Two years ago, venture capitalist Boris Wertz wrote about vertical integration as the next big thing in commerce. Today, his words are proving true. Commerce brands like Frank & Oak, Bonobos, and ShoeDazzle (the list goes on) are disrupting how we buy merchandise online. Each one can offer customer experiences and prices that most traditional retailers cannot. They do it by building their entire supply chains, on their own.
For more traditional retailers, this disruption is intimidating. You may even be losing business to one or more vertically integrated commerce brands. You may be wondering how you could possibly compete. Rest assured, this disruption doesn’t mean you need to turn your commerce business upside down.
The more traditional retail model still works. You can still be immensely successful selling through your own website, sourcing from suppliers, using marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, and shaking a new customer’s hand in your brick and mortar store. But, to be successful in the modern commerce world, you’ll need to adopt some new strategies.
- Invest in supply chain optimization to pass efficiency benefits on to your customers.
- Take advantage of the fact that you can scale your product variety up and down more quickly.
- Embrace the modern, technology-driven reality.
Invest in supply chain optimization.
Vertically integrated commerce brands own their entire supply chain from product development to the customer’s hands. It allows them to create efficiencies, which they pass on to the customer through lower prices and unique customer experiences. For established retailers, it isn’t realistic to completely restructure your commerce business to match. Instead, focus on optimizing your more traditional supply chain to create similar efficiencies.
Look for the inefficiencies in your own supply chain and use technology to optimize them. Do you have trouble keeping your inventory synchronized across your stores and website? Is it difficult to track status of a customer’s order? Is your product data duplicated, out of date, or just plain wrong? Solutions, like nChannel’s managed drop ship features, are out there to solve these problems.
By using technology the correct way, to streamline your own supply chain, you can lower your transaction costs and provide better customer experiences. You can pass the same kinds of efficiencies as the vertically-integrated brands on to your customers.
Expand product variety for a competitive advantage.
Companies that own their entire supply chain are at a scaling disadvantage. When they want to add a new product or product line, they have a lot of work to do. These problems are much easier to overcome in a more traditional commerce model. Use that to your advantage!
Your commerce brand, using the more traditional model, can offer variety. It can offer competing products. It can offer alternatives. You can add new lines of business. You have the ability to more flexible with your product portfolio, enabling you to compete on multiple fronts. You can add (and if required, remove) suppliers more easily. This makes you more flexible and scalable than a company with complete vertical integration.
But, you can’t snap your fingers and make it so. It requires the right infrastructure. You must be closely aligned with your suppliers. You must have clear visibility into your entire supply chain. You must have the technology to make business decisions in real time. Your multiple channels of business must be constantly in sync.
Embrace the new reality.
There was a time when all business was handled with good eye contact and a firm handshake. We no longer live in that time. You must acknowledge that technology and the innovation it enables has changed everything. You’ll need to use technology to scale trust in your brand. You’ll need to facilitate relationships with customers across the globe. You must move faster than manual processes will allow.
In spite of these new expectations, some things haven’t changed. Consumers still demand trust. They still want their purchase to be as convenient as possible. They will still evaluate price and quality the way they always have. Technology has given consumers more power to seek alternatives—to be critical of what you offer. What has changed is how you must use technology to address those fundamental issues for your customers.
Seek out the expertise to help you utilize technology to embrace the new reality. Doing so will give you the tools to thrive in today’s ultracompettive, global economy. You can be bigger, better, and faster than you are, today. You can deliver the best possible experience for your customers.
Magento Go is shutting its doors come February 1st, 2015 and, like others, you’re struggling to figure out what to do. To help ease this transition, this blog post will be about the steps you need to take to successfully transition from Magento Go.
While everyone’s transition is going to be different based on your eCommerce platform, the size of your business, and the extent of the remodeling you want to do, this can serve as an over-arching view of the process.
Magento Go is shutting down, and everyone on it has until February 1st, 2015 to choose a new eCommerce platform. In order to ease this transition, listed below are nChannel’s top four Magento Go alternatives. While you may be looking for the “best” eCommerce platform, each platform has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately, the best eCommerce solution is determined by your needs.
