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, 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!

Friday, 15 July 2016

How important is the right software in retail business

It is Independent Retailer Month and we are going to dedicate July’s posting on helping you to get the most out of your retail business.

In this article, we want to highlight the importance of using a software solution in your retail business, and most importantly implementing the right one. Therefore, we asked the opinion of the best; three experts from leading business software reviews sites shared their wisdom and experience.

Differentiate your business

You might think that when it comes to competing with large retail chains you can’t win because you cannot afford the lower prices, but there are effective ways to differentiate your business and win clients. “Putting the consumer at the center of your sales process and helping to shape their shopping journey through personalized customer service and better informed store associates can help your business compete against large retail chains”, says Karen McCandless, researcher and editor at GetApp, a site that helps businesses compare sales management software. “This is where the right business software is crucial. Almost 78% of respondents in a recent survey have seen an increase in customer satisfaction through using sales software. The right software gathers all information in one place, which can then be accessed on the go. This can decrease churn, provide better customer lifetime value, and allow you to respond to customers anytime, anywhere in a personalized manner”.

Implement a POS system

One of the most important software for retailers is definitely a POS system. “The capabilities, affordability and ease-of-use of today’s retail point of sale (POS) systems leaves independent retailers with no excuse to operate without one,” says Justin Guinn of Software Advice, a retail and online inventory management reviews company. “Yet, 64% of single-store retailers we consult don’t have a POS in place. It’s unheard of considering the operational benefits enabled by features available in most all POS systems. Most important amongst the five primary POS features are sales reporting & analytics and inventory management, which are requested by 76% and 74% of POS buyers we consult, respectively.”

Do your research first

On the importance of a POS system agrees Cara Wood, retail technology specialist at Capterra. "As a small retailer, finding the right software is crucial”, comments Cara. “These days, you really can't run a store without POS software. Stores that only take cash and run on a glorified calculator to make sales just don't stay in business. What's even more important for a small retailer is finding the right software on the first try, because you don't have the funds to bounce around between solutions. So make sure to do your research deeply.”

To sum this up, the right software solution is the tool to survive in a highly competitive market. A retailer should take his time to network with a variety of software vendors before selecting a solution and remember not to let themselves get carried away by the many features a software app offers which might not actually be needed. Nevertheless, picking the best isn’t always possible, especially if you don’t have a long experience in the field. In this case, cloud-based software might be helpful, as you will not need to invest in expensive hardware upgrades, making your budget suffer. At the same time, most of the vendors offer a monthly subscription that you can cancel at anytime. The possibilities are many.

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

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

How to manage your franchise business successfully

5 Experts share their tips and experience

You have probably heard and read numerous stories about the benefits of franchising. Usually, they are about how to successfully get under the umbrella of a bigger company, which allows you to reap the financial rewards of a well-known brand name.

But what about the hurdles involved in being a franchisor? What are the challenges and how can you overcome them?

We asked 5 successful franchisors to share their stories and picked the best tips.

Allen Fishman

Founder and Executive Chairman of The Alternative Board

When starting a franchise, the initial challenge is bringing on the first few franchisees. Business owners are typically skeptical of new franchises, and rightfully so. To overcome this obstacle, instead of franchising very quickly, I spent 5 years opening different offices in different cities, so we could refine TAB's system. We developed the tools for each office to succeed in its unique location. I'd recommend franchisors not start franchising until they have their system in place, with processes, protocols, and tools that are proven to succeed across the different places where they want to grow.

The key to running an efficient franchise is documentation, processes, protocols, and uniform offerings. At TAB, structure is everything. When we bring on new franchisees, their first 12 months are spent learning our coaching systems via tight protocol. More flexibility is allowed after the first 12 months, but only after they have a very clear picture of what they're supposed to be doing (and how they can succeed). Each new board is formed identically and is very process oriented.

Craig M. Morgan

Franchise attorney at Providence Law

The primary issue franchisors face when starting is developing the systems necessary to effectively monitor franchisees. Companies lacking adequate systems are unable to monitor the additional units. Issues such as consistency and correct royalty payment soon arise. Developing the infrastructure necessary to turn a small unit company into a multi-unit chain is a difficult task, separating the successful brands from the short-lived.

Franchisees should be monitored through a series of processes. Sales data should be reported in as near-time as possible, daily if not instantly. P&Ls should be reviewed quarterly. Field managers, working for corporate, should visit the individual units routinely, at least once a quarter (this, obviously assuming a brick and mortar establishment). In short, the more thorough the monitoring the more likely the success of the individual unit.

Alan Guinn

Managing Director of The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc

My experience has been that the closer you can operate the franchisor and the franchisee financially, the better opportunity both have for success.  Operating with one set of identical or very similar reporting tools allows you to compare apples to apples as opposed to apples to oranges.  Parties are more open and conscientious when the books are open in a two way communications scenario, and it's easier to discuss opportunities and challenges faced than trying to position arguments or create issues from either side.

Troy Hazard

Shareholder and director of Poolwerx 

The typical challenges a franchisor faces in the early days is a lack of cash and resource. To attract franchisees you need to provide a service; marketing, field support, system manuals, buying power, induction training – the list goes on. When you are not generating any revenue from franchise fees that resource becomes expensive.

Poolwerx franchisees are all hooked into a central administration management software platform. This gives us real time view of how the business is tracking. Monitoring sales, stock control, and a range of other activity allows us to have a very clear picture on what we need to be addressing in the business on a day to day basis with all of our operators.

