on caffeine, you can also try teas that taste like coffee, such as from Teecino. Their herbal teas use herbs and nuts like ramón seeds harvested in rural communities in Guatemala through programs that support educational and nutritional programs for women and children in Central America.

inredients

The Struggle is Real, Trade Can Help

The WTO issued a news release in June that estimated an 18.5 percent decline in merchandise trade in the second quarter of 2020 as compared to the same period last year. By any measure, the impact on trade, on livelihoods, and on our well-being has been profoundly negative. But as we work toward collective resilience, one thing you can do is to work on being healthy at home. And, with all of the products and services available to us through trade, we have lots of ways to do just that.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program. 

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

data analysis

3 Ways Data Analysis Can Refine the Customer Experience

Nowadays, you have to understand what the customers need if you want your business to succeed and grow. If you don’t put some effort into doing that, you might miss out on crucial details about what customers are looking for in businesses. It will force them to look for other alternatives. In this article, we’ll discuss three ways to use data analysis to help your business boost customer loyalty, among other things.

Customer Experience and Why It’s Vital in Business

Customer experience is the customer’s interaction with your business at different touchpoints. It refers to how customers will engage with your online ads, websites, mail, social media, commercials, visiting your store, phone calls, buying and using your products and services, etc.

So, customers always think about the kind of experience a company offers before checking on the quality of goods. It means that if your business offers great products but sucks at offering excellent customer experience, then people will start buying from your competitors. Therefore, you must always do some data analysis to ensure your business delivers exactly what the customers want.

Your customers will always observe a brand’s performance and compare it to their expectations. So, every interaction a customer has with your business and its products leaves a long-lasting impression, which then creates a certain opinion about your company. It explains why it is vital to keep a customer’s needs first to help get better results at the end of the day.

Many companies now agree that using data analysis helps boost customer experience hence more sales. However, measuring customer experience and applying it to your business to get results are two different things, and most businesses struggle with the former.

So, how do you measure customer experience effectively?

There is no one perfect way to measure the customer experience. However, here are the three most effective ones you can trust:

1. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) – It method involves reaching out to your customers after a certain sale, asking them to rate the service. You will get results ranging from not satisfied to very satisfied.

2. Net promoter score (NPS) – In this one, you ask a customer to rate your business on a numerical scale. Here is the most common one you might have come across, “How likely are you to recommend us?”

3. Customer effort score (CES) – It one helps to find out how much effort a customer needs to fulfill a certain task on, let’s say your website. Most businesses use a defined scale to do this, which also acts as a small survey. It contains options such as I agree, and I strongly disagree.

Redefining Customer Experience Through Data Analysis

Once you have mastered how to capture customer data and measure their experience, you can improve your services and delivery. These are some of the ways how data analysis refines customer experience.

1. It Helps You Understand How to Respond to Your Customer’s Needs Intelligently

Quality data is the biggest foundation of developing a great consumer experience. Customers and prospects usually generate a lot of data by engaging in different online activities, especially when engaging with your business.

Most leading businesses today tap their prospect or customer data from the activities generated through indirect or reseller channels.  You can gain some insight by combining the views of your data sources with detailed demographic information.

The first step you must take is developing a good strategy to help you access and integrate customer data. Choosing to focus on one touchpoint to get data can be a good idea, but it’s always best to try and use several sources. The main goal is to understand one common view that all customers have. It will give you a good view of your customers’ experiences and interactions across different channels. That way, you can easily respond intelligently to what your customers need.

With this information, you can easily determine the relevant goods and services your customers need from your business. A link building agency can also help to bring more targeted potential customers to your website, who you can then study to see what you can do to win their loyalty.

You can also work with your IT experts to help turn the customer data into an EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse) that will serve different functions or servers. However, most businesses find this quite challenging, not just technically but also financially.  Luckily, there are pre-configured platforms you can use today to help make the data consolidation easier.

Therefore, you should evaluate some relevant approaches to determine which one is more relevant. Also, check for one that can provide the best data to better fulfill the customers’ needs.

2. It Helps You Determine Customer Behavior

Predictive analysis can allow you to anticipate your market and customer behavior and respond accordingly. Its analysis involves data mining or statistical tools and methods that help to develop predictive models. OLAP and BI are some of the most effective systems you can use as they enable you to assess past and current events.

So, doing data analysis can help you employ excellent tools and methods to explore patterns and trends in data to determine things that can happen if certain factors change. With that information, you can easily tell what most customers have in common, making it easier to fulfill their needs.

Some predictive analytics solutions can also use software computing power and automation to help you get insights faster. Using powerful algorithms can help mine plenty of data and rapidly analyze patterns, correlations, and affinities. Additionally, combining software automation with great data access can help your company evaluate performance more effectively.

You can see much success by implementing some predictive data analysis using data sources such as transactions or any other application data. Doing this can help your personnel in stores, contact centers, or those managing e-commerce sites to easily adjust marketing offers accordingly.

3. Helps Build Better Customer Relationships

A good company-clients relationship is a vital factor you must always consider if you want your business to thrive. Data analysis provides you with different ways to build a great one. If you want to be the go-to business for people looking for the services you offer, you must be a good listener. What does that mean?