If you are employing a multichannel sales strategy, there’s no doubt you’ve experienced integration challenges. While multichannel increases revenue and attracts more customers due to increased choice and convenience, both B2B and B2C industry leaders are engaging in integration strategies to eliminate the complexity of multiple business processes shared between multiple systems. But the challenge of choosing an effective, long-term integration solution still remains.
What I’ve learned from researching this issue is that in a little less than 10 years ago, comprehensive, off-the-shelf solutions that managed or automated technology retail operations were hard to come by. Companies who could afford the tools invested in many different bespoke systems (custom made to task specification) and created their own DIY eCommerce platforms consisting of a patchwork of unwieldy and cumbersome disparate systems. Despite giving companies an online presence, these first-generation platforms have some serious issues and required a lot of time and money to operate and maintain. (more…)
nChannel’s guide to Magento hosting
At nChannel, we’re always doing research for our clients. Recently people have been asking, “What’s the best company to host a Magento store?” Unfortunately, the information available is sparse. In fact, it seems every guide out there is either poorly written or written by the hosting company itself. We wanted to alleviate the burden of researching every company by doing it for you, and we’ve compiled a list of all the essential information you need to know when choosing a Magento hosting provider.
As IRCE celebrates their 10th year as the world’s largest eCommerce conference and exhibition, an anticipated 10,000 attendees have the opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders of all sizes. This notorious conference is co-developed by the eCommerce experts at Internet Retailer magazine. This year’s event takes place at Chicago’s McCormick Place on June 11th and 12th. As an eCommerce solution leader, nChannel doesn’t want you to miss out on this chance to experience the latest industry news and technology. If you have not already registered, here are 4 reasons to convince your team to purchase flights this afternoon. (more…)
While companies need several types of technology to run an online business, it can be confusing choosing the right ones that fit your business needs. Some sellers mistakenly choose all-in-one package because they think (or are told) that it will be easier to manage than separate systems. While that might be true, most find that the limitation of the all-in-ones far outweigh the cost of choosing best-of-breed solutions for each part of your business and integrating them.
At nChannel, part of my job is to research and analyze our customer base to find trends and learn what works and what doesn’t. Here’s a common scenario I run across that has shown to result in online success.
- Companies are saying goodbye to outdated and outgrown back-office inventory management solutions, product spreadsheets, and sales ledger accounting systems and upgrading to a robust, all-encompassing business management system like Sage ERP.
- When they are ready to open their web store, they choose an ultra-modern, robust eCommerce shopping cart like Magento to handle the most important side of their business…the one the customers see!
- Finally, they eliminate the cost and manual effort they expend on tasks like updating their web store’s product catalog, inventory reconciliation, pulling and processing orders, managing customer inquiries and account information, and balancing financials – just to name a few. (more…)
1. Why Product Information Management is important
Have you ever searched for a product online only to receive meager results and thought, “I know there are more people selling this stuff, why can’t I find it?” Or maybe you got frustrated browsing a site because you had to scroll through pages and pages of unorganized products. The source of both of these common problems could be a lack of adequate product information management.
Managing products is a key component to the success of selling online.
- You need to get products to market quickly and with complete and accurate detail.
- Product data must be searchable so search engines can find them.
- You must offer and maintain a large product assortment.
- Items must be organized into collections to make shopping easier for the buyer.
- Updating product data should not break the bank or take so long that it’s prohibitive. (more…)
Magento Imagine truly is the premier global eCommerce conference focused on exchanging inspired and innovative ideas, discussing emerging trends and making lasting connections! This year’s event will take place May 12th – 14th at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, and nChannel is proud to be a Silver Sponsor. As a Magento Partner, we’re anticipating a fantastic show next week and want to share 5 of the top reasons we think you need to attend the conference. We just found out though, the conference being so popular, has recently sold out. So, if you have not already registered, consider the title of this to be the top 5 reasons why you should have attended, and put it on your calendar for 2015!
Not all eCommerce shopping carts are created equal. Many look similar on the surface, but deep down have way more to compare than just price and features. Most merchants will only ever use a fraction of the features offered, so don’t let things like unlimited bandwidth and unlimited product listings be your main criteria. And unless you need complete customization and you have IT staff to help, full-fledged open source solutions are probably not the choice either. In our experience, small and mid-size companies have the best experience with mid-priced eCommerce platforms with a solid feature set and expandable design.