Automation entering industries with a thrust has resulted in manual inventory management getting obsolete because of its cons with the progression of automated inventory management software into retailing. Drawbacks of manual inventory management like human errors, excess time-consumption, no or inaccurate need prediction, misplaced-unused-or-outdated inventory, inventory shrinkage, decentralized control, lack of real-time updates, etc. are proved to be the obstacles in the smooth functioning of the retail processes. From receiving the order to shipping it, doing each task manually has become tedious resulting in a big need for inventory management software for retailers.
Inventory management software is a software system for tracking inventory levels, orders, sales, deliveries, and even accounting, reporting & invoicing records. More and more retailers now are adopting automated and cloud-based inventory management software - as 1. They are a necessity 2. They are affordable, easy-to-use & secure.
Orderhive is one such SaaS-based Inventory management software that centralizes all your business channels—inventory management, order processing, SKU management, shipping, invoicing, and tracking—everything—into one simple, easy-to-use piece of software. Orderhive inventory management software is highly scalable, enabling clients to meet existing and future needs.
What sets Orderhive apart?
Orderhive offers all the features of an inventory management software along with added functionalities, integrations and amazing support system. Below are some highlights of Orderhive software:
Inventory automation & marketing automation can be induced using Orderhive by auto-synchronization of multi-channel order, shipping and inventory in real-time to keep inventory levels optimized. Automatic order placements and updates, access to shipping details, automatic FBA stock update, auto MCF scheduler and adding desired automation MCF rule are possible using an automated inventory management software like it. Automation saves time and helps in cutting down the costs.
Multi-channel and warehouses
Multiple channel selling becomes easier as it all can be synced and interlinked using automation and custom controls. Inventory can be managed across multiple warehouses/locations seamlessly with keeping all the control with you in one place.
Most real-time Inventory updates
Managing multi-channel stock update gets complicated when done manually. But thanks to real-time inventory synchronizations, inventory management softwares like these are equipped with features which automatically updates stock within seconds on all the integrated marketplaces when certain stock is added or sold. Real-time inventory updates help save time and power to acquire more business on multiple platforms. It is no exaggeration that Orderhive’s syncing is among the fastest in available inventory management software category.
Kanban process - Going Lean
Kanban process is the revolution in businesses. It has a visual scheduling system using just-in-time (JIT) production that tells you what - when - & - how much to produce an order in optimum sizes and time. Kanban view uses visual cards instead of text that are easier to be dealt with and helps in maintaining the optimum amount of stock in the inventory. Kanban system controls the entire chain – from suppliers to the end-sellers. Orderhive is among the first such software to adopt lean anagememnt and dashboard view.
Kanban: “To Do’’ —> “On-going” —> “Completed”
Integrations with prominent eCommerce service platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Rug, WooCommerce, etc as well as with a variety of local and leading ones are offered to pick the suitable ones for your type of business and inventory styles. Multiple integrations can be added and controlled together. Integration with 300+ shipping providers including notable ones like FedEx, USPS, UPS, etc is supported in the software. The inventory management software automatically updates domestic and international orders status and shipping information back to the channel after generating and print labels of multiple shipping carriers. It also manages dropshipping businesses with the same ease, with a dedicated interface for order processing through dropshippers.
24X7 support team
This is rare! Hand-held support specialized in inventory management tactics and backhand operations, in-and-out, is made available 24X7 at client’s service. The technical support team also provides personalized demo if required although otherwise, the software has a very easy-to-use interface and is self-explanatory & user-friendly.
Orderhive enterprise is an all-in-one cloud-based enterprise order, inventory and shipping management software with complex automation, high security, and 24/7 priority support. This plan works best if you want customized software, specific features, increased number of integrations and complex processes.
Plans that fit all business types
The software comes with a range of plans having different features and pricing which makes it a fit for all business types and sizes. There are plans for start-ups, growing firms, SMBs, and large corporates too. It's a meal that can satisfy everyone’s hunger! The software also provides a free 15-day trial to get the quintessence of it.
