In the days when brick-and-mortar businesses ruled retail, stores realized that opening new locations was the best way to increase sales. The same rule applies in the digital economy, but with a slight twist. Instead of opening various locations in different markets, businesses sell their products through different marketplaces. This approach, known as multi-channel e-commerce, offers obvious benefits in the form of increased brand exposure. However, if not managed correctly, inventory snafus can lead to unfulfilled orders and angry customers. That’s why it’s so for today’s retailers to use a multi-channel inventory management system.
The pros and cons of multi-channel e-commerce
Let’s say that you’re a small retailer with one physical store and a website store, which runs on the Shopify platform. Selling via your own web store has many benefits, including increased revenue per sale. On the other hand, businesses that only use one digital channel limit themselves. Under this scenario, you could market like crazy and still not reach the widest number of potential customers.
Selling your products on online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy solves this problem in a hurry. Last year, Amazon accounted for 44 percent of all e-commerce sales. Obviously, then, you want your goods on Amazon. Seeing the statistics and dollar signs, you quickly host your products on a few marketplaces. Everything is going great, until….
All of a sudden, you’re swimming in a pile of unfinished orders and negative reviews. A customer purchased a product on Amazon that was listed as in stock, but then received an email alerting them that it was actually on back order. Another arranged an in-store pick-up of an item after they ordered it on your website. When they arrive, they found out that product was accidentally shipped to an eBay customer who bought the very same item. Before you know it, your ratings are in the tank and your reputation is in tatters.
The solution? Multi-channel inventory management
Inventory management was once focused mostly on supply chains. With the advent of multi-channel e-commerce, demand chain management has become just as important. Understanding what item has sold where and how that affects stock units elsewhere is essential for smooth operations. That’s exactly what multi-channel inventory management offers.
A multi-channel system centralizes sales information from disparate sources (brick-and-mortar, Amazon, a web store, etc.) and translates that data instantaneously. If there’s only one item of a product remaining and it sells on Etsy, it will be marked as sold out on all other platforms as well. It keeps businesses from overselling certain items while overstocking others.
Why it matters for accountants
If you have retail clients, you already know that inventory management and sustainable success go hand in hand. Helping your clients better understand their inventory adds value to your relationship. Offering multi-channel inventory management multiplies this value. When you start saving clients from negative reviews, they’ll be thanking you in a hurry.
AccountingSuite offers fully integrated multi-channel inventory management, along with a host of other integration’s and features, as part of the Corgi update to our Cloud Commerce system. It’s available as part of AccountingSuite Professional With E-commerce. You can find more information over on our pricing page.