Maybe you started off small and are now ready to take the leap and market your products on one of the world’s biggest online e-commerce sites; Amazon. Previously you may have dabbled your feet in the water with sites like EBay and now you feel ready to move up to the next level.
But one thing you may not expect – which can quickly throw you into disarray – is that the orders can come in incredibly fast. What you used to do on EBay or other sites manually may not be sufficient now to keep up the pace. The result? Orders flooding in, burying you and your status as a buyer beginning to flag before you have even started.
One sure-fire way of dealing with this, removing all stress and headaches, is an Amazon Inventory Management System which will keep your sales running smoothly and enable you to make the most of your Amazon store.
Inventory Management risks to look out for
As a newbie seller on the Amazon website, here are a few risks that you need to be aware of. After all, forewarned is forearmed:
- Expect your order volume to jump up pretty fast, making it difficult for a manual system to cope
- Your stock is likely to go down quickly so ensure that you have plenty of product available; each day that you are in an out-of-stock situation, not only are you losing money but customers may not come back again
- The more orders you get coming in, the more attention you will have to pay to pack, dispatch and final fulfillment.
- If you gain too many black marks through poor salesmanship and letting clients down, Amazon will suspend your account. Your reputation as a store is extremely valuable so don’t let this happen.
This may sound fairly scary but every business opportunity brings with it its own risk. By being aware of the many potential pitfalls before you again, you can make a plan to deal with them whilst ensuring that you budget addresses them fully.
The negative results of mismanaging your inventory
You may decide that you are going to stick with a manual Amazon Inventory Management system to begin with, saving some money until you have made a few more sales and buying it later. Whilst this may sound like a good idea, do remember that you may be leaving yourself wide open to problems. Here are just a few:
- You may be spending so much time manually packing, dispatching and fulfilling orders that you don’t focus on growing your store; this is slow, expensive and reduces your concentration on the strategic side of the business.
- You need to know constantly what you are selling, how many and what money is coming in. A good system will do this for you whilst doing it manually can result in critical errors that will negatively impact upon cash flow and reputation.
- Without a good Amazon Inventory Management system in place, you are leaving yourself wide open to human error. When data entry mistakes are made, shipments can be delayed or even missed and the volume of orders dealt with each day reduced. Your lead times will increase and the customer experience can be ruined.
If you have ever used Amazon as a buyer, you will know that customers expect and demand immediate availability and fast receipt. If you can’t provide a service like this, they will quickly move onto a competitor who can. You will get a bad rating along with a host of poor reviews from buyers and your online store will be dead in the water before you have begun.
The only way to guarantee that you avoid this is to obtain a first class Amazon Inventory Management system.
How to choose your Amazon Inventory Management system
So you have made the decision to purchase an Amazon Inventory Management system but don’t just rush out and buy the first one that you come across. You need to look at what you need the solution to provide and then get hold of a system that will synchronize across all of your inventory locations/sales channels. With so many on the market, you should begin by listing all of the capabilities that you are looking for and then create a short-list. You should also take into account the following as some systems may not provide all of the options that you require. They may offer support of:
- Amazon only
- Other online marketplace sites such as EBay, Amazon and Etsy
- E-commerce systems such as Shopify, Magento
- The whole lot – that is e-commerce, online marketplaces and even POS systems
Whilst your budget may be limited, do consider your needs going forward and not just as they stand today. You don’t want to be looking at replacing your Amazon Inventory Management system in just a few months. Make a plan of how you will grow your business; do you want to sell just on Amazon, Amazon and EBay or even have a web designer set up an e-commerce store for you in Magento?
You will obtain the greatest value from a system that provides the utmost flexibility for business growth.
The integration of other business systems
Some Amazon Inventory Management systems focus purely on the front-end of your business (customer sales) but don’t pay enough attention to the back end (accounting, enterprise resource planning, etc.) You ideally need a system that will not only manage your inventory but integrate with any other systems that you are using. If you are going to retain hold of many of your systems manually then the benefits from having the automated Amazon Inventory Management system will be minimized.
You also need to make allowances for upgrades: Even if your accounting system integrates well at the moment, you need to check that when new versions come into play your integrated Amazon Inventory Management system will still work with it.
