Competing online is a new game for many independent retailers. As competition from big-box stores continuously increases, it is essential for owners of independent brick-and-mortar stores to consider growing their businesses with expansion into the world of eCommerce. Many know they need to define a consistent strategy to sell online, but retailers need effective tools for that strategy to be successful. With technology, retailers are able to connect with consumers in powerful new ways.
Whether your business has already established an Internet presence, or you’re preparing to take a business online, eCommerce can mean much more than an additional “purchasing location” for consumers. It’s also about maintaining relevancy in today’s fast-paced market. The new version of Epicor iNet™ eBusiness Suite*, an integrated eCommerce and eBusiness technology solution, offers an additional storefront to consumers and is a valuable tool for everything from product research and purchase, to directions to your store. By providing convenient self-service information, consumers and commercial customers can find that the new Epicor iNet software makes it easier for them to do business with retailers.
New doors for both the retailer and their customers are opened with eCommerce. By selecting the correct solution for a business, retailers can magnify their footprint and capitalize on increasing valuable customer relationships not just locally, but nationally and globally. In addition to better connecting to your consumers, eCommerce is another way to grow a revenue stream outside the traditional retail space, as well as help keep costs down by letting customers serve themselves.
Kinnucan’s Specialty Outfitter, founded in 1987, operates the company’s online store with Epicor iNet software. “If you're in the retail business you will eventually have to be an eCommerce business if you want to compete effectively and have any future,” said Bobby Lake, president of Kinnucan’s Specialty Outfitter. “We spent a lot of time and energy making sure that our brick-and-mortar business was successfully and efficiently operated. Since we had all those pieces in place, it was our time to move into eCommerce to expand our business further. Epicor iNet is the technology behind our eCommerce strategy. The benefit for us is that we’re now able to take our business across county, city, and state lines – geography is no longer an issue.”
The newest version of Epicor iNet software is packed with powerful and timesaving new features, including:
- Emailed reminders to shoppers who abandoned online carts – notifications for them to return and complete their purchase with ease
- Comprehensive support for multiple payment processors on a single eCommerce site – you can now accept more forms of payment
- Allow ACH “eChecks” from Authorized .Net – reduce transaction fees when paying on an account
- Support for Promotion Codes – attract new customers and run free shipping or free gift promotions online
- Item-level Shipping Rules – assign the right rates for bulky and overweight items
- More shopping convenience for your customers – enhanced search capabilities, multiple shipping addresses and more.
How do you get started with eCommerce? Every good strategy begins with an evaluation period. Take a complete look at your organization before you even consider the technology. Are you ready to run eCommerce as an incorporated division? Evaluate you're people and understand whether or not you have the right operational model and framework to support online selling, and if you can meet and support the needs of your customers.
As an independent retailer you're competing with a sea of options. When a consumer wants something, regardless of locality, retailers must respond with an easy and seamless purchase process. What’s great about modern retail technology is that it provides that process and more. The tactics and tools are available for retailers to succeed, so long as retailers are motivated to educate themselves and embrace the technology.
To learn more about Epicor Eagle and the Epicor iNet eBusiness Suite, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Mike Duncan, Senior Product Manager, Epicor Retail Distribution
*Epicor iNet eBusiness Suite is an available purchase option for users of the Epicor® Eagle® business management system.
There was no shortage of networking opportunities during the 2014 LBM and Wood Products User Conference
, held November 4-5, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Attendees were able to connect with Epicor staff, as well as new and seasoned users across Epicor lumber and building materials (LBM) and wood product solutions.
“There are many reasons we come to the Epicor LBM and Wood Products User Conference, but one of the primary reasons is for the one-on-one time with a large group of Epicor representatives,” said Jon Le Roi, director of IT at Mendocino Forest Products
. “I get the opportunity to talk with the head of the Epicor LumberTrack development team -- that’s not something I get to do every day. We have a great relationship with Epicor and this is another way to foster that relationship. It’s putting faces to the names of those we work closely with via email and phone conversations. The conference also offers a great combination of where Epicor is as a company, where it’s going with products, as well as new tools and trends in the industry that we can take back to our business.”
