There are several reasons why more and more people are turning to online platforms to shop. For one, they have a wider range of products to choose from, which may even include items that are only available overseas. The price points are also quite competitive and various payment options can lead to even more savings for the customer.
But perhaps the most compelling reason for most people to buy online is convenience and speed. In fact, customers expect businesses to do everything they can to deliver the products on as quickly as possible, especially if the online store makes the delivery earlier than the promised date.
One important factor in faster ecommerce fulfillment services (and therefore, customer satisfaction) is proper inventory management. It doesn’t matter if you can deliver the next day or if you have the most advanced tracking system if you don’t have a product to pack and send. This is only one reason among many why you need to consider shifting to an online inventory management system. It offers multiple advantages, especially if you have a small- or medium-scale business that you’re planning to expand further.
Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.
Most ecommerce businesses experience demand fluctuations throughout the year. A perfect example would be a shop that sells swimwear, with a likely surge in orders during the summer months and fewer purchases during the winter. By automating your inventory, you’ll immediately know which items in your stock need replenishment.
You can even flag the system when a specific product reaches your set limit and automatically reorder. This way, you minimize the risk of your best-sellers going out of stock and making your customers wait, which is something you don’t want to happen. If and when it does, an online inventory system can provide more transparency and a faster turnaround time.
In addition, an online inventory management system also helps reduce mistakes like over-ordering. When you’re spending less time and money monitoring your inventory and dealing with the cost of errors, you can focus on other aspects of your business like marketing and networking
More Value and Savings
As earlier mentioned, poor inventory management can lead to errors and these errors can cost you money. When you streamline your inventory management by going online, you’ll be eliminating human error from the equation and save more money as a result. For example, online inventories can easily identify excess or obsolete items from your stock. In turn, you can minimize the cost of storing these products and even generate extra income.
Less human error also means less stress on your staff, making them more productive. This can help indirectly with promoting better health and a more positive mindset.
Shifting to online inventory management can also help you cultivate better relationships, both with your customers and your suppliers. You can use the data you’ve acquired to analyze supplier performance, which can help you with negotiations and get better deals. At the very least, you’ll be able to shorten the lead time on both ends.
Seamless Data Integration
Online inventory management systems often have integration capabilities with existing software, like those used for accounting and monitoring cash flow. This means you’ll have an easier time when transferring data between programs, reducing your accounting costs. It’s also easier to give different departments access to relevant inventory data. You can assign permissions to each user, so that each of them only has access to the functions and information. For example, your sales team can check sales performance data and the fulfillment team can track and record orders.
Having access to data also means you can make more accurate forecasts and more strategic business decisions. What’s more, you’ll be able to assign or acquire resources—be it cash, material, or personnel—where they can be more efficient.
Safety and Security
One could argue that by going online, you’ll be exposing your data to possible breaches. However, this is easily countered by staying up-to-date with your system’s firewalls, anti-virus software, and other cybersecurity measures. Data loss can also be prevented by regularly scheduled back-up procedures. All of these can be automated, which means less risks of making errors.
Nowadays, almost everything can be automated and transferred online. If you’re doing business and not taking advantage of these technologies, then you are seriously missing out on earning and expansion opportunities. However, while an online inventory management system is highly convenient, remember not to eliminate manual audits completely. These are valuable in identifying physical aspects such as breakage or product defects and identifying internal security threats, among others.
Nonetheless, switching to an online system is highly advantageous. If you think benefit your business won’t benefit with one, think again or you may be left behind.