One of the toughest challenges online sellers face is making sure they keep full control of their inventory at all times. Most sell products at a high pace. So losing sight of what comes in and what goes out for even a day has a huge knock-on effect down the line — overselling, disorganised warehouses and taking too much time sending out orders are all too common in online retailing.
A great way to deal with this is to move your inventory management to the cloud. This makes managing your inventory easier, more automated and faster, so you have more time to work on customer relations and grow your business.
What is cloud inventory management?
Cloud inventory management is essentially an online software tool that helps you manage your inventory, fulfil orders and more. You can access it from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.
Inventory management in the cloud works just like any other type of inventory management but has a few added features, such as real-time tracking, automatic channel connection, digital pick & pack processes and host of other things designed to make your life easier and less stressful.
Most solutions that are currently available add features over time. So they’ll serve your business needs better as your business continues to grow.
Why should you use cloud inventory management?
1. Happy customers
Why do some sellers get hundreds of great reviews, whereas others could barely have one?
A lot has to do with how smoothly things go — from the customer’s perspective.
Of course, every business has to think about fulfilment, orders, payments,… But first and foremost they need to think about their customers.
How can you best improve customer experience?
There are a few things most people will mention: response time to questions, fulfilment time, getting all orders right every time, and making sure you have the products your customers are looking for.
But to do all these things, you’ll need a solid foundation first. The internal workings of your business have to operate flawlessly or you might not be able to do the things that really provide value.
One of the most effective things you can do to build a stronger foundation is to move your inventory management to the cloud. You’ll save time, money and energy that can be spent on other things, like improving customer service, broadening your product offering and investing in marketing.
2. No more mistakes
Cloud inventory management minimises the number of fulfilment mistakes.
They automate large parts of the process, so there’s no need to manually copy entries from one spreadsheet to another, or to double check quantities, product variations or sending addresses — the system does it all for you.
A customer could still give you the wrong information. If you’re using a cloud-based tool, this isn’t much of an issue because you’ll be able to make changes quickly and easily after the customer got in touch with you.
You’ll also keep an overview of all sales channels, making sure you count what is sold — this will help you eliminate overselling and so will significantly reduce the number of angry emails and phone calls from customers!
It will also reduce the time you spend on accounting since a lot of tools can be directly linked to accounting applications.
3. No need to back up your data
Data loss usually equals money loss. If you store inventory, order and customer data on a local drive, you’re making yourself vulnerable to data loss. Files can get corrupted, your hard disk could malfunction or you might unintentionally delete important data.
Most businesses needed to back up their inventory records, customer data, supplier data, etc… That’s a lot of data, so most businesses lose time doing this. If data integrity is a priority to them, they’re likely to create multiple backups of all important data. This means they need to buy and maintain huge amounts of disk space.
Everything you save to the cloud is automatically backed up safely. You won’t need to worry about lost files or broken down computers. There’s no need to spend any time backing up your documents when they’re in the cloud — you’ll save time and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with the knowledge your data is in good hands.
4. Save money
Although it might be counter-intuitive, cloud-based tools are cheaper than tools stored locally on your computer. This is because of economies of scale.
A cloud computing provider can operate at a fraction of the cost you could — and can offer many more features. Imagine buying the hardware and software needed to track inventory, protect your data and handle the entire fulfilment process. You’d be looking at an investment of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. So shouldering a few hundred every month for an external tool is a wise investment indeed.
5. Save time
Cloud inventory management allows you to perform tasks much faster since a lot of it is automated or can be done at the click of a button.
For instance, you won’t need to plough through spreadsheets to get a view of your current inventory. Instead, most cloud-based tools will provide you with real-time tracking dashboards and reports — so you’ll easily see what your inventory looks like, what is selling and when you need to order more stock.
If you need to create a new product in the system, it usually takes just a few minutes. Once this has been done, you can upload it to all channels with just a few clicks.
6. Inventory management that grows with your business
Any tool you use should be fit for your business the way it is now. But at the same time, your future business needs should be catered to. Most cloud-based solutions allow for just that.
As your business grows, you’ll use more features of the tool and it will become increasingly embedded in your operations. You won’t need to switch to a different tool just because you’re growing.
7. Connect directly to all sales channels
Most online sellers offer their products through many different channels. And for a good reason. Multi-channel retailing has been shown to increase sales significantly.
But, more channels also add complexity as you need to maintain your product offering on each individual channel. Every change you make to products, pricing, etc… needs to be put through each channel.
That’s where cloud inventory management comes in — most of these tools connect directly to all sales channels you use. Anything you update in the tool will be sent to each individual channel automatically. This will save you time and a lot of headaches since you won’t need to check channels one by one.
8. Reduce stress and enjoy running your business
Running a business is tough — and for most entrepreneurs, there are times they wished they’d just have a comfortable 9-to-5 job. Usually, those moments pass quite quickly as new challenges come about.
But since running a business is hard enough as it is you don’t need added stress — like tech that doesn’t work, botched product entries and incorrect shipments. Lift pressure from your shoulders with an inventory management system. If you look around, you’ll find one that’s robust, purpose-built and easy to use.
You can then stop constantly putting out fires and focus on growing your business — and taking a day off here and there!
If you’re selling on multiple sales channels, schedule a live demo to learn how Ricemill can help.