Categories
Technology Warehouse Management

How Fast-Growing Fashion Brands can Scale E-Commerce Fulfillment with new-age WMS

From the catwalk, straight to the customer’s closet in less than a few weeks. Fashion trends, subsequently the fashion industry, have evolved rapidly in the last few years. Earlier, the turn of the season was a process that took weeks and months of planning. Now trends change with each fashion show and celebrity outing. 

Main challenges faced by the fashion industry

As fashion influencers and celebrities document their every look on social media, inspiration is available in abundance. These looks are recreated and brought to the shops in record time. Here lie two of the biggest challenges of fashion retail – short-lived trends and fluctuating demand.  

Rapidly changing trends leave older stock out of fashion. To avoid turning this into deadstock, it has to be sold at discounted prices which lowers the profitability. Fashion, especially the apparel industry, is subject to immense demand uncertainty. This is mostly because fashion sales are highly influenced by external factors. With social media taking center stage, these trends change in the blink of an eye. For a retailer, being able to roughly ascertain demand and push the stock to convert it into sales in time is a massive advantage. 

Finding an advantage 

As the catalyst of change here is technology, the answer to these challenges is also technology. Just as the fashion industry is adapting to this new fast-paced way of operating at the backend, the retailers must also keep up and integrate technology to ensure that they aren’t left behind. 

At the order fulfillment level, a new-age Warehouse Management System (WMS) can solve many of these problems. Let’s take a look at the order fulfillment process and some ways in which a modern WMS  can help retailers function optimally. 

  • Receiving Goods – The stock received at the warehouse undergoes a quality check before it can be made live on marketplaces and made available for sale. At this stage, each piece is assigned a serial number/barcode, that captures all product attributes including a picture for better searchability during tracking. Automated warehousing helps optimize space in the warehouse by allowing storage of multiple SKUs at the nearest available location. The system keeps a record of the location and maps them during order picking so no piece is lost or misplaced.
  • Order Processing –  Once an order is placed, the automated WMS assigns priority to the picking process based on the delivery date committed to the customer at the time of sale and the channel of sale. Priorities are allotted to orders from across channels, ensuring order fulfillment is completed within stipulated time irrespective of the geographical source of the order. An automated picklist is created and scan-based picking ensures error-free first-time-right operations. Visual cues like the images linked to a barcode, guarantee flawless picking. When the barcode/serial number on an item is scanned, all the details of the item are displayed. This minimizes the chances of errors in order processing and improves efficiency. Consolidated packing at the pigeonhole reduces the number of shipments to the customer while saving the retailer additional logistics and packing costs. A priority-based fulfillment process eliminates the possibility of late deliveries
  • Returns – According to Invespcro, around 23% of the orders are returned due to incorrect product delivery to the customer. Increff WMS can help make the returns process efficient with serialization. Barcode mapping helps in tracking the item through the entire return and quality check process. If the item matches quality expectations, it can be made available for sale immediately, saving time and avoiding loss in sales opportunities.  

Serialization helps in obtaining 100% stock visibility across all channels of sale at all times. Real-time inventory-order sync reduces the chances of order cancellations due to overbooking.

Increff WMS is equipped to effectively manage products that have an expiration date by triggering an alert when the sell-by date is approaching. It also has an auto-replenishment feature which raises an alert when the quantity of stocks reaches a designated par level. This allows for the uninterrupted and smooth functioning of the warehouse without any delay in orders or deadstock piling up.

Investing in an intelligent WMS provides retailers the potential for scalability. An increase in demand can be extremely unprecedented in the fashion industry. With its many features, a WMS can optimize storage space, escalate the processing of orders, and prepare for a surge in demand without additional investments. 

Increff WMS is designed keeping in mind the challenges of integrating a new system into the existing infrastructure, and it is equipped to merge with the existing ERPs without roadblocks and downtime. Deployment and onboarding can be done in less than 7 days without disruptions to everyday operations. The intuitive and simple interface makes it possible for everyone to adapt to it quickly and workers can be trained in less than 5 days. To face the constant challenges presented by the fashion industry, it is important to have technology and preparedness on your side as a retailer. Elevate your efforts with the foundation of future-ready technology to match the pace of the fashion industry by investing in a WMS. 

Categories
Technology

Reduce logistics costs and improve delivery time with Increff Regional Utilization

The phenomenal rise of e-commerce is hardly unprecedented. Over the last few years, the growing internet penetration, affordable data prices, persistent efforts of e-commerce companies, and the global pandemic, compelled the digital revolution on even the most unwilling customers and companies. It was an evolve or get left behind situation for many companies and the bottom line is that e-commerce is here to thrive. In fact, many companies embraced this change, transforming or launching their businesses to be direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. 

Roadblocks in the success story of e-commerce

E-commerce’s exceptional growth hasn’t been without hurdles. One of the biggest challenges faced by online retailers is logistics and the cost associated with it. Considering the length and breadth of the country, combined with various terrains and inadequate infrastructure, digital retailers had to start from scratch. 

