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Identify & address missed sales opportunities through Managed Operations

This is an excerpt from Ryder E-commerce by Whiplash’s latest ebook “How to turn surplus into success: Navigating the excess inventory dilemma” by ChannelApe, your intelligent command center for inventory, order, and fulfillment operations.

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) founders didn’t launch their brand to manage logistics. They wanted to build a brand community.

But “the daily grind” gets in the way! Monitoring inventory and fulfillment metrics (inbound inventory, warehouse SLAs, historical performance, daily audits, sell-through rates, inventory levels, order errors, etc.)… pulling reports… identifying areas of improvement…

Managed Operations handles all this on your brand’s behalf. This holistic approach combines:

  • Tech: One platform for real-time inventory and order management (IOMS), across all locations (inbound, warehouse, returns) and statuses (on-hand, on-order, reserved, committed, etc.)
  • People: One team to count on for real-time challenges, industry knowledge and recommendations based on Business Intelligence (BI)
  • Support: Ongoing maintenance when business needs change, systems update, or external systems fail

When you’re free from the hassle of handling day-to-day operations, you can focus on uncovering new sales opportunities, reducing inventory glut, and finding new ways to improve your customer experience. Here’s how.

Opportunity #1: Enter the Wholesale Market

Over 50% of customers engage with 3–5 channels before making a purchase, and wholesale can increase your exposure.

To confidently allocate and reserve inventory, stock levels need to be up-to-date across your sales channels (Shopify, wholesale, your physical stores, etc.), warehouse(s), and in-house ERPs. With Managed Operations, it’s easier to add another sales channel because your brand will be equipped with:

1) A team that handles the back-end integrations for you using EDI or other integrations that understand what is required from your wholesale partner and how your brand operates.

2) Full visibility into up-to-date data. Knowing exactly how much you have left to sell or what is promised to a wholesale account is important, and is another reason why inventory and order management should live in one system.

Digitally-native brands may want to enter the wholesale market, but the complexities surrounding it can be overwhelming for many. With the right team of experts and a centralized IOMS, you have the right team and solutions in place to ensure you’re owning your wholesale channels. For example, set aside 15% of certain stock keeping units (SKUs) to go to Nordstrom while keeping the rest on hand.

Opportunity #2: Get Returns Back In Stock Faster

20% of ecommerce items are returned. Do you know when returns are en-route to your warehouse, and when it lands inside the warehouse’s four walls? If not, then your marketing team isn’t selling them.

You need to know when returned inventory is ready for resale ASAP, or else that item goes out-of-season and gets heavily discounted because it’s wasting space or there may have been a manufacturing defect. Relying on an external warehouse management system (WMS) to hold this info delays immediate action—you’re waiting for the spreadsheet to be sent from the warehouse to your team, and those numbers may already be different from the actuals.  

When returns are automatically added back to your on-hands and available to be bought on your site or other sales channels, you won’t need to discount those still-relevant items. Eliminating manual tasks and processes—asking for return reports, manually adjusting Shopify, or trying to make sense of what needs to be damaged or donated—can all be solved with the right IOMS.

Opportunity #3: Creatively Move Old Stock

If sales goals aren’t being hit, poor communication between marketing and operations may be to blame. Unbeknownst to them, marketing could be promoting inventory that isn’t even in stock; when a customer goes to the product page, there’s nothing to buy.

With the right BI, all team members can:

  • Look at sell-through rates to identify popular (and unpopular) products
  • Monitor the percent of inventory sold during a selected period of time
  • Discern how well certain sales events are performing
  • Review a Low Inventory report to avoid overselling—and refunds
  • Review an Inventory Reorder report with factory partners to achieve balance

When marketing has the right metrics, they can delight loyal customers by offering repeat shoppers exclusive products in advance through presale or deeper discounts on static items. They can gift influencers to move old inventory before it’s too late or conduct focus groups for feedback to see why the item missed—design, marketing, photography, time of year, price point, etc.

At Wolf & Shepherd, marketing always has the right metrics.

ChannelApe + Wolf & Shepherd

With the Managed Operations services provided by ChannelApe, they know exactly when something is stocked and how much inventory is left so they never oversell to customers or sit on inventory for too long. Real-time inventory adjustments mean that marketing can confidently push products for presale to their loyal customers.

To promote scarcity, Wolf & Shepherd limits their available quantity—no excess inventory here! “We look to ChannelApe to be an insights partner that helps us grow, not just a layer in our tech stack. Being able to promote exclusivity through preselling is a competitive differentiator for us. Exposing items in limited amounts prevents an immediate sellout of our stock, and it’s easy to set the presell parameters for each SKU using ChannelApe’s platform,” says Jake Brandman, President and COO.

ChannelApe ensures that top SKUs are stocked in their primary locations. The team put together a view of Wolf & Shepherd’s sales data and analyze their business to tell them where inventory needs to go so that SKUs are balanced appropriately. This removes the dependence on tribal knowledge where one gatekeeper owns a spreadsheet, creating a cascading effect of process gaps and broken integrations if that gatekeeper were tied up or out on leave.

ChannelApe helps small but growing teams compete with bigger brands. We are a partner as opposed to a layer in Wolf & Shepherd’s tech stack. They don’t need to hire an analytics team, build the software themselves, or expand their IT. ChannelApe Managed Operations allow them to sit on a “just right” amount of inventory so they can focus on selling their product with confidence.

Want to learn more? Check out the rest of our ebook on how brands can effectively tackle excess inventory and create more opportunities to engage customers:

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