You can use social media to help conduct some sentiment analysis, which can show you how customers regard your services. You can also check your help-tickets to see what your customers complain the most about. This information can show you where to improve hence allowing you to provide exactly what people need and better customer experience.

Some customers might also indicate in the help ticket the kind of services they expected to find from your company but didn’t. You can use this data to ensure your company has everything customers in your niche are looking for.

A good example is how a shoe store can observe the size of shoes that get more purchases or those that get many returns. That way, they can easily ensure the highly demanded product is always available hence boosting the customer experience because they never miss what they planned to purchase.

Summing it Up

We are living in a world where everything is analyzed. Your customers look at how you treat your clients and the quality of the goods you sell. You must always make data analysis a huge part of your business because it allows you to study crucial trends in the market and your customer’s behavior. Doing this helps to understand everything you need to do to ensure you meet people’s demands.

When customers visit your business to purchase a good or service and get what they need, you automatically become their favorite place because you have proven to be reliable. However, if potential clients come to you and don’t get something they wanted or your employees don’t act professionally, then you can easily lose them. Since you cannot provide customers with the great customer experience they expected, your competition will take over.

amazon's

What Amazon’s Hiring Surge Amid COVID-19 Means for Logistics Professionals

The “Amazon effect” disrupted the supply chain long before COVID-19. Amazon made big waves in the industry by setting the customer expectation of two-day, same-day, and free shipping — putting unprecedented pressure on logistics and carriers to meet the challenge. In fact, in a 2019 regulatory filing, Amazon listed “transportation and logistics services” as its direct competition.

Competing with Amazon has never been an easy task — but COVID-19 has made it even harder.

As many struggle through the pandemic, Amazon continues to thrive. For example, it recently announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the U.S. Meanwhile, the rest of the transportation and logistics industry is trying to stay afloat. The industry was already facing a delivery driver shortage, and U.S. employers across industries have been cutting jobs at record rates.

Help Your Reduced Teams Work at Max Efficiency With Collaborative Logistics Tools

Amazon’s massive driver hiring initiative makes the driver shortage problem for other transportation and logistics companies even worse. Many are unable to scale to meet the surge, but even if they could expand, there’s less available personnel to move products along non-Amazon supply chains.

There is one line of hope for non-Amazon transportation and logistics companies: As you’re working with diminished human resources, fitting collaborative logistics technology into your workflow can help you use what you do have to its utmost potential.

With the right collaboration tools along the supply chain, logistics and transportation managers can:

1. Inform a fuller common operational picture with real-time data.

Collaboration tools are only beneficial if they’re used to guide operations around a common operational picture, or COP. The first step to creating a guiding COP is to break down the silos that separate data and communication between different departments. Different teams should be able to instantly share data that could better inform the overall COP.

Instant, easily shareable data is key to logistics collaboration in supply chains and can include everything from real-time sensor readings of shipments being delivered to driver status updates and communication with clients. Collaborative logistics technology can help give supply chain managers the complete picture exactly as it unfolds, enabling well-informed decision-making every step of the way.

2. Digitize manual processes for greater agility.

Manual processes, such as playing phone tag to get information, deciphering paper logs, or collecting incident reports, are commonplace in the transportation and logistics industry. But these slow, outdated processes can put cogs in the chain and slow momentum.

Collaboration tools are an essential piece of eliminating manual processes and creating more agile supply chains — especially for companies that are short on drivers and are trying to work as efficiently as possible with the resources they have. Collaborative logistics technology can automate many or all of the manual processes that currently take up the most time and make relevant, real-time data available to all authorized parties.

3. Eliminate uncertainty in the last-mile delivery process.
The last-mile delivery process is widely known as the most challenging part of the supply chain. Unexpected scenarios, such as road closures, extreme weather events, or truck maintenance issues, can throw off the process and postpone delivery with no warning. Without real-time data and updates about both drivers and receivers, supply chain managers are left clueless to the progress along the last-mile process line and unable to efficiently solve problems.

However, with collaborative logistics technology that provides real-time information about last-mile deliveries, managers, drivers, and receivers can all work together to develop agile responses to unexpected events, creating a more efficient delivery process.

The driver shortage has been hurting logistics and transportation for some time, and with Amazon’s recent hiring surge putting even more strain on the market, it’s not likely to improve any time soon. Fortunately, with the help of collaborative logistics tools, companies can operate more efficiently with fully informed COPs, smooth digital processes, and quick last-mile delivery — even with a limited number of human resources.

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Clark Wellman is a transportation and logistics expert at Coolfire, a company dedicated to enhancing real-time event awareness, control, and response through collaboration software. Clark draws from his 20 years of experience working in transportation and logistics to help connect teams with a system for real-time collaboration.

inventory management

10 Experts Share Tips For Better Inventory Management

Think about the online stores you buy from regularly. Do they consistently have the product you want? If the answer is no, then the business likely doesn’t have as good control of its inventory as it should. Inventory management is at the heart of any well-run, sustainable retail business. 

