This is a guest blog post by Robert Lockard. Robert is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. He enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.
Would you like to make it easier to keep the product quantities on all of your eCommerce platforms in sync with each other while also speeding up the order fulfillment process?
You can accomplish these positive feats, plus many others, when you connect your eCommerce accounts to an inventory management solution. In fact, here are 10 reasons why you should integrate your eCommerce and inventory management solutions together.
1. Automatically Update Your Inventory Quantities
When managing inventory, one of the most important things to know is how many parts and products you have on hand in your warehouse at any given time and how many of those are available to pick for new orders. You want your inventory quantities to be both accurate and as up to date as possible.
Integrating your inventory management solution with various eCommerce platforms facilitates this process. Every time a sale is made via your accounts on eBay, Amazon, and other websites, you can schedule them to send that information to your inventory management solution shortly after. This automates the task of updating your inventory quantities and ensures your numbers are right on the money.
2. Avoid Committing the Same Products to Separate Orders
Going along with the first point, automatically updating inventory quantities has the added benefit of preventing confusion when it comes to committing items to orders.
Let’s say you have three widgets in stock. You receive an order for those three widgets from one eCommerce site and then soon after that you receive another order from another site requesting three more widgets. You have now committed all three of your widgets to two separate orders.
This will most likely result in someone being unhappy because they won’t get what they want. To avoid this problem, you can rely on your inventory management solution to integrate with all of your eCommerce platforms.
It not only updates the quantities in your internal inventory records, but it also sends that information across all of your other eCommerce accounts so that they are synchronized with each other.
3. Drop Ship Items You Do Not Currently Have in Stock
Because inventory quantity updates don’t happen instantly, there is a small gap of time in which the same items in your inventory could be accidentally committed more than once. In the unlikely event that such a thing happens, there is a solution.
You can use your inventory management software’s ability to drop ship items to your customers. Drop shipping is a method of order fulfillment in which you don’t have the actual items you are selling in stock, but you instead have someone else (such as a vendor or wholesaler) ship the items to the customer for you.
When you find yourself in a position where you are out of a particular item, you can set up drop shipping terms to quickly purchase the necessary item via an eCommerce platform and have it sent to the customer who ordered it. That way, the customer is happy and you get the sale, albeit at a lower markup than you may prefer under ideal circumstances.
4. Speed Up the Order Fulfillment Process
The order fulfillment process is the means by which you get your products into the hands of the right people. And having an integrated order fulfillment system speeds this up considerably.
Quickly generate pick tickets, batch pick items off the shelves in your warehouse, scan items’ barcodes, compare prices from various shippers and shipping methods from a single interface, print shipping labels, and more. All of this helps you to do more with your time and get items shipped out to your customers in order to impress them with your speed and accuracy.
5. Keep Up With Constantly Incoming Sales Orders
The Internet never sleeps. There is no such thing as limited hours of operations for a website. So you need to always be ready for an influx of orders for your products via eCommerce websites. Thanks to the features and integrations mentioned above and others that we will get into below, you can do so with confidence.
You can also trust that no sales order will fall through the cracks and you will be quickly informed when your attention is necessary to fulfill an order and keep everything running smoothly in your warehouse. No matter what changes come your way as items come into your warehouse and go out, you can remain informed and in charge of it all.
6. Eliminate Double Data Entry
It might seem like a minor detail, but double data entry presents a real risk to companies. If your inventory management solution is not connected to your eCommerce platforms, you will likely have to manually enter data you receive from sales orders into the solution.
But what if you accidentally enter the wrong product SKU, quantity sold, price, or other important bit of information as you are typing it in? That could lead to serious problems down the line when you ship the wrong product or think you have more or less of an item in stock than you actually do and then wind up reordering the wrong number as a result. You can eliminate the risks that are inherent in double data entry by simply integrating the two solutions together.
7. Integrate with Other Business Solutions
Not only should your inventory management solution integrate with your eCommerce accounts, but it should also integrate with your accounting solution, whether it is QuickBooks or Xero or whatever else you use.
Once again, this eliminates the problem of double data entry because once an order is received in the inventory management solution, it gets processed and any changes that need to be made to inventory quantities get sent to the accounting solution to be recorded in the general ledger and wherever else it may be necessary.
Plus, the accounting software can generate the appropriate invoices to include with outgoing shipments and help with recording all relevant financial transactions.
You can also integrate with various shippers and shipping solutions to help with the aforementioned job of comparing shipping methods and prices. And that is just scratching the surface of the integrations that are possible.
CRM, merchant services, employee time clock, server hosting, mobile devices, and many other software and hardware options can be connected to your inventory management solution to automate even more business processes.
8. Notify Customers of Incoming Shipments
Once a package is out the door and on its way to your customer, you can receive a tracking number associated with it from the shipper. And if you have an email address for your customer, you can automatically generate an email and send it to them with the tracking number and an estimated time of delivery.
That way, your customers can monitor the progress of their incoming shipment and know that you have done your part to make sure they receive it in a timely manner.
9. Keep Track of Customer Sales and Discounts
Inventory management software allows you to save information on your eCommerce customers and monitor what products they purchase. You can create incentives to drive sales with the help of pricing rules and discounts.
You can set up pricing rules in the inventory management solution to apply to customers and/or products that meet certain criteria. For example, you can create pricing rules that apply to just one customer, a group of customers, or every customer.
You can also create pricing rules that apply to just one product, a group of products, or every product. And these pricing rules can include a markdown, markup, margin, percent off, dollar amount off, or fixed price in relation to a product’s average cost, standard cost, default cost, last cost, list price, product price, or the last price a specific customer paid for that product.
10. Monitor Sales Trends and Plan for Future Demand
Remember the information that your inventory management solution saves on customer sales? You can use that data to do all sorts of things. One thing you can do is look for correlations among products that are often sold together.
If you have two or more items that are often included in the same sales order then it might just be a good idea to store those items next to each other in the warehouse to speed up the picking process.
You can also look at the number of times each product is sold and use that information to decide how best to organize your warehouse space. Putting low-selling items farther away from the receiving area than high-selling items could speed up the receiving process.
There are all sorts of positive changes you can make as you glean information from your inventory and sales data. And the real cherry on top is that you can use past sales information to look ahead into the future and see if you can plan for fluctuations in consumer demand for certain products.
Some items may be more popular in the winter or the summer or in specific months, and so you can look at those spikes and drops in sales and then adjust your inventory levels to match them. That way, you can make the most of your limited warehouse space and make sure the right products take priority so you don’t end up with too many of one product and too few of another.
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