A Complete Guide to Shopify Inventory Management for 2022

With more than a million registered businesses across 175 countries, Shopify is undoubtedly the top e-commerce platform of choice globally. These businesses leverage the flexibility of the Shopify platform and the tools that it provides. One factor that greatly influences the success of any Shopify merchant is how they handle their inventory management. This is an integral part of any e-commerce operation and can ultimately make or break the business.

The inability of Shopify merchants to establish a streamlined process for accurately tracking inventory and ensuring that updates are reflected in their online stores will lead to dire consequences. Here’s a comprehensive guide to Shopify Inventory Management for 2022.

Why is inventory management essential for Shopify Merchants?

Inventory is essentially the number of products that you currently have available for sale. By effectively tracking your inventory, you’d be ensuring that you do not sell products that have run out and that you are restocking items in advance of them running out. This births the need for inventory management.

From spoilage to cancellations and returns, the effects of poor inventory management can eventually take a toll on your Shopify store. Having a clear and accurate picture of your Shopify store inventory can ultimately prevent the losses that typically arise from poor management. High-quality inventory management will help you reduce your overall costs, optimize your fulfillment rates, improve service delivery, and position you for rapid growth in the future.

Inventory management generally helps Shopify stores and other e-commerce businesses achieve the following.

Gain valuable stock insights

Inventory management can help provide reliable insights to Shopify store owners, especially for restocking when a product is running low. This is essential as research shows that 30% of customers believe that out-of-stock items hurt their shopping experience. Similarly, many shoppers are likely to purchase a similar product from another store when an item is out of stock.

Spot inventory trends

To prevent overstocking issues.”, inventory management software can help you spot trends accurately in your inventory turnover and calculate how much stock to order.

Automate repetitive tasks

Repetitive tasks like product tracking and manually updating your inventory can be time-consuming. The best Shopify inventory management software in the market can help you automate these tasks and help your team focus on more productive matters.

Inventory tracking

As highlighted above, inventory management solutions can help you automate and handle inventory tracking for your Shopify store. A reliable solution will help you track your orders, stock purchases, and fulfillment in detail.

Integrations

If you already use other apps in your Shopify store, an inventory management solution should effectively allow you to integrate these apps seamlessly.

Sales forecasting

The ability to make accurate estimates regarding your sales trend and growth rate is one of the main reasons you should adopt Shopify Inventory Management software for your store.

Real-time reporting and analytics

A top inventory management app will allow you to generate data-driven reports and analyses that guide you on areas to improve and determine whether your strategy is working.

Does Shopify have Built-in Inventory Management?

The straightforward answer to this question is “Yes”. One of the many reasons Shopify is so popular among e-commerce businesses is its inventory management features. Shopify’s built-in inventory management offers a limited number of features and capabilities, including the following.

Inventory tracking

This feature allows Shopify store owners to view stock count for their products. It also allows you to sort through products using filters.

Inventory updates

This allows users to adjust their inventory count for different products or variants manually.

Inventory history

The inventory history functionality simply allows Shopify merchants to view a history of the adjustments that they have made to their product inventory over time.

Inventory transfers

This is perhaps one of the few advanced capabilities of Shopify’s built-in inventory management. It allows users to either manage inventory transfers from suppliers or between locations.

Shopify undoubtedly offers lightweight inventory management, which may be suitable for small single-channel e-commerce businesses. However, the importance of a comprehensive inventory management tool to the success of any e-commerce business, including Shopify stores, must not be underestimated.

For instance, Shopify merchants who operate a large multi-channel strategy will quickly realize that the built-in inventory management functionalities may be grossly insufficient for their business needs. However, some may find it beneficial as it also offers many benefits. Read on to see some of these benefits.

Top Benefits of Shopify Inventory Management

Shopify has remained popular over the years for the many benefits that it offers merchants. For instance, its basic functionality allows users to track inventory for each product listing. The platform’s basic inventory management capabilities can be helpful for businesses that purchase finished products directly from their suppliers and require no complex inventory management activities.

However, as e-commerce businesses scale towards a multi-channel strategy, they can integrate Shopify inventory management solutions like Uphance to automate their multi-channel operations and gain actionable insights about their stores on Shopify and other markets.

Track inventory for each product listing

You can easily create individual product listings and arrange them based on their category, type, and a few other filters. These product listings all feature an inventory that can be manually updated.

Inventory management for product variations

With this feature, you can easily create and manage multiple variations of your products from a single window. These variations could be in terms of the sizing, colors, pricing, and even weight of your Shopify store products.

Bulk inventory editor

Shopify’s inventory editor will allow you to adjust inventory quantities for products in your store in bulk. Bulk inventory updates can also be applied to multiple product variations across your store.

