Sync Inventory Across All Your Channels
The number one question we hear from our customers every day is, “How do I keep my inventory in sync?” It’s a big job, but Channergy does it very, very well.
Let’s say you have 10 items in stock. You sell one on Amazon and two on ebay. Now you have 7 but Amazon says 9 (10-1=9) and ebay says 8 (10-2=8). Channergy solves this by being the central repository for all your inventory. It knows the actual inventory count and pushes that to each channel in “near real time”. So in this case Channergy would push 7 up to each channel.
That of course is the most simplistic example of syncing inventory. In the real world though it is much more complex. Following are 4 challenges our customers face every day and how Channergy handles them.
1. Multiple Inventory Locations
It’s easy to track stock when it’s all in one place. But how do you manage multiple warehouses, retail stores and third parties? The key to doing this right is managing all of your inventory in one application. When you try to sync between multiple systems (e.g., a warehouse management system and a retail pos) there is at best a delay and at worst incorrect counts that are nearly impossible to fix without a full physical inventory.
Channergy handles this problem with its Multiple Locations feature. Because all your sources are in the same system inventory updates are performed in real time. For example, if you sell an item in one store it immediately deducts from inventory and everyone can see it. If you sell something on a channel it deducts it from the same inventory being used by another channel so they both reflect the same remaining count. The same holds true for adding inventory to stock when you receive merchandise from a vendor or count inventory on the floor. Your inventory is in constant flux.
In the example above you can see how quantities are managed across multiple locations:
- Warehouse 3, Bin 10 has 4 items all available to sell online
- Cell Phones Etc. is a drop shipper with 3 items available to sell
- Wholesale Cell Phone Co. is a third party with 2 items available
- Retail Store 01 has 5 in stock but they are marked Not Available for Sale so they do not contribute to the total In Stock of 9
A lot is happening in this scenario. For online orders a total of 9 are available and as they sell in each location that number will decrease and upload to each channel.
Your drop shipper has 3 in stock that are part of the 9 you are offering on your channels. When those orders come in a Drop Ship PO is created to send the product directly to the customer (or to you to ship to the customer).
Your retail store has 5 in stock that you are not offering on your channels.
Even though you show 9 in stock the quantity you report on each listing to each channel can be different (See Artificial Counts below).
This is just one example of how Multiple Inventory Locations can be either a challenge when trying to manipulate multiple systems or a powerful tool when managed properly in a single app. It is something you cannot do with disparate systems and when you do it right means happy, informed customers that know you are reliable and buy again and again.
2. Non Saleable Inventory
We saw above an example of non saleable inventory (the Retail Store 01 inventory that is not included in online listings). There are many other instances where inventory may not be available for sale on every channel. Some examples include:
- Used or damaged merchandise that you can sell on ebay but not on Amazon
- Stock on hand that you do not want to list or sell yet (e.g., an early release of a movie or a preorder item)
- Inventory you keep and use for yourself (e.g., boxes, supplies etc.)
- Raw Materials that you will be turning into finished goods
- Non Inventory items – “Products” that are not tangible like messages and gift certificates or that you do not count like flyers or coupons
You need to track inventory for these items, but you do not want to accidentally list them on the wrong channel or sell your floor model in a store.
Channergy uses multiple features to manage all of these and many more:
- Granular listings mean you can specify what stock appears on which channels and how many – list your used/damaged merchandise only on specific ebay listings for example.
- Hold and Preorder dates prevent selling items too early.
- Any item can be marked “Not Available for Sale” for all or part of its inventory. These items will not clutter the order or POS screens in Channergy either.
- Using Assemblies (Kits), separate databases for Raw Materials or in a single database marking them “Not Available for Sale” and Work Orders and Pick Lists you can assemble finished goods and kits as they are ordered, in advance as separate products or both.
- Marking any product Non Inventory means you can sell it without worrying about quantities (i.e., you have an endless supply).
- Substitutions allow you to replace one item with alternative, similar products (e.g. replace a non saleable item with something just like it that is).
