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.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

3 Easy Ways To Extend Megaventory With Zapier

Certain visitors to our Megaventory site have been asking us if we support specific additional features other than those included in the long list of our Megaventory Features section. Even seasoned Megaventory users who have been using the application for some time now may also be curious about what else they can do with it to power up their business even more. In any case, there’s a lot of value hidden in our application’s integrations. 

Zapier, in particular, is a pretty cool service that connects the apps you already use every day, saving you time to transfer information from one application to the other - so you can focus on your most important work. Today we picked three special zaps which we think can make a difference in your day-to-day business operations.

Send Handwritten Cards

People like to feel that you care about them and that’s what thank-you notes are for. While an e-mail might get lost in the junk or seem “too easy” a handwritten card will surely get noticed. It shows that you care enough to put your personal effort. With Thankster, you can easily create and mail postcards that look genuinely handwritten by you.

A very easy to setup zap is to automatically create a contact on your Thankster Addressbook each time a new Client or a new Supplier is added on Megaventory. Or, an even more impressive task is to automatically send new Clients and Suppliers a handwritten card. What an awesome idea to make your customers or your suppliers feel appreciated, right when the professional relationship is starting!

Connect your ERP with a CRM

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software collects and manages all of your customer data in one place and that allows your team to collaborate better. It usually also includes the capability to reach out to your customers directly (via email, phone, SMS etc) and adds a whole new layer of business intelligence. There are a ton of CRM solutions out there but a strong and upcoming solution is Pipedrive. It is built for salespeople who need to put in serious effort to turn leads into sales - and it’s the CRM app we personally use and love.

With Zapier you are able to easily connect your Megaventory account with your Pipedrive CRM. So, when a new Client or a new Supplier is created in your Megaventory account, a Person or Organization can automatically be created in Pipedrive - complete with all the relevant details such as email, address, phone, etc. That way, your sales team is always up-to-date and you get to save up precious business time spent doing data entry. Plus, it helps you prevent common gaffes, like forgetting to update your Pipedrive account as well.

Update Spreadsheets

Not everyone you work with can or should have access to your Megaventory account. However, you may still want to share some piece of information with them, without having to constantly download and send the files yourself.  Google Sheets offers collaborative spreadsheets online can be a great solution for the task of sharing information across people

Now, if you combine Megaventory with Google Sheets using Zapier you don’t even have to fill the spreadsheets in yourself, as Zapier can automatically update a specific spreadsheet when a new Product, Supplier or Client is added in your Megaventory account. So everyone has access to the right amount of information in near real-time with minimum effort by you.

Whatsmore, if you push such information via Zapier to an online spreadsheet other applications can also read it from there. That way you can extend your workflows even more! With Zapier the possibilities are literally endless – just take a look at the long list of integrations they support. 

So, have you used Zapier to extend Megaventory's possibilities? We'd love to hear your stories, so make sure to leave a comment with your favorite (or not so favorite) zaps!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Megaventory Now Supports Serial Numbers for Advanced Traceability

We are excited to announce that we just launched our new Serial Numbers feature. It’s a feature quite a few of you have asked for and it significantly improves the existing functionality Megaventory already offers. Essentially, it’s a way to allow Megaventory clients to track the movements of individual items in their inventory – potentially it can be used to track the location of each and every product owned by a business.

How it works

1. We tried to keep the new elements required to implement this feature to a minimum in order to make it as easy as possible to use it. Essentially, there are just two things to keep in mind. Whenever you create a product, you can choose whether it is to be serialized (ie each item with that product code will be assigned a serial number) and-if applicable- add the serial number character length.

2. Megaventory will ask for the serial number every time you create a document including this type of product.

That’s it! Once you have done that, you can then trace these products throughout their lifecycle in your inventory, from purchasing from your supplier to selling to your clients by using the new Serial Numbers module.

There are a number of reasons why a business should want to adopt serial numbers in their processes.

Serial numbers means protection

Some products are more valuable than others and you may want to trace them accurately for the purpose of fraud, theft or loss. This means that having a serial number associated with specific products can deter either a malicious employee or an external party to try to get away with theft hoping it would go unnoticed.

For example, a Megaventory client in the industry of airplane leasing and repairs uses the Serial Number feature to track certain plane parts and other expensive aviation components. That way, they have full insight of these particular items current status, availability or repair needs. 

Serial numbers means accuracy 

Another reason a company may want to adopt serial numbers for its stock is for after-sales quality and to properly service warranty claims. If a product has a serial number it’s possible to track its history both before entering the company as well as within it when additions or repairs are made. Also, when that item is sold to the end-user and it needs to return for service or maintenance the full product history is available.

