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Ecosystem

Dec 20, 2022

5 min to read

What is eCommerce Inventory Management Software?

eCommerce inventory management software helps you source, store, and sell your products as efficiently as possible. Discover the benefits and learn how to find the one that’s right for you.

Keywords

customer experience management

eCommerce

omnichannel

product experience management

PXM

If you’re in eCommerce, you know that making order out of chaos is a big part of the job. 

You’ve got suppliers around the world. Warehouses around the country. Online stores and third-party channels. Digital catalogs in the cloud and print catalogs hot off the presses. And brick-and-mortar stores haven’t gone extinct: U.S. retailers announced twice as many store openings as closings in 2021.

You’ve got a lot going on. How can you keep track of it all? One process stands out for eCommerce in particular: inventory management

From your local corner store to retail giants like Amazon, everyone needs eCommerce inventory management software, but different tools work better for different teams. So how do you find the right one for your organization? That’s what we’re here for. 

 

What is eCommerce inventory management software?

eCommerce inventory management software tracks and manages your products so that you always know the amount in stock, its location, its price, and how fast it’s selling. It helps you source, store, and sell your products as efficiently as possible. 

eCommerce inventory management itself can be grouped into four categories:

  1. Raw materials. The materials that go directly into your product, like fabric and thread for a clothing manufacturer.
  2. Production goods. Items used to make your product that aren’t directly a part of it, like sewing machines for clothing. 
  3. Works-in-progress. Products that are still in the design phase, like next season’s fashions.
  4. Finished goods. Products that are ready for sale, like current fashions either in a warehouse or on the rack

When it comes to eCommerce inventory management software, we’re usually talking about the fourth category: finished goods. The previous stages are typically managed by other types of software, like product data management (PDM), and all are part of product lifecycle management (PLM), which often has its own tools to manage as well. 

It’s all a part of building the right ecosystem, but inventory management software is especially important.

 

Why is inventory management software important for eCommerce?

There are so many benefits of eCommerce inventory management systems, it’s hard to know where to start. So let’s just dive in. 

  • Better forecasting. Even the most basic eCommerce inventory management software provides insights into what you have and where it is, from the warehouse to your customers’ doorsteps. That means you know when to restock, how much to buy, and where to store it so that you make the most profit. 
  • More successful product launches. When you know what’s selling—and what’s not selling—you can apply that information to future product launches. Did customers go crazy for your stuffed pickle dog toy, but weren’t sold on the red rope? We see more fun food-inspired toys in your future. 
  • Improved quality control. Inventory management software will tell you when something was made, when it arrived at the warehouse, and when it needs to be sold, so you know exactly what to prioritize. Instead of stock going missing, you can get it out the door before it goes out of date—or out of fashion. 
  • Positive omnichannel customer experiences. Your goal is always to keep your customers coming back. How do you do that? By providing an amazing buying experience wherever your customers are. eCommerce inventory management software will sync with your digital product catalog and other channels so that your inventory counts are always correct, and your customers always get what they ordered.

Ultimately, effective inventory management for eCommerce helps you make the most possible profit from each and every item you sell. And that keeps you in business.

 

Essential features of inventory management software

It’s not an exaggeration to say that inventory management can make or break your business, so you want to spend the time to find the software that’s right for your organization. Here’s what to look for.

Real-time tracking

If your eCommerce inventory software doesn’t update in real-time, then you—and your customers—don’t actually know what’s in stock and what’s out-of-stock. You need to know what’s been ordered, what’s been bought in-store, what’s been delivered, and what’s been returned. And you need to know it in real time. 

Automation

It seems like everything is automated these days, and just like your sales and marketing software, your car, and your electronics, your eCommerce inventory management software should be too. When inventory management and optimization happens automatically, you free up your employees to focus on planning for the future. 

SKU scanning

Real-time capabilities and the smartest AI in the world don’t mean anything if you can’t easily input your SKUs. Keeping tabs on your stock is a fundamental task of eCommerce inventory management, so you’ll need software that integrates with the barcode scanners you use. 

Syndication

Modern eCommerce operates on a plethora of platforms: Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, eBay, Etsy, Google Shopping, plus new channels you may not even be aware of yet. Can your eCommerce inventory management system syndicate all those systems? It won’t do you much good if it isn’t able to track what’s being sold on third-party sites and easily sync to new channels as they emerge. 

Price optimization

Price is easily one of the most important factors in inventory management. Is your price too high, or too low? Should it change seasonally? When should you put items on sale or on clearance? How can you make the most profit? These are all things your software should be able to tell you. 

Forecasting

You don’t just need to optimize your price points. You need to optimize the inventory itself. If your sales vary based on season, holidays, customer trends, or economic factors, your eCommerce inventory management software can help you predict the future, so you know what you need to order, reorder, and unload. 

Integration across channels and locations

If you have physical stores, you’ll need software that integrates with your POS system and transmits all sales and stock level details. You’ll be able to see your overall inventory as well as what you have at each store. The same goes for multiple warehouses: Your inventory management software should be able to input and track data from each warehouse, making it easy to see what you have and move product from place to place. 

Reporting

We hope you’re a data nerd, because you’re going to have a lot of data. Why not use it? With detailed reporting dashboards and capabilities, eCommerce inventory software can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, order fill times, delivery times, inventory control, when to reorder, and more. That helps you optimize your operations and keep your costs down. 

Customer support

You’re all about customer support for your own business, but it may never cross your mind when it comes to your tech stack. It should—fast, knowledgeable, and friendly customer support can make a big difference when you need a problem fixed. Getting questions answered quickly can also decrease your onboarding and training time. 

Your eCommerce inventory management system is an essential tool to help you create fast, seamless customer experiences across all of your channels. It should make your life easier, not harder, by integrating with your existing systems. And ultimately, it should make your customers happier and keep them coming back

Ready to hear more? Request a demo with an Akeneo expert and see how our hassle-free software can help your business run more efficiently. 

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