When a retail store owner or manager doesn’t have a detailed understanding of the inventory they have in hand, they’ll be greatly constrained in their ability to make smart reorder decisions. They cannot list items with accuracy on their online store since they don’t have correct visibility into their inventory. They could easily get stuck with too much inventory or fail to fulfil orders due to lack of product. 

If you want to get inventory management right, you’ll do well to listen to what the experts have to say. Here are 10 paraphrased tips from people who know a thing or two about successful inventory management.

1. Update inventory records in real-time and make the information available to relevant staff – Jonathan Gaunt, Managing Director, FD-WORKS

To stay a step ahead of their competition, businesses have to move quickly and accurately. Access to fresh, correct information is key in this regard. 

In the context of inventory management, tracking when the last transaction occurred, for instance, is crucial. There are costs to holding dead inventory such as warehousing, cleaning and security. Some products are seasonal or trendy. If it’s been weeks or months since a certain product sold or if there has been a dramatic decrease in its turnover, it might be financially prudent to sell it at a loss and inject the resulting revenue into an item that’s currently hot.

2. Categorize your inventory – Dan Schmidt, founder and CEO, The Emerging Business CFO

All products in your inventory aren’t created equal. If you devote equal inventory management time and resources to each product, you’ll be running overkill on some while shortchanging others. To maximize your inventory dollars and increase efficiency, divide your inventory into several categories depending on turnover, profitability and other distinguishing factors. 

3. Weigh the costs of inventory against the benefits of inventory – International Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Institute (IPSCMI)

Successful inventory management comes down to your ability to constantly balance the costs of holding inventory against the benefits of the inventory. Small and medium-sized ecommerce stores can be especially vulnerable to miscalculating the real cost of carrying an inventory. It’s not just the money tied down in inventory but also storage, insurance and taxes.

4. Inventory requirements vary from business to business – Norm Saenz, Managing Director and Don Derewecki, Senior Consultant at St. Onge

Whereas there are principles that underpin inventory management best practices, inventory management procedures will vary depending on customer requirements and the types of products the e-commerce store sells. There will be variation in inventory management between pharmaceuticals, food, apparel, electronics, furniture, stationery, automotive, building materials and general merchandise stores. 

5. Use effective methods for calculating safety stock levels – Bain & Company, Inc.

Are you using statistical formulas that incorporate production lead times, sales forecasts, manufacturing schedules and each product’s service-level data? Or are you still using rigid rules such as all products from a certain manufacturer requiring 20 days of safety stock? 

The problem with rigid rules is that they are often applied to products with uncertain delivery histories. Use a standard or automated statistical formula that extracts historical individual product data in order to come up with an up-to-date safety stock level.

6. Align individual delivery sub-elements with overall objectives – Mani Iyer, Senior Business Manager, Genpact

Ecommerce stores often believe that order-to-delivery cycle time reduction would realize the competitive edge their business needs. However, many drop the ball when it comes to defining goals of individual cycle elements that contribute to overall lead time adherence. Inventory management must incorporate sub-targets such as supplier performance management on fulfillment, customer service satisfaction, working capital levels and more.

7. Keep customer satisfaction at the centre of inventory control – James Ellis, Assistant Professor, Business Department, Central Oregon Community College

Avoiding excess inventory is certainly a desirable goal. However, getting overly fixated on minimizing inventory levels can take away your attention from the thing that matters most of all—customer satisfaction. If the inventory is running too low or running out, that will lead to lost sales and, ultimately, lost customers. Therefore, inventory levels should constantly be compared to customer satisfaction levels.

8. Put one person in charge of inventory management – David Wheat, Materials Manager, Krausz USA

Many ecommerce stores are small enough to be a one-person operation. However, if your business has grown to the extent that you have 2 or more full-time staff, assign the role of purchasing and inventory manager to one person. The designated individual should keep track of inventory and be the first person informed if there’s any change in supply requirements. They’ll negotiate discounts for volume purchases or early invoice payment.

9. Invest in inventory management training – Jaymison Haeussler, Warehouse manager, Graphic Packaging

#1 is absolute attention to detail when training and developing your inventory management staff and system. In several different scenarios, I’ve seen excellent staff and processes fall short of their goals because the training and implementation weren’t cohesive.

It’s hard to row a boat across the ocean when everyone is paddling in different directions.

10. Incorporate lead times for your peak sales seasons – Andrew Chritton, Head of Account Management, Stitch Labs

Most businesses have a seasonality to their sales. Q4 is crucial for many ecommerce stores thanks to the holiday season but different stores will have different peaks depending on the product they sell and the market they sell to. The peak season is critical for many businesses ‘ annual profitability so careful planning and management of inventory are needed. 

If you don’t own your means of transportation, which is the case for the overwhelming majority of ecommerce stores, transfers and shipping of products can be unpredictable. Build lead times early into your peak season inventory for shipping optimization and to ensure products are available in sufficient quantities.

