Should Your Business Consider Chatbots?

The business community has benefited greatly from advancements in digital communication technologies. Today, there’s practically no end to the ways companies and brand representatives can engage with, troubleshoot for, market to or otherwise stay in touch with their fans and customers.

Chatbots are a relatively new addition to a bundle of tools that already included email, video chat, SMS, social networking and more. Chatbots are the next logical step in many ways when it comes to keeping businesses and customers in constant and easy contact. But they’re not for everybody. Below are some of the advantages of — plus one or two warnings about — chatbots to help you decide if it’s the right time and the right tool for your company.

What’s a Chatbot?

This word is one of those terms that pretty much gives it all away up front: A chatbot is an audio-based or text-based assistant that can autonomously help customers find answers to questions, troubleshoot problems or carry out other business-related tasks, such as ordering or re-ordering products, changing payment information, inquiring about or renewing subscriptions and memberships and much more.

Command-based chatbots are relatively rudimentary but still deceptively “intelligent.” They can respond to customer inquiries using heuristics that match replies with the most relevant topics or sub-menus for the customer.

On the other hand, AI-based chatbots are more sophisticated but also have a further way to go before they’re available to a wider array of businesses and more consistently able to reply accurately to any inquiry. But chatbots powered by AI are undoubtedly already showing their potential: Thanks to their use of natural language processing, they can reply “from scratch” instead of using canned responses. They can even become better over time at picking up meaning and intent from conversations with human callers.

With the different types of chatbots a little better understood, let’s move on to the main question, which is whether or not chatbots are worth the investment for your business. For a start, some industries are simply a likelier fit than others.

If Chatbots Make Sense for Your Industry

Chatbots are a relatively new concept, but they do already exist out in the wild. And there are several frontrunners when it comes to the types of industries that are well-suited to adopting chatbots. Some of them are:

  • Hospitality
  • Banking and financial services
  • Retail
  • Service-based companies

Based on polling, some 80 percent of business representatives would be interested in bringing chatbots into the fold at their company. But early popularity in the industries mentioned above already indicates which use-cases might yield the best results and return on investment. In hospitality, guests and travelers often require nearly instant solutions for checking into hotels and lodging, boarding airplanes and other conveyances, choosing venues, organizing transportation for meetings and conventions and a multitude of other tasks that have to happen at the speed of business.

In financial services, chatbots can help even regional banks and nonprofit credit unions provide members with account information or help them tailor their retirement or college savings. In retail and services environments, chatbots can pick up some of the slack during high-traffic times of the day or season by taking orders, pointing customers to what they’re looking for and more.

The point is, there might be use cases in your industry, and there might not be. Industries that depend on timely, accurate, always-available customer interactions appear to be early favorites, but as the technology improves, applications will undoubtedly continue to appear almost everywhere.

If You (and Your Customers) Value Time

On the customer and the company side of things, the first major advantage of chatbots is that they’re on standby 24 hours a day and don’t take a single day off during the year, provided there aren’t any technical snafus behind the scenes.

Allowing customers to have their questions answered on their own time is great already, but chatbots also save time for the company by providing an automated solution to the “problem” of answering common inquiries all day long. Both parties can breathe easier. Customers know they won’t have to try their luck calling back during business hours or trawling through a website for answers, and businesses know their employees are a little freer to respond to other, more urgent demands on their time.

There are one or two caveats when it comes to using chatbots in extremely customer-facing industries. Human beings know — or can be trained by locals — to respect cultural taboos and avoid words or phrases that might cause offense in another country or region.

The problem of maintaining cultural propriety during international affairs is not a new problem. But while it seems to make sense to turn chatbots into public liaisons in regions where you don’t have a strong employee presence to process customer calls, those chatbots had better have been developed with linguistic and cultural input from the region they’re intended to serve.

Being mindful of potential cultural frictions and even the subtleties of respectful political correctness is key to successfully using a chatbot to fill in your service gaps here and abroad.

If You Want Additional Insight Into Your User Base

The average interaction between a human customer and a chatbot can yield a surprising amount of information about your user base — too much, potentially, for a human operator to take in all at once, much less record and pass on to interested parties.

