Managing inventory is a big part of any business, and ecommerce is no exception. After all, having the right products to sell is a prerequisite to selling products online. If you would like to improve the way your online business manages its inventory, these four ecommerce inventory hacks will come in handy. They’ll help you automate complex tasks, maintain accurate data, achieve healthy inventory quantities, and have a backup plan when things go awry. Let’s take a closer look at each of these hacks.
Start Using Inventory Management Software
Instead of entering all of your inventory data into an Excel spreadsheet and then manually updating the spreadsheet whenever you make a sale, imagine what it would be like to take a more automated approach. There are desktop and online inventory management solutions that can help you safely store important information.
With these tools, you’ll be able to import and export product names, SKUs, quantities, locations, vendors, and other details. And you can restrict access to those data by using access rights or user permissions, so only authorized personnel will have the ability to make changes and view sensitive information. Your employees will be empowered to get a lot more done when they have a mobile barcode scanner and a software solution backing them up in the warehouse.
Integrate Your Shopping Cart with Inventory Software
There are many shopping carts available for online sellers to use: Volusion, Magento, 3dcart, BigCommerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. They let you accept payment from your customers for the products that you sell and ship to them. But what if they could do more than that?
If you integrate your shopping cart with your inventory management software, it will automatically update your available inventory shortly after a sale is made. Plus, it will alert you to the fact that an order is ready to be picked, packed, and shipped. This integration keeps your inventory records accurate without a lot of effort on your part, and it also speeds up the order fulfillment process.
Use Automatic Reorder Points
When the sales orders come in and your inventory levels get low, you will find it necessary to reorder products to keep items in stock. How do you know when that time has come? By setting up automatic reorder points on every one of your parts and products. Whether it’s a product you sell or a part you consume in your daily operations, each item you work with has an optimal quantity range it should be kept in and a point at which it should be reordered. You can calculate this with the aid of a reorder point calculator.
Using reorder points helps you avoid shortages while also cutting down on carrying costs by not overcompensating and keeping too many items on hand. When an item reaches its reorder point, the system will shoot you an email or text message, or you can run a report to see a list of all of the items that need to be reordered.
Have a Backup Plan
It’s a good idea to cut down on stock-outs, but they will always remain a risk. For example, what happens if you receive several orders at the same time and you accidentally promise the same products to different customers? Or maybe you don’t have your shopping cart connected to your inventory management software. What then? No sweat. When you don’t have the products in stock and your customers are waiting, all you have to do is drop ship.
Drop shipping is when you make the sale and someone else does the fulfillment. Go on eBay, Amazon, Walmart.com, or any other ecommerce site you prefer, and purchase an identical item to the one that your customer ordered from you. Then have it shipped directly to the customer. This is a quick fix, but there are other ways to set up formal drop shipping with vendors. You are wise to have a backup plan so that you know what to do if things don’t go the way you expect them to.
By implementing these strategies and using certain tools, you will be able to make the best use of your limited resources and make sure you are ready for any difficulties that arise. Eliminate double data entry, keep the right amount of inventory in stock, avoid committing the same inventory to different orders, and have a backup plan if you accidentally do. Inventory management software can make it happen.
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl, the #1 selling manufacturing and warehouse management solution for QuickBooks. Since 2010, he has written hundreds of blog posts and articles about inventory management. He lives in Orem, Utah, with his wife and four children.
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