Another Megaventory company selling consumer electronics already uses the Serial Numbers module to track the exact item they have sold to their customers. That way they can make sure that the warranty claims made are for the correct particular item.

A final note

Much as using Serial Numbers is powerful – and very user-friendly in the way we have implemented it, it does add an additional level of complexity to your business process. This overhead even if trivial for individual items it adds up when considered for the entire business product range. As such it makes sense to use it for the types of products that really need it – such as the most expensive and longer lasting ones (ie those likely to need repairs).

The Serial Numbers feature is available in all pricing plans and for all accounts, both existing and new ones :)

We are looking forward to receiving your feedback on our new feature!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

News from the Megaventory development front

Since last February a large number of improvements were made to Megaventory.

Faster loading

If you have a lot of transactions on a regular basis and you’ve noticed Megaventory taking longer than usual to load pages we’ve introduced a super easy way to speed up your account.

If you visit your Account Setup page you now have the option to uncheck an additional feature. If you don’t want to limit your users from specific Clients or Suppliers you can uncheck this box and you’ll see a significant speed boost in load times as less checks need to be made when pages load. The boost will be more pronounced if you have many Suppliers and Clients in your account.

Inventory transactions and invoices

If you want to see all the transactions and invoices you have with a certain supplier or client you can now click the icon in the following snapshot and a handy pop-up with all the related documents will appear. You can find this under the Gear icon in the list of Clients and Suppliers respectively.

Technical improvements

Since February, in general, we have made more than 100 different design optimizations, technical improvements, and bug fixes. These are all part of our ongoing commitment to keep improving upon Megaventory and making it more useful by the day. 

Remember these are all implemented exclusively in the new interface. If you’re among the few left still on the old UI contact us to arrange your switch to the new UI so you can benefit from the constant upgrades.

Online presence

We’ve boosted the quantity and quality of posts both in this blog and on our social media channels – make sure you follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook Page. Oh and we're also on Wikipedia now! 

Stay tuned – we’re preparing one major update to go live in the next few weeks and at least two more specific feature expansions.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

How to survive as an independent retailer

Following the success of our other two posts on the importance of the right retail software and the top online tools and services, we decided to give a final round to our series of retail articles.

In this article, we asked successful retailers and experts what are the challenges an independent retailer has and what can they do to survive against the big box chains.

Emphasize quality, not quantity

"By introducing our very own in-house production team, we were able to massively cut our costs; this meant we could pass the savings onto our customers and lower our prices, attracting much more business than many of our competitors on similar levels to us. We employ seamstresses who have decades of experience, so when people order from us they know that they will receive a handmade, quality item– a USP that many of the larger companies can’t compete with."

Darren Green, Roman Blinds Direct

"We are competing with a variety of large businesses that operate across the country, so rather than try to provide the same selection of products as they do, we decided to try and provide a 'specialist service' to help us stand out. Customers know that although they might get a wider selection of products at our competitors’ stores, they will get the benefit of our expert knowledge, if they visit us. I think it's important to wear your heart on your sleeve and let people know that you are an independent retailer. We find that people are often willing to pay slightly more and deal with slightly less choice if they know that they'll get expert help, as well as the satisfaction of helping a local business."

Sam Williamson, Allfloors Glasgow

Pamper customers with perks

"We would have no business without our customers and we know it. Because of this, we do our best to ensure their complete happiness in both the purchase itself and the return policy. For 30 days, with a receipt, we have a no questions asked policy and we will refund their money with no problem. Without a receipt it's product exchange. After 30 days, with a receipt, we will exchange for the same product or another scent, or give them store credit. 

Personal care products are just that, personal, so we want to make sure the entire experience is pampering and special.  We have a loyalty program for repeat customers. We have a refill program so that our customers can save 40% if they bring their jars back. More importantly, we treat them as the jewels in our crown that they are!"

Roberta Perry, Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc

Image Source: Flickr, Michele Ursino

Keep good stock vendor relations

"To get better prices from suppliers and stay competitive, our business lends itself well to working with small to medium sized vendors so that we can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. We have been working with some of the same vendors since 2006 and have found that long-term, strong relationships often help when it's time to negotiate prices. We also make a concentrated effort to ensure a large percentage of our inventory is being ordered from a few key vendors. Ordering a large number of styles in smaller quantities is our best way to try and measure up to chain retailers buying large quantities of a few styles. And above everything else, we make sure we're kind, reasonable, and respectful during each interaction. 

