As your business grows, it is inevitable that the number of online and offline sales channels will grow with it. Whether you’re selling in a bricks and mortar store, at an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay, on your website or all of the above, properly managing inventory across all of your sales channels can be the key to your success. In order to best maximize your efforts and keep your inventory off the shelves and into the hands of customers, here are five tips to follow.
Treat your inventory as cash you can’t spend
Properly managing your inventory is key in understanding how you can increase your cash flow. Inventory is often the largest current asset of businesses that sell products, and in order to keep the money moving, be sure you are viewing the stock on your shelves as cash you can’t spend. You need to focus on smarter buying decisions and how you can best forecast what will sell. You obviously can’t do this alone. But luckily, there are several cloud software tools that can help you make smarter decisions when it comes to purchasing, so that you’re not left with large stock quantities.
Remember that you have a limited quantity of inventory
This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have most of your stock being represented on the floor of your brick-and-mortar store or in multiple online stores, you’ll need to be conscious of this. If you have a pair of shoes that are being purchased at your store and are also listed online, you need a system that integrates both your POS and online shop to help alleviate double selling.
For example, Farm Fresh sells its T-shirts direct-to-consumers on its e-commerce site, and it also fills custom, bulk T-shirt orders for large businesses like Facebook Inc. Farm Fresh has to know they can deliver T-shirts by the day they need them, but because each shirt comes in 15 styles and seven sizes, keeping track of inventory availability while fulfilling large orders can be complicated. Now, they are able to manage their direct- to-consumer and bulk orders inventory efficiently with Cloud-based inventory management software.
Another retailer, Orbring, sells professional quality gymnastics mats via several online channels, Amazon and eBay. Keeping track of inventory is extremely important, as when a mat goes out of stock, they lose hundreds of dollars in sales, because it take 75 days to restock the mats from the manufacturer.
Maximize with bundling.
Just as you would put hats and gloves next to each other in your physical store to encourage upselling, take this approach when you’re designing your online store. Be sure that the way your products are being displayed, it would make sense for a shopper to continue adding more items. To take it a step further and to improve workflow, make sure your stock room is just as well organized for quick picking, packing and shipping.
Analyze your order history
Drilling down your orders based on channels, outlets and more is key to increasing sales. With software tools, you can easily view what products are selling best through your multiple channels. This is a great way to make smarter purchasing decisions when you’re filling your shelves after the holiday rush. Pull historical data so that you can also keep an eye on seasonal shifts in various purchasing trends.
Offer physical coupons for online purchases
This last tip is really more about marketing than inventory management, but it’s still a great way to get rid of overflowing stock quantities. When someone is shopping in your store, encourage them to continue buying from you online by providing a coupon. By using a specific code on the coupon, you can test this strategy out and see how many in-store customers then went on to purchase items online.
You can also collect email addresses at the register to continue strong customer relations. This is a great way to get customers familiar with your online shop and possibly increase sales if they don’t live near your physical store.
Brandon Levey is CEO of Stitch Labs.