Of all the things your fulfillment service does for you that you barely notice, inventory management may be the most complicated and most invisible.
A really good 3rd party logistics (3PL) company can provide you with the end results—happy customers and useful data—without you ever having to count another box or check off another list of SKUs. For some companies, keeping an accurate inventory can be a reason in and of itself to hire a 3PL, but that’s not all that highly accurate inventory management from your fulfillment service can do for you.
It comes with these benefits, too:
Fewer sold out items and disappointed customers. There’s nothing as disappointing for customers as finally making up their mind to purchase a particular item in your shop only to get an email later that tells them that it’s on backorder.
Not only will that customer be upset, they’ll be less likely to want to buy from you in the future since they’re unsure if that situation will happen again. Instead of leaving your customers to wonder if they’ll be having to scramble for replacement birthday gifts, a highly accurate inventory count via tight inventory management means high customer satisfaction and lots of very happy birthdays.
A better finger on the pulse of customer purchasing habits. Every so often, it pays to go over your inventory reports to figure out which products are really flying off the shelves and which are taking up space. If an item hasn’t seen order fulfillment in a while, it’s safe to say it’s not an item your customers care about and could be replaced with something similar to more popular products, or something entirely different as a trial. Either way, using your inventory management reports to freshen up your shop show your customers that you’re still in touch with their needs and wants—you can still deliver, both metaphorically and literally.
Huge savings on rotated and returned inventory. Poor inventory control really shows when your reverse logistics come into play. Returned items have to get back into inventory circulation quickly, or risk being too out of style (or expired!) to sell again. If your inventory management system is top notch, your returns won’t end up costing you an arm and a leg.
Rotated inventory works in much the same way. Since this is inventory that has a set expiration date, like cosmetics or vitamins, the window for selling it can be narrow. Your inventory management system has to know not only how many of what products you have, but when each item expires and which needs to be picked first.
You may rely on your 3PL’s inventory management more than you realize, but that’s the point with a good fulfillment service. The more invisible the process, the more hassle-free your day and the better you can focus on pushing more customers toward your sales funnel.