There are n number of Inventory management softwares available but it’s quite rare to find one that offers features which cover all of the end-to-end processes and hence Orderhive has been rightly tagged #1 in the market.
Lastly, the latest good news is that Orderhive is currently offering flat 50% off on its monthly subscription plans on signing up!
Let me tell you a story, a story of two friends Jim and Kim who challenged each other to start their own business individually of selling ‘Laptops’ online.
Both Jim and Kim had done their thorough research on ways to sell, where the market reaches more, how to manage their inventory, shipping partners, suppliers etc.
So after all this research, as Kim’s family members were into online business, they suggested him to create and start selling on his own’s e-commerce website. Whereas on the other hand, Jim had a little or no idea about how to sell online, so instead of getting along with own online storefront, he was suggested to sell on a marketplace like Amazon.
Now, here comes into the picture Amazon’s FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and Self-Fulfilment. Jim decided to start his business by selling on Amazon’s FBA and Kim started his business by launching an e-commerce website which can be also termed as Self Fulfilled.
Before coming to the conclusion of whose choice was better — Jim’s Amazon’s FBA or Kim’s own e-commerce website (self-fulfilled), let’s discuss in brief what Amazon’s FBA and Self Fulfilled for online selling means.
Amazon’s FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon)In layman language, FBA means: you choose the product that you wish to sell online, and everything else will be taken care by Amazon.
“Everything means every single thing, as the smiling sign of Amazon denotes A-Z”
In a survey by Amazon, it was reported that sales increased by 86% after sellers started using FBA.
As the name says Fulfillment by Amazon means your orders are completely fulfilled by Amazon. A detailed understanding in this article would get you more clarity to it.
So, Jim has made all plan and he’s ready to start his online business. What initially Jim is supposed to do is to create an Amazon seller account, then add FBA to it.
After completing these steps, Jim has to list all the products (here Laptops) in the Amazon catalog. Once the account is set up, Jim is all ready to sell through FBA.
Now let’s look at the few benefits that Jim or you would get using FBA.
Advantages of FBA:
To become an eligible primer seller, FBA is the first stop to get a Prime tag. Once you’re an eligible prime seller, your products get a place on golden prime shelves where millions of Prime members can view the product.
On the top of all these things, you’ll increase your odds of winning the Buy Box.
Let me provide you the numbers why Amazons’ buy box is so essential for sellers.
Storage, Inventory, Shipping & ReturnsDon’t worry if you don’t have access to a large warehouse or storage space for your inventory. With FBA you won’t be needing any extra space, as Amazon’s fulfillment center will store all your inventory.
Fulfillment centers are present widely across multiple countries and cities, thus this gives you as FBA seller ability to select the fulfillment centers based on products you’re shipping and from where you are shipping.
So if Jim creates an inventory which is spread across multiple fulfillment centers all over the country, then Jim’s customers who buy his product may receive it faster than the sellers, whose inventories are located farther away.
Moreover, the FBA products which are priced over a certain value becomes eligible for free shipping as per Amazon’s norm.
An FBA seller can also reduce his overall shipping cost by opting for co-mingling service. How?
As I said, Amazon has multiple fulfillment centers across the world. Therefore for Jim, it becomes easy to target multiple countries/cities as Amazon will be able to ship the orders from the nearest fulfillment center where the same product is available and with the same packaging. Shipping cost will be saved here!!
When it’s about returning a product Amazon warehouse workers are there to do their work quickly. Though your buyers have 30-Days to return a product back even after they’ve received a refund. Amazon will accept the return with no questions asked — until or unless the product is damaged.
Disadvantages of FBAAmazon also needs to pay their employee who carries out all these (almost an entire e-commerce business) tasks of yours.
What is Self-Fulfilled?Yes !! Self-Fulfillment means you are your own boss. You are the decision maker, in which the whole process of order fulfillment is taken care by you only.
There wouldn’t be any dependencies for Kim as he’ll be in charge of how the product is stored, packed and shipped. The entire process of holding and managing the inventory as well as choosing a reliable logistics partner for packing and shipping the orders will be on him.
