Megaventory Blog - Online Inventory Management Software, Order fulfillment and Control System
This is the company blog for megaventory, an online software that helps small businesses that buy, sell and manufacture physical products to manage sales, purchasing, manufacturing and inventory. We blog about new features and updates but also about enterprise software, small businesses, cloud computing and the industry in general.

Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Build Trust with Your Customers to Increase Your Sales

This is a guest post by guest contributor Mélanie Vaast

As an online e-commerce business owner, you need to increase sales. You also need to build trust with customers and increase your credibility with your target audience. But did you ever stop to think how these two concepts are related?

When you increase trust with customers, you automatically improve your customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is not just about making a sale. It's about making repeated sales with clients who believe in your brand. This involves developing a sense of trust with your critical audience who will trust you enough to do business with you.

So how do you create this trust with your customers?

You have to work on your online reputation. Your online reputation is the level of trustworthiness and credibility you have in general with prospects and customers.

5 Ways to Build the Trust You Need with Customers to Increase Sales

If you are wondering where to start to build trust, people say you need to start with the handshake and smile. Sure, that's easy in the real "brick-and-mortar" world but not as accessible in the online environment, where you cannot invite the real world customer in for coffee, sit down with them, and discuss your services or products, and get to know them. You are absent in person from your online website - so you have to be creative.

Below are 5 ways you can work on your online reputation:

1. Have excellent customer service

As we've mentioned before, having a great customer service is one of the main components in creating trust and customer loyalty. Make sure you have multiple ways that customers can contact you and be present on social media to monitor and handle negative comments quickly. There are many tools these days to offer top-notch support to your customers so there really isn't an excuse for not doing so.

2. Offer a hassle-free return policy

If you make returning an item as hassle-free as possible, it will communicate to the customer that you are trying to take care of them, not just making a sale. After all, a key reason why someone isn't likely to press the Buy button after all is a second thought like 'What happens if I need to return this?'. Amazon has all but removed this friction and has transformed the rest of the market along the way - so you really have little option there.

3. Provide product information with transparency

Keeping stock of your inventory is important so I recommend you use an inventory management system that allows you to track your inventory if possible. You may lose customer trust if you offer an item that is out of stock when the customer thought it was available. Also, be transparent about your number of items you really have in stock and if not, then inform when it will be available again.

4. Present your PayPal validation sticker or other credentials on your website

Remember the handshake. You don't have the ability to look your customer in the eye and shake their hand to assure them online. Instead, you must offer "social proof" and trust verification in other ways. One way that all e-commerce businesses should do when selling online is to provide their payment security seals such as the PayPal sticker or other validation of your safety credentials. This ensures the customer that they are safe shopping on your site and can create instant credibility for your online business.

5. Use customer testimonials

The best way to win over many customers and increase your sales is to offer proof that you are trustworthy. Another way to effectively do this is to provide true customer testimonials by other satisfied customers. You can do this with guest blog posts written by customers, a comment section, videos, podcasts, etc. How you decide to present this information is up to you. The important thing is that you provide it to your visitors, so they know many people prefer you over your competition and that they trust you.

Sales is About Relationships

Stephen Covey writes in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, that business is not about products; it's about people. He focuses on the importance of relationships in everything one does in their business, and he firmly believes that this is what makes an entrepreneur successful. Covey certainly has a valid point when you think about the importance people place on finding a business they can trust. People tend to do business with someone they like over someone with a great product who is not courteous or who doesn't provide them with all of the information they need.

There's something about honesty that people crave today. In the midst of a world that is difficult to see whether you can trust people or not, you will stand out and draw more revenue from your customers if you are straightforward and honest.

Good Guys Finish First

Practice good ethics on a daily basis and it will pay off for you in spades. Ethics is not an old-fashioned concept, and it works as well today as it did 100 years ago. It's just harder to see it online. So you have to work harder to show it to your customers. Use social proof and other means to get this across.

Remember, it's the relationships you build with your customers that will increase your sales. So show your clients through the means we talked about that you are trustworthy, and you'll see the difference in your bottom line!

Friday, May 19, 2017

How to Choose the Right Inventory Management System For Your Small/Medium Business

Last month Software Advice announced Megaventory’s inclusion in the 2017 FrontRunners quadrant for Inventory Management software and we think it is a good opportunity to discuss some tips that the buyer should have in mind before committing to a new solution.

