Finding the right inventory management system for Magento ecommerce stores can be tricky. The right fit depends on a multitude of factors including the business size, ambitions, and sector.
This article will walk you through the platform, its pros and cons, and outline how to ensure you select the right Magento inventory system for your commercial needs.
What is Magento?
Magento is a flexible, open-source ecommerce platform which has been part of the Adobe Commerce platform since 2018. Adobe is one of the world’s largest software companies and uses numerous tools, including artificial intelligence and data sharing, to support personalised end-to-end ecommerce solutions.
Magento offers incredibly powerful support systems for ecommerce, and being part of Adobe’s platform means they’re a leading commercial operator in this space.
What is Magento inventory management?
Adobe provides several tools to support stock control through native Magento Inventory Management systems.
Magento’s inventory management capabilities can help merchants with:
- Managing multiple warehouses
- Tracking inventory quantities
- Providing stock amounts to customers across websites
- Prioritising shipments across distances or demand
However, native Magento Inventory Management systems are limited. Merchants with significant inventory demands generally integrate a third-party tool such as Unleashed inventory management software. This approach delivers vastly more sophisticated tracking and management options.
Why do you need an integrated inventory management system for Magento?
Creating an integrated Magento inventory management system ensures accurate end-to-end stock control and order fulfilment, meaning customers receive the products they want in good time and good order.
While this sounds simple, it’s not.
Inventory management is a complex process which touches on all elements of the supply and delivery process. Finding the right inventory management software, and ensuring it integrates easily into the Magento platform is therefore a key business decision.
Making the right decision will result in satisfied customers, higher revenue, and better profit margins.
The limitations of Magento inventory management
Magento’s native inventory management system is a useful tool for ecommerce businesses. Magento users on extended support contracts enjoy a number of features, including updated information on the available stock as customers shop.
This information is split into sales channels and sources. It tracks stock as sales are completed, shipments are delivered, or refunds are issued. It also tracks the arrival of new stock which is available for sale.
This ensures customers always receive the product they have ordered, as they expect. However, businesses which are not signed up to Magento support contracts, or who have particular business needs, will find limitations with its offering.
Magento’s native inventory management limitations include:
- Scalability constraints: The Magento inventory system can only handle 10,000 SKU stock adjustment message sizes. If you have larger amounts of data that need to be processed, you will need to integrate a more sophisticated inventory management system.
- Complexity: Magento is a large and complex ecommerce offering. Creating an ecommerce store that maximises your business’s potential on the platform may require some intensive support from web developers and other experts. This could add substantial amounts to the cost of developing the store, and delays in fulfilling customer orders.
- Cost: Magento offers its most simple open-source platform for free, but anything more than basic capabilities costs extra. These extra fees, added up, can negatively impact your ROI from using the platform.
- Customisation: While Magento offers various ways to customize the ecommerce offer, its inventory management systems may not meet your business’s needs or be customisable to those needs.
5 benefits of an integrated inventory management system for Magento
While the inventory management system offered by Magento is useful, it was designed for straightforward inventory requirements.
If your business is growing or you have ambitions for growth, an integrated inventory management system will provide the more advanced support you will need. Unleashed inventory management integrates seamlessly with Magento and can be set up within seconds.
Once integrated, the following benefits become available.
1. Total transparency
An integration with Unleashed provides absolute transparency around your stock moments, right down to balance sheet-level detail.
As a cloud-based system, integration with Unleashed enables a Magento ecommerce site to track the movement of inventory in real-time, from supplier to customer.
2. Synchronisation of customer details
When a sale is made on a Magento ecommerce platform, an integration with Unleashed allows the synchronisation of datasets. Customer information details are simply pulled through the backend without the need to enter the data again.
3. Management of multiple sales channels
The Unleashed inventory management system supports the management of multiple ecommerce storefronts.
The data is synced through the software, ensuring inventory information remains up to date and there is clear visibility over stock levels.
In turn, this ensures customers are not let down if they order a product, and then find it is out of stock.
