Increff’s Commitment to Data Security: Attains SOC2 Type2 Certification

Data security has always been a top priority for Increff, and today we are thrilled to announce another major milestone in our commitment to safeguarding our clients’ data. We are proud to share that Increff has successfully attained the System and Organization Controls SOC2 Type2 certification, underscoring our dedication to ensuring the highest standards of data protection. 

In today’s digital landscape, where data breaches and cyber threats are prevalent; implementing robust security measures is paramount. The SOC2 Type2 certification is a rigorous evaluation process that verifies the effectiveness of a company’s security controls and procedures over an extended period. For SaaS companies like Increff, this certification validates their dedication to data security and privacy.

By obtaining SOC2 Type2 certification, Increff has undergone a comprehensive assessment of our internal controls, policies, and procedures. The certification process involved an in-depth audit conducted by an independent third-party auditor, evaluating our systems and practices against the stringent criteria outlined by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). It signifies that our controls are not only designed to meet the required criteria but have also been effectively implemented over time.

This certification is a significant achievement for Increff in the US markets, where data security and privacy regulations are increasingly stringent. It demonstrates our proactive approach to data protection and positions us as a trusted partner for businesses operating in highly regulated industries, such as e-commerce, and more.

“By achieving SOC2 Type2 certification, we are reinforcing our position as a reliable and secure partner for businesses of all sizes. This certification demonstrates our dedication to providing a secure and reliable platform for our clients, empowering them to focus on their core business goals with the confidence that their data is in safe hands.”

-Ravisankar Velidi, Chief Culture Officer & VP Engineering at Increff.

The attainment of this prestigious certification would not have been possible without the relentless efforts of the dedicated Increff team. Their unwavering commitment to upholding the highest data security standards has been instrumental in achieving this milestone. Increff extends its heartfelt gratitude to each team member for their hard work and dedication.

Special recognition is also due to Dr. Harsha E Thennarasu, IT Security Advisor and Researcher, whose invaluable support and guidance played a crucial role in guiding Increff through the certification process. Dr. Thennarasu’s expertise and insights were instrumental in implementing the necessary measures to meet SOC2 Type2 standards.

According to Dr. Thennarasu, “Achieving SOC2 Type2 certification is a significant accomplishment for Increff, particularly as they expand into the US markets. This certification provides clients with the assurance that Increff takes data security seriously and has implemented stringent controls to protect their sensitive information. It has been a pleasure working with a team that is so deeply committed to maintaining the highest standards of data security.”

Obtaining SOC2 Type2 certification validates our unwavering commitment to data securityand provides us with a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace. This certification is a testament to our dedication to safeguarding our clients’ data, instilling confidence in them, and assuring them that their valuable information is in trustworthy hands. By meeting the rigorous requirements of SOC2 Type2, we demonstrate our steadfast commitment to preserving data privacy, integrity, and availability, thereby fostering strong and enduring relationships with our esteemed customers.

In addition to SOC2 Type2 certification, Increff is proud to hold the ISO 27001:2013 certification and GDPR compliance, further solidifying our commitment to upholding an information security management system that aligns with international standards. These multiple certifications reflect our proactive approach to data security, reassuring clients they can place their utmost trust in our ability to protect their sensitive data effectively. Data security will remain at the core of our operations as we continue to drive innovation and growth. We eagerly anticipate the future and remain fully dedicated to serving our clients with the highest level of integrity and security they deserve.

About Increff

Increff is a retail SaaS company solving complex inventory management & supply chain challenges. Over 200+ global retail brands believe in our end-to-end merchandising and omnichannel inventory management solutions. We empower retailers to enable automated decision-making, bring accuracy to processes, drive sustainable retailing, and achieve incredible efficiency.


Losing out on peak season sales? Here are 3 ways a retail tech partner can help

The peak sales season is a make-or-break time for every retailer, offering a significant opportunity to boost revenue and increase profits. In fact, over the past decade, the average annual retail sales growth was 3.6%, but since 2019, there has been an incredible 30% growth in retail sales. However, managing the surge in demand and traffic during this period can pose significant challenges. To optimize operations during this critical period, relying on gut feeling alone can be risky for businesses, as it is subjective. This is where technology comes in.

Without the right technology in place during peak season sales, businesses risk encountering significant obstacles such as stock shortages, slow checkout lines, and suboptimal customer experiences. These challenges can lead to lost sales and revenue, as customers may choose competitors who can handle the increased demand better. Additionally, retailers may be forced to offer heavy discounts to move excess inventory post-season, reducing their profits.

By investing in the right technology solutions, retailers can equip themselves to handle the surge in demand during peak season and avoid costly mistakes. Furthermore, technology partners can provide valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling retailers to tailor their offerings for maximum impact. 

In this article, we will explore how the right peak-season technology partner helps you optimize your operations during peak sales season, from inventory management to order fulfillment and more.

Here are a few reasons why the time to shop for a peak season partner is now.

