We are down to the wire for achieving 2019 goals… how did you do? Did you hit your numbers? Did you achieve the things you wanted? While some goals are very tangible and measurable (hitting sales goals, achieving your desired ACOS, etc.), there are plenty of goals and achievements that you won’t find on a spreadsheet. Let’s talk about some of those metrics you might want to look at as you’re wrapping up the year?
As product sellers, sales are the number one metric used to measure success. If you met or surpassed sales goals, that’s reason enough to pop open the bubbly! Congrats! If you didn’t, take some time to reflect on where you fell short. Was there a certain quarter that was lacking, and caused a deficit the rest of the year? If so, how can you make that quarter more robust the coming year?
Our clients who see the best results selling online (Amazon or elsewhere) are definitely striving to not only sell products, but they are looking to improve the lives of their customers with those products. They are genuinely concerned with who is buying their product, what they want from the brand, and meeting those needs. Take some time to reflect on how your customers interacted with you this year. Did you boost your social media numbers and offer free content that was valuable to your community? Think about how you can, in the coming year, provide more value to your customers, and really encourage your customers to become fans instead of seeing your product as a simple transaction. Afterall, engaged customers will be the ones that become repeat buyers and your first purchasers as you launch new products!
This is such a critical part of the success of any business, online or elsewhere and I want you to think about how you improved the customer service experience this year. Did you respond to questions being asked or address critical reviews? How quickly and efficiently did you resolve issues for unhappy customers? Even if you really excelled in this area, there’s always room for improvement. Think about how you’d like to be treated if you were the customer and make changes accordingly.
At TurnKey, we are all about helping new sellers get started on Amazon the right way and showing established sellers how to make improvements to their listing, systems, and management, and to set new goals for crushing it in 2020. We’d love to help you if you’re feeling stuck, so head over here to find out EXACTLY how we can help.
This post was written by our friends at Inventory Planner 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.
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.
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.
Let’s be honest. Hiring can be one of the hardest things to do in your business. It can be difficult to let go of certain tasks or responsibilities, because are worried that you’ll never find someone who will be able to do them like you. Am I right?
The fact is, when you take the time to hire the right person and properly train them to execute tasks according to your systems and standards, you’ll find that hiring is the best thing that ever happened to you. So let’s talk about hiring for your customer service team. Here are three tools you should focus on building prior to hiring your first team member:
A Tone Guide
Whoever is doing your customer service is a representative of your company. That’s why it’s important that they learn to speak like the company “speaks”. We recommend creating a tone guide so that they know the way in which you want communication from your company to feel. Is your brand formal or more laid back? Would you close and email with “Love, Jenny” or would that be totally strange coming from your gym equipment brand? Listing out words and phrases that reflect your brand will help your customer service team members communicate in a way that is aligned with your brand while still feeling spontaneous.
We love using Loom videos to train our employees. Making a video of yourself performing the task you are wanting to delegate is a great way to ensure your team gets the job done exactly the way you would do it. Walk them step by step through every part of the process, and be sure to narrate as you go along so they have a reference that is both visual and auditory.
In any business, employees are going to run into questions or scenarios that are unexpected. That’s why it’s important to establish a process that your customer service employee can use if they don’t know how to handle a particular situation. In addition to having someone above them that can answer their question directly, you should also create a document where these responses are recorded in case the same issue comes up again. Don’t just consider these scenarios one-time occurrences. Make sure the information is easy to document and disseminate across the whole team for future reference.
Customer service is one of the first positions we recommend hiring for in order to free up your time from more pressing tasks! With the right team members ensuring your customers are happy, just imagine what other goals you’ll be focus on and accomplish! If you have any other questions about building your team and growing your business, we’d love to share more with you. Head over to www.turnkeyproductmanagement.com/apply/.
Whether you are shopping in a store or purchasing something online, we have all had experiences where we feel one of two things:
What a professional company! I feel like a part of their community and I trust that they have my best interest in mind as they are creating product, fulfilling my order, and making sure I’m satisfied. Or…
We’ll see how this product actually works. It may be a piece of junk. I probably won’t be able to return it if it arrives broken. Who do I contact to make my problem right?
Ya feel me? Customer service is a huge part of what makes a company successful. Especially at this time of year when you are enjoying the benefits of the holiday shopping season, don’t miss out on this critical opportunity to delight your customers and express your gratitude to them. For our full list of ways to show gratitude to your customers, check out Playbook for Amazon Podcast Episode 25, but for now, let me tell you WHY showing gratitude is important when you are selling online.
When you are showing gratitude to your customers, they become your raving fans. Not only are they more likely to buy from you again, but they are more likely to recommend your products to others.
Peace of mind
When customers feel that you are genuinely grateful for their purchase, they feel connected to you which develops trust. This helps them believe that if anything is wrong with the purchase, you’ve got their back.
Humanizing your brand
While there are definitely sellers who are just trying to get rich quick, there are other sellers that are invested in making their customers’ lives better. They want to develop quality products that solve problems. We live in a time where “shopping small” is all the rage. If you can offer personal connection to your customer, you’ll be able to endear you brand to them. Customers will feel like their purchase isn’t just another box being shipped out.