Now let’s see what are advantages or disadvantages that Kim or you would face if the Self-Fulfilled is the way chosen.
Advantages of Self-Fulfilled
Disadvantages of Self-Fulfilled
ConclusionThe ball is in your court, you need to decide if you want to do your business like Jim or Kim. However, both Amazon’s FBA and Self-Fulfilled are great to do business, but depending on your product and its value you need to choose.
If you’ve just started selling online, then it is recommended that you collaborate with Amazon’s FBA. Because initially, you’ll get to know what are the risks involved, market trends, your target region etc.
And, once you have established yourself in the market (i.e. you’re growing big) and you know what type of difficulties may come and how to resolve them, then you can shift your business to get complete control on everything by ‘Self-Fulfillment’.
With the advent of great online retail powerhouses, selling products online is becoming a lucrative option by the day. And when you start thinking about selling online, Amazon is definitely one of the first marketplaces you would love to start off with.
Amazon Reaches approximately 3.5 Million new users across the globe everyday and makes a sale worth approximately $56 billion every quarter. With sellers list growing, this very minute is your perfect time to start selling on Amazon, and learns about strategies of growing your business on Amazon. One of the fastest and easiest routes to growth on Amazon with absolute 0 extra initial investments is Amazon FBA.
Fulfilment by Amazon is a 3rd party Logistic service provided by Amazon, where you stock some or all of your products in an Amazon Fulfilment Centre near you, and then Amazon Takes care of Storing those products, shipping those products and fulfilling orders that you receive on those products.
Amazon FBA not only helps you improve your sale but also reduces the cost of operation. You can read more about benefits of Amazon FBA here.
Let’s learn how to add products on Amazon FBA
The fashion retail industry has been transforming largely due to aspects like fast fashion and online retail. The transformation is mainly noticed when you see the gap between the red carpet and retail stores diminishing. The kind of outfit your favorite celebrity wore last week to a gala event will be available in online stores the following week. However, this feat was not achieved overnight but required a cohesive and rapid inventory management from retailers. The inventory analytics of a fashion retail store can rightly suggest the frequent changes in the fashion and style, but the industry-based trends are also very important to thrive in the market. To understand this massive wave of change, let’s look at the five major trends that are driving the fashion retail industry by the storm:
The physical and virtual both storefronts of a fashion retailer carry equal value in today’s world. The customers are shopping both from the stores in their neighborhoods and online e-commerce applications in their phones. Fashion retailers have to make sure that their presence is strong at all possible sales channels to increase market penetration and brand reach. Here is where Omnichannel retailing comes into the picture. The use of an inventory management software can help establish with multiple channels easily from a single dashboard.
The competition in fashion retail is rising all over the world and the brands that provide the best offers and features only thrive in the market. A cross-channel sale is done over both online and offline channels. In this, if a customer has purchased online and wants to exchange the product he/she should be able to exchange it on the nearby store. The inventory management software can help here as well in the integration of online and offline channels for cross-selling.
Mobile Devices for Improved In-Store Experience
Retailers are increasingly using mobile and other integrated platforms to improve the in-store customer experience. The IoT-enabled infrastructure and chat-based tools are used to provide shoppers with access to information, service support, and navigation assistance. According to a 2017 RetailDive study, 77% of shoppers use mobile devices to search for product information while shopping in brick&mortar stores, and only 35% are willing to consult an in-store salesperson. Brands will want to prioritize creating mobile tools for shoppers and associates that offer in-the-moment information to smoothen purchase decision. Mobile-scannable codes on the product can be used by customers to get product-related information. Store owners are utilizing Beacon & Bluetooth technology and digital signages that use data by approaching shoppers’ smartphones to create specific content messaging resulting in a more personalized experience, thus leading to more sales. Signals of the shift from e-commerce to m-commerce are bright.