The right software solution is the tool to survive in a highly competitive market, as we have mentioned before. It helps you become more efficient with managing your resources, saves up valuable time, and in the end, it means more sales and revenue. Yet, many business owners are reluctant to embrace new technologies and prefer to stick with their pen and paper methods.

If you are still weighing the pros and cons of adopting an inventory management system, you can check these reasons why your competitors have made the transition to actively tracking their stock. If you are already convinced, it is time to learn what type of system is best for your business.

Allocate your budget

Determining what funds you can spare for an inventory management solution will help you filter out the ones you cannot afford. Be sure to uncover "hidden costs" like implementation, updates or hardware upgrades, maintenance, etc. before committing, as you may end up with a solution you will not be able to afford.

Make a thorough list of your requirements

This step should come after having allocated your budget because it will determine how much you can actually ask from a solution. It is not uncommon for people to approach vendors with a long list of requirements that cannot be satisfied with their current budget. Nevertheless, there could be many solutions within your budget limits that offer different sets of features, and here is why you should do your research first.

After all, finding the right software on the first try is crucial for a small business owner, because you don't have the funds and resources to bounce between solutions. But even if you do have the funds, why waste them?

Give yourself time to test before buying

It might surprise you how many times we have encountered a customer that wants an ERP solution and wants it now. They are willing to pay even hundreds of dollars for a solution they have not tested at all. This, of course, could backfire massively if this blind matchmaking proves to be not what you needed all along. So, make sure to allocate some time from your weekly responsibilities to test a few options out, well in advance before the actual date of implementation.

Keep yourself open to new solutions

Contrary to common belief, there are more than just two or three primary software vendors for inventory management. There are hundreds of viable ERP software solutions in the market, all with varying degrees of functionality and pricing. The most known solutions will probably cost far more than your budget allows and you risk getting disappointed quickly. Fear not, though, there is a solution for everyone, as long as you keep your options open.

Check online reviews and rankings

Nevertheless, setting out to test 200+ systems is - definitely counterproductive to your goal, if not just impossible. To avoid that, you should check out what others that have already tested those systems have to say. And although it may not be practical to know and chat with other system users there are reports about usage levels of the various systems. For example, the FrontRunners quadrant for inventory management by Software Advice can be a great ally in your pursuit of the perfect solution.

So what is this ranking actually?

Small and medium businesses can use FrontRunners to make more informed decisions about what software is right for them. To create this quadrant, the Software Advice team evaluated over 200 inventory management products. Only those with the top scores for their capability and value made the quadrant. Scores were based largely on reviews from real software users, along with other product performance details (e.g., what features they offer, how many customers they have).

What is so unique about this ranking is that it doesn’t simply place all finalists in a list, which could prompt you to pick the first listing; on the contrary, the solutions are divided into four categories/quadrants, and every product in each quadrant offers a balance of capability (how much the products can do) and value (whether they’re worth their cost) that makes them stand out in the race for small business software success.

That means that products in any quadrant may fit your needs, according to your industry, company’s size, resources, experience, and of course budget. To understand what each quadrant mean, you can check Software Advice announcement post.

FrontRunners scores and graphics are derived from individual end-user reviews based on their own experiences, vendor-supplied information and publicly available product information; they do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

In this diagram, Megaventory is placed almost in the middle, meaning it can serve the needs of most businesses. Plus, the fact that it was considered in the list among more than 200 solutions, means that it is for sure a very robust solution you can count on. Megaventory is trusted in more than 40 countries and has been localized in 7 languages.

If you are in the search for a robust inventory management system, why not start a trial with us? We offer one of the best customer support services and we’ll be there to guide you from the moment you sign up.
Get started now » Signup is FREE. No Credit Card Required

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet us. And if you liked this post, don’t forget to share it on social media.

Friday, March 10, 2017

10+1 Must-Use SaaS Tools for Retail Stores

This is a guest post by guest contributor Pravya Pravin

Retailers were content with the brick and mortar just before the world moved online. More than 50% of consumers claim they purchased more on the web than from physical stores. Due to this rapid adoption of online shopping, retailers had to move online before they would be out of business. 

