If you have been following our seller interviews, you will know that organizing and managing products, or inventory management has been a concern for most at some point in their ecommerce journey. While Anandha was hassled with keeping track of her stock initially, Raja was able to make an easier entry into the online market because he had ready stock. Neil, Dhirender and others also had to ease out kinks along the way.
The convenience of online retail would have prompted many of you to set the ball rolling and start selling online from your garage or some room in your home even. But once it starts growing, you will need more space than just that one room. You can utilize other rooms in your house if you have, but when you have exhausted that opportunity too, where can you turn to?
It is not practical to set up your own warehouse, or maybe even outsource to a third-party fulfilment centre like Fulfilment by Amazon. But in the long run, you might need to do one of these as your business expands.
In the meanwhile, there are some things you should add to your checklist of maintaining stock.
It’s always better to label your products with SKU code, bar code or UPC. In an earlier IOS article, we have given a step-by-step explanation about generating SKU code.
Also read, What are SKU codes and how to create them
Apart from separating products category wise, it is wise to separate them according to velocity also (and by velocity, we are referring to speed of sale). Something that sells faster should be stored at an easier point of access.
Quantity of products
Although there cannot be a preset frequency for getting new stock, as you grow you will need to maintain a balance in procuring stock and meeting customer demand. Keep track of the delivery time from manufacturer or supplier, and also the reliability factor. It is a good idea to write the month and date of procurement date on the storage carton in case it’s not mentioned already. That way, you will know how long the products have been there in your storage area.
It’s always a good idea to give multiple options, in terms of sizes and colours, of the same product. But remember to keep your storage space in mind, when you order for these. Also identify the products that sell more and keep more inventory of these. There is no point in investing unnecessary money for dead stock or slow-moving stock.
We have already discussed at length about the importance of packaging and the kind of packing materials that can be used. Instead of using boxes of too many sizes, try to fix on the best 2-3 sizes so you can utilize these for all your products. But remember, if your products are priced on the higher side customer expectations would be that much higher even for packaging. If it can be managed, you could even think of separate packaging for your premium products.
As you expand your product portfolio, it might be a good idea to invest in technology for your daily operations, including inventory management. A good software like Browntape allows you to keep track and maintain your inventory across multiple channels from a single dashboard. Thus you can save time and also eliminate confusing excel sheets!
Products and inventory is the basis of any ecommerce business. Rectifying even the most minute confusion or error related to it can go a long way in seamless operation of your business. You probably have most of the above in place; if not, add them to you checklist and implement as soon as possible.
Is there any other such simple and basic step in your operations that has done the trick for you? Don’t forget to share in the comments below.