Cloud inventory management: A guide to simplifying the way you sell
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Originally Posted On: Cloud Inventory Management: Simplifying the Way You Sell | QuickBooks (intuit.com)
When it comes to business software in 2021, it’s all about the cloud. Namely, how will making the move to manage your business operations—like inventory—on the cloud help your business run more smoothly?
Moving your inventory management to a cloud-based software can streamline your operations, helping you work more productively and save valuable time. It can also improve one crucial aspect of your small business operations: the sales process. Doing this has a direct and positive impact on your bottom line. How exactly will the cloud help you with sales? By simplifying how you do business.
Managing your inventory and sales channels with cloud software streamlines the process and eliminates factors that can slow down and over complicate your sales processes. This includes everything from out-of-date stock information to long-winded sales processes that require a lot of manual oversight. Using cloud software this way also makes your job as a business owner much easier.
Let’s take a closer look at what cloud inventory management is and why your business should get on board.
What is cloud inventory management?
Cloud-based inventory management is software that handles inventory management tasks like:
- Inventory tracking
- Order fulfillment tracking
- Updating inventory levels on your sales platforms
- Alerting you when inventory is low
- Tracking sales information
And with web-based inventory control, everything is updated in real time and stored on the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing data.
Simplifying the way you sell
Still on the fence about whether your business can benefit from a web-based inventory management software? Consider these six ways such software can simplify the way you sell:
1. Track stock movements easily, accurately, and automatically
It’s time to drop your Excel spreadsheet. Using cloud software means that your inventory information is all in one place. This means your stock is updated in real time and tracked wherever it goes. Thus, you don’t have to worry about an unexpected stockout due to outdated information, nor be surprised when a big order leaves you with empty shelves. The cumulative impact of these, by the way, is much larger than you might think. More specifically, these issues equate to approximately $1 trillion in lost revenue every year across the globe.
A software that features automatic stock tracking takes care of the basics of good inventory management, providing you with real-time updates on inventory levels. Real-time information alleviates the need for guesswork when it comes to what you have on hand. You’ll know exactly what you have available to sell right now, helping you avoid disappointing customers and allowing your team to provide better customer service.
With a cloud-based inventory management solution like QuickBooks Commerce, automation is the heart of its functionality. Not only does it track inventory levels across different sales platforms, but it can also set up reorder points, so it’ll restock for you. Plus, it helps eliminate human errors that lead to frustrating issues.
With QuickBooks Commerce, you also gain access to informative reports. With these insights, you’ll be able to identify patterns, such as seasonal dips or month-end spikes. Then, you can take this information to conduct forecasting and plan for the future, helping you avoid overstocking or understocking inventory.
2. Quicker sales orders
Cloud-based inventory management software can help you fulfill sales orders faster because it makes it significantly easier to create purchase orders and track sales. This is especially true for B2B sales for wholesalers. Streamlining order management can only benefit your business by shortening the order lifecycle. Not only are sales and purchase orders created quickly, but they can also sync with your accounting software. This means your accounting system is automatically updated and you can use the time spent recording sales transactions elsewhere.
Why is this a big deal? According to recent research, sales representatives only spend about 35% of their time engaged in selling activities. The bulk of their time is spent on administrative tasks and paperwork. However, with cloud-based inventory management software, you can streamline and even automate many of these responsibilities. This functionality lets you cut down on the repetitive tasks that eat up valuable time and resources, and your sales process becomes much more efficient.
Our B2B e-commerce platform takes a traditionally long-winded wholesale sales process and makes it much faster.
3. More efficient order fulfillment
With cloud inventory management, you can achieve fulfillment optimization. This means that you can fulfill orders faster and more efficiently, which has the added advantage of allowing you to start selling more.
Your warehouse or 3PL gets the updated information it needs, and pick and pack lists are generated almost immediately, allowing for quicker shipping. When you take those orders as they come and fulfill them like a pro, it gets easier to continue selling and focus on customer satisfaction.
According to ShipStation, customers are willing to wait about 5 to 8 days for their delivery. So, the fact that your cloud inventory management can help cut back on shipping time will go a long way in improving customer satisfaction.
