Your inventory is there to win you customers. Providing online shoppers with something that they want, at a price they can’t refuse. But what if we told you that your inventory is actually losing you customers. 43% of small businesses are either not tracking their inventory or are using manual methods, which causes out of stock items, overselling and disappointed customers. This article looks at inventory management – what you’re doing wrong and what you can do to make it right again.

Back to Basics

On the face of it, inventory management is simple. You buy stock, list it on Amazon, sell stock, buy more stock and so on (with a little bit of profit thrown in). It generates cash flow, keeps you busy and makes online shoppers super happy.

When Things Get Tricky – Poor Inventory Management

Soon enough, your business is booming. You’re adding more stock, getting more customers and things are going well but what about your inventory management. As your ecommerce business grows, additional pressures are placed on your inventory.

These can include:

  1. Additional stock: Selling new items and variations of current items means more stock moving in and out to keep track of.
  2. Seasonable items: Not all of your stock will sell well all of the time. Think Christmas, summer holidays, retail moments – you need to prepare for the highs (and lows) to ensure you’re not over or understocked.
  3. Sales: Some stock won’t move. You need to be aware of this so that you can push it into seasonal sales and out of the door.
  4. More customers: More customers mean more sales, which means things are happening quickly – things you need to keep on top of. Orders, payments, shipping and reviews need to flow like clockwork regardless of how busy you are.
  5. Slow-moving stock: Some of your products will sell super-fast, and some will be more of a slow burn. You need to be aware of these items and have your stock levels on point so that you can meet demand without taking up valuable warehouse space unnecessarily.
  6. Cash flow: With stock and money flying in and out of your business, it can be tricky to keep on top of your cash flow and know if it’s healthy or not.

Multichannel Selling

Naturally, as you grow, you’ll want to expand your sales channel portfolio and include other marketplaces such as eBay, and Etsy, and maybe your own website. Suddenly, your inventory management has just entered into a whole new ball game.

In a flash, your inventory isn’t as straightforward as buy, stock, sell repeat, and failure to keep on top of it can lead to worrying things.

The Consequences of Bad Amazon Inventory Management

Ultimately, poor inventory management will lose you customers through:

1. Selling out

If you’re not on top of your inventory management, you will quickly sell out of stock before you’ve realised you’re running low. What does a customer do when the item they want is sold out? Go somewhere where it isn’t and recommend that place when speaking to family and friends.

2. Overselling

Selling on multiple sales channels increases your risk of overselling, i.e. selling out on Amazon but not updating eBay in time, enabling customers to place an order that you can’t fulfil. What does overselling lead to? Miserable customers who go elsewhere and aren’t very nice about you in online reviews.

3. Slow delivery

Poor inventory management can lead to warehouse chaos, which leads to poor order management and delayed shipments, which results in unhappy customers and negative reviews. According to recent reports, 52% of UK consumers have switched providers due to poor service – don’t give customers a reason to switch from you.

4. Bad planning

It’s summer, everyone’s looking for t-shirts and flipflops, and you’ve got snow boots and thermals. A drastic example but if you’re not monitoring your inventory you’re missing out on sales trends and customers.

5. Bad time management

Manual inventory management involves spreadsheets, urgently re-ordering stock and handling customer complains. By investing your limited time in your poor inventory management, you have no time left to invest in making your business better for your customers.

6. Bad cash flow

Inventory management makes the world go round, or your cash flow at least. Without knowledge of how much cash is tied up in your inventory and how to generate a healthy flow of stock coming in and out, your cash flow will suffer. And suffering cash flow is never good for business.

This all spells for an unhappy situation but there are ways to stop this terrible turn of events.

Good Amazon Inventory Management

Inventory management doesn’t have to be hard, even with a booming, multichannel ecommerce business. These common problems are easily overcome with a little planning, a little work and some little tools.

1. Price Optimisation

Holding onto stock is terrible news. It slows your cash flow, takes up room in your warehouse and plays havoc with your inventory management. Price optimisation software like RepricerExpress automatically changes your product prices based on competition and in the case of Amazon, Buy Box ownership. It enhances your chances of selling stock quickly.

2. Stock monitoring

Keeping check of your stock levels and knowing exactly how much you need to reorder and when will not only avoid stock selling out but it will maximise your warehouse space and improve your cash flow by taking into account how quickly individual items of stock move at any one time of the year. Inventory management software does this automatically, taking the time and hassle out of manual spreadsheets.

3. Multichannel management

Multichannel selling is fantastic for increasing customers, maximising sales and growing your brand but monitoring and immediately updating all of your sales channels is almost impossible. Multichannel management software with built-in inventory management does that for – automatically syncing your stock levels across your website, shopping cart and marketplaces so that you never oversell.

4. Forecasting

The dreaded ‘R’ word – reports. Regularly reporting on your inventory levels allows you to predict trends and plan accordingly. We know it’s time-consuming, but we also know that multichannel management software with inventory management built-in can do this for you quickly and easily – reporting trends and forecasts across all of your sales channels.

Final Thoughts

Inventory management can be tough but get it right and you maintain and grow a healthy ecommerce business. Get it wrong and you lose customers, reputation and sleep. Many ecommerce businesses use multichannel management software to manage their inventory for them. See how it can help you with a free trial from Expandly today.