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.

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!

Friday, January 13, 2017

4 Reasons SMB Retailers are Moving Towards Inventory Management Software

This is a guest post by guest contributor Peter Chawaga

In retail, inventory essentially is the business. Without properly understanding what’s on hand, how it’s performing, and what impact it has on the bottom line, good luck staying profitable. This is doubly true for the fiercely competitive world of SMB retailers.

With the advent of the digital revolution, inventory management has become incredibly sophisticated. Retailers can now track and analyze numerous factors about inventory items across multiple locations. The culmination of this evolution is inventory management software. You will sometimes find inventory management as a standalone product while software suites may offer it as a must-have feature. For example, the best POS software (point-of-sale software) include inventory as a built-in feature. SMB retailers that embrace the inventory management technology will gain a better understanding of their supply and demand than the competition. 

For those SMBs still weighing the pros and cons of adoption, consider these reasons why your competitors have made the transition to actively tracking their stock:

1. To become more efficient. 

It’s no secret that efficiency leads to better financial performance. But this is even more crucial when it comes to SMBs, which have less room for error and need to operate without mistakes to compete with larger businesses.

Inventory management software can be a huge boon in efficiency for an SMB retailer. Without it, employees are manually sorting through files, emailing and calling back and forth, and checking stock by hand. These tasks can all be handled by software, which frees employees to work on more important tasks.

2. To gain better visibility.

Inventory management is largely about understanding what’s on hand and what isn’t. Even SMBs can have trouble keeping track of what’s available with pieces moving in and out of storage and (hopefully) being sold at a rapid pace. 

Lately, there has been even more inventory to track. In a recent study, Supply Chain Digest found that the level of inventory on hand based on average sales per day has risen by more than eight percent over a five-year period.

By automatically tracking inventory levels and having the ability to locate specific pieces that might be requested by a customer, inventory management software has provided a useful answer to the increasingly complex question “What’s in stock?”

3. To make better orders.

The relationship between SMB retailers and vendors is hallowed. Both parties depend on each other and work to keep each other in business. Of course, it’s up to the retailer to make sure that its orders are accurate and matched to current demand.

Having too little stock will affect sales, but having too much can be just as detrimental. SMBs may have limited storage space, and unpopular items can easily take the spots of hot sellers. Plus, excess stock will tie up funds in unnecessary overhead. 

“A major disadvantage to holding too much inventory on hand is the negative cost implications,” according to The Arizona Republic. “Purchasing any type of inventory or product ties up the funds from being used elsewhere in the business.”

Keeping track of current and previous items can make reordering easier by automatically inputting order numbers, item specs, and calculating currency exchanges.

4. To make more sales.

At the end of the day, improved efficiency, visibility, and automated restocking are all efforts to make more sales. That is the business that retailers find themselves in and one that is incredibly important: The Balance reports that retail sales and consumer spending drive almost 70 percent of economic growth.

When your clerks can stop telling interested customers that something is out of stock, when employees stop wasting time physically checking the stockroom, and when new items are automatically ordered as they run out, higher sales will be the natural result.

Peter Chawaga is a contributor for with years of experience as a reporter and editor for publications around the country. He’s covered arts and culture in Philadelphia, business and development in Greensboro, and healthcare and technology in Nashville.

Friday, December 30, 2016

How to Prepare for Your Annual Inventory Taking

The end of the year is great to perform a physical counting of your inventory to start fresh in the new year. On top of that, as people cease shopping after Christmas, it is usually the slowest time of the year, making it a perfect time for you to minimize or stop your sales operations for a while. Let’s see how you should prepare before inventory taking so your physical counting will go as smooth and quick as possible.

Inform suppliers and clients

During your physical counting, product movements should be stopped or be minimized and well documented. You will not be able to receive or fulfill new orders, so it’s best to inform your suppliers – and clients if applicable – when the inventory taking will be performed. Do this ahead of time so they so you don’t put any additional pressure to them. After all, November and December were the busiest and most hectic months for all.

Do a mock Counting

Physical counting of your inventory can take up a lot of time. Because no one likes wasting their time, a mock counting will help you estimate the time and resources needed for the actual counting. Take a small fraction of your inventory and record the time needed to count it. Then multiply this time with the areas that need to be counted. If you are short on people, divide this sum by the number of people available to see how long it will take to count your whole inventory. If you are short on time but plenty of people, divide the sum by the available time, to see how many of your stuff need to be there on counting day. A good idea is to have one additional staff member than what you think is needed. Problems could arise and delay the process, so an additional pair of hands can speed things up.

Communicate early with team members

The annual inventory taking usually takes place during off business hours and during the holidays so your employees might have already made plans for the day. Inform everyone well ahead of time to make sure they are available, or they don’t have to cancel their plans.

That being said, not everyone on the team is required for the counting. First of all, a very experienced employee should be present to check that everything goes smoothly. With their guidance, your team won't waste time by having to figure out on the spot what to do. Also, this process is a very good learning experience for a new employee, as they will get to better know your merchandise, so don’t hesitate to call inexperienced members as well.

Clean and organize your warehouse

Before starting the actual counting of your merchandise, it is highly important to clean up and organize your warehouse, or the place you keep your products. It will make everyone life easier during the counting and the whole process will go much faster. Therefore, during the clean-up dispose of any defective or obsolete inventory so you don’t waste time on those products during the counting.

Pull away tied inventory

To make the counting easier and avoid mistakes, it is vital to pull away any products tied to orders. Ship or pull everything on order and don’t fill new orders or receive products while counting. If this is impossible for your business, start the counting with your fastest moving products that bring the most money. That way you can have your stuff start filling new orders sooner. Plus, those are the products that most likely will contain counting errors and could delay the whole processes if counted at the end when everyone is tired.

Have the proper equipment

The right equipment can do wonders during inventory taking. Barcode scanners connected to your inventory management system or excel can speed up the process immensely. Make sure that your personnel knows well how to use them before counting starts.

Nevertheless, even with the best system, problems and questions may arise so a good idea is to be in contact with your system’s support team during the counting. Check beforehand if they will be available during that time and try asking any questions you have well ahead before the counting.

After the Counting 

When inventory taking is completed, arrange a meeting with your team to discuss what worked during the counting and what didn’t, and write down what you should change for next year’s counting. After all, holidays are to be spent with family and friends, and every minute you save is time that can be spent with those special people.

We hope this list can help you achieve that. If you have already done your annual inventory counting, let us know in the comments below or tweet us! What worked for you and what didn’t? We want to know!