In the plethora of available sales channels, Shopify stands out as one of the most popular for any online business looking to go global and sell to customers anywhere. But with over 5.6 million online stores, competition is fierce.
Taking your business to the international market is exciting. But researching Shopify inventory management apps isn’t (unless you’re geeky like us!). We get that, we really do. But, to run a successful ecommerce business in such a tight market, you have to be on top of your inventory game. Fact.
For many sellers, the major power-up from good inventory management to great inventory management often accompanies that Eureka moment when they realize it’s not just about checking stock levels. Any dedicated inventory planner knows it goes way beyond that. A strategic approach to managing inventory also allows you to influence customer satisfaction and control your business’s growth trajectory.
Ready to get going? In this handy guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to kick inventory management ass on Shopify and elevate your ecommerce business to dizzying new heights. We’ll cover:
- The importance of utilizing management apps for Shopify
- Essential features to look for in Shopify inventory management apps
- In-depth reviews of the best Shopify inventory management solutions
- How to choose the right Shopify inventory management app
- Strategies and best practices for implementing a new inventory management tool
Why is inventory management important for Shopify stores
Running a Shopify store comes with a unique set of unique challenges. Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar retail, e-commerce operations demand a much higher level of agility and precision in inventory control. Some specific challenges that Shopify store owners encounter include:
- Dynamic demand fluctuations – Online shopping trends can be unpredictable, resulting in sudden spikes or drops in demand. Keeping track of fluctuations and adjusting inventory levels is incredibly difficult if you’re still reliant on outdated manual processes.
- Multichannel selling – If you sell across multiple channels including other marketplaces and social media channels, coordinating inventory updates while avoiding overselling can be a logistical nightmare.
- Limited storage space – Unlike in physical stores, online business owners typically rely on small storage spaces or third-party warehouses. However, using limited space efficiently while preventing overstocking or stockouts can be a tricky balancing act.
- Seasonal trends and promotions – Special events, holidays, and promotions can drastically alter purchasing patterns. Proper preparation so you don’t get caught short requires accurate forecasting.
- Manual errors – Relying on error-prone manual processes for tracking inventory is a no-go. Miscalculations lead to inaccurate data on stock levels, leading directly to frustrated and dissatisfied customers.
The repercussions of a poor inventory management system
Let’s talk about the fallout of not keeping your inventory game strong. Inadequate inventory management sets off a chain reaction that ripples through your ecommerce venture faster than you can say ‘sold out.’ The primary perils revolve around the financial losses associated with stockouts and overstocking.
Picture this: A potential customer visits your Shopify store, excitedly browses through your product catalog, selects an item for purchase, and proceeds to checkout. But then, disappointment strikes – the product is out of stock.
Nobody likes to wait around in the digital aisle, arms crossed, and patience dwindling. And the worst bit? Not only do you lose that sale, but you might lose that customer forever – not to mention all the referral business they could have brought in.
Although disheartening, this scenario is sadly not uncommon, highlighting the undeniable importance of efficient inventory management.
Holding excess inventory keeps money on your shelves rather than where it should be – out there hustling for your business. It ties up capital on unnecessary purchases and storage fees that could be better spent on growth-oriented activities like:
- Marketing campaigns
- Product development
- Expanding your reach to sell on other ecommerce platforms or multiple Shopify stores.
Plus, if you’ve stockpiled a heap of products that subsequently lose their appeal or relevance, you end up with worthless dead stock that’s impossible to shift without selling at a loss.
How specialized Shopify inventory management apps can help
Relax! There’s no need to hit the panic button just yet. The solutions you need are out there.
Most savvy online store owners turn to specialized Shopify inventory management apps to avoid the detrimental consequences of poor inventory control. These digital wizards provide a comprehensive suite of tools to help companies navigate supply chain complexities and pave the way for enhanced customer satisfaction, minimized losses, and amplified business growth.
The impact of streamlined inventory on customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of any online store. Efficient inventory management ensures a seamless experience – from product discovery to order fulfillment:
- No more vanishing acts – When the products displayed on your Shopify store are in stock and ready to be dispatched, you eliminate the frustration of “out of stock” experiences.
