Do You Know What’s In Your Inventory?

Store CheckoutEvery small business owner knows how easy it is to lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes the day-to-day tasks that are necessary to keep our business afloat overwhelm us and we find ourselves working hard on the details and not questioning the overall effectiveness of our strategy. In these situations, instead of pushing ahead relentlessly, it is sometimes better to take a step back and reconsider our actions.

For store owners, it may be time to take a hard look at inventory. It’s easy to assume that we know all about our inventory, about which products sell the best and which are money-wasters. But these ‘gut feelings’  can often be misleading, especially since the selling power of our merchandise can change over time without us noticing. What we need is inventory management software.

Using software to manage our inventory is the best way to keep accurate records of what’s in our inventory, how our products are selling, how much it costs us to sell them and which products we should get rid of.

Small business owners are often hesitant about inventory software because we assume that it will be bulky and expensive and will require a complicated installation before we can ‘go live’. At Cyber Stockroom, we fully agree and have developed a lightweight web-based software service that allows you to easily ‘go live’ in minutes! We’ve made it Free to Try so you can see the benefits for yourself. So try it out and let us know what you think. We want to hear your feedback!

4 Free Android Apps for Your Small Business That Make All the Difference

Android Small BusinessIn the day to day operation of your business, it can often be the small things that make the biggest difference in your overall success. This is very much the case with your phone apps. Here are 4 Android apps that are more than just novelty items on your smartphone. If you take advantage of these tools you may find them to be an indispensable part of your entrepreneur’s arsenal:

GAnalytics

The importance of analytics software for your website cannot be over-emphasized. If you sell anything online or if your clients find you through your website it is imperative that you are able to track and analyze traffic on your site. Many small businesses use Google Analytics because it is free and powerful. Although Google offers its own app for this service, GAnalytics is a more user-friendly and accessible app for your smartphone.

Evernote

The tagline is “Evernote turns your Android device into an extension of your brain” and we agree. This app allows you to record your thoughts and ideas immediately as text, photos or voice. It keeps track of where you are when these things are recorded and creates a searchable database so that you can easily retrieve and visualize the information. You can also easily share all of this across various platforms.

CamCard Lite

This app allows you to take a picture of a business card and automatically save it as indexed searchable data as well as an image. It’s the most accurate card reader we’ve seen and it has a very intuitive interface. This ‘Lite’ version allows you to save up to 20 cards without registration and 2 more every week.

Square

Square allows you to accept credit card payments on your phone. It’s free to install and the company will send you a free card reader to plug into your phone. They take a 2.75% commission on every credit card swipe. This app is ideal for small merchants and those who need to able to sell anywhere

Advertising a Small Business with Google AdWords

If you have a website for your small business (and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t) you probably know how important generating traffic is to your business. People will often find your website through search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing but it may take you a lot of time, money and effort to make your site worthy of being highly ranked on these search engines. If you’re in a highly competitive market like inventory management, it’s likely that your website is buried under the leading competitors. So what can the little guy do? The answer for your business may lie with Google AdWords.

You might be thinking “I don’t have the luxury of a large advertising budget, how can I hope to make any impression on the online market?” The good news is that Google AdWords is not only an incredibly efficient form of advertising but it is extremely flexible to suit your budget.

Let’s take a look at how it works. Google Ads appear on top and on the side of the regular search listings and can be bought through Google’s auctioning system. Suppose that you are a computer consultant in Silicon Valley. With a limited budget you would have a very difficult time ranking anywhere near the top of the search results but with Google AdWords you can bid on having your ads show up nonetheless. There are a few factors to consider:

  1. CPC (Cost Per Click) – Google doesn’t charge you anything when somebody sees your ad (this is called an impression), you are only charged when somebody clicks on your ad. The amount of money that you pay depends on how many competitors you have in the auction (it will cost you more if a lot of people want to advertise for the same keywords) and the general quality and relevance of your ad
  1. CTR (Click-through rate) – This is the percentage of impressions (viewings of your ad) where someone actually clicks on your link. If you create relevant ads with strong keywords then your CTR will increase because you will be offering people exactly what they are searching for and they will click your link. If your CTR increases, then your CPC will decrease. This happens because Google assigns a quality score to your ad, the higher your score the better you will perform in the auction system
  1. Landing Pages – The power of Google AdWords is that it supplies you with highly targeted traffic. The people coming to your website have searched for something very specific and your ad has indicated that this is exactly what you will provide. The worst thing that you can do now is to link them to a generic homepage where you don’t deliver what you promised. If you do this, your bounce rate (rate of people immediately leaving your website upon arrival) will skyrocket and the quality of your ad will plummet. Each advertisement that you make should link the user to the page that is most relevant to the ad. If you are a computer consultant and your ad is about website design, you should link your visitors to a ‘landing page’ that addresses website design and not your homepage where you talk about fixing disk drives, installing antivirus software and creating databases!
  1. Analytics – The success of your AdWords campaigns will often depend on how well you observe and understand the patterns and behaviors of your visitors. A key part of this process will be using analytics software to track the behavior of your website visitors. The most popular free tool is Google Analytics

Finally, a word of caution: If you don’t invest some effort in fine-tuning your Google AdWords campaigns, you might as well throw your money in the trash. It will take some time to understand the nuances of the system so start with a small daily budget and increase once you feel comfortable with the results. With enough persistence you will be able to create a powerful advertising machine for a surprisingly low price.

5 Things To Do With Your Excess Inventory

You’ve overstocked again! It’s not your fault, though – it’s probably the most common inventory mistake that businesses make. You care about your clients and you don’t want them to be deprived of your products, but the cost can often be very heavy. So what do you do?

Drop the price – This is probably the first thing that people try. This will work for a lot of moderately priced items and is at least worth a shot

Bundle up – A lot of people are irresistibly drawn to packages that contain multiple valuable products – it just seems to trigger our hoarding instincts from our hunter-gatherer days. You have to be careful with this one though, collections of low-value items may offend your customers’ finer sensibilities

Commission – If you have enough employees and you sell items that have relatively high value, you should consider offering your salespeople a large commission for selling hard-to-sell items. It’s up to you how much you want to give up but if you know that the product isn’t about to be picked off the shelf anytime soon, it doesn’t cost you anything to be generous. Your employees will also thank you!

Sell Online – You definitely don’t want to spend your time trying to sell individual products online – you have better things to do! Instead you should be selling your excess inventory as a lot. You can start here: Liquidation, Dead Inventory Store, Sell my Inventory and of course E-bay (Look for the ‘Wholesale Lot’ features)

Give it up – You’ve tried everything and nothing works, but before you take the trash out consider donating your dead stock to a non-profit organization. In addition to being a gesture of good will from your business to the community, you will also be able to salvage some of your costs in tax credits

Of course the best way to avoid getting yourself into this hole in the first place is to watch your inventory very carefully. If you don’t use inventory management software, Start Now!

Your inventory purchases are a sunk cost. The more you hold on to your stock, the more its value decreases. It takes up real estate in your store and just sits there glaring at you with its uselessness and eating up carrying costs. However, with a little careful planning you can salvage a good chunk of your dead stock. Good Luck!

We want to hear from you! Let us know which tips work for you and share your experience with us.

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