Updated: Oct 12
The 2020 acceleration of e-commerce has put the spotlight on inventory management. Strained supply chains left brands and marketplace sellers unprepared to handle unprecedented demand.
To capitalize on the high volume of online traffic, you need a retail operations platform you can trust - especially when it comes to inventory management.
What is an Inventory Management System?
Inventory management software (IMS) provides automation and integration across your vendor and warehouse ecosystem. The true value of an IMS is in its ability to lower costs and reduce human error.
Automated inventory management software can perform accounting functions, identify pick-and-pack locations, create shipping labels, and even print packing slips. But its most important responsibility is to keep you “in stock” everywhere you sell.
Stockouts lead to third-party fees, negative reviews, and lost customers.
Historically, inventory management solutions relied on clunky ERPs and manually-updated spreadsheets. These legacy systems and outdated processes are unable to support today's agile e-commerce sellers. To stay competitive, operators require flexible, scalable and adaptable multichannel solutions.
What Can an Inventory Management System Do for Your Business?
A good multichannel inventory management solution will provide complete visibility across your network of fulfillment locations and partners. This enables you to streamline operations and efficiently fulfill direct-to-everywhere.
The days of a single warehouse are over.
You need to know where inventory is from the moment it arrives at your warehouse until the time it is shipped out to a customer. Plus, you need a system that can integrate returns management - especially during Q4.
Here is a breakdown of the major benefits provided by an inventory management system:
Inventory management software leverages real-time data to optimize your physical asset value. Setting safety stock and reorder point rules keep inventory levels balanced and helps to avoid third-party fees which diminish profitability.
Knowing your warehouse capacity in relation to actual stock allows you to optimize warehouse real estate. Without effective inventory management, you end up paying for wasted space.
Then there's deadstock. Without proper inventory management, you might be left with excess stock that needs to be liquidated.
A good inventory management solution will leverage existing data to make recommendations that increase profitability.
When you are out-of-stock, your business loses sales. Chances are if a customer finds a product is sold-out, they won't wait for a backorder. There are too many other channels competing for that customer who have similar products that can ship immediately.
Maintaining accurate inventory counts and dynamically updating availability allows you to meet fluctuating demand across your sales network. An inventory management tool should make it easy to add new channels and warehouses when needed. It should also allow you to optimize merchandise planning and expand your inventory possibilities.
Bundle and kit your best sellers to increase average order volume. Implement minimum and maximum quantity rules to leverage scarcity and drive faster purchase decisions.
Automated inventory tracking means no spreadsheets to edit. Real-time inventory updates mean no hunting down items in a warehouse only to find them missing.
Automated inventory management software will reduce the time your employees spend managing stock by automating and streamlining fulfillment, purchasing, and routing. An inventory management system can also eliminate your dependency on FBA by supporting a merchant-fulfilled strategy.
Ultimately, a well implemented IMS can give you more autonomy and control to simplify your ecommerce operations, freeing up time for employees to focus on high-value tasks and customer experience.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
An often overlooked benefit of an IMS is to increase customer satisfaction. There are many ways it can do this.
Effective inventory control reduces shipping and handling times because you will always have items in stock and know exactly where they are located reducing the time to pick-and-pack. It will also result in lower prices for customers because when your company is running efficiently, you can pass on the savings.
How Effective Inventory Management Can Help Your Business Grow
We have just seen how effective inventory management software can improve the business you have now. But it can also help your business grow.
More Capital to Invest
Good inventory management will keep your inventory at optimal levels. The lowered costs and increased sales that result from that means more capital to invest in growth.
Multiple Sales Channels
Since modern inventory management software can streamline all of your sales channels, adding a new sales channel is easier than ever, meaning more potential customers for your products.
With inventory management software you can also manage your network of suppliers to grow product lines more efficiently and inexpensively. You will be able to leverage historical order data to automate replenishment or prepare for the busy holiday season.
There are many myths of inventory management. One of these myths could be that you don't need inventory management software.
Modern inventory management software can not only improve the business you have now but also help it grow. Look no further than Skubana for the right inventory management software for your e-commerce business.
About the Author:
Gina Ellison manages Partner Marketing initiatives at Skubana, the leading retail inventory and order management software for multichannel sellers and D2C brands looking to unify and automate their operations.
When Gina is not marketing e-commerce software, she likes to spend time outdoors with her dog Elli.