- Wave goodbye to delivery déjà vu – Accurate inventory levels enable precise order processing and reliable delivery estimates.
- One-click happiness – With accurate stock levels, the path from discovery to ‘Thank you for your order!’ is smooth and satisfying, leaving customers with smiles as wide as their favorite emoji.
The nexus between inventory management and business growth
Spoiler alert: The implications of effective inventory management extend far beyond immediate customer satisfaction. When operations and inventory data are streamlined, all the elements that comprise your business ecosystem fall harmoniously into place:
- Fresh inventory real estate – Proficient inventory management prevents overstocking, freeing up storage space for trendy new products.
- Funds that roam free – When you don’t waste money on stock that just sits around, you’re left with more capital to drive your business forward.
- Quality time for you – The efficiencies you uncover by investing in a good inventory management system can be spent on the things that matter most – like a bit of quality ‘you time’ or days out with loved ones.
Essential features in Shopify inventory management software
While there are many Shopify inventory management apps on the market, not all are created equal. Sure, some might have a more appealing price tag than others, and it’s all too easy to let cost factors sway your decision.
However, there are certain inventory management features that you don’t want to skimp on. For starters, there’s no point settling for a software solution that doesn’t come armed with the following tools to help you scale your Shopify store with confidence.
Real-time inventory tracking
Real-time inventory tracking ensures that your stock levels stay in sync with your pace of sales. Tapping into up-to-the-minute updates on the status of your inventory ensures you always have accurate information about what’s in stock and what’s not. It’s like having a virtual inventory manager keeping a watchful eye on your products 24/7.
How does real-time inventory tracking work?
The best Shopify inventory management systems allow you to track the quantity, location, and movement of your products and raw materials in real time. The moment a shipment arrives or an order is confirmed, the software adjusts your inventory levels automatically. The data synchronization happens in the blink of an eye, preventing any mismatch between available stock and actual sales.
What are the benefits of real-time stock management?
Aside from the obvious perks of avoiding stockouts, excess inventory, and improving customer service, real-time inventory sync is also a game changer when it comes to:
- Efficient reordering – You can set up alerts to notify you when raw materials, work-in-progress, or finished goods are running low, ensuring timely replenishment.
- Time and resource savings – Automatic inventory updating is less time-consuming and prone to errors than manual processes.
- Streamlining operations – When you know exactly what’s in stock, it’s easier to optimize staffing levels, order processing, and shipping management for improved overall efficiency.
Channel synchronization is essential if you’re active on multiple Shopify stores or selling simultaneously on alternative ecommerce platforms. Without the correct inventory data at hand, you’ll find yourself constantly prone to stockouts every time a customer places an order.
How does multi-channel synchronization work?
As soon as a sale happens on one platform, your inventory management system communicates with your other sales channels, instantly updating inventory levels across them all.
We won’t get too much into the boring nitty gritty for now, but this level of direct integration is normally down to embedded APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), which enable different software systems to talk to each other.
What are the benefits of syncing sales across multiple channels?
We won’t bother listing the obvious (time savings, mitigating the risk of overselling, etc.). Those should hopefully be clear enough already. But there are so many other advantages, including:
- Order fulfillment efficiency – When stock levels are synchronized, there’s no need to scramble to find products that might not actually be in your warehouse space.
- Enhanced visibility – A holistic view empowers you to make informed decisions about restocking, promotions, and inventory allocation.
- Scaling possibilities – As you grow and begin selling on additional sales channels, synchronization is critical if you’re to avoid the many pitfalls of manual inventory management across multiple locations.
Order and sales tracking
Keeping tabs on all sales and open orders is essential. The best inventory management apps track the vital signs of your business by keeping a digital diary of every transaction. Think of this feature as a business Fitbit, constantly tracking the health of your sales.
How does automated sales tracking work?
When a customer adds a product to their cart and completes their purchase, your Shopify inventory management app instantly records and tracks the details of what was bought, the quantity, and where it’s being shipped.
