July 3, 2023

The Complete Guide to Multi-channel Inventory Management

Master multi-channel inventory management with our comprehensive guide. Streamline operations, optimize stock levels, and boost sales. Get started now!
The Complete Guide to Multi-channel Inventory Management
The Complete Guide to Multi-channel Inventory Management

Today, many businesses sell their products across multiple channels like ecommerce websites, online marketplaces, and brick-and-mortar stores. Being wherever your customers are is a golden opportunity to increase your sales. However, managing your inventory and providing a seamless shopping experience for customers across all channels can be challenging. 

Read on to find out what multi-channel inventory management is, its benefits, challenges, and some of the best multi-channel inventory management software. 

What is multi-channel inventory management?

Multi-channel inventory management involves the managing and controlling of inventory across multiple sales channels such as ecommerce websites, online marketplaces, and so on.  

Each sales channel has its own sales pattern, inventory demands, and order fulfillment requirements. So managing inventory across these sales channels can be challenging. 

The goal of multi-channel inventory management is to streamline these processes and enable businesses to prevent stockouts, increase customer satisfaction, and ultimately drive sales. 

Benefits of multi-channel inventory management         

Good multi-channel inventory management plays a vital role in ecommerce success. Here are some benefits of effective multi-channel inventory management: 

Efficient order fulfillment 

With effective multi-channel management, you can efficiently manage and fulfill orders across various channels. You can streamline workflows, minimize errors, improve accuracy, speed, and delivery, and ultimately improve your customer’s experience. 

Automated inventory management 

As an ecommerce business owner, you can agree that as you add new sales channels, managing your inventory across all channels becomes challenging. However, with good inventory management, you can automate the entire process and get real-time information to ensure your customers get their orders within the stated time frame. 

Improves customer experience 

There’s nothing worse than having willing customers place an order for inventory that is unavailable. Not only do you lose out on sales but you also lose potential customers to your competitors. 

With effective multi-channel inventory management, you can ensure inventory is available and improve your customer experience. Most multi-channel inventory software also helps to ensure timely delivery, track orders, and ensure product listings are correct. Ultimately this can help improve your customer’s shopping experience. 

Demand forecasting 

Demand forecasting can help to ensure that you constantly have just the right amount of stock you need. It reduces the chances of overselling or running out of stock. It can also help you increase your inventory levels based on the peak season. 

Good multichannel inventory software provides data-driven insights that can help you optimize your inventory levels and make more informed business decisions. 

Product listing management 

It is not only challenging to manage inventory across multiple sales channels, but it is also difficult to manage all product listings. With good multi-channel inventory software, you can automatically share product listings across all your sales channels. 

Challenges of multi-channel inventory management 

Here are some common challenges that ecommerce multi-channel sellers face: 

Running out of stock and overselling 

Running out of stock and overselling is perhaps one of the most common challenges of multi-channel selling. Keeping track of inventory counts across multiple channels can be tasking. If you’ve placed an order for a product only to find out that the product wasn’t available, you would understand that this can create a negative impression for your customers and lead to missed sale opportunities. 

Too much inventory 

Another common challenge that comes with selling on multiple channels is stocking too much inventory. Demand forecasting becomes more complex, leading to wasted inventory spending and additional storage fees. 

Inaccurate demand forecasting

Data insights are even more important when selling across multiple channels. However, getting quality and consistent data can be challenging due to varying reporting features, metrics, and formats. 

Inconsistency across multiple channels 

Customers want the same shopping experience across all your sales channels. Whether customers choose to shop on an online marketplace, your ecommerce website, or offline, they want a consistent shopping experience. Providing the same quality and consistency across all channels can get complex and requires a deep understanding of all business operations. 

Best inventory management techniques 

There are various inventory management techniques you can implement depending on your business needs. Here are some  best techniques for multi-channel inventory management: 

ABC analysis

The ABC analysis is a technique that identifies top-performing products based on revenue and volume. The classification will look like this:

  • A - Products with low volume but high value
  • B - Products with mid-volume and mid-value 
  • C - Products with high volume and low value

With this analysis, you can find out where the majority of your revenue comes from and work towards making those products more available. It also allows you to better organize your warehouse space, adjust pricing and explore new product ideas. 