If you haven’t been through your own sales process in a while, we highly recommend going through it as if you were a new customer. How does it feel? Are there any glitches? Would you be WOW’d by the experience? If not, now’s the time to make some tweaks. If your customer experience feels sterile and lacks connection, make sure you begin expressing gratitude to your customers. And if you aren’t sure where to start, we love helping companies audit their listings and sales processes, so check out our listing audit for more information.
This post was written by our friends at Nine Supply for the TurnKey Success Blog
Every social media strategy should be as unique as the brand it represents. Approaches will vary based on what you’re selling, who you’re selling it to, where you’re selling it, and of course, how much of a marketing budget you’re working with. A little planning can go a long way toward making your social accounts a valuable asset for your brand. Not sure where to start?
Here’s our 9 steps to a confident social media strategy:
Decide on KPIs
It might seem counterintuitive, but a larger follower base and higher engagement (things like likes and comments) don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. It’s common for engagement rates to drop off as you rapidly gain followers, both due to algorithms and to the fact that social media platforms want to get you to pay to boost your posts. This is why it’s important to decide what your priority is on each social media platform. Do you value higher engagement versus just wanting to have a ton of followers? Or does your volume of followers speak louder to the companies you are pitching too? Maybe you’re an online magazine, and the daily goal is clicks back to your articles. Find out which key metrics are of the most value to your business, and let those determine your strategy and spend.
Settle on a Budget
Simply put, your budget will determine who you can work with and how much money you can put behind boosting posts. If you already have a full marketing team (i.e. with a marketing director, photographer, designer, copywriter, etc.) and if they’re active on social media and good at staying on top of trends, you might find it best to run your social account in-house. If you only have one or two marketing people on your team (or if you’re running it yourself!), consider hiring an outside team to manage this piece of the pie. In that case, they should do the next 6 things for you, with as much or as little input as you want to give. Just make sure you shop around and choose an agency with a good social media aesthetic (their Instagram page should wow you) and a portfolio of brands that have goals similar to yours.
At Nine Supply Social, we always talk about consistency. But, it’s important to play around a little, too, so you can make sure you’re confident in the practices you adopt. The things that perform best for one brand aren’t always a slam dunk for another. Choose a few things to keep consistent while you play around with variables like imagery, tone, scheduling, and hashtags. When you find a good formula, keep refining it until you’ve built a polished look and feel for your brand. Rebrands will happen, and algorithms change, but it’s important to lay a foundation that your customers come to trust, and this testing early on can help you figure out your secret sauce.
Find Your Audience
Do a quick inventory of the followers your brand already has. Who is following you? Is this your target audience, and if not, you need to either rethink your social strategy, or who your target customer is? Figure out if there’s a particular region where these people live, where they work, where they spend their money. When you have a solid audience nailed down, this will help determine the look and feel you want your social media posts to have.
Establish a Voice
For instance, if the audience you’ve decided to target is young moms, develop a persona based around this psychographic. Make sure that their values and your company values line up, and that you’re communicating this in a tone that they’ll want to engage with. Besides captions, you can showcase your brand personality in your actual posts with motivational quote graphics, funny memes, statistics, or other types of short, easily digestible written content.
Choose an Aesthetic
What’s going to stop the scroll? If you’re a CPG brand or product, you’ll want to take into account the type of packaging that you have, and the colors and branding you’re already working with, so that you can maintain a cohesive look. Look into current design trends and find a color palette that both complements your packaging and can act as a bridge into the trendy world that is social media.
Establish Some Content Pillars
When someone scrolls through your posts, they should see a variety of content, such as lifestyle and studio shots. It’s good to keep things dynamic — for instance, many brands will choose to alternate these two types of shots so that the way the posts line up (by threes), there are never two of the same kind next to each other or on top of each other.
Get Into a Rhythm
Some brands post at the same time every day, while others might post three times a week, supplementing with daily stories. Play around and see what works for your brand. If you notice that you get great engagement on your posts but actually tend to lose followers every time you post, maybe you’re overwhelming your audience by posting too often. At the same time, algorithms often reward freshness and frequency. Try working up toward a more frequent cadence as you accumulate imagery, UGC (user-generated content), and followers along the way.
Tap Into the Talent Pool
Influencers are a great way to get introduced to new audiences and collect UGC that you can repurpose on your own page. Your budget will determine the volume and star-power of the influencer you are able to work with, but even if your budget is $0, you can still find quality partners with whom to collab. Reach out to micro-influencers who seem to resonate well with your intended audience, and offer them free product. Many will do stories for free even if they won’t do a dedicated post. Ultimately what you’re looking for is results, right? Once you find the influencers that give you great results and are easy to work with, nurture those relationships and collaborate with them long-term! The partnership will seem more and more authentic as time goes by and their audience will become very familiar with your brand.
We hope these nine steps will help you build a successful social media strategy even if you’re a newbie to the scene. And if you need help along the way, head to Nine Supply’s social and website for more in-depth blogs and quick social hacks!