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Know How: Predict trends + boost insight with data analysis

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Welcome to our "Know How" series - we share ways to maximize your success! See all our best practices.

Since the growth of online commerce, reporting and data analysis have become an industry of their own offering new and easy ways to examine a business from many different angles. For eCommerce businesses, it's safe to say that no matter what the needs or goals are, there is a reporting function that can help you identify ways to achieve it.

In this guide, we will discuss the following topics - click through to jump to each section:

Key data for eCommerce businesses to analyze:

In order to gain perspective on the overall performance of your online store, it's necessary to examine a variety of data segments from reports. Running a few basic reports on a set schedule such as monthly, quarterly or yearly can help illustrate how well your store is functioning.

Website performance
  • Web traffic: for any online business, understanding where most of your traffic is coming from will help you determine how well your site is doing overall. Take a look at the stats for direct traffic to your site, web searches, referring sites, and media campaigns.
  • Clicks in-page: you can fully examine your customers' buying behaviors by analyzing what links they are clicking within each page of your store. Running an in-page analytic report can show you what categories are working and what is not.
Marketing
  • Evaluating campaigns: engaging with your customers directly through email, as well as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, gives your business a personal touch that is also a wildly effective marketing tool. How effective? Run Facebook and Twitter analytic reports to see how well your technique is playing with customers. For email campaigns, track how many unique opens and unique clicks you receive from your contacts.
  • Creating new campaigns: crafting reports with customers in mind can give you a better idea of how to target your most profitable customers with promotions and offers. An order history report can also act as a contact list for sending thank you notes and newsletters.
Operational costs

Warehouse costs

  • Inventory: inventory reports can show you the numbers of product stock on hand to help you boost turnover or avoid selling more than what is available. ShippingEasy provides some reporting tools and if you currently use an inventory management program, you may have access to additional reports.
  • Shipping: online shipping reports contain a wealth of information in them, with each piece of data holding additional value when highlighted on its own. By examining your shipping data, you can get the information you need to make important business decisions, such as redefining your shipping practices and leveraging your brand into different markets.
  • Rental/property fees: if you have a brick-and-mortar store or a warehouse, location rental or property fees are often the largest item on your balance sheet. Reports tracking what you spend monthly or annually can show you if there is room to expand or if necessary, move your space.
  • Utilities: what you pay in energy costs, phone and internet services as well as plumbing all play into your final facility expenses. A report showing these monthly bills can give you a good idea of what your budget needs to be and where you can increase savings.

Staff costs

  • Shipping staff: staff reports take a look at how staffing can be increased or decreased to fill and ship orders during peak times or save you money when business slows.
  • Customer service: if you provide web chat or phone customer service, running reports showing length of time spent assisting customers can help you understand if your team is meeting the needs of your consumers. Additionally, if there is one product in particular that warrants the most customer service requests it may be necessary to examine if its a defective product or if better instructions could be provided.
  • Web designers: learning how much or how often you rely on your web designers to solve problems or roll out new features keeps you aware of how close you are staying to your web development budget - and if it needs to be expanded.
  • Consulting fees: new business often benefit from the services provided by consultants in their industry. Consulting reports can determine how much the time and cost of these services has helped the growth of your business.
  • Tax prep: unless you are an accountant yourself, it's likely you will be working with an agent to prep your business taxes. A report analyzing the costs spent on accountants and fees can give you an accurate assessment of what you can expect to spend the following year.

Using ShippingEasy’s reporting tools to enhance your data analysis

We provide a suite of reporting tools and accompanying features will help you retrieve and analyze your shipping data. With this information available whenever you need it, you can easily review your hard work and feel confident in the results.

Dashboard

A quick and simple daily review of your shipping progress, order count and postage balance is available on the DASHBOARD page of the ShippingEasy app. This page also shows your month-to-date shipping numbers as well. Setting this as your homepage keeps these totals in the front of your mind.

