e-commerce & Stock Management

Following the impact of Covid-19 many businesses looked for new ways to sell their products. During the period when the majority of us were forced to stay at home, it was very difficult for traditional retailers to trade. This saw a rapid upturn in e-commerce sales, businesses looking for a new store front to attract their buyers. This saw a rapid upturn in e-commerce sales, businesses looking for a new store front to attract their buyers. During the pandemic many businesses have seen the benefit to trading online and have continued to trade online, even though their traditional outlets are operational again.

However, the combination of e-commerce and retail outlet sales brings new problems to many businesses. How to manage stock. Their retail outlet business model is well established and once outlets re-opened this method of operation resumed. But how does the business take account of the new e-commerce sales?

There are many e-commerce solutions available, that can be adopted quickly and effectively, providing a new online storefront for a business. Some examples are Zettle, WiX, Bluepark, Shopify and SAP. Not all provide the same functionality, not all integrate with existing business systems.

In the rush to get something setup, and keep sales moving, it is often the case that businesses now have two separate methods of selling, both of which need a stock level. But the overall stock is the same. It is not good business practice to allocate 100 widgets for sale on-line and then run out of stock in the shop. The overall stock should be made available to both retail outlet and e-commerce sales, providing the maximum opportunity to sell.

So, what needs to be done?

To maintain the maximum sales opportunity, we can see that there could be a lot of work in manually maintaining the stock levels between the retail outlet and e-commerce systems. How often should this be done, should it be hourly, daily or weekly? Mistakes are easily made; sales online could easily be mis-keyed and result in the retail outlet stock being reduced incorrectly.

Should the retail outlet system be replaced by the e-commerce system? Depending on the selected e-commerce system this may not be a viable option as the only method for recording a sale is likely to be structured for a remote customer and require unnecessary input for retail sales.

The solution? Integration. There needs to be a link between the retail outlet and the e-commerce system, keeping track of all sales and automatically maintaining the overall stock level. Many e-commerce systems will already integrate with other solutions, but if yours isn’t listed never fear they also come with interface hooks (APIs) that allow external systems to interact with the data they maintain. These API ‘hooks’ open the door to seamless integration between existing retail systems, accounts, stock systems and an e-commerce system.

For more information on how SP Data Services can help you integrate your systems, contact us at contact@spdataservices.com