Many think that running an e-commerce website is easy. But even though the website is virtual, the products sold on it are real products that must be sent to customers when a purchase is made on the website. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to manage stocks and prices properly and carefully in online stores and this is what we’ll be talking about in this article.
Inventory management in a virtual store
Are you the proud owner of a virtual store that sells products with limited inventory, such as a clothing collection, imported products, and more? Well, you don’t want to find yourself in a position where a customer purchases a product in the store and even pays for it, but the product does not exist in the physical inventory of your store. There are cases where you can pick up the phone to the official importer and get an additional item to fulfill the customer’s order, but in other cases, we don’t have a real solution for the buyer and that’s problematic.
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To avoid unpleasant situations and damage to the store’s reputation, it is necessary to ensure effective inventory management over time, and this can be done using one of the following methods:
Inventory management methods in a virtual store
- Manual inventory management on the website.
- Inventory management using a CSV file.
- Inventory management with the help of an API.
Let’s keep going and try to find out which method is the best one for you:
Inventory management on the site manually:
- How it works: manual editing of each and every product in the store management system.
- For whom is it suitable: for small businesses, for businesses that sell products that don’t have a stock limit.
- How complex: not complex but takes a lot of time.
If you manage a website with few products or few orders, you can assign a small number of stocks to each product and thus track the stock in the store in relation to the real stock available to you. This way, you an accurate view of your stock, and on the other hand you do not need any complex development or advanced technical capabilities.
In some cases, store owners do not allocate stock for a certain product but define whether it is “in stock” or “out of stock” only. This is when there are few transactions, and the products can be obtained from competitors or from the importer whenever is necessary.
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This is how most store owners manage their inventory.
Inventory management on the website using an Excel file:
- How it works: comprehensive editing with the help of a file adapted to the website system.
- For whom is it suitable: for businesses with frequent updates and/or products with several variations per product.
- How complex: requires experience, a mistake can lead to serious damage to the site.
If you manage a website that sells fashion products in limited collections or sells products that sell very quickly, you need to manage the website more accurately so that you don’t waste your entire day going over stock updates. Therefore, you will use a CSV export file. But this is a method that requires assistance from a technical expert who knows how to back up all of the website contents before any import of inventory and price updates.
This is how businesses with extensive inventory or with fashion inventory manage their inventory.
Inventory management on the website using the API interface:
- How it works: The website is automatically updated directly from the data in the physical inventory management system.
- For whom it is suitable: for medium and large businesses that have a particularly large inventory.
- How complex: There are one-time development costs and after that no further action is required.
Medium and large companies, and other fashion or retail chains cannot independently monitor the inventory in each and every branch and update the store manager about the inventory is at every moment. Instead, they manage their inventory in stores in a synchronized system that shows at any given moment the balance of inventory in each and every branch.
In these cases, advanced capabilities must be developed to interface the inventory management system with the store system, so that the store displays real data at any time and even displays whether there is stock available in various branches. In many cases, chain owners define a completely separate inventory (warehouse) for the online store, so that the balances of the online store can be included in the statistics similar to the physical stores.
Inventory management on a website is a rather complex subject. As service providers in the field of website management, we also provide inventory management services to our customers. Therefore, if you have any additional questions or requests for assistance, you are more than welcome to contact us and we will be happy to help!