As the order progresses through various stages like payment confirmation, packaging, and shipping, the software updates the order status in real time and sends the updated fulfillment performance metrics to your user dashboard.
What are the benefits of detailed inventory tracking?
The beauty of enhanced order visibility is that it allows you to monitor every step of a product’s journey, from the dark recesses of your warehouse space to arriving on your customer’s doorstep. With real-time order visibility, you can:
- Get super speedy – You can begin packaging and shipping as soon as an order is confirmed, minimizing the time between purchase and delivery.
- Bust open those bottlenecks – If you notice orders getting stuck at a particular stage, it’s easy to take corrective action to re-establish a smooth flow.
- Go the extra mile on service – Keep customers in the loop by sending automated notifications regarding order confirmation, shipping tracking, and delivery schedules.
Planning and demand forecasting
Forecasting and demand planning tools use historical sales data, trends, and analytics to anticipate future patterns. Through predictive analytics, you can effectively anticipate demand trends to ensure your virtual shelves are neither emptier than the desert or so packed you’re at risk of an inventory avalanche. You’ll hit the Goldilocks economic order quantity every time!
How does demand forecasting work?
The advanced forecasting tools in any good inventory management app can gather and efficiently synthesize historical sales data, seasonal trends, customer behavior, market conditions, and more. Based on the analysis, the software can generate forecasts for specific periods, projecting how many units are likely to be sold in the upcoming weeks, months, or years.
What are the benefits of demand forecasting?
Aside from the general perks of better-optimized stock levels, you’ll notice improvements across the following areas when you use a reliable digital inventory planner:
- Money management – Accurate demand forecasting helps you allocate your budget and manage cash flow more effectively.
- Supplier relationships – With your future inventory flow pre-determined, you can work more closely with suppliers to ensure timely replenishment. This often results in better terms, discounts, and smoother supply chain operations.
- Strategic marketing – Knowing when demand will peak allows you to plan marketing campaigns around those periods, maximizing the impact of your promotions and increasing your chance of boosted sales.
Reporting and analytics
Numbers tell stories, and in the world of e-commerce, data is your ticket to success. Advanced reporting and analytics features provide insights into sales velocity, popular products, etc. It’s like having a magnifying glass that reveals the inner workings of your inventory.
How does advanced reporting work?
Inventory software collects and compiles data using sales transactions, stock records from multiple warehouses, purchase orders, and more. It processes this data using various algorithms and statistical methods to generate reports, insights, and visualizations detailing essential sales metrics such as:
- Stock turnover rate
- Sell-through rate
- Days of inventory
- Reorder point
- Lead time
- Stock-to-sales ratio
What are the benefits of harnessing sales and inventory data?
Leveraging the power of data-driven decision-making helps you uncover numerous efficiencies in the way you manage inventory. A few examples include:
- Cost control – By identifying products with low sales velocity or high carrying costs, you can manage cash flow better by phasing out items that aren’t performing.
- Continuous improvement – Analytics reveal areas for improvement in your inventory management processes, helping you fine-tune operations and increase overall efficiency.
- Expansion – With pinpoint accurate insights across multiple warehouse locations, you’re better positioned to expand your product line and enter new markets.
Top inventory management software solutions for Shopify
Navigating the world of Shopify can be quite the adventure, and mastering the intricacies of the platform requires some time and dedication. However, armed with the finest inventory management tools, you can streamline your operations and set your sights on achieving remarkable business growth.
Enter Linnworks and SkuVault Core, two standout contenders that steal the spotlight in the contest for the best Shopify inventory management system.
Linnworks inventory management software for Shopify
Linnworks is a versatile inventory management tool offering Shopify merchants a plethora of features tailored to meet their unique needs.
But, more specifically, why is Linnworks one of the best inventory management apps for Shopify?
What sets the platform apart from other Shopify inventory management apps is its adaptability and scalability. Its robust features cater not only to small businesses but also to larger enterprises with complex inventory needs.
And that’s not all. Linnworks’ ability to seamlessly integrate with various other e-commerce sales channels, in addition to in-house CRM and accounting tools, gives it an edge over any other digital inventory planner.