11. Implement Inventory sync, Chris Crane, Advisor, Excelsior Integrated

Startups often run lean with minimal software layers. These companies should check which channels they can sync inventory to, or just rely on manually setting inventory themselves. For larger merchants with many sales channels, keeping inventory in sync across them all can become a challenge. When a sale happens on one channel, you want the other channels to be aware of it. Plus, if you’re selling with Amazon and using FBA, you’re responsible for maintaining enough inventory so you can quickly replenish FBA. There’s a point at which channel complexity justifies adopting an ERP system. Look for one that can handle inventory syncing to all your possible future channels, and if you’re using a 3PL, make sure they can integrate to it. 

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Will Schneider is the founder of insightQuote, a match-making service for B2B services, and writes informative posts about fulfillment services at Warehousingandfulfillment.com. He is passionate about helping businesses find the right solutions to improve their operations. When not working, Will enjoys coaching youth basketball.

retail

E-Commerce’s Newfound Role in Stabilizing and Expanding the U.S. Retail Sector

Kenny Tsang, Managing Director of PingPong Payments, comments on the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector, and how global online marketplaces are providing a lifeline to businesses with thousands of new sellers.

In recent months, online marketplaces have taken a huge step forward to become the primary option for consumers with the pandemic forcing traditional retailers to digitally adapt to consumers. As these lockdown restrictions begin to ease, many businesses and retailers are increasingly finding value in utilizing digital marketplaces to support further disruption.

Worryingly, the existing retail space still lost a shocking 1.3 million jobs from February to June with data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in August[1] showing little signs of recovery for the retail industry. With retail being the primary outlet of the U.S. economy supporting one in four U.S. jobs [2] businesses utilizing the e-commerce sphere are experiencing significant growth by recording an 18 percent increase in online sales[3] this year.

Retail businesses that have been sustainable during the economic slowdown over the last few months are showing increased utilization of online marketplaces as alternatives to traditional retail services. Many who have explored, or been forced to adapt to digital avenues, are seeing the potential for temporary digital measures to become permanent as the U.S. continues to demonstrate a seismic shift in shopping habits. Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and Rakuten are leading the way, with Amazon more than doubling its valuation so far in 2020 – gaining a staggering $570 billion in market capitalization. eBay has just reported a record eight million new active shoppers, resulting in year on year revenue shooting up 18 percent.

While these numbers may be considered unsustainable in the long term, the 565,000 new merchant signups Amazon has already reached this year suggests the significant growth of online marketplaces will continue to exceed expectations. Many forecasters are estimating the business growth of e-commerce will to continue to reach unprecedented levels in the U.S. – with 1.1 million new sellers expected to join Amazon by the end of 2020.

Accessibility has long been a question for merchants hesitant to embrace the digital market and step out of their comfort zones into new mediums. Online marketplaces that are experiencing the most growth such as Amazon and eBay are increasingly finding ways to engage buyers and sellers to leap into the digital sphere. Thousands of sellers are experiencing natural growth, and the demand for consumer confidence while shopping on digital platforms has never been higher. E-commerce platforms cannot emulate the shop floor, however, we are seeing community-based marketplaces driving international consumer merchants to offer a quality service that delivers high customer satisfaction on primarily review-based models.

Sellers should capitalize on the opportunity to adapt and strategize against the current situation while focusing on understanding how their customer buying patterns were changing, to adjust quickly to demand, PingPong Payments identified the most popular selling categories in the e-commerce space during the pandemic to be groceries, toys and games, educational material and home and garden, while swimwear, travel-related products and consumer electronics such as cameras were no longer in demand.

With more consumer-centric additions, comes more growth, and the need for personnel to respond to the demand has heightened. For many e-commerce sellers, this is unprecedented ground, and it highlights the need for e-commerce sellers to have the right systems in place to facilitate these changes. Traditionally, a bulk of merchants’ operating internationally would spend their time minimalizing cross-border payments in unknown markets that would often lead to unforeseen expenses, long shipping times, and unreliable products. E-commerce sellers partnering with the right cross-border payment companies that specialize in convenient, quick money transfers can take this hassle away while lowering costs with these systems in place.

As consumers return to retail spaces – sellers should continue to utilize the flexibility that e-marketplaces have provided for businesses over the last few months with organic innovation increasing through competition for buy share. From the supply chain to customer-centric models – digital marketplaces are providing a platform to rival in-person sales with a significant expansion focused on retaining customers.

Admittedly, there will be consumers who continue to use traditional methods of shopping, and that will remain an open market for retailers as lockdown restrictions ease. Merchants with better familiarisation of the e-commerce industry should be able to continue to put the right systems and partners in place to maintain a continuous flow of sales worldwide. With added expansion in the industry, economic recovery in the U.S. can help propel pre-existing successful retail foundations into the future.

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[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

[2] https://nrf.com/retails-impact

[3] https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-ecommerce-will-rise-18-2020-amid-pandemic

transformation

5 Tips To Focus Your Company’s Transformation As COVID Forces Change

While the recession caused by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on businesses of all sizes and industries, some are finding new ways to run daily operations, reach customers, re-shape their business, and stay relevant.

But others are still trying to figure out how to transform, and an expert in the field says that launching a transformation begins with setting the right scope.

“Over the years, I have seen an ill-defined program scope cause serious problems,” says Edwin Bosso (www.myrtlegroup.com), founder and CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group and the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey.

