For an online retailer, there is nothing more important than attracting new buyers and retaining old ones. Whatever be the product category you sell, customers always want something new. Not only do people have shorter attention spans now than ever before, they also expect to see more products online and when purchased, they expect the item to be in stock and blocked for them.
1. Handle inventory in real-time
Stock-outs are the largest reason for disappointed online shoppers. As you begin to sell on more channels, complications arise. You need to begin tracking inventory levels across all channels, and very often, to avoid going out of stock.
A cloud-based inventory management system can update itself every five minutes, thus keeping the actual inventory levels very accurate. Since it works even while you sleep, you don’t run the risk of running out of stock for products and continuing to sell them online anyway.
It also removes the hassle of having to keep an eye on multiple channels at the same time. It tracks inventory as one whole and alerts you when you are about to run out. Further, it can also stop you from making a sale when you have actually run out of a product entirely.
2. Access from anywhere
As an online retailer, it is perhaps some relief that you don’t have to stock up a physical outlet every single day. Some retailers who sell exclusively online look at it as a way of going global without having to spend as much money as opening a physical outlet in every country.
It is only logical then that you want your business operations to be manageable from anywhere. If you travel to a different place, you want to be able to access your inventory information from there without the need for clunky files and folders.
A cloud-based service in general, and an inventory management system in particular, can be accessed from anywhere on the planet and on any device, as long as you remember your login ID and password.
As a result, you can manage your retail business remotely, raise purchase orders, view business reports and even process orders and returns, all without having to be physically present in your office or a warehouse.
3. Scale easily
While regular retail is currently growing at about 4%, online retail is growing at 8-12%, roughly three times faster. As an online retailer, you want a chunk of that growing market share. The best thing about a cloud-based inventory management system is that it can scale very easily to suit your business needs.
Since it is a software product, it can handle two orders per day, or two thousand. Compare this to using spreadsheets. Every time you receive an order, you would have to manually update your inventory levels in a spreadsheet, note the order number and mark the status of each order.
A cloud-based inventory management system can do this automatically and seamlessly. So, while you focus on ways to grow your business, you have a trusted software product handling inventory for you, no matter what the volume of sales is.
4. Integrate with all your channels
A multichannel inventory management system has become indispensable today, what with so many channels of sales available to retailers. Each channel offers distinct benefits, which is why sellers would want to be present on as many of them as makes business sense – you could be selling online on Amazon, eBay and your website as well as on offline channels like your own chain of stores or your B2B sales channels.
A good cloud-based inventory management system can integrate with all of these sales channels, draw sales data from them, sync up with your inventory and even help manage accounting in some cases.
This is where the greatest benefit of such a system comes forth – that of being able to manage the entire business from a single dashboard. With additional features such as reporting and shipping integration, you can manage not just your inventory levels but also the supply chain itself. Handle purchase orders, calculate required stock levels and track a product through its journey to the consumer.
5. Manage your purchase orders
Who doesn’t like upping the ante? Automated purchase orders are a feature of some cloud-based inventory management systems. They show you historical sales data which you can use to calculate how much more stock you will need for a given time period in order to avoid both stock outs and dead stock. Technically, we call these parameters the reorder level and the vendor lead time.
You can calculate these for any period of time and set the values in your inventory management system. When a product reaches its reorder level, the system sends out a purchase order to the respective vendor and alerts you about the same. Calculate, feed, forget. You never have to worry about forgetting to raise a purchase order or doing it too late.
Mohammed Ali is the Founder and CEO of Primaseller, — a MultiChannel Inventory Management software that also helps sellers build brand credibility by ensuring that accurate stock information is reflected across sales channels and orders are fulfilled on time. When not running a startup, Ali is often caught lapping up the latest book in fantasy fiction.