Endicia.com

Access reporting tools from our postage provider, Endicia.com, who provides several types of reports to draw from their database. Some examples are:

TIP: most shippers will find the information that they require for year-end tax reporting within the "postage refund and transaction history" report.
QuickBooks

Essential software for many small business, QuickBooks creates sales receipts, orders and invoices with little effort. ShippingEasy's integration with QuickBooks allows you to add as many stores as you have running and seamlessly updates orders from those stores once items are sold and shipped, while also posting tracking information. You can also easily calculate how much you owe in sales tax using their reporting tools. Learn more.

Reports

ShippingEasy’s Reports provide you with the full scope of your shipping practices. Pre-configured reports make it easy to start analyzing your data, while crafting custom reports can help you look closer at any area of your business.

If you are a paid subscriber to ShippingEasy, you have access to our full Reports feature. Starter plans can unlock the benefits of these tools by upgrading to a paid plan.

Depending on the size and goals of your business, you can use your reports to focus on expenses, customer satisfaction, or marketing, to name few. These are some of our favorite ways to use Reports:

  • Postage cost: monitor your postage expenses year round to ensure that you're running a positive margin on your shipping costs.
  • Insurance purchases: determine how much was spent on package insurance to understand the value added to your overall expenses. 
  • Packing materials: calculate your packing material needs based on shipment volume, package type, and products to ensure you always have enough on hand. 
  • Inventory movement: review your unshipped and shipped product to breakdown how much you moved each month and reconcile your physical stock to determine if you have the correct numbers available.
  • Contact lists: generate mailing lists for promotions, newsletters, and thank you emails to boost repeat business.

Overview pages gives quick insight:

On the main REPORTS page, your data is presented in three ways: a pie chart, line graph and itemized list. The date range can be set to see shipping numbers during specific dates. Businesses with multiple stores will appreciate the ability to view data from each store individually or from all stores at once. Learn more.

Review Reports on a recurring schedule:

Scheduling reports to run at set intervals from daily to monthly enables you to monitor your business with regularity and frees you from the task of doing it manually. Learn more

Digging deeper into your Reports data:

ShippingEasy’s reporting feature has four main categories of reporting that cover most shipping needs: Shipping, Orders, Product Sales and Custom Reports. For closer analysis, each report can be exported to a CSV file at any time or emailed on a recurring schedule. The data pulled for each report is based on the date range that you select. Learn more.

  1. Shipping Reports: get an overview of shipping costs and store performance. 
    • Complete Shipping Report: take a look at all areas of your shipping, from order total to shipping location to date shipped; a way to see how much business you’ve done in a specific period of time.
    • Shipping Destinations: see where orders shipped and how much it cost to get them there. 
    • Shipping Services Report: keep track of how often or with what frequency you use a specific type of shipping carrier or service and how much it costs.
  2. Order Reports: prioritize handling of unshipped orders.
    • Unshipped: First 500 Orders: see which orders have been waiting longest to be shipped and when it was ordered; sort the data by order number or date for ease of viewing.
    • Unshipped: Older than 7 Days: ensure that no orders get lost in the shuffle by identifying any order place over a week ago that has not yet been shipped. 
  3. Product Sales Reports: track individual product movement. To make the most of this report, it's best to set up a product catalog. 
    • Shipped: evaluate how much inventory has moved in the specified time period.
    • Unshipped: ensure that you have adequate inventory levels to fulfill unshipped orders.
    • All: determine how much revenue is generated by individual products.
  4. Custom Reports: when a preconfigured report doesn't fit your needs, create a custom report. Then schedule them to email to you for added convenience. Learn more about all the data metrics available for custom reports.

This information is meant to guide you towards building a stronger data collection and creating a more organized set up. With those in place, you and your team can work through critical business decisions with confidence and ease, while also gaining a competitive edge over other online retailers. As you grow, you'll appreciate the time you spent securing this foundation.

If there are aspects of this or our other best practice guides that you feel we are not covering, let us know! We invite your feedback in our Comments section on how we can make your understanding of all things shipping even easier.


Related articles:

How to: Download order and shipment data
Know How: Prepare inventory + catalog products
Know How: Map processes + use rules to improve efficiency
Know How: Free supplies + custom packages
Where can I find tax reports?

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