By using online product feeds and vendor drop ship, it can be especially helpful during times when inventory is scarce with high demand. With your website connected to your suppliers, you’ll be the first to know when those popular products are back in their warehouses. Set your website to automatically fetch product data and list them for sale, all while your competitors are still scratching their heads waiting for deliveries.
Learn the 5 Ways Retailers can Automate their Business by Integrating with their Distributors
There are so many daily tasks that retailers do manually, which can be streamlined by using an integrated and all-in-one POS system and eCommerce.
At Celerant, we have provided automated solutions to retailers for over 20 years, and we have integrated with over 50 distributors across multiple retail markets- all to help retailers do more with less.
In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 ways retailers can integrate with their suppliers to save time, automate processes, and sell more without even stocking the merchandise.
5 Ways Retailers Can Integrate with Suppliers:
- Catalog imports with the POS System
- Automated ordering based on min/max inventory levels
- On-the-fly receiving and product creation
- ‘Endless Aisles’ on eCommerce websites
- In-store Kiosks for non-stocked products
While many retailers take advantage of all of the above and with many of their suppliers, some retailers choose to start small and leverage only one or two of the above options. The more you automate and integrate with your suppliers- the more time you will save and the more efficient you can make your retail business.
Let’s jump right in and get to the good stuff.
ONE: Supplier Catalog Imports within your POS System
Entering product info in your POS system takes forever, whether you are starting new or updating the existing data.
Having someone manually import files, or worse, manually enter all of the data one by one, not only takes a long time but there is a big chance there will be errors in data entry.
But there’s a better way! You can use automated catalog imports within your POS system, to upload the product information from your suppliers in just a few clicks.
Here’s How Catalog Imports Work Within your POS System:
- Select your desired vendor
From within your POS systems’ back office software, choose from a list of all your suppliers.
- Choose the products you want to import
Browse the vendor catalog available within your software. A handy color code tells you what’s available, what’s new, and what needs updating. Just click the ones you want to add.
- Set your pricing rules
Before importing any of the products, choose how you want to set prices. You can add a percentage or a fixed amount on top of your cost price.
Imagine the number of hours your team used to spend manually entering the product details – gone! This simple catalog import saves time now, and even more later when prices change or new items are added to the catalog.
Updating your entire product catalog now only takes a few clicks, all right there in your POS system.
TWO: Automated Ordering Based on Min/Max Inventory Levels
Now that you have all of your products imported into your POS system’s database, it becomes easy to order your merchandise for store replenishment.
Currently, you might be doing this one of several ways. You might be emailing your vendors, making phone calls to place your orders, visiting supplier’s websites, or perhaps a combination of all of these approaches.
Now imagine you can create your purchase orders more easily within your POS system’s back office software, and send those orders electronically with a few simple clicks within your software.
That in itself saves a ton of time- but now let’s take that even further.
What if your POS system can automatically generate your purchase orders to send to your suppliers, exactly when the system knows you need to replenish inventory?
That is what automated ordering looks like.
How Automated Ordering Works within your POS System:
- Prepare your Product Database
Tell your POS system how much of each product you want to have (set a minimum and maximum limit). Usually, it’s your bestsellers first.
- Let your POS System Generate POs Automatically
As your stock drops below the minimum threshold, your POS automatically generates a PO for your supplier to bring it back up to the maximum threshold. No more manual ordering.
- Send POs Directly to Suppliers
No more manual emailing and phone calls. Your POS schedules and sends purchase orders directly to your chosen suppliers based on your pre-set vendor priority preferences.
- Split Orders as Needed
If your preferred supplier can’t fulfill your order, the POS system automatically splits it and sends the remaining items to your next-choice supplier. No more scrambling to find alternative sources.
- Prepare your Product Database
Think of all of the phone calls and back and forth with your suppliers that can be eliminated by automating this process. Also, think of how much time you will save by not having to keep track of all of your products and ensuring your products are reordered just in time, preventing out-of-stock and over-stocks.
THREE: On-the-fly Receiving and Product Creation
Ever get a surprise delivery of something not in your POS system yet? With on-the-fly receiving, you can easily create new product records while you unpack the boxes, all in a matter of a few clicks.
Here’s How to Receive and Create New Product Records On-the-fly:
- Receiving Items
As you are going through your shipment, simply scan your new items as you unpack. They will be added to your retail system instantly.
- Find Product Record
Can’t find a product in your database? No problem. Simply open your vendor catalog within the retail system, scan the item and choose it from the list.
