The keys to a successful online retail business:
Consolidation & Drop Ship Automation
Whether you are just starting your own small business or you have been running websites for years, the process of online retailing is the same. You need to have reliable suppliers of your products so that you have inventory to sell. You need to have a website to host your products and promote your business. You need tools available to market, grow, and advertise your business. You need to work with larger retail sites to leverage existing traffic and sales outlets. You need the flexibility to change suppliers, advertising, and your business strategy. You need tools to manage and maintain your growing customer base. You also need time to do all this and still analyze your business and plan for the future.
So, how can a small business stay on top of it all and still turn a profit? The answer is to work smarter, using consolidation and automation to streamline your business.
Drop Ship Consolidation Overview:
In the context of your overall business, consolidation means getting everything you need while working with as few different companies and services as possible.
The wrong way: Let’s say that you have a couple different drop ship suppliers that you work with for your inventory. You have signed up for a website with a hosting provider for a nice low price. You accept money from PayPal and accept credit cards from your new merchant account provider. You have found another company to use for gathering email addresses and sending newsletters and specials to your past customers. You have also seen that you can sell products on eBay and Amazon, so you want to try that as well.
Now, in the above example, you have everything you need, but will a business like that actually work? You have to get the product information from your suppliers and update your website regularly to make sure your inventory is current. You then have to spend time cutting and pasting to get your products to eBay, Amazon, and wherever else. When you get an order, you go to yet another service to try to charge the customer’s credit card. You then have to go to yet another service to enter that customer into your customer management software so you have a record of them. These are all things that you have to do all the time, so when do you find the time for additional marketing and growing your business?
The company in the above example is forced to work with at least 8-10 different companies, just to do the basic necessary functions for its core business. When you add in partnerships, affiliates, and any other marketing you do, the process becomes completely unmanageable and the business is destined for failure.
Consolidation is the answer to running a business the right way. You should do your research before choosing your service providers to find ones that can combine the things you need into more manageable groups. For example, having an ecommerce store that is linked directly with your merchant account and PayPal allows you to consolidate 3 of your necessary services into 1. If your ecommerce provider is also linked with your suppliers of inventory and provides you customer management tools such as email list management and coupons, you have just combined 7 services into 1 streamlined operation!
WARNING: While consolidation is a powerful tool, be sure to do your research! There are many companies on the internet these days that will promise you an all-in-one service, but many of them are actually just middlemen. When consolidating your operations, be certain that you are not giving up your profit margins on your inventory or overpaying for unnecessary services or pretend “suppliers”.
The need to work with REAL drop ship product sources is so important that you get to read it twice. Do your research on any company that you are considering working with. Be sure you can get someone on the phone if you need to, and get responses back from support tickets. Be sure you are getting the best price available on your inventory. Be sure that you are not overpaying on your credit card fees or hosting services. In general, “look before you leap” in order to avoid falling victim to empty promises. Also, it should be obvious….but if all of their “suppliers” have code names like “Warehouse Ruby” and “Warehouse Granite” and they do not provide any contact details for each warehouse location, then they are a middleman. Real suppliers have names and locations and people you can contact, they don’t have code names and hidden shipping costs or odd return policies.
By consolidating your services, you can completely remove much of the work that you would have to do otherwise. The days of cutting and pasting are over. If you find yourself doing tedious, repetitive work to keep your business running, you are a perfect candidate for consolidation of your services.
In addition to consolidation of your services, another powerful tool to make your life easier is drop ship automation.
Drop Ship Automation Overview:
As is the case with consolidation, automating parts of your everyday business processes can save you a tremendous amount of time, and may even be necessary to have a successful online business.
Again, the days of cutting and pasting are over. If you find yourself cutting and pasting spreadsheets of product information, customer information, email addresses, or any other tedious process, you can realize huge benefits from automation in your business.
Let’s look at some examples of where automation can help your business:
If you work with drop ship suppliers, you do not actually have the product in hand, so you must constantly keep your website in synch with your suppliers. Some suppliers offer spreadsheets of products, others simply provide the information on their website with no bulk download. You are forced to go to each supplier’s website, pull the information for the products you are selling, cut and paste them to your own website, and keep track of issues such as pricing and discontinued products
If you fail to keep your website up-to-date, you will sell products that your supplier no longer has, leaving you out in the cold with an angry customer and bad feedback for your business. If you do this process manually, you are spending hours every day or every week just to keep your business running. Automating this process would remove it from your “to do” list entirely, saving you time, effort, and money.
