As an e-commerce operator, the lack of physical shop space can lead companies to believe their stock doesn’t need to be managed at such a high level. In reality, inventory management is more important for businesses in the highly contested e-commerce space than brick and mortar stores. Effectively managing inventory can identify the errors in previous stock taking efforts, improve customer satisfaction, and offer valuable forecasts of what to expect in terms of future demand.
Why cloud-based inventory management?
As your business grows, your demand for better inventory management increases. While manual spreadsheets and outdated data may not have been an issue before, this will soon change when customer satisfaction is on the line. Online inventory management is effective in tracking stock availability and analysing a variety of data to keep up with the growing demands of customers.
Adequate inventory management has some crucial features, including tracking stock levels, equating the cost of stock, accounting for shipping and storage, and signalling when stock needs to be replenished. This process would obviously take extreme effort if it was managed manually. Online inventory management allows for more time improving customer relations and other aspects of successful business. With cloud-based inventory management, businesses can maintain optimal stock levels, reduce costs and maintain inventory quality.
Identifying past stock management problems
Managing inventory manually comes with many obstacles, and many of these can be resolved with online inventory management. Issues with overstocking can be costly, especially when damages occur. Stock can become outdated or can expire over time, making it unsellable. Similarly, incorrect stock numbers can result in accidental overselling, ultimately affecting your customer satisfaction and bottom line.
To tackle stock management manually means to accept obsolete data. This will inevitably leave your business susceptible to errors relating to the tracking and fulfilment of orders. Using an online inventory management system will ensure stock is tracked throughout your business, with easier tracking through barcodes, scanners, or reference numbers. This ensures that the data on the stock management system is accurate, resulting in the ability to fulfil orders.
Likewise, e-commerce businesses tend to have larger storage needs, and as demand grows, so will your warehouse. Split storage facilities, and multiple channels to sell products from means more work to ensure inventory is accurately managed. However, by applying online inventory management, tracking across facilities and platforms can be more transparent and informative.
Benefits for e-commerce
In e-commerce, stock management is the key to becoming successful. Customers can’t see if their purchase is in stock physically, and therefore rely on online data and commercial transparency to fulfil their order. With online inventory management, product information can be kept up-to-date, with real-time availability shown when an order is placed. Synchronised data cannot be achieved with manual stock tracking, and with growing demand it is imperative to keep customers happy.
While e-commerce doesn’t involve a physical store for customers, organising products is still important in maintaining a steady and effective workflow. Using online inventory management can assist with product organisation, and reliable data enables companies to comfortably advertise discounts or sales while still maintaining profit.
Dated manual systems will not be able to keep up with increased demand and tracking, and therefore it may be time to consider online inventory management to make your business more effective and successful.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.