WooCommerce stands out as one of the most popular sales channels for online retailers. But you probably know that already.
Here’s some things you might not know about this powerhouse ecommerce platform:
- The WooCommerce plugin has been downloaded more than 211 million times.
- More than 6.5 million websites are powered by WooCommerce.
- WooCommerce commands a 36.68% global market share, the highest of any ecommerce platform.
That all sounds pretty good, right? If it’s trusted by that many sellers, it has to be a great option. Plus, it’s an easy platform for online store owners to wrap their heads around as you can start off on a free, open-source inventory management plugin that lets you create a fully functioning ecommerce store using simple WordPress (WP) software.
But as a WooCommerce merchant, you’re not just selling products. You’re orchestrating exemplary customer experiences and growing your business empire by reeling in those repeat orders and continually pushing to tap into new markets. At least you should be. So your inventory management game has to be on point.
In this handy guide, we’ll be taking you on a tour of all the things that make you go Woo (see what we did there?) to help you find the best software solution for WooCommerce inventory management.
Understanding the need for WooCommerce inventory management
While WooCommerce is undoubtedly a powerful platform, there are some limitations to relying solely on free inventory management plugin tools. The standard WP inventory management plugin (along with lesser-known alternatives like Z Inventory Manager, Smart Manager, and ATUM WooCommerce Inventory Management) might be great for when you’re just starting out. And they might also be a good fit for small stores with simple needs and no desire to grow.
But if you’re reading this, that description probably doesn’t apply to you. So, if you’ve outgrown your current WooCommerce inventory management plugin and you’re looking into alternative options capable of facilitating stock management at a much higher level, then you’re in the right place.
For businesses looking to expand their online store and make their mark on the market, investing in a more comprehensive solution like Linnworks or SkuVault Core is the best solution to guarantee a more robust, feature-rich approach to managing WooCommerce inventory.
The drawbacks of relying on free WooCommerce inventory management plugins
Looking for more specific info about the whys and the hows of investing in a third-party WooCommerce stock management solution? We’ve got you. Here’s a list of factors to consider.
Limited features – While most WooCommerce inventory management plugins are functional, they typically lack the comprehensive features required for more complex inventory management needs.
Scalability – As your business grows, you’ll need a WooCommerce stock manager capable of handling increasing product volumes and sales channels.
Multi-channel selling – If you sell across multiple sales channels, managing inventory using only the free plugin manager for WooCommerce can be cumbersome.
Automation – No free plugin can compete with the advanced automation options of a dedicated WooCommerce inventory management system, so you’ll lose heaps of time managing inventory manually.
Data analytics – This one’s easy. More stock management data = better decision-making, optimized inventory management, and boosted sales. Most free WooCommerce inventory management plugins have nowhere near the same depth of data about your stock levels.
Customization – There are limits on your ability to customize workflows within a free version. In fact, most basic inventory management plugins require businesses to adapt to them, rather than the other way around.
The benefits of an advanced inventory management solution
Presumably, the primary goals of your business are to sell as much stock as possible while simultaneously garnering a reputation as a reliable business with sky-high customer satisfaction scores.
That’s the dream of any business owner or stock manager, right? Creating a self-sustaining business that’s high profit and has a stellar reputation to boot?
But, precisely how do you do that? The key lies in managing stock levels so well that you never experience overstocking or out of stock items.
That’s it. It’s that simple. Those two factors combined form the skeleton key that unlocks the doors to soaring profits and satisfied customers.
Overstocking might seem like a minor issue, but the financial repercussions of getting your stock quantities wrong can be significant. Why? Because holding excess stock doesn’t just tie up your capital in unnecessary investments. It incurs expenses and causes additional problems that chip away at your profit margins:
- Unnecessary storage costs, including warehouse rent, utilities, insurance, security, etc.
- Higher carrying costs related to managing, tracking, and maintaining extra inventory.
- Financial losses due to discounting when overstocked items go out of season or become obsolete.
