Optimise Your eFulfilment Inventory Management With These Handy Tips

Knowing how to optimise eFulfilment inventory levels is a must for you as an eCommerce professional. It can be tricky to get the balance right – you never want your stock levels to drop to zero, but you also don’t want to waste time and resources storing products that aren’t profitable for your business.

Finding the ‘sweet spot’ between too little and too much inventory depends on your ability to assess and make adjustments in line with your market’s fluctuating needs.

This might sound daunting but don’t panic! Read on to discover five handy tips to help you understand and manage your inventory so you can get optimal results.

Tip #1  – Understand Your Production Method

Before you begin to start stocking up your third party logistics shelves (3PL) you need to fully understand your own production methods.

Examine how long it takes for different aspects of your production method to take place.

For example: How long does your manufacturer take to fill an order? How long does it take your 3PL to process new inventory and returns? How long are your customers willing to wait to receive an order?

Once you understand these fundamental aspects of your production you can work on timing your stock ordering to make it extra efficient.

Tip #2: Understand Your Production and eFulfillment Pipeline

Knowing how your eFulfilment pipeline works will help you to assess the levels of stock you need.

Let’s take an example: Simon designs soap and has it manufactured in Cork. He designs different sizes and shapes of soap and sells them from his online store. Once the product is manufactured it’s sent to his fulfilment house in Cookstown.

When Simon puts in an order for more stock it takes his manufacturer 10 weeks to make the soaps and get them sent to the fulfilment house. If in the meantime Simon runs out of his product he runs the risk of alienating current and potential customers who will visit his site, see he is out of stock and happily order from one of his competitors. So Simon has to plan ahead to make accurate predictions of how much stock he will need, and know when to order it.

 

Tip #3: Use Research to Help You Plan Stock Levels.

 

Let’s continue with our example. In his first year of business, Simon records which of his products sold well and when they sold well. He notes whether some designs sold better during seasonal times, or certain celebrations (like Christmas or Mother’s Day), and which products sold well all year round. He then uses this data to help him decide which stock to order in the future.

Simon also spent time researching his competition to see what their top products were, and seeing what was popular in his market by checking trends on social media as well as search engine trends.

Tip #4: Look For Patterns in Your Ecommerce Sales

Because Simon kept detailed records from the get go, he was able to create Excel sheets to see what patterns emerged in his sales from year to year. For example, he knew he was generally busy all year round, but sales tended to spike at Christmas.

Therefore, he knew he needed to keep certain product stocked year round but he also knew to bring in extra stock for the increased sales in the lead up to Christmas.

 

Tip #5: The Backup Plan

It’s really important to understand how much stock you need to cover your general sales, however it’s also important that you have backup or ‘safety stock’ in case of any unforeseen events.

Your safety stock is an amount of stock that you hold that will keep your business making sales if there is a sudden change to your pipeline or demand for your product. For example, a supplier might suddenly have an issue or there could be problems with the manufacturer.

You might also get an unforeseen spike in sales if say something trends on social media that advertises your product.

You can’t account for all eventualities, but having some stock held in reserve in case of emergencies can help to ensure your customers stay happy because you are able to fill their orders.

 

 

Six Steps to Accurate Stock

Having an accurate real time inventory of your stock levels is vital to your businesses success. Your profits depend on knowing your stock well; if you’re not sure how much stock you hold you run the risk of losing out on opportunities to maximise your sales.

This simple six-step plan can help ensure you keep an accurate inventory and pave the way to greater efficiency and success in your business.

1. Accurate Stock Level Reporting

Having accurate stock level reporting makes it less likely you will run out of stock. Keeping your stock level up to date on a real-time basis allows you to set a minimum stock level so you know when to order more stock in. Make sure you have a system in place to enable real time reporting – ideally using up to date IT solutions.

 

2. Highlight Slow Moving or Non-Moving Stock

Up to date real-time stock reporting allows you to highlight any stock that is slow moving or non-moving and free up valuable resources. When you know which stock is slow or non-moving you can update your sales strategy and implement plans to put this stock on sale or decide not to carry it any longer.

3. Improve Warehouse Efficiency

No one wants to waste resources and space storing stock that isn’t selling. You can dramatically cut costs and improve warehouse efficiency by ensuring your reporting is up to date and regularly pruning stock that isn’t selling well. Ensuring you know which stock does sell well and the optimal levels of it will also help you keep your products moving as efficiently as possible.

 

4. Better Customer Relations

Having accurate stock levels allows you to plan ahead – so you don’t get caught out if there is a shortage or your customers can’t access the products they want. Don’t give your customers a reason to go to your competitors by running out of stock they want, or being unable to fulfil orders quickly and efficiently.

