Choosing an inventory management system online
Whatever sort of ecommerce business you are in, if you sell products, you should certainly consider using an online stock management system. This process will keep your business well-stocked at just the right level for dealing with online orders.
So how should you choose the right online inventory management system for your needs?
Researching an Inventory Management System Online
Your first stop should, of course, be the internet. Relevant searches will provide you with lots of web-based information you can sift through for making your choice.
Some ideas for terms you might want to search for would include:
- Stock control system
- Cloud-based inventory management system
- Online stock management system
- Inventory management system online
Each term should provide you with plenty of options for performing your research into the suitability of the ideal system for your business.
What is an Online Stock Management System?
Stock management (or inventory management, as it is also known) is the method by which you ensure your customers receive the products they desire in a timely fashion. Things that would be covered by the process include tracking orders, knowing how much of each item is currently held in stock, matching the product to the order, address labeling, and managing the delivery process.
In days gone by, people would manage their inventory using pen and paper but then upgraded to an electronic spreadsheet. Both of these options, though, are liable to suffer mistakes, as well as being labor intensive.
Which is where cloud-based inventory management software enters the picture.
Online Stock Management System features
If you’re an online retailer, you will definitely benefit from choosing a system of inventory management that incorporates:
1) Multiple channel inventory tracking
There are so many possible routes to market on the internet – Amazon and eBay being the most famous examples – that you’ll want to makes sure your inventory management system can handle all of them at the same time. The advantage here is that, when someone orders one of your products through a particular website, you don’t have to then log in to that site to find out what the order is. The multiple channel software will consolidate all the orders for you and display them in an easy to read manner, all in one place.
You’ll also be looking for a system that is customizable as not all businesses are the same. Your own unique requirements may vary considerably from those of another organization that uses the inventory management software. So it’s essential that you can customize the system to fit your own needs.
3) Stock re-ordering alerts
Good versions of inventory management software will link up effectively with your backend sales ordering process. So if you start running low on a particular item due to increased demand from 1 or more online stores, the software alerts you that new orders need to be placed to keep up with the higher volume of sales.
This type of alert is essential if you want to keep properly on top of your inventory management needs. It can save you from over-ordering as well as under-ordering. (Which many people may consider being worse. If you don’t have an item in stock when a potential customer wants it, they may well go elsewhere, so you not only lose the sale but possibly future business as well).
4) Analytics information
Efficient stock control management systems will provide you with useful information about the number of sales you’re making. Vital info for planning and forecasting, as well as being extremely valuable data to provide to your sales and marketing teams.
For example, you may find that a particular region has been ordering more or less of an item than previously. Highlighting this to your “on the ground” team can help them identify any possible causes of the change, allowing you to adjust things for the other regions you serve, if desired.
It goes without saying that a cloud based inventory system will need to be safe from hacking. One other aspect to consider, of course, is that keeping your business critical information in the cloud enables you to access it from anywhere – including your smartphone in most cases – rather than having to lug around your laptop to keep on top of your stock control.
6) Trial period
Check which of the systems you’re looking at offers a free trial. Evaluating a piece of software such as this can’t be done effectively without putting it into practice. Trying out one or more systems before you commit to purchasing is definitely recommended as an excellent way to get to know if it will work for your circumstances.
Last – but certainly not least – you should consider the price of the software you’re evaluating. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly holds true when it comes to inventory management systems. However, you might find that your business needs will be met by one of the cheaper options, especially if you have no requirement for any of the “bells and whistles” that often get added on to business software to make it seem more useful than it actually is in practice.
When you’re looking for an inventory management system online, it pays to consider multiple factors, such as those above. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to benefit from a stock control and management system that keeps your business operating smoothly and – more importantly – profitability, for years to come.
Speak to our experts to help you choose the best system for your business.