- Lack of space for storing newer, more popular, and better profit margin products in higher stock quantities.
- The inability to respond to unforeseen opportunities or financial emergencies due to reduced cash flow.
Good inventory management software incorporates additional features that go well beyond the capabilities of the free version to help your WooCommerce store avoid overstocking problems and maintain healthy profit margins.
Avoiding out of stock products
The immediate consequence of an out of stock item is a lost sale. After all, customers who can’t find what they want will likely abandon their cart and click away to a competitor’s site. So, there’s always a revenue consideration.
But effective stock management isn’t just about lost sales and the immediate effect on your bottom line. Inadequate stock levels have wider-reaching repercussions on customer satisfaction that can put all of your growth plans at risk:
- Reduced trust and customer loyalty
- Higher customer churn
- Negative reviews and word-of-mouth
- Missed upselling and cross-selling opportunities
- Reduced customer lifetime value
- Tarnished brand image
Investing in robust inventory management software for your online store equips you with the tools you need to establish effective restocking strategies and ensure products are consistently available when customers want them.
Essential features for the best WooCommerce inventory management
The right inventory management software can take your WooCommerce store to the next level. Let’s explore the vital features you should look for to manage stock better, scale confidently, and take the market by storm.
Real-time inventory tracking
Real-time inventory tracking ensures that stock levels are always in sync with your sales, providing up-to-the-minute information about what’s available.
How it Works
The best WooCommerce inventory management systems allow you to monitor the quantity, location, and movement of products in real time. When a sale occurs or a new shipment arrives, the software instantly updates to sync inventory levels, preventing potential discrepancies.
Real-time stock management facilitates efficient reordering and better shipping management, saving you both time and resources. It streamlines operations, optimizes staffing, and enhances overall efficiency.
Centralized product database
Having access to a centralized product database allows you to manage all product information and stock status from a single location, ensuring consistency and efficiency.
How it works
The most popular WooCommerce inventory management systems make creating, updating, and bulk editing product listings, descriptions, pricing, and images a piece of cake. Plus, the changes can be automatically reflected across multiple sales channels, eliminating the need for manual updates.
Centralized inventory management reduces the risk of data discrepancies between channels, ensures product information consistency, saves time on updates, and enhances the overall customer experience by presenting accurate and uniform product details. That’s a whole heap of wins from just one feature.
Multi-channel synchronization is vital if you sell across multiple sales channels – regardless of whether they’re all WooCommerce stores or you’re dabbling in alternative e-commerce platforms too.
How it works
When a sale occurs on one platform, your inventory management software communicates with your other channels, instantly updating inventory levels across them all. This smart technology typically relies on embedded APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), which aren’t often available to basic WP inventory manager users.
Beyond avoiding stockouts and overselling, multi-channel synchronization enhances order fulfillment efficiency, offers enhanced visibility for strategic decisions, and simplifies scaling as your online store expands.
Purchase order management
Purchase order management is a vital feature that enables you to streamline and automate the process of ordering inventory from various suppliers.
How it works
When inventory levels reach the predetermined low stock threshold, the system automatically generates purchase orders to restock your warehouse. Purchase orders are sent directly to each supplier and tracked by status, providing real-time visibility into the procurement process.
Automated purchase ordering doesn’t just help you avoid overstocking and out of stock scenarios. It eliminates pesky manual errors and enhances supplier management, allowing you to optimize supply chain relationships for more favorable terms and discounts.
Reporting and analytics
Detailed reports provide analytical insights into essential sales metrics, ensuring store owners can make decisions backed by hard data rather than guesswork and gut feelings.
How it works
Your inventory management software compiles and processes data collected from your store’s inventory, sales transactions, stock records, purchase orders, and multiple other sources. Algorithms and statistical methods generate CSV file reports and visualizations on detailing essential metrics like stock turnover, sell-through rate, lead time, stock-to-sales ratio, etc.
