Even the largest and most successful eCommerce companies in the world could not exist without an effective inventory management system. They all started with a dream and a plan, followed by some pretty successful execution.
Here are 5 of the largest eCommerce companies that can attribute much of their growth to having effective inventory management.
Amazon began as an online bookstore and has since blossomed into the website that can deliver anything and everything we could want or need in a matter of hours. So how did they get there?
Just three years after they launched the Amazon online bookstore, so many orders were coming in that they had to open another distribution center in Delaware in 1997. This was the first step towards being able to fulfill orders coast to coast more easily. Over time they began to allow third-party sellers in their marketplace, which has turned into their different types of sellers. In addition to third-party sellers, they also offer Amazon prime, Fulfilled by Amazon, and Fulfilled by Seller accounts.
All of which require inventory management on different levels. For sellers to show as in stock on Amazon.com, they must upload their inventory amounts from their warehouse into Amazon’s internal inventory management system. Amazon does the same thing on their end for their warehouses.
For accurate inventory to show in-time on their site, especially for precise delivery times and Prime shipments, they use advanced technology to communicate from their website to their inventory management system. The second a customer adds an item to their cart, and finalizes their purchase, that inventory will be docked from the available units, so it does not get oversold before it ships. This keeps things accurate and avoids backorders.
Since eBay relies so heavily on people and small businesses fulfilling their products, they have put a lot of effort forth to integrate with users’ inventory management tools and systems. They’ve made it very easy for sellers and developers to be able to integrate their websites and inventory on their own with marketplace integration, and also list which inventory management tools they will work with.
If a seller’s operation is large enough to where they need to use an inventory management system, there are a few specific systems that work best when integrating with their eBay seller account. Some of those include Fishbowl, Zoho, Auctiva, SKULabs, and Seller Dynamics.
Rakuten is an eCommerce mogul that is well known in the global eCommerce market for serving billions of users worldwide. Starting as a very small six-person eCommerce website in Japan in 1997, Rakuten has grown into the giant it is today.
Rakuten gives users two options for selling on their marketplace—selling individual products or selling in bulk. Like other eCommerce companies, the sellers would be responsible for uploading and managing their inventory through an integrated platform. The ability to sell items in bulk benefits both the sellers and Rakuten by clearing inventory quickly that is in a similar category. Faster movement can help boost profit and keep inventory flowing.
Although Walmart grew from a brick and mortar to one of the largest eCommerce companies, it did that with incredible strategies, including their inventory management. They were one of the first on the scene when it came to big box stores like Target and Costco to offer grocery pickup and delivery. To do that, they needed to be on top of their inventory every single minute.
With foods that need to be kept cold or warm and sold by specific dates, Walmart may be in an optimal position to enact ABC analysis when it comes to inventory management. ABC analysis ensures proper inventory be set for low, medium, and high-value items. In their online marketplace, they can ensure adequate inventory amounts for items commonly purchased via their eCommerce site.
People may order larger items online like TVs, furniture because they can get it delivered to their homes and not have to haul it from the store. Things like butter, eggs, milk are basics that should be well-stocked for online grocery pickup and delivery as people often have to run to the store at the last minute for those kinds of things. If they can pick it up curbside after work or get it delivered can save them a LOT of time. This type of inventory management has made the online side of their business incredibly useful.
One part of the inventory process that Zappos does better than any other eCommerce company is their returns and exchanges process. By setting the bar high for their returns and exchanges, they’ve been able to create a seamless process, and returns are less of a challenge. Their 365-day return policy is at the forefront of their marketing strategy.
Zappos allows customers to return their unworn items, with original tags, within 365 days of purchase! That timeline is almost unheard of, but it’s an incredible feature, and the appeal of a no-hassle return, if something doesn’t fit, is incredibly enticing. But it also is a great inventory management strategy in that they can always have rotating inventory no matter what. If they don’t have shoes in stock at a particular time, people may be returning those any time in the next year, which can open up inventory even sooner than with an order!
Even if a customer was unsatisfied with their initial purchase, the fact that they can have an entire year to return the item, for FREE, is likely to keep their business. This has helped them grow into one of the go-to eCommerce websites for shoes, and more.
By offering free returns it can help determine which products are being returned frequently, or not, which helps to make adjustments to the products to make them better. It also allows them to tweak how they manage that inventory for future stock. It’s a genius strategy, and more companies could capitalize on returns as a form of marketing and inventory management.
Scout has found ways to support eCommerce companies in their order and inventory management which are the cogs in the machine that keep everything moving and growing.
Companies like Amazon would be nothing without their order and inventory management. Without companies like Scout that can integrate with sellers and company systems, orders would have to be picked, packed, and shipped all by hand. For more information on integrating an inventory management system within your business, no matter if it’s big or small, contact us here!
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