If you are reading this article, you probably have the inventory tracking Problem. This is the same problem that sooner or later every e-commerce manager, warehouse manager, or just business owner faces. You probably think about how to efficiently manage a store or a warehouse with a product base too large to handle in classic Excel. Let’s dive into this.
You are probably fed up with the eternal lack of stock, unordered products from suppliers, or backlog of orders for no reason.
For tracking inventory and orders the best solution is appropriate inventory tracking software. Such a system gives you full control over Your products. You can easily monitor stocks, track orders, scale sales, use barcodes and automate warehouse processes.
Recent unexpected events in the form of Covid and lockdowns resulted in a continuous increase in sales by online stores, which were prepared for it to a greater or lesser extent.
They also strained and tested the ability to react very quickly to the increased sales of smaller players in the e-commerce market, who were completely unprepared for it. Regardless of whether it is in the B2C (Business to Client) or B2B (Business to Business) network
Those who already had a warehouse and order management system in place only had to scale up properly. On the other hand, those companies that had just started with an online store or were thinking about it, faced many challenges. One of those challenges was Inventory management.
What is one of the greatest challenges in managing inventory?
The biggest challenge in inventory management is keeping the up-to-date amount of products in the database all the time. Errors and differences between the actual number of products and that in our database often lead to problems.
The most common problem is the dissatisfied customer who thought that he would get the product but did not get it because it turned out to be out of stock.
Often, inaccurate inventory levels do not allow us to order goods to the warehouse in time. Sometimes the difference of a few days in the order date may accumulate in a long wait for the goods that are already out of stock.
Of course, if we want to develop and have a business under control, we should be able to analyze the movement of products between warehouses and the time spent in the warehouse before it reaches the customer.
We also want to know which goods are the bestsellers and which, due to the fact that they require “special” attention from the packer, increase the order fulfillment time. Not to mention a thousand other statistics worth keeping.
We will not do all of this without having an appropriate inventory monitoring program implemented. These types of programs are now a “must-have” if we want to run our business responsibly.
Warehouse stock management in excel
Up to a certain point, a small online store or a small local company can manage their resources in excel or google spreadsheet. This is a solution, but it is far from perfect.
We need to include a lot of information about our products in one place and, in addition, keep them updated. For this, a lot of people have to use this file.
Each of us knows that an extensive table in Excel is not a pleasant tool for use by company employees. And although we can calculate some data using formulas, however, leave this idea at the very beginning and think at least about the basic program for warehouse management for companies. Your life will be much easier.
What does inventory management software do?
This type of business tool introduces some automation to processes that previously were totally dependent on people. Such a system may:
- Control the number of products in stock and inform about its lack
- Automatically order goods from suppliers from the database
- Anticipate the demand for goods
- Calculate the optimal quantity needed for an order so that it does not remain in stock
- Can track the location of the goods and their suitability
- Automates Order Packing Processes
- You can create employee accounts with access to separate parts of the assortment, customers, or tasks.
- Combine inventory with marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay
- You can edit, control, and add product descriptions right from the control panel
- And many other small functionalities that make life easier for entrepreneurs.
In addition, good inventory programs enable not only the observation of goods but also facilitate their packaging and shipment to the customer.
Big software “Harvesters” such as Baselinker have built-in modules for selling the assortment on marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. It is very convenient because the actual inventory levels are synchronized with the offers on third-party platforms. When the product is out of stock, auctions can close automatically, preventing you from selling the stock you don’t have.
When someone buys a product whether, through your store or the Marketplace platform, the product is reserved and deducted from the stock.
Inventory Management vs. Order Management
Inventory Management software is responsible for tracking the goods from the moment they arrive in the warehouse. On the other hand, Order Management deals with the tracking and management of the product from the moment of ordering to its shipment to the customer.
It is very important to anticipate both needs at the beginning and choose a program that combines these two functionalities. In this way, we have control of everything in one place and reduce the costs of many applications.
Such options are provided by the Baselinker program, which we have proven over the years, which can be additionally connected to accounting programs, enterprise resource planning (ERP) programs, and many other applications.
It worked great in medium-sized e-commerce stores and was able to grow with the business.
We highly recommend to check their site here baselinker.com
Automatic notifications with inventory management software
Big advantage is that the program can send us notifications via slack, SMS, or e-mail when:
• There is a shortage of products or the product number reaches the minimum quantity previously set by us
• The Product will be reserved or bought.
