Although a traditional favourite, using spreadsheets to manage online sales can be mind boggling and excruciatingly painful. Well It is partly true that in theory, you can’t really go wrong with a spreadsheet. It is a permanent account of your incoming and outgoing inventory, is easy to edit and store. Before the advent of computers (and online shopping, of course), business owners managed their inventory using handwritten ledgers, which obviously became obsolete with the birth of MS office. You really can’t blame the sellers too.
Who could manage a library of 100 physical books of records and a growing stock and business. But the best part was that, with digital records it became extremely easy to search and track a particular inventory article as compared to its physical counterpart. Perfect solution right? Well yes, for that time. It is now time you graduate from excel sheets too, just the way you moved on from physical ledgers, and for the same reason – technology.
Still not convinced? We will give you 6 hard reasons why Spreadsheets are no more the best inventory management solution for your online business:
1. Spreadsheets are Two-Dimensional
You have an x and a y-axis to a spreadsheet, in other words, a set of rows and columns. You would have to fix a few different variables for different columns and rows, for the spreadsheet to make sense. But then, how does this model look when your operation gains complexity? As a multi-channel seller, you would either have to use multiple spreadsheets to track your orders and then consolidate the key variables from each into one master spreadsheet which can tell your total product demand and supply.
Just thinking about that could give someone a headache. How many times have you prayed for a solution that made more sense than a dozen excel sheets? Looks like your prayers have been answered. Cutting edge inventory management systems are taking the market by storm, tailor-made for the needs of a growing ecommerce business. With these multi-channel inventory management systems, you can integrate all your orders through different sales channel into one portal, automatically and let the software do all the dirty work like tracking your AWB numbers, printing your labels, and a lot more.
2. Spreadsheets Make Data Outdated
As a business owner, keeping records has two purposes – 1. keep track of demand supply information for accurate accounting of your business. 2. observe trends and patterns from past date that help you extrapolate and strategize your business. For example, looking at the annual demand-supply pattern from last 2 years, you can estimate the demand for certain products during certain seasons, peak months or holidays.
This becomes difficult with spreadsheets because there is very less version control. Soon enough you find yourself sifting monthly files through the crevices of your computer and trying to piece them together. An inventory management system, on the other hand, can give you all the trends, by time periods, channels, regions, and other demographic parameters with just a click of a button.
3. Spreadsheets are Unsafe
Considering they are essentially small, virtually unprotected files, spreadsheets are liable to get corrupted. How many times has it happened to you that have you opened a really old Excel file to find just gibberish inside. Also, spreadsheets, usually are open programs that can be manipulated by any user that has access to it. Your inventory data is precious, leaving it unprotected shouldn’t even be an option for a growing business. Inventory management software are usually incorruptible and password protected, which means that only you and your trusted employees can view and edit these documents.
4. Spreadsheets are Difficult to Share
One of the worst problems with spreadsheets is that they are extremely difficult to share and edit within a group. A file edited on a particular system cannot be synced into other systems that it exists in. While google spreadsheets and other cloud sharing methods sort this to an extent, it is not as feature rich as desktop spreadsheets like Excel. This means stale, inconsistent data and the problems that come along with it. As opposed to this, an inventory management system has a single entry point that can be accessible through multi-user login. This means that the data within your inventory can be edited and made accessible to a group of your choice, hassle free.
5. Spreadsheets Do Not Provide Analytics
Sure, there are ways to extract analytics within spreadsheets, but they involve writing complex formulae and feeding them into the system. It also means manual effort into picturizing that data according to your needs and then commencing analysis. Inventory management systems have pre-existing mechanisms with which you can extract valuable analytics with a mouse click. Not only can you get insightful visualisation of your data, but you can also exploit valuable strategic suggestions for sales, inventory and stock management that the system offers you.
6. Spreadsheets are Prone to Mistakes
Spreadsheets, especially the complex ones, tend to be pretty unreliable at a mass scale. On one hand, spreadsheets like Excel give you freedom to create your own formulae, conversion systems and in’s and out’s, but the same freedom can cause the downfall of your data. Trivial mistakes in feeding data, formulae or conversion units can lead to potential disasters. A common blunder is defining too few rows for a formula. With inventory and sales management systems this is not an issue. These are software specifically designed to fulfil your stock and inventory tracking needs. Hence, however, complex your data size is, a good inventory management system is adept at handling it, no mistakes.
To sum it up, while spreadsheets have their advantages, there are actually better ways to handle your online business. Convinced yet but don’t know where to start? Get in touch with Browntape today to know more about running an online business, hassle free with a cutting edge inventory management system. Browntape is the leading multi-channel inventory management service in India, coming from a team with years of experience and expertise in the field of making your online sales enterprise successful.
Browntape helps retailers sell online on multiple marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc. in India. They provide services and software that allow retailers to either outsource their online selling business or manage things on their own using their innovative inventory and order management software. In addition to that, they also help sellers improve their customer experience.
Source: Browntape Blog