Archive: January, 2018

Plan Your Inventory SKUs to Minimize Confusion

Rnadom Characters PictureWhen a co-worker’s PC needed repair, the vendor provided amazing service by promptly sending a technician who quickly replaced a part. After the part was replaced, a serial number had to be registered, and when it was completed, the new part did not work. Again, the vendor provided amazing service. A new part was immediately sent, the technician coordinated his arrival with delivery of the part, installed it the next day, and the serial number was registered. Again, the part did not work. This was repeated once more before it was finally realized that the culprit might be the serial number, which contained ambiguous characters. Not only that, but the font used made upper-case and lower-case of some letters look so similar that it was difficult to tell them apart. If the serial number had not been so problematic, the vendor might have saved significant expense in parts, shipping, and labor.

This also holds true when designing item numbers and SKUs for your inventory. Knowledge and planning means you’re using your preferred numbering design without causing problems for yourself (and possibly your customers). Here are some guidelines to consider when designing your inventory numbering system:

  • Special Characters – While using special characters might be a good practice for passwords, it’s not the case for inventory numbers. Some characters can be mistaken for programming functions and might not be interpreted correctly, and others can cause problems with searches. Examples include /, &, <, >, *, etc.
  • Vendor Numbers – Don’t use the same numbers that your vendors use. Using this as a standard inventory numbering system risks high inventory item turnover, loss of item performance history, and an inconsistent numbering system when you change vendors or if you have multiple vendors for one part.
  • Length – Make sure the length is not too long or too short. Stay within the length restrictions of your ERP system, but don’t make the numbers so short that the might be mistaken for a quantity. Using a mix of letters and numbers increases your item numbers while maintaining reasonable length and helping to identify them as item numbers.
  • Empty Spaces –10+ spaces may cause problems with search results.
  • Ambiguous Characters – Avoid characters that can be confused with each other. These include characters such as capital eye, lower-case L, zero, and capital oh. Depending on fonts, add Cc, Kk, Pp, Ss, t+, Ww, t+, Uu, Vv, Xx, Zz, and number one to the list of characters to mistrust.

Simply omitting certain characters from your numbering scheme can prevent frustration for you, your employees, and your customers. In some cases, it can even save you money.

Contact us for more information about getting your inventory InOrder.

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Easy Return Policies Could Attract More eCommerce Customers

Most (if not all) eCommerce websites include a section with their return policies, which include details about returning items with or without receipts, which products can be returned and when, which products cannot be returned, and more. When I shop online, two options I find particularly appealing are the ability to return an item to the store, and free return shipping.

Free Return Shipping

Free Return Shipping could make a difference in where your customers shop. Customers want this. Free return shipping doesn’t mean customers will return everything they buy, but they’re trusting that your products are worth buying without seeing them or touching them first-hand. It assures them that you stand by your products and care enough to provide top-notch service. Shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer free returns, so it could be a small price to attract more customers. If you offer this, be sure to promote it clearly so shoppers don’t miss it.

Return to Store

ShoppingBagsCoupleThis option is attractive to shoppers who actually prefer to take their returns to a physical store. It involves no shipping expense, it’s faster in some cases, it’s convenient, it provides immediate credit, and shoppers don’t have to walk out empty-handed if they want an exchange. This provides golden opportunities for retailers to make these experiences easy for shoppers, who might make additional purchases while making their returns. It can also create a positive experience and lead to future shopping.

If you offer either of these return options, be sure to promote them on your website – it might make a difference in where shoppers spend their money.

Contact us for more information about eCommerce solutions with InOrder.


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Offer These Services to Attract More eCommerce Shoppers

Businesses are making it easier and easier for shoppers to buy from them. One service that has grown in popularity and value for both businesses and shoppers is the ability to buy online and pick up orders from the store. This has become a common option, with a focus on convenience and speed. When shoppers pick up their orders, they may not have time to continue shopping. Instead, they want the pickup process to be easy, efficient, and fast. Some businesses simply have the orders ready at a common checkout counter, while others may provide a dedicated pickup area. Another option is to reserve an item online and then check it out or try it on in the store. If you’re considering theses services for your customers, be sure to include all of the following qualities:

  • Easy – Identify items that are available for this service so customers can find them in search results. When it’s time for  pickup, make sure it’s easy to find your pickup counter, even if it’s in the back of the store. If shoppers must search for a pickup counter, they may very well get frustrated enough to avoid it in the future.
  • Efficient – If customers wanted to go through the in-store shopping experience, they probably wouldn’t spend the time shopping online first. Don’t make them endure a lengthy process or long lines that include in-store shoppers. Instead, give them their orders quickly. If possible, designate a separate area to pick up online orders, where it will be easy to access and check out.
  • Fast – If customers are in a hurry, they need to get their orders and go. When convenience is important and you meet that need, chances are they’ll be back.

eCommerceGoingShoppingOnlineAnother option that is gaining popularity is outside pickup service, which allows customers to remain in their cars while you bring their orders to them. This service may include filling shopping lists, packing items, and loading cars. It is especially valuable to people in a hurry, parents with a carload of kids, people for whom it is difficult to shop, emergency purchases, and last-minute gifts. People taking advantage of these services could even shop online more often, so be sure your customers know about these options if you make them available.

You can also make an app available for mobile shopping and pickup arrangements. Restaurants and grocers have offered these services for years, providing same-day delivery and having orders ready at a drive-through.  Retailers are recognizing the value of these services for both themselves and their customers, and customers are embracing them.

Contact us for more information about eCommerce solutions with InOrder.


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