Another key driver for user attendance is the unique ability to network with similar businesses operating on the same solutions. “This is our second year attending the Epicor LBM and Wood Products User Conference,” said Chris Routhe, business process manager at Millard Lumber Inc
. “We’ve been very happy with Epicor and really feel as if we are a part of the Epicor team. For us, the conference is all about talking to likeminded people from our industry and sharing stories of best practices for better business operation. We run ideas by everyone from other users, to the Epicor representatives present. We’re able to provide our insights to what tools and software enhancements will continue to help our business grow. And Epicor listens and acts on our ideas. We will definitely attend the conference again.”
The Responsibility of Leadership with Rick Davis
The closing keynote by industry expert Rick Davis, president of Building Leaders Inc., encompassed how LBM dealers can take advantage of IT techniques and sales tools that lead to success. Davis provided attendees with three ‘power ideas’ to produce an efficient and beneficial business model:
- Annual goals create excuses – while an annual goal is a great starting point, it’s not a complete strategy. A great alternative is to create monthly performance objectives that lead to predictable future results.
- It’s about who knows you – in business, consumers buy from those they know. Establish a plan that markets your reputation and strengthens relationships.
- Create perceptions of abundance – an enlightened leader creates optimism by factually demonstrating that abundance exists. Developing sales and marketing strategies with abundance in mind will lead to success and competitive advantage.
See You in the “Alamo City!”
Mark your calendar for the 2015 Epicor LBM and Wood Products User Conference—November 10-11, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas.
Users will be able to attend dedicated education tracks focused on specific products and solutions, and opportunities to network with other users and Epicor representatives. Gain valuable insight on how to utilize your Epicor solution to inspire your business, your employees, and your bottom line. We hope you’ll join us—and your peers—in San Antonio!
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
Last week, Epicor retail distribution solutions Executive Vice President and General Manager Craig McCollum welcomed over 450 Epicor users to the 2014 Epicor LBM and Wood Products User Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference brought together users of Epicor lumber, building materials, and wood products solutions -- Epicor BisTrack, Epicor LumberTrack, Epicor Catalyst, Epicor Falcon, and Epicor ECS Pro. Attendees also had the opportunity to learn about new Epicor technologies, network with other users and meet the Epicor team.
The Generational Transformation in Your Business
The opening keynote by Craig McCollum focused on how to embrace the generational shift currently occurring as Traditionalist and Baby Boomers transfer leadership to Generation X and the Millennials. “The Technology Revolution has shaped the work ethic and leadership styles of Generation X and the Millennials,” said McCollum. “I want to encourage businesses to embrace this change and create a work environment where the different generations can communicate freely and learn from each other.”
Additionally, McCollum provided a few words of advice for businesses in the midst of generational shifts:
- Embrace change. It’s inevitable and you can’t fight it. The market is changing quickly and you need to be able to change along with it. Are your business intelligence and analytics tools conducive to providing you with the accurate and real-time information you need to respond to market changes?
- Break down the walls between the different generational groups in your company. Cross-train every employee and try to have a good mix of younger and older employees working together and learning from one another. This will keep your older employees young at heart, and provide reassuring experience to the younger staff.
- Challenge employees. Use technology to automate as many processes and transactions as possible. This will free up employees from menial tasks and allow them to focus on more challenging and rewarding responsibilities.
- Values-based buying is going to become more prevalent as younger employees take over the purchasing process. Have a plan in place to obtain and market your green products and practices.
- Increase communication. Leverage today’s mobile technologies and products to improve communications across your organization and with your customers.
Built on over 30 years of lumber industry expertise, Epicor provides software solutions to more than 2,000 lumber and building material businesses throughout North America. Learn more about these solutions at www.epicor.com/lbm.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
National trade publication Home Channel News has named 50 independent retail businesses from the United States in the fourth annual Hardware Store ALL-STARS list. Strong-performing and innovative retailers are recognized in this awards program for excellence in their industries. Of those listed, 33 of the 50 operate their businesses on Epicor solutions. The retailers are known for their great leaders, exciting innovations, and an unconventional approach to retailing.
Collecting nominees from a combination of store visits, news searches, and entries from trusted industry sources, the publication’s editorial selection committee assembled an ALL-STAR lineup of elite retailers. According Home Channel News, the retailers have demonstrated “service, service and more service. They also show growth, innovation and values of the hardware industry.”
