5 ways an inventory management system benefits your online business
Tracking inventory levels, orders, sales, deliveries, and returns may not be one of the most exciting aspects of running a business, but it’s certainly one of the most important. Without knowing what products you have in stock and where they are available (instore, in your warehouse, or enroute from a supplier), you cannot effectively meet customer demand.
Businesses that sell online have unique needs in this regard because inventory tracking must bridge brick-and-mortar and digital operations. If an item is out of stock or discontinued for example, a business’ website must reflect this change immediately in order to prevent a disappointed customer.
Whether you sell strictly online or from both a brick-and-mortar location and an eCommerce site, today’s inventory management systems can be a lifesaver for keeping sales and orders moving along uninterrupted. In addition to tracking inventory available across all sales channels, these sophisticated systems offer expanded functionality that helps reduce costs and boost profitability.
Optimize operations and growth
Systemizing any business system can help streamline operations, and inventory is no exception. Let’s take a look at five ways an automated inventory management system can benefit your online business:
- Get real-time access to data. Rather than waiting for a printed report or visiting your warehouse, simply log onto your mobile device, laptop, or PC to view up-to-date information about stock inventory levels at all your locations.
- Maintain more consistent inventory. Change pricing, modify reorders, and make other adjustments to accommodate shifting supply and demand and help prevent product outages and overstocks.
- Get insight into buying trends. See what’s selling, what’s not, and how sales fluctuate throughout the year, so you can diversify your product offering to meet changing consumer preferences.
- Reduce human error. Eliminate the need to hand-count products—a tedious, time-consuming, and error prone task that can be costly for any business.
- Target your marketing efforts. See where your customers are coming from so you can determine an online advertising and marketing strategy that reaches the most promising and lucrative buyers.
What to look for
Depending on your industry and your business strategy, you have many choices in inventory management systems. While not exhaustive, here are four important features to look for when reviewing your options:
- Product identification and tracking. Barcoding and scanning simplifies picking, packing, and shipping products to customers, as well as tracking and restocking returns.
- Automatic reordering. Designating a threshold for automatic reordering of specific products helps avoid the problems of running out of products or tying up capital in inventory.
- Reporting and forecasting. Drilling down into the details of your sales cycles provides invaluable information for planning inventory purchases and price points.
- Easy integration with other systems. An inventory management system that works in tandem with your eCommerce site, accounting program, payment processing service, and other business systems helps streamline operations and reduce the risk of duplicate entries, errors, and other issues.
A business necessity
Inventory management systems do much more than simply count product. They help businesses improve efficiency by automating many tasks such as collecting sales data, forecasting for future sales, and repricing and reordering product. If you aren’t currently using an inventory management system for your online business, or want to improve upon one you have in place, now’s the time to check out the many options available. Be sure to review the technology for payments as well for proper integration.