A phone conversation is practically analog compared with a chatbot chat when it comes to the potential to take in information from your user base. When your customers interact with your chatbot, with just a couple of simple questions and basic analytics, you’ll come away with a greater understanding of how they use your products, where common sources of frustration are coming from and nitty-gritty details. These details include their location, the device type they’re using to contact you or interact with your services and other factors that might be of interest to your marketing team, your R&D team or both.

Chatbots are here already — and companies are figuring out how best to put them to work. By 2021, say industry experts, the chatbot “market” — including third-party cloud-based chatbot solutions — should reach a total value of $15.8 billion. That’s a ringing endorsement. Just remember that chatbots are a product like any other, and computing their probable ROI isn’t that much different, no matter what else you’re promised by a software vendor. In some cases, the human touch might just be the better choice for your business anyway — you’ll need to decide based on your unique circumstances.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

How #BigData Can Transform Your #Sales

Big data, cloud computing, AI and machine learning are all popular buzzwords these days. Nearly everyone is talking about these technologies and how they can be leveraged to provide benefits to a variety of companies.

In a general sense, big data can absolutely transform your business operations for the better. It feeds into a concept you should know well, called business intelligence. Through the technology, an endless supply of information is generated about your business, employees, customers, products and impact on the world at large.

This data, when used appropriately, is the end-all be-all for achieving ultimate success and improving sales. Before that can happen, however, raw data coming in must be analyzed, processed and converted into a more usable format.

How Big Data Becomes Actionable

There are two types of data that a business has at its disposal, one of which is less useful. The first type is raw data, which comes unstructured and in its original form. The second type is processed or organized data that is actionable and ready for use.

A major difference between raw data and usable data is that the latter provides a great deal of insight into whatever process, party or component you are studying. A huge swath of customer performance data, before being processed, might show something more generalized and simple — people like a certain product best, for example. However, diving in closer and analyzing the trends or patterns within datasets can reveal so much more.

Suddenly, you understand who it is that likes said product, why and what they’re using it for. Also, you can break your audience down into niche segments to better understand what they’re after. It’s even possible to see how they react after receiving your products or services, and how that affects their future relations with your company.

Closer to the real world. Companies or teams that use quotas and sales targets to measure performance can benefit greatly from data analytics. Target-setting is not the same as forecasting, so it’s vital you get the numbers right. By looking at existing data, you can more accurately choose these goals, honing the process over time to find the best marketers or salespeople.

Of course, these are just a few examples. There’s a lot more you can learn from the right data. The point is just that customer data and insights can help you understand your audience better, allowing for more accurate and informed decision-making. It also leads to a greater opportunity for success.

Some of the enhancements data analytics offers include:

  • Segmented and accurate audience targeting
  • Location-based analytics that relate to a particular place or region
  • Dynamic pricing opportunities that take local events into account
  • A reduction in customer churn, boosting retention and loyalty
  • Enhanced customer relations through better understanding
  • New business and upsell opportunities
  • Guaranteed or successful marketing trends

Using Data to Unlock Opportunities

Spending on big data technologies had surpassed $57 billion by the end of 2017. By 2020, it is estimated that every person on Earth will generate 1.7 megabytes of data per second. That’s an insane amount of digital information being generated on a consistent basis.

It’s becoming more and more common for companies — across all industries — to leverage the kind of big data, cloud computing and AI platforms that offer huge returns in business intelligence. Digital information is constantly flowing, with or without your express attention. As people tap into local networks, apps, online experiences and digital platforms, these systems continue to collect a multitude of user data. It’s a byproduct of the digital age, and you can put all of it to use, provided you know how to understand it.

Since that information is already flowing, it’s equal parts easy and convenient to access and extract more insights from it — this is the ultimate goal of business intelligence.

How You Leverage the Data Is Crucial

It’s not about how much customer information and data you’re collecting, because today it will essentially be coming from everywhere. It’s especially helpful that people carry a smartphone on their person at all times, resulting in even more intel-gathering opportunities.

Instead, it’s all about how you process and leverage the data you have. You could be collecting huge swarms, but it’s not lucrative in the least if you don’t know how to put it to use. You’re just going to be wasting a lot of time and resources.

It’s not a question of whether or not data can transform industries, specifically modern business. It’s more the question of how. Learn to process and understand it efficiently and you’ll be well on your way to improved revenue and better customer experiences. Big data can — and will — transform sales in many ways, providing better opportunities for your employees and improved experiences for your customers.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Why You Need to Use Behavioral Segmentation

How do you current and potential customers find you? That is the conundrum for every company in today’s day and age. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have a location, or to have a location that’s close to others who might add synergy to your business’s stability.

