The best way to figure out how to grow your business is to ask those who have been there, done that. In the US alone, more than 1.3 million companies use ecommerce. This means there are plenty of experts are hiding in plain sight. We rounded up some tips from retailers and brands who have gone through growing pains as they've become successful multichannel sellers.
Grab a pen and take some notes to learn how to improve your ecommerce operations and scale your business.
Ask Yourself: Can This Process Be Automated?
Sporting goods retailer Bases Loaded was scaling faster than anticipated, selling from a large retail space and multiple online channels. Data entry and inventory management soon became hurdles, and owner Dan Wells sought a way to automate his tasks.
“During the early days, manually posting a few orders a day was manageable,” Wells says. “But now on a typical busy day, Bases Loaded automatically processes more than 1,000 orders to inventory, accounting, and shipping with virtually no data entry.” He readily admits, “We could never process [all our orders] manually.”
With the variety of apps and software available, retailers are in a great position in which many of the tedious tasks that used to plague them, can now be automated. Everything from accounting, to inventory and shipping, can be put on autopilot with ecommerce automation.
Results: Webgility took Bases Loaded’s order processing time from four minutes down to zero, helping them fulfill more orders, faster.
Grow Your Business Infrastructure
It can be tempting to ride out your business’s growth with the tools you already have, but they may be holding you back. Expanding your business from one sales channel to multichannel selling can leave you with data and inventory headaches without the proper infrastructure.
When Bases Loaded expanded inventory and launched online sales channels, the business’s growth itself became a challenge, rather than a blessing. By listing on Amazon with its massive customer base, Bases Loaded gained wide exposure and an easy way to move large quantities of product. However, because the Bases Loaded team put a significant amount of focus on business at the physical store, they needed to ensure they could keep up with the pace of online sales. “We needed to build out the infrastructure to grow our online business channels while running a very successful brick-and-mortar retail location,” Wells says.
Bases Loaded chose Webgility as a data-sync solution that would connect its business systems and manage a lot of inventory across multiple online channels and a large brick-and-mortar location. If Bases Loaded had continued on the path they were on, not only would they have missed out on the peace of mind from having their sales channels in sync, but they also would have been unable to scale the business further.
Results: When Bases Loaded started with Webgility, the business generated approximately $1.9 million in revenue and less than 15 online orders a day. Today they are over $5.5 million in revenue and process over 10,000 online orders a month.
Accurate Books are Not Just for Accountants
Most retailers don’t get into their chosen business to do accounting. Rather, as tech advisor Dan Delong says, “They want to fulfill, they want to take care of customers, and they want to sell products.” DeLong’s company Danwidth creates end-to-end technology solutions for online sellers, from website, to development, to marketing platforms, and everything in between.
Like most of the online retailers he serves, DeLong doesn’t want to do bookkeeping. He wants it done automatically, and he’s thrilled whenever clients implement Webgility and need him less often. “Once we turn the automation on with Webgility, it’s like a Crockpot. You set it, you forget it, your ingredients are in there, and then you just go in and manage the meal, as opposed to having to manipulate the meal,” DeLong says.
Spending hours each day manually entering data into your accounting system is time that could be better spent on relationship management and customer acquisition. And let’s face it: all that busywork is not exactly cost-friendly to outsource.
Results: DeLong touts 100% 5-star reviews from his clients as an Intuit Quickbooks ProAdvisor. His customers rave about the efficient workflows he helps them set up.
Never Let Your Inventory Catch You Off Guard
Tired of stockouts? Inventory mistakes or inaccuracies can be one of the most frustrating headaches for an online retailer. Inventory distortion issues like shrinkage, stockouts, and overstocks cost an estimated $1.1 trillion of lost revenue annually. How can we solve this problem? More than 70% of all retailers plan to leverage automation for real-time inventory visibility to revamp their supply chains.
Inventory management was especially a hassle for online retailer Rareform. Rareform produces bags and accessories made from repurposed billboards. Each product is truly one-of-a-kind, so keeping track of inventory was crucial since each item couldn’t easily be swapped for another. Rareform now relies on Webgility for inventory management. Cofounder Alec Avedissian says, “Webgility allows us to have access to see what we actually have in stock, how much more we need to reorder, and when we need to reorder. It is just key to our business.”
Surf shop Rider Shack also struggled with keeping orders in sync between its online and retail stores. With over 13,000 products, managing inventory for both stores was very challenging. “We had to manually enter all online sales into QuickBooks and then manually sync the inventory between the online and retail store. This was extremely time consuming and slow! A couple times a week, we had to cancel an order because the item was out of stock. Customers were not happy to hear that,” recalls owner Jeff Glass.
“With Webgility, our inventory is always synchronized between our retail store, online store, and QuickBooks POS, eliminating out-of-stock issues and order cancellations. We’re able to provide fast delivery and better customer service,” says Glass.
Results: Since implementing Webgility, Rider Shack has eliminated inventory errors and reduced time spent on inventory management by 15 hours per week—saving an average of $1,400 a month.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Shipping
In the age of free shipping and same-day delivery, consumer demands are skyrocketing. The results of not providing the best shipping and fulfillment customer experience? Nearly 50% of shoppers abandon their online carts due to high shipping charges. And over half of shoppers said they won’t purchase something if they don’t know when it will arrive. Suffice it to say: the stakes are high.
One way retailers and brands can scale their business is partnering with a 3PL (third-party logistics) company to take care of the warehousing, fulfilling, and shipping of orders. Jake Rheude of Red Stag Fulfillment says, “Finding the right fulfillment partner—and I use that word very intentionally because you want someone to partner with you and value your products like their own—is crucial to having an effective, seamless ecommerce experience.”
Jeff Glass from Rider Shack improved his business’s shipping experience by integrating with FedEx through Webgility. Now he and his team can compare shipping rates and automatically download the order value for shipping insurance. Furthermore, they can quickly process partial and multi-package orders and easily track each shipment within Webgility. “With Webgility, we don’t have out-of-stock issues anymore and we can instantly generate shipping labels,” says Glass.
Results: By switching to Webgility, Rider Shack was able to cut their shipping process time by 25%.
Make Your Business Insights and Analytics a Priority
Chan Stimart didn’t have starting a business in mind when she came up with a novel way to help her son improve his handwriting. But Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Resources took off at a rapid pace, selling products on Amazon and eBay, as well as in big box stores like Walmart and Target.
An influx of transactions from multiple channels resulted in manual data entry taking hours every single day. But the Channie’s team craved continual access to their business performance analytics. After all, Stimart had spent 16 years working as a global supply chain expert for multiple companies and understood the power of data. “The more channels we have, the more sales we have, the more data we have,” says Stimart.
Stimart wanted a way to understand all of the data with robust reporting tools. In 2017, the Channie’s team took advantage of white glove onboarding with Webgility’s Implementation and Customer Success specialists. They made some tweaks to their QuickBooks Online setup to better leverage the automation, which helped them tap into more granular data. Suddenly, they could see the performance of each sales channel and had a singular source of ecommerce truth.
Results: Automating data entry allowed the Channie’s team to focus on optimizing their customer experience, which resulted in a huge uptick in orders. The brand’s order volume grew 250% over the course of 2020.