Gartner predicts 28% installed human capital management systems will be SaaS-based by 2019. SaaS is the preferred choice especially for small retailers, as it is significantly cost-effective; the software has already been made and is ready to be deployed. As SaaS provides an option of monthly or annual payment, one doesn't have to flush all the money paying for the license fee in one go, which also nullifies implementation cost, maintenance cost, and risk involved in tradition software. The deployment time is also reduced drastically as the cloud-based software is ready once you are done with customization. 

Before you get started with your online store, you need to decide on a platform to be on. There are many platforms where you can register like Shopify, BigCommerce and Instantestore, or you could create a website of your own on Wix, Weebly or Jimdo.

Let the world know

You need to announce your arrival in the online domain to the world. Do all you can to promote yourself, let the people know who you are, what you are all about, and what they can expect from you. Almost everyone is on some social media platform, as building a social image is necessary and will go a long way. The way you promote on your socials will say a lot about your brand image and will help form a brand identity. Most people think that an occasional post on Facebook, a couple of tweets on Twitter will suffice. But sadly, it isn't so. You need to buck up and keep your social profiles active. Look at the best times to post on different social platforms and schedule your posts, so that you constantly appear on your user’s timeline. There are a couple of tools that help you to schedule your campaigns easily and also show you a report of which campaign worked well.  

Recommended Tools - Buffer and CoSchedule

Fine tune your brand by putting up ads on websites where your target audience usually visit. Visibility plays a vital role in creating an impression and building trust. 

Recommended Tool - AdRoll

Be Searchable

Let me be honest, there is no point of giving your all, if you don't rank well. You have to rank on the first page of Google or at most at the second page, otherwise the chance you receiving organic traffic is really meagre.

It is vital to target the right keyword for generating more traffic to your page and for google to crawl and improve your ranking. For this, you need to optimize your on page keywords, add image alt tag and so on. Keyword difficulty and volume of the keyword needs to be taken into account while finalizing the keyword for which you want to rank. More the times you use a particular keyword, the better are your chances for visibility. 

When it comes to retailers, it is not just about traditional SEO; it is important to build reliability and trust around specific locations, so that you get listed when people search for something related to your business in your location. Traditional SEO helps google identifying trusted content rather than location.

You need to rank for geographically related keywords, which includes the address (map), contact details, reviews, customer ratings, your operational hours etc. It validates your business and cites you effectively. You need to list yourself in important directories like google listings. 

Recommended tools - Whitespark and Synup

Manage Better, Deliver Efficiently

It is not easy to supervise the flow of goods from manufacturers to the end consumer. You obviously have hundred other things on your plate than monitor inventory and track orders. You need a tool to take care of your stocks, manage returned goods, track supplier availability, finalise shipping providers, check inventory value, import and export data and more. Managing the stock of your multiple location retail store can be cumbersome. Why break your head on these issues when you can use a tool that would manage all your inventory just like you would? Export your company data and information and let a tool do the rest for you.

You also can function better by managing the working hours of your employees, track their work hours and sales progress.

There are a few tools that take care of your logistics with efficient distribution solution. They help you in saving cost in delivering goods. 

Recommended tools - Megaventory and Shipware

Communicate Better

Create a marketing list, adding all customer leads, accounts, contacts etc. Keep a track of your users and customers and find out the best channel to encourage engagement. Monitor where your users are dropping off and attack them accordingly. It is essential to re-engage and retarget your users to nudge them to make a purchase.

Don’t be disheartened if all users don't turn into customers. Follow up on them; send them interactive emails, touch them via SMS informing them about special offers or re-target and engage them by web push notifications. 

Recommended Tools - Sendinblue, Textlocal, iZooto

Build Authority and Trust

Last but not the least, you need to establish yourself as authentic and trustworthy. Back yourself with amazing customer reviews, strive to get good ranks from customers, acquire likes on social media sites and get featured on blogs. 

Online interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in an offline store. Be prompt in answering queries; customer service it vital to make your customers happy. Happy customers lead to loyal customers. You need to have a chat on your website to that you can cater the users 24/7; this builds reliability and trust. It also helps in generating leads and boosting sales. Better the customer service, better are the chances to your brand will stand out. 

Recommended Tool - Drift

Saas is ever evolving and tools will keep innovating themselves to makes lives easier for business and industries. Name it and there is a tool for it. These SaaS tools are a must use for retail stores to make the cut online. They say sky is the limit, for now let’s stop at the cloud.