Get Ahead of the Game

NRF forecasts that retail sales during 2023 will grow between 4% and 6% over 2022. The sales holiday shopping season is always busy, and this year is expected to be no different. In fact, with more people used to the concept of online shopping due to the pandemic, it’s likely to be even busier than usual. By starting your search for a solution partner now, you can get ahead of the game and avoid the rush. This will give you time to evaluate different options and find the partner that best meets your needs. Retailers are expecting inflation which will have an immense effect on both retailers and consumers. People will not buy as they usually do, and retailers will see a dip in profits. A solution partner will help you navigate through the tough time by reducing manpower, optimizing storage, inventory transparency, and more. 

Read more about peak seasons here.

Meeting Needs is Made Easy

The global e-commerce market is expected to total $6.3 trillion in 2023. Ensuring that the right products are in stock at the right time is crucial to meeting customer demand and maximizing sales revenue. Allocate your products wisely. Plan which products should go to which store based on consumer data like affinity, men-to-women shopper ratio, etc. The life of merchandisers will get easier if they know which stores require what items. By choosing a partner now, you can analyze historical sales data, forecast future demand, and establish appropriate inventory policies and procedures – which are important to meet the needs of the shoppers.

Ensure Smooth Operations

You do not want to deliver late orders and lose customers. Inventory management, processing orders, ensuring on-time delivery – a good partner can help ensure that everything runs smoothly. Optimize warehouse operations to handle huge order surges during the peak season and avoid hiring an extra workforce to handle such surges by means of a peak season partner. Order routing and splitting can ease the burden on your warehouses, leading to faster order fulfillment. You can also get stores into the picture for faster fulfillment of orders via the store fulfillment model. By choosing a partner now, you’ll have time to integrate their services into your operations and ensure everything works properly before the busy season starts.

To learn more about it, read here.

In conclusion, maximizing peak season sales is critical for retailers to achieve sustainable growth and profits. With the rapid increase in retail sales, it’s more important than ever to leverage technology to optimize operations during this critical period. Based on the mistakes made in the last season, dilute the inventory by sales like End of Season Sale. Use the Dynamic Markdown technology to find the right percentage of discount to be given on each product.  By partnering with the right technology solution provider, retailers can equip themselves with the necessary tools and insights to meet customer demand, manage inventory effectively, and provide a seamless customer experience. As the sales holiday shopping season approaches, it’s essential to act fast and secure a reliable technology partner to avoid costly mistakes and lost sales. 

The time to act is now, so don’t hesitate to start your search and get ahead of the game. 

Remember, the right technology partner can help you achieve your peak season goals and pave the way for long-term success.


Debunking Myths About Omnichannel Retailing – 4 Misconceptions Explained

Incepted in the early 2000s, omnichannel retailing is no longer a fantasy. Several brands have created an environment where offline, online, and m-commerce work together to create the most seamless shopping experience for their customers.

An omnichannel approach to retailing is a win-win situation for both brands and consumers. About 89% of consumers expressed that brands should work harder to create a more cohesive customer experience.
Brands who have implemented it successfully are reporting a hike of 9.5% in annual revenue with omnichannel benefits like fulfillment from store etc.

Despite the effectiveness of this method, many retailers and brands are hesitant to adopt omnichannel retailing because of the misconceptions surrounding it.

Let’s take a look at the biggest myths clouding people’s perceptions: 

#Myth 1: Omnichannel and multichannel are the same thing

Although they might sound the same, the difference between these two approaches is night and day.

While a multichannel approach necessitates a team and a system working in silos, customer experience is not included. The omnichannel approach, on the other hand, integrates all communication contact points to create a seamless experience.

It is the more engaging, personalized experience that centralized customer data adds to omnichannel retailing that makes all the difference. With this approach, brands get to offer both better customer service and faster issue resolution. 

The bottom line is, consumers expect the best customer support even when juggling between sales channels. In omnichannel retailing the communication between them works in silos, equipping the customer support to provide them with the best service. 

#Myth 2: Managing Omnichannel is tedious

The benefit of implementing omnichannel retailing is that it is not necessary to execute all features of omnichannel retailing all at once.

You can begin by analyzing what is working for you and gradually adding new channels. It’s not required to change the infrastructure of your physical store or invest in some hefty technology to start with omnichannel retailing. Since it is completely based on retail technology, you can integrate procedures as you need. As a result, there is no need to restructure your entire process to go to omnichannel retailing. 

#Myth 3: Omnichannel platforms don’t work

As already established, companies that do not utilize omnichannel platforms are losing out on its benefits. With an omnichannel approach, customers get to curate their own experience – whether offline or offline. 

Customers can browse online and walk into physical stores, or they can order the same product online after trying it on in the store – the possibilities are endless. This unified experience ensures that sales are not lost while navigating various platforms.

Furthermore, many omnichannel adopters find that making the switch has helped them improve store inventory accuracy to the point where they have been able to launch additional initiatives that rely on it, such as reserve online and collect in-store.

Myth 4: Omnichannel retailing is an expensive affair

Any business must invest in the appropriate tools and technology to grow. While retail technology may appear to be an investment at first, the return on investment is justified.