• There is a problem with the shipment
• The dimensions of the package do not fit the dimensions required by the courier
• When the product returns to us from the complaint or has not been collected by the customer.
We can also connect with our Zapier program and use its full automation functions outside our program.
ZAPIER can pass a certain type of events to google spreadsheets, such as those goods in need of attention or those that have reached the low quantity threshold. The employee responsible for supply may have access to this file.
This helpful tool can be found here Zapier.com
Shelf life inventory management
This problem is especially evident in food stores, where almost everything has a shelf life. Ideally, you would like to track products by their use-by date and sell those with the shortest dates first.
Of course, such functionality can be found in the appropriate software for business.
First of all, we can implement FEFO (first-expired-first-out) methods in which the system shows us from which shelf to take the product first.
Additionally, we can use a barcode scanner and use it to read data from special codes.
It will also be useful that we can track the dates from which the supplier has received the goods and react earlier if it lies on the shelves for too long and we sell goods to another supplier without being aware of it.
How are bar codes used in inventory management?
The most interesting feature of inventory tracking programs is integrating them with a barcode scanner. And this is where the magic begins.
First of all, after scanning the goods, we can automatically perform a given action, e.g. book the goods or simply check their data in our database.
Secondly, the barcode scanner can be used as a filter to check whether the employee took the appropriate product from the shelf. If not, the system will not pass the action further after scanning the product code. In this way, we are protected against sending the wrong goods. This is often the case with very similar products.
In addition, we can create codes for the employee that, after scanning, for example, print an invoice, shipping label or simply perform another pre-defined activity.
What are the benefits of inventory management software?
- A convenient product database
- All sales channels in one place
- Fulfill orders faster than ever before
- No more stock and price discrepancies!
- The shipping process focused on one place
- Let yourself free from repetitive activities
- Reduce the order processing time!
- Reduce the number of employees needed in the warehouse
- You can manage Your inventory from a smartphone
Big Ecommerce vs Small online shop
Online stores of different sizes will have slightly different needs and each e-commerce will use slightly different tools.
We found that to thoroughly discuss the appropriate selection of inventory software, it is best to separate the topic by the size of the business in which you want to implement inventory tracking.
We scoured the internet across the board in search of what the market has to offer and compiled a list of useful warehouse programs along with their pros and cons.
Therefore, read our articles below to be sure you know what solution will suit your business:
The best warehouse software for small and medium-sized businesses
The best warehouse software for large e-commerce.
Customizing the warehouse management program to suit your needs.
Just as no two snowflakes are the same, no two online stores are alike. Everyone has different products, different customers, individual goals, and different internal procedures. That is why You should set up all procedures for your own needs.
How to adopt Inventory Management Software to your own needs?
Here’s a short checklist of the things you’ll need to do before you start using it.
- Buy Relevant Online Inventory Management Software – Choose wisely from all solutions on the market. Buy one that will grow with Your business and will give you as many flexibilities as possible.
- Hire at least 1 employee trained to operate the program in the warehouse
- Integrate your e-commerce platform and make sure that orders are imported nicely to your program.
- Buy a Barcode Reader (it is not necessary at the beginning, but it facilitates and speeds up the work and protects you against sending wrong products to the customer)
- Prepare Barcodes – If your products do not have them, you can prepare barcodes by yourself.
- Integrate Orders Automation Software with the inventory – This is often an easy procedure, but you can hire a programmer to do these things for you. In short, you need to show the program what tasks it is supposed to perform after the order is accepted.
- Integrate delivery company to your system – Thanks to this you will be able to immediately print shipping labels and send orders to Your client.
- Prepare packing station – Printer for printing invoices, fiscal printer, order processing computer.
- Set up an automatic action for ordering products from your supplier and set minimum quantity thresholds
If you prefer to have control over ordering goods to the warehouse and you want to place such a supply order by yourself, this program can spit out a ready-made shopping list, appropriately divided into producers or according to other categories.
And That’s it. You are ready to follow your products and be up to date with their stock levels. Of course, there is a lot of information about running an e-commerce business. Therefore, see also other articles to deepen your knowledge of online sales. We strongly encourage you to do it, because this blog was created to help you develop your e-commerce business.