Linnworks Shopify inventory management features
Let’s take a look at the comprehensive list of supported features. You might want to get comfortable because there’s a whole heap of them!
Cushion plumped and good to go? Then let’s dive in!
Inventory updates – Automate inventory updates incorporating data from multiple sales channels.
Order downloads – Automate order downloads to Linnworks’ centralized data repository.
Channel tax – Display channel tax information and settings clearly during every order download.
Inventory mapping – Link channel listings to Linnworks inventory items for automated stock level and price updates.
Listing creation – Create new listings within a few clicks with our Shopify listings tool and user guide.
Location mapping – Download orders and update inventory from specific locations.
Order cancellation – Cancel orders directly via the Linnworks platform.
Order dispatch – Mark orders as shipped and get tracking numbers and shipping service names.
Order refunds – Refund orders directly on the Linnworks dashboard.
Payment mapping – Link channel payment methods to Linnworks payment methods on all orders.
Price changes – Update channel listings automatically.
Shipping mapping – Link shipping methods to Linnworks postal services.
Linnworks inventory management user success stories
Let’s examine a couple of success stories from sellers who transformed their businesses from ordinary to extraordinary, all thanks to the magic of Linnworks.
Gym+Coffee reaches shoppers through Shopify Plus in Europe, the UK, North America, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as in Clubhouses across the UK and Ireland.
“We set up a multi-warehouse management system to select available stock from the best warehouse location based on predefined criteria, such as location. By working with our Customer Success Manager and the Linnworks customization team, we have designed our order management workflow around our requirements to streamline our pick, pack, and dispatch process.” – Wesley Scourfield, Finance Operations Manager.
Buy Wholefoods Online
Buy Wholefoods Online is the biggest seller of wholefoods in the UK, delivering top quality natural and organic wholefoods directly to homes and businesses up and down the country.
“When you have 10 people doing the same thing it sometimes means you don’t have enough inventory to satisfy all orders and you don’t know if somebody’s already taken the item off the warehouse shelf from another picklist or whether the stock levels are wrong. Now the jobs that we’d employ someone to do for a whole day are automated with Linnworks, saving us time and overheads.” – Arthur Martin, Owner.
SkuVault Core inventory management software for Shopify
When Shopify entrepreneurs with big dreams unleash the power of SkuVault Core, the chaos of managing inventory across multiple warehouse locations and sales channels transforms into a symphony of seamless operations.
But how? And what is it about SkuVault Core that makes it the right inventory management system for Shopify sellers?
The short answer: Because it’s a bespoke inventory management solution designed specifically to help retail operations streamline workflows by tracking incoming stock, raw materials, and shipments.
For a longer answer, we must check out a detailed list of the platform’s key features.
SkuVault Core Shopify inventory management features
Honestly, SkuVault Core has enough individual inventory features to warrant an entire article! Here’s a whirlwind tour of the most essential for Shopify sellers:
Unified inventory control – Manage inventory across various channels from one central dashboard.
Accurate real-time updates – Provide precise stock availability and a smooth shopping experience across all sales channels.
Efficient order management – Aggregate orders from multiple sources onto a single interface for effortless order fulfillment.
Automated stock checks – Conduct accurate cycle counting, auditing, and batch order processing without disrupting operations.
POS integration – Conduct transactions from your smartphone or tablet anywhere, anytime.
Admin support – Simplify processes with dedicated accounting tools that automate purchase orders and invoicing.
Barcode scanning integration – Turn inventory control into a smooth, error-free process by scanning products in and out with ease.
Reporting and insights – Gain visibility into sales trends and demand patterns to fuel data-driven decisions.
Scalability – Adapt effortlessly to changing needs and increased order volumes as your business grows.
SkuVault Core inventory management user success stories
Step into the world of two spirited ecommerce businesses that harnessed the potential of SkuVault Core to rewrite their selling stories.
eLuxury is a veteran-owned and operated company selling gel memory foam mattresses, handmade platform beds, and a range of Egyptian cotton bedding and bathroom wear.