And while technology might seem like it would be an easy way to garner a wider, more solid core of customers, in fact websites and email aren’t enough either. Add to the mix social media (and the realization that one site isn’t enough either) and you’ve got a very confusing mix of how to reach people.

 But luckily, data has given us some insights into what we do need to know about our customers—not just where they live but what their lives look like and how their internal lives work, too. So how do you segment what you know and what you need to know? This graphic explains it.

Why You Need to Use Behavioral Segmentation

Into the Future: Leveraging Customer Data to Grow Your Business

When it comes to getting information, there is no lack of data available. In fact, the amount of data available on every individual in the country, not to mention the world, is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Gathering data is one thing, but actually processing that data into a useful, coherent picture is a whole other issue. With AI, however, even that is becoming more and more possible. The final step is understanding how to take interpreted data to grow your business. Here are 5 ways in which you can leverage customer data to secure growth and success.

1. Identify holes in the market

Some of the most profitable businesses in the world leveraged a gap in the market. They found product or service that was not currently available and made it so. There are two ways to go about this, however.

The first is to listen to clients and consumers to identify their needs. The second is to come up with a product idea and try to sell the public on its merits. Needless to say, creating a product people are already looking for is a far easier sell than trying to convince them they have a genuine need for your product.

This is where big data can help. It can analyze hundreds of sources, from social media to customer surveys and questionnaires to customer feedback on competitor’s websites to determine what the common themes are. What are they commenting about, complaining about or requesting again and again?

Armed with this information, you can tailor your product line or service to meet the needs of a consumer base not yet currently getting its needs met.

2. Market testing

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of marketing has been the lack of truly comprehensive feedback about what marketing materials or campaigns were working and which weren’t.

While you may have noticed an increase in sales after a particular marketing campaign or drive, getting truly detailed information about where specifically your campaign was having the most impact was next to impossible.

Today, however, with advanced analytics, you can get detailed insights into exactly which campaigns are working and which are not and in what sectors.

Analytics can tell you what efforts are resulting in likes or clicks and which are actually being converted into sales. In addition, analytics can give you detailed information about demographic responses to determine if you have actually appropriately identified your target demographic or not.

It may turn out that the teens you initially targeted your campaign towards are not the actual consumers buying your product, but rather their moms. This information can help you find better tools to get your marketing to the right groups.

Analytics allow you to tweak, tailor and fine-tune your marketing efforts on-the-fly to supercharge their effectiveness mid-campaign.

3. Targeted product offerings

Data doesn’t just tell you what products people are buying, it tells you who is buying them. Buying preferences not only tell you a lot about your consumers, but they can also help you make specific product offerings that they may be interested in.

This can also be a good way to build good relationships with partner businesses that offer products that are complimentary to yours. If someone buys a certain pair of shoes or a bag, you can offer a cleaning or storage solution for them. If someone buys an electronic device, you can recommend a case or a charger for it.

Data can also tell you how to target market products for certain consumers. For instance, if 5 out of the last 7 products they purchased were all purchased in red, then when you send them product offerings, you can make sure the product offered is always pictured in red.

AI, analytics and automation are designed to work seamlessly together. By utilizing each tool, even the smallest of businesses can tailor their marketing to an individual and specific client or consumer.

4. Keep up with minute-by-minute changes in the market

You’ve probably noticed that almost all gas stations now have digital price boards. This is because gas station owners had to manually go out and change gas station prices every day based on current market prices.

In a market where prices are constantly in flux, however, digital boards allow an automated system to change prices numerous times each day to keep pace with fluctuating market prices. Analytics offer the ability for other businesses to adapt this same model.

Every day, events around the world can have a direct impact on your business and predictive analytics helps you stay on top of moment-by-moment events that can be so significant for the future of your business.

Say a revolt in China leads to the shutdown of a factory that make a component you depend on to create your own product. AI can alert you to this immediately so you can in turn immediately find another supplier so there are no delays in production.

In some cases, having this information first can help you lock down a contract before a competitor jumps in and starts a bidding war. Having necessary components while your competitor does not may lead to them no longer being able to offer product that you now can.

While targeted product offerings and analytics are nothing new, AI is growing by leaps and bounds to allow even the smallest of businesses the ability to take advantage of some of the tools giant corporations have been using for close to a decade.

