Inventory Management Best Practices for E-commerce Businesses


Managing inventory is arguably the most important part of conducting a company online. It can be fairly easy to reduce your risk while maximising your return in the proper circumstances. 

You just need to find the right partner with the help of the right technologies. It costs money to manage your inventory, so you want to be sure that your spending is wise.

Additionally, you don’t want to run out of a product on which your clients have come to rely. That would not be good for your company.

Key to Effective and Efficient Inventory Management

  1. Develop an Inventory Management Plan


For every firm, inventory is normally a calculated risk; but, in e-commerce, this risk is heightened.  The nature of e-commerce in your inventory is available to all customers, making it considerably more valuable.

Because of this, you cannot afford to be careless in this area. To make sure that you are correctly managing your inventory, you must have a plan in place.

The following stage is to plan the various distribution channels you’ll use to market your products.

  • This could entail making a schedule for purchases, 
  • coming up with a shopping list, 
  • or exploring the possibility of drop-shipping.

2. Make Safety Inventory Management Culture a Priority


We already know that safety comes first during a pandemic. You must safeguard your clients and staff from the risks of receiving the virus because they are susceptible to being ill.

Keeping your inventory secure and away from any suspicious things is one method to achieve this.

Many companies have introduced safety measures during the pandemic, including setting up a dedicated email address for clients to use in case they order suspect things.

These safety precautions not only help you prevent any suspicious transactions but also assist you to keep both your customers and personnel safe.

The advantages of having a secure and open inventory must be weighed against the drawbacks of keeping products that you believe can draw unwanted attention from law enforcement or other agencies.

3. Consider Inventory Management Legal Considerations


When inventory is not accurately accounted for, it becomes a legal problem. This could happen when products vanish mysteriously or when products are harmed or destroyed carelessly.

The company owner can get into a little trouble if this occurs. Accountants take the legal aspect very seriously; they will carefully review every line of your records for indications of fraud.

To prevent any issues, it is crucial that you are aware of these legal repercussions and that you take the required steps.

4. Recognise Your Position In Inventory Management  As A Product Owner


You have to realise that the entire inventory process includes you.

It does not follow that you will instantly receive the items just because a customer orders something you sell via an online business.

Orders are typically processed by outside parties, including fulfillment firms, who will then pack and send your order in accordance with your instructions.

Given that they will be doing all the labor-intensive lifting on your behalf, this package delivery firm might end up being your new best buddy.

You must make sure that your interactions with this business are professional and that they take great care to pack and transport your product as soon as feasible.

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You must do your research if you are an owner of an e-commerce business and want to create and keep strong working relationships with important vendors.

This entails mastering order management techniques and getting to know your salespeople. This will assist you in building trust, which will enhance your company’s entire relationship with its customers.

5. Pay Attention to What You Can Control in Inventory Management


Knowing when to say no to requests that are outside of your control is a key component of being a successful business owner.

We all experience times in life when we are so preoccupied with pressing matters that we neglect the essentials. One of the worst errors that companies commit frequently is focusing too much on outside factors and ignoring those that they can control.

The same applies to inventory management. You would prefer to have total control over every area of your business in an ideal world, but that is not always achievable.

You shouldn’t waste time and energy trying to influence external elements like the economy.  The weather or even a strike by your preferred manufacturer when it comes to inventory management.

Instead, it’s crucial that you concentrate on the things you can influence, try to spot the trends and patterns that are having an impact on your company, and modify your strategy and course of action as necessary.

6. Make the Most of Your Employees’ Potential for Inventory Management


Utilising your staff to the fullest extent is one of the finest strategies to manage your inventory. If you don’t have the staff, you can’t manage your inventory well.

Your team will get more knowledgeable about what is required and how to maintain track of the inventory as you use them more frequently.

The management of inventory cannot be left to just one or two persons. A complete department or team should be in charge of managing the inventory and shipping it to customers instead.

Make sure the person you have chosen for the job is qualified to do it and has received the appropriate instruction.

Find strategies to maximise the physical and mental capacities of your current personnel while maximising the usage of their physical labour.

For instance, if you have an employee in charge of inventory control who is also tasked with receiving and storing incoming goods, they can also take on the extra duties of billing and shipping.

You can improve collaboration while boosting the effectiveness of your entire operation by tearing down the barriers that exist between staff members.

7. Keep Your Regular Inventory Management Schedule

You may depend on some predictable patterns that emerge over time when you have a routine, and you are assured that you won’t be caught off guard.

Routines can help you stay on task and guarantee that you are as productive as you possibly can.

