Tips for stock management in ecommerce

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Angela de la Vieja

For consumers, the omni- channel commerce of brands is a much appreciated situation because it allows them to buy in multiple points of sale, both virtual and physical, directly to the brand in question or through other multi-brand channels with absolute comfort.

But for brands the omni-channel commerce is a headache, a complex puzzle with a key piece: stock management.

Stock management impacts on finance, trade policy, storage space and logistics, just to mention some of the most important points. But in addition to management knowledge, which is essential, it requires three essential skills: the vision of the stock as an asset, an analytical attitude and focus on the customer.


1.- The vision of the stock as an asset

The stock of products for an ecommerce is one of the biggest assets of the business, but if not managed properly it can become a drag.

Understanding the stock as an asset implies commitment and that commitment is put into practice by analysing the movement of stocks in detail. It is essential to understand both the fast rotations of goods as well as the slow movements and, above all, the causes of these movements. To master this dynamic of movements within the warehouse, we must monitor what happens outside the warehouse, study and predict the demand.

It is advisable to go even further, since monitoring tools allow us to monitor the competition´s stocks and predict commercial actions of the competitors that can influence our own sales and prices.

This extensive monitoring of competition allows demand forecasting to be very accurate and stock management more efficient.


2.- The analytical attitude

Understanding what and how it has been sold in the past is not only key to stock management, it is critical to sales. And to understand what has happened, you need attitude and analytical tools.

On the one hand, we must take an analytical attitude to the search for improvements and optimization of digital sales permanently. Review and update product images, study product descriptions and expand them to measure their impact, analyse top-sellers products and raise different forms of digital merchandising by category, etc.

On the other hand, there is the analytical attitude to study the data in depth. See the historical behaviour of sales, the evolution of stocks, the comparative prices of the competition, annual seasonality, and peak sales by events, etc. These are all multiple ways to monitor all past activity to define future actions.


3.- Focus on the customer

Cross-selling and up selling actions can be very attractive, since they could allow us to increase sales and invigorate stocks. But, even if the need to move the stock is urgent, we should never lose sight of the real need of the customer. A study published in the Harvard Business Review (Thedarksideofcrossselling) warns of the risks of focusing on products or sales without understanding the real need of the customer.

The study reveals four different groups of buyers (called Service demanders, Revenue reversers, Promotion maximizers and Spending limiters), who are very sensitive to cross-selling but end up causing losses to companies.

Stock management needs technology, but also a firm commitment and a clear vision: the best product is the one in the hands of a satisfied customer.

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