“For example, the scope may drift from the originally defined target. The scope is the description of the transformation’s area of focus, and in most cases, the scope is defined as a combination of categories. Examples are functional – sales, logistics, production, operations – and organizational – leadership, technology, processes, management systems. It’s most important that the scope is defined to address the challenges at hand and avoid distractions or wasted resources.”

Bosso has five tips for companies to set the right scope for their transformation:

Articulate the problem. Which problem are you trying to solve? Bosso says that question is at the heart of a company transformation. “Defining the specific problem may take numerous discussions and disagreements,” Bosso says. “The human brain has a natural tendency to drift. Blurry lines sometimes separate root causes and symptoms. This step is generally completed with a well-crafted statement of the problem that the organization is setting up to solve.”

List the ways. “When properly conducted,” Bosso says, “this step helps in visualizing the solution. Listing possible solutions is a way of testing the definition of the problem. This step calls for honest questions and thorough analysis to identify the solution options.”

Identify the means. “This is the stage where you test the capabilities of the organization against solution options by identifying necessary means,” Bosso says. “It comes down to understanding internal means, or levers that would need to be pulled to solve the problem. Potential means available might include people, office space, computer systems, or technical expertise in sales, R&D, inventory management and procurement. The process allows organizations to match the correct means to solutions.”

Capture the enablers. Examples of enablers key to the transformation process are those in program management and data science. Enablers cannot operate on their own to make something happen,” Bosso says. “They are, however, necessary or simply useful for that same thing to happen. For example, change management cannot improve the performance of the sales organization without some level of sales expertise. Once enablers are defined, it is important to capture the various ways in which each enabler supports the transformation program.”

Explore synergies and interdependencies. This step focuses on understanding the overlaps, synergy opportunities, and constraints caused by ongoing initiatives. “Start with a list of all current initiatives that the organization is running,” Bosso says. “The finance department is typically a good source for the information. Meetings should be held with each team, and it’s important to understand that each may be protective of its objective, ways, and means. This could set up turf battles and heated discussions, so explicitly setting the objective of the meetings to understand synergies can help alleviate disagreements and fears.”

“Undergoing a major transformation is really the best hope for struggling businesses to survive in these difficult times,” Bosso says. “There is no time to waste. There are no resources to waste. To get your transformation on target, setting the right scope is critical from the outset.”

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Edwin Bosso, the ForbesBooks author of 6,000 Dreams: The Leader’s Guide To A Successful Business Transformation Journey, is the founder/CEO of Myrtle Consulting Group (www.myrtlegroup.com). Bosso specializes in operations improvement and change management, and his project history includes work for major brands such as Heineken, Texas Petrochemicals, T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch, Rohm and Haas, Campbells Soup Company, Kellogg’s and Morton Salt. A wide range of assignments have taken him throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. He completed his undergraduate education at The Hague Polytechnic in the Netherlands and earned an MBA from Rice University in Houston.

ecommerce

How to Manage a Sustainable eCommerce Strategy After the Pandemic

DK Hardware, online home improvement retail company, presents six reasons why it is essential to professionally manage an eCommerce platform, so that your business or entrepreneurship is consolidated according to the unwritten rules of the digital economy.

Understanding that the digital economy will continue to be one of the main economic engines in the post-COVID-19 stage, it is essential to ensure our business opportunities in the medium term. However, to achieve the previous, the development of skills to capitalize on it, as well as to face the challenges it entails, is key.

In the last quarter of 2020, the growth of eCommerce globally has been more than exponential. According to Statista, retail platforms have undergone a six percent global traffic increase between January and March 2020. Overall, retail websites generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020, up from 12.81 billion global visits in January 2020. This is of course due to the global coronavirus pandemic which has forced millions of people to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the virus. How to continue with that sustainable success? DK Hardware shares six key thoughts.

1. Maximize investment. Digital commerce will be the area that will receive the most investment in the coming months (and therefore the most competitive), and these resources should be managed in an efficient and optimized way, since the sales process will be impacted from the pre-sale, the transaction, the after-sales, as well as the service and the customer experience.

2. The relationship with the client evolves. Customer consumption habits have changed and during the process e-commerce has won thousands of new consumers, so the evolution of online commerce management should represent an opportunity to resume direct relationships with consumers. Direct to consumer (D2C) solutions, such as CRMs, applications, custom quotes based on customer needs in regards to volume or project, and communication APIs will be unstoppable in the coming months, and you must understand what they are, how they work and what advantages they can bring to your project.

During the contingency, empathy and transparency played a leading role in customer service, and service was prioritized over sales. Learning to keep our commitments and manage the true needs of consumers in our favor will position us positively, and digitization will be a perfect ally to strengthen these new parameters and deliver true added value to our business or entrepreneurship.

3. New technologies in support of a contact-less society: Concepts such as voice assistants, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, mobile communication applications, omnichannel platforms, the Internet of Things, robotics and big data in real time, will be variables that must be included in the eCommerce strategy, and we must learn what are the advantages of each of these technologies to capitalize them according to our market segment, since it is intuited that the newly acquired habits will detonate in new needs and demands.

