With its significant impacts on profitability and cash flow, inventory management (or a lack thereof) can make or break any business. Take control of your inventory to eliminate costly errors, make better-informed decisions and increase your revenue.
Inventory Management 101
Inventory management is knowing the exact merchandise SKUs and quantities you have at any given moment in your warehouse and in any other channels you may have (such as your DTC stores). When you always know exactly what you have with full accuracy, retailers feel better about buying from your brand. In turn, this builds trust while giving your business a boost in professionalism. You’ll also help retailers delight shoppers by having their favorite SKUs, sizes and colors on hand, leading to improved sell-through for them and higher wholesale revenue for your business. Access clear inventory and order insights, set up your inventory to be updated in realtime and put the best inventory control techniques into play to set up your business with a system for success.
Top Inventory Control Techniques
- Digital over Paper: Digital records and automated tools capture accurate inventory information and update automatically. This eliminates human error and makes it easy to track past inventory and order data and safely. It also helps prevent shortages of stock and shipments of the incorrect products, sizes, colors and quantities – all while securely storing your information. Digital records also help you save room, decreasing storage space requirements and reducing paper waste.
- Just-in-Time (JIT) Manufacturing: JIT manufacturing allows you to maintain always-lean inventory levels. You have to find the right manufacturer, but it’s worth the effort. They’ll have your raw materials on hand and they’ll have the capacity to produce more product on a short notice. This allows you to produce only what you need to sell to wholesale clients and any direct-to-consumer channels you may have. It’s a great way to minimize risk and an impactful step towards sustainability.
- Demand Forecasting: It takes some time to get right, but demand forecasting can be an incredible inventory management technique. You’ll need to work with as much data as possible. Take advantage of your wholesale eCommerce platform’s digital reports to make better-informed inventory decisions based on past sell-through, bestsellers, sales in specific regions, the success of staple designs and more. Also consider outside factors such as seasons, weather patterns, market trends, economic trends and the overall economic climate.
- Safety Stock Inventory: Many brands prefer to stock a little excess inventory for fast-moving pieces and other key styles. If you’re not using JIT manufacturing, this buffer can be highly convenient for buyers while helping you avoid additional opportunities for revenue. The key is to stock a little extra of the right products so you won’t have too much cash tied up in inventory.
- Inventory Swapping: If you’re not using JIT and you don’t have safety stock on hand, introduce your wholesale partners to a platform that allows them to anonymously swap, buy or sell. SwapRetail facilitates the transactions so that authorized retailers remain unknown to one another; retailers also do not see merchandise from other retailers within their zip codes to protect distribution. This option strengthens relationships with retailers while improving their revenues and safeguarding brands from frequent or excessive markdowns.
- Bulk Shipping: Add delivery dates to your B2B eCommerce platform so buyers can shop according to when they will arrive. Offering staggered delivery dates allows you to save money as you order those SKUs in bulk. This allows your merchandise to be shipped from your manufacturer(s) in pallets, significantly reducing transportation cost commitments and your impact on the environment.
- Digital Order Submissions: Ask your sales reps to upload orders to your wholesale eCommerce platform. This will greatly reduce the risk of late order submissions, a common issue that leads to missing production minimums and deadlines; establish an anti-overselling strategy to protect both your reputation and your bottom line.
Stitch Labs’ inventory control solution allows NuORDER and Stitch Labs to provide brands and retailers with a complete, end-to-end platform; the application programming interface (API) integration partnership is designed to make operations more efficient while improving productivity and helping sell-through.
NuORDER provides the sales data and Stitch Labs provides data for customers, items and inventory. The integration automatically syncs the aforementioned data across all channels for always accurate inventory information. The integration also provides insights into inventory for multiple warehouses, available-to-sell (ATS) merchandise and work-in-progress (WIP) goods that have started production but aren’t yet complete– and their projected dates of completion. Not only does it help retailers purchase from brands’ wholesale eCommerce platforms with confidence, but it also gives both retailers and brands a holistic overview of their operations through centralized inventory and order management.
Businesses enjoy improved, real-time order management, detailed inventory reports, low-stock alerts, auto-generated purchase orders and more. The scalable inventory management solution retains clarity as businesses grow larger and more complex.
Finale Inventory is an online inventory control solution for multi-channel eCommerce retailers. The company teamed up with NuORDER to create a cloud-based inventory management integration. This tool ensures that the merchandise quantities buyers see in brands’ wholesale eCommerce portals genuinely reflect their current inventory. The integration even accounts for merchandise sitting in shopping carts or sold through other channels.
The better controlled your inventory, the more satisfied customers will be, paving the way to higher revenues for you and your wholesale partners, while increasing brand loyalty. The best inventory control techniques also reduce unnecessary business expenses and streamline operations. They help you improve your relationships with buyers and suppliers and save much-valued time.