Transfer inventory

This functionality will allow you to manage inventory transfers between your warehouses and suppliers. A key challenge with Shopify’s inventory management functionality is that while it can help you transfer inventory between your locations, it will not allow you to transfer products that need to be fulfilled by third parties or third-party services. This can be seamlessly bypassed by using a comprehensive inventory management service like Uphance.

Inventory history

This essentially allows you to view a history of updates to your inventory. The data provided includes the date the update was made, the initiator, and the updated products.

Key Challenges of Shopify’s Inventory Management

Shopify’s basic inventory management can be challenging, especially for e-commerce businesses with complex supply chains and workflows. It’s crucial to uncover these challenges and find solutions to them before they cause damage to your business.

Multi-channel functionalities

Brands that operate a multi-channel strategy need a unified view of the inventory and analytics across these channels. They need the ability to customize how their inventory is distributed and make projections about the profitability of their SKUs. This is an essential capability if you’re going to weigh product performance across platforms and marketplaces beyond Shopify like Amazon and Etsy.

However, the challenge here is that these multi-channel functionalities are not built-in with Shopify. To enable these functionalities for your Shopify store, you’ll need to either use a solution from the Shopify App store or integrate with an advanced inventory management tool like Uphance. Tools like these will ultimately smoothen your inventory management experience with Shopify.

Automated inventory replenishment

As your Shopify store grows to manage more SKUs, your inventory replenishment process ultimately becomes more tasking. This is expected as the creation of more SKUs increases the likelihood of stockouts and miscounts.

The challenge here with Shopify or any other e-commerce platform or marketplace is finding a system that can help you monitor your inventory and automatically generate purchase orders to prevent stockouts. This system should also ideally use business intelligence from order history and trends to recommend appropriate quantities and potentially help you eliminate errors.

Some products may not integrate

Shopify has an extensive list of product restrictions that can sometimes complicate inventory management on the platform. These restrictions mean that some products may not integrate with Shopify. This is perhaps the biggest hindrance to using Shopify’s built-in inventory management system. Also, manually implementing your multi-channel inventory because of this lack of integration with some products can be somewhat challenging.

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Is Shopify Inventory Management Software right for you?

Like any other software solution, you’ll need to determine whether it’s right for your business before adoption. You’ll need to first assess your current and future requirements and ascertain whether the solution is right for your business. You should also check whether any of these solutions solve your unique challenges out of the box or with as few customizations as possible.

For instance, an inventory management solution like the Uphance Apparel ERP software can help fast-growing fashion businesses streamline their business operation, automate their inventory management, and scale effortlessly. This means that apparel businesses can set up their inventory and start receiving orders within minutes.

Here are some typical challenges that affirm your business’ need for a comprehensive Shopify Inventory Management solution.

Improved Flexibility

The use of spreadsheets for inventory management can be very inflexible. If your team members cannot access real-time data or add more capabilities to your inventory management process. In that case, you’re most likely due for an upgrade to an inventory management solution.

Increased Accuracy

Human errors can be very costly, and this is far too common with using spreadsheets. If your team members struggle to track your stock for any product listing at any given time, you need an advanced inventory management system.

Reduce Inventory Costs

The consequences of poor inventory management could be significantly costly to your business. For instance, failure to accurately predict stock trends could lead to overstocking, resulting in more holding and other associated costs. Consistently failing to prevent out-of-stock situations can also sometimes be attributed to poor inventory management practices. A reliable inventory management solution will help you forecast stock trends and help you store only as much stock as you need.

Accelerate Growth

If you have to consistently write reports manually rather than spending time on more productive tasks, or your team members have to constantly reach out to your warehouse for stock inquiries, this can have negative effects on your sales. This is an indication of poor stock management and that you need to upgrade to an advanced inventory management solution.

Types of Inventory Management Systems

The type of inventory management solution you adopt is crucial in determining how successful your e-commerce business will be. Here are the main types of inventory management systems typically available to e-commerce businesses.

Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets can be a low-cost means of inventory management for small businesses with minimal requirements and on a basic scale. However, this inventory management method offers no flexibility, and accuracy can easily be compromised. For instance, spreadsheets are prone to human errors, easily resulting in costly problems. Notwithstanding their outdated nature, their low costs and ease of setup usually make them attractive for small businesses with simple needs.

Basic inventory management Systems

Basic inventory management is usually available within some cloud-based apps and allows you to track and monitor your product listings without installing a new software solution. Again, while solutions like these are somewhat better than spreadsheets, their lack of customization usually means that businesses still have to use spreadsheets for more specific tasks.