Omnichannel retailing has been shown to increase order frequency, store traffic, customer retention, and brand identification. In fact, it is reported that the opportunity cost of not being omnichannel is 10% in terms of lost revenue.

As a result, even though the transition to omnichannel retailing requires an initial investment, it increases sales multifold, making it a sound business investment.

Concluding: What Does the Future Look Like With Omnichannel Retailing 

The day when omnichannel retailing becomes a standard retail practice is not very far. Businesses that transition to omnichannel practices early will greatly benefit from the new opportunities created by it. Only 11% of businesses have claimed to successfully implement omnichannel retailing, and others who join the rank will surely reap the benefits.

The core idea of omnichannel expansion is simple; it enables the brand and retailers to become visible across all sales channels their customers are using. Being omnipresent everywhere the shopper goes gives them a competitive advantage.  

In a digital-first world, going the extra mile to keep up with customer demands and trends will help you in keeping ahead of the competition. With the truths behind the myths revealed brands and retailers should use omnichannel retailing to make their business future-ready. 

If you want to enquire more about what retail tech solutions can help you adopt omnichannel retailing, contact us today!

Business Smart Merchandising

Technology at The Heart of Fashion Retail – Embracing Sustainability

Have you ever wondered about the environmental impacts of building your wardrobe? Yes, apart from your daily commutes and lifestyle choices, how your beloved fashion pieces reach your wardrobe also impacts your overall carbon footprint. 

The fashion and retail industry is one of the largest consumers of natural resources like water, fossil fuels, fertilizers, etc. It’s also a major contributor to air, land, and soil pollution. As consumer awareness about sustainability is increasing, 67% of consumers report being more cautious of resource utilization owing to their scarcity. This has caused brands and retailers to step up to fulfill the ethical and societal obligations of their business practices.

Shifting to business strategies and practices that help brands and retailers meet the current demand while safeguarding and nurturing natural resources for the future is the need of the hour. 

Sustainability in Fashion: A Road Less Travelled

The predicament of the fashion industry is unique: Maintaining a delicate balance between supplying customers with the latest in fashion and reducing the environmental impacts of the clothing’s lifecycle. 

The retail system is inefficient due to overproduction and wastage of existing inventory. Matching supply with present and future demand is a complex task that is dependent on large volumes of legacy data.

In addition to sustainable sourcing, alternative materials, and selling to secondary markets, innovative use of technology can also have a significant impact. Retail tech is drastically improving how existing inventory is adequately utilized in the system.

A lot of these core problems can be solved during the buying and merchandising phase. Till now, the traditional methods have been unsuccessful leading to overbuying and overstocking. This creates a vicious cycle of abundant inventory getting sold at highly discounted prices before getting dumped in landfills or burnt on a large scale.

Retail Tech: Light at the End of the Tunnel

Retail tech is one of the most effective ways to build agility and sustainability into every aspect of their business. Particularly considering that this transformation combines online and offline channels.

Let’s take a look at how this gets done:

1. Sending the right inventory to the right warehouse: The guesswork of sending inventory to the right locations is eliminated by utilizing regional distribution. 

It’s common knowledge that warehouses function with limited capacity. Once inventory reaches the warehouse, its efficient storage and redistribution become of utmost importance. Retail tech has made regional utilization a reality using which retailers and brands can optimally allocate inventory in proportion to the regional demand. In addition to reducing shipment time, this contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle by reducing fuel consumption and carbon footprints.

Increased visibility of in-stock inventory leads to higher conversion rates on marketplaces, faster deliveries, and a lower return rate for retailers and brands.

2. Simultaneous exposure of inventory both offline and online: Beyond the warehouse, how do you utilize inventory you have designated for online channels? Often times sales don’t go as predicted and retailers and brands are left with large quantities of unsold inventory. New-age retail tech solutions make it possible to expose offline inventory to online sales channels, thus allowing greater exposure and ensuring no inventory is left behind.

With Increff O2O (Online to Offline) or the store fulfillment solution exposes store inventory online and enables an omnichannel fulfillment ecosystem, thus preparing the stores for the future of retail. It allows automatic order routing and splitting to the closest store location, and enables manual store hopping in case the order is not available at the designated store. This ensures fulfillment from the nearest possible location in the most optimum way. 

3. Move the right mix of products to the right store: Even with accurate pre-season demand forecasting, retailers and brands may experience situations where certain products are in demand in one location but are available in another during the in-season. No worries, retail technology can help you with this too.

Inter-store transfer feature helps prevent major inventories from going into liquidation. It is a part of merchandising where inventory is transferred between different store locations that belong to the same retailer for better exposure of inventory and subsequent improvement of sales. Through advancements in retail tech, it becomes a breeze to conduct analysis on a store style level, and inventory transfer is done from low-performance to high-performance stores. 

4. Appropriate discounting before liquidation: Every retailer and brand knows the pain of liquidating the inventory left behind in the warehouse after the season ends. It is not only a waste of their money, but it also contributes to pollution – by rotting in landfills.

