When you’re running an e-commerce business, the last thing you want is to have one or more items out of stock. This creates a poor impression for potential customers and frustration for existing customers that want to buy.
With so many e-commerce options out there, customers are spoiled for choice. They don’t have to rely on you. Unless what you sell is unique, they can easily find someone to supply them with what they want. And every business has competitors that would be only too pleased to step in and supply their customers.
Having stock problems can literally be life and death for an e-commerce business. That’s true, no matter what your size or how long you’ve been in business.
It’s not easy running an e-commerce business either. There are so many different aspects to manage, including warehousing, fulfillment, and customer service. And customer expectations are higher than ever. They expect that goods will be available when they want them. They expect that they can buy whenever they want to, even if it’s the middle of the night.
If a customer has a poor experience with your business, they are highly likely to switch to a competitor and never return.
Those are big stakes and you need to be on top of your stock and ensure a constant supply of your goods.
However, there is a solution. Instead of trying to manage everything yourself, you can invest in a complete e-commerce solution that takes care of everything for you.
How to keep items in stock and meet customer demand
Unless you’re highly experienced, running an e-commerce business without help can be hard. You need well-managed warehousing to store your goods. You need to manage stock and ensure prompt and accurate picking and packing. And of course, customers expect you to deliver their goods quickly and on time.
It is possible to do all that yourself, but you will need to invest in warehouse space and a crack team to ensure goods are received, tracked, and shipped out on time. That costs money and takes up a lot of time. Time that you could be spending on growing your business and creating an amazing customer experience.
However, with a complete e-commerce solution, you can focus on where you want your business to go and what you want to achieve. You can let an experienced team handle the day-to-day running of your business, while you view the big picture and move towards your goals.
The added advantage of that is that your stock is managed for you. You have software in place to ensure you have enough stock to fulfill orders. You have teams in place to make sure it gets to your customers in a timely manner.
Instead of customers visiting your site and finding “out of stock” notices, they find what they want and need. This immediately creates a better customer experience.
1) Professional warehousing
With a third party logistics (or 3PL) company, you can leave warehousing to people who do it day in and day out.
Benefit from warehouses across the country, or even the world, so that you can provide local fulfillment for your customers with lower shipping costs. Professional warehouse management allows for goods to be sourced from different warehousing to fulfill a single order. It’s highly efficient and effective.
Professional warehousing also allows for careful management of where to store goods and when to move them. This can reduce your costs and provide for a greater profit margin.
When you don’t have to do everything yourself, it’s also possible to provide a larger range of products. You can offer your customers more choices and more opportunities to buy from you. And you have the peace of mind that your goods will still be in stock and available.
3PL companies often have deals with shipping companies to get the best price for shipping. This could enable you to not only ensure good stock levels, but to offer free or faster shipping.
Some 3PL companies also provide quality software that tracks your inventory and notifies you when your stock needs reordering. From this, you can also learn which items are the most popular and which may not be selling well enough.
2) Picking and Packing
It takes good processes and a lot of work to ensure that every product is easily accessible when needed. It’s also important to ensure that the goods picked are correct, no matter what the size of the order. You don’t need disappointed customers that have received less than they wanted or the wrong goods altogether.
3PL companies have the staff, experience and the management systems to provide a smooth, error-free service. This benefits both you and the customer.
In addition, some companies have software that can decide the best packaging for an item. This can reduce waste which, of course, is good for the environment, as well as your pocket.
Customers are increasingly concerned about the environment. They don’t like to see excess packaging and small items arriving in huge boxes. With professional software, you can ensure this doesn’t happen, which can differentiate you from the competition.
Because of professional management in warehousing, picking, and packing, it’s possible to ship more quickly. Not only are your goods in stock constantly, and stock levels managed, but customers receive their goods quickly.
You can also offer more shipping options to your customers, including next-day delivery. And we’ve already mentioned that 3PL companies often have negotiated deals with shipping companies for cheaper shipping.
While shipping isn’t directly related to stock levels, it is an important part of the overall customer experience.
With the right complete e-commerce solution, your business can scale more easily. You can reach more customers and provide a greater range of products. You can also track stock and ship orders more efficiently and provide an excellent customer experience.
Given current customer expectations and their willingness to switch to competitors over a poor experience, a focus on customer experience is always a good thing.