Retailer new year’s resolutions for 2017

by | Dec 27, 2016

It’s almost the start of the New Year: 2017. It’s at this time that many people make resolutions to live better or be better in the next year. Getting into better shape, learning new things and breaking bad habits are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that people try to keep.

It’s not just individuals who should be thinking about how to do better in 2017, retailers will be trying to do better, too. As a fun exercise, we put together a few ideas for New Year’s resolutions that retailers should consider for streamlining operations, becoming more profitable, offering better consumer experiences and more.

  • Seamless drop shipping – E-commerce customers expect a seamless online ordering experience, from cart to purchase to delivery. They don’t expect their orders to be delayed due to out-of-stock, inventory, slow fulfillment or distribution centers that are too far away. If you haven’t started a drop shipping program or your drop shipping could use some improvement, the new year is a good excuse to get your processes in gear so you can have a more successful holiday season next year. For inspiration, see how used drop shipping for double digit growth.
  • Plug the leaks – January is a great time for taking a look at what you have going already and see where you can improve before making additional changes. It’s always worth taking the time to evaluate errors and discrepancies, identify training needs for internal staff, as well as return rates and policies. It’s also a good idea to review freight charges to make sure your shipping rates are matching the contract you signed.
  • Item description accuracy – Along those lines, retailers should consider taking a closer look at the accuracy of their item descriptions. Customers have to make buying decisions based off of the information you offer. The more thorough and detailed the description is, the more a customer will know whether the product is a good choice for them or not. On top of that, the product pages should be optimized for search engines, as that’s where most product searches begin.
  • Supply chain visibilityOmnichannel retail is what’s needed to survive this era of ultimate consumer choice. But having so many ways for customers to buy can sometimes results in surges and spikes, as well as other inventory issues. Inaccurate inventory information at brick and mortar stores can also cause frustration for customers. Having accurate, up to date inventory visibility can help reduce stockouts and prevent customer frustration.
  • Intelligent sourcing – Just as visibility is a necessity, it’s time to get smarter about your sourcing process. Inventory agility and efficiency are important for satisfying customers and keeping your margins where you want them. With intelligent sourcing, you can find the products your customers need and that suit your requirements, whether that’s an ideal price level, a supplier in certain location or region, or vendors that offer drop shipping and more.
  • Better forecasting – Data, data, data. Everyone is using big data and analytics to try to be better, faster, stronger. One way to do that is to use data to try to forecast your customer needs better. With the right data and analysis, you can reduce stock-outs and make sure to have the items that you know your customers are going to need, when they need them.
  • EDI automation – We might be a bit biased, but document processing is one of the easiest things that all retailers could potentially automate. Automated EDI with three-way match can save money by taking human error out of the equation and saves time that employees can spend working on other tasks. It also makes your supplier happy, because the information you’re providing them is more likely to be accurate and actionable.
  • Customer understanding – The internet has been the great equalizer and new gadgets make online shopping more versatile and easy than ever. Understanding what customers want and how they want to shop is important, from product availability to pricing to shipping options. Harness customer data to pitch the right items at the right times, adjust your shipping options for maximum results and more.
  • Strengthened inner company culture – Part of what you need for in-depth customer understanding is a strengthened inner company culture to deliver on the promises your brand makes. Employees who are happy with their work, believe in the company they work for and have confidence in its products tend to be healthier, more productive and perform better. Help build team spirit among your employees around your company.
  • Collaboration – Relationships are more important than ever in the retail world. For retailers, one of the most important partnerships is with your vendors and suppliers. The products and services that they offer your company can enhance customer experiences. Your suppliers may see trends before you do, which means they could have information that would be helpful to making your customers happy, before you even know what they want.

These are just a few ideas for retailers to have a more profitable new year. Celebrate and have fun on New Year’s Eve while waving goodbye to 2016. We hope you have a happy and healthy 2017!

Don’t let 2017 be the year that you wanted to be a driver in the omnichannel environment, but let it be the year you actually did it. Then when the last of the noisemakers are stashed away, contact SPS Commerce to discover what tools and services we offer that can help you delight your customers in 2017.

Brandon Pierre


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