Harnessing sales and stock data helps you control costs, drive continuous improvement, and support expansion strategies by revealing operational efficiencies and opportunities for growth.
Forecasting and demand planning
Demand forecasting tools use historical data and predictive analytics to anticipate future demand trends, ensuring the inventory levels of your WooCommerce store always align with customer needs.
How it works
Inventory management software collects and analyzes historical sales trends, seasonal data, market conditions, raw material availability, etc., to generate forecasts for the coming weeks, months, and years. Again, most systems can export stock data in both visual form on the interactive dashboard and as a CSV file for download.
Enhanced demand forecasting enhances overall money management, leading to strengthened supplier relationships through better planning and futureproofing. It also allows for more strategic marketing campaigns that help increase daily, weekly and fortnightly sales.
The top inventory management software solutions for WooCommerce shop owners
Navigating the world of WooCommerce requires dedication, and having the right inventory management plugins or stand-alone software makes a world of difference.
But remember that even the best inventory management plugins with free features can’t match the advanced features of the best-in-class stock management apps. So, the same drawbacks that we listed above apply to alternative WooCommerce stock management options like Z Inventory Manager, Smart Manager, ATUM Inventory Management, and WP Inventory Manager.
So, what’s the best WooCommerce inventory management solution overall?
Enter Linnworks and SkuVault Core. Advanced features ahoy! Let’s dig into each in a bit more detail to find more.
Linnworks inventory manager for WooCommerce
Linnworks features align perfectly with the specific inventory challenges faced by WooCommerce merchants, making it a top choice for those seeking efficient, data-driven inventory management that leads to business growth in the competitive e-commerce landscape.
Linnworks commands a reputation as one of the best WooCommerce inventory management tools for several reasons:
- Adaptability to every business type and size – check!
- Effortless scalability without compromising performance or efficiency – check!
- Real-time inventory tracking and stock level alerts across the entire supply chain – check!
- Multi-channel integration with over 100 leading platforms – check!
- Demand forecasting encompassing raw materials, work-in-progress, and finished goods – check!
- Detailed reports and analytics with advanced search capabilities for complete control over planning – check!
- And so, so much more!
Check out the full library of Linnworks WooCommerce channel integration for more stock tracking and sales order features than you can shake a stick at!
Linnworks stock management user reviews
“We need Linnworks to achieve multichannel growth. Being able to track the performance of different product lines on each marketplace helps us make informed business decisions and reassures us that we’ll be able to build a presence on more marketplaces.” – Luca Salamone, Marketing Manager at Retro Styler.
We’re exploring new countries and new channels all of the time. And we do that with the confidence knowing we can cope with the volume of new orders coming in from new channels.” – Richard Goss, Commercial Director at Rinkit.
“We’ve stayed with Linnworks purely because of the amount of functions it has. Nobody’s ever been able to do what Linnworks enables us to do.” – Anthony Rowe, Managing Director at Goldstar Leisure.
SkuVault Core inventory manager for WooCommerce
SkuVault Core isn’t your run-of-the-mill WooCommerce inventory management plugin. It’s an all-singing, all-dancing solution to every single one of your shipping management, warehouse management, and stock management needs.
But, precisely how does it enable stock management at a higher level? A few standout features include:
- Fast-track pick, pack, and ship with interactive Wave Picking and Hyper Picking functionality.
- Enhanced warehouse management through barcode scanning and cycle counting with inbuilt quality buffers.
- Seamless integration with shipping management, accounts, CRM software, etc.
- Kitting and bundling options with multiple SKU variations.
- Lots, FEFO, and FIFO features to protect your stock from expiration.
- Automated purchase order processing, stock status reports, advanced search, and bulk edit admin capabilities.
- And a whole heap more!
Check out SkuVault’s full range of ecommerce inventory management features to learn more and discover how they can help you manage stock like a pro!
SkuVault stock management user reviews
“The user interface is extremely straightforward. It’s simple to go in, set up, and train people on.” – Dan Ratterman, Co-owner at Shady Rays.
