Inside this article
Stock control is not an easy task for any online store. In fact, according to the latest Feed Marketing Report, 16% of all online products are out of stock.
However, online stores that control their inventory and act in accordance tend to experience less stockouts and overstocking, and dispose of their facilities in a more efficient manner. This helps with reducing human errors and managing stock at the lowest possible cost while providing the best purchasing experience to customers.
Learn the concept of stock control and discover four ultimate methods you need to manage your stock efficiently.
What is stock control?
Stock control — or inventory control — is the process of ordering, tracking, receiving, and even dispatching inventory.
Without this fundamental element of the supply chain, businesses risk running out of stock unexpectedly, which would mean not fulfilling orders in time (or having too much inventory, which would result in unnecessary costs).
There are several ways to achieve stock control in a company. Depending on the nature of products, the stock turnover, and the size of the company, inventory control methods and optimal stock levels may vary.
4 methods for efficient stock control
Stock management includes different tasks such as counting, ordering, and restocking inventory, and forecasting the demand to ensure optimal stock levels. These four stock control methods help businesses streamline their inventory management to achieve the perfect stock levels at all times.
1. Stock count
Stock count, also known as stocktaking, is the process of counting inventory. This task (traditionally done manually) can be automated thanks to stock management software. By automating the stock count, companies can:
- Save resources (time and money)
- Prevent bottlenecks due to stockouts
- Keep optimal stock levels
- Avoid overstocking
- Provide an outlet for dead stock
- Discover stock issues
To properly count stock, you need to decide the frequency you will be stocktaking, who the person in charge of it will be, and set up the process. Stock counting is a process that can be interfered with by sales, which is the reason why carrying it out should be done once sales are separated from warehouse stock.
2. Stock monitoring
Similar to stock counts is the task of stock monitoring. However, stock monitoring is a process that should be automatically done on a daily basis. Thanks to the implementation of stock management software, companies can even create alerts to receive a notification when stock levels are too low or too high.
In order to have an automatic system to monitor stock, you’ll need to implement a classification system — such as a barcode system or a SKU system.
Stock monitoring helps businesses solve discrepancies to gain inventory control and plan the reception of new products and materials.
3. Inventory planning
Another important element in the management of warehouse operations is inventory planning. To schedule the replenishment of stock, it’s essential to implement processes that take care of the previous phases, stock counting, and stock monitoring. Only in this way will a business be capable of knowing what needs to be ordered, the amount of items still in stock, and which products are likely to be categorized as “dead stock”.
When it comes to inventory planning, businesses need the necessary information for proper decision-making. This information starts by stating the exact stock turnover of every product and how this changes depending on the season.
These factors will determine when items are restocked, how often, and in what quantity.
4. Track inventory
Last, but not least, you need to track inventory throughout the supply chain. Keeping track of where stock is (picking, packing, shipping, or return management) helps every organization that wants to gain stock control and keep stock levels as cost-efficient as possible.
Tracking inventory can be as simple as scanning products during the picking and packing process, having a tracking portal to follow the location and status of orders, and even creating an automated portal to manage returns.
All of these features are available to any online store that uses Outvio as part of their eCommerce operations.
What is the golden rule of stock control?
Adequate stock control sets the tone of your inner operations and are essential for the success of your online store. The golden rule of stock control is to get the quantity and the frequency of re-stocking activities right, keeping costs as low as possible without compromising profitability and growth.
The way to do this is simple: automate processes and be organized at all times.
What is a good method of stock rotation?
Retailers invested in inventory control and correct stock rotation fluctuate towards the FIFO (“first in, first out”) method. This method to control stock and implement a correct stock rotation system is ideal for businesses operating with a high stock turnover, such as companies selling food products or items with a high purchase rate.
FIFO can be also useful for online stores during high seasons like Black Friday or Christmas.
Why is stock rotation important for stockout articles?
Having a healthy stock rotation frequency prevents bottlenecks in the supply chain. These can affect the fulfillment of orders due to stockout articles and the reputation of an online store. The impact of stockout articles on brand image is especially relevant for online stores with a smaller catalog since potential buyers can feel like their purchasing options are too limited when they go to the website to place an order.
Finding the balance between having enough stock and keeping inventory costs to a minimum is the key to achieving the right stock rotation for your business.
Why is stock control important?
Stock control influences how productive and efficient an online store is since, without stock, fulfilling orders in a timely manner is impossible.
Stock control starts by organizing the inventory in a smart way that makes sense for the nature of your products and rotation of each item. To effectively do this, you’ll need to analyze more than your products: you also need to know your customers’ purchasing habits.
Moreover, as your business grows, you may want to sell across multiple channels (creating an omnichannel eCommerce strategy). If this is your case, you’ll find that having all your sales and marketing channels connected to show updated information about your stock levels is fundamental when you want to build customer loyalty and retention.
Stock management software
As we pointed out at the beginning of this article, stock control can be done manually. However, the biggest players of the eCommerce industry are showing a clear tendency towards implementing advanced technologies to automate the process, prevent human errors, and improve efficiency.
Stock control management software systems automatically track stock levels by considering orders coming from different channels, online or offline. But the advantages of using a stock control management software don’t stop there since they can improve interdepartmental communication and customer satisfaction, thanks to the reduction of stockouts and dead stock in the warehouse.
Depending on the needs of each online store, you’ll need to look for certain features in your stock management software. This is something to take into consideration when looking for the best inventory management software.
Choose the best stock management software for your business and connect your online store to Outvio to further optimize your internal operations, from order processing to shipping, tracking, and return management.
Outvio helps online stores of all sizes to increase efficiency and brand awareness by streamlining processes. It also enables businesses to take control of their post-checkout communications with branded tracking, return portals, and customizable communications via email, SMS, Facebook, and Whatsapp, among others.
Stock control and inventory management are tasks that should be part of any successful eCommerce store’s daily activities.
After discovering the best methods for adequate stock control (stocktaking or stock counting, stock monitoring, inventory planning, and tracking inventory), it is much easier to prevent stockouts and overstocking, as well helps with disposing of dead stock sooner.
In a nutshell, any online store that is interested in optimizing operations, reducing discrepancies that result in unnecessary costs, and providing the best purchasing experience to customers with timely orders & updated stock availability should be automating their stock.
If you are just starting out and your business doesn’t process a large amount of orders or deal with a considerable quantity of stock, controlling stock can be done manually. However, as your operations grow, you’ll need to automate the process with stock management software. The cost of these tools vary depending on their functionalities, so choosing the right system for you is a matter of budget, needs, and research.