ControlPort: What are insights, and why are they important?

There’s a lot of data about your business packed into ControlPort. While having access to the data is useful for clarity, the real benefits come from using the data to bolster the effectiveness of your inventory and shipping management. This, in turn, leads to reduced costs, improved customer service, faster growth, and much more.

Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the most useful Insights inside ControlPort, providing you with an overview of what they can do, and why you should use them. It’s by no means all the reporting tools available on the platform, but we’ve hand-picked these reports as they’re the ones many of our clients use most often.

While this guide will act as a brief introduction to some of the functionality present in ControlPort, in the coming weeks and months we’ll be releasing detailed guides on some of the reports we’re mentioning here today.

If you’re reading this in the future (Hello, Time Traveller), we’ll provide links to the more detailed guides as they become available. So, as they say on the radio, stay tuned!

Key Areas

  • Inventory management
  • Returns management
  • Postage & Delivery

Inventory management

Inventory management doesn’t need to be all that complicated. Here’s some of the reporting features inside ControlPort that support you in developing inventory management best practice and help you to make data-driven decisions to optimise your inventory.

Inventory Insights

The ‘Inventory Age’ graph from the Inventory Insights Tab.

What are Inventory Insights?

The Inventory Insights area of ControlPort provides you an overview of your inventory health at a glance. It’s a great way to get a ‘bigger picture’ observation of your inventory without being bombarded with spreadsheets, complex data, or out-of-context information.

Why you should use Inventory Insights

Inventory Insights allow you to have a brief check in with your overall inventory health which can be useful if you’re in a hurry. You will quickly be able to identify if you have any products reaching the end of their shelf life, get a clear picture of how much inventory you have left in the fulfilment centre, and more.

It’s a great way to get a summary of your inventory health and acts as a springboard should you wish to investigate any issues further.

Product Analysis

The product breakdown inside ‘Product Analysis’.

What is Product Analysis?

Product Analysis is another report overview that gives specific information regarding the status of product lines. Here, you’re able to see exactly which products are:

  • Out of stock
  • Low stocked
  • Well stocked
  • Overstocked (Profitable)
  • Overstocked (Loss-making
  • Non-moving
  • Retired

The system takes several variables into account to calculate the status of each unique product line, including rate of sale, stock level, volume, and margin. Each category is colour-coded to give you a sense of how urgent it is for an issue to be investigated and resolved.

Why you should use Product Analysis

Similar to the Inventory Insights report, Product Analysis provides you with links to access more detailed information regarding the status of your inventory. It’s a vital inventory management tool that helps you strike the balance between having enough stock in storage to minimise the occurrence of stockouts, while helping you ensure that you don’t overstock and end up paying unnecessary storage costs.

Product Insights

A graph illustrating margin lost to storage, found inside ‘Product Insights’.

What are Product Insights?

Product Insights provides you with crucial information about the performance of individual products. You’re able to easily view both your best selling products, worst selling products, and get a deep understanding of the impact storage costs have on each product’s profit margin.

It’s also another great tool to see whether or not product lines are optimally stocked.

Why you should use Product Insights

In order to grow sales and be more profitable, you need to have a good understanding of which products are selling well and which are struggling. It makes little sense to spend money on sourcing, storing, and marketing products that have consistently performed poorly.

Similarly, it’s important to understand what products are selling well, so you can capitalise on demand and continuously mould the products you’re selling into a collection that resonates the most with your customers.

BBE Insights

An example of items with a medium-term BBE date inside ‘BBE Insights’.

What are BBE Insights?

The BBE Insights dashboard highlights product batches that are approaching their best-before end date. The system uses the historic rate of sale for each product line to calculate potential wastage and how much this will cost your business. It’s an incredibly useful tool that allows you to be proactive in ensuring the minimum amount of wastage possible.

Why you should use BBE Insights

Wastage can have a significant impact on both your top-line and bottom-line. Not only do you lose potential sales; you’ll have also wasted capital on unnecessary storage, and you’ll need to pay somebody to remove and destroy your out of date goods. If your goods aren’t recyclable, there’s also an environmental impact to consider.

The BBE Insights area of ControlPort lets you plan against unnecessary wastage, and prevents BBE dates from creeping up on you. Use this tool to put contingency plans in place for if inventory doesn’t sell, such as promotional campaigns, sales, 2 for 1 offers, and more.

Returns management

Around 25% of all items bought online are returned. It’s a ridiculously large number, and each item returned costs a business money. Reducing the amount of returns you receive is essential for growth, and ControlPort can give you a helping hand.

Returns Reasons

An example of returns tracking and analysis found in ‘Returns Reasons’.

What are Returns Reasons?

Returns Reasons provides a great overview of the most common reasons customers return products to you. Are people often returning clothes because they don’t fit? It’s time to update your sizing information. Are items arriving too late? Perhaps it’s time to switch to a more reliable carrier. Once you understand these trends, it’s easier to start putting a strategy together to reduce the overall number of returns.

Why you should use Returns Reasons

Reducing the number of returns requests you receive will have an enormous impact on the profitability and efficiency of your business. Having a generous returns policy is a necessary evil for staying competitive in today’s market, but processing returns takes up significant time, money, and human resources.
Being proactive in addressing common issues for returns not only improves customer service, but helps your business save time and money in the process.

Postage and Delivery

The final category we’ll be looking at today is postage and delivery, which makes up a large proportion of your shipping management. ControlPort is packed full of tools that provide great clarity over the shipping process, and help you to make more cost-effective shipping choices.

Let’s take a look at some of that functionality.

Delivery Insights

The ‘Orders tracking status’ dashboard, found inside ‘Delivery Insights’.

What are Delivery Insights?

Delivery Insights provides you with a tonne of information on the status of your customer’s orders. You can see exactly where any current order is in the fulfilment process, whether it’s still being processed at a fulfilment centre, at a local post office for pick-up, out for delivery, and much more. It all updates in real-time, meaning you’ll never be out of the loop and you’ll always be able to give your customers updates.

You can also use Delivery Insights to compare the performance of each carrier you use.

Why you should use Delivery Insights

Delivery Insights is a great report to check in with each day to see how your orders are progressing. By making this a daily habit, you’re able to take a proactive approach to any issues that may arise with a delivery, and solve issues before they become a real problem.

Furthermore, you can use Delivery Insights as a great customer service tool. If a customer contacts you with questions about their order, simply open up Delivery Insights to quickly tell them where their order is.

Postage Margin

Find this helpful table inside ‘Postage Margin’,

What is Postage Margin?

In the Postage Margin area of ControlPort, you can compare courier postage costs with the amount you charge for postage. You can filter orders by country, fulfilment centre, weight, or carrier,

Why you should use Postage Margin

If you’re serious about growth, optimising the profitability of each aspect of your business is key. Many eCommerce businesses operate on tight postage and shipping margins, but plenty can be done to make postage more cost-effective. The Postage Margin report is an excellent tool for recognising where improvements can be made to margins.

It might mean using a different carrier service in a particular region, packing certain items in more cost-effective materials, or storing your inventory in a different fulfilment centre. Whatever the solution may be, the Postage Margin tool will help you find it.

And that’s really just the beginning

What we’ve discussed today really just scratches the surface in terms of what ControlPort can do. Watch this space for more detailed guides and videos on all the functionality we’ve mentioned today, plus a great deal we didn’t mention!

If you’re not yet a member of the James and James family and would like to learn more about the power of ControlPort, you’re more than welcome to book a free demo with one of our fulfilment experts. They’ll give you a guided tour of the platform and answer any questions you may have.