“SkuVault makes us work faster. It is a really good price point and is great for a company our size because it allows us to scale.” – Pat Yates, Owner at Happy Feet.
“Our order fulfillment time has improved by 87.5% – orders that previously would’ve taken us all day, we can now complete in less than an hour.” – Howard Choi, Business Development Manager at Golfio.
Choosing the right WooCommerce stock manager for your business
Some things you can only learn by going through the process yourself. So, what have other business leaders learned in their search for the best WooCommerce inventory management plugins and third-party software solutions? We reached out to ask.
“If we were to repeat the process of choosing an inventory management system, we’d consider the following improvements:
- Researching and evaluating multiple systems before making a decision.
- Seeking feedback and recommendations from other store owners.
- Requesting demonstrations or trials to experience the system firsthand.
- Considering long-term pricing plans and scalability options.”
– José Moya, Outreach Manager at Capicua Full Stack Creative Hub
With that in mind, here’s a quick checklist of everything to work through when researching software options for your WooCommerce store.
- Make a checklist of essential features
In addition to specific features that help you manage stock better (like tracking, integration, advanced reporting, etc.), you’ll need to consider your requirements for customization, onboarding, ease of use, and ongoing customer support. Bear in mind that service levels may vary considerably between a standard inventory management plugin and a dedicated stand-alone provider (no prizes for guessing which is better!).
- Evaluate your options and make a shortlist
To compile a suitable list of WooCommerce inventory management plugins or third-party software providers, you’ll need to consider your current business size, budget, and growth plans. Remember that limiting yourself to a cheaper and simpler option now may mean repeating the process down the line once your business outgrows it.
- Assess pricing packages and trial options
You’ll need to carefully consider which pricing model best suits your business needs:
- Monthly subscription – Pay a fixed monthly fee for access to the stock manager’s features and services.
- Per-user price – Pay based on the number of users who will access and interact with the software.
- Transaction-based fees – Pay based on the volume of transactions or sales your store generates.
- Request demonstrations and get feedback from current users
Make the most of demos to gain hands-on experience with each WooCommerce stock inventory solution on your shortlist before making a commitment. It’s also a good idea to speak with a few people currently using each inventory management plugin or software service on your shortlist. If you don’t have direct contact with current users, you can check out reviews on websites like G2.
Implementation and best practices
Transitioning from your old inventory management plugin to bigger and better platform can be a challenging endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.
Our experts have compiled a list of top tips to guide you through the process, from initial preparation to successful integration, training, and effective communication:
1. Strategic planning – Start by mapping out your integration process step by step. A well-thought-out plan will help you stay organized and avoid potential roadblocks.
2. Data alignment – Ensure your product data aligns seamlessly with your WooCommerce store. Accurate matching of SKUs, descriptions, and prices is essential for a smooth transition.
3. Data cleanup – Before migration, clean your existing data by removing duplicates and updating outdated information to prevent unnecessary clutter and inaccuracies.
4. Test, test, test! – Utilizing test environments minimizes disruption and allows you to resolve issues before going live.
5. Phased data migration – Migrating data in stages reduces the risk of errors and minimizes the impact on your day-to-day operations.
6. Hands-on training – Provide comprehensive training to all team members and designate a few individuals as software champions to answer questions and troubleshoot issues.
8. Feedback – Establishing a feedback loop ensures continuous improvement and allows you to address any emerging issues promptly.
Master WooCommerce stock management with Linnworks
Every savvy business owner and manager knows that the key to business efficiency is to work smarter, not harder. And that’s exactly what will happen when you partner with team Linnworks!
We won’t hassle you with a sales pitch right now, though. You’ve got some serious research to do first! But, when the time comes, please reach out to our team to discuss your pain points and see how we can help you.
Got another couple of spare minutes today? Jump on our interactive product tour to kickstart your journey and check ‘start researching WooCommerce stock management software’ off today’s to-do list!