Though initial hiccups are out of the way, there is still a ton of room for improvement as the current logistics costs are still quite significant. While retailers are catching up, customer demands are already evolving. Faster deliveries, as fast as one-day or same-day delivery, are quickly becoming a norm as customers are willing to incur a cost to get their purchases. This is a testament to how e-commerce has grown from a discounted marketplace to the preferred choice of customers. 

Changing customer demands 

This change in customer behavior and demand has set a new challenge for e-commerce retailing. To be able to offer faster delivery speed, the products being sold have to be physically close to the final delivery destination or the seller should be able to transport them in time. Goods are primarily transported from warehouses through the surface (road/rail) or air. As an increasing number of orders are from tier II and tier III cities, processing these orders in the stipulated time is becoming a challenge. Air transfers are costly and unsustainable in the long run. Many of these locations are not connected by air, therefore surface shipments are feasible but may delay deliveries. It is entirely possible that while solving this dilemma, the seller might lose out on the customer due to delivery time. 

Making inventory more accessible 

How do e-commerce retailers and sellers solve this perpetual problem? The need of the hour is a better strategy when it comes to the distribution of inventory. Optimizing inventory distribution through distributed warehousing can reduce delivery time and logistics costs while keeping customers satisfied. The answer lies in making use of Regional Utilization often also referred to as smart inventory distribution or smart warehouse distribution.

Based on customer pin code level demand pattern, rate of sale, days on hand cover, and festivities and seasonalities, Increff Regional Utilization algorithms ascertain where to place your inventory. If your inventory is already close to the customer, order fulfillment becomes quicker and more cost-efficient. 

Some more benefits of Regional Utilization include – 

  • Reduction in the number of returns due to late delivery
  • Increase in sales as customer satisfaction scores increase 
  • Lesser deadstock due to highly streamlined inventory distribution
  • Sustainable deliveries with lower impact on the environment 

Having data and insights about operation-wide customer demands can also help the business expand. Understanding the demand, warehouses can be placed at strategic locations and goods can be diverted to locations with higher demand. This data can also aid in the creation of localized products, offers, and promotions.  

Increff Regional Utilization is a web-based, self-serve SaaS tool that uses patent-pending algorithms to provide proportionate inventory allocation across warehouses and new style distribution based on attribute group performance.

Results of implementing distributed warehousing result in the conversion of up to 70% of air shipments to surface shipments, a significant uptick in delivery times, and up to 12% savings in logistics costs. It can be deployed in a matter of minutes for all types of businesses, making it a quick yet valuable long-term investment. 

Optimizing delivery times for SMEs 

As many SME’s are also embracing e-commerce to sell their products, their challenges when it comes to distribution and supply chain are different from the established players. These businesses don’t have their own warehouses which can often mean longer delivery times. To optimize their operations, such businesses can use Cloud Warehousing / Warehouse Management Outsourcing to be closer to the customers. 

Increff partners with third-party (3PL) logistics players to provide warehouse outsourcing and inventory management services to businesses through Cloud Warehousing.  This service reduces investment costs as payment is based on the usage of space and services at the warehouse. Businesses incur no capital costs, but only operational charges for using cloud warehousing. For SMEs, this can not only reduce delivery times but also solve the problem of efficient distribution and inventory management.

Categories
Technology Warehouse Management

Perfect Warehousing Solution for Higher Efficiency and Inventory Management

Warehousing is an integral part of the supply chain where retailers can reduce costs by optimizing inventory, minimizing overheads, and speeding up the delivery time. Digitization and automation of processes help maximize space utilization, streamline operations through accurate inventory tracking, and promote productivity among workers to save time and money. 

Increff’s comprehensive WMS and OMS platform, recognized by Gartner and Forrester Research, is a cloud-based solution specialized for B2B and B2C e-commerce warehouse management and order fulfillment. It is designed to scale with the increasing demand of online sales and guarantees 100% inventory tracking by assigning a UPB (Unique Piece Barcode) to individual pieces, just like the IMEI number in phones, to boost efficiency in inventory management. Mobile barcode scanners create a low-cost, low-risk path for preventing human errors and capturing critical warehouse performance data for actionable insights. 

Read: How to choose a Warehouse Management System

E-commerce-focused WMS and OMS – Increff WMS allows retailers to do more with less manual effort and thrive under increasing demand scenarios like peak sales season. It allows channel and/or SLA prioritization for faster picking and order fulfillment. The system generates picklists keeping in mind linear pick paths to avoid delays and allows smooth operations that can continue even during cycle count and inventory audits, without losing on sales opportunities. The live-inventory-order sync feature facilitates instant inventory updates to avoid order cancellations due to overbooking. Brands can expose 100% of inventory simultaneously across all sales channels and eliminate the need for safety stock thus keeping the inventory lean.

