Archive for the ‘Amazon Inventory Management’ Category

Handling Amazon Inventory Management: Is Launchpad for You?

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Amazon recently unveiled a new marketplace, referred to as the “red carpet for startups.” With this, new businesses can expand their products across the globe through custom pages and access to Amazon’s fulfillment network.

Launchpad, from Amazon, is striving to support startup brands with videos, extra photos, product descriptions and a Q&A section to boot, unlike their routine product-focused pages.

The eCommerce giant has many perks for retailers, like winning the Amazon Buy Box, customer service efforts and free shipping. So, of course people will want to get on-board to a simpler way to manage Amazon inventory.

Amazon Launchpad may be the choice for you, but be sure to keep the dividing line in mind before jumping into this new marketplace.

Is it Too Good to Be True?Handling Amazon Inventory Management Is Launchpad for You

For some startups, it might not be. Amazon has planned to promote a motto that exudes a “You give it to us, and we’ll take care of the rest” approach. The marketplace simply wants startups to sell wholesale price products to them, while they collect the difference. However, is it possible that some brands might be jeopardizing their chance to really stand out from the rest?

With Amazon Launchpad, they seem to be advertising a win-win situation. When it comes to Amazon inventory management, fulfillment and customer service, new FBA service offer benefits and even a global outreach. By mainstreaming customers, this could give startups the chance to reach out to clientele they never dreamed possible. Revolutionary? Let’s take a closer look.

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

While this new frontier may be a great chance for startups to scale up their businesses, be aware of some unfavorable possibilities that could come up in the future.

Funding is one issue that comes up with Launchpad. Amazon requires startups to account for the manufacturing of all products, and that is why the eCommerce marketplace can get a little picky. Prospective startups would need to pitch what Amazon deems as successful ideas before they can take part.

Relying on Amazon to manage your inventory could have its downsides. When a startup joins Amazon Launchpad, they will be counting on the eCommerce platform for all sales and distribution methods, so they can help them develop their products. This can cause some room for concern, as retailers starting out might lose their incentive to look into selling on many other note-worthy platforms out there, such as Bigcommerce, Mozu, Magento and eBay to name a few.

While aspects like selling restrictions might come up, Amazon Launchpad could be beneficial for your business efforts, especially if you are looking to promote a global reach.

If you sell on multiple sales channels and plan to expand to even more, a cloud based order management system can help you manage amazon inventory, as well any other eCommerce store you come across. The best part is, it’s affordable and the in-depth, real-time functionality causes little to no room for error.

Ready to see how this works? Check out the quick video below to learn how Freestyle can help fulfill your orders faster, increase your sales and more.

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Cons of Using Amazon to Manage Inventory

Friday, July 17th, 2015

cons of using amazon to manage inventory -

When you sell on multiple sales channels, the task of fulfilling orders through different channels becomes complex. You need the right amount of products on hand to fulfill multiple orders, and if you sell on Amazon, maintaining inventory levels is a requirement, not a request.

In a previous post, we explored the Top Reasons Why You Should Use Amazon To Manage Inventory. Now let’s look at some of the drawbacks to using Amazon to manage inventory. While there are excellent reasons to take advantage of Amazon, there are some downsides to consider as well.

We know that the Amazon marketplace gives online retailers of all sizes the opportunity to sell to millions of potential customers, significantly increase sales, and gain loyal customers in the process. Whether you’re an Amazon seller exclusively selling on the marketplace or it’s just one of your sales channels, you need to manage inventory. And, when using Amazon to manage inventory, you have options.

So what are the disadvantages to using Amazon to manage inventory?

7) Retaining Customer Service  

If Amazon fulfills your orders and ships them, they also handle customer service on your products. While this can be a way to reduce the distractions associated with routine inquiries, it can also prevent you from staying in touch with your customers. When speaking directly to your customers, you establish a relationship and maintain quality of service, while providing the opportunity to get more sales from existing customers by upselling other products.

If you use Amazon to manage inventory and fulfillment, they would store, pack, ship your products, and provide customer service to your buyer. Amazon’s new manage inventory page was implemented to allow customers to fulfill orders faster, but like anything else, there are some potential challenges that can arise with this also.

6) Building Your Own Brand

Let’s face it. Amazon exists for their own benefit. Some see Amazon as an inhibitor to a business interested in building its own brand. Amazon is only interested in building their brand. Yes, they provide sellers with an opportunity to distribute products across a vast network they might not be able to do on their own. But, they have no interest in helping you build your business; it’s not part of their business model. And, the customer remembers making their purchase on Amazon; not on your web store.

Using Amazon to Manage Inventory

Businesses grow through repeat business. You cannot create repeat business on Amazon, because the branding is designed to reinforce just their sales channel and not your store. Staying away from Amazon to manage inventory might be the right move to really stand out from the competition.

5) Maintaining Your Amazon Seller Rating

Inventory levels in your Amazon store(s), as well as other channels, can get out of sync. You risk overselling and tarnishing your Seller Rating if you have insufficient inventory on hand. This becomes increasingly important if you’re selling through Amazon, since they require you to reserve specific inventory volumes for their channel. If you manage your inventory directly, you know first-hand how much you have on hand or need to fulfill across multiple sales channels.