Online Payment Automation
Accepting payment from your customers is what your whole business is all about. If you have not consolidated or automated your services, then when a customer pays you for a product on your site, you must then cut and paste the information into your merchant account provider’s website and attempt to charge the card. Or if you accept PayPal, you will need to login to your PayPal account and proceed through the process of collecting the actual funds from your buyer, even after they have already placed the order.
These delays in accepting payment are unnecessary, and cost you time and money to process. By automating the process of credit card charging and PayPal collection, there is no manual effort required to collect your funds. Your buyers also benefit because the transaction is much smoother for them and their order actually gets placed faster.
TIP: When choosing your merchant account provider and website provider, be sure you can automate the payment process. Also be sure your ecommerce system is linked with PayPal, allowing you to collect funds instantly rather than following up manually. If you have done things right, your orders will grow and the automation of payment collection will save you time and allow you to handle an unlimited number of orders for your products.
Customer Management Automation
Once you have worked so hard to get your customers, it is important to keep them. Email lists and special offer emails are a great tool to get and retain your customers. When you have automated customer management, your customer database is populated automatically with each order and interested customer. You can send regular emails to your interested customers with little or no effort, allowing you to have yet another totally automated system powering your business.
Product Marketing Automation
Adding your products to eBay, Amazon, PriceGrabber, BizRate, and other cost-per-click, auction, and internet malls can be a fantastic way to generate sales. If you do not have automation and want to use these services, be prepared to spend LOTS of time cutting, pasting, and formatting your product information. If you have more than a handful of products for sale, you may not even be able to participate in these opportunities without automation.
When your inventory, marketing, and website processes are automated, you can easily provide up-to-date product and pricing information to these 3rd party services. Automating your marketing and product placement allows you to multiply your sales with no additional work, and gives you the opportunity to participate in online selling in ways that you never could have imagined were possible.
In short, you are likely to find many time-consuming, tedious processes as you are running your online retail business. By automating as many of these services and functions as possible, you will be able to do more than ever before, and actually work less! You will have time to actually run your business, grow your business, and create a successful business, which is the whole idea, right?
THE INVENTORY SOURCE SOLUTION
Consolidation and automation are essential for a successful business, and Inventory Source provides all of the services mentioned here (and more!) and gives any drop ship reseller a considerable advantage over other online retail operations.
Inventory Source can provide you with ALL of the following:
- Automated daily inventory management from the suppliers of your choosing
- Automated payment processing with multiple payment processors
- Automated customer management for emails and coupons
- Automated product marketing using custom product files, custom product updating, and marketplace-specific services, including automated eBay listing controls
- Updated product feeds in ANY format with the settings you control
- Consolidated tools for statistics, reporting, order & customer management, special offers, product information download, and more
- Support loading and updating your existing store platform or even help launching a new ecommerce hosted site
Remember our warning about choosing your business partners carefully. Inventory Source stands by our services, and here are just a few advantages as to why we are the only service that can provide the consolidation and automation you need:
- You choose the suppliers your work with.
- You keep 100% of your profit margin.
- If it isn’t already totally clear, we are NOT middlemen in ANY way. We do not interfere with your transactions in any way, and we help you work directly with the real wholesale drop ship product source.
- You decide your business strategy. We provide you with automation and consolidation tools and you can pick and choose based on your business.
- Nothing needs to be “hard coded”…every tool and function will be provided to you with 100% of the control to make changes and adjust your selling strategy every day.
In short, when you use Inventory Source, you gain access to the most powerful tools available online, and YOU STAY IN CONTROL. We do not interfere with your business or transactions in any way, giving you the power and flexibility to run your business the way you see fit, and leverage your own relationship with your supplier partners.
Compare our service with any other “services” you may find online. If you do your research, you will see that without a doubt, Inventory Source sellers have a clear advantage over other online retailers. They gain this edit with access to better suppliers (not to mention they are all verified distributors), utilizing better tools and solutions, having additional support and training over their competitors, and all of this is provided with price-points that might only cost a few cents a day to have thousands of products managed on their sales channel…so register for your free account today. If you have an email ID, then that is all you need to start on your path to success.