Inventory isn’t just one of the largest cash-flow costs of doing business, it can also be the largest time-commitment cost. Managing and balancing your inventory management, handling supplier relationships and purchase orders, and trying to create a reliable means of putting it all together often becomes a full time job in itself.
For many SMBs, you have neither the time nor the manpower to scale this as your business and inventory counts grow. We get it, which is why we’ve built a robust Inventory Management tool as part of the ShippingEasy platform.There are some warning signs that it’s time to pull the trigger on an inventory management software solution. We’ve outlined three warning signs that it’s time to make the move in this article.
Stock level errors are starting to cause headaches
Do any of these sound familiar?
Manual updates to spreadsheets or shared Google docs has become far too time-consuming.
Or worse, your spreadsheet or Google Sheet somehow got deleted, went missing, or was corrupted.
Data entry by hand leaves room for error and miscommunication, and your inventory levels reflect that.
If so, then it’s definitely time to start automating your inventory processes with inventory management software. Adding inventory automation lets you import quantities from your purchase orders and update them across your stores and marketplaces within the platform (and in some cases, even in the stores and marketplaces themselves). When your products are linked, or mapped, from inventory management software to order management and to the originating store, quantities automatically deduct to keep your inventory numbers accurate and current. Managing your inventory is exponentially easier when your stock levels align across multiple platforms.
Automation also allows you to set flags for low-stock quantities to make sure you have enough time to order more from your suppliers. This can have not only a major effect on your inventory, but can help you avoid customer service issues from selling out-of-stock items.
We recently held a webinar explaining how this works, and how easy it is to set it up specifically in ShippingEasy’s Inventory Management solution.Check out the replay below!
Managing has become unmanageable
The good news: you’re increasing inventory, diversifying your suppliers and stores/platforms, and seeing growth in sales.
The bad news: you don’t have time to manage all these new relationships accurately, juggle quantities, SKUs and products in various stores and marketplaces, and things are slipping through the cracks.
Though it’s often a best practice in e-commerce to sell on multiple stores and marketplaces to maximize your marketable audience, it can certainly create a product management nightmare. Particularly if your SKUs don’t match up 100%.
Inventory management software solves for this by letting you create aliases so that you can find products with different SKUs that are allocated to different stores. Those aliases are all located within a single platform so you don’t have to go to each platform, searching for products.
Remembering which products are in which stores and marketplaces—and equally important, which products are NOT available in your stores and marketplaces—can be a struggle when you don’t have a centralized and reliable means of tracking. ShippingEasy’s Inventory Management tool allows you to run a report that shows which stores your products are currently associated with. As you continue to grow your business, reports like this let you see where you have opportunities to grow by identifying what stores your products ARE NOT listed on, so you can get them in front of a new customer base.
In a similar vein, you may be working with multiple suppliers to get the best pricing on and diversification of your inventory. Yet each of those suppliers needs to be managed to maintain the relationship, ensure accuracy of vendor information, and creation of purchase orders.
Inventory management software lets you assign products to suppliers, quickly create and assign purchase orders, manage all your suppliers in a single screen, and streamline the process of ordering and receiving more products, both in full and partially when necessary.
We show precisely how easy managing suppliers can be in the below webinar replay. Take a look!
Aside from managing your products across different stores, trying to manage product variants and bundled products can be time-consuming and leave room for error. You need to be able to quickly and accurately identify which products are part of bundles, and be sure when a bundle is purchased, inventory levels from all products within that bundle properly reflect the sale.
Creating and reporting on bundles can be done quickly and easily using a robust inventory management software solution. In ShippingEasy, adding a product to a bundle is as easy as a few quick clicks, and reporting bundles can be done in a single click.
Inventory is taking you away from other business processes
Kudos to you for attempting to manually manage your inventory as much as you have thus far. We know it’s not easy. It begs the question, however: what could you have been working on instead that could have been growing your business? Was inventory management taking you away from marketing activities? From managing your brand? From engaging your customers? Those are some serious detriments to your business!
Streamlining your inventory management processes can have tangible results on business growth. Just ask Shaun Donovan, owner of Appalachian Organics, who grew sales 2X year-over-year, and added 3.5X more products thanks to streamlining their inventory management processes with ShippingEasy’s Inventory Management tool. Does this process sound familiar?
ShippingEasy: Can you describe what your inventory management process was like originally?
Shaun Donovan: We used to manage a big spreadsheet to track when things were received and sold. Every day we’d upload an updated sheet, and it took a lot of time out of our day to constantly find each item sold or received and update the numbers in each field. We didn’t even bother tracking POs, just inventory in and out was tedious enough.
A quality inventory management tool should offer at-a-glance metrics (like the dashboard below) to help you identify trends, opportunities, and see just how your inventory is performing. When you can quickly analyze performance metrics, you can make smart decisions that help you forecast and plan accurately, avoiding excess inventory overhead. That time and money can then be invested back into your business in the form of marketing dollars, business planning, and expansion.
After reading through these warning signs, is it time to start researching an inventory management solution for your business? Start with ShippingEasy, which integrates your inventory and order data seamlessly with your sales channels to make managing your inventory a breeze.
We even have an Inventory Specialist that walks you through initial setup, adding your stores and products, and helps you create automation rules to take daily management out of your hands. Try it free by clicking the button below!
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- Everything You Need to Know About Inventory Management - December 6, 2019