This post was written by our friends at FreeeUp for the TurnKey Playbook for Amazon Blog

While demand planning can be intimidating, it is the backbone of any eCommerce site. Inventory forecasting will help you increase profits, plan your sales goals, and show you when you need to order merchandise.

Outsource eCommerce Operations

Turning to freelancers and boutique agencies to outsource eCommerce operations is not a new concept. It’s been around for a while and it persists to this day because it is one of the most cost-efficient ways to manage certain business processes.

This is particularly true for eCommerce businesses. In 2020, eCommerce businesses can reap a variety of benefits from outsourcing.

For starters, outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies. Let’s face it, there’s a lot that goes into running an eCommerce store and we don’t always have the skills or the resources to do it. Outsourcing also helps you increase productivity since you don’t have to spend time learning tricky details of eCommerce that are outside of your core competencies. 

When you outsource eCommerce operations, you also reduce overhead costs and manage your company’s resources better. Furthermore, you can hire freelancers depending on your current needs so you can save on basic salary, taxes, and benefits.

Over the years, the role of freelancers has evolved particularly in the eCommerce arena. Today, we’re listing down five ways to outsource eCommerce operations in 2020. Let’s get started!

Trend #1: Social Commerce

Now more than ever, eCommerce customers are spending the majority of their time on social media platforms. In 2020, social commerce continues to become an integral part of the eCommerce sphere. It not only supports brand awareness building through social interaction but it also assists customers in their purchasing journey.

Outsourcing Solution

In a nutshell, freelancers can help create a pleasant social eCommerce experience that will encourage users to complete their purchase.

A freelancer can help you capitalize on social commerce and bring in more profit. They can make your brand more relatable and authentic by using visuals that resonate with your customers’ social feeds.

A social commerce expert can also help you monitor your fans’ purchase intent and help you make a move when the enthusiasm for a product is at its peak.

Trend #2: AR and VR Experience

Outsource eCommerce Operations

Augmented reality or AR lets customers envision your product in their own spaces. This experience helps build their buying confidence and engages your customers better. This year, more customers are being introduced to this concept, and soon, this will be a crucial part of marketing products and services.

Implementing an AR and VR experience in your online store motivates shoppers by offering them more product guidance. It also provides users with a more customized shopping experience right in the comfort of their own homes.

Moreover, it’s an excellent way for retailers like you to provide incredible value to confused or undecided shoppers. 

Outsourcing Solution

While AR and VR are no longer considered an emerging technology, it isn’t always part of every eCommerce business owner’s core competencies. But the good news is you can always outsource this service to enrich your customers’ shopping experience.

Freelance AR developers can help differentiate your brand from your competitors. If you have a mobile app store, they can incorporate AR capabilities. Alternatively, if you have a Shopify store, you can seek the help of an AR developer to get your 3D products into your store using Shopify AR.

Trend #4: Influencer Marketing

In 2020, consumers are shifting further away from traditional advertising and are relying more on recommendations and reviews for their purchase decisions. In fact, 68 percent of people said trustworthy reviews were the strongest influencing factor on where they decided to shop online. Moreover, product reviews turned out to be the most popular type of user-generated content submitted by online shoppers.

Influencer marketing or social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from people who have expert knowledge or social influence in their field takes center stage this year. 

Outsourcing Solution

If you’re new to the influencer marketing game, outsourcing this service is a better option than trying to do it in-house. 

A freelancer who specializes in influencer marketing can help you in a number of ways including:

  • Developing and executing influencer marketing strategies and creative campaigns
  • Identifying and building relationships with prominent influencers and thought leaders in your industry
  • Developing content ideas, writing, and curating content for your social media platforms
  • Researching relevant industry experts, competitors, target audience, and users
  • Brainstorming creative approaches to influencer campaigns
  • Staying up to date with emerging trends, technologies, and influencers

Trend #4: Customers Have More Expectations with Order Fulfillment

Outsource eCommerce Operations

This year, customers have more demands when it comes to order fulfillment. Customers are expecting pricing transparency and are becoming more wary of unexpected prices and fees. People are also expecting financing options, particularly for big purchases. Moreover, free shipping and multiple shipping options are major customer demands these days.

Your customers also expect to be able to track their orders on your store and to have real-time visibility into the status of their orders. Furthermore, consumers tend to expect a standard delivery period of 3 days. If it takes more than a week, then they are likely to abandon their carts. 

Outsourcing Solution

Hiring a freelancer order fulfillment manager can help you stay on top of your customers’ demands this year. They can manage all of your orders across multiple sales channels to increase sales and customer satisfaction.

They can help process orders as they are submitted to your store. They will regularly check on new orders throughout the day so they are processed and shipped out to customers as quickly as possible.

A fulfillment specialist can also be responsible for adding tracking numbers to orders and letting customers know when to expect their package. Finally, they can deal with issues on orders that your customers may come across.

Of course, you can also automate some of these processes. You can always hire a freelance developer who can incorporate features into your online store that will satisfy the needs of your customers.  

Trend #5: The Power of SMS

Outsource eCommerce Operations

When you decide to outsource eCommerce operations, you should also consider the role of SMS in your customers’ daily lives.

