Ecommerce stock management is a critical part of running a successful ecommerce business. It involves tracking and managing inventory to ensure that products are in stock and available for purchase. Without effective stock management, ecommerce businesses can suffer from out-of-stock issues, resulting in lost sales and unhappy customers.
At its core, stock management involves tracking inventory, setting reorder points, forecasting demand, and managing replenishment. By implementing an effective stock management system, ecommerce businesses can avoid stockouts, optimize inventory levels, and improve customer satisfaction.
What is Stock Management?
The first step to effective stock management is to accurately track the quantity and availability of inventory. This can be done manually or with the help of a software solution such as an inventory management system. An inventory management system allows ecommerce businesses to track product information, view stock levels, and automatically generate reorder points. This ensures that products are always in stock and that customers can purchase items when they need them.
Once stock levels are tracked, ecommerce businesses should set reorder points. Reorder points are the level at which an item needs to be replenished. Setting reorder points ensures that items are never out of stock and that customers can always make a purchase. Reorder points can be set manually or with the help of an inventory management system.
In addition to tracking stock and setting reorder points, ecommerce businesses should also forecast demand for their products. Forecasting demand helps businesses anticipate customer needs and plan accordingly. It can also help businesses manage stock levels and avoid overstocking or understocking items. An inventory management system can help with forecasting demand by providing historical sales data and forecasting future sales trends.
Ecommerce businesses should also manage replenishment. This involves ensuring that products are restocked in a timely manner and that stock levels are kept up-to-date. An inventory management system can help with this by automatically generating purchase orders and providing visibility into inventory levels. This ensures that products are always in stock and that customers can purchase items when they need them.
The Role of Technology in Stock Management
Traditionally, stock management was a manual process that involved physically counting inventory and manually updating records. However, technology has transformed the way businesses track and manage their inventory. Today, there are many software and hardware systems that can help businesses to automate and streamline their stock management processes.
One of the most common types of technology used for stock management is a computerized system that tracks inventory levels in real-time. These systems use barcodes or RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags to automatically update inventory records as products are received, sold, or moved within the warehouse. This eliminates the need for manual counting and allows businesses to have a more accurate and up-to-date view of their inventory levels.
In addition to inventory tracking systems, there are also many other technologies that can help businesses to optimize their stock management processes. For example, predictive analytics software can help businesses to forecast demand more accurately by analyzing historical data and identifying trends and patterns. Warehouse management systems can help businesses to optimize the layout and organization of their warehouses, while transportation management systems can help businesses to optimize the routing and scheduling of their deliveries.
Best Practices for Forecasting Demand
Accurate demand forecasting is crucial for effective stock management, as it helps businesses to determine the right levels of inventory to have on hand. There are several best practices that businesses can follow to improve their demand forecasting accuracy:
- Utilize Historical Data: One of the most effective ways to forecast demand is to analyze historical sales data and identify trends and patterns. This can help businesses to understand the factors that influence demand and make more informed predictions about the future.
- Incorporate Market Research: In addition to analyzing internal data, businesses should also consider external factors that may impact demand. This can include conducting market research, monitoring competitors, and keeping track of industry trends and economic conditions.
- Consider Seasonality: Many businesses experience seasonal fluctuations in demand, and it is important to take this into account when forecasting demand. For example, a business that sells summer clothing will likely experience higher demand during the warmer months.
The Importance of Inventory Accuracy
Accurate inventory management is crucial for businesses, as it helps to ensure that they have the right products in stock at the right time. This is important for several reasons. First, having too little inventory can lead to stock outs, which can result in lost sales and disappointed customers. On the other hand, having too much inventory can lead to waste, as products may expire or become obsolete before they can be sold. Additionally, excess inventory ties up valuable resources such as money, storage space, and personnel time that could be better utilized elsewhere.
To maintain accurate inventory levels, businesses must have a clear understanding of their demand patterns. This involves analyzing sales data and forecasting future demand based on historical trends, market conditions, and other relevant factors. Additionally, businesses must also take into account lead times, which are the amount of time it takes to receive new inventory from suppliers. This is especially important for businesses that rely on just-in-time (JIT) inventory systems, which are designed to minimize inventory levels by only ordering products as they are needed.
Inventory Management vs. Inventory Control
Both inventory management and inventory control are essential to running a successful ecommerce business. Inventory management is the overall strategy to ensure adequate inventory, and inventory control encompasses the processes and tools used to track existing inventory. Businesses may choose to use an inventory control system on its own but will benefit from using both together. Here are the essential differences:
Inventory management is a strategy that ensures businesses always have the right amount of inventory at the right time and in the right place. Inventory management tools enable businesses to:
- calculate safety stock
- calculate reorder points
- accomplish demand planning and forecasting
- identify obsolete items
- optimize warehouse layout
- identify fill rate percentage
Inventory control addresses inventory already in a business’s possession. It works at the transactional layer of an ERP system and enables businesses to:
- receive inventory
- process interbranch transfers
- process receipts
- pack and ship stock
- process customer invoices
- process supplier purchase orders
Inventory Management vs. Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management is a process of managing supply relationships outside a company and the flow of stock into and through a company. Inventory management may focus on trends and orders for the company or a part of the company.
Inventory management is essential for a properly running supply chain. Inventory management follows the flow of goods to, through and out of the warehouse. The supply chain includes demand planning, procurement, production, quality, fulfillment, warehousing and customer service—all of which require inventory visibility.
Make Stock Management Simple with a 3PL
Stock management is an integral part of your overall inventory management technique. When you can track the data behind your brand’s unique supply and demand, you get an accurate look at exactly how much stock you need on hand and when.
While there are several ways to approach stock management, every brand should use an inventory management software. Even better, find a third-party logistics (3PL) partner who will take on managing inventory for you.
Ecommerce stock management is essential for running a successful ecommerce business. It involves tracking inventory, setting reorder points, forecasting demand, and managing replenishment. By implementing an effective stock management system, ecommerce businesses can avoid stockouts, optimize inventory levels, and improve customer satisfaction.
Help with inventory management is one of the many benefits to working with a 3PL. If you are seeking logistics support we’d love to hear from you. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with to ensure great logistics support. Send us a note to connect about how we can help your company grow.