Big Data and Analytics
Every piece of data related to customers is useful, which includes details like the number of visits in a month, amount of purchases, most and least purchased product, etc. Big Data – data obtained from millions of users in bulk – can be analyzed and used for improving the provision of the right products and services to the customers. Retailers are increasingly leveraging the power of Big Data for making accurate strategic decisions while enhancing customers’ shopping experience. Big Data analytics enables retailers to comprehend what their customers are looking for throughout their buying journey, while also predicting the customer demands so as to accordingly adapt to the market changes. Moreover, data analytics also enable retailers to determine product prices more accurately as well as predicting the right time to change the product pricing.
The combo packs are available for everything in the market from chips and coke to shampoo and hair conditioner. The bundling of two products that are used or purchased together can help the retailers sell more, fashion retailers are also using this technique. The pairing up of matching trousers or skirts with a top-wear and offering it as a combo is a very effective technique to generate more sales. It is required that the combo offers are well advertised to reach the maximum customers and ensure maximum sales. Product Bundling has set its place as one such trending practice in the market right now. Through this strategy, profits can rise due to the collective purchase of more than one item. With the sale of more items overall, consumers enjoy decreased prices and businesses see a faster movement of inventory off their shelves.
The brands in the fashion retail industry have to follow current trends for staying ahead in the market and to boost their revenue. The trends like omnichannel retailing are already big in the market and can be implemented easily with the use of an inventory management software. Other trends like the use of smartphones for scanning product labels still have a long way to go, for making it to the mainstream market. Following these trends can not only help the fashion retailers in getting ahead in terms of sales but also in enhancing their brand image and customer loyalty on a large scale.
Adding a personal touch to any product makes the customer feel connected to the product and increases the chances of its sale. Currently, the majority of customers of fashion retailers are millennials who are more inclined towards products that resonate their thoughts or interests (also, they can act as a cool conversation starter!). This is so because of the increasing economy of instant gratification and fast fashion. Millennials want what they like and not what they are offered. Also they are highly influenced by the style of their favorite celebrities. The future of clothing is complete customization of the products as per the taste of the consumer.
This concept was very much seen when it comes to specialized boutiques and fashion designers. But, in the retail business, the same merchandise was offered to all the customers. The times are changing the retail giants are time and again introducing personalization in clothing to acquire larger market share. The introduction of a proper retail analytics software can largely help fashion retailers of all sizes in providing customized clothing to their customers. The trend of personalization was studied by Deloitte, and the results of the research are:
Personalized Clothing and Small Retailers
Not only big names like H&M, Uniqlo and Zara but also small retailers can use personalization to make the most out of their investment. Customers agree to pay more not just because of the personalized product but also the personalized experience that they receive. The big brands mostly provide a personalized experience through machine-made products and computerized systems. The small-scale businesses, on the other hand, can provide a personal touch. As they are mostly the local stores knowing the customers in the neighborhood. As suggested above, many customers are willing to pay a higher price for a personalized product. So, in terms of personalization, small retailers do not have to compete with retail giants on the price.
Before some years, personalization by small retailers was limited up to alterations in terms of size and minor changes in embroidery, etc. These days order processing software enabled with technologies and Artificial Intelligence that can largely facilitate the provision of personalization products. These technologies also can help in studying inventory analytics and implement personalization accordingly. Analytics are largely helpful in customization as they represent the patterns of purchase of the customers and can largely identify the scope of personalization in a product. The hottest selling products can be sold as they are but the products with fewer sales can be put up for personalization. This software can be deployed cost effectively and largely support in providing quality service and a delightful experience to the customers.
Customized Inventory Management Software for the Customized Clothing Business
A customized software like Orderhive Plus facilitates its users with customized inventory management software that offers high-volume features and workflow. It offers accurate data aids retailers in archiving and optimizing inventory effortlessly. With precise BI analytics and tools, optimizing inventory has never been easier. It also helps you in cutting down costs, saving a fortune on labor costs and helps in managing products efficiently across multiple channels.
The purchase of personalized clothing is often observed around festive occasions, movie launches, and a spike in customer phenomenon. Contrary to large brands, growing startups do not need to worry about large-scale production, which enables them to experiment and invest in futuristic technology. Furthermore, they can have the upper hand in customization due to their exclusive approach and attention to every customer. The use of a proper retail analytics software will help small and medium-sized retailers in providing efficient customized clothing solutions to their customers, ensuring long-term loyalty.