We are excited to congratulate the retailers named that operate their businesses with Epicor solutions. Here is a sampling of the Epicor users in the Hardware Store ALL-STARS list:
Bay Hardware, California
Shell Lumber & Hardware, Florida
HPM Building Supply, Hawaii
Steve’s Ace Home & Garden, Iowa
Strasser Hardware, Kansas
Vidrine’s Ace Hardware, Louisiana
Courtland Hardware, Maryland
Rylee’s Ace Hardware, Michigan
Colmar Home Center, New Jersey
H.G. Page and Sons Home and Hardware, New York
Nutter Hardware, Ohio
Gordon White Lumber, Oklahoma
Madrona Hills Ace Hardware, Oregon
Paradise Home Center, South Carolina
Anderson Lumber Company, Tennessee
Cox Hardware & Lumber, Texas
Scholze Ace Home Center, Wisconsin
True Value of Rawlins, Wyoming
See retailer photos here.
To view the full list of 2014 HCN Hardware Store ALL-STARS winners, click here.
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
At the recent Ace Hardware Fall Convention & Exhibits, I had the opportunity to participate in a panel presentation with Wade Doss, owner of Bates Ace Hardware, and Bob Krieger, owner of Katz Ace Hardware. The retail business owners provided insights and firsthand experiences with the new Epicor solution for independent retailers, Epicor Eagle N Series. Here are a few highlights from that presentation.
Q: With a commitment to stay on the cutting edge of technology, what was the process like for your business to implement Epicor Eagle N Series?
Doss: Implementation was pretty pain free. The new modern interface of Eagle N Series has a clean look and feel. The solution streamlines procedures so that the daily tasks in our business are easier and quicker to execute. Eagle N Series eliminates steps and we’ve seen an immediate savings in time and money. The new software makes business processes seamless.
Q: Considering all the tools retailers can use to compete and grow successfully in today’s market, how can retailers position themselves for the future?
Krieger: One thing that cannot be overlooked is every retailer’s mission to outservice big box competition. Customers today have many choices, so how can you give your customers an unforgettable experience? By outservicing your competition those customers will keep choosing you. Eagle N Series helps position our business to respond quickly and cost-effectively as the retail market evolves. The software is intuitive; it’s where I need it, when I need it.
Q: Getting employees up and running on new technology can be a challenge. What has been your experience with introducing the new solution to your staff?
Krieger: You’ll find consistency throughout the entire Eagle N Series solution, which is crucial for learning and training employees. The solution is very user friendly. For example, my 10-year-old son learned how to use Eagle N Series in 45 minutes. This means that I can now train new employees faster, which in return saves time and money for our business.
Q: In the ‘age of the customer,’ customers are demanding immediate answers to questions. What is your business doing to combat this challenge?
Doss: One way to improve operations is to have access to vital information. Business analytics should be readily available at your fingertips. With Eagle N Series we are quickly and efficiently able to access information on customer buying habits, popular products on our shelves, inventory levels, and more. This information especially helps us when management is on the sales floor and needs to make a decision quickly. We now have all the information we need at the touch of a button. Retailers greatly benefit from tools that keep up with customers.
For a detailed look at the Bates Ace Hardware implementation of Epicor Eagle N Series, read their story here.
Posted by Carl Hildebrandt, Senior Product Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
Congratulations to Steve Schnur, director of merchandise planning and analytics at MGM Resorts International
, who was recently nominated as a finalist in the 2014 Constellation Research Supernova Awards. The polls are now open, you can vote for MGM here
The fourth annual SuperNova Awards
program celebrates and recognizes individuals who have overcome the odds to successfully applying emerging and disruptive technologies within their organizations.
Success of MGM’s Business
MGM has unusual retail challenges that heighten the importance of large quality data sets and analysis tools. For example, normal retail forecasts forward demand with just two components -- trend and seasonality -- while MGM has many other added layers of complexity.
MGM wanted to incorporate business intelligence (BI) for decision-support to put the tremendous wealth of its data to optimal use to speed of issue and opportunity identification, for more timely resolution and action, to drive overall improved business performance and responsiveness. MGM had an existing relationship with Epicor Software, and had leveraged Epicor Retail solutions for Store (POS), Merchandising, and Sales Audit successfully in the past. Working with Epicor, MGM incorporated the Epicor Retail Business Intelligence solution into its daily operations for greater control over the volume and velocity of data, and for distillation of valuable insights for improved decision-making.
