Ecommerce stock control – 3 ideas

Before Christmas I spent an enjoyable pint or two with a multi-channel ecommerce seller of my acquaintance and, both being boring bastards, we discussed all sorts of issues of huge and vital relevance to people who sell online and generally set the ecommerce world to rights. As we drank more pints, the topics and ideas became more vital. Obviously.

We talked about stock discipline for sellers. She made three points that I actually remembered and scribbled down on a beermat for a future Tamebay post.

Bear in mind this is an established seller with more than a few year’s success, and with quite a few suppliers, turning over a significant sum each week.

How much stock do you need?
She works with two part timers and takes delivery from one supplier twice a week. She also keeps a close eye on what she sells. As part of a regular review of the business she noticed that for several particular lines that sell well, and as regular as clockwork, she was holding a) more stock than she was likely to sell in a month b) more than she had listed for sale on eBay and Amazon and c) stock that she could have replenished with her regular order within (tops) 72 hours.

It’s a simple issue of cashflow and efficiency. She cut down the stock she was holding and now merely replenishes when needed now. Not just because one item has sold. Less stock on hand, using up valuable space. Win. You might be doing the same.

Do you know what your suppliers have?
By chance, my chum was in the area of her supplier, so she dropped by. The most obliging sales rep took her for a good old nosey around the warehouse and by jove, imagine, she found things in the warehouse that weren’t listed in the suppliers online or offline catalogue.

Good news for everyone: she took order there and then of a dozen new lines and loaded up the 4×4. Everybody happy. She reports that one line was a surprise Christmas bestseller hit.

Does your supplier know what they have?
She also made enquiries about a few specific lines she wanted to sell on another occasion. Her several suppliers said that they didn’t have the stuff in question. Being a dogged lady of an inquisitive nature my friend bought the items in question on eBay herself in search of who did actually supply them to her competitors.

It turned out her suppliers did indeed have the items in question but her contact/rep didn’t know.

You all doubtless all have countless similar experiences when dealing with your suppliers, but the broad notion to takeaway is an obvious one: it makes sense to keep ’em peeled when dealing with suppliers. Fortune favours the brave.