Dedicated Inventory management Systems

Dedicated inventory management systems are purpose-built to help you track and control your stock. Where the system is cloud-based, it can effectively allow you to integrate other services you already use like QuickBooks, Xero, Shopify, and Amazon. For instance, a cloud-based apparel inventory management solution like Uphance provides a comprehensive service that allows you to integrate your Shopify inventory with extended capabilities.

Warehouse Management Systems

Warehouse management systems are different from inventory management systems. They are, however crucial to the success of your warehouse operations. A warehouse management solution is designed to make your warehouse team function more efficiently.

Enterprise Resource Planning Systems

An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution essentially covers all aspects of your business planning. This saves you the cost of subscribing to multiple inventory management and business planning solutions that could significantly add up. An ERP software solution typically opens you up to more advanced functionalities that ultimately enhance your operations and scale seamlessly. Uphance offers an ERP software dedicated to apparel businesses.

The Uphance ERP includes advanced inventory, warehouse, and overall business operations management functionalities. It also provides automated intelligence-based reporting and real-time analytics for improved decision-making. More specifically, to inventory management, Uphance can help make forecasts that help you accurately prevent out-of-stock and overstocking situations.

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9 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Shopify Inventory Management Software

Choosing a Shopify Inventory Management software is one of the most important decisions you could make for your Shopify store. So, choosing the right or wrong solution could potentially make or break your business. With this in mind, there are essential questions you should seek answers to before selecting a Shopify inventory management solution to ensure it’s an ideal fit for your business.

What growth stage is your business currently in?

This is the first question you should ask when shopping for a Shopify Inventory Management solution. You’ll need to determine your current growth stage before exploring software solutions. This is critical as spending too much on an inventory management tool or any other software if you’re just starting a business may not be the best use of your already limited resources. You’ll need to assess the current state of your resources and figure out which plan best resolves your operational or inventory management challenges.

Is the inventory management solution industry-specific or for general purposes?

You’ll need to determine whether the Shopify inventory management software you choose is built for general purposes or with a specific industry in mind. This is an essential criterion when choosing a new solution. An industry-specific inventory will most likely focus on resolving your industry’s unique challenges. It will speak your language and understand your pain points. For instance, Uphance is built specifically for apparel businesses and offers many industry-relevant features to help fashion brands succeed.

Is it Cloud-based?

You’ll need to figure out whether the inventory management system is a cloud-based SaaS or a conventional premise-based software. This is important because it potentially determines how your users can access your data. A cloud-based inventory management system will allow you to access your data from any location and monitor your orders in real-time.

What is your budget?

Like any other project, knowledge of budgets is essential when getting inventory management software. Since the pricing of inventory management solutions typically varies and ranges significantly depending on functionalities and features, it’s important to ascertain beforehand whether it fits within your budget. It goes without saying that you should ideally set out a budget for this as you do your research.

What inventory management challenges are you looking to resolve?

You need to ask this critical question as you prepare to get inventory management software. Without understanding the problems you’re trying to resolve now, and in the future, you may end up getting the wrong solution. For instance, here are some typical challenges you might have that can be quickly resolved by inventory management.
  • You regularly run out of stock for some popular products.
  • Your money is tied up on excess inventory that takes up space in your warehouse.
  • You generally struggle to keep your multi-channel inventory up-to-date.
Understanding your unique needs will help you watch for specific features when scouting the market for an inventory management solution.

What integrations do you need?

The critical question to ask here is, “will the inventory management software play well with other services and tools you already use?”’. The software should ideally allow you to connect other valuable services and apps that make your overall inventory management experience a lot smoother. As a minimum, for instance, it must allow you to integrate and manage your inventory across multiple channels seamlessly. It should also support the integration of apps with additional capabilities like accounting and CRM.

Will you require extensive support?

There are many reasons for asking this question. For instance, you’ll want to choose a Shopify Inventory Management software that’s highly intuitive and user-friendly. However, you’ll need great customer support to get you out when something goes wrong. Before choosing a solution, you should make an effort to determine how much support you’ll require to get started (initial setup, onboarding, etc.) and in the long term. This will ultimately help you understand what experience to expect from using the software.

Is the inventory management software user-friendly?

Again, the importance of a user-friendly software solution cannot be overstated as it plays a critical role in determining how seamless the transition and adoption will be for you and your team members.
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9 Features to Lookout For in a Shopify Inventory Management Software Solution

If you’re shopping for a new inventory management solution for your Shopify store, these are the top features you should be on the lookout for.

