Inventory control in your ecommerce is one of the most important parts of your business, or at least it should be.
Imagine you highly rated product, which everyone wants and at a very competitive price. Your online shop reflects that there are 10 units of this product left and the last 10 have been sold. However, when you proceed with the preparation of orders, you realise that you only have 7 units left in stock.
This can result in negative reviews, loss of customers or a bad reputation for your online shop, and you don't want that. That's why optimising your inventory control is essential for your ecommerce to succeed.
There is a lot of information about how to manage inventories, as it is an activity that has been done since the industrial revolution. In this article we are going to explain what elements you should take into account when it comes to improving your ecommerce inventory control.
Know your business
Knowing your business is a fundamental aspect of your ecommerce inventory control. How much merchandise do I order, when do I order it, and how often do I order it? If you don't know how to answer these questions, you may be wasting time and money.
Estimating your sales: If your shop has been open for a while, you can estimate the sales you expect to have at certain times. For example, in summer, do you sell more or less, and at Christmas, how much do you expect your sales to increase on days like Black Friday? Making predictions of how your demand may fluctuate helps you to know what is the optimal amount you should have in stock to face these peaks successfully.
Know your products: Which products do you sell most frequently (have the highest turnover)? Which products sell more sporadically? Do you have seasonal products? Products with a higher turnover will require more frequent orders from the supplier and more control over the stock available in case of unforeseen events. On the other hand, managing the frequency of orders will help you reduce the time your products are sitting in the warehouse. This means more efficient organisation, reduced storage costs and no loss of product value.
Minimum inventory stock: Also called minimum viable quantity, this is the amount of products that you must have in the warehouse to continue selling while your new merchandise is coming in, avoiding stock-outs (running out of product). When the quantities in your warehouse are not large, calculating this quantity by eye is quite easy. However, when dealing with larger quantities, it is advisable to use computer programmes for a more accurate calculation.
Having a good organisation of the place where you are going to store the product will help you both save time and reduce costs. When it comes to preparing orders, having your products well located and labelled makes the process much quicker. You should also take into account which products have been in the warehouse the longest in order to dispatch them as soon as possible, a method known as FIFO (First In, First Out). In this way, you ensure that the product does not become obsolete. On the other hand, it is advisable to organise your products according to their characteristics. For example, products that have a higher turnover should be more accessible.
Furthermore, you should have the appropriate material and areas for the reception and preparation of your orders. It is advisable that the reception area and the preparation area are two different places, if possible. If not, never perform both tasks simultaneously, as you may lose the traceability of your products. To avoid that to happen, you should first receive your goods, locating each product in its assigned place in the warehouse. Once everything is in order, you can prepare your customers' orders.
Controlling the flow of information
To have a recorded control over your ecommerce operations, use an ERP software and connect it to your online shop. This way, your online shop will show a true picture of the products you have in stock. It will allow you to better manage your catalogues, avoid errors when processing orders and save you the time and effort you would have to spend if you did it manually. Not only will it improve your order management and inventory control, it will also make it easier to manage the accounting and invoicing of your online shop.
You will have all your ecommerce information in one place, organised and secure. There are different options of ERP software for ecommerce. The most popular options are, for example, Magento or Holded.
Beyond inventory control: Logistics outsourcingIf all goes well, there will come a point where the efforts to manage the logistics of your online shop will require:
- A larger warehouse
- More manpower
- More marketing and advertising
In addition, the logistics operator you choose should not be limited to just carrying out your logistics operations. It is important that the logistics operator with which you operate is committed to the growth of your ecommerce, providing valuable information and improvements to continue lowering your costs and improving processes.
As you have seen, optimising your inventory control is key for your ecommerce to grow. Outsourcing your logistics operations to the right logistics partner can bring substantial improvements to your online shop.
If you need help to better manage your online shop or you are thinking of outsourcing your logistics operations, contact us and we will help you sell more.