Setting up an multi-channel business is a challenging task, as you are not operating from one store, or one location, or one city, state or country. The logistics of it are daunting. Despite of the problems, the challenges can be overcome with the help of specific software that takes care of most aspects that would otherwise have to be done manually while also saving your precious time, money and resources. The most important aspect of an multi-channel business is maintaining inventory levels at an optimum level.
Challenges Faced in Multi-Channel Inventory Optimization
Fragmented Supply Chain Processes: If you have a physical store and are setting up an online one as well on different platforms, then you may find it very difficult to maintain a proper supply chain to keep your outlets well-stocked. You have to predict demand at various points, allocate inventory and keep replenishing it as per changing demands. Any breach in your supply chain can result in big losses, not only in monetary terms, but also in the loss of loyal customers -- present and potential.
Maintaining A Safe Level of Stocks: Maintaining safety stocks are a complicated issue. Running out of stocks in certain circumstances can be back-breaking for your company. Therefore, companies tend to overstock sometimes, which can also become a burden, as they consume warehouse space, and ultimately lead to higher holding costs. So, to strike a right balance in the level of inventory you maintain is of utmost importance. In the end, if your inventory problems persist, you may have to go in for distress sales, clearance sales, or even returning the product to the suppliers.
Single- And Multi-Level Inventory Control: Single-level inventory optimization is as important as multi-level optimization in such a business model. Single-level inventory control concentrates on inventory management for a single channel in your supply network. Multi-level inventory control takes a more holistic approach which concentrates on inventory levels across your whole sales network. Small companies would obviously function on a single-level inventory optimization model. As the business grows and more tiers are added, inventory management becomes more and more complicated and difficult to manage. This is where multi-channel inventory management software comes in, as it can solve most of these logistic problems of maintaining optimum stock at various points.
The Importance of Returns Policy: If you have a proper returns policy in place, it will make your customers feel confident in repeatedly buying from you. If some customer happens to receive a product in a damaged condition or not as per the specifications they had ordered, they should be able to return it and get the desired product within least amount of time. Surveys have found that roughly 30% of online-ordered products are returned, in comparison to nearly 9% for brick-and-mortar purchases. So, when you are operating on both channels, it is important for you to know that the same survey also indicated that more people are likely to make their purchases online if they are confident that their returns will be accepted without any hassles. However, returns also have a direct impact on your inventory levels, and therefore you have to demand quality from your suppliers, as well as wisely choose your shipping partners, and only deal with those who are reliable. The bottom-line is that a flexible and transparent returns policy creates trust in your customer base, which in turn leads to higher purchases, loyal customers, and sustainably profitable business.
Multi-Level Inventory Optimization : When you are operating your business on a multi-tier system, you have to maintain your inventory adequately at every level in your supply and delivery chain. This makes coordination between all points in your business all the more important, as even a slight deviation from the inventory levels can cost you a great deal. You will need to follow what is called the multi-echelon inventory optimization (MEIO) system that ensures interoperability at every point in your supply and distribution network. There are two ways of achieving your MEIO targets: Firstly, you will have to optimize on a geographic basis, which would involve infrastructure facilities, labor and inventory management. Secondly, you will have to take a tactical view of your business, which would involve aligning all your operational processes, and also analyze your data with the metrics and targets you have set.
To Sum Up…The solution for all these inventory management problems of multi-channel retailers is to integrate all your operations with an order management software that provides a suite of tools for each of your order management needs.
Manage seasonal inventory without a hassle...
Whether you’re an e-commerce seller or brick-and-mortar store retailer, staying on top of your inventory game can be quite a challenge. And if you’re dealing with seasonal inventory, then your inventory management skills need to be a notch higher.
Seasonal inventory is stock which is in demand during specific periods of time like the holidays and the different seasons.
Seasonal inventory management isn’t the same as managing inventory of products that sell throughout the year. With such product categories, managers need to be proactive in efficiently buying and handling their stock.