Pravya is a Product Marketer at iZooto. She writes often on the iZooto blog. iZooto is a web push notification platform that helps marketers drive user engagement. With amazing personalization and customization features, it enables marketers to engage their users across both Desktop and Mobile.

Find them on Twitter: @pavipravin @iZootoTeam

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Megaventory ranked category leader in inventory management

Last week we got some wonderful news that Megaventory ranked among the category leaders in the Top 25 Inventory Management solutions by GetApp. So, we decided to do a short roundup of some recent reviews on Megaventory.

Inventory Management Category Leader

GetApp's ranking report aims to recognize the top solutions for SMBs and is based on five unique factors: user reviews, integrations, data security, mobile-friendliness and media presence.

"Megaventory has stayed firmly in GetApp's Category Leader ranking since Q3 2015 as one of the top 25 inventory management solutions in the cloud", says GetApp researcher Suzie Blaszkiewicz. "An impressive reviews score of 14 with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars on GetApp, along with a score of 13 for its security protocols, have added to its overall total of 42, solidifying its continued presence as one of GetApp's Category Leaders for inventory management".

Starting in Q1 2017, GetApp added additional components to its scoring methodology to provide even more valuable data to the ranking. What we loved the most is the dynamic character of the reviews, as they don't calculate just the number and average rating of reviews, but also give extra points for the review's recency. As constant software updates mean that reviews don’t have an infinite shelf life, this is highly important for both buyers and vendors.

Updated Review by Merchant Maverick

Merchant Maverick is a comparison site that reviews and rates credit card processors, POS software companies, shopping carts, mobile payments services, and small business software. They also write informative articles about the industry as a whole and their goal is to educate you about the industry and the companies involved so you can make an informed decision. Recently Jon Titterington updated his witty and thorough review of Megaventory and we loved it.

“Megaventory is dependable, has good support, and reasonable prices”, says Jon Titterington from Merchant Maverick. “The tutorials stick out in my mind as being particularly well made. They address a lot of the initial “how do I get started?” questions that come with using software, and they do it in a straightforward, efficient manner. There are no annoying cartoon mascots either. Other clever features like the clipboard and the “card” system are great ways to stay organized and improve the workflow enough to give Megaventory a different feel from a lot of their competition”.

Zapier's Review of Megaventory

Zapier provides an integration platform that allows you to automate daily tasks that involve using two or more applications. By creating a "Zap", you can define an action and set it up to be repeated when certain triggers happen for over 750 applications. Once you have created a zap, Zapier will continue to run it automatically.

Matthew Guay from Zapier in his recent review says: “Megaventory is an online inventory management and ERP app that can do that and more. It can track all the data about your inventory, sales, orders, quotes, documents, and manufacturing, then turns in into dynamic reports so you can easily see which products need to be reordered, which documents have been signed, and more in a click”. 

Final note

If you are thinking to update your ERP software, we think that those reviews will help you come to a decision, so make sure to check them out. Nevertheless, we believe that the best judge of a software is the actual user, so why don't you start a trial account to experiment with Megaventory yourself?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Supply Chain Management Trends for 2017

Finally, 2017 is here and we can’t stress enough the importance of supply chain management. If there is a problem in your supply chain and your products cannot reach their destination on time or at all, you run the risk of losing those customers forever. 

If this has happened to you, don’t get discouraged. Even behemoths of the retail game –quite often and at crucial times like Christmas– fall short on their promise to deliver the products they say they have in stock.

Yet, in 2017 there’s no excuse to get stuck in outdated methods. So, we asked experts of supply chain management and successful entrepreneurs to share their insights on the emerging trends. Let’s see what they said.

B2B marketplaces, social product design and harder to satisfy consumers

Sue Welch - @GoBambooRose

Sue Welch is the Founder and CEO of Bamboo Rose, a business-to-business (B2B) digital marketplace powered by trade engines that allow members of the retail ecosystem to collaboratively discover, develop and deliver great products to market. A veteran of the tech startup world with six companies to her name, Sue shared her insights and focused on the following points:

●  Marketplaces will make product lifecycle management visual – even when it’s virtual: Retailers will shop just like consumers in connected B2B marketplaces.

