How to Achieve Inventory Control and Accuracy in E-Commerce

Inventory management plays a crucial role in the success of e-commerce businesses. Efficiently controlling and maintaining accurate inventory levels is essential for meeting customer demands, reducing costs, and enhancing overall operational efficiency. In this blog, we will explore the importance of inventory control and accuracy in e-commerce, discuss effective inventory management tips, and highlight the positive outcomes of achieving precise inventory control for e-commerce businesses.

Understanding Inventory Control

Inventory control refers to the process of managing and regulating the inflow, outflow, and storage of products within an e-commerce business. The primary goal of inventory control is to strike a balance between meeting customer demand and minimizing carrying costs. Because overstocking means you might end up with too much of a specific item that you can't sell or be paying for a larger warehouse than you really need. Whereas understocking means you're in danger of not fulfilling orders significantly if supply chain issues delay shipments of new products. Inventory control involves various activities, such as tracking inventory, minimizing stockouts, and optimizing replenishment.

Let's take a look at one example of inventory control.

A sustainable beauty company has just launched a new range of shower gel products. They ordered 1000 units of each new product. The majority of items are all selling well, but during the stock level review, they recognised that one product isn't selling as well as the others. Furthermore, it is taking up warehouse space and has a limited shelf-life.

At this point, the company should make a decision on how to move this stock as soon as possible. Some strategies such as offering them at a discounted price or adding them to a bundle with other higher-selling items to increase turnover can be used.

Also, customer service department found reviews in relation to a bad smell when using the product, hence the lack of turnover could result from the prospective buyers purchasing this product. Thus, a note was made to revisit formulation to resolve this issue in the future.

It is important to highlight how important Inventory control is as it helps to avoid stockouts or excessive inventory, and can also help in other ways such as:

- Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: With accurate inventory control, businesses can ensure that products are consistently available for purchase.

- Cost Optimization: Avoiding stockouts or excessive inventory helps to reduce storage costs, the risk of obsolescence, and potential losses due to dead inventory.

- Streamlined Operations: By closely managing inventory levels, businesses can improve order fulfillment processes, reduce lead times, and enhance overall operational efficiency.

- Demand Forecasting: Inventory control enables businesses to analyze historical data and predict future demand accurately. This data can be used to optimize procurement strategies, production planning, and marketing efforts.

However, inventory control also poses certain challenges such as:

- Capital Tied Up: Maintaining inventory requires a significant investment of capital. Excess inventory can tie up resources, affecting cash flow and profitability.

- Storage Limitations: Businesses must have sufficient storage space to accommodate inventory, which can be a challenge for e-commerce companies operating in limited physical locations.

Inventory Control and Accuracy

Inventory accuracy is the alignment between recorded inventory quantities and the actual physical inventory. It is crucial for e-commerce businesses to maintain accurate inventory data to avoid issues such as stockouts, overselling, and order cancellations. Achieving inventory accuracy requires implementing reliable systems and processes. Regular cycle counting, where specific sections of inventory are counted at predetermined intervals, helps identify discrepancies and rectify them promptly. Real-time tracking systems, barcoding, and RFID technology can also contribute to maintaining accurate inventory data. Effective inventory reconciliation, involving the comparison of physical counts with recorded quantities, further enhances accuracy.

With Jinn Inventory control you will get up-to-date information on customer inventory at any time. You can access your available products from the computer or phone, check where your orders are in the fulfillment process, whether they were already picked, packed, or shipped and get a quick snapshot of orders that require action. Using Jinn capabilities you will always know which inventory requires replenishment, find shipping-related information and get simple analysis tools to evaluate performance. For more information click here.

With Jinn, achieving software accuracy will bring the following benefits for several reasons:

- Real-time Visibility: Accurate inventory data provides e-commerce businesses with a clear understanding of stock levels, enabling them to make informed decisions regarding purchasing, marketing, and order fulfillment.

- Minimized Errors and Losses: Inventory inaccuracies can lead to costly errors, such as shipping incorrect products or misplacing valuable stock. Maintaining accuracy reduces these risks and associated losses.

- Improved Forecasting: Reliable inventory data serves as a foundation for demand forecasting, allowing businesses to optimize inventory levels, plan for promotions or seasonal fluctuations, and avoid excessive safety stock.

- Efficient Replenishment: Accurate inventory records facilitate timely replenishment, ensuring that the right products are available when customers need them.

