With online retail sales rising ever upwards, the necessity to adopt an efficient ecommerce inventory management system is more and more important. Using a good system can help you avoid business critical problems – such as sales forecasting errors and lack of items in stock at the time your customers are ordering them. (Which could easily cause your customers to look elsewhere and end up purchasing the desired item from a competitor).
How ecommerce inventory management works
At a fundamental level, inventory management is a process of ensuring you have enough stock in the right place at the right time to be able to satisfy the demand for the items you hold in stock.
Traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ stores have been utilizing inventory management systems for many years, whether they are a single outlet or a multinational organization.
With ecommerce, though, things are a bit different. (In case you’re not familiar with the term, ecommerce means ‘electronic commerce’ and is a term used to describe any purchase transactions made online – either by a computer or internet-connected devices such as a smartphones or tablets).
Ecommerce relies on your customers placing their orders online. Then these orders are transferred to a backend system of picking, packing, and distribution. For very small operations, this order transfer process may be as simple as an email coming to the site owner, who then picks, packs and posts the item himself. For the majority of ecommerce outfits, though, the process links up to a warehouse or distributor.
Which is why it’s so important for your ecommerce inventory management system to be accurate and effective.
Mobile inventory management application
Combining an ecommerce inventory management system with a mobile application gives us a Mobile Application Management tool (MAM). Essentially, this is an inventory management system that you access using a mobile device, such as your smartphone.
Some important features to look for in an effective MAM tool will include:
- A dashboard view so you can check your inventory at a glance
- The ability to search for stock lines and products
- Segmentation of categories of product
- Alerts that are sent to you to warn you about low stock, for example
- Historical data for products costs
- Analytics tools to provide valuable sales forecasting data
- Sales and ordering reports per item
Main advantages of a mobile Inventory Management Application
In the days before the internet – and, indeed, in many traditional storefront retail outlets today – the process of managing stock was a manual one. The warehouse manager would walk around with a clipboard, checking off items on the list and comparing how many were left in stock with the projected sales forecasts. Replacement items would then be ordered where there appears to be a shortfall coming up.
With a mobile application to manage inventory and stock control, there is no requirement for someone to be physically present in the location where the stock is held.
You can also benefit from real time data, enabling you to concentrate on increasing sales, rather than having to wait for the labor intensive process of counting stock to be completed.
Benefits of a mobile ecommerce inventory management system
Here’s an overview of how you’ll benefit from adopting this type of MAM system for your inventory management:
1. Always up to date
Mobile applications are easy to upgrade to the latest version. Rather than having to upgrade your systems or computer hardware, everything gets done for you ‘in the cloud.’ So you benefit from the latest version of the application whenever you use it.
2. Saves time
You won’t have to walk around the warehouse with your clipboard anymore. Giving you lots more time to focus on generating sales and profits for your business.
3. Quick and easy
Mobile applications have become so familiar that most people will be able to pick up how to use them without any trouble. Essentially, anyone with a smartphone (and the right login credentials) can access and interpret the relevant data without having to face a steep learning curve.
4. Cost effective
Larger firms may still insist on enterprise level inventory management systems. But in reality, the MAM inventory management application provides everything a business requires at a fraction of the cost of the larger solutions.
Mobile applications have been developed for all the major mobile platforms, including iOS (Apple) and Android. So you’ll have no problem finding a system that fits in with your existing setup.
6. Inventory monitoring
Because a mobile system works in the cloud, you can even find versions that will help you track your items while they are in transit. Which can give you a much more useful overview of exactly what’s happening with your orders at any one time.
It’s easy to make a mistake when you’re counting something on your fingers and recording it using pen and paper. Mobile computing technology, however, will provide a much more accurate tracking process for your inventory.
Inventory management is one of the vital components of running any successful ecommerce business. Utilizing a Mobile Application Management tool for this purpose will help you save time and money. Plus you’ll benefit from more accurate reporting and a much better picture of where your business stands from day to day.
Make sure you evaluate the options carefully before deciding on which of the available solutions will fit your requirements. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to spend less time on stock control and more time on shifting more stock to your customers.
If you need help making a decision about the best solution for you, contact one of our experts to assist you.