Publisher Channel Content by GetApp.com Who is the most important part of selling online? The customer, of course. What does inventory management have to do with the customer? Everything! Online purchases are about “I want it now”. Customer satisfaction and proper inventory management are inextricably intertwined. From customer satisfaction to company profitability is just a short step. There are 5 reasons (at least) why you need to get this right: Online customers want to know what’s available. Inventory management can tell them immediately and also how many are left. Online customers don’t want false promises now and disappointment later. Correct inventory management tells the truth up front and protects your reputation. You don’t want to overstock. Buying in or making more than current demand means tying up money that could be used to generate profit elsewhere. You don’t want to understock. Even if you give customers accurate information about stock-outs, your online competitors are just a click away. Financial management is a critical part of keeping companies afloat. Inventory management can give you real time information on your incomings, outgoings and cash flow. Now – How do You Do It? Online sales are driven by software. To keep pace with selling online, inventory management should be software-driven too. Behind the marketing, advertising and purchasing visible to online customers, inventory management apps are busy behind the scenes. They let you sort, store, track and manage stock. They can also help you manage assembly, transport, and shipping to final destination. As software apps, they also lend themselves to automation, notably for repeat orders to suppliers when stocks drop below a pre-defined level. Inventory Management Apps for Online Sales The right inventory management application will match point for point the five reasons above for getting the part of online sales right: Integration with your ecommerce site means precise information on product availability for customers, including triggering incitement to buy, such as “Only two left in stock!” When products are purchased online, the inventory management app immediately updates the inventory information to avoid selling the same product twice. Tracking and tracing functionality lets you monitor delivery times and further set customer expectations correctly. Overstocking is not just a matter of having far more stock than you can sell in the short term. Storage costs can be an expensive part of the equation, especially if overstocking means you run out of space and have to find more. Capacity management can help keep storage costs under control too. You define levels and alerts in the app for warnings about low stocks, or automatically ordering in order to take advantage of batch volume discounts from suppliers. Understocking through oversight or forgetfulness is avoided. Reporting, trend and sales data help you to optimize profitability and plan for customer demand. Product return statistics can help you further hone your cash flow. Further Advantages 5 good reasons for making sure your inventory management is up to the job for selling online might be enough for most people. However, there are more as well. End of period stock-taking. Automated systems can make this as simple as clicking to generate a report – a big difference from the bad old days of manual methods that often immobilized companies for days at a time. Limit shrinkage. Losses through breakages or internal theft may never be zero, but continual monitoring can keep the situation far better under control than half-yearly checks. Shipping charge optimization. Depending on the inventory management app being used, you can directly identify the most favorable rates from some of the well-known shipping and courier services. Cloud-based inventory apps from reliable vendors also have the non-negligible advantage of practically constant availability. Linked to your ecommerce site hosted in a comparably robust way, your business can continue to run, even if you lose your own internet connection or your office systems suffer a crash. Vend, Stitch Labs and Ordoro Each of these three inventory management apps provides a solution to help online vendors do better business. They offer small and growing businesses similar core functionality for improved online inventory management and also individual ways of enhancement. Synchronization of online and offline sales channels. Ecommerce can be a business in its own right or a sales activity in parallel with conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing. Vend, Stitch Labs and Ordoro all enable synchronization of sales inventory between both channels. Integration with different e-commerce systems. Stitch Labs integrates with eBay, Amazon, Shopify, BigCommerce and unique goods ecommerce site Etsy. Ordoro integrates with WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, 3dcart, ShopSite and Amazon, eBay and Etsy marketplaces. Vend works with Shopify for ecommerce, Timely for bookings and Perkville for customer loyalty rewards. Additional Functionality and Features Integration with different payment gateways and accounting systems. For instance, Stitch Labs integrates with PayPal, Square and ShipStation to automatically adjust sellable inventory levels after confirmation of payment has been received. It also integrates with QuickBooks and Xero for accounting. Vend offers PayPal and easy customization for using other payment gateways, and also integrates with Xero for accounting. Reports and analytics. Stitch Labs gives you the tools you need to identify opportunities to sell bundles of products that can further increase sales volumes. You can also analyze sales down to product option level and see order status on dashboards. Data can be exported in CSV format for use in spreadsheet applications like Excel, as PDF documents or to Google Drive. Web browser and mobile phone access. Vend offers both modes of usage allowing businesses to keep tabs on inventory from the office or when out on the road. Ordoro offers shipping rate advantages with rate comparison of different shippers. Ordoro also automates drop shipping and batch shipping. Conclusion Trying to keep track of product or parts inventories by hand rapidly becomes unmanageable. Homegrown spreadsheets rapidly run out of steam too for selling online. Proper inventory management with a suitable software solution is the way to go and to grow. ______________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.