Benefits of serialization in inventory management

Built for 100% inventory accuracy, UPB captures every action on an individual item thus reducing the need for cycle counting or chances of inventory getting lost or misplaced.

  • Optimizing space utilization in the warehouse: Designed for a high level of inventory accuracy and order fulfillment, serialization allows easy storage of multiple SKUs in a single location, thus optimizing space utilization. Retailers can stock items at the nearest possible location and the system maps them during order picking so no piece is lost or misplaced.
  • Managing limited shelf-life products efficiently: Products that have an expiration date present unique challenges affecting efficiency, performance, and cost of operations. Mismanagement of expirable items can lead to loss or obsolescence. With Increff WMS’s expiry feature, retailers can trigger alert notifications for batches approaching their sell-by-date. It helps retailers push items in a FEFO (First Expiry First Out) manner to appropriate sales channels for faster sales. 
  • Auto-replenishment of fast-movers: Increff WMS’s auto-replenishment feature helps identify top seller SKUs and raises an alert notification when their quantity reaches a designated par level. It allows brands to maintain a steady stream of inventory without the risk of backorder pilling up or goods sitting for too long and incurring unnecessary carrying costs or loss due to spoilage and theft. 
  • Optimizing labour efficiency: Automated picklists can be generated to prevent mistakes and improve picking efficiency. Inventory serialization reduces travel time by suggesting linear pick paths and streamlining picking by embracing chaos and complete randomness. Barcodes direct warehouse pickers to locations, reducing walking and searching of items, and help in consolidating multi-piece orders. It prevents human errors in high pick-volume situations through scan-based checks at order and box levels. Image-based visual cues, at the time of scanning, ensure accurate picking. The automatic inventory update feature prevents manual intervention and multiple steps like counting, QC, and Bin putaway are consolidated in a single step which makes the inwarding process faster.   
  • Training and Development: Handheld devices and barcodes lower operational overhead costs by 20-25%, with less dependency on skilled labour. Increff WMS is easy to deploy and has a simple UX-UI design that facilitates training in less than 5 mins so employees can be highly productive starting from day one. 

Future-focused retailing is all about agility and flexibility in execution and data-driven decision-making. Technology solutions like Increff WMS reduce clutter by organizing processes to give a high level of clarity on business performance. It has helped brands achieve a 2-3x increase in sales and capitalize on increasing demand effortlessly. Handheld devices and serialization optimize processes and reduce errors by increasing accountability and a better trained, trusted workforce empowered with real-time data and analytics. Handle the increasing margin pressure in retail and excel in this hypercompetitive environment with the new-age warehousing solution. 

Categories
Smart Merchandising Technology

Intelligent inventory management of Apparel, Seasonal, & Short Life Cycle Products with Increff Iris X

Increff named as a Representative Vendor in the 2021 Gartner Market Guide for Retail Assortment Management Applications (RAMA): Short Life Cycle Products

Covid 19 exposed inefficiencies in processes and systems, highlighting the need for preparedness and resilience through digitization. In the report, Gartner predicted that “by 2024, Tier 1 retailers in North America and Europe will reduce inventory carrying costs by 30%, dramatically improving free cash flow for digital investment, while revamping balance sheets. Much of this reduction will be effected in seasonal, short life and apparel categories where manual processes and gut feel are no longer enough”. The report further states, “Customer’s expectations of a unified retail commerce experience continue to challenge multichannel retailers to pursue digital business transformation”. 

Accurate merchandising requires complex orchestration across all processes such as assortment planning, in-season analysis, space management, allocation, pricing, replenishment, and supply chain. Modern cloud-based solutions, like Iris X, incorporate advanced algorithms to create location-specific assortment to drive transformation through better customer understanding and alignment to limit excess inventory. Shortened product life cycles are due to fast-changing customer preferences e.g. in fashion, or rapid technology innovation e.g. consumer electronics. For such products, production and procurement decisions need to be made fairly in advance, or JIT (Just-In-Time) so production can start as soon as an order is received so no finished goods are stocked. 

Task automation enhances speed and shifting from excel to purpose-built applications augments human activity. Retail Assortment Management Applications (RAMA) for omnichannel brands are foundational for modernizing merchandising processes and form an integral part of the core merchandising application suite. Using big data, both historical and near real-time, with advanced analytics and algorithms helps create store-specific assortments aligned to specific customer behaviour segments. 

Increff Iris X considers the uniqueness of each store up to ‘segment of 1’ for managing merchandising processes accurately.  