Proper identification of seasonal products and subsequent planning with regard to their buying is key here. Not only this but making the necessary preparations for your inventory management system is important too. This can save time, money and confusion when the time arrives to reset warehouse racks and retail shelves for the upcoming season. So here are a few specialized ways to tackle seasonal inventory management.
Identify and Segment Seasonal Products
First and foremost, you need to identify and tag your merchandise. You can categorize by season, year, or peak periods. This can help you in a plethora of ways as having a clear idea about current season’s inventory is important to maintain inventory turnover and to prevent over-ordering in the next season as well. For example, when you have to re-order for next summer season, knowing how many dresses and shorts you already have in stock will enable more accurate re-ordering.
Markdown Peak Periods
The next step after identifying the seasonal merchandise in your inventory is to analyze when they are most in demand. This can be done by looking into previous sales data and purchase history of those products. Due to the dynamic nature of the fashion industry, demand for fashion changes with time. What sells in summer will not sell in winter. You must have a structured demand forecasting plan of what sells when and in what quantity for efficient seasonal inventory management.
You need to have a proper plan in place in order to clear out space in your warehouse for incoming items. Mark down those peak periods and schedule reorder patterns accordingly. For example, raincoats will be in demand during monsoon months but you will probably have to order them mid-summer so that by the time monsoon arrives, you have your stock ready for sale.
Don’t forget the Slack Months
While figuring out the peak season, it is sensible to make note of the slack period too. The slack period will give sellers time to get their seasonal inventory ready for the upcoming season. If you are a manufacturer, making your own apparel, then it’s a good time to start producing an entire season in advance.
With this, you also need to set the ideal time regarding both the commencement and end of sales. A good time would be just 2-3 weeks before the season is about to end. This is when you should start rolling out your discounts, offers and package deals in order to liquidate your seasonal inventory to an optimum level. Remember, don’t wait until the end of the season as your rivals will also be trying to get rid of their seasonal inventory during the rush hour.
You can predict the demand for particular products during peak season by looking closely at past sales data. This will help you in gleaning much information about which are your bestsellers and products that did not make the cut. For example, if boots were the showstoppers last winter, it would make sense to purchase more stock for boots in the coming season.
However, there’s a catch here. If last year boots were in fashion, this year it could be shoes that are all the rage. Thus, ordering much of boots will be a waste.
Another important thing, if you have an advertising strategy to hype up your seasonal inventory, then make sure you have enough stocks on your store shelves. Because nothing is more disappointing than excited customers coming to your store and going empty-handed.
Inventory Management System for Seasonal Inventory
Seasonal inventory can be tricky to handle, and if not managed efficiently, you end up with overstocking or understocking products, reduced cash flow, decreased sales and loyal customers slipping through the cracks.
Having a good inventory management software that can produce customized, accurate reports on what has been successful in the past and products that don’t need a PO to raise can make your task much easier.
The major principle behind managing seasonal inventory is closely monitoring the past performance of products and present trends since both have an impact on future sales. But as is obvious, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of inventory manually on Excel sheets, not to mention, it’s a hectic process. To keep yourself from getting into a soup, you can utilize the talents of an inventory management system for accurate, faster and smooth management of seasonal inventory.
Having multiple storefronts is considerably powerful for many businesses as it unlocks their potential and increases the number of revenue sources. Furthermore, you can also pick and choose the catalogue of products throughout multiple online outlets through the advantage of diversification. However, manually managingmultiple storefronts can present a set of distinct challenges for businesses. In this article, you will find the answer to solve this complexity.
Why Multiple Storefronts?
If you are currently just dealing with a single channel/storefront, you might be surprised by the benefits of having multiple storefronts. While selling everything at one store can be easier to manage, it makes much more sense when it comes to e-commerce and e-retail. These are some of the distinct benefits of selling at multiple storefronts:
While it is extremely advantageous to sell at multiple stores, it can bring some challenges for you as well:
While selling across multiple stores has its pros and cons, manually extending your sales across channels proves to be a hassle. The solution to all the challenges of selling to multiple storefronts is an automated solution which allows you to handle all the processes from a single place. An order management software can provide an automated solution to this problem which allows integration with multiple storefronts, while also allowing you to manage your inventory across those channels. Some of the features offered by order management software are:
The supply chain of a company extends from the factory right up to the point of sale where customers have access to the products and services. A supply chain strategy determines the demand of a product, when it needs to be delivered to the distribution center and dispatched to the retail store.
