Sunday, December 23, 2012

How to Manage eCommerce Inventory Across Different Platforms


The inventory of any ecommerce business is its lifeblood. Without a fully stocked and varied inventory, no retail business can succeed. Managing your inventory properly can be tricky even if you only have a single store location. However, tracking and measuring your stock becomes drastically more difficult when you expand your brand across multiple storefronts. Each new order must be tallied against your combined stock or you will quickly lose track of your information and the fulfillment steps. There are numerous techniques available to ecommerce owners and managers that want to integrate multiple platforms in one system.

Stick to Compatible Platforms

Many ecommerce systems allow you to open separate storefronts and manage the inventory seamlessly between them all. However, this won't give you the benefit of using the existing customer base of many well-established platforms. Amazon Services says that a company can open a number of different stores and control the inventory through a single management account. This works well for some businesses but does limit your ability to expand later down the road. It can be useful if one platform has a wide enough consumer base to support all of your stores.

Inventory Management

Designers have developed a range of helpful software solutions for tracking inventory. Some rely on hand held item scanners used in the warehouse, while others allow you to manually enter each item that leaves your stock. Shopify says that these systems are essential if your ecommerce business grows beyond the occasional sale. Tracking and managing a complex inventory is extremely time consuming if you don't have help from a powerful software solution. These programs can automatically stop orders when a product runs out. Others include automatic re-ordering that can be switched on and off as needed to maintain a constant stream of new inventory.

Complete Management

Many systems designed to help you manage customer orders and fulfillment can also be used for inventory control. A completely integrated program often reduces mistakes made at every level. Each shipping or stocking mistake can cost you a lot of money. Investing in a fine-tuned order management system can keep your ecommerce business running smoothly, according to Ability Commerce. The best programs integrate seamlessly across all of the most popular platforms, including Amazon, eBay and privately hosted stores. Look for software that can support changes like holiday discounts or free shipping on qualifying purchases without requiring hours of hand coding.

An ecommerce business can start as a small and simple eBay store and grow into a massive network that sells products to customers around the globe. If you want to find true success in the world of online sales, you must start with a system that will allow you to grow. Choose a scalable solution to begin with. This will allow you to avoid a lot of difficulty and downtime in the future. You won't need to completely renovate your platform and install new systems if you go from one order a week to one thousand orders a day.

Ted Hosford has been a business software consultant for more than 10 years and enjoys sharing his knowledge via blogging. Visit ordoro.com for dropshipping software solutions that could help your business.


2 comments:

  1. Very informative blog. I'd like to add a little. This is important both for accurate demand planning and aligning inventory demand with marketing. First, conduct an audit of the entire data capture process to ensure you are requesting and capturing source information from your customers. If source code is not provided by your customer, use matchback processing to assign a source before data is posted to inventory planning systems. Thanks.

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