  • Assortment & PlanningRight assortment planning is critical to achieving a competitive edge in the industry by reducing carbon footprint and wastage of resources. Iris X helps determine and allocate the right set of inventory to the right sales channels. It closes the gap between financial planning and store planning by determining the optimal mix that makes stores more attractive for local shoppers thus improving profitability and sales efficiency. It provides the ability to plan complexities in a user-friendly, cost-effective manner that maintains in-season and new-season inventory freshness, event-based allocation, and proper markdowns during liquidation scenarios for maximizing sales
  • Automation – Increff Iris X is an algorithm-driven SaaS platform that leverages scientific decision-making to determine the right store-wise allocation, based on real-time data analysis of 17 layers of attributes. It considered factors like style attributes, True ROS™, in-store style health, etc, to increase gross margin and maximize return on investment through item-level visibility and granular data analysis. It facilitates the automation of buying cycle by setting benchmark indicators to signal when a style’s quantity is depleting and requires reordering considering the lead-time. It allows auto-replenishment and replacement by identifying non-moving dead styles to suggest pullback to the warehouse. 
  • Inventory ManagementRegional Utilization and inter-store transfers bring brands closer to customers by intelligently distributing, and re-distributing, inventory according to the local demand. It improves stock health, optimizes inventory, helps in efficient order fulfillment, and prevents extra buying by utilizing the existing inventory to the fullest. Fulfilling orders from the nearest store or warehouse helps brands experience significant savings in logistics costs and manage faster deliveries efficiently. Timely order fulfillment reduces the rate of returns and increases customer loyalty. 
  • Reporting and Analytics – Increff Iris X’s customizable BI dashboards are capable of generating 50+ analytical reports that provide a highly visual, end-to-end workflow and detailed review of business performance to take focused action on improving traffic conversion and increasing demand fulfillment. Brands can analyze Target vs Achievement, month-on-month store performance for managing operations efficiently, and customize viewability of dashboards based on stakeholders for Category performance reports by calculating sell-through-rate, Planogram adherence, Top seller, and Deadstock. 

Know more about our smart merchandising tool Increff Iris. Contact us to get started. 

Gartner, “Market Guide for Retail Assortment Management Applications (RAMA): Short Life Cycle Products”, Robert Hetu, May 28, 2021.

“GARTNER is registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.”

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s Research & Advisory organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Categories
Technology

The Fair, Flawed, and Fouled E-commerce Returns

Returns aren’t just lost sales, they put customer relationships and inventory investment at risk unless managed accurately. They are an important part of the inventory and should be optimized to promote healthy cash flow. Returns denote friction in the shopping experience and present an opportunity for brands to convert disappointed customers into lifetime buyers. 

E-commerce returns vary between industries, often ranging between 15% – 40%; the lowest being for tech accessories and the highest for clothing. Online sales are expected to reach 21.8% of all retail sales by 2024, and considering nearly a third of all products end up being returned to the retailer, the need for controlling it is now, more than ever. It is time to scrutinize the reasons by using smart technologies and execute healthy practices to treat the fair, the flawed, and the fouled returns in the right fashion for higher customer satisfaction. 

Fair returns highlight loopholes in processes and help improve product quality and customer service. 

The damaged, faulty items are extremely harmful to business, and cause huge dents in profits. They are controllable returns that convey where the supplier or retailer went wrong. It could be:

  • Poor packaging and usage of old unfit boxes or fewer packing materials to cut costs. 
  • Courier mishandling and missing important instructions in the rush to expedite deliveries. E.g. fragile packages kept beneath heavy parcels.
  • Improper packaging, making items susceptible to damage due to adverse weather conditions like heat, humidity, snow, etc.
  • Poor warehousing facility or inadequate location that is prone to theft, infestation, or natural disasters like floods and tornadoes.
  • Bad rugged roads or unfit lorries for last-mile deliveries damaged boxes en route.
  • Human errors in packaging or sorting items lead to accidents.   

These returns are very costly and must be addressed urgently. They waste resources, time, and effort, loads of dollars on marketing and logistics, and bring disgruntled customers.  

Flawed returns are defective items that lose the opportunity to sell at full price due to an in-built fault. 

Defective, refurbishable items can be mended but their chances of being as good as new are not guaranteed. These are also controllable as the defects may have been overlooked by the supplier or manufacturer, e.g. quality or manufacturing glitch, or caused due to mishandling by the retailer. If the defects cannot be restored, retailers have an option to sell them in the secondary market at a discounted price. Considering many brands and customers are choosing sustainable retailing, there are separate sites where refurbished items can be bought and sold, e.g. eBay Certified refurbished, Amazon renewed, thredUp, etc. Defective items have now become a part of regular trading and the global secondhand market is projected to double in the next 5 years, reaching $77B

A thorough quality check before shipping the orders can add value by reducing logistics expenses, manpower costs, and the chances of losing a valuable customer due to negligence. Such returns must be resolved by speaking to the customer and convincing them of better service in the future.   

The fouled returns happen when perfect items get returned, thus negating a good sale.