By using a markdown optimization tool, retailers and brands can offer appropriate discounts at the right time, keeping sales high. It uses an advanced, data-driven algorithm to analyze high-volume data to calculate a product’s optimal discount price which maximizes sell-through and minimizes sales loss due to pricing.

The Bottom Line 

In the fast-moving world of fashion, sustainability, and technology are quickly becoming mutually inclusive. Retail tech will greatly help brands and retailers to data-driven decisions to avoid the overuse of resources and adopt more sustainable practices. 

At the heart of Increff’s operations, lies the responsibility of simplifying the complexities in supply chain operations and inventory management. Contact us to learn more about our suite of intelligent, tech-driven retail solutions.   

Business Smart Merchandising

Challenges in Kidswear Merchandising – Solve with Increff Merchandising Software

One of the fastest-growing retail categories in the last few years is Children and Baby Apparel. According to Fortune Business Insights, a global market research firm, the baby apparel market is projected to reach USD 82.54 billion by 2027. Hence, it becomes critical for brands catering to this segment, or looking to expand offerings, to logically access customer demands and stock accurately.

Using appropriate demand forecasting software and merchandising techniques can be an innovative and profitable experience. 

What merchandising fundamentals are required of you? What is the best way to display children’s clothing in your shop? How can you successfully implement this category? etc. This blog helps you address these questions effectively.

Determine your product and size range

Choose the right product line depending on the target market you wish to merchandise for. Is this your primary category, or an optional category that only impulsively interests your customers?

I. Define your categories and sub-categories.

As the primary step it is important to determine the category you wish to cater to, will it be apparel or non-apparel? If you choose apparel, you need to segment it into sub-categories further, for example, tops, bottoms, and sets, and then dive deep within sub-categories, adding new levels of attributes, for example, under tops: T-shirt, shirt.

II. Define the age group.

In children (Boys and Girls), there are 4 age groups generally.

New-born = 0-1 years, where the baby’s growth is rapid and multiple products might fit in here. Probable sizes: New-born, 0-3M, 3-6M, 6-9M, 9-12M (M=Months)

Babies = 1 – 3 years, decent baby growth, still multiple products might fit in. Probable sizes: 12-18M, 18-24M, 24-36M (M = Months)

Kids = 3-10 years can be explored with more fashionable products. Probable sizes: 3-4Y, 5-6Y, 7-8Y, 9-10Y (Y= Years)

Youth = 11-15 years old = Generic products Probable sizes: 11-12Y, 13-14Y, 15-16Y (Y= Years)

Seasonality is a consideration when establishing your clothesline for kids. If your products are seasonal, you’ll need to modify your product selection frequently, back-to-school and summer vacations are common examples.

In-store merchandising

To attract kids, it is essential to keep the visuals engaging and vibrant, as you want them to appeal to kids, entering the store, as much as you want them to appeal to their parents. Hence, communication between the buying department, space planners, and the in-store merchandising team is vital to success.

The collection must utilize the given space effectively to showcase the maximum product range. Based on each collection launched, Increff Merchandising Software provides an opportunity to give story-wise displays. It intakes your planogram as a constraint, and past performances while doing allocation so as to not exceed the space availability and intelligently allocate and replenish the desired styles. Regular replenishments and reordering must be done throughout the season to save the business from missing out on any potential sales opportunity.

Since for every new season advanced planning is necessary, retailers must become familiar with the appropriate purchase cycles. It helps brands streamline their supply chain and avoid logistical losses. Analytical decision-making tools such as Increff Merchandising Software can forecast appropriate buy numbers based on the available sale data and demand.

During the end of the season, the stock that has not received good sales can be moved out. You could advertise discounts to entice shoppers to buy. Discounting needs to be done judiciously to avoid the margins taking a huge hit.

Growth in Kidswear

To grow your business, you must not just look at the category, but also look a little deeper keeping the age group and gender as primary attributes.

New Born – Boys – Bottom –  Pants – Knitted Pants.

This top-bottom approach will give actual insights, that exactly which category, under which age group and gender is working well, and accordingly, you can plan to grow your business.

Business Technology

5 sure shot techniques to reduce costs in the retail supply chain

Creating a highly competitive retail supply chain depends on how well you’re able to control/reduce your costs. Incurring unnecessary costs can mean that your processes aren’t efficient enough, your funds are blocked in too many fixed assets, or your supply chain isn’t performing at an optimum level. These factors could pile up costs, impact margins, affect your competitiveness, and eventually make your business falter. 

Keeping costs under control is therefore one of the most essential aspects of supply chain management. Let’s look at 5 sure shot techniques that can help you reduce your costs:

  1. Localize fulfillment

Transportation accounts for about 40 to 50 percent of logistics costs, and 4 to 10 percent of the selling price of final products. Reducing the distance between your warehouse and customer clusters is, therefore, necessary to control overall costs. The closer your warehouse, or fulfillment center, is located to your customer cluster, the quicker fulfillment will be, which also means a significant reduction in fuel consumption. Regional Utilisation (RU), the idea of fulfilling maximum orders locally, is one of the topmost solutions for cost management in supply chains today. 

