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July 28, 2022

Managing Multi-Channel Inventory? Here's How To Make it Easy

If you are selling across multiple channels, managing inventory and shipping can be a real challenge—unless your 3PL partner has invested in the right kind of technology.

More and more, merchants are selling their goods across multiple channels, including eCommerce platforms, mobile apps, brick-and-mortar stores/POS systems, and direct-to-consumer (DTC). This does create many opportunities for sales. For example, more companies are trying subscription service models, and some stores are even opening without inventory, providing a showroom floor and then shipping items to the shopper’s home from a central location.

However, this new multi-channel world comes with its challenges. Accurately accounting for your inventory across multiple channels can be harder than it seems. The ability to optimize that inventory can have huge effects on overall profitability. On the other hand, mistakes and delays can take a chunk out of your brand reputation — and the bottom line.

This is where 3PLs come in handy. Managing orders and inventory across multiple channels requires the right technology, which an experienced 3PL often has on hand. Let's take a look at some of the system solutions that working with a 3PL can provide to multiple channel headaches.

Shopping Cart (Channel) Integration

There needs to be good two-way communication between your channels and inventory systems. When a purchase gets made, you want your stock levels to be updated automatically. When you start running low on a particular item, you will want your eCommerce platforms to reflect the limited supply to encourage sales, even as you reorder to avoid a back order situation. These transactions have to occur seamlessly across all of your channels.

Most software designed to integrate with multiple channels is created with enterprise clients in mind. Many of their features are unnecessary for small-to-medium businesses, and the price tag is well out of their range anyway. These businesses can take advantage of such integrations. However, by partnering with a 3PL that has already developed software with such integrations in mind, you don't have to worry about the price tag or any headaches that come with system installation or integration.

Cloud-Based Systems

Cloud-based inventory management allows key people access to data about stock levels, expected demand, shipping patterns, and more. This data can be accessed from any location, at any time.

Cloud-based services are important for multi-channel businesses particularly because it allows them to store and manage inventory from anywhere. This can be utilized in the following scenarios:

  • A merchant can ship all items from a central warehouse in a convenient location, minimizing the storage space needed at individual stores.
  • A merchant can reserve inventory to meet commitments to key clients while making the remaining stock available for other sales.
  • A merchant can receive important reports and alerts at corporate headquarters as inventory is moving.

Finally, the cloud also provides stability, scalability, and savings. These become increasingly important as a business scales and grows to hold multiple locations.

Reports

Reports are so much more than numbers on a page. Forecasting and finding the correct data, right when you need it, allows you to hedge against risk, find solutions to problems, and contain costs. A good 3PL partner collects, uses, and shares that data with you to grow your operation.

For example, imagine receiving reports that could tell you:

  • Which channels or stores are more successful with specific products
  • Which channels or stores are performing poorly and need to be adjusted
  • What the effects of your latest marketing campaigns were
  • Which products are being bought together, and where it is happening most
  • Which products are seeing seasonal fluctuations in demand

Furthermore, you should not be limited to using only pre-canned reports. Every operation is different, and can use different data to its benefit. What if your operation has a specific question that needs to be answered? Or what if you simply want to see the raw data? Being able to collect all the data you need to make decisions is incredibly tough with a multi-channel business model. Again, the right technology can make all the difference.

Manage with Materialogic

Here at Materialogic, we know the value of investing in the right technology. To manage inventory and shipping for our clients, we developed a cloud-based solution that provides the kind of integration and reporting discussed above. This is now a huge value-add that we can bring to our retail clients.

If you are interested in how Materialogic can use this technology to your advantage, reach out to our team for a consultation.

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