First-in, first-out (FIFO)

First in First out (FIFO) is a common inventory technique especially used for perishable products. So, with the FIFO technique, when goods come into the warehouse first, they are added to the back of the shelf and picked last during fulfillment. This means that goods that have been in the warehouse the longest get sold first. The technique ensures that goods are properly rotated to avoid spoilage. 

Economic Order Quantity (EOQ)

Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) is an inventory management technique that aims to find out the optimum inventory level to order and how often to order it. With this technique, you can order the right amount of inventory at the right time. You can reduce costs and avoid spending money on inventory you can’t sell. 

Sales forecasting 

With sales forecasting, you can peep into the future and predict how you will sell your products. This is done by analyzing how you sold your stock the previous year, month, week, and more. You can easily do this using inventory management software. 

Just-In-Time (JIT)

Just-In-Time (JIT) is an inventory replenishment strategy that allows you to order inventory when it is needed to reduce costs and wastage. 

What to look out for in a multi-channel inventory management software 

A good multi-channel inventory management software is the secret ingredient to effective multi-channel selling. So, choosing the best multi-channel inventory software for your business is critical to inventory management success. 

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing inventory management software:

Optimized inventory management 

A good inventory management software should automatically adjust your product listings as stock is sold on each sales channel. Also, as stock levels are replenished, your inventory software should automatically be adjusted to the amount of stock available on your product listings. 

Automate purchase orders

A good inventory management software should automatically track purchase orders, generate orders and manage the entire process when needed. 

Accurate inventory forecasting

You want to choose an inventory management software that offers fast and accurate inventory forecasting that enables you to anticipate the next demand surge and what products you need. With accurate forecasting, you can make the most out of peak seasons and trends, stock the right amount of inventory and avoid wastage. 

Scanning and barcoding

Fluctuating inventory quantities and inventory levels is one of the reasons barcoding and scanning have become important for managing inventories. It helps to track each inventory unit and its location. You may want to consider inventory management systems that come with scanning and barcoding features. 

Detailed analytics and reports 

Detailed analytics and reports can provide valuable insights needed for better inventory management and business growth. When choosing an inventory management software, you may want to consider options that provide detailed analytics and reports not only for inventory management but for other business functions. 

Best multi-channel inventory management software 

Multichannel inventory management can only be effective with good inventory management software. Here are some multichannel inventory management software you could consider: 

  1. SellBrite 

SellBrite is a prominent multichannel inventory management solution. With this software, you can effectively manage your inventory across multiple sales platforms. You can also create and sync product listings all from a single place. 

With the inventory sync feature, you can automatically update your product listing quantities to fit your available inventory. 

This versatile software also performs other functions including product management, order management, and detailed analytics. 

You can integrate SellBrite with online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, Etsy, Walmart, and so on. 

SellBrite has various pricing plans including their “Forever Free” plan which allows up to 30 orders per month and a plan that goes as high as $179 per month. Their most popular pricing plan is the “Pro 100” at $29 per month allowing 100 monthly orders. 

  1. Ecomdash

Ecomdash is a flexible inventory management software that allows you to determine your processes and inventory requirements. So, you can manage your products by serial number, SKU, or a specific product identification system. 

With Ecomdash, you can reduce the risk of overselling thanks to their automated inventory sync. You can keep your customers updated with order status updates, and track order information. It also has order management features including printing pick lists, shipping labels, and packing slips all from one dashboard. 

Ecomdash offers various pricing plans, from their free plan for 30 monthly orders to their Pro-350 plan for 10,000 monthly orders. 

  1. Quickbooks 

Quickbooks (formerly TradeGecko) is another powerful tool for multichannel inventory management. With their impressive features, you can effectively manage your orders, make payments, and get detailed insights all from one location. You can also integrate it with other online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. 

Their prices range from $9 per month to their Advanced plan for $60 per month. You also get a free trial for 30 days. 

Wrapping up

With the complexities that come with selling on multiple channels, effective inventory management is critical for ecommerce success. Optimizing your inventory and providing customers with a seamless shopping experience are underlying factors that increase sales and encourage repeat purchases. With effective inventory management across all sales channels, you can avoid running out of stock, mismanaging stock, and incurring unwanted costs. 

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