Brigida Aversa

Owner of Tiny Hoppers

It has always been important to us to maintain regular contact with our franchise owners and provide support wherever needed. We schedule weekly meetings with our franchisees, where we speak for 15 to 30 minutes about the status of the franchise and any problems they may be having. We also have managers for each district that visit each franchise once a month to check in on the site and provide feedback. This protects and maintains both the quality of the brand and the franchisee's investment.

In conclusion...

Going through all of the franchisors’ comments – and these are just the highlights, we’ve combed through many more for this post – certain patterns become obvious. Most franchisors stress the importance of having best practices in place and typical processes all franchisees follow. To make this happen specific franchise administration software is necessary to ensure reporting is adequate, communication is unhindered and information flows from one member of the partnership to the other as appropriate. And although all of the above seems like a complicated problem to solve, it certainly is addressable while at the same time hiding most of the complexity, leaving franchisors -and franchisees- able to focus on running their business more efficiently.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Alternative ways to use an inventory management system

It's not all about business

When you hear the words inventory management, you probably think immediately of retail shops and warehouses and a guy taking notes of what’s there. But, there are so many other ways to use an inventory management system - other than the typical business uses - which might solve a problem you have. Many of us tend to go to the hoarder side a little, and let’s be honest, writing it down on a paper is a solution which is neither hot nor practical.

Home supplies

If you have a big family, buying in bulk is not only economical - it is a must. On the other hand, when you have large quantities of supplies, it’s easy to lost track of what you have, what you need to buy and what you have too much  of, etc. And that’s true especially if you don’t have the abundance of space to keep everything in eye view. You might end with 5 sets of cleaning gloves and no detergent at all.

Keeping track of your home supplies is both economical and hassle-free in the long run. It’s also possible to get notifications when something is below stock – what more could any housekeeper ask for?

Personal Collections

From art collections to the contents of your closet, collections can get out of hand if not managed properly. With an inventory management solution you can easily browse what you have and where it is stored. If you are planning to resell, you can add the estimated prices of your pieces. You can even add pictures, because what is a collection if it doesn’t serve an aesthetic purpose as well?

Home Insurance

Insurers and insurance companies would advise everyone to keep track of their belongings – even if just for the worst case scenarios. After a horrible event like a robbery or fire, people are shocked and cannot remember what exactly is missing. Of course, this might come in handy for more pleasant situations like a move or a renovation, when a sense of order is needed.

Home Clearance

Apart from insurance, having your belongings listed could be helpful in case you want to make a home clearance, especially if this is something you do quite regularly. You can share your inventory list with other people that might be interested, instead of having to arrange constant gatherings at your house with each interested party. You can also add prices, if you are planning to have a yard sale or resell some of your stuff online.

Renting, selling and AirBnB

The trend of renting your house to tourists who want the real experience has been going on for several years – and is picking up speed. Although there is a general ethical code about the whole project, keeping a record of what you own, what is missing and what you need to replace is a good way to have everything organized and track your expenses.

Moreover, there seems to be a new trend in the real estate world as well. Apartments are the hot new tech sector. A new wave of cloud-based platforms has emerged to provide marketing and leasing tools. Innovative services now offer landlords and brokers online hubs for tracking inventory, syndicating verified listings with consumer sites and running analytics on property performance (a big step up versus old-fashioned spreadsheets or even file folders).

Of course, this is just a small sample of the many possible uses of a versatile inventory management system. We hope that we gave some ideas of what it can do outside of the strictly business world and maybe inspired you to better organize your home. 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. And if you enjoyed what you read, don’t forget to share on social media!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Cloud news roundup: More bots, more files, more computing power

We haven't done an industry roundup post in quite a bit and now it's time to sum up some of the interesting recent developments in the tech world. They are going to make easier the lives of anyone running a modern business as well as those working for them - marketers in particular...

Facebook Chat Bots

Bots are about to take over Facebook Messenger - as well as most other services operating over the cloud. Bots will be geared toward helping businesses offer better customer support, make marketing a little bit easier and consequently boost their profits in a new way.

In a nutshell, developers will be able to use a Facebook-created tool to host computer-controlled conversations with their followers within Messenger. The challenge is to make these conversations come naturally and eventually be useful. Whether that's what will actually happen remains to be seen...

Dropbox is transforming the cloud (again)

Dropbox is finally solving a big cloud problem. Until now if you wanted to access your files, you literally needed to have them stored on your drive. Otherwise you would have to download them first and then open them or edit them. This contradicts the concept of cloud-storage - especially on devices with smaller hard drives.

Their new project is going to allow you to manage cloud files as though they were local but without them taking up space on your drives. And given the excellent track record of service Dropbox has offered so far, it's likely we're in for very impressive technology.

Quantum computing as a cloud service

IBM announced that for the first time ever quantum computing will be available to members of the public through IBM Cloud. The cloud-enabled quantum computing platform, called IBM Quantum Experience, will allow users to run algorithms and experiments on IBM's quantum processor.

This is one big step towards building a universal quantum computer that could be programmed to perform any computing task. It will be incredibly faster than classical computers for a number of important applications for science and business.

A universal quantum computer might not exist yet today, but the processor is the next best thing currently available to you. Not bad...

As a web-based software ourselves, we love to see more and more cloud-related developments being announced. Do you think these news could let you do your job easier or is their future just a bit too far still? Share your thoughts in the comments below.