Smaller businesses also have an advantage in that they often have smaller consumer bases, which allows them to use AI and automation to personalize their marketing and product offerings in ways big businesses can’t touch. This means that today’s small business has an opportunity like never before to compete with corporate giants.

 

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today’s business and marketing. When she’s not being all serious and busy, she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, and delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Reach out to her @jazzymin88

 

Don’t Dilly Dally About Data

Do I need a cloud server or should I use a hard drive? Is it worth hiring a data management expert? What type of security do I need? What penalties are there for not remaining compliant? These are just some of the questions that are probably swirling around your head when thinking about data issues in your company. You probably think that you have time to ponder these and make the right decisions, but you don’t.

You may not know that nearly one-third of all companies on the market will be exposed to a cybersecurity issue at some point this year. That means if you haven’t already made the right decisions your data could already be vulnerable. You don’t want that, so let’s look at the ways that you can prevent it. You need to make snap decisions here as soon as your business is on the market or even before.

DO Use A Cloud A Server

You have probably been toying with the idea of either hiring or buying a cloud server for your company data. It’s time to stop thinking about it and start doing it. While some people like to point out the security holes in cloud servers, they are nothing compared to hard drives. Someone can hack into your hard drive from their home in minutes if it’s connected to a network. Or, they could just walk into your property and walk out with all your customer data. With a cloud server, it’s far more complicated because then the data is kept off-site.

When you are thinking about cloud servers, do make sure that you research different companies rather than opting for the first one you find online. Quality of service can vary dramatically here.

DON’T Think Your Industry Is Special

It isn’t, and this is a big mistake that business owners are making right now. It is true to say that some companies need to worry more about data than others. For instance, if you work in the medical sector, you need to make sure that you are remaining HIPAA compliant and you can learn more about that on sites like www.nahs.co. But, all companies are held be similar data guidelines and regulations. In Europe, for instance, The GDPR recently came into full force. This impacts every business with ties to Europe, and that brings us to our next point.

DO Hire An Industry Expert

If companies should learn one thing from the new GDPR it’s that data laws can change fast. You can learn more about the GDPR on www.cio.com. While companies were given two years warning here, it still wasn’t long enough for some businesses to get in shape before the strict penalties were imposed. That’s why you should hire a data compliance expert. They can help make sure that you do remain completely compliant and that your business is up to date with changes to the law.

We hope you find this information useful and start making quick decisions on how to protect your business from data issues right now.

 

 

5 Ninja Tactics to Get a High-Paying Technology Job!

Technology world is exploding with newer solutions emerging every fortnight leaving the aspirants clueless about which technology to learn to get a suitable technology job. However different consultants suggest different technology domains, which is confusing and stressing for the candidates as they have potential, but they have no idea where to utilize it.

This blog is rather an attempt to guide all those aspirants who wish to succeed in the technology domain. Currently the market is talking about these technologies, which we will have a look at in ascending order:

Data Science: The Hottest Domain

Forbes has described Data Science as the sexiest job of 21st century. The people who wish to become analysts, machine learning experts, artificial intelligence professionals, this field is for them. The most important part is that, learning Data Science concepts do not require the candidate have a technology background. In fact, anyone who has knowledge of mathematics and statistics can become a data scientist and recruited by top MNCs in absolutely no time. The reason behind this increasing demand is that companies need innovative strategies to survive the war between companies over coming up with something new each time, which gets tougher when the product and segment is same. Analyzing the market trends, recognizing the patterns and coming up with something that has not happened before, helps the companies change the game.

Big Data: The Holy Grail for Techies

Usually the candidates who are fresh graduates having knowledge of coding and testing, Big Data is the most sought-after domain for them. The reason behind this trend is that most of them have a good knowledge of Java, JavaScript, C, C#, etc. Since all the big data frameworks are written in programming languages having the feature of standard input/output. So any programming language having this functionality can be used to learn big data technologies. Moreover it is time for the aspiring developers to come out of their comfort zones and learn something that is innovative and progressive too.

Cloud Computing: Trending Now!