●  Product design will become more social: Co-creation will be a must; instant sharing of ideas will be the standard to ensure the best products come to market quickly.

●  IP security issues will be on the forefront: Public tools, like Pinterest, will become more of a security concern, prompting companies to look for options with similar functionality that pose less of a risk.

“After a year of breakthroughs (from see-now, buy-now to virtual fitting rooms)” continues Sue, “meeting consumer expectations for great products and instant gratification will be even harder in the year ahead. 2017 will mark increased investment in tech to help retailers survive in an Amazon world”.

Implementation of cloud systems

Lee Fisher - @InteriorGoods

Lee Fisher is General Manager at Poles Direct, part of the Interior Goods Direct group. They trade exclusively online, offering a range of high quality products including wooden blinds, curtains and cushions.

“For us, it's all about the data”, says Lee Fisher, “and throughout the next year we'll be able to identify and utilise it even more effectively thanks to the advancement of cloud technologies. The quantity and quality of the data we now have access to means our operations are becoming more complex, collaborative and cost-effective, too. 

2016 was a huge turning point for digital technology, and it's showing so signs of slowing down in 2017. Last year saw the gradual introduction of digital to our operations, and we are now able to harness its full potential throughout the full supply chain. We're particularly excited about the speed and connectivity of our enhanced operations.”

I also expect to see AI on the rise, though unfortunately, that isn't something we're in the position to implement as of it!”

Cyber Risks in Global Supply Chains

Ayman Omar@KogodBiz

Ayman Omar is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Business and a Research Fellow at the Kogod Cybersecurity Governance Center (KCGC). Prior to receiving his Ph.D., Prof Omar worked in the oil industry and conducted several consulting projects. for a wide range of corporations including many Fortune 100 companies.

“One of the emerging risks in global supply chains deals with cyber risks. They can take different forms such as intentional attacks by individuals, organizations, or governments. Such risks can result in the loss of data or a company's intellectual property, major disruptions in supply chain operations, and significant damages due to lawsuits, legal fees, and the loss of customer goodwill and trust.

Cyberattacks in the US have been increasing at a rate of 25% every year over the last three years. Another issue that could result in higher risks of cybercrime is bad outsourcing decision. Such decisions are believed to cause 63% of the data breaches that take pace in different supply chains. Reducing a company's risks to cybersecurity threats can longer be viewed as an isolation, rather this should be addressed as a network-wide problem. Supply chain managers will need to figure out ways to mitigate such risks by analyzing their entire global network.”

Operational excellence and lean programs

Kimberly Watson-Hemphill@FireflyConsult

Kimberly Watson-Hemphill is the Founder and CEO of Firefly Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that specializes in innovation and operational excellence and is headquartered in Austin, TX. She recently authored the book Innovating Lean Six Sigma (McGraw-Hill, 2016.)

"While the US economy is doing well at the macro-level, many supply chain leaders are starting their 2017 needing to do more with less budget than in previous years.

Outsourcing and technology solutions continue to be popular, along with continued interest in operational excellence programs. Technology solutions have evolved and improved, and will continue to do so. They are a good investment in some cases, but can also take years to pay back the initial investment. Outsourcing can provide a medium-term cost reduction, but levels of service and customization often suffer.

Operational excellence, particularly a good lean program implemented throughout the supply chain, is one of the few solutions that can provide significant cost reduction, while at the same time developing the skills of the workforce, and empowering employees to lead change.  We predict continued strong interest in all three of these approaches from supply chain leaders in 2017."

Cloud systems for supply chain management

We already see an increasing implementation of cloud-based supply chain and inventory management systems that help businesses easily monitor each link of the supply chain. 

According to the recent research by Software Advice, a company that hosts SCM technology reviews, 46% of the companies that contacted them in order to modernize their systems were still using manual methods or spreadsheets to track movements in their supply chain. For 2017 we can see “the desire to modernize and automate systems and to improve integration”, says Forrest Burnson, of Software Advice. “Even though manual methods worked in the past, the business has either grown or is facing tougher competition, and these methods are no longer sustainable”.

On top of that, we see large companies entering the game as well, even though they have the resources to buy “on-premises” ERP solutions. Therefore, we expect to see a greater shift towards the SaaS model this year.

What are your predictions for 2017? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet us!