E-commerce inventory management processes help your business to run more efficiently and offer your customers a more well-rounded experience with your brand. Controlling your inventory well requires you to have an adaptable, flexible approach, and a structure that’s intentionally designed to fluctuate with the natural ebb and flow of your business.

It’s slightly different from brick-and-mortar inventory management, which is why it requires a more nuanced approach to be done well.

Key takeaways

  • E-commerce inventory management helps in giving your customers as broad of a selection as possible, in this set-up you’re likely working with customers who expect a more immediate gratification experience and may have less control or data over the purchase patterns that your customers fall into.
  • You can optimize your e-commerce inventory management by decentralizing sourcing solutions for your e-commerce business,  creating smart marketing strategies that adhere to FIFO concepts, and balancing your inventory regularly.
  • E-commerce inventory management solutions are designed to help businesses operate in a more streamlined, customer-forward way.

What Is E-Commerce Inventory Control and Management?

inventory management banner
Source: Webayu.com

The goal of e-commerce inventory control is similar to inventory management in a brick-and-mortar location, with a few key differences and exceptions. While the goal is to give your customers as broad of a selection as possible, the methods of getting there and technical considerations look different.

In a brick-and-mortar store, you may have a less expansive product catalog. Because of this, you can more adequately plan for the fluctuations in business without the same extent of the potential for error.

However, if you run an e-commerce business, you’re likely working with customers who expect a more immediate gratification experience. You need to keep all offerings stocked and may have less control or data over the purchase patterns that your customers fall into.

As customer service and the journey become growing trends with rising importance in 2022, you also need to put digital fail-safes in place that enhances the customer experience in the event of a product outage or inserted along the purchase experience.

While you can do this naturally through a brick-and-mortar location, you have to go the extra mile to make a positive impact on the customer experience in the e-commerce space to remain competitive.

What Are the Basic Principles of E-Commerce Inventory Management?

man facing his laptop
Source: Portalvmi.com

Supplying your e-commerce business has become more challenging over the past few years, as business owners navigate supply chain disruptions. Despite the dynamic elements of business, you can still find success by following the three basic principles of e-commerce inventory management, which we’ve outlined below.

Decentralized Sourcing Solutions for Your E-Commerce Business

When you’re working with physical goods, it’s always important to have a backup sourcing solution or two in place to meet your customer’s needs adequately. Due to global shipping and distribution issues, more small businesses are considering decentralized and domestic sources for their goods. This can help to protect the customer’s experience and can help to guarantee more uptime and fulfillment capacity for every item in your business’s catalog.

You can also use this as an opportunity to serve your clientele with higher quality products and manufacturing processes and find new bonuses to publicly market as you go through this process. You may also have the opportunity to save with different vendors who are looking to be more competitive in the space.

Smart Marketing To Adhere to FIFO Concepts

FIFO stands for “first-in, first-out,” and adhering to these concepts can help you to avoid a surplus of unwanted items. While you can’t “force” your customers to buy certain products, you can influence their purchasing decisions with targeted marketing solutions, and strategic sales campaigns that help you to clear out older inventory completely before restocking or announcing a new launch.

Balancing Your Inventory Regularly

Inventory management is an ongoing process that requires business owners to have their finger on the pulse of their customers’ needs and wants. Usually, this requires you to strike the perfect balance of stocked but not overstocked. Having too much inventory at any given time can put you at risk for financial insufficiency and liquidation. Software solutions for inventory management are normally required to help you find that point of balance and can be supplemented with customer insight marketing techniques, outreach, and trend analysis over time.

What Tools or Software Do You Need for E-Commerce Inventory Management?

pointing at laptop
Source: Quickbooks.com

Before determining your next right step when it comes to software solutions for your e-commerce business, we always recommend an audit so that you can determine your areas of need. Taking the time to go through the audit process with your team can help you to understand where customers may need extra support through the purchasing process, and how you can further enhance your pre-existing systems.

E-commerce inventory management can generally be done in a single, centralized system for data integrity and efficiency. You may choose to supplement with different tools for analysis and customer experience at a later point, or if you want to continue to iterate your customer’s experience and your business’s e-commerce inventory management framework. Below, we’ve listed some top e-commerce inventory tools that you can invest in today to begin taking control of your business’s e-commerce process.

Zoho Inventory

Zoho has recently launched an inventory management system that’s designed to help e-commerce businesses run their processes more efficiently. Integrated easily with the software giant’s other suite of solutions, you can run and operate your business off of a single, centralized, cloud-based framework — offering your customers a seamless experience that sets you apart from the competition.

Business owners can sign up for a 14-day free trial, after which they can sign on to a package that suits their needs. With Zoho Inventory, you can take advantage of advanced data automation and analytics, avoiding the risk of double records and inefficiencies. Coupled with the platform’s expiration date and distribution tracking capabilities as well as their group performance data customization option, you can operate your business with effective and precise data points and make your workflow more effective.

Kechie

Kechie is the ideal solution for e-commerce businesses who are just starting out, or who want a full en-suite of data management at their fingertips. Kechie offers built-in customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities as well as financial management and sales CRM dashboard. This gives businesses an end-to-end solution that’s available at their fingertips and makes navigation and dual management a far more efficient process.

The platform is also equipped with automation capabilities and offers a variety of opportunities for integration with some of your top-used tools. Kechie remains one of the most scalable end-to-end systems that are offered currently for e-commerce businesses and makes for an excellent choice if you’re looking for a single system management solution for your small business.

Stitch Labs

Stitch Labs is an inventory management software solution that connects different e-commerce operations into a single, smooth platform with a flawless user interface (UI). This enables business owners to get a full, broad-angle scope of their daily business operations, showing the general flow of products in and out over any given time. The platform is run on an open application programming interface (API) system, enabling new opportunities for customization, bug fixes, and overall performance enhancements.

This platform has continued to expand their already expansive library of integrations to accommodate some of the most prevalently used options available to e-commerce businesses today and was recently acquired by Square for further optimization and enhancement. Stitch Labs is designed to grow with your business’s needs and continues to overdeliver and improve the customer experience and functionality of businesses around the world.

Investing in E-Commerce Inventory Management Is Key To Your Business’s Success

E-commerce inventory management solutions are designed to help your business operate in a more streamlined, customer-forward way. Investing in this area of your business is vital to your business’s success and can inform your other strategic decision-making processes: such as your marketing initiatives, launches, and customer preferences. If you’re looking for your next right step, consider investing in e-commerce inventory management tech for your small business.