Friday, July 29, 2016

Making your website a better salesman..

By helping your customers quickly find what they are looking for, you will likely sell more. To accomplish this, look at your site’s navigation as well as its search function. In the B2B world there are more unique challenges and requirements. By using a Website designed for B2B commerce and letting your data analytics tools build your website deals, suggestions and more, you can turn your website into your best salesman.
Image result for better salesman

An optimized site search is crucial for B2C and B2B websites.
But B2B sites often have unique challenges when it comes to search. Here are some of the most common.

1. Part number searches. In B2B, shoppers search by the part number they use to refer to an item. In some cases, they may search by a partial part number, or the part number may have a hyphen in it. Moreover, there can be more than one part number for the same product. Part numbers can be problematic for standard search platforms. NDC codes for example in the pharma world are sometime 10 sometime 11 and sometimes people enter the "-" and some others do not.

2. Similar products. Many B2B companies have multiple products that are very similar. They are represented by the same photo and, perhaps, nearly the same description. There may be 100 SKUs that look the same but are different in size, strength, and other attributes. This can make it difficult for shoppers to locate the correct item in a search.

3. No pricing or add-to-cart on search results. B2B companies often provide customized pricing by customer. Thus, a company may not list prices in search results and may exclude an add-to-cart button in the results. This slows down purchases.

4.Inventory and Stock Information. B2B companies often provide real time inventory and while it may hurt a company to say you are out of stock on an item on the sales side. It allows them to offer other similar items or replacement and or substitutes rather than take the order and have to let a customer know you cannot ship the item. Providing that information can save time effort and increase sales if done properly.

Optimizing Your Site Search

Here are a few ways to get the most out of your site search.

1. Promoting specific products for top searches. Promote Trending items , best sellers and hot sellers on each search result, Highlight the product class of items your customers search on and link to specials using an image and description. While your system can automatically recommend items also make you can manually override the search results if necessary. Many sites and tools offer only one or the other. With the changing products you need flexibility in your software.

2. Improve your search-results page with a focus on selling that item. compare your search results pages to large retailers like Amazon and Office Depot. Improve your product images. provide customer specific pricing in multiple units of measure and an add-to-cart button. Include links to additional product information. leverage your manufacturers and buying groups for more detailed data. In the MedSurg Space both NDC and IMCO offer images and descriptions that can easily be imported to create your online catalog. and in the Pharma Space both the FDA and Medispan offer product information , Medispan also offer product images and descriptions such as imprint , color and shape.

3. Ensure part numbers return the correct results. Add Competitors items numbers as aliases for your products, add manufacturers item numbers and add commonly used keywords for items. IE add Tylenol when looking for acetaminophen. B2B ecommerce shoppers often search on part numbers. Test part numbers and partial numbers based on what you see people searching for on your site and tweak if need. Add realtime alerts for specific keywords or part numbers so if you are short supply or want to contact customers searching for a term - offer that capability in real-time and hop on a chat to help them find what they need.

Adding Functionality to Drive Revenue

To drive more revenue from your site search, consider these improvements.

Use faceted search. This is typically a list of filters on the left of the search-results page that enable visitors to refine the search results by specific attributes. This can be extremely beneficial for B2B shoppers, to help them find the right products.

Example facet search typically on the left includes "Categories," "Brand," and "Price.", or Manufacturer.

Having good faceted search requires data for all of the attributes to filter on. This often entails a review of product data and a solution to more easily maintain data, such as integrating with product information from a third party, like NDC, IMCO or Medispan and the FDA.

Offer auto suggest. This is a feature where a drop-down box appears as a user types search terms. In the drop-down box are suggestions for what the user may be looking for based on common searches, your site data, and, potentially, data on that user.

Example "gloves" at your site would activates automatic suggestions for the top five best selling gloves and offer how many items in your database match the search as they type in letters.

Identify misspellings and direct users to intended products. Typos are common, especially when users are on smart phones. Identify misspellings in search terms, and then quickly direct users to what they are looking for.
for example from, "lsr paper" was corrected, to display "laser paper," the correct spelling. Create a library of aliases or synonyms and common misspellings and add to your database..

Tune your search engine.
The more your search the better suggestions and other results will be as a good search engine has built in learning capabilities so it can automatically suggest information and better items.
work with your vendor to tweak and create new categories automatically such as overstock items , where you have more then 3 months supply on hand inventory, or closeout items where you have had it on your shelves for over 180 days.

Getting Started

Don’t let all of the possible improvements overwhelm you. Start by working with a vendor that has all these tools available and built in.
Look at how common site searches are performing, and decide which new features will generate the best return. Implement those features and measure the impact. 

Continuous improvement is the name of the game and working with a software vendor that is constant adding features and functions to your search engine to help you keep up.

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to

Friday, July 22, 2016

Clean your room!!

Your company’s reputation and revenue rest at least partially on your inventory: If you constantly send the wrong items or have late orders, you will lose customers.

In order to manage inventory properly, you have to know where that inventory is, and make sure you always have the right amount. An while of course it's easier with an outstanding computer system, it doesn’t always mean a major investment in software. Try a few of these tips to eliminate inventory problems.

Keep it Clean

 Mom knew back in the day if you didn't clean up your room you would never be able to find your clothing. Same thing holds true in your warehouse Neatness counts. Use uniform bins in the right sizes for your items, and be sure they are clearly labeled. Use labels that can be printed using a Zebra or  laser printer for readability and include bar codes on the labels to improve accuracy. Remove old labels if you use the bin for a different part later. If using metal shelving which most every one does, you can use magnetic backed labels or two sided magnetic tape to easily organize your warehouse.. 