You cannot certainly deny the fact that everything is stored in the cloud nowadays. Google drive is one of the most popular private cloud used by people in daily life. Ranging from mail to spreadsheet, to documents and analytics everything can be dome in the cloud. This is just the perspective of common tools used by people like us. Think about the kind of tools used by companies. Whether it is a platform, an infrastructure, or software, everything is turned into a service, which is a revolution in the digital world. This is one of the most trending technologies presently and learning it will definitely take your career to a whole new level. Companies like Microsoft and AWS are the biggest vendors of cloud.

Business Intelligence: Brightest future!

Analytics is the crux behind all the business decisions and strategic moves. With the shrinking timeline and increasing pressure, businesses are bound to respond instantly which mandates the use of real-time analytics. SAS, SAP, Tableau, QlikView, Spotfire, etc., are widely known BI solutions used by the top MNCs to analyze the bulks of raw data and convert it into a meaningful pattern of information. Ranging from gathering data from various sources, converting it into a supported format, analyzing the data and creating interactive reports are the major operations performed by Business Analysts. Learning it today will help you get job tomorrow!

Software Programming: Evergreen Domain!

Programming is the safest jobs of all times. Other domains emerge and become obsolete as soon as companies get accustomed, but programming is the domain which is always in demand. Programming languages like Java, Python, R programming, C, C#, PHP, etc., have been heavily used by the companies to create softwares and are still the preferred language by the developers. Mastering at least two to three languages will open huge opportunities for you in all the sectors and you can earn like hell.

Though all I described are the Ninja Tactics, it is all of your effort that brings the output. Definitely smart work is required, but hard work is what pays you at the end. So make a wise decision about your career today and grab top-dollar jobs tomorrow!

Author Bio :

Sonal Maheshwari has 6 years of corporate experience in various technology platforms such as Big Data, Data Science, Salesforce, Digital Marketing, CRM, SQL, JAVA, Oracle, etc. She has worked for MNCs like Wenger & Watson Inc, CMC LIMITED, EXL Services Ltd., and Cognizant. She is a technology nerd and loves contributing to various open platforms through blogging. She is currently in association with a leading professional training provider, Intellipaat Software Solutions and strives to provide knowledge to aspirants and professionals through personal blogs, research, and innovative ideas.

Ecommerce Supply Chain Challenges You Must Tame

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It wasn’t all that long ago that managing any supply chain was pretty easy. Most businesses operated on a smaller, more local scale than they do today, and if you managed to get a product to market, it would often stick around for a long time. Consumers didn’t have the scale of power and control they have today, either.

These days, however, planning the ins and outs of business fleets, deliveries, and supplies is a lot more complicated, thanks in the main to technology, consumer behavior, and global competition. A weak supply chain can see the enthusiasm for your product diminish almost overnight, or result in costs that become uncontrollable – while your rivals steal a march and claim your market share for themselves.

As you can tell, getting a grip on your supply chain – whether you are a small ecommerce store or a large-scale seller – is critical to your success. And avoiding the common roadblocks that can occur in your supply chain is the first step towards getting things right. But what are those obstacles, and how can you stop them from happening? Let’s take a look at the most common supply chain nightmares that could be affecting your business.

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Misunderstanding your customer’s needs

The first step towards first class supply chain management is ensuring your business meets the needs of your clients. In short, it’s a question of giving them exactly what they want and avoiding the costs of giving them things they don’t care for.

Every business out there is probably guilty of doing this, whether they are in the service industry or are a seller of goods. Take delivery costs as an example. Let’s say you have an ecommerce store and promise next day delivery. The trouble is, you will expect your customers to pay for it in some way, either through raising your prices or adding on an expensive delivery charge.

The former will often result to you being undercut by your rivals. And the latter could see your shopping cart abandonment rates rocket upwards because your customers balk at paying over the odds for delivery. So the big question is – do your customers really need next day delivery? Or would they prefer a lower price? Unless you can guarantee your customers are demanding it, why bother giving it to them?

Failure to have a strategy

Once you understand your customer’s needs, you can start planning your objectives. And once you have your objectives, you can devise your business strategy. Both of these factors will combine with each other to inform your supply chain strategy that meets your goals and still meets your customer’s needs. But how can you tell if your plan isn’t working?

The good news is there are a few critical signs that should make it obvious. First of all, if you have no idea what your supply chain strategy is, or have it written down, you are likely to be doing the whole thing wrong.

Another aspect is that you view your supply chain as a simple combination of your purchasing and manufacturing/production, when it is actually so much more, including logistics, marketing, sales, and research. If you are getting regular complaints from your customers about the cost of your products and services, or just hear murmurings of dissatisfaction, it’s another big sign things are going wrong.