RU becomes even more effective when coupled with new-age merchandising solutions. Powered by data insights, this enables brands to conduct Pincode level analysis to place the right products at the right warehouse, or store, as per demand in a particular market. Shelving the right styles and size combinations can boost regional sales significantly while saving costs on logistics.

  1. Rethink warehousing!

As a brand expands, operating from a centralized warehouse can raise distribution costs and impact business quite significantly. In fact, as per Logistics Bureau, up to 12 percent of companies are unprofitable after distribution costs are taken into account.

This can be tackled with Distributed Warehousing which enables brands to expand into other regions, and support efforts toward regional fulfillment. Fulfillment of orders from various local and widely distributed warehouses is quick and cost-effective. 

Technology solutions like Increff Cloud warehousing allow brands to rent out spaces based on regional requirements. This means investment in warehouse infrastructure is not required and brands are able to convert CAPEX into OPEX thus controlling their overhead costs. In recent times, this has been further augmented with the rapid rise of 3PL players with whom brands can partner for renting warehousing spaces and adding value to the supply chain. 

  1.  Manage manpower costs

Costs incurred due to human labor is another significant portion of your expenditures. These include their wages, training and development costs, costs incurred in hiring additional/ad hoc labor during peak season sales, and adjusting manual errors committed by the workforce. 

With new-age WMS and merchandising solutions, brands can successfully avoid a lot of unnecessary labor costs and reduce errors in decision-making. Simple UX/ UI facilitates easy training which is extremely useful during crunch times when the technically skilled workforce is scarce or expensive. The ease of use increases the fungibility of staff and maximizes the use of the available workforce.

Automated solutions ensure continuous, seamless workflow with minimum decision-making errors. Digitizing inventory through serialization allows easy scanning of individual pieces of inventory for efficient tracking and reduces training time to 5-10 mins. This minimizes efforts and costs related to elaborate training and development of the human resource operating the system.

  1. Make data-backed decisions

Holding on to obsolete inventory can add up to 25 to 30 percent more to the unit cost of your products. Besides, the capital tied up with this inventory could account for about 15 percent of opportunity costs. Obsolete inventory is mostly a result of the inability to forecast demand accurately.

However, new-age merchandising solutions backed by relevant data enable brands to create product assortments with the right styles and sizes. This helps them meet the customer demand perfectly, without causing problems of overstocking or under-stocking, both of which impact costs, the former causing wastage and the latter calling for in-season redistribution. 

New-age solutions facilitate analysis of future demand over a time horizon of the next season or business year. Analyzing past sales data helps create a favorable estimate of the upcoming season stock requirements so the right quantity can be placed in the right location. Manufacturing the right quantity as per demand avoids overproduction, unnecessary expenditure, and resource wastage. 

  1. Use multiple channels for order fulfillment

Last mile connectivity is known to be the costliest part of the supply chain and accounts for about 53 percent of the total shipping costs. This calls for transforming order fulfillment through omnichannel retail, which is a fluid vision of fulfillment that allows customers to receive their orders in the faster possible time. 

Fulfillment options like Buy-Online-PickupIn-Store (BOPIC), store fulfillment, curbside pickup, home delivery, etc. are getting popular. Conversely, a customer visiting a store who is unable to find the desired product can make use of the ‘endless aisle’ online option to purchase it and get it delivered at home or the nearest store. This doesn’t just offer immense customer ease, but also allows brands to resort to the most cost-effective fulfillment option.

Cost control is the first step towards business process efficiency and with the above-given tips, brands can simply rule the roost among their competitors. Effective cost control has great benefits for not just the business stakeholders, but also the environment and society at large.

Business Warehouse Management

10 Unrealized Benefits of Serialization

Itemized serialization pays rich dividends to your business by optimizing processes, making inventory 100% traceable, minimizing human errors, and increasing transparency throughout the supply chain. Here are 10 unrealized benefits of serialization for the brands:

  1. Inventory accuracy and traceability

Serialization detects and prevents duplicate scanning of items thus ensuring 100% accuracy. Since all the information is stored in the barcode, it is very easy to trace its journey within a warehouse and through the supply chain.

2. Easy tracking of user and machine actions

Since barcode scanning allows capturing 100% data in the system, in case an incorrect step is taken by a staff member it can be easily tracked. Brands can get down to the exact item barcode which is faulty, and the staff member that has made the mistake. This makes error mapping quick for training purposes and helps identify loopholes in the processes. This is not possible to record on SKUs as the number of items having the same barcode are many and zeroing in on the exact faulty item is difficult. 

3. Automate processes to reduce the resource time investment

Rather than using lengthy spreadsheets or approximations for taking crucial warehousing decisions, serialization enables easy automation of processes. Consolidating multiple steps helps reduce manpower and handle repetitive tasks more efficiently allowing managers to focus only on important tasks. It avoids costly errors and consequent business losses.