While text messaging isn’t a new concept, not many brands are taking advantage of this medium to communicate with their customers. Did you know that text messages have an open rate of 98 percent, compared to 20 percent for emails?

SMS can be used in a variety of ways including informing users of in-store or online promotions, advertising opening hours, announcing new stock, and requesting customer feedback.

What’s more, SMS is an excellent addition to your customer service strategy. It allows for multi-channel contact points that people can use if they need after-sales support.

Outsourcing Solution

An SMS marketing specialist can help you reach more customers who are glued to their smartphones for most of the day. Some of the tasks they can do for you include:

  • Choosing the right keyword that’s relevant to your business and will resonate with your customers
  • Writing automated text message responses and scheduling them to send to subscribers once they join your list. 
  • Creating valuable messages to convince visitors to opt-in.
  • Growing your list by sharing fantastic offers that customers can’t say no to.
  • Posting promotions on social media and inserting sign-up widgets and banners on your website
  • Developing deals and sending them out to customers regularly to reward subscribers for their loyalty

Start Outsourcing with FreeeUp Today

If you’re looking for the right freelancers that can help you achieve your scalability goals, then look no further than FreeeUp. As a freelancer marketplace, it caters to thousands of businesses all over the world looking to save time and money in the hiring process. Sign up today and create an account to outsource eCommerce operations for your business today!

While demand planning can be intimidating, it is the backbone of any eCommerce site. Inventory forecasting will help you increase profits, plan your sales goals, and show you when you need to order merchandise.

What Is Demand Planning? 

Demand planning utilizes inventory forecasting to improve planning accuracy and align inventory levels with the demand cycle. In short, inventory levels are coordinated with customer demand. You want to have enough inventory to meet demand but avoid overstock. Solid demand planning lowers costs and leads to increased sales margins and profitability.

What Can Inventory Forecasting Do for Your Company?

Inventory forecasting is essential to profitable operations and increased customer satisfaction. Without accurate forecasting, maintaining a lean and nimble inventory can be challenging. Here is how your business can benefit from inventory forecasting:

Reduced Inventory Costs

Accurate inventory forecasting means lean and responsive inventory. In that way, businesses only purchase and store what will sell. Forecasting enables merchants to keep track of sales and anticipated demand.

When you have the right inventory amounts, you don’t need to order more than what will sell, and customers can enjoy accurate and timely delivery of their products.

Plan Your Goals

Know what your goals are for your inventory and ensure that they are realistic. There are many variables in your stock, and you must consider these when goal-setting. If you don’t have some reasonable idea of what will be needed, you run the risk of tying up your capital unnecessarily. Leading you to spend money that will not earn you an immediate return in the form of unsold inventory.

Determine Profitability

Inventory forecasting also makes it easier for you to project anticipated margins. You can determine how much will sell, what revenue you anticipate to receive, and how much profit you will eventually make.

Proper forecasts mean critical business decisions can be made with greater accuracy. For example, decisions regarding business expansion, cutting costs, or requesting outside funding can be made based on projected inventory and sales.

Insight About Your Current Stock

Forecasting provides a framework for obtaining detailed information. If you manage multiple warehouses, you can track the demand and availability of a particular product to determine the quantity you need. Forecasting allows you to plan for the pricing and movement of specific products in advance. For example, a product that sells well on the West Coast might not sell as well on the East Coast. Demand forecasting allows you to optimize your stock so that the right products are always in the right place.

Forecasting gives you visibility into your current inventory so you can make better informed and more strategic decisions. In seeing demand trends by category or product option, you’ll have more information to decide which new products to add to your catalog. For example, if red dresses show increased sales month over month for the last year, you can forecast that demand will continue to grow.

Order What You Need, When You Need It

Want to determine which products will be available and in what quantities? This is another reason to use demand planning. This ensures that you order items only when they’re needed, thereby saving on inventory costs and improving cash flow. More efficient ordering enables you to order the right items at the right time for customers. This leads to effective cost management and continuous growth.

How Does Inventory Forecasting Work? 

To determine what inventory you should have, begin with a forecast of future sales. Sales for the coming 30, 60 or 90 days are based on past sales velocity and seasonality of the products.

Consider the following for an accurate sales forecast:

  • Sales velocity is the rate of sales, minus stockouts (days out of stock). Use sales velocity rather than average sales over the past 30 days because you want to know the rate of sales when inventory is available for sale. If you don’t omit days when inventory was out of stock, then you could underestimate future sales.
  • Seasonality will inform you if the emphasis for past sales should be on the most recent months or should be on trends from 12 months prior.
  • Sales trends show you if demand is holding steady or increasing in recent months.

While many factors come into demand planning, you simply cannot afford to ignore it. Inventory forecasting lets you to have the fingers on the pulse of your business. Your inventory will be adequate and nimble, making for greater profit margins and more money for you to invest in your business.

About Inventory Planner
Inventory Planner launched in 2012 to help eCommerce merchants save time and money when purchasing inventory to better meet customer demand. Inventory Planner supports merchants as they grow to see information from all of their sales channels. Merchants use Inventory Planner’s replenishment recommendations and assist with inventory planning, forecasting, reporting, and purchase order creation. Learn more about how Inventory Planner helps Amazon sellers to forecast demand and improve profits.