Establishing and constantly updating a routine for your inventory may assist ensure that you are always maximising your potential, just like in many other areas of your business.

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You must first choose how you will monitor and keep track of your inventory levels in order to correctly build and maintain a routine for your inventory.

There are several ways to accomplish this, but in the end, it all depends on how carefully you plan to keep track of the things you own.

Utilising an inventory management app for a mobile device is among the easiest and most efficient ways to accomplish this.

With the help of apps like Numi, you can use the smartphone’s camera to scan your things, essentially eliminating the need to manually record your inventory and guarantee that it is always up to date.

Most organisations today utilise a computerised inventory management system to keep track of the products they have on hand.

These techniques can assist you in determining whether any items are noticeably out of stock so that you can inform the store where you bought them of the problem.

These systems may also enable you to keep track of when merchandise is likely to sell out due to high demand so that you can get ready to rapidly replace your stock.

Accessing your sales and purchases from any device, anywhere, at any time is one of the key benefits of employing digital inventory management systems.

When using an online system, you can also set up automated replenishment orders that will be sent to you when your store runs out of a specific item.

How to Make Inventory Management Effective?

You must get organised and develop a clear understanding of the situation in order to manage your inventories successfully.

Making a list of every item in your store should be your first step. Both items that are in stock and those that are on the “buy now” or “hire now” list should be considered.

You will be able to quickly identify what supplies are running low on your shelves once you have this list.

This list can help you decide whether or not you need to get more of a certain item; at the absolute least, it will let you know which goods are running low so that you can find them and swiftly reorder them.

Knowing what is running low will help you anticipate future demand and make sure you have the supplies you need when you need them.

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Throughout the year, it’s crucial to maintain track of your inventory. This will prevent you from overwriting earlier entries and help you develop excellent habits. It will be OK to use a straightforward tracking method, such as a spreadsheet or notebook.

Inventory Management Order Control

You can address the order management issue once you have a clear image of your inventory. Make a buying schedule first, taking into account all the products you’ll require throughout the course of the year.

Better organise the schedule when you purchase. Planning the various distribution channels you’ll employ to advertise your products comes next. 

Some businesses are really inventive when it comes to their ordering processes.

Instead of using more conventional buy orders to manage inventory and order fulfillment, they try to develop their own internal workflows.

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For instance, if a product is out of stock at one of their warehouses, Amazon will place a buy order. After a product is ordered and put into the shopping cart, a purchase order is sent to the supplier. 

It is considerably easier if you take the time to manage orders effectively. To do this, careful planning and attention to detail are required.

Additionally, make careful to look for any signs of malfunction or error on the website of any fulfillment firm you use to execute your transactions.

Make sure your clients’ privacy and security are always appropriately protected. If you work with several vendors, be sure to have written agreements with each of them to ensure that all of your legal and financial responsibilities are met. 

Pay Particular Attention to Inventory Management Details

It is considerably easier if you take the time to manage orders effectively. This necessitates rigorous planning and attention to detail.

After receiving an order, you typically check off each item the customer wants as soon as possible. Once you’re done, you may send them an email letting them know that their order has been received and will be shipped out as soon as possible.

Always provide the tracking number so that the customer can monitor the status of their package. By doing this simple action, you can prevent unpleasant surprises after the shipment arrives.

Taking Advantage of Technology  for Inventory Management

If you store your inventory in a warehouse and have access to the internet, you can utilise technology to monitor inventory levels and ship orders more rapidly.

You can use technology to alert the appropriate parties when your storage units are almost full so they can clear out space for more items to be stored.

It also reduces the time you and your workers must spend hunting for storage space, which helps your financial situation.

By organising your store according to the above-mentioned best practises for inventory management, you may make it run smoothly.

Remember that inventory management is not a precise science, so you’ll need to experiment with various fluid management techniques to achieve the greatest results. 

To increase the profitability of your store, just make sure you’re continuously using the aforementioned advice.

To make sure that all of your legal and financial obligations are met while working with many vendors, secure written agreements. Additionally, this will help you avoid problems in the future.

Key Takeaway

Managing inventory is arguably the most important part of conducting a company online. It can be quite easy to reduce your risk while maximising your return on investment in the proper circumstances. 

However, if careful preparation and measurement are not taken, it may be simple to fall into the wrong hands and sustain a great deal of loss.

Adhering to the right guidelines, as described in this article, is the key to effective and efficient inventory management.

You may significantly reduce your risk of losing a sale due to insufficient inventory and increase your chance of running a profitable business by consistently reviewing your stock, concentrating on what you can control, and establishing a regular routine.


About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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