 

5. Improve Your Account Processing

An accurate and in-depth knowledge of how many orders you’ve sold and how many products you’ve bought will enable you to keep up to date with your account processing. Purchase sheets and sales ledgers are far easier to keep track of with effective stock reporting, allowing your staff to streamline work processes and save time and money.

 

6. Effective Quarterly and Annual Stock Takes

Having your sales ledgers up to date and using real time stock reporting makes it a lot easier to complete your quarterly and annual stock take, without the need for additional work.

At Meteor Space we offer a Client portal system that gives you full access to your stock. Features include full stock listing that can be imported to Excel, a booking system for your own shipments, stock history reporting and much more!

 

5 New Year’s Resolutions to Grow Your Business in 2018!

As 2017 draws to a close it’s the perfect time to reflect on how your business has performed over the last 12 months, and how you want to grow your operations during 2018. Setting goals for the coming year helps keep you focused and moving forward, and what better time to set some resolutions for how you approach your business than the New Year?

Below is a collection of our Top Five Business Resolutions – guaranteed to help grow any business!

1. Make Sure Your Business is Wholly Customer Orientated  

Without your customers you wouldn’t have a business, so knowing what your customers have to say about the product(s) you provide is absolutely crucial. Review your data analytics to highlight what your customers like, what they dislike and what they would like to see more of – and commit to giving that to them!

2. Avoid Micromanagement and Learn to Delegate  

This is especially true if you are a new business, but companies who have been established for longer can also sometimes do with the reminder.  Quite simply, if you try to perform all tasks yourself you’re less likely achieve optimum performance. It’s important allow other to help your business reach its full potential.

3. Don’t be an Information Technophobe  

Information Technology is a vital part of modern business. If your company’s IT skills aren’t where they need to be then either ensure your staff receive the right training, or consider outsourcing this part of your needs to an experienced service. Don’t get left behind your competitors, or lose productivity and valuable extra skills and services because you’re afraid to confront change!

4. Regularly Revise Your Business Plan

Having a flexible business plan can give your business the ability to respond to changing economic and market conditions. Always make sure you refer back to your business plan on a regular basis to allow yourself the chance to make full use of your data analytics.

5. Look for ways to Reduce Fixed Costs  

Are there functions in your company that you’re paying out for but not getting much benefit from? One of the areas where companies like Meteor Space are hugely valuable is in freeing up your time and resources by taking care of logistics and other warehousing needs. If you’re wasting time and money maintaining a warehouse that isn’t functioning optimally and you want to transform your fixed costs into money-saving variable costs then outsourcing is a smart move.

Make Your First Impression Count with Great Packaging

These days product packaging is far more than simply putting your item neatly into a box.

Choosing the right packaging reflects on your business brand and directly impacts the impression that customers get when your product arrives. This requires skill and attention to detail to get right – big brands invest huge resources into package branding.

Despite this, some businesses still pay little attention to their packaging, or believe it doesn’t matter as long as the product arrives undamaged. This utilitarian approach runs the risk of discounting what an impact great packaging can make.

The truth is customers are becoming more savvy and an item that arrives in pristine condition inside attractive packaging, generates much more positive feelings towards your brand than one that doesn’t.

So What Makes for Great Packaging?

Simply put, the goal of great packaging is something that keeps your product safe but also looks good.

For example, if an online retailer is selling a ceramic mug and they use a plastic bag for packaging, the mug is likely to break and the use of the plastic bag gives the impression of a business that doesn’t care about the product or the customer.

A mug that arrives in a recyclable cardboard box with branding and protective wrap inside is much more likely to create a pleasant first impression about your business.

In the short-term it might seem like this kind of packaging isn’t as cost-effective as the cheapest possible packaging, but this attitude is extremely short sighted. Building a positive brand and creating great impressions for your customers significantly increases your currency as a business and the likelihood of retaining your customers.

So, if improving your customer’s experiences with your brand is something you’d like to achieve then we highly recommend looking into your packaging.

Here at Meteor Space we pride ourselves in our ability to help our clients pick packaging for their product which supports their brand and not only keeps the product in pristine condition, but looks great and builds positively on your brand.

We can personalise your products with branding on boxes as well as on packing tape and using your unique business labelling.

We have an array of packaging products:

  • Bubble Wrap
  • Cardboard Boxes (Small, Medium and Large)
  • Plastic Wrap

As well as a strapping machine that allows us to send your products out to your customers well packaged and secure.