4. No need for wall-to-wall audits

In an SKU-based system, conducting wall-to-wall physical verification of the items require all operations of the warehouse to stop in order to avoid recounting the same items. This is not an issue with itemized serialization as each item has a unique ID and is perfectly mapped to the bin. With real-time inventory sync, in case there is any change the barcode will ensure it gets captured in the system. With 100% bin level inventory accuracy, regular wall-to-wall audits are not required.  

5. FIFO and FEFO for order picking

By having all the information accurately stored in the barcodes, brands can prevent piling up of aging inventory, obsolescence, and wastage. As the product expiry date of each item gets mapped to the barcodes, brands can use the First-In-First-Out (FIFO) algorithm to push out those items that entered the warehouse first. This method is widely used in industries where inventory is prone to obsolescence, such as fashion. 

Likewise, the expiry date of each item being stored, items expiring first are sold off first by the First-Expiry-First-Out (FEFO) method. Companies dealing in perishable products such as packaged milk or pharmaceuticals mostly use the FEFO method.

6. Location Adherence in Picking

In a scenario where an SKU is distributed among several bins and the whole SKU is represented by a single barcode, the picker may pick the items from any bin thus impacting bin level accuracy. SKU-based order picking will either not specify which bin the item needs to be picked from, or the system will not prompt an error when the item is picked from a mapped location. This can lead to inventory mismanagement, obsolescence, and errors in counting. On the other hand, when picking is done by following the individual barcode of each item, the picker will pick the item from the bin specified by the system. This ensures the inventory count is accurate at all times, there is no need for regular audits, and there is 100% traceability within the warehouse. 

7. Effective price analysis with the possibility for daily margin adjustments

Processes get interrupted whenever prices are revised in the stores. With serialization, brands can keep track of their cost prices and sales prices dynamically for different items. Margin adjustments can be made at individual style and piece level. Given the fact that the inventory is completely digitized, brands can easily adjust the prices of their stock depending upon the demand and location. 

8. Efficient returns management and processing

Serialization allows brands to link each returned item’s barcode with its reason for return. This makes for great insights into why customers are rejecting the products and what corrective measures must be taken. Repeatedly returned items can be quarantined for a thorough quality check, to understand the defect. Rather than creating new SKUs, serialization of inventory enables brands to send the exact item back to the vendor in RTV (return-to-vendor). As soon as a serialized item is returned, it can be made live immediately (depending upon its condition), expediting re-commerce and increasing the chances of resale. 

9. Easy SPF (Seller Protection Fund) claims to process 

When the exact reason for return is mapped to individual pieces of inventory, along with the image, it is easier for marketplaces to file a claim with brands for the rejected item. This ensures quick reconciliation with the brands.

10. Simple UX/UI for faster order processing

Serialization helps digitize the warehousing process and allows brands to use handheld devices or Bluetooth scanners for scanning items. This eliminates chances of human error and enables working with an automated system accessible through a simple UX/UI. All of this precludes the need for costly high-skilled labor, cuts down on training time, easy cross functioning, and ensures faster order processing.

As is clear from the above pointers, serialization lies at the very heart of automation in warehouses and is the first step toward making supply chain processes more efficient, cost-effective, and highly competitive. 

Business Smart Merchandising

5 Ways to Control Inventory in the World of Lean Retailing

The fast-changing retail industry is increasingly adopting a customer-centric approach. Customers have a wider array of options and are no longer willing to buy whatever brands offer them on a platter. In the past, retailers used to purchase merchandise based on their gut instinct or mere hunches. But today, staying relevant in the market calls for a scientific and data-driven approach. 

The growing dynamism of customer preferences also means that brands can no longer pile up stocks indiscriminately in their warehouses, as this could lead to wastage and obsolescence. This is where lean retailing comes in!

Lean retailing is all about ‘rightsizing’ your inventory and maintaining a minimal stock while relying more on the JIT deliveries as and when a product style is demanded. Lean retailing is a highly data-centric and customer-oriented supply chain practice and calls for strong supplier relationships and seamless communications. It enables businesses to cut down on unnecessary carrying costs and avoid the innumerable risks of overstock.

In this blog, we take a look at 5 simple methods you can adopt to make lean retailing a roaring success.

Regular replenishment of stock

To ensure reducing your in-stock inventory doesn’t impact your day-to-day sales, it is necessary that you replenish your stores and warehouses regularly. Optimum replenishment of stock aims at keeping your inventory costs low, while still being able to meet customer demands on time.

The optimum rate of replenishment is determined based on the data related to customer demand and preferences, and also the physical storage available with the brand. These can be factored in using inventory management software which can help brands arrive at the optimum reordering levels and also the timings of stock replenishment.

Redistribution of stock with inter-store transfers

A pre-season forecast of demand is necessary and can provide a fair idea of the customer behavior patterns over the longer time horizon. But developments during the season can also impact the trends and thus brands need a more proactive approach to ensure no sales are lost. For such contingencies, inter-store transfers are a great way out.