- BI is now used routinely by nearly 100% of MGM’s staff, including 150+ personnel at or above the assistant manager level
- MGM empowers users with self-service access to the reports most relevant to their roles and responsibilities
- Data made available by BI is used to shape business decisions and improve outcomes
- MGM now identifies performance issues and opportunities faster and at a more granular level
- BI solution is configured to automatically generate 350+ reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
- MGM cut its data collection and reporting labor requirements in half -- before 80% of effort was spent collecting/cleaning data, and 20% using it; now this equation has been flipped
- Now more time can be spent applying the lessons learned from data to run and build the business
Read MGM’s full SuperNova Award profile here.
The voting period is now open and ends Tuesday, September 30, 2014. Cast your vote now by visiting MGM’s project profile here:
Winners will be revealed during the SuperNova Award Gala Dinner on October 29, 2014 at Constellation’s Connected Enterprise
innovation summit located at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay in Half Moon Bay, California.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
A recent article on searchautoparts.com details the dramatic increase of eCommerce sites in the automotive aftermarket:
E-commerce growth in the aftermarket is lapping brick-and-mortar growth. According to an April 2014 Hedges & Co. report, online sales of auto parts grew nearly 16 percent between 2012 and 2013, from $3.8 billion to $4.4 billion, and online sales (excluding auctions) are projected to pass the $5 billion mark in 2014. Brick-and-mortar stores actually showed a sales decrease of 1.5 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
The move from brick and mortar to online commerce is one of the most important trends in this sector, changing the way that parts are sold across the complex aftermarket supply chain. Manufacturers and distributors no longer sell to a limited number of channel partners, but rather to a broad array of jobbers, distributors, retailers, vehicle owners, and maintenance personnel through proliferating online connections.
To help meet this demand, Epicor established the Epicor Parts Network, a broad portfolio of Web-based, business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce solutions for automotive parts distributors and vehicle service providers. Epicor Parts Network includes the Epicor Parts Network B2B eStore (formerly Internet AutoParts), Epicor Integrated Service Estimator (ISE) parts and labor estimating solution, and cloud-based Epicor Parts Network (formerly AConneX) parts trading solution. Together, these eCommerce tools connect approximately 26,000 auto parts distributor and jobber locations and more than 170,000 registered aftermarket service providers and dealership users.
“Distributors, jobbers, and service dealers continue to set new records each year for B2B eCommerce volume and value,” notes Scott Thompson, vice president, automotive eCommerce for Epicor. “This growth is playing a vital role in keeping the aftermarket’s traditional channel healthy through increased efficiency, bay productivity, and, ultimately, a superior consumer experience at the repair shop.”
To find out more about Epicor solutions for the automotive aftermarket, go to http://www.epicor.com/Industries/Retail/Pages/automotive-aftermarket-software.aspx.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
In the world of independent retailers, personalized and superior customer service is a major differentiator, and the key to outservicing the competition
. What exactly do I mean by outservicing the competition? By providing customers with the best shopping experience possible. And every retailer knows that in order to get customers coming back they need to have the right prices, products, and experiences available.
The article, ‘Competing with Big Box Stores’
, notes that “superb customer service is the biggest intangible asset to the independent business. People like to shop where they feel comfortable and where they feel the owner truly cares about their wants and needs.”* Successful retailers tend to downplay what they do best, providing personalized knowledgeable service to customers. Here are a few tips to help inspire outservicing through excellent service:
- Technology empowers retailers with tools to promote profitability, accurate inventory control and access required to make the right decisions for their business, lending to unrivaled customer service. Mobile technology is a way to entice the self-starting customer and promotes employee assistance right from the store aisles—providing store employees access to extensive product, pricing and inventory information, and better customer service.
- Customer knowledge enables retailers to serve customer needs before the customer even enters the store. Equipped with better information, employees can approach customers with more understanding of the products they need, available inventory, and the most competitive pricing possible.
- Rewarding with loyalty is the best way to establish repeat customers. Make your loyalty program better than the competition’s and top it off with excellent customer experience.
- Speed matters to the majority of consumers. An easy-to-use point of sale (POS) system, and accessible customer and product information will drive your business. These features help save time and hassle for customers, driving you to outperform competitors in the industry.
Developing creative ways to outservice your competition can be a challenge. However with the right resources, business partners, technology tools, and research of your competitors, you can better connect with customers—creating a more memorable experience which keeps them coming back for years to come.
