eCommerce Insiders

Tackling the E-commerce Inventory Beast: 5 Critical Components

What if every time you checked out at the supermarket, the cashier had to log all of your shopping cart contents, look up the price for each item in a binder, update the list of items remaining in the store, and then tally your bill by hand. Would you even go back to the store? The checkout line would snake through the aisles, extend outside, and wrap around the block. Customers would waste hours waiting in line while the supermarket would squander valuable resources trying to execute processes such as this.

Ok, this is a little extreme, but you get the picture. Managing an online store is not much different. Even with all of our technology, cumbersome and inefficient manual processes continue to plague the retail and E-commerce industries, and specifically their inventory management systems. Importing products from a single warehouse, let alone several, is a time-consuming task. Then, having to manage your inventory in real-time as purchases happen to avoid out-of-stocks and cancellations can be just as stressful and resource-intense. And if you own the warehouse, you have to pleasure of having to manage the fulfillment process and track inventory updates to be in sync with your online store. Not to mention that all these resources detract from the bottom line.

ecommerce inventory management by cavemen
Online retailers really need an all-in-one E-commerce platform. One that can manage and automate all these processes associated with inventory management. This will help eliminate error potential that can cause breakdowns in process, communication and in meeting customer expectations.

Below are some best practices that we have identified here at SalesWarp that are critical components of our all-in-one E-commerce Storefront Management System. These will help you simplify and streamline your inventory management.

  1. Warehouse Integration – Getting products from your suppliers to your online store can be a long and arduous process. The files are never complete, data is missing, headings are mislabeled…we’ve all been there. Having a system that is able to connect to each of your suppliers, import and correct all the product data so you can publish to your online stores, without having to do anything manually is a real time-saver, especially when managing multiple suppliers and stores.
  2. Inventory / Product Management – Being able to set inventory levels and manage product threshold limits to ensure products are removed from your sites automatically when these limits are reached provides incredible peace-of-mind knowing that there will be no more out-of-stocks, cancelled orders. Your system should also give you the ability to select the primary warehouse for fulfillment if you have multiple suppliers or warehouses with the same product lines.
  3. Inventory Tracking – A complete E-commerce system that can give you a snapshot of your total inventory for every supplier – the number of products, what’s published, not unpublished, blocked, skipped, available – in real-time can have tremendous value. No more searching for the latest spreadsheets.
  4. OMS Integration – Like I stated in my previous post, synching your inventory to your order management system is critical to ensure orders are fulfilled and customer satisfaction exceeded. An all-in-one platform should have both an inventory and order management function already built in.
  5. Automation – Unlike the supermarket in my intro, having a system that can provide automation is where all of your efficiencies and ROI gains will come from. Your system should be able to update inventory in real-time when an order is fulfilled and manage catalog updates automatically. The more manual processes you can eliminate, the more you can reduce your operating costs and reallocate resources to more strategic functions.

The ability to accurately and effortlessly manage your inventory is paramount to providing inimitable services to customers, efficiently utilizing resources, and maximizing profits. With the industry rapidly evolving, it is increasingly important to have an edge over your competitor. Using modern software to tackle the inventory beast will allow you to assign more time, money, and assets to growing your E-commerce business. Expend less effort on management headaches, and more time building and expanding your eBusiness.

David Anderson

Avid triathlete and Vice President of Marketing for SalesWarp, David Anderson brings a unique perspective to E-commerce from a creative, branding and marketing background that encompasses over 20 years.

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