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Stock Control & Inventory Management Tips

Online sales have revolutionised the way businesses connect with their customers, and these sales are only set to grow more over the coming years. Statista tells us that global retail eCommerce sales amounted to around 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021. By 2025, it is set to reach 7.4 trillion dollars as a result of a 50% growth within the next four years.

The ability to sell online is essential for many businesses, regardless of industry. Fashion retailers and CBD sellers can both benefit from adopting a more agile approach to eCommerce, allowing them to meet customer expectations quickly. Effectively managing inventory and controlling stock is one of the methods that can help eCommerce businesses overcome the challenges they face in this online world.

The challenges facing eCommerce

There are many challenges facing online retailers, but overcoming them can be even more challenging for small and medium businesses (SMBs) in particular. Competition is fierce and fulfilling your customers’ orders to compete with the likes of Amazon Prime delivery is difficult. With slim conversion margins to contend with, the ability to rapidly deliver on promises has never been more important.

Some of the top eCommerce challenges facing SMBs, according to Business News Daily, include order fulfilment, customer experience, and return policies. Customer demands can vary wildly, changing with the seasons, and being able to deliver the products they want quickly is essential. By pivoting your product stock to match demands, you’ll deliver the excellent customer experience they have come to expect.

For many businesses, this is easier said than done. It can be hard to predict online retail trends and even harder to adjust your warehouse space to accommodate these changes. Business News Daily suggests that a third-party logistics provider (3PL) could help, and here at Cloud9 Fulfilment, we have tips for SMBs to overcome the control stock and manage inventory more easily.

How to effectively control stock and manage inventory

Gain insight into trends and patterns

Predicting the trends in your industry isn’t easy. While some might be obvious, such as stationery sales increasing ahead of the return to school or greater demand for camping equipment when the weather forecast is good.

Others are more challenging to predict. Gaining an insight into the various trends and sales for your business is essential in managing stock and inventory correctly. You can ensure that you never over-invest in the wrong stock and can easily meet demand.

Growing your sales is made easier when you use order fulfilment. Our partners benefit from a full suite of analytic tools to not only help you identify trends and patterns within your industry, but also ensure that you are only storing the products you need. This helps you to get the products your customers actually want to them quickly.

Thorough checks on incoming stock

SMBs have a number of concerns to deal with when it comes to delivering products to customers, which can make checking incoming stock a challenge. Human error means that the delivered stock from suppliers can be incorrect or inaccurate for your order needs. When this happens, it is your customers that lose out.

Quality inspections on inbound stock is useful for ensuring that you receive the items you were expecting and in the right amounts. However, for smaller businesses, you may not have the personnel to achieve this.

Using an eCommerce fulfilment provider helps with this. As your stock arrives at the warehouse, it will be inspected to ensure it matches expectations before being stored. This will ensure that inventory levels accurately reflect what is available from your online shop.

Storage solutions to match your needs

Warehousing can be expensive, especially if you aren’t effectively using the space. You’ll want a warehouse perfectly suited to your business, with refrigerated storage or pallet space available when you need it the most. Being able to adjust your storage space to meet customer demand is essential for any business.

IBISWorld informs us that the coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in demand for online retailers with a decrease in demand for retail and wholesale businesses. These changes have made it all the more challenging for small businesses to create clear systems of storage and effectively manage their space.

Cloud9 Fulfilment offers both inventory management systems and storage solutions as part of the eCommerce fulfilment process, and with bespoke quotes, you can get the right solution for your business. Fulfilment offers you the organised system you need, with storage you can adjust in times of need.

Inventory tracking for expiry dated products

For businesses selling products with expiry dates, such as supplements and vitamins or PPE and hygiene equipment, keeping on top of the dates is vital. It can make the difference between delivering a high-quality product or receiving fines if an expired product reaches your customer.

The traditional method for businesses is to rotate stock so that perishable items are at the front. However, mistakes can still happen, which is why accurate labelling and tracking expiry dates are essential.

For the extra reassurance, order fulfilment software can help.

Improving the customer experience

You want your potential customers to become loyal clients. This can only be achieved through an excellent customer experience. A fast and helpful service will have them coming back to your business time and time again. Transparency throughout the order process, as well as quick dispatch and delivery, are just some of the things your customers will look for.

When using an eCommerce fulfilment service, you will be able to track orders in transit with ease, no matter the carrier being used. Your customers will have access to the same information so that they know when to expect their parcel.

Depending on your provider, you may also be able to ship globally. International delivery is a huge selling point for businesses, and here at Cloud9, we will identify the most cost-effective service to dispatch to your customers. With same-day dispatch available on your orders, you can even retain your Amazon Prime delivery status.

Returns management made easy

For many SMBs, managing returns is a challenge. Some customers will buy items to try and return any that do not meet their requirements or expectations. Invesp tells us that 92% of consumers will buy again if the returns process is easy. Accurately documenting the returns process can lead to inefficiencies in stock control and inventory management. This then has a knock on effect on other areas of the business such as customer service and accounts.

Every order will be checked before shipment to ensure it is accurately, and businesses need to adopt a similar process for returns. Simply adding it back into your inventory won’t work well if the item is faulty and hasn’t been checked, as you risk the item being returned again in the future.

At Cloud9 Fulfilment, we offer returns management to support your business. You’ll benefit from full traceability and transparency, enhancing the customer experience and ensuring that your stock levels will accurately reflect the levels in the warehouse.

Platform integration

3PL can resolve a number of the challenges SMBs face in controlling stock and managing inventory effectively. Many online retailers opt for an omnichannel business model, meaning that different channels run on different systems. Not only does this then make it challenging for your customers to find what they want, but it also makes managing your stock and inventory challenging.

Specialist inventory management software can provide you with the solution that you need. Not only can it integrate with your current setup without issue, but it also provides you with a complete digital end-to-end solution to stock control and inventory management. No matter where you are in the world, you will be able to access the online portal to keep up to date with your business in real-time.

One of the benefits of working with Cloud9 Fulfilment is that our software integrates with all major eCommerce platforms. Whether you are using Shopify or Etsy, our fulfilment software will seamlessly integrate with your platform to make managing your orders easier than ever.

Is order fulfilment right for your business?

Order fulfilment can help to resolve a number of issues faced by SMBs including stock control and inventory management. By outsourcing to a third party, you can leave it to the experts to handle your warehousing needs. It will free up valuable time for your employees and your business, ensuring that you can concentrate on other priorities.

Whether you want to plan for seasonality or you need to manage time-sensitive inventory, 3PL can help. At Cloud9, we are confident that our software and services will help your business. This is why we offer 2 weeks free storage, picking, packing, and inventory management.

This trial will help you see whether or not fulfilment services are right for you, giving you access to our industry-leading software. You’ll get access to vital insights to help you manage your stock effectively and meet your customer demands.

Effective inventory management techniques

Good inventory management and stock control are key for any business. With poor planning and execution of management techniques, you’ll find that poor inventory management has an impact on every aspect of your operations. Ensuring that you have control over stock levels and accurate information will not only help you to meet customer demand but also save money when you restock so that you only reorder what you need to prevent excess inventory and overstock.

eCommerce is extremely competitive, and saving costs where you can is the key to increasing your profits. By outsourcing, you’ll save on storage costs, administrative fees, and returns. It can help your business grow and give you the sustainability you are looking for in an ever-changing online landscape.

Got some questions about eCommerce fulfilment and how it can streamline your business? We are here to help. Contact Cloud9 Fulfilment today with your questions. Our experts are on-hand to tell you more about our services.