With fewer bricks-and-mortar stores and the need to economize on inventory based heavily on demand, businesses are learning to work leaner. In today’s online marketplace, these companies have many solutions available to them: They can invest in technology and software, and they can learn from the best practices of others.
It’s imperative that online entrepreneurs buy the right amount of inventory at the right price, but it’s also a “balancing act” that online stores do not outspend the demand they’re receiving from their customers.
Now that customers are more accustomed to shopping online, it’s incumbent upon e-tailers to manage their online inventory and sales as effectively as possible. Here are four methods for managing your on-demand inventory.
1. Stay organized
One of the basic tenets of managing one’s inventory on demand is to be organized. Know what you currently have stocked and where to find it.
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2. Never go out of stock
It sounds kind of counterintuitive, and a bit like which comes first: the chicken or the egg? But if your website says you sell it, you have to make sure it’s available. Never run out of products, particularly your most popular items.
If your business is just one person, set aside scheduled time to stay on top of this. It will seem tedious and sometimes burdensome, but it should always be considered an essential part of risk management for your company’s bottom line.
3. Select software that works for your business
When you can evolve past the one-man show type of organization, consider adopting a software program in the market that suits your business.
“When selecting a shopping cart for your online business, look for a system that integrates with industry standard software for inventory management, bookkeeping and other services,” says Colegrove. “As your business grows and your e-commerce needs change, this will allow you to move to a new shopping cart solution while minimizing impact to your business operations.”
4. Employ a warehouse management system
Employing a warehouse management system can streamline the operations of your company as you grow. It reduces errors in the selection process by providing workers with the right information as to when to pull from inventory, at what quantities, and from which locations. In doing so, it ensures accuracy of each order by establishing the right quantity to pack and ship.
E-commerce business operations differ from those of bricks-and-mortar firms, but are not difficult to learn if business owners apply some of the methods outlined here. While “information” and “data” become part of the ordering process, it doesn’t take long to understand the status of orders and even the future handling of orders so your customers are consistently satisfied, on an ongoing basis.