This is a guest post from Steve Kietz of Reliant Funding.
If a business can manage its inventory and cash flow, it’ll likely continue to grow. However nearly half of small businesses in the U.S. don’t track inventory or do so manually.1 These businesses are missing out on a major opportunity as there are many easy-to-use technology solutions for inventory management. These solutions can help monitor and report sales, stock levels, merchant relationships, supply, demand and other business vitals. Here are some tips to get you started.
Choosing your inventory management method
Will you manage your inventory in-house or will your business use a drop shipping alternative? We’ll look at the pros and cons of each, so you can see what’s right for you.
In-house team advantages
- You own and control the products and always know how much of each item you have in stock.
- Since you are not dependent on any middlemen to resolve issues, customer service can be taken care of quickly.
- Your own team will better understand the business's values and communication systems. This considerably reduces the chance of important information getting lost.
In-house team disadvantages
- You will have to bear upfront costs including the cost of inventory and the warehouse space before the products are sold. These costs will only increase as the business grows.
- Whether you sell the inventory or not, you will have to pay for the recurring costs like storage fees, labor costs and loss of liquidity.
Drop shipping advantages
- The biggest advantage of drop shipping is low upfront and investment costs.
- The overhead expenses for inventory you choose to dropship are low because you don't have to purchase inventory and manage the warehouse.
- Drop shipping also allows you to do business from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection to communicate with customers and coordinate with suppliers.
- It is easier to scale with a drop shipping business because, even if you receive twice the number of orders on week two than week one, you will still be able to take them—most of the inventory management will be done by the suppliers.
Drop shipping disadvantages
- Doing business in a highly competitive drop shipping vertical means you'll be getting very low margins.
- When you source items from multiple warehouse that are also fulfilling orders from other sellers, inventory can change daily.
- There is a chance that you might face shipping complexities since the same item might occasionally have to be sourced from two different suppliers, even for the same customer.
- Suppliers sometimes make mistakes in shipment for which you must take responsibility and apologize—which can damage your businesses reputation.
The essentials: tech and tools
Having a payment gateway that dovetails with your inventory management solution makes things much easier to manage. This is where a platform like Authorize.Net comes into play. Authorize.Net enables businesses to accept payments online, over the phone, in person and more. And their payment solutions can be integrated with inventory management tools.
In addition to inventory management, Authorize.Net and their partners can help improve the buying experience. According to Forbes, consumers want their buying experience to be personal. If it is easy and convenient for the customer to purchase your product then you’ll likely retain them.
Once you have a record of what should be in your inventory, you can use a tactic like a physical inventory count or cycle counting to make sure everything is aligned. Choosing a tech solution that provides reporting will help when it’s time to audit your stock.
If you find that the numbers are off, there are a few actions to try before panicking:
- First, do another physical re-count and take your time.
- Make sure to replace any faded labels or product IDs that can easily be misread with new ones to increase accuracy.
- Lastly, ensure that the units of measure you are using in reporting are the same units used when counting.
After the audit is complete, it is time to analyze the results and find trends to determine what stock will be re-ordered.
Having a functioning inventory management system requires a business owner to oversee a lot of moving pieces. But if you choose the right payment management system, track sales and audit your stock, your business is on the path to success.
To learn more, check out Reliant Funding’s Complete Inventory Management Guide.
About Reliant Funding
Reliant Funding provides customized, short-term funding to small and mid-sized businesses nationwide. Headquartered in San Diego with an office in New York, Reliant Funding has surpassed $1.5 billion in total funding and has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as part of the 5000 fastest growing privately held companies in America for seven consecutive years. Adam Stettner, the Founder of Reliant Funding, was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019. For more information, please visit www.reliantfunding.com.
Reliant Funding is not owned or operated by Visa Inc., Authorize.net or its affiliates.