A Very common issue in the healthcare world is that your vendors don't provide good bar codes. To address this consider moving to a single item per warehouse location/bin so you can just scan the bin to identify the items. 

Uses Multiple Bins/Locations for an Item

There are many methods for calculating safety stock to help prevent investing too much in excess inventory. Learn about the various calculations and how to use them here.
When receiving inventory, split it into two quantities your Bulk/Overflow and your Primary Location. When you pick inventory for orders, you can split the orders to ship items in bulk and also manage inventory using replenishment. Replenishment allow you to transfer inventory from the bulk locations to refill the primary picking location. In many systems this can be done overnight or just in time to handle orders as needed. 
This will keep your primary pick zones nice and neat and still allow you to easily keep adequate stock on hand. 

Count the Steps 

warehouse interior: worker in red uniform with box in the warehouse in fish-eye lens
Try to organize your warehouse for maximum efficiency.  Remember how you left your jacket next to the door ( or mom told you to , but you really didn't ) 
It meant every time you left you say that jacket and grabbed it , saving steps by placing the things you need in the right place. 
Again for the warehouse same thing holds true.  Store your  most popular items near the front to eliminate wasted steps. Consider grouping complementary items that are often sold together next to each other to simplify picking.

While these aren’t difficult steps to take, each of them will help improve inventory accuracy. Mom really seemed like she was just wasting our time , but if we look back now and apply the lessons learned. We can see perhaps mom was just and enlightened member of the supply chain. Maybe she learned these lessons and knew you would need them in the future. 

So say thank you to mom and go clean your rooms (warehouses...) 

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to

Friday, July 15, 2016

Spring Cleaning Leads to Summer Clearance...

Now that spring has finally come and gone, many/most distributors are  cleaning their warehouses to make room for the latest products and trends. In making space for your new product environment, offloading inventory requires a calculated approach to maximize profits and space.

Image result for spring cleaningSo since you hopefully did some cleanup and have stuff to move. Here are some helpful suggestions on how to quickly move outdated inventory:
Targeted Email Campaigns and Special Promotions
Use the MDS Targeted Potential Sales Analysis Tools to target existing customers who have purchased similar products and sizes when creating special deals around remaining inventory.
For example, shoe stores or departments with size 8 merchandise can send an email campaign to notify shoppers who previously purchased size 8 shoes. This is an effective way to personalize communications and build shopper loyalty, while selling excess inventory. For the Healthcare space you can use Physican Preference Cards to track purchases by doctor to know the size and type of glove he/she prefers and or any other products to push. 
Image result for summer clearanceOnline Clearances and Pop-up Promotions
Along the same lines, utilize the Remotenet Automated cross-sell to online shoppers when they add to cart or view product information by alerting them of similar items on clearance. Offering suggestions based on the items shoppers are already searching for and viewing will help unload your clearance merchandise. MDS can automatically Create the Overstock and Clearance Items categories on your website based upon Inventory purchase date and onhand vs total amount sold. 
Choose the Right Liquidator for Your Brand
If you’ve exhausted clearance and sale opportunities and still have excess inventory to move from your warehouse, you should consider liquidating your stock. It’s important to choose a liquidator that is familiar with your products and works within your industry. In the Healthcare space is a good choice and the MDS System includes a simple Export program to send them the items for review prior to making your deal to sell excess goods. 
A strong inventory management foundation makes it easier to move and optimize inventory throughout the year. Excess and slow moving inventory can cause headaches for distributors.
 It ties up your working capital and you miss out on the opportunity to use that cash for new inventory. You also under utilize valuable warehouse space that could be used for faster-moving goods, which equates to a heavier holding cost.
Creating a Better Inventory Strategy
So how should we optimize inventory and warehouse efficiency?
One of the first steps is gaining visibility into your inventory levels and understanding which products are slow movers. You should educate yourself on the tools withing your system by using some of the comprehensive reports and analysis on key inventory metrics.

Some strategies you might want to look at that are not really unique to the MDS system but can easily be utilized with the MDS System are: 
Velocity Reporting: Velocity reporting aligns inventory with customer demand, ensuring that inventory mix is always in line with actual demand. Velocity reporting highlights slow-moving inventory to enable distributors to avoid discount wholesaling and liquidation.
With this data, you can see how well each SKU does in any given timeframe. If you discover 100 SKUs with no sales, it’s a good reason to cut your losses and get rid of those items. By identifying slow-moving inventory, velocity analytics can also play a role in reducing holding costs, improving the your bottom line by minimizing the storage costs of sluggish SKUs. See our Inventory Dog Post.. 
Cycle Counting: When creating a better inventory strategy, a great second step is to make sure your inventory is as accurate as possible.  Introducing cycle counting based on ABC (Velocity)  logic is a much more accurate way to manage inventory based on a pre-defined count calendar. For example, you can count your A inventory (fastest moving items) monthly, B inventory quarterly and C inventory (the slowest moving inventory) once or twice a year.    See our Blog Post - How to eat an elephant...
The secret to successful inventory management is to use all of the data and insights available to plan and forecast accurately. Distributors  who work with their ERP systems and providers to develop a strong foundation for effective inventory management will be in a good position to move inventory quickly throughout the year, while continuing to cater to customer needs.

Does your system give you the tools you need? 

For more information on TSH or MDS call The Systems House, Inc. at 1-800- MDS-5556. Or send a message to

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