Multi-channel inventory management is an art of collaborating and linking all the stock management processes across different channels. Manufacturing companies sell their stock from various channel partners like Shopify, WooCommerce, eBay, Amazon, etc. Online businesses might have one major selling store from where they sell their stock. However, they might also want to sell the same stock from other stores as well. Here is an example to explain how this works.
Suppose, an online business is selling its T-shirts on Shopify, which is their main store. However, it also wants to sell them on other channels like Amazon and WooCommerce. The issue is that, the inventory from which it is selling these T-shirts – is same for all its channels. It doesn’t have separate bundled stocks for selling on other channels. All this boils down to the fact that, the business might run into the risk of overselling. It has to update its inventory by logging on to both the channels. Selling one thing from two different channels can result in Out of Stock, consumer dissatisfaction, and loss of revenue.
How a Multi-Channel Inventory Software Simplifies This
A study done by UPS shows that the percentage of buyers searching on one channel and actually purchasing it from another channel is almost 36%. Multi-channel management of stock helps businesses in re-evaluating their stock levels from a single platform across different channels. A single login from such a software enables updating, managing and sales of stock on various platforms.
A crucial part of multi-channel success is strong relationship with the suppliers for an effective inventory control system. This requires implementation of a strategy which would help businesses in taking proactive and planned decisions. Businesses need to formulate a contingency plan which they can use to fill up with cancelled orders from the vendors. For stock backup, businesses need some trusted major suppliers on whom they can rely to be able to meet any sudden unforeseen circumstances. For maintaining strong relationships with suppliers, businesses need to be in regular communication. Top management needs to be fully involved with the suppliers and that can be possible by expanding their presence on different channels.
Here are some strategies businesses can implement for a smoother and customizable management process:
Analysing, Planning and Forecasting
All the data related to various channels can be consolidated on one single platform. Purchasing and liquidating of the inventory present across all the channels can be put to use for analysing and forecasting. Every set of inventory on every channel requires different requirements regarding order timings, processing, and shipping. When all the relevant data is accessible through a single platform, order processing system can be interpreted and analysed accordingly. Managers can decipher all the market trends and develop a set of plans keeping all the inventory requirements in their minds.
Developing Strategic Processes
Separation of purchasing processes and stock management processes provides the businesses to concentrate on the needs of the consumers. These include essential factors like inventory specifications, where can they source their merchandise, and negotiations with the suppliers. Operating all these processes from one platform helps businesses in making different strategic processes too. These include analysing the consumer demands, planning of merchandizing, balancing the relationships with suppliers, keeping the stock quality standards in check, buying and re-purchasing, and formulating dedicated campaigns. The division of these processes gives the businesses enough time to concentrate on planning and forecasting.
Expanded Marketplace Power
As mentioned earlier, many customers who want to buy something would search on one channel and purchase from another. This is called cross-channel purchasing, which has increasingly emerged through the use of different devices. In simple words, if a person is browsing about headphones on Flipkart from his/her PC, he/she might purchase after comparing its prices with Amazon or Shopify from his/her phone. Hence, multi-channel provides the power to the businesses by spreading their online presence across them. Diversification of business across distinct marketplaces also provides a smoother shipping management and supply chain operations.
Empowering Inventory Managers
Inventory of a business has many important characteristics which need attention from inventory managers. These include, how much new stock has arrived, overstocked or understocked inventory, and backorders. Maintaining a record of all this data is essential for managers to forecast about future decisions about the quantity of stock they need. Hence, comparison of a new inventory with a similar sale/purchase in the history is crucial to arrive at these decisions. With multi-channel purchasing software, it gives an empowered role to the managers which can help in calculating lead times.
For manufacturing businesses, inventory is considered to be a vital asset – whether it is coming in, or going out. Incoming inventory means strong supplier relationships, while outgoing inventory means a strengthened customer base. However, if managers don’t have adequate knowledge about the levels of inventory, their businesses might run into revenue losses. Multi-channel inventory management enables an easy tracking, managing, and organizing stock sales and purchases present across distinct channels. These systems used barcode labelling for identifying different shipments. The barcoding on the cartons helps businesses in properly storing and dispatching the inventory with minimal errors. It helps in increasing revenues, improving sales and smoother management processes.