These returns can be prevented to some extent but are unavoidable. They constitute the 19% of customers who deliberately order multiple variations of an item (different colors & sizes) so that they can choose what suits them best. Right technology support, and appropriate analytical tools, can help brands investigate the reasons to prevent frauds like “Wardrobing”, or take corrective measures to improve service, in cases like: 

  • The product in hand does not match its description – It could be a quality issue or some piece in the set is missing. Adding detailed descriptions, high-quality images, the right size chart, customer reviews, and a product video can help customers make more informed decisions. If quality is an issue, then the supplier must be informed to take corrective measures and prevent future returns.
  • Incorrect order delivery – Color or size mismatch can happen due to a lapse in warehousing operations. This can be prevented by using the right WMS and OMS solution, that helps automate processes, facilitate 100% inventory-order accuracy and 100%  inventory traceability. 
  • Late deliveryDistributed warehousing improves operations and ensures timely dispatch of items from the warehouse. Partnerships with trusted 3PLs can help deliver orders safely within the promised time. 
  • Product dissatisfaction – This is an individual choice and difficult to manage unless the customer specifies what they did not like about the purchase. An open feedback mechanism can help understand the customer’s point of view better. 

Returns are a constant problem that will only increase with the growth in online shopping. Manual returns processing is error-prone, slow, and cumbersome, hence the need for returns management software that can simplify and improve the buyer and seller experience. Ultimately, the goal isn’t just to reduce the number of returns but also to optimize the process for higher profits. Build greater trust with customers, understand them well to guarantee the quality, and give them a reason to keep coming back. 

Categories
Business Smart Merchandising Technology

How Dynamic Pricing Strategy Can Help Retailers

As consumers started shopping online and omnichannel, price is playing an important role. The internet gives consumers the ability to compare prices instantly. A slight change increase or decrease can mean a customer lost or gained. Hence, the concept of dynamic pricing, or high-low pricing is quickly gaining attention. 

What is dynamic pricing? 

Dynamic pricing is a compelling retail price optimization strategy that can help retailers run their business profitably while keeping up with the competition across channels. To put it in simple words, dynamic pricing is changing the discounts, or markdowns, on the price of products based on their KPIs. It is also called demand pricing, dynamic markdown, time-based pricing, or surge pricing based on its application in different markets.

One of the most common examples of this pricing strategy is the end-of-season sales. While off-season merchandise is sold at discounted prices, goods that are not affected by changing styles or weather can be sold at a constant price or minimal discounts. 

Dynamic pricing strategy automates price adjustments based on data-driven algorithms fuelled by personalized information provided by each retailer. Factors like demand changes, inventory, and competitive data are also considered. To be successful, dynamic pricing needs to combine the age-old wisdom of the retailer with machine learning and adaptable software. 

How does it help retailers? 

Though the first advantage that may come to mind is increasing profit margins, there are many benefits of implementing dynamic pricing. 

  1. Create demand to keep the stock health and age in check

A rightly priced SKU, at the right time, can help boost sales. This helps in keeping in the freshness of stock and the availability of sizes/variants of a product. Products that are either discontinued, near expiry, or meant to last only for a specific period, need to revise selling price as per their planned lifecycle. If a retailer is handling this manually across categories and points of sales, it can become near impossible to track and monitor. With the right dynamic markdown algorithm, prices can be tweaked to control the sales of a product. 

  1. Understand your customers 

Collecting data is a key part of implementing automated dynamic pricing. This lets retailers gain insights into the consumer’s behaviour, patterns, and preferences. It can translate to more actionable data which can feed your algorithms to perform better, leading to an efficient pricing strategy. 

  1. Make informed decisions

Implementing dynamic pricing allows brands to access real-time pricing and demand trends. This can help make informed decisions on the price change of a particular product or category. Knowing the competition’s price trends ensures products are priced just right which aids in increasing sales and profitability. 

  1. Reflecting demand 

The digitally savvy consumer is often aware of changes in price as the demand for a product changes. Many a time, they are also willing to pay a premium to get exclusive access to a product. Similarly, it is known to them the prices of seasonal goods will change as the weather changes. Dynamic pricing lets you reflect the demand of a product at its price without compromising on the brand image. 

  1. Increase revenue and profits with a healthier working capital

One of the most significant outcomes of using dynamic pricing software is to take into consideration demand and supply, competitor strategies, and price fluctuation in the market. All of this data is crunched in real-time to deliver an optimum price for staying profitable. Dynamic pricing can be used to lower prices to increase sales, meet sales targets and avoid the accumulation of deadstock, thereby freeing up choked cash for the retailer. 
Try Increff Dynamic Markdown tool to gain deep insights on simple targeted solutions, to complex pricing problems without compromising on your brand value. Its smart algorithm recommends ideal markdowns along with the restocking strategy to ensure profitability and higher revenues, in the fastest time. Learn more about the Dynamic Markdown tool here.