Angie Stocklin, One Click Ventures

"As a business we must speak a lot to the suppliers to understand their quote and using what ratio they are quoting prices and how far it go well in market. Communicating things between each other will be the first best idea to get the negotiation part done well and get better prices from your suppliers. To stay competitive we must sell the products which are highly demanded and consumer needed. Hence go highly on deep search on finding vendors with products our consumers need." 

Billie Jean Bateson, Amazing Wristbands

Be tight with inventory management

"As the Inventory and Merchandise Manager, my job is to make sure we order just the right amount of inventory and then sell it quickly in order to maintain the overall health of our balance sheet. Having the right amount of product at the right time is often difficult to achieve on a consistent basis for even the best-run businesses. However, building a contingency plan of what you'll do when you sell more or less than expected is easy to do. Spending a few minutes mapping out a couple of scenarios with your team and suppliers ahead of time can save countless hours of work and takes what could be an overly emotional reaction in the moment off the table because you already know what to do when product starts to sell quickly or never takes off. This one simple idea has kept inventory in a healthy state over the years."

Erik Flugstad, Tanga

"As an independent retailer one has to know their numbers and run a very tight ship. There is literally no room for inventory mistakes. Especially if your space is limited and every inch of storage matters. I understand that we lose money on some inventory but having grown up in retail I know that my store has to look fresh and interesting all the time and I make sure it does daily. That usually means rotating my inventory regularly and that could be a problem when you need to operate in a very tight space. With higher priced items I prefer to keep lower stock and push for diversity."

Michelle van der Heijden, MUSH

As for managing a good quantity of stock, data is central. We are lucky to have a business intelligence analyst in our team, and he manages all of the data flowing into and out of our online brands. We use this information to look at quantities on hand and sales per item over the last 100 days, and compare those numbers to future sales forecasts. Our forecasts are solid, but they are never perfect, so our merchandising team monitors our in-stock rate for all three of our brands, on an inventory class level. Our goal is to catch all low-stock items before the run out of stock, but we allow ourselves reasonable wiggle room to account for things like delays in customs."

Angie Stocklin, One Click Ventures

Use the right tools and services

"Being an independent retailer comes with a list of challenges especially in the stock department. I learned the hard way doing it manually by hand is a very poor way to keep an updated list of all of my products. In order to stay competitive against big box retailers, you must have at least the basics of keeping your inventory updated. That is why I started using an inventory platform that lets helps me organize my inventory and monitor all of my products. I advise all small business owners to start using an inventory service or platform because not only it will help you keep an accurate report of your inventory, but it will simplify the return process for your customers and help handle your sales in a very efficient manner. 

It's important to select a pretty well known or reputable inventory service because they will provide top notch customer support and the dashboard will be easy to use. Not only that your data will be protected and secured. Remember the point of using an inventory platform is to increase your productivity, organize your inventory and free up your time to focus on other important aspects of your business. Technology has evened the playing field if you learn to use it to your advantage. Don't skimp out on a cheap inventory service find one that fits your needs and you will be able to compete with well known retailers."

LisaChu, Black n Bianco

"One of the biggest challenges that smaller retailers face is that their transportation and importing costs can be higher than larger retailers that benefit from larger volumes. A transportation company that works to bring together retailers that are importing smaller loads from overseas and work to consolidate those shipments into larger collective shipments can help to lower the overall cost for all those who consolidate."

Randy Guidry, Averitt Express

Have backup suppliers

"The Small Business Administration says that 40 to 60 percent of businesses don't survive disasters. The reasons why are complex, but one potential reason is that they don’t have a backup plan in place for their suppliers. Remember: disasters can strike your business and your suppliers. Even if you haven’t been affected by a disaster, your suppliers could be suffering outages, especially if they’re in a different part of the country. That’s why it’s important to have alternate suppliers and vendors you can contact in a pinch."

Ted Devine, Insureon

In conclusion

Being an independent retailer in a globalized market is hard. Customers are constantly looking for the lowest prize and big box chains can't be beaten at this. Nevertheless, independent retailers can make a great difference by providing high quality and unique products, something big chains can't do. Furthermore, by implementing the right tools and focusing on solid vendor relations, retailers can make processes more efficient and use their time and money in other parts of their business.

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

Friday, 22 July 2016

9 powerful tools for best retail results

It is Independent Retailer Month and we will continue our postings on retailer tips, to help you get the most out of your business.