The inter-store transfer allows easy circulation of stock from areas of low demand to those of high demand. It is very effective in improving the health of your inventory, reducing stock brokenness, and supporting omnichannel distribution.

Suggest pullbacks for dead/slow-moving inventory

Slow-moving inventory doesn’t just occupy space on your shelves, it also prevents better-performing products to be exposed to the market. Besides, the longer your products lie on your shelves, the greater are the chances of damage, eventually making them completely unsuited for sale. 

It is necessary therefore that you identify your slow-moving stock early by tracking your inventory regularly. After zeroing in on the slow-movers, pull them back either into the warehouse or transfer them to another store if there is a likelihood of better conversions.

Expose offline inventory to online sales channels

Omnichannel commerce is fast emerging as the most disruptive trend in retail, and the lines between offline and online sales channels are blurring fast. Exposing offline products otherwise lying in your physical stores can enhance their conversion manifolds and boost sales.

With automation-based solutions like Increff Offline to Online (O2O) solution, brands can get a single view of 100% of their inventory across the board through a simple UI. As soon as an order is received, fulfillment can be done from the store or warehouse closest to the customer, thus saving significantly on logistical costs and dramatically speeding up the delivery. O2O can however be made possible only by having complete transparency and traceability of the entire inventory.

Faster re-commerce to avoid stockpiles

As brands expand their presence and achieve greater sales levels, returns can also grow proportionately. Handling returns efficiently with automated solutions is necessary to ensure the quick resale of the products. 

Increff WMS allows brands to sort the returned products on the basis of their condition. Subsequently, the items can be resold through your own sales channels, or redirected to secondary markets as second-hand products.

Faster re-commerce prevents damage due to delays and prolonged transportation, and thus loss of value. This helps optimize the resale value of the returned goods and avoids stockpiling low-value items in the inventory.

Maintaining a lean inventory is the way forward when it comes to building streamlined supply chains to meet the needs of an intensely competitive, dynamic, and customer-centric marketplace. Lean retailing however comes with its own set of challenges, most of which can be mitigated with some proactive planning and smart tactical decision-making.

Business Warehouse Management

How Technology is Propelling the Growth of D2C Brands

Brands that have a well-established presence among their customers can benefit significantly by opting for the D2C route of marketing. In the US alone, D2C sales are expected to reach $175 billion by 2023.  Even new and emerging brands find tremendous merit in D2C marketing as they wish to gain better control over their brand, eliminate the intermediary and acquire complete ownership of the customer’s journey. Technology has helped build a strong foundation for D2C brands to promote business growth:

– Emergence of easy SaaS-based website development platforms like Shopify, Magento, etc. have made it easy for merchandisers to open their own stores. 

– Quick preintegration with marketplaces have made it easy to expand the network and reach. 

– Smooth integration of SaaS-based, cloud-hosted Tech solutions help analyze demand and inventory levels.

Benefits of D2C

  • D2C enables brands to gain complete ownership of the value chain as well as the customer experience. They can create on-brand experiences throughout the customer journey and build rapport without having to rely on intermediaries. 
  • In a business world dominated by data, D2C gives brands a unique opportunity to capture comprehensive information about their target customer groups, thus enabling them to craft the right products, services, and communications.
  • Logistically, D2C makes a lot more sense as brands can directly reach out to their customers if they have a healthy online presence. It may even result in lower costs and better margins for the brands.
  • D2C is in line with the emerging trend of omnichannel commerce which allows customers to interact with the brands through multiple touch-points. Intermediary platforms like Amazon can hardly be expected to provide omnichannel services for each individual brand.

Challenges in going D2C and how technology is helping brands solve them

While D2C enables brands to retain and consolidate their identity and reach out to their customers directly, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. 

One such challenge is the direct confrontation with retailers who invariably have well-established marketing and communication channels. Brands pitting themselves against these intermediaries could get bogged down, as they will have to invest heavily in the marketing efforts that would otherwise have been borne by the intermediary.

But many of the challenges that D2C brings forth can be tackled with the help of technology-driven solutions. 

  • Maximizing the reach: Exposing 100% inventory and maximizing reach through a brand’s own website and multiple marketplaces through a single tech platform.
  • Real-time inventory-order sync: To ensure 100% of orders are captured and there are no cancellations due to overbooking.
  • Cloud warehousing: Possibility to outsource warehousing, without CapEx, to Industry experts and 3PL providers. This allows brands to build a strong warehousing network to capture customers at every point of sales.
  • Efficient and error-free fulfillment: Efficient warehousing is ensured with the use of technology and automation. Automation of processes helps minimize human decision-making errors and delays in order fulfillment. Digitization of inventory ensures 100% traceability and prevents wastage or loss of products in the warehouse. 
  • Simple UX/UI and easy accessibility: Ready dashboards to view brand, SKU & style performance at individual stakeholder levels from warehousing manager to Brand CEO. 
  • Reports of actionable insights: Easy to generate reports for analysis. Understanding channel performance and brand performance so that quick revisions can be done. 
  • Returns management: Easy returns analysis to capture the actual pain points and address them to minimize future returns. Rapid recommence to ensure maximum sales.