But simply determining the demand of a product isn’t sufficient. Different industries have different ways of managing or fabricating their inventory. For some they rely on past purchase history and sales of products to house the right amount of inventory and others work on an ‘on-demand’ strategy. This depends on the nature of the business and kind of products.
In inventory management, inventory control systems are categorized into two types-
Push Model of Inventory Control
In push model, forecasting of inventory needs is done to meet customer demand. The company predicts which products customers will buy and how much will be purchased. The company will as a result produce just enough product to meet the forecast demand and sell the goods to the consumer. In push strategy there is a fair amount of predictability in demand forecasting for products.
An example of a push strategy is Material Resource Planning where materials are released according to the forecast production plan without taking into account the demand or status of orders. An instance of a push strategy would be to start producing and ‘pushing’ warm clothing to retail stores as soon as the autumn months are coming to a close and winter is approaching.
One of the advantages of push strategies is the predictability factor mentioned above. Companies are mostly sure that they will have enough products to meet customer demand. It allows them to plan production schedule in order to meet their needs in time and place stock wherever it is required. Another benefit is that it can reduce shipping costs. Since the push inventory control system relies on high inventory and make-to-stock principle, companies buy accordingly to avoid undersupplying. They place larger, less frequent orders from suppliers to cut down on the number of shipments.
However, push system has certain pitfalls too. The biggest one is probably that the forecasts it relies upon are mostly inaccurate since sales differ from year to year. This leaves the Company in a soup because more often than not they are left overstocked or understocked. Storing excessive inventory can steal from your net profits as you will be forced to sell products at discounted rates. It will also lead to higher carrying costs, waste of warehouse space, inventory shrinkage due to spoilage or disposal, higher debt, low cash flow and a barrage of other problems due to declining inventory management. Most importantly, undersupply due to push system incapacitates the business to fulfil customer orders leading to resentment and decreased customer loyalty. All in all the push system is less adaptable to changing trends in customer demands.
Pull Model of Inventory Control
The pull system of inventory control seems like a more grounded strategy for inventory management. In this model, businesses make just enough product to fulfill customer orders. This strategy begins with a customer’s order. Products are pushed into the supply chain only when there is demand. The pull strategy also makes efficient use of real-time data to make informed decisions about ordering or manufacturing products.
Sophisticated cloud-based inventory management systems have made it possible for businesses to gain real-time visibility into the movement of their inventory, thereby affording them greater inventory control. This also helps them to carry out faster retail replenishment that uses actual daily consumer demand to make an accurate forecast.
Just-In-Time principle of inventory management, is an excellent example of a pull strategy. The main aim is to keep inventory levels to a minimum, not more not less, but only enough to meet consumer demand. Even the classic Kanban is a pull system because the number of kanban cards limit the Work in Process in the system.
An instance of pull strategy could be a luxury custom car manufacturers, who manufacture high priced cars according to specific requirements. For such a person, it is sensible that he waits until he receives an order to actually build a customized car for the customer.
Unlike the push system, the pull strategy relies on frequent but smaller orders. Rather than basing itself on long-term (though inaccurate) projections, pull system is more reactive and adaptable to changing consumer buying trends.
The main advantage of a pull system is that companies are able to meet consumer demand without having leftover inventory. In case a particular product suddenly grows or decreases in popularity, it is easy to adapt. This way retailer can also keep customers satisfied by fulfilling all orders and it also eliminates the threat of selling at discounted rates. By applying the pull strategy businesses are saved from storing excessive inventory, reducing carrying costs and inventory levels.
