Resources / Manage Inventory on Different Ecommerce Platforms & Marketplaces

Chapter 4

Manage Inventory on Different Ecommerce Platforms & Marketplaces

Whether you use popular webstore platforms like BigCommerce, Magento and Shopify, or online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, efficient and accurate inventory management is crucial to the success of your business.

In this article, you’ll find some best practice advice for maintaining an accurate inventory across each of these platforms.

A Quick Platform Comparison

How to manage inventory on Amazon

Inventory management on Amazon can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Manual updates in Amazon Seller Central

  2. Automatic updates via integrated inventory management software

As the first approach is time-consuming and highly cumbersome, we won’t spend much more time discussing that. Instead, you can refer to Amazon’s help documents for more information.

As for the second approach, keep reading to get an idea of how this could work for your retail business.

Amazon inventory management overview

Once an Amazon listing is connected to a product in your inventory control system, your system is able to manage the availability of the item on Amazon. It essentially becomes the center of all inventory management, which means any changes to the inventory level made in Amazon itself will be overwritten by your inventory management software.

Which inventory level does Amazon receive?

For most of your ecommerce inventory management, it’s the on hand inventory level that is shared with your sales channels. If you’re syncing inventory to Amazon from multiple warehouses, then a combined on hand quantity will be synced instead.

When is inventory updated?

When inventory will be updated on Amazon will depend on the integration you have in place. In most cases, this should be in real time or near real time, when the on hand inventory level for a product is updated – whether this is due to manual inventory corrections, receiving of inventory on purchase orders or sales credits, or items sold on sales orders.

How to manage inventory on eBay

Similarly to Amazon, inventory management on eBay can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Manual quantity updates in eBay itself

  2. Automatic updates via integrated inventory management software

Take a look at eBay’s help documents for more information on the first approach.

As for the second approach, we’ve listed some key information below as to how this type of integration is likely to work.

eBay inventory management overview

Just like Amazon, once an eBay listing is connected to a product in your inventory management software, your system is able to manage the item quantity on eBay. It essentially becomes the center of all inventory management, which means any changes to the inventory level made in eBay itself, will be overwritten by your inventory management software.

Which inventory level does eBay receive?

In contrast to Amazon, when using eBay inventory management software, you should have access to several options on how to control the availability of a listing, as shown below:

  1. All on hand items

  2. Maximum quantity – “limited to ___ items per listing”

  3. Minimum quantity – “minimum of ___ items per listing”

For multi-location inventory management, eBay should be sent a combined quantity.

When is inventory updated?

When inventory will be updated on eBay will depend on the integration you have in place. In most cases, this should be in real time or near real time, when the on hand inventory level for a product is updated – whether this be due to manual inventory corrections, receiving of inventory on purchase orders or sales credits, or items sold on sales orders.

How to manage inventory on Magento, BigCommerce & Shopify

If you’re wondering how your inventory management on Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce will work, then the first thing to remember is that most modern ecommerce platforms have the innate ability to track inventory levels on a per SKU basis. This is a great first step to maintaining accurate inventory levels and preventing overselling issues.

However, once you scale up, you may want to start using multiple locations, such as opening new warehouses or launching new stores, which can become an issue when using native BigCommerce, Magento or Shopify inventory management functions.

Since these types of ecommerce solutions don’t usually have the concept of multiple inventory locations, you’ll need to find another way to manage your inventory, which could lead to the following issues:

  • Having to track inventory spread across locations in a spreadsheet or externally

  • Holding inaccurate siloed data across systems

  • Difficulty in correctly replenishing products across your different branches

  • Partial fulfillments out of multiple locations resulting in significantly increased shipping costs

Multi-location inventory management on your ecommerce platform of choice is a complexity that can be eliminated by using a dedicated retail operations platform with strong inventory management functionality.

This type of solution will facilitate the multiple pools of inventory, combining them to generate a product’s combined availability and then push that to your ecommerce platform 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, as explained in this article.

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