That said, there’s a caveat—customers also want better communication and status updates from businesses. However, streamlining your order fulfillment process will free up your time so you can focus on customer communication.
4. Tools that help you make the sale
For most cloud inventory management systems, it’s not just about managing your inventory—they’re also equipped with tools that make selling easier. For example, if you were to choose a tool like QuickBooks Commerce, you’ll benefit from features that go above and beyond basic inventory management.
With QuickBooks Commerce, you can:
- Stay up-to-date on inventory levels and sales data
- Manage all your sales channels on one platform
- Create and update listings across all channels
- Easily add new sales platforms
- Track inventory and order fulfillment
- Get access to powerful insights into your sales data
With this added functionality, your site will be up-to-date and fully stocked, so your customers can find what they need, when they need it. Additionally, you and your team will be in the best position to make sales based on real-time information.
Keep in mind that running an e-commerce business is much more complicated than a retail business. Retailers, after all, have the advantage of dealing with the customer in person. For example, they can render the product at the point of sale and use barcode scanners to instantly update sales data. Having the right business tools can help you overcome this challenge in your e-commerce business.
5. Improved communication
Improved communication across the company always simplifies the sales process and overall supply chain management. A cloud-based system lets you and your team see real-time updates and manage e-commerce sales for all your online stores from a single, well-organized platform. This lets you make sure you’re on the same page and communicate better internally and externally. For example, if you use a 3PL, they’ll be working from the same information as your warehouse staff, who’ll be working with the same information as you. The same applies to your distributors. Plus, with a cloud-based system, your team can access the platform from wherever they need—whether that’s by laptop or mobile device.
Better communication throughout all your processes can never be a bad thing. It can help ensure your team is on top of orders and can provide your customers with the best experience. Improved communication can also help you avoid common sales pitfalls for growing businesses. For example, it’s not uncommon for orders to fall through the cracks from time to time when communication isn’t streamlined. However, with automated processes and status updates, you’ll be able to prevent such mishaps—at least most of the time.
You’ll also be able to make more accurate forecasts and use this information to guide high-level, strategic decisions, such as deciding:
- Which markets to expand into
- What new product lines to push out
As your sales grow and you’re ready to scale, these insights will become invaluable in helping your team work together toward that goal.
6. Intelligence for better sales decisions
If you move to an inventory management solution on the cloud like QuickBooks Commerce, you’ll have access to real-time sales data and intelligence reports.
Intelligence reports provide you with plenty of useful information, such as:
- Performance metrics, like what your bestsellers are and which products aren’t selling
- Insights into your customers’ behaviors
- Inventory data, like how stock moves
- Seasonal trends
Based on this information, you’re in a better position to make decisions for your company, including:
- Which products you should continue to invest in and which ones you might want to discontinue
- When you should plan to stock more inventory and when you can afford to get by on minimal stock
- Setting pricing based on which price levels seem to be most effective in driving sales
- Which sales channels you should focus the majority of your efforts on and which should be secondary concerns
- When to restock and how to plan for it financially
- At what stock level you should reorder for each product
With reports like those generated by QuickBooks Commerce, your sales decisions are no longer blind guesses, but really intelligent, data-driven actions.
Is cloud-based inventory software a worthwhile investment?
Based on these six ways that cloud-based inventory management tools can streamline your sales process and help you sell more, we’d say yes. Think of how much more efficient your workflows will be and how much you can save with better decision-making.
Long story short: Don’t think of moving to the cloud with your inventory as something that will only affect your inventory management processes. The cloud also simplifies how you’ll sell, freeing up time that used to be spent on manual processes and providing better information for your product.
How to get started: Equip your business with the latest technology
Don’t sit back while your competitors invest in the latest technology, build up loyal customers, and establish themselves in the market. Take your business to the next level with an advanced system that can help you across the board. With better inventory management processes, you’ll have more time, resources, and information to drive sales. Not only that, but you’ll be in a better position to make sales and inventory decisions that can benefit you now and in the future.
Get started with QuickBooks Commerce today to see how it can streamline your business operations, empower you to increase sales, and significantly grow your business. With an easy-to-use interface, integration with QuickBooks Online, and real-time tracking and updates, you’ll soon see just how much this all-in-one platform can simplify your business.