If you sell your products on eBay, you understand the dreaded process of keeping your inventory in-sync with your store and how stressful it can be. Without proper eBay inventory control mechanisms, you won’t know which products you have in store and when they are out for delivery.
There is a high probability that you will lose visibility of the products while in transit, making it almost impossible to consistently satisfy your customer needs.
If you are struggling with eBay inventory control, one simple and streamlined solution can help you beyond manual inventory management. Implementing eBay inventory management software can help you take control of your inventory and track your entire stock’s visibility.
Keep in mind that beyond the proven data that selling on multiple channels can increase your sales, there is much more to managing your online store when it comes to successfully fulfilling your eBay orders.
In this post, we discuss some of the things you need to do to simplify how you manage and control your eBay inventory. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Understanding the eBay Inventory Control Process
Generally, the inventory management process refers to how your business buys, stores, and finally sells products. The process usually relates to your products’ entire flow from the initial supply point through to the time of the final sale.
Effective inventory management ensures that your business will always have a steady supply of goods while keeping the operational costs to the minimum. A sound inventory management system is critical to maintaining a top-quality supply chain.
Remember that adhering to eBay inventory control best practices is vital for your business growth. It can help you monitor your sales channels effectively and reap the numerous benefits that come with it.
Good inventory management makes growing your eBay business relatively easier and puts more money into your pocket.
The eBay Inventory Management Flow
There are five critical steps in the eBay inventory control process. Each step is essential, and any slight disruption to the conventional flow can significantly impact the entire process. Adhering to this flow ensures maximum operational efficiency while lowering the operational costs.
Here are the five steps:
Step 1: Sourcing & Procurement
The first stage in the eBay inventory management process is the sourcing and procurement of your products. You must identify a potential supply chain that allows you to make a profit on each product sold.
Once you have identified your supplier, contact them to establish whether they can meet your requirements. If the supplier can supply what you need, proceed to sign a contract guaranteeing everything you agree upon.
If the supplier cannot provide you with a guarantee, find an alternative supplier who is willing to give you assurances and sign a contract to back up everything.
Procurement refers to receiving the products from the supplier and paying for them.
Step 2: Storage & Organization
Effective eBay inventory management is also directly related to the security, safety, and accessibility of products. Storing and organizing your inventory in the most practical way can sometimes be difficult if you don’t invest in the right equipment.
Appropriate storage equipment –whether boxes or shelves- is essential to your success. Without adequate storage space, organizing your eBay inventory is almost impossible.
A fundamental part of eBay inventory control is adopting various forms of modern technology. For instance, you can utilize barcodes and other retail technology solutions to fulfill orders faster and improve operational efficiencies.
Step 3: Receiving Orders
The way you deal with your orders is essential. It only takes a small mistake or a single negative experience to miss out on customers returning to your business. Delivery issues and payment errors are the most common issues that stop customers from returning to your business.
Although order management may seem like a small task from the outside, it can be trickier, especially if you are forced to fulfill many orders at a go. Therefore, it is crucial to have a reliable payment processor in place.
Keep in mind that providing your customers with a quality eBay experience will turn them into returning clients and make your inventory management process a lot easier.
Step 4: Order Fulfillment
Getting your products out to customers on time is also critical. With a good eBay inventory management system, you can easily access your inventory to accomplish this goal. You need to know exactly where the products are, how many units you have left in stock, and how long it will take you to get it sent out to the customer.
If you mess up at this stage, you could lose the customer forever. Doing something as simple as implementing a barcode scanning system can help you stay on top of your order levels, know exactly where the goods are located, and minimize the risk of running out of stock.
Fulfilling your orders on time helps to keep your workload under control and customers returning to shop from your business.
Step 5: After-Sales Service
After-sales services involve all the steps you take to care for the customer after buying products from you. Every business must focus on after-sale service to convert new customers into returning clients. This is especially true for small businesses where every customer matters.
Some of the things you can do to add a personal touch to wow your customers include using unique packaging and sending out hand-written “thank you” notes.
Some businesses choose to automate this process and only send out a coupon or follow-up email, which is still great for your business. The bottom line is to ensure that the customer feels appreciated and loved.
eBay Inventory Control Challenges
Selling goods on eBay usually presents some unique challenges that you must deal with to succeed. These challenges include:
1. Fluctuating Margins
If you are selling goods on eBay, you need to keep in mind that the price will not always be static. After all, eBay is an auction site, and prices are subject to change at any minute. Even if you sell goods with fixed prices, you may be forced to adjust them periodically to remain competitive on the platform.
This means that your margins can fluctuate quite often. Therefore, you need to keep a close eye on the cost of your inventory all the time.
2. eBay Can Hold Your Money
If a customer files a claim about a transaction with you, the platform can hold the payment, pending investigation. eBay will automatically hold the money whether the claim is legitimate or not.
It means that if several customers file claims against your business, you may not have money to pay your supplier for new inventory, which could be catastrophic. You may also run out of funds required to operate the other parts of your business.
When you are faced with such issues, be sure to find an alternative source of funding that will keep you going before eBay resolves the issue. Your primary goal should be to ensure nothing affects your inventory.
3. Mismanaged eBay Inventory Has Greater Implications
Selling on eBay is sometimes trickier than most of us imagine. In some cases, you may sell something you don’t have in stock. When you realize it, you have to explain to the customer that they will either be refunded or have to wait for some time as you restock the item.
However, running into such a scenario is never ideal for your business. You may end up upsetting and losing the customer. The customer may also leave a bad review on your site, which could hurt your business.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t sell anything in the future. However, you must keep in mind that if the unhappy client came from eBay, the damage could be long lasting.
eBay focuses more on seller integrity by taking customer ratings and reviews seriously. Just a few bad ratings and reviews are sufficient to get you flagged, which can cause you to lose the “top seller” badge if you already have it.
Furthermore, eBay will hold onto your money until they conduct thorough investigations and make an independent decision on your suitability to continue selling on the platform.
How Can You Overcome These Challenges?
One of the best ways of overcoming eBay inventory control challenges is by implementing an eBay inventory control system. With a good system in place, you can track your inventory in real-time and make informed decisions.
You can also use eBay listing software to streamline and manage your listings. Making this part of your business process will free up more time to help you manage your inventory effectively.
Lastly, make sure you implement eBay’s large merchant services API that makes it possible for sellers to send large amounts of inventory to the eBay site and download multiple line item order information. These services are designed to improve your workflow and make your inventory management process easier.
Sometimes, it is easy to think that managing eBay inventory only involves re-ordering goods and keeping your stock numbers up-to-date. However, with the potential to reduce wastage, streamline order fulfillment, and increase sales, eBay inventory control is quite a complicated process.
Therefore, you need to invest in a reliable eBay inventory management system such as Ricemill that will align with your business goals and pay off in the long run. Keep in mind that your success largely depends on your inventory management techniques.