The emergence of D2C aggregators (Thrasio-style business model) in pushing the growth of D2C brands

A new trend on the D2C horizon is the emergence of Thrasio-style D2C aggregators that acquire new promising brands and help them expand. These brands often lack the support and technical know-how which is provided by the acquiring company. The companies also offer a common base of infrastructure that helps them support multiple brands. Besides, smaller brands also get ready access to technology upgrades which is essential to survive in the highly competitive marketplace of today. 

Companies like Perch, Moonshot, GlobalBees, Mensa Brands, G.O.A.T Brand Labs, etc. are following the footsteps of Thrasio to power the growth of D2C brands. Thrasio-style aggregators identify brands that are doing well on marketplaces and acquire them to provide expertise in marketing, brand development, and supply chain management, thus pushing for exponential growth. Having a coherent customer base, quality niche products, and a Thrasio-style backer now seems to be the perfect recipe for creating a successful D2C brand.

D2C is one of the fastest emerging trends on the e-commerce horizon. All that brands need is the ability to scale faster with the help of best-in-class technology as well as some Thrasio-style financial backing. While the challenges are many, D2C as a trend is coping well to create a level playing field for smaller and newer brands.

Business Technology

5 Growing Technology Trends Reshaping the Retail Industry

Cutting-edge technology has left no sector of the economy untouched and is turning out to be one of the biggest drivers of efficiency, customer experience, and profitability. In the last few years, the retail industry has also been experiencing some transformative technological interventions that are reshaping the way business is done.  At the very heart of this transformation is the growth in ICT (Information & Communication Technology) and digital technology. This is going to have an impact on how the industry will evolve in the coming years. In this blog, we talk about the top 5 technology trends that are at the forefront of this global transformation in retail.

  1. Omnichannel retail

Omnichannel retail seeks to provide an unprecedented number of options to customers in terms of shopping and delivery. It puts customers right at the center of the retail process. Omnichannel allows customers to interact with the brand at multiple touchpoints and switch between channels while shopping for products. Customers making a purchase on a brand’s social media page can pick up the product from their brick-and-mortar store.

Omnichannel provides customers a consistent shopping experience across diverse platforms, both online and offline. This however creates new challenges for brands at the backend and compels them to be more agile and flexible with their fulfillment process. 

Omnichannel is driven by a robust technology infrastructure. Connecting all the retail channels and integrating the assortments of all warehouses and stores is essential, and is done using automation-backed solutions. Inventory barcode and serialization facilitate easy tracking of items as they move fluidly across channels. Likewise, analytics and automation help position products at the right locations which helps reduce delivery time as well as logistics costs.

2. Need for immediate gratification

As new players enter the retail fray, customers are spoiled for choice, not just in terms of product options but also in the speed of delivery. Same-day delivery is gradually paving way for delivery within a few hours’ time. This requires rethinking the product placement and logistics on the part of the brands.

Accurate forecasting and data analysis, coupled with automation, can help brands make better decisions and place the right products close to their customer base. In-season sales and inter-warehouse transfers can further help meet the changing demand of the local market. More and more brands are now opting for distributed warehousing and on-demand warehousing, allowing brands to place the most sought-after products as close to customer clusters as possible.

3. Automation of processes to reduce dependence on skilled labor 

One of the most formidable challenges that companies faced during the pandemic was the shortage of skilled labor. This often made handling of equipment and technology difficult as most of the workforce lacked adequate training. 

But with technology solutions like Increff WMS, there is a greater role for automation and much lesser reliance on a trained or skilled workforce. The UX/UI is often very simple and easy to use. Besides, the automatic pop-ups act as warning signals in case of any errors in the input, and prevent the user from advancing, unless the error is cleared at each step. This means just about anyone with basic training can operate the system and keep the show running.

4. Meaningful partnerships for value addition and hyper-localization

The hyperlocal delivery industry is expected to grow up to $3634 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 17.9% between 2019-2027. An increasing number of brands are now relying upon local partners for their last-mile logistics and other specialized tasks. 

Hyperlocal partners are most effective in supplying goods like drugs and groceries that require quicker fulfillment. They reduce the reliance on the larger supply chain and provide for better business continuity in case of disruptions elsewhere. However, establishing a meaningful partnership with hyperlocal players means brands must integrate with them seamlessly on a robust technology platform, making them a part of their supply chain.

5. Sustainable retailing

Using technology and automation to route goods through the shortest possible pathways means savings for brands and other stakeholders, and also reduced levels of emissions. Greater levels of accuracy mean the reduced likelihood of returns and therefore elimination of additional transportation. By leveraging options like distributed warehousing and placing goods closer to the customers, brands are also able to create shorter supply chains, maximize sales and boost sustainability in retail for a better future. 

With technology as the main driving force, these crucial trends are all set to reshape the retail industry and make a lasting impact on how the business is going to evolve from here on. Quite evidently, these trends are expected to create value for all stakeholders, including the environment.