“Before we used SkuVault Core, it would have taken a picker five to ten minutes to find the location of an item, pick it, prepare it, get a label on that item and ship it out. Without the use of a quality control system, mis-ships were common. SkuVault Core allows us to scan each product and make sure the order is 100 percent accurate. We know that the customer is getting the exact part they ordered.” – Nathan Head, Systems Administrator.
FOXERS is a women’s underwear merchant selling garments with a waistband design, offering the comfort and style of boxers while still looking and feeling sexy.
“The stress of daily mistakes, over-sales, and under-sales was too much on the business and me. SkuVault Core gave me the relaxation I needed. Now we can check inventory anytime, anywhere, even when our factory is 12 hours ahead and we’re away. I just wish I had done it years ago. It’s exactly what I kept saying to everyone that we needed for years” – April Spring, Founder.
Selecting the right inventory management software for your Shopify store
Finding your way to inventory management nirvana can feel intimidating. But fear not. We’ve prepped some practical advice to help you make the right decision and choose the best Shopify inventory management app to suit the needs of your business.
Ready to ditch outdated, manual processes and hello to efficient order fulfillment? Here’s a list of steps to follow that will have you hollering ‘business growth, ahoy!’ before you know it.
1. Evaluate your options
You’ll need to factor in the current size of your online store, your budget, and growth plans:
Business size – Are you a small boutique entity or a rapidly expanding enterprise? Your software should cater to your current needs while still accommodating growth.
Budget – Define your budget range. Be realistic about what you can invest, and consider both short-term and long-term costs.
Growth plans – Always look beyond the here and now. Will the software scale with your business to integrate with accounting systems, CRM, shipping, and other inventory management apps?
2. Make a checklist of critical factors
Making a list of essential key features like real-time synchronization, multi-channel management, analytics tools, automated purchase orders, etc., is a no-brainer. But you should also consider the following:
Integration – Ensure every inventory management app on your shortlist will integrate seamlessly with Shopify – and the other platforms you use.
Ease of use – A user-friendly interface saves time and reduces the learning curve for your team.
Customization – Consider how well each inventory management app will adapt to your unique workflows and processes.
Support – Check out online reviews to assess the quality of customer support and vendor responsiveness.
3. Assess pricing packages and 7/14/30 day free trial options
Taking advantage of demos or a 7/14/30-day free trial is the best way to get hands-on experience with each Shopify inventory management app on your shortlist before you commit.
Top inventory management app test-driving tip – Remember that not all the features on a 7/14/30-day free trial plan will be included in basic packages once you begin your subscription. So, you’ll need to factor in the cost of any add-ons.
You should also give careful consideration to which pricing model is best suited to your business:
- Monthly subscription
- Per-user price
- Transaction-based fees
Implementation strategies and best practices
Transitioning between old software and a new Shopify inventory management app is no mean feat. But it needn’t be an uphill battle. Here’s a list of top tips from our in-house experts to help you with everything from preparation and integration to training and communication:
- Plan ahead by mapping out your integration process step by step.
- Ensure your product data aligns with your Shopify store by accurately matching fields like SKUs, descriptions, and prices.
- Clean your existing data before migration by removing duplicates and updating outdated information.
- Utilize test environments to minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth integration before going live.
- Reduce the risk of errors by migrating data in stages, starting with the most essential products and gradually moving to the rest.
- Provide hands-on training and designate team members as go-to software champions for questions and troubleshooting.
- Encourage your team to explore the software’s capabilities beyond the basics and discuss any challenges they encounter.
- Establish a feedback loop where your team can provide input on the software’s performance and usability.
Master Shopify inventory management with Linnworks
Ready to take your first steps on the path toward ecommerce business success and become a master inventory planner?
We can’t promise you an overnight journey. But with the advanced functionality of our inventory management app and the supportive team of Linnworks experts by your side, we can promise that your destination is within reach.
The sooner you get started, the faster you’ll reap the rewards of streamlined operations, happier customers, and a healthier bank balance. So why not take 3 minutes out of your day for an interactive product tour?
Alternatively, you can contact our team directly to discuss your pain points and inventory management wish list so we can help you design the right inventory management system for your unique business goals and needs.