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A Buyer's Guide to Retail Inventory Management Systems

Managing inventory and orders has become more complex and challenging in today’s multi-channel landscape, especially for retailers growing rapidly online. Without a solid inventory management system, it becomes time consuming and difficult to track inventory for different products across multiple fronts and channels.

Carrying too much inventory ties up capital and warehouse space. Having too little inventory leads to missed sales opportunities and overselling.

There’s a plethora of inventory management systems available in the market, each with different features and pricing. The challenge is finding the right solution that fits your specific needs, without spending too much or too little on a lackluster software.

What to Look for in an Inventory Management Solution?

According to IDC Manufacturing Insights, organizations that implemented a formal inventory management system saw a meaningful return on investment in a relatively short period of time. Optimized inventory accounted for up to 25% of reduced inventory levels within one year. Other companies also enjoyed a discounted cash flow of 50% in less than two years.

Investing in a solid inventory management solution reduces overhead cost from storage, maintenance and product spoilage or expiration. It maximizes warehouse space and operational efficiency and helps you stay competitive by improving the customer experience.

But not all solutions offer the same features or benefits. There’s a range of functionalities to consider when shopping for an online inventory management software.

Flexibility in Handling Product Variations, Kits and Bundles

Product variations make inventory management complicated, especially when you have thousands of different SKUs to manage. Similarly, kits and bundles are virtual combinations of products that require you to subtract inventory from each item individually to keep all inventory levels accurate.

This can get very messy and prone to mistakes without proper inventory tracking. Retailers looking to sell custom products need a flexible ecommerce management solution that can easily handle variants and virtual products.

Real-Time Inventory Updates

Automated real-time updates are critical to order and inventory management. This means getting real-time inventory data wherever your inventory is stocked, sold or fulfilled. This includes your marketplaces, retail stores, warehouses, dropship suppliers and 3PLs.

As a retailer looking for a good inventory management software, you need to know the distinction between real time versus “near” real time. Near real time means that your inventory could be updated anywhere between once every 15 minutes, once every hour, or even only once a day.

Delayed inventory updates expose your business to several dangers, especially overselling. When you oversell on Amazon, you could easily lose your ability to sell on their platform. Your account could be penalized and even suspended.

Similarly, you run the risk of infuriating customers when you’re unable to deliver the products they have just purchased. You can lose that customer for life, and a single negative comment could damage your reputation and sales.

Intelligent Dropship Support

For retailers who don't want to procure inventory upfront, dropshipping can be used to fulfill orders and mitigate inventory risk. However, dropshipping can be challenging without automated inventory management. Poor communication with the supplier could cause order errors, shipping complexities and bad accounting.

You need a system that can handle all the transactional data between your business and your suppliers. This includes real-time inventory updates, order statuses, invoices and purchase orders. An inventory management system that supports dropshipping ensures accuracy in all of your orders, inventory and financial transactions.

Inventory Synchronization Across All Distribution Centers and Channels

With consumers buying on different marketplaces, it’s a necessity to have a presence in various channels, and you need a dedicated system that centralizes and synchronizes inventory levels across all your channels and distribution facilities.

Having an automated fulfillment solution allows you to track and manage inventory across multiple internal and external warehouses, dropshippers, brick-and-mortar stores, and fulfillment centers such as Amazon FBA.

You need a robust inventory management system that is fully integrated with each of these locations, and is able to track procurement and returns from various marketplaces.

This gives you a consolidated view of stock quantities and expected shipments across your distribution centers, giving you valuable data so you can plan and optimize your inventory locations and forecast future sales. It also enables you to ship products quickly from the location closest to the customer, ensuring prompt delivery at lower costs.

Additional Integrations That Provide Powerful Performance Insights

A study by Oracle found that 83% of businesses around the world suffer from operational inefficiencies because of poor integrations using disparate systems that handles a specific business function. According to the study, 41% of their integration attempts were only partially successful while 18% were completely unsuccessful.

Disparate systems won’t give you the comprehensive data you need to grow your business. In fact, juggling multiple platforms will silo your data and prevent you from analyzing inventory, orders, procurement and financial data as a whole. In the end, you won’t have an accurate picture to help you forecast demand and know how products perform specifically during peaks, spikes and seasons.

You need a holistic approach to ecommerce that integrates with other back-office systems, such as point of sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM) and accounting systems. An inventory management system that includes an accounting system is especially important, given that accurate reporting and tax procedures affect your investors, financial planning, and regulatory compliance.

Next Steps in Choosing the Right Software

Expanding into multiple channels can be challenging if your old systems couldn’t scale well with your business. Choosing the right ecommerce tool is a serious decision for any retailer. Without ample research, you may end up investing in the wrong resources that do not deliver.

Built for mid-sized B2C and B2B retailers, Jazva specializes in multi-channel inventory management and delivers all the functionalities you need to succeed in ecommerce.

Key benefits of our inventory management solution include:

  • Flexible, scalable handling of product variations, kits and bundles
  • Powerful bulk editing capabilities
  • Real-time inventory synchronization across distribution centers and channels
  • Dropship and multi-warehouse support
  • Sales and demand forecasting
  • All-in-one ecommerce platform that is integrated with leading channels, shipping carriers, POS, CRM, marketing and accounting systems

Schedule a demo today to see if our solution is the right choice for your needs.

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Albert Ong

Albert Ong

Albert Ong is the marketing manager at Jazva, an all-in-one ecommerce platform for multi-channel sellers. When not leading content strategy, Albert spends his time listening to audiobooks, writing science fiction, and binge-watching Netflix.

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