4. A new dimension of social commerce. Social networks are part of the daily life of consumers, and the growth in the use of these platforms during the pandemic has increased the relevance of the exchange of opinions, preferences, and recommendations, around brands, products, and services. The implementation of data analysis tools in real time, for example, that allow measuring customer sentiment, will be very suitable for the development of communication strategies and efficiency of digital campaigns, as well as an adequate conversion of sales interactions.

5. Logistics efficiency. Although the growth of eCommerce has become a great advantage, it also has challenges that are transforming the established foundations. If online sales have suffered from anything during this contingency, it is the lack of infrastructure and logistics to speed up the arrival of the product in the hands of the customer. Learning to digitize and automate delivery and delivery routes in the most efficient way for the good performance of our business is something that greater investment in digital training allows.

6. Care of personal data. The greater the demand, the greater the security gaps. Understanding the relevance, design and management of robust cybersecurity systems, authentication, and protection of personal data will transform in consumer trust and loyalty.

After the rapid evolution of eCommerce, we are obliged to evolve. Only change is guaranteed, and we must demand a perfect rhythm to do it. Training will always be the most important ally for adaptation and the creation of firm, robust, viable and disruptive projects. We do not see a better time than this to add true professionalism to eCommerce strategies, acquire leadership of transformation and thus achieve a new generation of businesses that face the demanding and competitive future.

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Featured in the Best Online Shops 2020 – Newsweek, DK Hardware is one of the largest online home improvement retailers for a variety of hardware manufacturers all over the United States and Canada.

censorship

INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN CHINA IMPACTS GLOBAL TRADE

Unfree Speech

Online censorship can take many forms. With over four billion global Internet users in 2019, the lines around how we express ourselves online are being drawn and redrawn around the world.

In Europe, democratic governments are considering bans on so-called fake news and fines on social media companies that fail to delete “harmful” content. In the United States, tech companies are under fire for under- or overdoing their monitoring and expunging of material on their platforms that may be “extremist,” “hateful,” or merely repugnant or wrong-headed to some. Although free and open speech is fundamental to any democracy, U.S. culture is growing ever more hostile to dissenting opinions or genuine debate. The “cancel culture” is a harmful form of societal censorship.

When it comes to systemic state-sponsored censorship, North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran impose the harshest restrictions on Internet use by citizens and companies. Censorship is a tool of state control over the populace in those countries.

In China, political dissent or criticism of the Chinese Communist Party is punished, independent bloggers silenced, credentialed journalists from international publications denied access, and scholars made to fall in line with party views. But it isn’t only political speech that is banned or filtered. China maintains a system of surveillance and blocking technologies that comprise the “Great Firewall” between its citizens and many of the world’s largest commercial websites. The Senate recently held a hearing to discuss censorship of foreign companies in China as well as the government’s use of market power to extend the reach of censorship beyond its borders.

Firewalls and Filters

China’s State Internet Information Office appears to spearhead the monitoring and filtering of Internet traffic into and within China, but the endeavor is so extensive that as many as twelve other agencies comprise China’s censorship apparatus. The government exercises control over information technology infrastructure and deploys sophisticated software to scrub, deflect or block content and sites it deems illegal. China’s telecommunications companies, including China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile are enlisted to carry out and enforce state censorship measures, as are Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, China’s main Internet platforms. Controlling much of the allowable content in China, these companies maintain strict filters – censoring themselves and their users – to comply with government requirements.

China ISPs enlisted

Content deemed illegal is required to be removed or sites are blocked altogether. The U.S. Trade Representative’s 2019 Report to Congress on China’s WTO Compliance cites industry calculations that “China currently blocks more than 10,000 sites, affecting billions of dollars in business, including communications, networking, app stores, news, and other sites.” Blocked sites include Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google search and Gmail, and foreign news services such as The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal. Services required for day-to-day business operations such as cloud storage are restricted to service portals approved by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, not privately-owned or controlled channels where the government could lose visibility and access to the data transmitted.

As a second line of defense, the Chinese government prohibits or strictly licenses wholly- or partially owned foreign firms seeking to provide value-added telecommunications services such as Internet-based calls, videoconferencing services, online search and data processing, or virtual private network (VPN) services.

Corporate Choices and the Cost of Censorship

In 2010, Google famously defied the Chinese government’s requirements to filter the content returned by its search algorithm. When Google redirected its users to its uncensored Hong Kong site, the Chinese government blocked it. Taking it a step further, the government throttled Google’s services, degrading them to the point where users become inclined to abandon the service, causing Google to lose substantial market share and withdraw from China. Washington DC-based think tank Information Technologies and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) estimates Google lost $32.5 billion in potential search revenue from 2013 to 2019. Eventually, Google began developing Dragonfly, a search engine designed to comply with China’s censorship requirements.

Other U.S. companies have contorted themselves to avoid censorship. U.S.-headquartered Marriott International apologized for listing Taiwan as a separate country after Chinese authorities shut down its website. International airlines fell in line too, changing their websites to refer to Taiwan as part of China under threat they would be banned from operating in China.