- Import Product Data
Before importing the product, tell your POS system how much you will sell it for, and hit ‘import.’ That’s it. All the product details from your vendor gets added to your database.
From there, print your tags or labels and get your new products on your sales floor in a fraction of the time.
FOUR: ‘Endless Aisles’ on eCommerce Websites
You might not be familiar with the term ‘endless aisle’ but it sounds pretty amazing even so.
The concept is simple- sell way more products online, even if you don’t have it in your store.
By leaning on your suppliers and their massive warehouses and millions of dollars worth of inventory, you can get access to sell anything they have in-stock and make it available on your website by having them drop ship it to your customers, on your behalf!
How to Offer an Endless Aisle of Products on your Website:
- Tap into your Suppliers Massive Onhand Inventory
Instead of stocking everything that could ever fit in your store, you offer items from your vendors’ warehouses.
- Display Vendor Products on your Website
Choose which products you want to sell on your site from your vendor, and quickly and easily display all of their valuable data on your website – product images, descriptions and even how much they have in stock.
- Automatically Set Pricing Rules
Easily set your automated pricing rules, just as we did earlier, by telling your system either a percentage or dollar amount over your cost.
- Facilitate Vendor Drop Ship
When someone buys something you don’t have in your store, your website sends the order directly to your vendor. They pack it up and ship it straight to your customer, all under your brand name.
Watch this short video to learn how you can offer many more products on your website, without stocking the merchandise.
Imagine how many more products you can make available to your customers when you can access your vendors’ products in this way.
An important note on this concept- Not all distributors offer drop shipping, and some may even have different rules or restrictions. So make sure to chat with your POS and eCommerce providers, and talk to your vendors to see what they can do.
FIVE: In-store Kiosks for Non-stocked Products
As if we didn’t already go over a lot of awesome ways in which you can save time and sell more, we have one more really good one to discuss.
What if you could sell anything a customer wants, even if you don’t have it available in your store? That’s where in-store kiosks come in. These kiosks are powered by the same online product feed that fuels your website.
Here’s How You Can Sell More In-Store with Vendor Kiosks:
- Pull Online Product Feeds In-Store
Using an iPad, or even an old workstation, you can pull up the same online product feed that powers your website, but on your in-store kiosk.
- Search for Products
When a customer comes into your store, looking for a product that you either don’t carry, or you might be out-of-stock, simply search for the product. You can search by product, by SKU, by department, and more.
- Show Detailed Product Data
Quickly pull up the product and all of its associated data including images to confirm it’s the correct product.
- Make the Sale, Right Then and There
If your customer wants a certain product, you can order it directly from your supplier to be shipped to their door. No more losing sales because you’re out of stock or don’t carry something.
Think about how many more sales you can capture in your store when using this approach. The key here is to get that sale, in that moment, while your customer is standing in front of you.
Many times, a retailer who is already using online product feeds with drop shipping on their website might say- “Oh, I don’t carry that in store, but you can check out my website and buy it on there.”
But what happens next? The customer leaves the store, and then either goes to your competitor or just gets sidetracked and forgets to complete the purchase on your site. But now, you can pull out your in-store kiosk, right there on the sales floor and grab that sale before they even leave your store.
One more important note- as we discussed already- not all distributors drop ship. In those cases, you can still get tremendous value from the in-store kiosks. For that scenario, you simply have your vendor ship it to your store, and you call your customer to come and pick it up once you have it. And who knows- you might snag a few more sales when they come back into your store to pick it up.
Next Steps to Saving Time and Selling More
If you made it this far, you have hopefully learned a lot about how you can automate your retail business and lean more on your suppliers to help you run your small business more efficiently.
Hopefully, this all sounds pretty exciting, but there are some important things to keep in mind.
- POS System and eCommerce Providers Vary
It’s important to check with your POS and eCommerce provider to ensure that they are capable of handling these types of distributor integrations. We at Celerant, integrate in all of these ways directly with many vendor partners.
- Supplier Capabilities Differ by Vendor
It’s also important to check with your suppliers to see what they are capable of. Not all suppliers offer these types of integration services, and some offer parts of these integrations, but at different levels.
- Retail Vertical Availability Might Vary
Depending on the retail market you are in, these types of integrations might be available or not. This is all newer technology, and while some markets are taking advantage of this level of automation, others are not yet. It’s important to discuss this with your partners to determine what’s possible for your business now and in the future.
Ready to get started with Celerant and see which distributors are available within our POS system and eCommerce platforms, check out the link below.
If you don’t see your vendors on our list, it just means that we haven’t been connected yet. We’re always open to new partnerships to expand supply chain automation.