- Marking items Discontinued allows you to sell them until you reach a zero quantity so you don’t oversell.
Again having a single solution makes all the above so much easier. Want to sell that floor model online but keep it in the store until it does? No problem, list it on ebay and automatically email the store to pack it up and ship it when it sells. Or, if they sell it in the store Channergy will remove its ebay listing within minutes.
3. Drop Shippers
Do you drop ship (have other vendors send products directly to your customers)? Are some of your products stored in your warehouse and drop shipped if you run out of stock. Do you have multiple drop shippers for the same product? Do you want to order from the closest, fastest or cheapest drop shipper?
You can greatly expand your product line with drop shippers, but those services come with risk. What if a drop shipper runs out of stock or is slow to ship to your Amazon customer? Channergy manages drop shippers with multiple features within the program:
- Multiple Locations – Remember this one? Any location can be a drop shipper. You can also have more than one drop shipper for the same product and prioritize which one you want to use first. Or better yet let Channergy change the order of drop shippers based on your business rules (sort by cheapest first based on daily or hourly uploads, pick the most reliable based on time to ship from your order history etc.). You can manually choose a drop shipper during order entry too.
- Drop Ship PO’s – Have drop shipped items in an order? Create a Drop Ship Purchase Order on the spot and immediately email it as a PDF. Or let Channergy automatically send PO’s during or at the end of the day. You can partially or fully automate the entire drop ship process with Channergy including follow up emails to tardy shippers, retrieving shipping informations and tracking numbers, notifying customers of shipped orders and closing shipped orders. Let your retail store create drop ship orders right at the register too for a true Omni Channel customer experience.
- Import/Export – How do you know your drop shippers’ quantities on hand and available or new products? Channergy can automatically import data every day or even hourly from files sent to you by drop shippers or automatically downloaded via FTP or a vendor’s portal. It can then apply your business rules to sort them, change available quantities by channel and remove or demote non performing vendors.
Drop shipping works both ways. You can be a drop shipper for your customers too. But that’s a topic for another post. Need it now? Contact us.
4. Artificial Counts
What if you don’t want to commit all your inventory to each listing? Say you have 10 widgets in stock that you list on Amazon and ebay. You want to list all 10 on Amazon but only 3 on ebay. Or even list 10 on one Amazon listing 5 on another and varying quantities on multiple ebay and other listings. No problem, in Channergy every listing has its own quantity (and price) field. So you can specify whatever number you like for each one.
Doing that for each listing though would be a time consuming task. Channergy includes a powerful scripting tool that lets you specify quantities (and many, many other functions) for each of your listings based on your rules.
Set quantities equal to X% of one vendor’s quantity as it imports each day. Or use the total quantity less a % or quantity. Adjust the quantity as often as you like and with a combination of as many rules as you need.
Pricing works the same way so any listing can have a different price also based on your rules. Adjust prices based on your costs, MSRP or MAP, how many you have left in stock etc. And Channergy works with all repricer products so you can use those in place of or with your repricing rules.
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Inventory can get complicated. It’s not something you want to do manually or leave to batch importing or database connections. One slip and it’s a domino effect. Inventory gets out of sync and you can’t fill orders, customers are upset and you can lose valuable channels.
Channergy allows you to keep all your information in one place and manages counts in all your channels – online, in your retail stores and with third parties like drop shippers and vendors. Powerful scripting tools mean you can micromanage your counts on a massive scale, get the best prices and service from vendors and let customers know what’s happening every step of the way.
Your employees have as much access to this information as you wish (as controlled by security features) so they can answer customer questions on the phone, by email or in person with absolute assurance. And you can employ Omni Channel features once limited to costly enterprise or custom systems – ship to store, ship to customer, store pickup etc. Your customers expect you to know your own inventory and make their shopping experience a positive, repeatable one. Don’t let them down. Take control of your inventory and focus your resources on gaining more market share and providing world class customer service.
You might also like our whitepaper: “It’s OK, You can ship, and drop ship, and use FBA“