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Customer Research on the Biggest eCommerce Challenges for Online SME Retailers


 
ChannelGrabber, the leading software provider of multi-channel ecommerce software announces the release of their latest research into the challenges and consequential business impact experienced by multi-channel retailers. After conducting market research amongst their extensive customer community of micro, small and medium-sized online retailers, ChannelGrabber's analysis concludes these businesses are losing significant revenues due to avoidable inefficiencies in stock management.
 

THE TOP 5 CHALLENGES FOR ONLINE RETAILERS

ChannelGrabber asked our customers to rank their top issues and concerns in order of business impact and this is what they told us:
 
  1. Inventory and stock management
  2. Listings
  3. Billing
  4. Order management
  5. Shipping
  6. Customer communication
 

INVENTORY MANAGEMENT IS THE NUMBER ONE CHALLENGE FOR MULTICHANNEL RETAILERS

For such retailers, whether multi-channel selling drives their growth in sales volumes or is necessitated by it, positioning their stock in more than one outlet will be inevitable. Whether you are selling on the highstreet, through a webstore, through an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay, on or all of the above, properly managing inventory across all of your sales channels can, it seems be the key to your success or the cause of your failure.
 
Our customers tell us that effective inventory management is important for a number of reasons:
 
  • Too much stock is a drain on their financial resources
  • The wrong stock results in resources being tied up longer or worse price cuts, reduced profits or losses
  • Exposing all of their stock on every sales channel risks oversells and damaging negative feedback from disappointed customers
  • Splitting stock across sales channels exposes them to losing larger orders that they apparently can't fulfil.
 
Maximising sales across multiple sales channels requires you to expose your inventory through all of them. But unless you can adjust stock levels in real time, you risk overselling and disappointing customers. Split your stock up in virtual silos and you risk missing out on larger orders you could have fulfilled. The conclusion is that you must view your inventory as one and make it available to all through every channel but to do this you must engage in real-time stock management. Every time you sell an item, the stock level has to change in every sales channel in real time.
 

THE IMPORTANCE OF REAL TIME STOCK UPDATES

This is relatively easy to do if your sales volumes are low, sales are few and far between or if you have only a couple of sales channels to manage but as your business grows, your stock management challenges can become a real headache.
 
When asked what specific issues they had and what solutions they needed, our customers listed:
 
  • Unifying stock whilst making it available on all sales channels - They want to connect to eBay, Amazon and their webstore and make all of their stock available everywhere at once.
  • Syncronizing stock everywhere in real time - They want to link their entire inventory together so when a sale is made anywhere, stock levels are updated everywhere.
  • Easily updating inventory - They want to link their stock by SKU and create or update in bulk by CSV or manually uploads eliminating the need for manual entry.
  • Listing stock by SKU - They want to automatically link their listings based on the SKU to enable them to have their entire inventory listed in every location, maximising their opportunity to make a sale and avoiding overselling.
  • Conducting advanced stock management beyond the capabilities of their individual sales channels - They want to be able to do bulk import/export, CSV updating, manual updating, apply advanced stock rules, stock history, product variations and more.
  • Managing everything in one place instead of on multiple systems - They want to connect all of their webstores, market places couriers and other popular software systems and work from a single interface.
 

HOW ONLINE RETAILERS DEFINE SUCCESS

Finally, we asked our customers what would define success - what outcome they would like to see as a consequence of deploying technology. They responded:
 
  • Eradicate overselling - When an item sells in one store, their stock reduces in all of them instantaneously.
  • Never missing out on a sale - Making all of their stock visible on every store so they no longer miss out on those larger orders.
  • Minimise errors - With one inventory, one system, one interface, one workflow and one process, they would avoid costly and time consuming mistakes.
  • Save time - By automatically adjusting stock levels across all sales channels in real time they wouldn't have to waste time managing them.
  • Improve customer satisfaction - With accurate stock levels, no false stock-outs and no overselling they would have happier customers and higher seller ratings.
  • Integrate all of their ecommerce activities in one solution - With a complete end-to-end solution designed specifically for online retailers that also enabled them to manage their other headaches - listings, orders, billing, shipping and messaging across multiple sales channels.
 

CONCLUSION

 
  1. For online retailers who sell through multiple sales channels, almost two thirds of respondents cited stock management as the biggest chore and an enormous administrative burden.
  2. The vast majority sold through at least two online sales channels each of which required them to manage stock through different online systems in isolation.
  3. Many take short cuts in an attempt to overcome the challenges of manual stock management but these can leave dissatisfied customers or cause lost sales.
  4. Automation is seen as a key approach to address many or all of these challenges and lead to smarter, more efficient stock management and increased sales.
  5. Though stock management is the biggest problem, it is not the only one. Managing listings, orders, billing, shipping and messaging across multiple sales channels are collectively just as if not more problematic.
  6.  Multi-channel ecommerce software is seen and welcomed as a mans of helping retailers to automate the management of complex ecommerce business processes and freeing up time to focus on the retailers' priority - keeping inventory off the shelves and into the hands of their customers!
 
And don't forget, ChannelGrabber's multi-channel ecommerce software helps you to automate the management of listings, stock, orders, billing, shipping and messaging so frees up your time to focus on keeping inventory off the shelves and into the hands of your customers.   
 
 
 
 
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