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Back to Basics: eCommerce Rules You May Have Forgotten

Posted by Avery Walts on Jan 5, 2017
Find Avery Walts on LinkedIn

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Whether you’re an eCommerce newbie or a seasoned veteran, brushing up on selling fundamentals is a routine checkup. It can be easy to overlook details and procedures that seem rudimentary when you’ve been selling for a long time. It can also be easy to overlook these same details when you’re a new seller because they may seem minimal compared to bigger responsibilities. Nevertheless, simple ecommerce basics are important to remember and master no matter your stage in the selling game. Let’s take a look at a few to jog your ecommerce business memory.

Creating SKUs

Defining a SKU is the basis for all retailers. It’s ecommerce basics 101. So, what does it mean again? A SKU stands for stock keeping unit and is defined as a set of letters and numbers designated by a seller. The letters and numbers are used to distinguish the product’s manufacturer, model, description, material, size, packaging, color, and warranty terms. SKUs are unique to each product and are not universal, and are used for internal tracking purposes.

Here’s an example of a Patagonia “Sarah” purple women’s jacket in size medium:

pgsarah-pur-med

“Pg” is the manufacturer, “Sarah” is the name of the jacket, “pur” is the color, and “med” is the size. Remember: SKUs are defined by the seller and can be named in any combination.

 

[Click here to learn more about how to create SKU numbers]

 

Effective product descriptions

If you’ve been successful without nailing the head on who your target audience is, you’re an ecommerce business anomaly. If you haven’t been successful, maybe it’s because you’re writing product descriptions that aren’t suited to your true target audience.

Begin to research where your customers look at content, what their needs and wants are, what their personal or professional background is, and develop a marketing message around who they are. If you can convey a product description in the language they are looking for, and a description that pinpoints their needs and wants, then your products have a higher chance of flying off the shelves. Accurate descriptions also reduce the chance of product returns.  

 

[Learn how to write product descriptions that sell]

 

Improve your warehouse layout

When designing your rows of inventory, choose functionality over design appeal. Instead of flaunting the amount of inventory with endless long rows of aisles, design the aisles with cross navigation so pickers can move at a more efficient pace between locations. Within this process it’s helpful to alphabetize the locations of products, rather than simply organizing products alphabetically or by popularity. This also helps to improve pick times and streamline overall warehouse flow.

 

[Get tips for improving your warehouse layout]

 

KPI Metrics

KPIs, or key performance indexes, are used by department heads to keep track of performance metrics entered into a spreadsheet. These can be done daily, weekly, or monthly depending on the size of the company/warehouse. If operations are running awry in an established company, or new companies need a steady system to track operations, KPIs are a great way to not only keep an accurate track of inventory, but also a way to reward employees who meet expected metrics.

[Click here to learn what you need to know about KPI metrics]

 

Customer retention

Selling inventory is all for nothing if you can’t keep customers coming back. Focusing on customer retention should be a top priority for any company’s marketing strategy. And since eCommerce retailers don’t have the luxury of meeting most customers face-to-face, it’s important they focus customer retention via social media outreach and aesthetically pleasing and welcoming websites.

An inviting social media presence allows customers to feel they’re welcome to air their thoughts about your company and creates an open line of communication. Use social media and your website to let customers in on new and upcoming products, giveaways, referral bonuses, and important company information in order to build a trustworthy relationship.

[Learn how to keep customers coming back after purchase]

 

Don’t use email lists

You may not know it, but purchasing an email list for customers and potential customers is a form of fraud. Not only do people not want to receive constant emails from a company they’re not interested in, but that company could also be penalized by Google. If Google sees you sent 1,000 emails and they were never opened or clicked on, Google will most likely send those emails straight to the spam folder next time.

If a company sends enough unopened emails their IP address grade may suffer, meaning emails will go to a customer’s spam folder no matter what. Don’t purchase email lists as a form of outreach because in the end it will backfire and hurt your ecommerce business, and perhaps your reputation, instead.

[You may be committing fraud and not know it. Click here to learn how]

 

Aligned shipping processes

Half the fun of ordering a product online is tracking it’s shipping process along the way. If you don’t already, provide customers with a real-time tracking software. Some softwares can even send text message or email updates every step of the way. By providing transparency and communication of your product to a customer, your company looks more trustworthy and brings them satisfaction in knowing exactly when their product will arrive.

[Learn other common mistakes of eCommerce retailers]

 

Amazon taxes

Amazon earnings need to filed for taxes with the IRS just like any other earnings. Don’t forget this. So what needs to be paid? The gross annual amount you made in a calendar year needs to be filed, as well as the gross amount made per month. This amount includes sales tax, gift wrapping, and shipping charges. Some may think the gross annual amount just counts how much your products cost. Don’t let the IRS come knocking on your door come tax time.

[Click here to learn how to file taxes on Amazon earnings]

 

Are you using the right software?

No matter if you’re a seller just starting out or a midsized retailer, it’s beneficial to take a step back and evaluate the software you are considering to use or already have in place. eCommerce retailers may consider inventory management software vs. warehouse management software. So which is better?

Inventory management software is best suited for small to midsize businesses that don’t have a surplus of products. These retailers need the basic functions to track inventory levels, orders, sales, and deliveries. Warehouse management software is better suited for retailers with a wide range of products. They want more advanced features that go beyond monitoring  inventory, such as SKU creation, marketplace channel listing, and/or real time quantity updates.

[Learn the benefits of inventory management vs. warehouse management here]

 

In Review

Make it a point to give yourself time to reflect on how your business is running and decide if you need a refresher course in selling 101. We all make mistakes, so why not catch those mistakes before they happen. Maybe you could use this post to make a cheat sheet on factors to look over each year, like a CliffsNotes for selling and how to keep selling.

 

Optimize Your Supply Chain with SkuVault WMS. Request a demo.

 

Topics: eCommerce, Amazon, shipping, warehouse management software, inventory management software