When you sell products online, managing your inventory effectively is especially important, particularly because customers won’t walk up to a display, note a missing product, and ask about it. Online, your up-to-date listings are all customers have to work with, and depending on the product and manufacturing conditions, listing a product that’s out of stock can be just as big of a problem as omitting one you have on hand.
To avoid such inventory problems, it’s important to keep your warehoused products coordinated with the associated purchasing platforms. There are many software options that allow for this kind of synchronization, but you might also consider these simple strategies for keeping a handle on your inventory.
Go Open Source
You don’t have to drop a lot of money to handle the inventory for your small business when there are numerous open source software options available. The free version of inFlow, for example, allows you to input 100 products, though you can upgrade for unlimited access for a one-time fee. Unfortunately you can’t test all of the features in the free version, but you should have access to a broad sampling, allowing you to determine whether inFlow is appropriate service for your small business.
Open source inventory management programs are also great for collectors and galleries that want to track items and record provenance information after sales. Park West Gallery, founded by Albert Scaglione, carries out thousands of art auctions per year. Using an inventory system allows them to track key information about items as they’re received, and then archive those items after they’re sold.
Remember, whether you’re a busy art gallery or a small machine parts shop, archiving past products is an important part of customer service, so don’t delete an item. You never know when a past customer will contact you looking for important information about something you sold them months or even years before.
When there is a problem with the correlation of inventory and the sales platform, companies often look to shift the blame. Whose job was it to catalog that item or to order more of the product? Set that question aside for good by using a live syncing inventory management system and giving all key employees access to it. This is how the best restaurant management programs work, but few other industries have readily adopted equivalent systems.
With restaurant management systems, data moves smoothly from waiters to the kitchen, and if the kitchen runs out of a product, it’s immediately registered. Small businesses can make the same system work for them by giving packaging and distribution staff access to the inventory system.
Put into action, restaurant-style inventory management looks like this: Did someone just grab the last product off the shelf? Mark it in the system and sync the inventory with the website so that the product disappears or is marked out of stock until more is delivered. Your business will be more efficient and more reliable when you allow staff members to enter such inventory changes as they occur.
Inventory systems like Brightpearl even offer an inventory management app, so your small business doesn’t need to invest in additional hardware, as does Stock Control. Stock Control also offers the advantage of tracking inventory across multiple storage sites.
Stop worrying about whether or not your website corresponds with what is in your warehouse by taking control of your inventory today. With many open source options and app-based systems to choose from, you can improve your system for little or no money, increasing your productivity and boosting your image among customers as a reliable brand.