Categories
Smart Merchandising Technology Warehouse Management

If you are going D2C with Shopify, Scale Faster with Increff

Retail started from local stores and expanded nationwide, cross borders, with e-commerce. E-commerce provided a uniform platform business for brands to compete on. The traditional legacy brands, having huge landmark stores and a dedicated customer base, had to wrestle with hip startups that were born in the digital era. As fast-paced technology started transforming the future of retail, it completely changed the way we shop. 

What was memorable about brand stores was the unique environment they created by capturing its essence within the four walls and adding a peculiarity in interactions. This uniqueness and brand memorability get lost in multi-brand marketplaces. Marketplaces are standard platforms having their own purpose, that masks a brand’s individuality. E.g. you become a Macy’s customer or an Amazon shopper but the brand you shop for becomes secondary. Hence, D2C seems an attractive channel to directly communicate with customers and own the relationship. 

Brands selling directly to customers own their most important asset; their customer’s lifetime value. 

D2C is an emerging strategy to disrupt the market. It allows brands to grow at their own pace by eliminating the middleman and earning higher margins. It helps brands:

  1. Directly connect with customers: Having direct access to customer data gives brands the ability to customize every touchpoint. Connect with shoppers whenever they want, through emailers, push notifications, etc. 
  2. Innovate: Data enables brands to understand customers better and improvise basis demand. Manufacturers can optimize existing products or create new offerings by capturing the trend early. 
  3. Build stronger brand loyalty: Using upselling and cross-selling options, retailers can create more opportunities for sale and build brand loyalty. 
  4. Increase flexibility and agility: Having full control over product supply and demand allows brands to become more agile. Gain the ability to read and react to change fast. 

Going D2C is not easy. It’s important to have a D2C-specific strategy, which addresses:

  1. Initial set-up – 
    • Building your website – Using the right e-commerce solution, that is affordable, scalable, secure and low maintenance is important. Specialized platforms like Magento and Shopify, serve as all-in-one website builders that are easy to work with. They provide multiple payment options and allow omnichannel delivery. Our web-based WMS solution, Increff WMS, has preintegration with both these platforms and we can be your technology partner. Assure is a multi-channel order fulfillment platform built specifically for fashion and lifestyle brands to improve topline and reduce operational costs. It manages inventory by tracking every piece using Unique Piece Barcode, ensuring 100% order accuracy and improving operational efficiency. Through fast and easy channel integrations Increff WMS can manage inventory across multiple sales channels, online and offline, and display 100% inventory across all channels simultaneously ensuring higher sales and better visibility.
    • Deciding CapEx vs OpEx model of operations – Understanding whether you can support direct orders to your warehouse or do you need a warehousing partner is the next step. Increff Assure can help you manage inventory in your warehouse. Our Warehousing as a Service (WaaS) helps retailers switch from the CapEx to Opex model of operation as we manage anywhere, anytime warehousing through our trusted 3PL partners. Having the right tech foundation at each warehouse helps brands scale efficiently as their business grows with the increasing demand.
  1. Supply chain challenges – 

Inventory management tech-solution like Increff WMS helps optimize inventory across all sales channels to prevent understocking or overstocking at any point in time. Our Regional Utilization model helps distribute inventory intelligently across a network of managed warehouses, based on true regional demand. It helps minimize air shipments, promote surface shipments and reduce logistics costs significantly to facilitate faster deliveries. Our pre-integrations on Shopify with reliable 3PL partners, Shiprocket, Clickpost, Shipway, etc. ensure complete order traceability and timely delivery. Increff WMS has inbuilt returns management solutions that very few WMS solutions provide. It helps in rapid returns processing and makes good inventory immediately available for resale to prevent loss in sales opportunities. 

  1. Usage of data and insights – 

Increff WMS’s 50+ insightful, actionable reports help brands make calculated decisions on inventory and resource management. They help in inventory reconciliation, identifying channels of higher sales for better order management, tracking manpower productivity, and improving efficiency by highlighting, and correcting, loopholes in operations. 

Channel diversification is an opportunity to build a new relationship with customers. It is about giving a reason to customers to buy directly while ensuring the sales on partner channels do not get impacted. Offering unique services, loyalty programs, or subscription services plays a major role. Omnichannel brands can also decide on differentiating inventory across different channels e.g. D2C channel can be used for launching new products, selling premium versions of existing products, or a limited product line. Gaining better control over consumer data empowers brands to cater to changing needs by providing personalized, authentic service, and making it memorable. 

Categories
Technology

Opening our Libraries on GitHub

All of us software developers have been using open-source software for many years now. Some of the notable ones (for the Java guys) being:

  • Apache open-source libraries
  • NGINX
  • Apache HTTPD
  • Bootstrap
  • JQuery
  • MySQL DB
  • Jenkins
  • Artifactory
  • Spring framework
  • And many more.. !

