Resources / Manage Inventory on Shopify

Chapter 7

Manage Inventory on Shopify

Shopify Inventory Management

Like most ecommerce platforms and inventory management systems, Shopify has the ability to track inventory levels on a per SKU basis and for individual variants. You can also group products by category, type, season and sale and quickly scan products using barcodes.

This is a great first step to maintaining accurate inventory levels and limiting overselling, regardless of whether you only sell on Shopify or have a mixture of websites, pop-up shops and dropshippers.

Shopify Multi-Location Inventory Management

In September 2018, Shopify launched ‘Locations’, which means that you can now track inventory across different warehouses, stores and dropshipping companies.

This eliminates the need to track inventory in a spreadsheet, thus ensuring you have more accurate and up-to-date data. Not to mention your ability to expand is now no longer limited by your choice of ecommerce platform!

But Shopify multi-location inventory management does have its limits as your pricing plan will dictate how many locations you’re allowed to have, and if you use third-party apps that physically stock inventory for you, then each of these will also be treated as separate locations.

At present, the pricing plan limits are as follows:

Shopify Lite – up to 3 locations

Basic Shopify – up to 4 locations

Shopify – up to 5 locations

Advanced Shopify – up to 8 locations

Shopify Plus – up to 20* locations

*Contact Plus Support if you need more than 20 locations

Shopify multi-location inventory management is also supported by dedicated back office and ERP solutions that have strong inventory management functionality. These solutions facilitate multiple pools of inventory to generate a product’s combined availability, which is then pushed to Shopify in real time. When orders are placed, the solution can then takeover once again and route the fulfillment requests to the right team and inventory location.

7 Must-Have Features of Shopify Inventory Management Software

Listed below are seven must-have features of Shopify inventory management software so you can be sure the systems backing up your website are reliable, scalable and future-proof.

Multichannel inventory management

Inventory tracking across channels is critical to the success of your ecommerce business as you need to ensure you have the right products listed on the right channels to meet demand.

Your chosen inventory management system should instantly update your inventory levels and product availability in real time, no matter whether you sell on one Shopify website or many – or even alongside online marketplaces and brick and mortar stores.

Your systems should take into account inventory updates for not just sales, but transfers, returns and restocks as well. This ensures you’re providing the best possible experience to your customers, while reducing the risk of “out of stock” scenarios once something has been purchased.

Multi-location inventory management and integrated WMS

If you’re managing multiple warehouse locations or inventory across a selection of different channels like pop-up shops, online marketplaces and brick and mortar stores, then you need to know exactly what inventory you have, how much of it is ready to sell and where it is.

These are just some of the reasons why multi-location inventory management is so powerful.

In order to achieve this, your systems need to obviously be able to support multiple warehouse locations, but this, combined with an integrated warehouse management system will make things miles more streamlined and efficient.

An advanced WMS will provide your warehouse staff with powerful functionality like segmented inventory counts, barcode scanning, partial fulfillment, dropshipping and automatic warehouse routing.

The latter is perhaps the most powerful of them all as it enables you to specify which warehouses to fulfill from however you choose to slice and dice your data. Common examples include automatically fulfilling from locations based on delivery address and where inventory is actually in stock.

Bundle and variant support

Although Shopify doesn’t directly support bundles, your inventory management system can support them by having the capability to connect a bundle to an individual Shopify product.

This way, you can sell the bundle item as normal on your website, while tracking inventory for the separate components in your back office.

Likewise, you’ll probably want to track inventory for individual product variants like sizes and colors too. So your Shopify inventory management system should also be able to easily group your products together and manage combinations in any way you choose.

Inventory demand planning

A powerful demand planning tool, which is either native to your Shopify inventory management solution or 100% integrated, will enable you to understand exactly how your inventory is performing across your Shopify stores and on other channels too.

You’ll gain access to data and insights related to things like seasonality, out of stock periods, average sales, trends and product lead times, meaning you can take the guesswork out of what needs to be reordered and when to satisfy customer demand.

Integrated accounting and landed cost functionality

Integrated accounting is crucial for you to report on the success of your Shopify webstore and other channels in real time, so you can make important business decisions quickly and efficiently.

But you also need to ensure your accounting systems can report on your products’ landed costs as well.

Your landed costs include the additional fees you need to pay in order to get your goods from the warehouse to your customers. Things like freight, insurance and taxes are all things that need to be accounted for, so you can sell your products for the right price and remain profitable.

Robust API for peak trading days

In the event of flash sale events and peak trading days, you need to be sure of the systems keeping your sales and inventory in check.

When adopting any Shopify inventory management platform, you should find out how many orders the system can download and process in a timeframe that makes the most sense to you.

For instance, at Brightpearl, we support the download and update of up to 25,000 Shopify orders per hour, which we’ve found to be more than sufficient for our customers during their busiest trading periods.

Hassle-free returns management

With a whopping 89% of customers saying they’ll shop again at an online store after a positive returns process, it literally pays to offer efficient and hassle-free returns.

In order to do that, the systems that support your Shopify sales should be able to automatically link sales credits to online returns from both an accounting point of view and when it comes to inventory availability.

This ensures your processes are slick, smooth and streamlined, hopefully prompting your customers to shop with you again.

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