The Chinese government is also becoming more brazen about leveraging its market power to ensure foreign corporations and their employees avoid criticizing its policies outside of China. We are all familiar with the NBA’s backpedaling after initially supporting its employees’ right to exercise free speech in the United States in expressing support for Hong Kong. Increasingly, foreign firms will face a choice between protecting their right and the rights of their employees to freedom of expression or protecting their business dealings in China.

Foreign firms face choice rev

Not Just a China Problem

According to an analysis from Google, more than 40 governments now engage in broad-scale restrictions of online information, “a tenfold increase from just a decade ago.” Among the examples cited, YouTube has been blocked in Turkey. Several countries in Eastern Europe interfere with the popular blogging service, LiveJournal. Guatemala suppressed WordPress blogs during its 2009 political crisis. Iran stifles dissent by blocking social media platforms. Vietnam actively filters political content from social media.

Censorship Map revised

Do Global Trade Rules Address Censorship?

Within the trade community, voices are growing louder that China’s Internet controls constitute a barrier to market access and are therefore a violation of China’s global trade obligations.

Foreign companies and industry have argued that China’s censorship measures are not even-handed; they are applied to non-Chinese products or service providers selectively and in ways that are more restrictive than those applied to domestic providers. They point to examples of similar content that draws a permanent ban of a foreign site whereas the domestic site is merely required to remove specific content.

The Chinese government’s guidelines for permissible or illegal content are vague, unpublished and not transparent. The criteria for IP addresses, domains and website addresses that are permanently or routinely blocked are a state secret. Foreign companies operating in China or seeking to export to China have no way to understand the basis or seek redress for limitation on their access to the Chinese market.

Weakening foreign industry’s case, however, is their acknowledgement that the market access commitments many WTO members have undertaken may not apply to all Internet trade. In the WTO agreement on services, a member’s commitments to national treatment and market access apply only to services specifically listed by members in their schedules. When the agreement was negotiated, many of today’s value-added Internet services did not exist.

The WTO agreements covering trade in goods and services permit measures “necessary to protect public morals,” to maintain public order or to protect national security, with the limitation that those measures should not be applied in a manner that would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or “a disguised restriction on international trade.” Legal experts debate whether a WTO suit against China’s censorship is winnable, and China experts are dubious whether China would comply regardless.

Trade Rules Cant Fight Censorship

Cyber Sovereignty or Cyber Superpower?

China’s policy footing is unabashedly oriented to exercise absolute control over access to Internet content and services within its own borders. Centrally, the Chinese Communist Party will thwart communication it perceives “subverts state power or undermines national unity.”

The question is, how far will the government go to exercise influence over international norms for cyber governance? And how much state support will be thrown behind freeing itself from dependence on foreign technologies and services to become a global cyber superpower? Is censorship being used to lock foreign competitors out of China’s market to protect local competitors? How far will China go to censor communication it perceives as a threat outside China?

The apps we use that are created by mainland Chinese companies likely contain code to scan and block prohibited websites or language the Chinese government finds objectionable. But beyond sanitizing content, the government may specifically target sites for censorship outside of China.

The Chinese government recently disabled a social media platform in Hong Kong that was used to organize anti-China protests. Its actions may portend a broader approach to Internet censorship in Hong Kong which, according to the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association is home to more than 100 data centers operated by local and International companies that transit over 80 percent of web traffic for mainland China.

The Nexus of Censorship and Trade

Government measures to disrupt Internet access or prevent the dissemination of information online are generally considered to infringe upon the basic human right to freedom of expression. Now, industry actors along with open Internet advocates are leading the charge to consider censorship antithetical to the global trading system. At the center of the debate is China, the country with the most extensive censorship program in the world and which holds significant market power in the global economy.

The implications of commercial censorship run the gamut, from stifling key sales channels for exporters to China, to limiting or prohibiting foreign companies from providing Internet services in China, to extraterritorial censorship of overseas Internet sites and services. At a recent hearing on censorship and trade, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) stated, “The actions undertaken by China are clearly insidious and counter to the necessary conditions of a fair global economic system.” That may be so, but global trade rules and institutions as they exist today are inadequate to alter China’s approach or mitigate the global impacts of China’s censorship.

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Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

retail

The Art of Successful Multi-Channeling in Retail Sector

Headlines seem to be nothing but doom and gloom for the retail industry. Footfall on the UK high street was down 40% in July. Thousands of staff have been laid off by companies many would have considered unbreakable. Major high street names are closing stores by the score, and many others have started administration procedures. And yet, in the worst retail crisis of a generation, there are those that see an opportunity for the future – and that opportunity is e-commerce. While it can be tempting to adopt a “wait until this is all over” attitude (particularly when it comes to investing in new projects when budgets are already tight) the businesses that are leading the field in these difficult times are those that are making the most of this time to rethink and reboot their online portfolio.

It’s clear that in the current climate it’s vital for any retailer to have their own online store, but with more than half of B2C e-commerce transactions taking place on marketplaces, any successful e-tail strategy will need to involve multi-channeling. But it’s not as simple as listing on as many marketplaces and possible and just expecting buyers to start appearing – in order to gain the most benefits, retailers need to dedicate as much time and effort to multi-channeling as they do with their own e-commerce store. This may seem like too much hard work, but when you look at the benefits of marketplaces you may want to re-evaluate your priorities.