Choose according to your business needs
Whilst inventory management is crucial, you cannot afford to ignore a lot of the other processes too. Some Amazon Inventory Management systems deal only with inventory whilst others take care of a whole host of other business processes, including the following:
- Management of individual items
- Managing orders
- Integrating with your accounts package
- Producing shipping notifications
- Collecting customer data
- Keeping on top of purchasing needs
- Linking to 3rd party warehousing (if used)
- Drop shipping (if used)
If your budget will allow you to choose a solution that will deal with all of these processes, then this is a good option to go with. It will also work out far cheaper and more convenient than trying to manage each process separately with a solution for each. Your final purchase decision should be based on where you want your business to go, not where it is just at the moment.
Automated Amazon Inventory Management systems
The right solution will enable you to synchronize and automate your inventory for your Amazon store as it will link with everything; POS, ERP, other e-commerce sales channels, etc. Because data will flow automatically between each one, human error will be removed and you will find yourself much more able to deal with large volumes of sales.
You will benefit from:
- Error-free data entry.
- Ability to manage your data and inventory from one place
- Integrate all inventory data with POS, ERP, other e-commerce sales channels, etc.
- Manage your inventory centrally for all sales channels
- Access stock counts across all sales channels in real time
- Always deliver on time and show reliable availability of stock
- Overall, increase your sales and therefore your revenue
Do your homework
There are so many Amazon Inventory Management software products available on the market that it pays to take the time to look around, liaise with various vendors and find one that will take care of your stock levels and sales channels efficiently and cost effectively.
You may even find some free inventory management software tools available but before you try them, you need to make sure that they are totally compatible with Amazon and that they will be able to deal with all that you need. Once you have carried out your online research, most enable you to create an account and check out how the system performs. The least they should do is keep track of your inventory, any returns, and all sales and produce reports showing inventory turnover. Do note however that these free Amazon inventory management tools may not suit your needs for very long; once your business begins to blossom and grow, it is likely that you will need to move up a notch or two and go for a paid system that takes care of a whole lot more.
Recommended Amazon Inventory Management systems
To help get you going in the right direction, here are a few systems that you may wish to look at:
This is a multi-channel piece of software that is totally e-commerce friendly. It will easily enable you to build your sales on both Amazon and EBay. It comes with an all-in-one inventory, order and listings facility as well as a built-in re-pricer which allows you to change items costs simply. Managing your stock is taken care of as you will be able to list and manage your whole inventory across a range of selling channels. Multi-channel, order processing features are all included meaning that you will need to invest less labor whilst your seller ratings escalate. Listings cannot only be created quickly but also managed centrally, no matter how many marketplaces you are selling into.
Get your business flying not only on Amazon but also EBay, Rakuten and Alibris, along with a few others. A truly multi-channel set of software, this is a powerful system that will allow you to increase sales and simplify operations and processes. Finding your way around the sometimes complex world of e-commerce can be problematic if you do not have a good software system in place to guide you; avoid the many pitfalls and keep your finger on the button constantly with this professional kit. Keep track of your fees, shipping costs and margins. A very powerful platform, the inbuilt forensics and analytics ensure that you always know what your margins are and can track growth.
If you want to sell on a mix of channels, not just Amazon, you don’t need to worry; this software cleverly automates the whole process taking care of inventory management, order tracking and shipping as well as customer service. You can even alter prices easily. You will find yourself spending less time on admin and more on selling. Whilst some e-commerce websites may not allow you to reach a sufficiently large market, Solid Commerce does.
Boost sales by getting yourself out there into the online retail space, selling your products wherever you wish to. Find out where your type of customers go to shop and then put your goods on sale. The platform is very user friendly, easy to find your way around and ensures that you magnify your exposure in the right way. Your profits will rise as you make use of the intelligent pricing facility to cost goods according to the competition; never under or over price and keep your customers delighted and happy.
Another multi-channel software system that automates everything, including your inventory. The built in analytics also enable you to view important sales trends. A terrific sales accelerator and generator, put your trust in Skubana and use it as your central inventory management hub, taking care of all routine and mundane administrative tasks. It even goes the extra mile, providing you with detailed statistics with regard to your profits, forecasts and demand for stock; this way you can make sure that you never run out and constantly have enough product in store to keep your customers constantly supplied. You can even add extensions via the App store.
Whichever way you decide to go, one thing is sure – by having a competent Amazon Inventory Management System in place you will not only be ensuring that your sales continue to run like clockwork but that your Amazon customer base continues to grow.