How fulfillment works

Inventory Management Tips for E-Commerce Businesses

To achieve inventory control and accuracy in e-commerce, businesses can implement the following strategies:

1. Optimize Your Workspace

First of all, you should evaluate the current layout of your storage workspace and identify areas where space is underutilized or inefficiently used. Consider implementing techniques such as ABC analysis (categorizing items based on their value and frequency of use) to allocate prime storage space to high-demand items. After you can apply slotting optimization techniques to strategically assign storage locations based on the frequency of item access, item size, and compatibility. Group frequently picked items closer to packing areas to reduce travel time, while items with lower demand can be placed in less accessible locations.

Utilize vertical space by implementing tall shelving units, mezzanines, or pallet racking systems. This allows for stacking items vertically and frees up valuable floor space. Use appropriate equipment like forklifts or reach trucks to access items stored at higher levels safely.

Conduct routine physical audits and cycle counts helps identify discrepancies between physical and recorded inventory. This process allows for prompt adjustments and ensures accuracy.

If you have the capability and financial resources then implement automated systems like conveyor belts, robotic picking systems, or automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to streamline order fulfillment processes. Automation reduces the need for manual handling and optimizes space by utilizing compact and efficient storage and retrieval systems.

2. Implement Inventory Tracking

Implementing robust inventory management software automates processes, enables real-time tracking, and enhances overall accuracy by integrating various aspects of inventory control. Real-time inventory tracking refers to the continuous monitoring and updating of inventory levels and related information in real time. It involves using technology and systems to track inventory movements, including incoming stock, sales, returns, and adjustments, to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the available stock at any given moment. This will allow you to have better visibility into stored inventory and make informed decisions regarding procurement, sales, and overall inventory management.

3. Choose Right Software

To optimise and automate your warehouse operations, to improve allocation, picking, packing, packing, shipping and improve control and accuracy you need good software with a simple user interface, that can integrate and interact with:

- Barcode/QR Code Scanning: Using barcode or QR code scanners to track inventory movements as products are received, sold, or transferred. This information is instantly updated in the inventory management system.

- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification): RFID tags or labels attached to products or packaging can be scanned wirelessly, allowing for real-time tracking of inventory as it moves through various stages of the supply chain.

- IoT (Internet of Things) Sensors: IoT devices can be installed in storage areas, shelves, or individual products to monitor inventory levels, temperature, humidity, and other relevant data. These sensors transmit information in real time to a central system.

- Cloud-Based Inventory Management Systems: Web-based inventory management systems provide a centralized platform to track inventory and enable real-time updates. Users can access the system from multiple devices, and any changes made are instantly reflected across all connected devices.
Automated warehouse

4. Other Tips

- Establish Reorder Points and Safety Stock Levels: Setting reorder points and safety stock levels based on historical data and demand forecasting helps prevent stockouts and allows for effective replenishment planning. Regularly reviewing and adjusting reorder points helps optimize inventory levels and minimize stockouts.

- Streamline Supply Chain Processes: Collaborating closely with suppliers, implementing just-in-time (JIT) inventory systems, and optimizing order fulfillment processes can significantly improve inventory control and accuracy.

- Prioritize Demand Forecasting: Accurate demand forecasting allows businesses to plan inventory levels effectively. By considering historical sales patterns, seasonal fluctuations, market trends, and customer behaviour, informed decisions can be made regarding stock replenishment.

Positive Results of Accurate Inventory Management in E-Commerce

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, accurate inventory control can make all the difference between success and disappointment.

One of the most significant advantages of accurate inventory control is the positive impact it has on customer satisfaction. When customers place orders, having accurate inventory levels ensures that products are readily available. This eliminates the risk of stockouts, backorders, and order cancellations, providing customers with a seamless shopping experience. The result? Heightened customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, and a greater likelihood of repeat purchases.

However, efficient inventory control goes beyond customer satisfaction; it also benefits the financial health of your business. If you can optimise your inventory with the correct tools, you can prevent overstocking and minimize costs associated with excess inventory.

Ultimately with accurate inventory control in place, your businesses can confidently offer products for sale. You no longer need to worry about disappointing customers with out-of-stock items. By maintaining accurate inventory, you can tap into the full potential of the product offerings and capture a larger share of the market. Just do not forget to use a specialised software or fulfillment provider.

Achieving inventory control and accuracy is vital for e-commerce businesses to thrive in the competitive online marketplace. By understanding the concept of inventory control, emphasizing inventory accuracy, and implementing effective inventory management strategies, businesses can streamline operations, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive profitability. Accurate inventory control enables businesses to meet customer demand, optimize costs, improve operational efficiency, and increase sales opportunities. By prioritizing inventory control and accuracy, e-commerce businesses can position themselves for success in the dynamic world of online retail.
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