E-commerce can be highly profitable, but it also brings with it a number of complications and challenges, not the least of which is stock management and inventory control. Indeed, poor inventory management can result in a significant financial loss.
According to the Office for National Statistics, approximately 77 per cent of adults in the UK purchased goods online during the previous 12 months; this is a 24 per cent increase from 2008.
If you are an e-commerce business or even just have an online sales arm, you will want to ensure that your customers are able to shop from mobile devices and desktop computers. You will also need to be able to access your back-office systems to manage your stock and update available quantities in real time from mobile devices. This raises the issue of endpoint security management, as you will need to ensure that only the relevant people have access from their devices without opening up your systems to the threat of viruses or malware.
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The following tips should help when it comes to managing your e-commerce inventory
Decide on an inventory management tool
For larger or rapidly expanding businesses, a central database tool such as Brightpearl allows the user to track their inventory across multiple sales channels and locations, and it can also help to manage re-ordering. For smaller volumes, a tool such as TradeGecko or an inbuilt management tool will give the insight required to enable you to manage your inventory smartly.
Choose an inventory management method
There are various methods available for managing stock, and your approach will be dependent on the nature of your business products. A very common method is the Just in Time (JIT) model. As the name suggests, this means ordering your stock just in time to meet demand. This means stock is kept to a minimum, freeing up capital and saving space,
Use data to predict stock level requirements
Historic sales data can help to predict periods of high or low demand and allow you to adjust levels of stock as needed.
You should audit your stock as often as possible, ideally once a month.