Over the last 4+ years, we at Increff have built a repository of libraries to ease up software development. Slowly it became a dream at Increff to contribute back to the open-source community. We are pleased to announce that we are open-sourcing all our internal libraries on GitHub. https://github.com/increff

Here is a brief description of what all these libraries do:

commons-oauth2

OAuth allows providing the authorization required by an Application (the Client) to access some Resource on a Resource Server, on behalf of the Resource Owner. The commons-oauth2 library allows access authorization based on the OAuth 2.0 model. Specifically, using commons-oauth2, Google OAuth2.0 integration can be established in web applications.

commons-lang

The standard Java libraries fail to provide enough methods for the manipulation of its core classes. commons-lang provides some of these needed extra methods through a host of helper utilities for dealing with constructs like Collections, Date-Time formats, and Files among other things.

commons-sheet2

commons-sheet2 is a library for providing a structured way to perform file read and write operations. It is primarily used within Increff’s IMDB library. 

commons-quartz

Commons-quartz is a library for providing a background job scheduling framework in different timezones using cron-based triggers.

commons-printing

commons-printing provides methods to deal with printers and printing tasks. It allows the identification of available printers as well the processing of printing jobs on the printers. Using commons-printing you can fetch a list of all available printing services, select a printing service by name and print a document using a specific printer.

commons-mysql

commons-mysql contains a collection of classes and methods that allow interaction with a MySQL database. Various methods are available for performing operations on the database such as creating and dropping databases, pushing or pulling data to and from the DB, truncating or deleting from tables, etc.

commons-logging

commons-logging provides a custom log4j appender to manage log files. To avoid logs from eating up server disk space and systematically organize the logs, commons-logging provides Log4j appenders that name and manage logs created by running applications. Logfile management can be managed through parameters like max file size and max disk usage.

commons-Gmail

commons-Gmail library is created keeping in mind instances where we might need to consume a file that comes in the mail. With the methods available in this library, you can read the next or all emails from a given address or mark an email as read /unread.

commons-gelf

The commons-gelf library is useful for logging HTTP requests and responses using the GELF protocol to Graylog and to ELK for monitoring. It is extensively used in SaaS-based applications, especially in Increff’s Assure integrations as it provides a structured way to log JSON format messages.

commons-ftp

The commons-ftp library offers functionalities to perform various operations on remote FTPs such as retrieval of a file or a directory, moving files between directories, and deletion and upload of files. It finds usage in Increff Assure’s integrations to interact with client ERP systems.

commons-diff

commons-diff library can be used to compare two directories or files. commons-diff can be used to compare just the set of filenames in the two directories or, for files with the same names in the two directories, it can compare the files line-by-line. 

commons-browser

commons-browser is a library used for Browser automation and web scraping using the Selenium library. Using commons-browser, many of the browser tasks, such as navigating to a page, filling forms, clicking on items, etc. can be automated. It can thus be used for automation testing. To allow the interaction with a browser, Selenium requires a Web Driver. commons-browser makes use of ChromeDriver to simulate a real browser.

commons-template

The commons-template library provides templates for various applications such as invoices, manifests, etc in PDF formats. It is extensively used in Assure. It makes use of the Apache Velocity and wkhtmltopdf libraries for creating templates and formats. It provides methods that take as input the parameters to be populated in the PDF along with the .io.vm template resource files. After this, it can generate a PDF output based on the provided template + parameters.

commons-fileclient

This library is used for storage and retrieval of documents from cloud storage platforms such as Google Cloud Storage, Amazon S3, etc. An abstract class contains the methods to create, read, delete and write objects from any of the mentioned storage locations. 

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Smart Merchandising Technology

Inter-store transfers – Reshuffle inventory for optimum sales

As an established retailer, you require a wide range of styles in multiple sizes to meet the customer demand. The need for instant gratification has become a dominant force in retail, hence the primary requirement of having the right stock available in the right place at the right time. 

Constraints on store space, minimum display requirements, and demand forecast based on limited data availability, initially determined how the inventory will be allocated across a chain of stores. All these constraints led to overstocking and understocking across stores a few weeks after the season launch.

In situations where excess stock is present in stores with low demand, or when the fresh inventory is leaner in terms of width and depth in stores with higher demand, inter-store transfers help in improving stock availability. It is a process of re-distributing the existing inventory and making corrections to the allocations done during the pre-planning period.

Since every decision involves the resources of cost and time, retailers need to analyze the requirements and benefits before making these shifts. Inventory optimization through inter-store transfer has several benefits:

  • Improve inventory health – Boost sales of slow-moving articles by reallocating them to top-performing stores.
  • Increase inventory turns – Increase sales of available stock by redistributing its basis true in-season regional demand.
  • Improve stock cover and reduce stock-outs at the SKU level – Minimize loss of sales by identifying the true Rate of Sale (ROS) for every SKU at the store level. Ensure there is neither over-stocking nor understocking anywhere that directly impacts the top line and margins. 
  • Increase full price sell-thru – Push stock from the stores with lower footfalls to those with higher footfalls and higher bill value. This directly increases the chances of selling at full price, thus impacting the top line and margins.  
  • Reduce brokenness: Minimize broken stock (styles with only fringe sizes available) by consolidating broken stock from all the stores and transferring full-size sets to the ones where the likelihood of selling is maximum as per the latest trends.
  • Improve Omni-Channel distribution: Identify the right stock to be pulled out of Offline stores and transfer them to the Click and Collect stores or other stores that can be used as hubs for online fulfillment.

