Today’s shop-at-home world creates risks, opportunities, and challenges in inventory management for small businesses. For many small businesses, it can seem like a daunting task to set up an eCommerce store. However, with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are a small business, getting online is much easier than you think. We’ll walk you through the steps to make it happen in a moment. First, here are some of the reasons you should be a multi-channel online seller:
The Risks for Small Business in eCommerce
As people spend more time at home and become even more comfortable shopping online, small businesses need to adapt to online selling as a core function of their retail operations. Failing to do so will cost you sales and puts your business at risk.
Even when people visit your retail locations, businesses are still at risk.
Has this happened to you? Someone comes to visit your store. While they are looking at a product, they whip out their phone and do price comparison shopping. It happens so often now there’s even a name for it: showrooming. A Harris poll revealed that 46% of consumers admit to showrooming in-store. Many purchase items online even though the product they want is sitting on the shelf right in front them. It can work the other way, too. Reverse showrooming is when people shop for products online, but then visit stores to buy. That sounds great, but only if you have your merchandise online. If you aren’t offering your inventory online, they won’t visit your store or even be aware you have the products they want. It’s not just techies doing this. Nearly 70% of consumers say they research online before shopping.
If you’re not selling online now or struggling to manage your online inventory, you need a better solution.
The Opportunities for Small Business in eCommerce
The opportunity is huge. U.S. consumers spent more than $601 billion with online merchants last year. That number represents 16% of the total retail sales in 2019 and the growth isn’t stopping either. eCommerce rose 14.9% compared to 2018. That’s a lot of revenue businesses are missing if they aren’t actively selling online.
Online selling opens new markets as small businesses can sell far beyond their geographic borders. Worldwide, eCommerce sales amounted to $3.5 trillion last year. That number is expected to double by 2022.
Plus, online, your storefront is open 24/7/365.
The Challenges for Small Business in eCommerce
If businesses haven’t started selling online, it can seem overwhelming:
- How do you get started in eCommerce?
- Which eCommerce platforms are the best?
- How do you manage inventory on eCommerce platforms?
It’s not as simple as throwing a few items online on your website, Amazon, or Shopify. 73% of shoppers say they use multiple platforms when they shop – even for a single item. Even as a small business, you’ve got to be a multi-channel seller.
So, how do you get started?
Solutions for Small Business in eCommerce
Central to every small business is inventory. Managing your in-stock items, what’s on order, and forecasting pending business is crucial to your brick-and-mortar success. It may be easier to do in-store but imagine what happens when that inventory is spread out across multiple eCommerce sites.
To grow a successful eCommerce business, a small business must first get a handle on its inventory and supply chain. The first step is inventory management for small business that can integrate with your current supply chain and system of software solutions.
How Inventory Management Software Helps Grow Your Small Business
If you’re still running your business using a spreadsheet to track inventory, it’s going to be difficult to scale and manage multiple sales channels. Manual entry is time-consuming and prone to errors. One error on a spreadsheet can be duplicated over time and result in huge discrepancies. This results in unexpected out of stock or overstock situations – both cause problems.
Automate Your Inventory
An inventory management system (IMS) automates your inventory. Once inventory information is entered into your system once, the information will always be accurate as long as your staff uses the system as their central hub. You get detailed reporting, which helps with better purchasing and forecasting.
Automated triggers can be set to tell you when it’s time to re-order based on preset minimum inventory levels. This helps avoid disappointing customers when they are ready to buy, and you don’t have the stock on hand to fulfill their order. It can also help avoid inventory pileups and tying up cash in stock that isn’t moving.
An IMS will also help you catch errors before they happen.
One of the costliest errors businesses make is in order fulfillment. If a business accidentally ships out the wrong items, it frustrates customers and can cost you business. At the same time, you’ll have problems maintaining the inventory you need and have to touch things several times as you deal with returns.
SkuVault’s Inventory Management Software has built-in Quality Control features that check orders before shipping against the original purchase orders. If you are about to ship something that’s incorrect, the QC function will catch it and flag it for you before the wrong item ships.
More Efficient Order Processing
The pick, pack, and ship process can be time-consuming. It can also be a logistics nightmare without Inventory management software. An IMS will streamline your fulfillment process whether you are using in-house fulfillment, FBA, or juggling multiple warehouses or physical locations. This helps you get orders out the door more quickly.
Pick lists can be generated electronically. This eliminates paper waste and time to print and scan. Using digital pick lists can also adapt more quickly as orders change or get updated between your brick-and-mortar location(s) and online listings.
You can also connect your preferred shipping solution to the inventory management software for complete visibility on order tracking.
Better Handled Returns
Online sellers have a notoriously high return rate. Depending on your products and industry, returns can run more than three times the rate of brick-and-mortar stores. While physical stores see average return rates of 8.8%, 30% of products that are ordered online are returned. This causes another level of concern when it comes to managing inventory.
With an inventory management system for small business, this can mess up your inventory counts quickly. An IMS can help you quickly scan returning merchandise and keep your inventory counts accurate.
How to Get Online and Sell Faster
How does using an inventory management software solution get you online to sell faster and improve your operation? Here’s how using SkuVault can make it happen quickly and reduce the risk.
Rather than using the inventory functions within various eCommerce solutions, like the QuickBooks inventory piece, SkuVault inventory management software for small business excels on just that: inventory management. Using SkuVault gives new eCommerce sellers the confidence to manage their inventory effectively in one place and with the best practices. SkuVault also syncs with your online sales channels so you don’t have to manage them individually.