4) Gaining Control of Kitted & Bundled Products

You can easily boost sales with eCommerce kits and bundles. However, kits can complicate things if you don’t have strong inventory control in place. With kits, you need to keep track of inventory related to each kit component to sell the item individually or in a group. This can be hard to control if you’re only using Amazon to manage inventory and not keeping
track of items sold across multiple sales channels.

3) Price WarsUsing Amazon to Manage Inventory

When you’re selling on Amazon, you’re always competing on price. If you’re lucky enough, you can win the ‘buy box.’ And, learning how to win the Amazon Buy Box can take time. However, a business cannot grow when it’s competing solely on price. You lose the opportunity to build relationships with buyers through marketing, merchandising or customer service. Each business is unique, so you need to weigh out the pros and cons. It may not be worth the trade-offs in the long run.

2) Inventory Item Limitations

There are several issues that can prevent your inventory from listing on Amazon.com. The most common issue occurs when items appear in the ‘Inventory Amazon Fulfills’ page but no listing exists on the ‘All Inventory View’ page. This happens when the listing is deleted for the item using a feed or the All Inventory View page. If you have more of the product to sell, you will need to list the item again using the same merchant SKU, ASIN and condition.

You cannot delete or remove the original Amazon.com inventory item listings, but only archive them to hide them from view. Also, if you want unfulfilled inventory returned, you must fill out a request form.

1) Multichannel Inventory Management…Keeping Your Own Inventory In Sync  

The Amazon marketplace is a separate and unique sales channel. Amazon inventory management requires you to reserve orders specifically for sale through their marketplace. If you use a multichannel system to manage orders and inventory, it would be set up to communicate with your shopping cart(s), along with other shopping channels like Amazon.

If your inventory management system does not sync with multiple sales channels, you lose visibility into your stock levels across the channels. You would need to perform frequent manual reconciliations. In this case, letting Amazon manage the inventory for the products you sell there may make sense.

Applications are available to help you gain visibility into orders from multiple sales channels to insure your inventory is in sync across all channels. While selling on multiple sales channels puts the burden of inventory synchronization on you, a multichannel inventory management system gives you a dashboard view across your sales channels. With it, you can manage stock levels, receive alerts when replenishment thresholds are approaching and more.

Using Amazon to Manage Inventory - Reasons to Look Elsewhere

Final Thoughts

Managing inventory in one place helps you avoid stock-outs [or double-selling], and gives you a better analysis of your products in terms of performance, peak selling periods, etc. And, centralizing inventory management for retailers across sales channels allows for more accurate inventory calculations. More importantly, streamlining essential back-office processes supports current and future growth, eliminating the bottlenecks that occur with manual processes.

Inventory management for online retailers does not have to be complicated. Learn more in the FREE inventory management eBook below.

Which is the right approach for you?

Inventory Management for Online Retailers eBook

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Pros of Using Amazon to Manage Inventory

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Using Amazon to Manage Inventory

There’s a reason why Amazon is a prime sales channel for retailers – it works in generating sales. We see a growing category of retailers selling exclusively on Amazon as their only online sales channel. What do they know that others don’t? They know the Amazon marketplace gives online retailers of all sizes the opportunity to sell to millions of potential customers, significantly increase sales, and gain loyal customers in the process. There are a few things to keep in mind when using amazon to manage inventory.

Whether you’re an Amazon seller exclusively selling on Amazon or if it is just one of your sales channels, you need to manage inventory, and with Amazon inventory management, you have options.

You can do it yourself or use Amazon FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon] to fulfill your orders. With FBA, you sell it and Amazon ships it. Using FBA, you leverage the Amazon fulfillment center network. When shipping your products to Amazon, they manage your inventory, pack and ship your products and provide customer service. Sounds like a great option, right?

Well, let’s take a closer look. Here’s how using manage inventory with Amazon works.

You use Amazon’s fulfillment networks, send the products to their fulfillment centers, and they pack and ship them. It can be less hassle for you and your customers, depending on what your business needs are.

Using Amazon to Manage Inventory

Here are the main benefits:

  1. FBA listings are displayed with the “Fulfillment by Amazon” logo, so customers know that packing, delivery, customer service, and returns are all handled by Amazon.
  2. Free Shipping and Amazon Prime delivery options are available for your Amazon.com listings.
  3. Your orders are eligible for free shipping on orders over $35 and Amazon Prime.
  4. FBA can fulfill your orders from other sales channels using your inventory stored at an Amazon fulfillment center.
  5. You can manage your inventory through an online interface.
  6. You can direct Amazon to return the inventory at any time.
  7. Your FBA listings on Amazon.com are sorted by product price with no shipping costs since your products are eligible for free shipping on orders over $35 or Prime.

When an Amazon seller makes a sale in the Amazon Marketplace, the customer is an Amazon customer. You then have an excellent opportunity to market to that customer and establish a long term relationship with them. One of the best ways to make an Amazon shopper your customer too, is to offer them a discount on their next purchase with you.

However, all businesses are unique in what makes them tick, and using Amazon to manage inventory can have its drawbacks as well.

Using Amazon to manage inventory can have its perks, and Freestyle can help. Manage Amazon orders more efficiently with our seamless, tightly integrated solution.

View the infographic below for a breakdown of the benefits for using Amazon to manage inventory.

amazon-manage-inventory

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