Increff Merchandising solution helps optimize stock at the granular level. By calculating the ideal requirement for every Store + SKU, it utilizes excess inventory to improve stock health and has consistently helped bands achieve 20-30% improvement in stock health and ~30% improvement in sales. 

One of India’s leading formal wear brands implemented the solution across 150+ brand outlets and witnessed a 40% increase in sales at the receiving store. Inter-store transfer reduced brokenness by ~40% and prevented sales loss. One of the well-known International brands, expanding operations in India, reduced brokenness by 34% and uplifted sales by ~80% for the transferred stock. The overall store sales increased by 66%. 

Overstocking and understocking are some of the major challenges in retail. It not only limits proper exposure of inventory but also hugely impacts topline revenue and bottom-line margins. Increff Merchandising solution helps you make quick decisions on stock adjustments basis true demand patterns so the optimum potential of your brand can be realized, any time of the year. 

Categories
Smart Merchandising Technology

Making online shopping easy. Give more than what your customers want

The rise of the internet and tech advancements have moulded the way consumers connect with a brand. This relationship is now more value-driven and personal. While shopping has been around since history itself, the way we shop evolved dramatically with the rise of e-commerce. Digital Darwinism played a critical role in pushing companies to take the online route as the role of brick-and-mortar stores gradually shifted to healthy support structures that assist brands in selling on multiple marketplaces. 

“Digitization is no longer an option, it is a necessity.”

 Recent technological shifts have only moved in the direction to make e-commerce stronger and robust by empowering the consumer base. Providing an equal opportunity for homegrown brands to scale up operations and leverage digital infrastructure to compete with global brands, e-commerce extends power to customers to determine the true value of a brand. Today we are catering to a population that is digitally native and globally connected. Sellers need to put the right technology in place that helps them serve customers better. 

“It’s much easier to lose customers today than attract new ones.”

To address major e-commerce challenges, Increff has designed specific solutions that help retailers address basic customer needs like:

  1. Full visibility of a range of products across multiple marketplaces, simultaneously – Since your customer can be anywhere, expose 100% inventory across all marketplaces with no bucketing or dedicated stock. Help your customers locate you, wherever convenient for them. 
  2. ~100% order accuracy – Use technologies like barcode scanning, bin mapping and photo identification to ensure the right product is picked and packed for your customer. With zero human errors or delays, guarantee precision and efficiency.
  3. Don’t hinder conversions, make shopping convenient – Live Inventory- order sync feature, lets your customer know stock availability instantly. Reduce order cancellations and disappointments by giving your customers a chance, at the perfect time, to select an alternative option as soon as their product of choice is low in stock or over. 
  4. Faster, accurate order fulfillment Ecommerce is highly competitive and price-sensitive, hence distributed warehousing is the way forward. Effective, intelligent regional utilization helps reduce logistics costs by increasing surface shipments and delivering the perfect order from the closest local warehouse. This means faster deliveries at the lowest cost.

 The benefits extend to retailers in several ways, such as:

  1. 100% remote onboarding – Our tech-solutions are built for right-first-time foolproof operations. Through self-learning tutorials and fully scan-based operations, no expert supervision is required in 100% remote onboarding. This ensures the deployment is fast and friction-less.
  2. Easy Deployment – Advanced technology solutions integrate with, or replace the existing system seamlessly and rapidly to ensure no loss in sales. The transition is quick and effortless with a simple UI/UX designed interface that can be learned in no time and requires zero decision making. There is less dependency on skilled labour and more focus on delivering results.
  3. Efficient resource management, ideal picking, and packingFully automated, scan-based systems and error-proof operations ensure efficient working of each resource. From tracking every piece in the inventory to mapping every human action in the warehouse, the tool ensures accurate and fast order picking. No piece gets stuck or lost in the warehouse. We have proven competency in achieving ~99.9% fulfillment within SLA. 
  4. Faster return processing About 20-30% of e-commerce orders are returned, not due to any defect but because customers habitually purchase more for in-hand comparison. Retailers incur heavy logistics costs on these returns and have a huge impact on the bottom-line and margins. Convert these returns into profits by expediting the return process. Simplify system complexities and make your inventory live and available for sale, almost instantly.

As e-commerce becomes more competitive, brands have a tough road to tread. The right tech support is necessary to not only develop one-upmanship but also predict the future in time to take appropriate action. Increff WMS removes complexity in inventory management and order processing and creates a user experience that is free of clutter, smooth, and fulfilling. Get Assured to know the difference!