Inventory Management Software that Integrates with Online Sales Platforms
SkuVault integrates with nearly every major eCommerce solution. In fact, you may already be using a few to run your business. Whether you need to build an online site, integrate your Point of Sale (POS), or connect to shipping software, SkuVault has you covered. Here are just some of the eCommerce solutions we can integrate with:
- Big Commerce
- Channel Advisor
- Channel Sale
- Geek Seller
- Seller Active
- Solid Commerce
Point of Sale Systems
SkuVault also integrates with:
- Accounting software, such as Quickbooks or Xero
- CRM, such as SalesForce or Oracle
- Dropshipping, such as Duoplane, LogicBroker, and SparkShipping
- ERP, such as Oracle NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics
Here is a comprehensive list of integrations that work with SkuVault. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, plug into our API or contact support to see if we can build an integration to the solution you need.
Imagine being able to manage all of your inventory across all of these platforms with just one IMS.
With SkuVault, the Quantity Sync feature will make sure store listings and online listings are synced for accuracy. It includes a buffer feature to limit quantities across channels to avoid overselling.
Here’s something you won’t get from other inventory management systems: you can actually call us at no additional cost. We can help get you online selling faster as we walk you through the implementation process. We can even come to your physical location and help you set up SkuVault to start selling online faster.
Working with Amazon
Amazon controls more than a third of all eCommerce sales in the U.S. Accounting for more than $221 billion in sales in 2019 and a 25.% increase from 2018. How important is Amazon to online sellers?
The online seller made up more than half (57.4%) of all incremental growth last year. It accounted for almost a third of all gain in retail sales across all sales channels.
SkuVault is fully compatible with Amazon’s marketplace and inventory systems. Also, the SkuVault Amazon FBA feature tracks quantities in the FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) queue. This keeps your inventory counts, including individual SKUs, accurate at all times.
You can also create an FBA shipment with the click of a button. Using an open API with Amazon’s Seller Central, SkuVault returns customer data automatically.
By reducing errors and delivering the right products by promised delivery dates, you can better manage your Seller Performance Ratings. Managing your FBA inventory, preventing mis-picks, and shipping the wrong goods will help maintain high seller ratings. These ratings can make or break you on Amazon. Amazon, along with some other online platforms, has been known to sideline accounts that have continually poor ratings.
Managing Beyond the Online Sales Marketplace
Running a retail business goes beyond the inventory sitting on your shelves or in your warehouse. Working with SkuVault also gives you additional tools to manage your business.
Streamlining Your Supply Chain
With inventory management for small business, you can improve your margins by leveraging your supply chain.
Not only can you sync inventory across multiple sales marketplaces and platforms, but you can also track multiple suppliers. This makes it easier to track costs and pull vendor contact information directly into purchase orders.
When merchandise is received, you can scan items or enter information manually to match items to POs.
As your online business grows, streamlined ordering and digital pick lists, including wave picking or lot picking, can speed up the fulfillment process.
Manage Multiple Locations
If you have more than one retail location or warehouse, you can manage your inventory across all your locations from one interface. No matter where your inventory is, you will know. When it’s time to ship or move merchandise from one location to another, your team will know where to find items.
Manage Multiple SKUs
With SkuVault, you will be able to sell multiple SKUs in ready-to-ship Kits and Bundles. SkuVault’s unique Kitting feature can handle multiple product bundles to facilitate more efficient order fulfillment. Each step is automated, including alternate SKUs for components when necessary.
Creating and organizing your products is simple with SkuVault Warehouse Management System. You control how much or how little information you need to include in customized catalogs. It’s all organized in one place.
Keep Products Fresh
SkuVault’s Lots feature makes unloading expired inventory simpler. Users can sort inventory based on the expiration date or order intake date. Whether you use the FIFO method (First In, First Out) or FEFO (First Expired, First Out) method for picking and shipping, this can help avoid stale inventory, minimize shrink, and automate monitoring of expiration dates.
In the not-too-distant-past, small businesses knew what was selling because they’d see empty space on their shelves. When supplies in the back started to dwindle, they re-ordered. As multiple locations were opened, it became more difficult to track. After years of using pen and paper, spreadsheets become the norm. It led to a lot of errors. Today, managing multiple sales channels, including some locations where you may never have the physical inventory in your backroom or warehouse, it can get complex. That’s why you need accurate inventory management and reporting to help make better decisions.
SkuVault’s reporting and analytics can help you make better use of data. On-demand reports can be customized and exported. We make it easy to create and share operational insights to make better purchase and forecast decisions.
- Track sales and quantities on hand at every location from order to fulfillment
- Manage inventory across all third-party marketplaces, platforms, and FBA
- Juggle kits and raw material to more easily locate and fill orders
- Avoid oversell situations
- Create purchase orders based on in-house, on-order, and pending
- Transfer inventory between locations
- Reduce human error
- Manage inventory aging
One critical feature of SkuVault is the Replenishment Report. This allows you to generate a detailed report of inventory levels. It uses three different report types (reorder, replenish, and assembly) and allows for a deep dive into sales forecasting, reorder points, and minimum/maximum order quantities. The best part is that it brings all these things together whether you are selling online or offline. Your sales history is funneled into a single report.
Better data leads to better purchase decisions and yields a stronger ROI.
The Fastest Way to Start Selling Online
Using a robust inventory management system for small business can get you online and selling fast.
It will manage your inventory across every sales channel, improve your efficiency, reduce your errors, and improve customer experience. Everything runs more smoothly and, most importantly, works together for a seamless experience. This dramatically cuts down on maintenance time. After all, you’ve got a business to run.
Contact the experts at SkuVault and let us show you how fast we can get your small business up and running online.