No matter how high your website appears on Google rankings, if you don’t offer your products on marketplaces you may be missing out on potential customers. Based on a recent 2019 survey, up to 49% of users start their search for products on Amazon compared with just 22% on Google. Many of these go on to make their purchase straight away – even if they’ve never come across a brand before, the level off trust provided by the marketplace itself gives consumers the confidence to try brands that they may otherwise not have considered. Other users search for products on Amazon before researching brands off the platform and may often decide to purchase from the brand page directly, so this sense Amazon can also work as an extra marketing channel to raise awareness of your brand.

But despite its apparent monopoly over the e-commerce sector, it’s important to remember that Amazon may not be for everyone. Particularly in the fashion industry, many retailers believe selling on Amazon may cheapen their product image due to the fact that so many Amazon retailers are from the low cost, super-fast fashion sector. Which brings us to one of the most important parts of your e-commerce strategy – choosing the right marketplaces for you.

When sales are struggling it can be tempting to sign up to as many platforms as possible, to go for the most well-known sites or the largest potential audiences. However, this tactic will only result in spreading your portfolio too thin and it’s all too easy to neglect under-performing sites. More effective use of your time and effort is to first analyze which marketplaces are best for your brand. Think of them as a department store – your products might be a great fit for John Lewis, but you wouldn’t necessarily want them displayed in a Walmart. And vice versa – Walmart brands are unlikely to enjoy much success by stocking in John Lewis stores. There are also a number of niche marketplaces that might be a perfect fit for your brand and allow you to access your ideal audience without the excess competition of the major players. Research each platform, look at what type of brands use them, consider online reviews and check customer testimonials. Investigate their terms – are they compatible with your own? Do they offer advertising options and detailed analytics? Finally, if looking at the attractive expansion possibilities of the international market, bear in mind local legislation.

While it may be tempting to access the huge potential of the Chinese e-commerce scene (worth an estimated $1.94 trillion USD), export laws and duties are much more complicated (and regional rather than national in some cases), so unless you have a native Chinese speaking e-commerce expert on your team you may want to leave this on the back burner.

Once you’ve chosen your selected marketplaces it’s time to optimize your listings. Bear in mind that it shouldn’t be a case of simply copying and pasting the same product descriptions for every site – this can have a negative effect on your SEO and you’ll be competing against your own online store. While it’s time-consuming, it’s highly recommended to create SEO optimized product descriptions for each marketplace you use. Look at your top competitors – what keywords are they using? How are they pitching their product? Where can your products stand out from theirs? It’s not a case of simply listing as many keywords as you can, try to create an attractive product description that will entice potential customers, but also provide enough detailed information so that there are no unexpected surprises (this should also help you reduce the rate of returns).

Where possible, you may want to dedicate some of your marketing budgets to platform-specific advertising to make sure your products are seen first, particularly when you’re new and there is a lot of competition to deal with. Many of the larger marketplaces offer assistance in setting up campaigns to make sure that your advertising budget is well-targeted, so you may even see more success than with traditional SEM.

So you’ve set up your listings, created advertising campaigns and you’re waiting for orders to start flooding in. But that’s not the end of the story. Maintenance of your channels needs to be a top priority, and the ability to react quickly to trends is the key to success. You’re unlikely to create the perfect listing straight away, but by looking at trends and reviewing your search analytics you can make small amendments to increase visibility, bring more consumers to your products, and convert more sales.

Rather than attempting to improve all of your products at once, it may be worth testing an update on one or two products and checking it’s a success before moving onto the rest. You don’t want to waste time and energy updating your whole portfolio only to find that your update actually has a negative result! As with all marketing, it’s important to be open to trial and error and to stay abreast of changes in the market and how they may affect you.

With so much preparatory work involved, it may sometimes seem like an impossible task to keep your marketplace portfolio under control. But one of the benefits of working with marketplaces is that there are a number of time-saving services that they offer which can reduce your in-house logistics and offset the time you invest in your listings. Many of the major marketplaces offer warehousing and fulfillment options, while even low-cost marketplaces like eBay provide centralized shipping solutions that can take the hassle out of pricing, particularly for international orders. With logistics being one of the most time-consuming and costly parts of the e-commerce process, having access to some of the most advanced shipment and logistics solutions available can quickly improve your customer experience and protect your investment.

With an ever-growing proliferation of e-tail stores online, the centralized accessibility provided by marketplaces is gaining ever more traction and is estimated to grow to up to 65% of the e-commerce market by 2022. And with the simple set up and low investment required to start out, they provide an invaluable service to retailers of all types looking to expand their reach. The current crisis has adversely affected sales throughout the industry as never before, but perhaps we can use this lull to our advantage and give our retail businesses the opportunity to reach a wider audience than ever before?

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TradeGala – the B2B online marketplace has taken the user-friendly marketplace platform and reimagined it for the wholesale industry. Brands and retailers can now connect online with the same ease as ordering a weekly shop. TradeGala – the future of the wholesale fashion industry.