*Source: About.com Retailing, “Competing with Big Box Stores: Tips for Retail Competition,” by Shari Waters.
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Retail Distribution Solutions for Epicor
The 9th Annual 2014 Hot Companies and Best Products Awards program honored companies from all over the world in San Francisco on June 23, 2014 during the 9th annual awards dinner and presentations. Network Products Guide
, the industry’s leading technology research and advisory guide selected Epicor as a Silver winner
in the category of Cloud Computing/SaaS.
“We are proud to receive the Network Products Guide award for the fourth consecutive year,” said Mark Fair, vice president, customer services and support, retail distribution solutions for Epicor. “The Epicor Eagle Hosting solution was designed to help small to medium-sized retailers manage their IT infrastructure without the hassle of maintaining a server on premise.”
The annual Hot Companies and Best Products recognition program encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, products and services, executives and management teams, successful deployments, product management and engineering, support and customer satisfaction, and public relations in every area of information technology.
Epicor Eagle Hosting is a comprehensive solution for new and existing Epicor customers that delivers the robust functionality of Epicor Eagle
software in a hosted environment—supporting the small to midsized retail growth strategy. The solution offers end-to-end architecture, and includes protection from viruses, spyware, and hackers via Epicor Watchdog ISS Internet security service and Kaspersky anti-virus engine with SonicWALL enforced anti-virus and anti-spyware software, support and maintenance, automatic updates and upgrades, as well as all proprietary information.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
No matter how you see your store, ultimately you should view your business from a customer’s perspective. In a recent Inventory Optimization webinar, we discussed the value of refining the management process and best practices for planning for the right inventory balance.
Let’s say your customer races down the aisle, only to find items out-of-stock – this is the ultimate retailer’s fear, not having what your customer needs. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, your businesses could be facing overstocks with items that are heavily discounted to get them off the shelves.
According to IHL Group*, retailers world-wide are losing $818 billion annually due to inventory distortion ― the combined cost of out-of-stocks, lost sales, and overstocks that retailers must deeply discount to sell. On the other hand, dealing with stockouts and overstocks is another business critical issue that must be remedied. Aberdeen Group** research has revealed that 70% of retailers rate themselves average or below average on their inventory management. So you may now ask, “How do I get a hold of my inventory, I don’t want to be sold out, or overstock.”
Retailers want to have the right balance of inventory. To get to that optimal level of inventory, retailers greatly benefit from working with an inventory management solution provider, like Epicor. There is typically one field of data, which if managed properly, could reveal significant value. That data field is Quantity on Hand (QOH)—getting that one field right allows your business to optimize inventory. QOH can be very elusive because it has various ways it can be impacted:
- POS check out – if barcodes are not set correctly
- Receiving – if controls aren’t in place
- Backroom – while this is helpful to house extra product, it can be a nuisance if that product is not controlled appropriately
- Special orders – if not managed correctly, the business could be holding onto unneeded products
- Shipping, Shrinkage, etc.
How can businesses improve the management of QOH? Little Hardware of North Carolina typically has 65,000-70,000 items in their inventory. They have decreased stock out rates on A and B items by 25%, increased GMROI by 19.1%, and increased turns by 13.1%. How? Through their use of Epicor Eagle Inventory Planner dashboards and real-time, actionable information. “Over the past few years, we recognized that ordering the wrong items in the wrong quantity was money out of pocket. Money we’d rather have kept in the business . . . Our goal was to make better business decisions related to ordering,” said Kyle Little, eCommerce and IT manager at Little Hardware.
Watch this video to hear how Little Hardware has accomplished this business improvement.
If your business is struggling with stockouts, out-of-stocks, and improving cash flow, better managing your inventory and QOH could be key for your business. In regards to inventory optimization, if you want to reach the optimal inventory level that improves turns, a dramatic change to business management policies must be implemented. Ultimately, inventory optimization will improve margins and customer service levels.
To the view the full Inventory Optimization webinar, click here.
*Source: IHL, “Inventory Distortion – Retail’s $800 Billion Problem” by Lee Holman and Greg Buzek, December 5, 2011.
**Source: Aberdeen Group, “Inventory Optimization: Retail Strategies for Eliminating Stock-Outs and Over-Stocks” by Sahir Anand and Chris Cunnane, May 2009.
Posted by Doug Smith, Senior Product Manager, Epicor Retail Distribution