Yet, there are a couple drawbacks to this strategy as well. One of them is that since the pull system relies on smaller but frequent orders from suppliers, it hikes up shipping costs. Another problem that can surface is that if the popularity for an item suddenly rises, the supplier might not be able to provide enough stock to fulfil orders on time.
It is nearly not possible for inventory managers to know how much inventory is required at a specific time. Selecting the right inventory control system depends on number of factors such as type of product, nature and scale of business, amount of inventory and warehouse space. Sometimes companies can also adopt a hybrid approach. Computer giant Dell, has incorporated a push-pull strategy where the raw materials are ordered beforehand but the actual computer is not assembled until they receive an order.
E-commerce is a tremendously profitable industry. Having a website to sell products online could be an excellent money making business. A website will save you from the hassle of keeping an inventory, paying rent for a physical store, or warehouse.
However, simply starting an e-commerce website isn’t going to bring in sales. Many people think starting an online store is a slam dunk and that products sell and money comes all by itself.
The main aim of an e-commerce store is to acquire many customers and maximize conversion rates.
However, there are so many things that can go wrong, ending in customers going crazy. Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes that e-commerce websites can make, which might impact their sales and amplify bounce rates.
1. Lack of Customer Service
Consumers will continue to shop online. Even though they don’t speak face-to-face with a sales rep, customer service is still important. It should be easy for consumers to get their questions answered, speak to a person (if they want) or raise a grievance. You also need to be prepared to accept returns, support a variety of payments, including refunds if necessary.
2. Providing Low-quality/wrong Product Photographs
Bounce rates increase on your e-commerce website due to misguided users after they see wrong or bad product photographs. if it is supposed to be a ‘blue bottle’ then the image should be that of a blue bottle, not a white or red one. The size of the product is important. Images taken from different angles can provide the audience an idea about the colours, design or material of the product.
3. ‘No Results’ Upon Searching
Don’t show customers a ‘No results’ page that might annoy them and turn them away for good. Suggesting alternatives to their search might help. For instance, if a customer searches for ‘white socks with prints’’ and you don’t have such a product in the inventory, suggest other items on the same lines. For example, suggesting a ‘multi printed socks’ could serve the purpose. It might seem tedious but in the end, will help in converting your leads into sales. Worth it right?
4. Including Out of Stock Items
Imagine this. When you diligently search for an item on an e-commerce website, but instead find the words ‘Out of Stock’. What do you do? Leave that site and move on to another. Now this could happen to you.
If any of your products are out of stock, DO NOT display them on the results or on category pages. Another option is to add a tag on the product image, clearly stating that the product is not available.
5. Lack of Shipping Options
Customers like to have variety and this is true for shipping options as well. It is recommended to offer customers a number of shipping options so that you can justify that the customer has made a good choice by purchasing from your site. This is indirectly beneficial to you as well, since different shipping providers offer different rates, and functions.
6. Poor inventory management
You might ask why inventory management is an important aspect in maintaining an e-commerce site. Well, of course it is. Otherwise how are you going to sell customers the products they want? Whether you are keeping inventory in a warehouse or opting for drop-shipping, you will still have to maintain a thorough count of your inventory and stock levels. If you are operating on a large scale, you can invest in an inventory management system it will allow you to have greater inventory control, know when to replenish stock and maintain orders.
An inventory management system will give you access to real-time data, so that every piece of inventory , every movement of goods is accounted for.
7. Desktop-only design or unresponsive website should be upgraded
Today people are shopping, making payments and transactions through the mobile and tablet at a rapid rate. We no longer live in a world of desktop computers. So it is essential that the e-commerce website must be responsive one. It should be one that can be optimized on different devices, desktop, mobile, tablet, and laptop. In not doing that you can lose existing and potential customers who use other devices or are shifting from their old ones.
Starting an e-commerce website might seem like a cakewalk, but it’s really not that easy. Each and every aspect about your website has to be carefully planned and implemented. Even the slightest change in design, navigation, optimization might have a significant impact on your website’s performance in terms of traffic, conversion of leads and ultimately sales. So next time you are thinking of starting your own e-commerce site, make sure to avoid these mistakes.
Simple, yet powerful