January 15, 2020
How to Master Your eBay Inventory Management To Avoid Headaches
This blog post was originally published by Deliverr, which is now Flexport. The content has been adjusted to fit the Flexport brand voice and tone, but all other information remains unchanged. With the merging of Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) into Flexport’s existing international freight and technology services, we’re now able to provide merchants with true end-to-end logistics solutions spanning from the factory floor to the customer’s door.
Your eBay inventory is one of your most important business assets. Not only are your products the lifeblood of your eBay business, but their storage, replenishment, and data can all increase your eBay sales and drive your profits.
So, how do you easily manage your inventory on eBay when you have so many other necessary tasks to complete?
The Importance of eBay Inventory Management
Before jumping into how to manage your inventory on eBay, we’re going to quickly recap the basics of inventory management.
Inventory management is the process of storing, monitoring, and replenishing your stock. The different approaches of inventory management range from the basics (sourcing products and updating stock levels) to more advanced tactics like streamlining your fulfillment operations and predicting future product performance.
However, inventory management can be time-consuming and challenging, especially when selling on multiple sales channels. Failure to stay on top of things can cause overselling, slow-moving stock, and the inability to maximize your profits to their full potential. This all makes proper inventory management crucial to your eBay success.
How To Manage Your Inventory on eBay
There are three main components of successful inventory management: physical, data, and sales management of your stock and its performance.
1. Physical Management
How you physically manage your eBay inventory can directly influence how well your products sell, the ROI from your warehouse space, and even whether you can ship items fast enough to qualify for eBay's fast shipping programs.
Successful physical management of your stock involves your SKUs themselves, warehouse locations, and the occasional audit.
SKU stands for “stock keeping unit” and is an alphanumeric code used to identify specific products. For example, when selling a medium-sized Christmas elf sweater, you might use the SKU 01-M-SW-CE-MED, which stands for:
- 01 = Clothing department
- M = Male
- SW = Sweater
- CE = Christmas elf
- M = Medium
The use of SKUs helps you to manage three aspects of your inventory:
- Stock levels: By identifying specific products, you can accurately track stock levels to ensure that you’re not over or underselling products on eBay.
- Efficiency: By using a well-structured SKU format, you can help warehouse employees identify and pick products more quickly, leading to faster delivery speeds.
- Replenishment: By tracking stock levels using SKUs, you can set re-order triggers that prevent you from selling out.
The physical location of your eBay inventory can help you manage your stock and serve your customers better.
For example, a single warehouse location next to your office does not make it harder and more expensive to send orders nationwide, and is prone to overflows during peak seasons, leading to damaged items and missing stock. You can avoid this by using multiple warehouse locations across the country and organizing your warehouses so that fast-moving stock is easily accessible and slow-moving stock is out of the way.
Tip: If you don’t yet have the money to fund additional warehouse locations, you can split stock between your warehouse and that of an outsourced eBay fulfillment partner.
A final but essential part of the physical management of your eBay inventory is auditing. Regularly auditing your stock enables you to confirm your stock levels, remove damaged items, and identify missing and slow-moving stock to free up or reduce warehouse space.
2. Data Management
The data management of your eBay inventory is what most sellers think of when talking about inventory management. Data management involves recording, updating, and analyzing valuable information about your stock. For example, it'll include batch numbers, expiry dates, stock levels, re-order points, and the time spent in your warehouse.
There are three main methods of managing your inventory data, ranging from manual spreadsheets to automated software.
Spreadsheets are an accessible and affordable way for small sellers and those just starting to monitor their inventory. They're quick and free to implement and can help new sellers get off the ground with some form of tracking.
However, the success of data management relies upon timely and accurate updating, which can make spreadsheets unsuitable for growing or busy e-retailers. It also takes up more of your team's time having to manually input information and opens up your data to human error.
eBay Selling Manager Pro
eBay Selling Manager Pro is an advanced version of eBay’s Selling Manager, costing $15.99 per month. It comes with in-built inventory management features that allow you to track your inventory and set replenish reminders, alongside other advanced seller tools.
This is ideal for medium-volume eBay sellers fulfilling orders in-house, but its lack of third-party integrations makes it unsuitable for multi-channel sellers or those using a third-party fulfillment provider.
Inventory management software
Inventory management software can help you manage your eBay inventory by automating certain tasks, such as auto-syncing stock levels, re-ordering new stock, and updating your warehouse systems. These tools are designed to make inventory management easy and are filled with various features you would find useful.
Due to the robust nature of some of these tools, the software usually comes at a cost, but you can influence that figure by choosing a platform specific to your needs. For example, you can choose eBay-specific listing tools, or if you sell on multiple marketplaces, multi-channel listing tools.
3. Sales Management
The final part of successful eBay inventory management is using your physical processes and inventory data to influence your future eBay sales positively.
You can achieve this by shifting slower stock, predicting sales trends, and getting on fast shipping programs.
Shifting slow-moving stock
Your physical audits and inventory management data should quickly identify any products that are spending too long in your warehouse and aren’t selling well on eBay.
Use this information to reduce prices, create discounted bundles, or run sales that encourage customers to purchase this stock to make room for your better sellers.
Predicting sales trends
The reports you generate from your inventory management data should also enable you to pinpoint which of your products sell best, and when.
This information can help you to predict trends to accurately price and stock products for the future, ensuring that you always have enough products to meet and take advantage of demand.
Qualifying for eBay Fast N' Free
By using your new inventory management systems to ensure that your stock levels are accurate and that your warehouse staff can quickly locate and pick stock, you can increase your chances of meeting the 97% on-time handling rate for eBay Fast N' Free guaranteed delivery.
It’s easy to think that managing your eBay inventory simply involves re-ordering new products and updating your stock numbers. But, with the potential to streamline fulfillment, reduce wastage, and increase sales, investing time in managing your inventory can seriously and pay off.
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