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Orderhouse Blog

Streamlining Multichannel Management

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49% of marketers need help from IT whenever they want to add, edit, or manage content. (Episerver)

Your company is growing and so is your product line. You have an account footprint that includes several big box retailers, and have products sold on numerous online marketplaces. You’re succeeding in multichannel, yet something is wrong.

You start and end each day with a multi-aspirin headache that belies your multichannel aspirations and success.

Product Content Management – A Tangled Web

Product listings and content must be entered and updated on the websites of each your retailers, in compliance with requirements that vary by channel.

So many details: SKU, Title, Category or Group, Description, Dimensions, Images, Brand Name, UPC, Part Number, Quantity Available, Cost and Price Information, MSRP, etc.

The listings must conform to specs for each channel or they’ll be incomplete, and your products might land in the wrong category and be difficult to find by shoppers. For instance, Amazon’s product categories are different than eBay’s. Home Depot might have different specs than Walmart.

And well-established suppliers aren’t immune. They experience the same challenges in managing and maintaining their online product content.

When Excel Doesn’t Excel

Administrative, paperwork, and vendor errors account for 25% of shrink. (National Retail Federation)

Some turn to Excel to organize and upload their product listings. They quickly realize that Excel doesn’t facilitate the data quality and consistency needed for compliance when managing a large number of SKUs across so many partners.

Likewise, relying on an eCommerce platform to manage multiple catalogs might fall short.  You’ll quickly outgrow this solution if you have a large product line and several retailers.

Your eCommerce platform might be adequate for managing your own website catalog, but it wasn’t designed for multichannel product information management, so you’ll lack the extra functionality you need.

Order Processing and Inaccurate Inventory

On top of that, keeping orders and inventory in sync with so many channels is a challenge. Siloed systems or reliance on manual intervention result in errors and out of date inventory levels. Your retailers have lost sales due to out-of-stock issues with your products, and they’re not happy. That means you’re also losing sales.

As your number of SKUs grows and new retailers are signed, the headaches only multiply. Your staff is overwhelmed with the tedium of updating product listings, and you need a better way to manage your inventory and orders. The time spent on admin and back end management is impeding marketing and product development efforts. You can’t focus on what you do best.

Three Strikes and You’re Out

46% of SMBs either don’t track inventory or use a manual method. (Wasp Barcode)

70% of customers facing an out of stock situation for the first time in a store will decide to substitute the desired item with another similar one. If it happens in the same store, the shopper will either substitute again, not buy anything, or to go to another store.

If the customer experiences this a third time in the same store, chances are 70% he’ll go to another store and may not return in the future. (Streetspotr)

In all three cases, the supplier loses. By the third occurrence, everyone loses.

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Untangling the Web

Fortunately, there are cloud based, single source solutions that solve these problems. They synchronize, automate, and simplify content, inventory, and order management in a multichannel environment.

Content – You’ll have one central database for product information, which is integrated and compliant with online retail channels. This eliminates the need for entering listings for each channel partner. Manage one catalog, not several.

Orders – Auto-import of orders and revises inventory. Channels get auto-updates of shipping status. Manage refunds and returns.

Inventory – Keep inventory in sync across all channels and get low inventory alerts. From one portal manage inventory levels and meet demand.

Integrations – An advantage of these solutions is that they already have integrations to exchange data with the most important online channels.  For example, one platform, Seller Cloud, is integrated with over 40 online retailers, in addition to shopping carts such as Magento, Shopify, and Big Commerce. There are APIs if a new interface is needed.

A platform such as Seller Cloud can also manage and sync Purchasing and Shipping, and integrate with accounting software such as Quick Books for AR and AP.

Step off the Treadmill

Reliance on manual intervention leads to errors and inaccuracies when managing content distribution, orders, and inventory. It can also impact productivity if your staff is on a treadmill chasing after clean-up tasks instead of focused on core competencies.

By using a platform that centralizes multichannel management, you can streamline processes, regain control, and step off the treadmill.  

For more insight on end to end eCommerce strategy visit this resources page.