In this article, we asked successful professionals in retail to share their top online tools that they use daily and can't live without. Many are well-known tools, but there are some more obscure suggestions that might be exactly what you needed.

Prevent lost sales and cart abandonment

"We use Receiptful to manage our receipts, customer feedback, cart abandonment, and remarketing. This tool allows us to send custom discount codes to customers and follow-up emails in designated timeframes. Receiptful has generated us almost $10K (USD) in revenue from follow-up emails (idle customers, 90 days after purchase, and unused coupon reminders)! Because of Receiptful, our store has a 5% cart abandonment recovery rate which has generated almost $6000 in sales."
Isaac Cohen, JNCO 

"By deploying address verification we discovered that not only had the solution streamlined our checkout process by making it much faster but conversion rate metrics indicated a staggering 40% increase. Admittedly we had made a series of enhancements to our checkout process but I personally feel that the introduction of PCA Predict’s address verification tool was the main reason for the increases in conversions reflecting significant improvements in profit margin. Address verification reduced cart abandonments as well as completely tightening up the postal delivery process mitigating shipment failure. 

The cost of redelivering the returned orders resulted in huge postal charges as well as the valuable admin time spent in rectifying the errors. In addition, there are more unquantifiable negative impacts that delays in customer deliveries cause such as reputational damage. After all, customers that have a bad experience are unlikely to recommend Candy Club to friends and family. We really got a speedy ROI as in the first month of the deployment of PCA Predict’s addressing solution it’s actually paid for itself by saving us literally thousands of dollars. On top of that, we’ve significantly improved customer user experience."
Andy Moeck, Candy Club

Easily check out competitors' prices and offers

"We highly recommend Intelligence Node as a tool for retailers. Its multilingual feature provides us with a centralized view of competitors in a single language accurately, enabling us to make day-to-day pricing decisions and better plan overall strategy. Gaining real-time, accurate pricing and merchandising intelligence no matter the geography is a major benefit of Intelligence Node’s platform, especially as country boundaries disappear with the rise of global e-retail."

Amit Keswani, MAP

Combine analytics for advertising

"There are 3 online tools every retailer should be using to make their business more efficient. An online analytics package - Google Analytics is great. Make sure you're using the custom dashboards and automated reports - so the right information is available everytime you login, and gets sent to your inbox regularly too. Supermetrics can take this to a whole extra level! But automatically pulling data in from both analytics and your marketing activity (eg Adwords) to create all the weekly and monthly results you need. Time saved on creating reports is time you can spend improving your marketing. An online team management tool like Trello or Asana (mfavourite). It's a great way to manage the team, make sure everything happens, and really speeds up progress because everyone has more time to spend doing and less time to spend chasing the rest of the team."

Chloe Thomas, eCommerce MasterPlan 

Retarget your advertising through Facebook

"This is more of a strategy than a tool, but we've seen a lot of success with our retail clients who use this technique. Many retail stores have an email list of customers. You can take that list and upload it to Facebook, and Facebook will match up those emails with actual Facebook profiles. This is incredibly helpful for re-targeting existing customers with new products or promotions, but you can also create lookalike audiences. Facebook will take that customer list of profiles and then create a whole new list consisting of Facebook users who have incredibly similar interests, demographics and behaviors, so you can target a much broader audience who, theoretically, is similar to your customers."

Andrew Choco, Directive Consulting

Schedule your employee's shifts hassle-free

Last but not least, we have two solutions to schedule your shifts, effortlesy. "Wheniwork is the scheduling program I prefer because it is the most user friendly of online options" says Pamela Barsky, owner of the homonymous chain let stores. "It allows me to create schedules and communicate them to my employees without multiple emails back and forth". 

Another more obscure yet interesting solution is RotaCloud, which is an online employee scheduling platform to plan your shifts and track working hours. "Using iOS and Android apps, employees can see their upcoming shifts wherever they are, so long as they have an internet connection" explains James Lintern, Co-Founder of RotaCloud. "If they need to request time off, this only takes a few clicks and changes are instantly visible. Whenever new shifts are scheduled, any affected employees are automatically notified by email, SMS or push so now there are no excuses for forgetting a shift or turning up at the wrong time! You can instantly generate a comprehensive report looking at any of the data in your account, making it easy to spot trends and optimize your schedule. People are your most expensive resource, so if you're not scheduling effectively, you're throwing money on the fire!"

To sum this up, online tools are your great ally in retail business. They can help automate processes and save time and money, both precious when working in a globalized market.

Feel free to share your favorite online tools in the comment section below. And if you liked this post, don’t forget to share it on social media!