4. Invoicing and reconciliation automation
Unleashed enables invoices to be pulled automatically through Magento.
If the accounting system is integrated, a receivable will also be created. This saves on re-entering datasets, in turn creating a far quicker and more efficient workflow.
Magento and Unleashed are the perfect partners for smooth sales reporting.
Unleashed enables visibility over how much profit will be made from sales. It also offers a sophisticated business intelligence tool that can be customised to suit your reporting needs.
An Unleashed integration with Magento allows you to design the sales reporting in a way that is suitable for your business and ongoing strategic aims.
Features to look for in a Magento inventory management system
Magento is a world-leading ecommerce provider, but its inventory management systems can be limited. Automated inventory management is hugely important to a business’s profitability.
At each step, inventory management matters. If materials or products are over- or under-ordered, there is delay, waste, and disruption. This can leave customers dissatisfied and the brand facing reputational damage.
That said, below are a few important features to look for in an integrated inventory management system for Magento.
1. Seamless integration
Any inventory system should also integrate with other elements of your business including your accounting systems. Look for software which can slot relatively seamlessly into your existing workflows and software systems.
Ecommerce customers are fickle and any disruption to their user journey or purchase experience is highly likely to mean they won’t return.
2. Third-party endorsements
Make sure to research the system’s feedback from customers – including those who have integrated it into a Magento system. This will ensure you have frank insights into its ‘in situ’ performance before you invest.
3. Bespoke business requirements
Ensure any inventory control system you are considering for integration will satisfy (or can be customised to satisfy) any particular needs of your business that are not met by Magento’s offering.
4. Ability to scale
Scalability is too often forgotten. You may be a small- to medium-business owner now, but your business will grow. Invest in an inventory management system that suits your business now – but make sure it will also support your business into the future.
5. Affordable cost
Adding an inventory management system to your existing platform will always cost extra, likely in the form of a subscription.
Make sure you are aware of all the inventory management costs, and any ways to minimise them – such as taking an annual rather than monthly subscription. And don’t forget to confirm that they fit into the budget you have carved out for add-ons to your Magento store.
6. Customer support
Integrating third-party systems can create glitches, and it is important to know there are experts readily available to support should anything go wrong.
Make sure you understand how much access you will have to experts, and for how long, before investing in a third-party system.
How does Magento perform compared to Magento 2?
Magento 2 was introduced in 2015, as the new version of Magento’s ecommerce platform.
Magento 2 offers several upgrades including:
- Improved performance
- Faster checkout process
- More friendly admin interface
- An improved mobile ecommerce experience
However, despite these improvements, migration is not necessarily the right thing for every business.
Below are a few reasons to hold back on switching from Magento to Magento 2.
Migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 can be a time-consuming process.
Adobe suggests three months is a “safe bet”, but it will take far longer for some.
Software migrations chew up labour resources. They usually require external consultants, distract the management team (and many others), and can disrupt customer experiences.
Any migration should be carefully considered and only done at the right time, at the right cost.
Migration involves changing your databases and working with new APIs and new systems. This carries certain risks such as the potential for data loss and website/ecommerce downtime.
In turn, this can lead to revenue loss and reputational harm.
It will cost – and it’s impossible to know how much
The migration and adoption of a Magento 2 ecommerce platform will cost money – but it’s impossible to say how much.
Each business will have its own requirements, and likely a few technical glitches to work through. When developing the new platform, new features will be identified, and old ones will be discarded.
The cost of migration can be as long or short as a piece of string. But it won’t be free, and it won’t be cheap.
It may not offer what your business needs
There is no doubt Magento 2 offers a more extensive banquet of features, but your business may not need all of them.
There is little point in upgrading to a new platform when your existing platform works largely as you need it to. Indeed, some business owners may prefer the simpler, more easily navigated systems of Magento.
Before making any decisions to migrate, ask yourself if there are ways you can improve your existing platform by adding extensions or integrations. With the right integrations, you could continue to work on the original Magento for the foreseeable future.