Have you ever wondered why some merchants always seem to have products available while others are continually “Out of Stock?”
For retailers or wholesalers, it could sometimes be a problem with the supply chain, but more often than not, it is because they need to improve their ecommerce inventory tracking. It can get a little confusing, especially if there are several storefronts involved, affiliates selling your products, or when you’re trying to monitor incomplete shopping carts.
There are so many variables that make it a bit tricky to stay on top of tracking your inventory. To help you out, we’ve rounded up our best tips for staying on top of your stock at all times.
1. Stay Ahead of Demand
While no one expects you to be able to predict the future, there really is a way to stay ahead of the demand on your product lines. One of the key tools at your disposal when trying to maintain a continuous supply of your products would be a way to stay ahead of your inventory turnover. Calculating the inventory turnover ratio is easy with a simple formula that will enable you to determine how fast you can sell through your inventory within a given timeframe.
The purpose of this is to give you an accurate projection of how many items you will need to keep in stock to fulfill future orders within a specific timeframe. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you will not run out of stock.
2. Use a Detailed System for Tracking Inventory
This is another area where many small ecommerce companies find it difficult to know exactly what they have in stock. Unless you have a systematic inventory tracking system, you will rarely know all the available products or the exact quantity of each item.
To avoid this, invest in a labeling system that helps you set up barcodes for each item. Then, you can scan products in the ‘warehouse’ to see how many you’ve sold this week, month, or year, and you’ll be able to track exactly how many you still have on hand. When it comes to tracking inventory, barcodes are as efficient as it gets.
Years ago, in 1876 to be exact, Melvil Dewey established a system for books in libraries so that they were always shelved and cataloged exactly the same in any library in most of the world. The Dewey Decimal Classification system is still in use to this day. And, it is one of the reasons why libraries always have an accurate count of books on shelves, those lent out, and the dates at which they can be expected to be returned. It’s called a decimal system because Dewey set up ten broad categories to which he assigned books, along with subcategories within each of those.
This kind of systematic classification is something you can apply to warehousing your products. Establish a warehouse shelving system so that products that fall within a certain category are shelved in proximity to other products within the same category. This will make it quite simple and fast to do a regular scan to keep accurate counts.
4. Invest in a High-Quality Scanner
After you’ve created those barcodes and labeled all your products accordingly, you’ll want a fast and easy way to keep an accurate count of them. That’s where you’ll need handheld wireless scanners that communicate with your PC and tracking software.
You’ve probably seen stockers in supermarkets doing a nightly inventory when you drop in for that bottle of milk you’ll need for the morning. It’s easy to simply walk up and down the aisles of your warehouse while running the handheld scanner over labels that have your unique barcode.
A Win-Win Ecommerce Solution
Tracking your inventory properly is crucial for staying ahead of ordering products before you run out of stock. And that’s how you’ll keep your customers happy by always having what they want on hand. There is nothing more frustrating to a consumer than trying to order a product online, only to find that it is out of stock and that they will need to wait for you to replenish your supply.
By not having that product in stock, you may well lose not only this sale but future sales as well. Once a customer is forced to look elsewhere to fill their order, they are likely to continue ordering from the merchant who had what they needed when they needed it. That should have been you – and with the right ecommerce inventory tracking system, it will be you.