Establishing a thriving, sustainable business is all about brand reputation and cultivating strong relationships with your customers. As the famous saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” And with the Pandemic having transformed the face of e-commerce, fueling unprecedented levels of growth in online shopping, creating that seamless first impression and excellent customer experience has never been more pivotal.
From secure payment processing to quick product delivery, today’s consumers want minimal friction from start to finish. The key to driving customer satisfaction and effective product delivery lies in having a strategic order fulfillment process in place. And part of that equation requires implementing the right tools, like order fulfillment software, to secure customer loyalty and retention, drive supply chain efficiency, and optimize inventory management.
Why Is Inventory Management So Crucial?
When your e-commerce business opened its doors, complete with a plan to scale, your to-do list likely didn’t encompass inventory management and order fulfillment software. We get it: driving new business and expanding your footprint is way more glamorous than the logistical side of the equation. But, the reality is, inventory control can act as a stabilizer between supply and demand – ensuring customer needs are adequately met while decreasing overhead costs.
Inventory control is the lifeblood of any successful business. By efficiently tracking inventory levels, you’ll have the crucial knowledge you need to operate your business successfully. Inventory management will make sure you’re always aware of:
- Low Stock Levels: Understanding your inventory numbers is crucial. Meeting consumer demand and minimizing transaction errors requires real-time visibility into stock levels to ensure you can fulfill customer orders without disruption. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t wait until you’re out of milk before buying more, right? We know you’re not itching to eat spoonfuls of dry cereal. You replenish your milk before the carton is empty. The same concept applies to your inventory.
- Quantity Needed: Say you own an ice cream subscription service and your chocolate chip cookie dough is flying off the proverbial shelf. You know you need to pivot to accommodate the demand. But how much more? Too much, and your business risks steep storage costs and expired products. Inventory management software manages your inventory levels while optimizing product flow.
- Product Insights: In a similar vein, an effective inventory management system can help facilitate increased turnover, reduce shrinkage, and provide valuable insights to drive profitability for newly introduced products.
- Length of Warehouse Stay: For perishables, this may seem like a moot point. But the truth is, without a proper system in place, goods can go unsold or wind up unaccounted for.
What Is Order Fulfillment Software?
Managing products can be a difficult and time-consuming endeavor, and many companies are still using manual processes. Order fulfillment software is such a valuable asset to e-commerce businesses because it automates inventory management, eliminating the damaging effects of human error.
The enormity of overseeing and organizing inventory is so vast – it’s labor-intensive and chaotic – that it’s no wonder business owners are seeking out cutting-edge software solutions to streamline order fulfillment. From organizing sale items to improving cash flow, inventory management software can significantly improve efficiency across your entire supply chain.
Innovation in cloud-based technology has opened the doorway for software integrations, meaning your existing tech stack, like your point of sale (POS) system, can be used in conjunction with inventory management software. This creates a seamless workflow across various touchpoints in your fulfillment process through the power of automation.
Inventory management software also generates detailed analytics and reporting data, providing your business with valuable insight into everything from customer preferences to sales trends. Having this information at your fingertips allows you to make data-driven decisions across multiple facets of the business – from marketing and customer acquisition initiatives to retail pricing and new revenue opportunities. Plus, access to real-time inventory insights will ensure operations flow efficiently and uninterrupted.
The best part about incorporating this type of software into your order fulfillment process? Thanks to the cloud, you can access your data anywhere, anytime. Translation: the 360-degree visibility your organization needs to thrive.
What Types of Features Can You Expect From Inventory Management Software?
A mistake in inventory can have severe consequences – costing your business countless dollars and damaging your reputation as a brand. Aligning your company with an inventory control software that delivers on its promises can eliminate costly mistakes and create a thriving ecosystem for your business.
The key is to identify software that encompasses more than counting and managing goods in a warehouse. We’re not saying these features aren’t crucial; we’re simply saying an expansive breadth of features will streamline needs and deliver the most bang for your buck.
The right order fulfillment software will be able to provide your business with real-time updates on stock levels, deliver valuable reporting data, and provide flexible integration solutions.
So, what should you look for in an ideal software? Let’s dive into it:
- Stock Quantity Visibility: A valuable tracking component that enables users to leverage scanners to gain insight into the number of goods present within a particular warehouse location. This is crucial for uncovering discrepancies in inventory counts, developing sales trends, and ensuring product levels are sufficiently meeting consumer demand.
- Inventory Tracking: This can range from basic barcode scanning to more advanced features that categorize items based on key elements like size, type, or value.
- Stock Alerts: Before inventory is depleted, you’ll want to be notified of low stock levels to ensure you can replenish supply. Without this feature, you’ll be kept in the dark with no knowledge of how much product you may or may not have available.
- Optimized Workflow: What’s the point in investing in an inventory management software system if it doesn’t alleviate burden and streamline workflow? Seek out solutions that automate certain tasks and provide the flexibility to add or update items in the system as needed.
- Shipment Information: As a business, driving customer satisfaction is always a priority. And an essential piece of meeting customer satisfaction objectives requires shipment insights and tracking. For products dispatched directly from a warehouse, you’ll want to use software that’ll tell you where those items are and when they will arrive at a customer's doorstep.
- The Ability to Customize: Your dashboard can do one of two things — give you a headache or make your life easier. We’re betting you’ll want the latter. Effective software programs provide users with the ability to customize their dashboard in a manner that displays relevant information in one place. Otherwise, you’ll be left clicking around, wasting time in search for specific data that you’re unable to house front and center on your dashboard.
- Multi-Location Insights: For businesses with a national presence or omnichannel sales strategy (i.e., products are sold online and in stores), having the ability to manage inventory across various warehouse locations from one platform enhances visibility, decreases costs, and ultimately helps maximize revenue.
Robust inventory management systems have the capacity to store a wide breadth of information. From product metadata and characteristics to purchase transactions, audit records, and vital inventory stats, the ability to access detailed information and tailor the system to your business’s unique needs will ensure operations run as smoothly as possible.
Why Partner With Smart Warehousing?
At Smart Warehousing, we offer some of the most cutting-edge and advanced technology in the industry – developed with the goal of bringing your supply chain to life. Efficient and effective, our Smart Warehousing Information Management System (SWIMS) offers your e-commerce business the ability to integrate with leading platforms like Shopify, Amazon, WooCommerce, and more.
As a 3PL provider, we can serve as an end-to-end fulfillment partner – whether you’re B2B, B2C, offer temperature-sensitive products or require an omnichannel solution. Acting as an extension of your team, we transform disjointed fulfillment processes into a streamlined, one-stop-shop experience. The result? Reduced costs, increased customer satisfaction, and the ability to scale your business.
From today’s needs to tomorrow’s demands, contact us today to learn how we can create a customized strategy to fulfill your company’s evolving needs.