Finally, if your supply chain isn’t connected to the rest of your business, and played out as a separate department from anything else, it will be hard to adapt, fix, or evolve your business in any way whatsoever.

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Long lead times

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of your supply chain – the relationship you have with your suppliers. This point is more relevant now than it ever has been, particularly if you are importing goods to sell in your country. For example, plenty of ecommerce businesses are importing goods from places such as China – Alibaba is a common resource – and then reselling them on Amazon.

On the face of things, this is a pretty good business model. You buy in cheap, sell on for twice the price or more, and take home a nice profit. But look a bit closer, and you will see that many supply chain issues involve long – and risky – lead times. You buy some stock, and sell out before you get a chance to order again.

But because it’s coming all the way from China, it could take anything up to 50 days to arrive – by which time you will have lost several customers, and desire for the product is waning. The trouble is, by the time you realize your problem, your orders are already on their way, and you cannot send them back.

Also, the further away you have to ship your goods, the more likely it is for something to go wrong. Piracy is a genuine concern, as are adverse weather conditions – and the end result is a business that doesn’t meet its customer’s primary needs. So, think carefully before going down the cheap labor route – it doesn’t always suit every business. The more local you can keep things, the more efficient your processes will be, if a little more expensive.

Failure to invest in new technology

Technology is there to make your life easier in business, so don’t overlook investing in new innovations for your supply chain. If a new piece of tech or software can help you save money without affecting your service levels, it’s worth it in the long-term.

You might find a piece of software which helps you drive down your customer returns, for example. Or, perhaps you might be eyeing up Amazon’s move into drone fulfillment that helps them improve their customer service by delivering products within a few hours.

In fact, some of the most exciting developments in the business world are occurring in the supply chain environment. It will almost never grab the headlines, but any company who uses transportation or suppliers should sit up and take notice. There is a lot of money to be saved, services to be improved, and better technology for your business needs.

Failure to outsource

A lot of companies – even those who specialize in pure logistics – are starting to cotton onto the fact that outsourcing particular activities can save a lot of time and money, and result in a leaner, more efficient business.

The trick here is to choose your partners wisely. Find third parties that can complement your business, and bring skills or efficiencies you don’t have to the table.

It could be outsourcing storage to a warehouse, for example, or using a particular delivery company to get your products out there. It might be handing over your invoicing to a specialist company that is more efficient and experienced in chasing payments than you are. The great thing about outsourcing is that both parties can benefit from a proactive partnership, and innovation and new ideas are never far from around the corner.

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No measurement of performance

Of course, you can’t expect to improve your supply chain if you cannot measure your current performance. You will need to have an end goal in mind – as highlighted in your objectives – but also achievable and trackable targets to meet in every area of your supply chain.

Use key performance indicators – or KPIs – to see where things are going right or wrong. And finally, ensure that tracking those KPIs and consistently tracking them becomes part of your company culture.

As we discussed in the introduction, it’s easy for supply chain management to quickly become unwieldy, messy, and a nightmare to deal with. But with robust KPIs in place that are meaningful and relevant to your company goals, you will be able to keep your performance smooth and enjoy a better return on every supply chain investment you make.

Inaccurate forecasting

Poor forecasting can cause an immeasurable amount of problems in your business, even if you are selling things on a small scale. We already mentioned the problems you might find when buying from countries or regions with long lead times, and it’s relevant in this case, too.

Robust stock control and reordering processes are absolute musts, or you could end up in a huge mess. For example, if your demand forecasting is too low, you will miss out on a lot of potential sales because you won’t have the right inventory. But if you estimate demand to be too great, you might be left with enormous levels of stock that never sells.

The trick to succeed in forecasting is to compare and track specific metrics, which should include historical data, availability of raw materials, product quality and delivery performance, for example. You should also ensure you are aware of market size and keep up to date with any changes – both will have an impact on your ability to control your inventory tightly.

As you can see, sound supply chain management can be a complicated beast, even for the smallest ecommerce businesses. But if you can put everything in place to test, track, and meet your overall business objectives, it will be the most important aspect of your ecommerce venture.

The tighter control you have over your supply chain, the lower you can charge your customers. And that results in a competitive advantage that will keep your company thriving for many years to come.