Successful eCommerce fashion businesses expertly manage their inventory. Hold too much stock, it languishes on your balance sheet, starving operations of cash. Hold too little, and stock-outs choke off potential sales.
Getting inventory right requires a great purchasing team. For your team to work their magic, they'll need real-time data on the number SKUs in inventory, units per SKU, how long each unit has been in the warehouse, the status of each unit, recent sales data by SKU, etc. Empowering them with this data requires inventory integration.
Inventory Errors ALWAYS Hit the End Customer
The inventory data you need to get purchasing right, and preclude unpleasant customer interactions, doesn't materialize from thin air. It comes from the complete electronic integration of your front end eCommerce platform and fulfillment center's Fulfillment Management System. At Quiet, we transfer data through XML files via Amazon Web Services (AWS).
If you don't integrate your front and back end systems, discrepancies will arise, causing purchasing to make mistakes. Worse still, these discrepancies will ALWAYS come back to negatively impact your eCommerce customers. You can sell what's on your eCommerce site, but you only ship what you have in inventory. If a customer buys an item that appears on the website but isn't in stock in the fulfillment center, you'll have to call up the customer to apologize for the stock-out -- something we all want to avoid.
To show you how inventory integration works and how it can prevent these discrepancies from occuring, we're going to take you inside Quiet's client messaging system.
The Quiet Inventory Messages
We transfer two types of inventory messages to our clients: transaction-based and daily inventory summaries. Transactional messages detail the unit's status as it travels through its life at Quiet:
- Quality Control - Once the product hits the dock, it is Quality Controlled (QC) and inspected for damages and irregularities.
- Receipt - After the QC check is complete, we receive each unit against the Purchase Order, at which point the units are entered into our system and a message is sent to the client detailing what we've received.
- Available - The inventory is put into a pickable location. At this point it should register as available for sale on the client's site.
- Allocated - When a customer purchases an item, one unit of that SKU is allocated to that customer's order. If it's the last unit we have in inventory, that SKU will no longer appear on the brand's website.
- Inducted - The unit is designated to an order tote for picking purposes.
- Picked - The storage pod containing the SKU is picked up by a Kiva robot and taken to a picking station staffed by an associate trained on that brand's requirements. The associate places all of the items for the order into a distinct tote that is taken to a pack/ship station.
- Completed - The items are packaged by an associate according to the brand's order presentation requirements, sealed and the shipping label is affixed. As a last step, the order is placed on the ship carrier's truck.
Daily Inventory Summary Messages
The daily inventory summary for a SKU provides a snapshot of how many units are in each inventory bucket. It is sent to our clients every night, and looks like this:
Transfers and Damages: Pitfalls and Their Cures
- Transfer Orders
- Damaged Units
Prevent inventory misalignment from impacting your end customers by taking the time to completely integrate your front and back end systems. The process will lead to better purchasing decisions, a healthier balance sheet and happier eCommerce customers.
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