Real-time inventory tracking

This is the most fundamental feature that inventory management software should offer. Potential inventory management software should allow you to track changes to your inventory across all your channels in real-time. This is the most fundamental feature that inventory management software should offer. The software should show your team where your entire inventory is and reflect movements across channels or locations. This will effectively allow you to:

  • See inbound goods that have been scanned at your warehouses.
  • View warehouse transfers in real-time.
  • See sales orders in your inventory to avoid selling stock twice.

Inventory controls

The software should also offer features that help you control and adjust your product listing in line with your stock levels. Again, this is crucial for ensuring that you do not oversell your stock.

Unlimited Products and SKUs

If an inventory management system limits the number of products or SKUs you can list on all their plans, you should reconsider using them. This also applies to limitations on customers, transactions, suppliers, and even locations. One of the core purposes of using a Shopify Inventory Management platform is to help you grow. This means that it has to meet your current needs while planning for your future needs. It’s important to have the capacity to list as many SKUs as possible to prevent complications when a massive order comes in.

Detailed inventory reporting

If you have to manually extract data or gather insights from a new inventory management software, it’s probably not worth it. A new software solution should help you simplify your admin and scale your operations with ease. You should get an inventory management solution that offers built-in reporting features that provide insights like:

  • Projected revenue.
  • Backorder rate.
  • Inventory turnover rate.
  • Unit sales.

Mobile sales app

There are many benefits of using inventory management software that offers a mobile sales app. A mobile sales app will allow you to have full visibility to receive orders from anywhere. For instance, if you’re a fashion company that needs to exhibit at a trade show, you could benefit from having a mobile sales app that’s linked to your multi-channel inventory. An inventory management solution like Uphance offers a mobile app that allows you to place and receive orders regardless of your location.

Multi-channel and multi-warehouse support

Having multiple sales channels is essential for avoiding business disruptions or complete shutdowns when any channel is disrupted. So, you should as a minimum only consider inventory management solutions that offer support for your multi-channel and multi-warehouse strategy. It should help you integrate with marketplaces like Shopify and Amazon, point of sale applications, and a comprehensive order management system.

Comprehensive analytics

The availability of advanced inventory management capabilities will lead to the generation of tonnes of data. To make sense of this data, you should ensure that a potential software solution provides built-in business intelligence functionalities.

Data security

This is critical not just for industries where it’s a legal requirement but for everyone looking t use an inventory management solution. For instance, you’ll need to enquire from your potential software provider what kind of encryption standards they use and whether they support 2FA.

Automated inventory forecasts and replenishment

An inventory management solution should help you to accurately forecast stock replenishments based on history and trends. This is useful for ensuring that you do not overstock or run out of stock in avoidable situations.

The Best Shopify Inventory Management Solution for your e-commerce Brand

If you run a Shopify store or an eCommerce brand via any other online marketplace or platform, the best Shopify Inventory Management solution for your business is one that best suits your unique needs. You’ll need to ascertain which solution best meets these needs. The following are some of the best inventory management solutions available.

Uphance - #1 Apparel Inventory Management Software

Uphance is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution for the apparel industry. Its dedication to the industry and provision of numerous apparel-specific features are the key factors that set it apart. Unlike other ERP or inventory management solutions built for general purposes, Uphance speaks the language that fashion brands need to hear and offers the peculiar solutions that they need.

If you run an apparel business, Uphance provides comprehensive inventory management software for fashion brands that operate via Shopify and other channels. Uphance integrates seamlessly with your Shopify store, allowing you to manage your multi-channel inventory from one platform. Here are the top features you can expect from Uphance.

Pros:

  • Apparel Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
  • Robust Support
  • Advanced Inventory Management
  • Seamless Integrations
  • Transparent Pricing
  • Order Management
  • End-to-end Product Management
  • Advanced Reporting and Business Intelligence

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for businesses outside the fashion industry.

Skubana

Adopting a multi-channel approach is critical to your success as an e-commerce business. Skubana provides a general-purpose inventory management software solution that simplifies many aspects that users would normally find complex in other solutions. This software solution is a top choice for Shopify store owners looking to accurately track their business’ performance across multiple platforms or marketplaces.

With advanced reporting, inventory, and order management features, it’s not surprising that Skubana is one of the most trusted platforms for growing e-commerce businesses.

Pros:

  • One-click warehouse import.
  • Unified platform for managing business operations.
  • Advanced analytics and reporting.
  • User-friendly
  • Reliable support.

Cons:

  • Lack of pricing transparency.
  • The vast amount of features increases the learning curve.

Zoho

Zoho offers a compact solution that allows e-commerce businesses to automate and streamline their inventory and warehouse management processes. This solution features powerful inventory management capabilities that allow users to track and control all their products. It is cloud-based so you can perform all inventory and order management functions from any location. This inventory management solutions provider is very popular for its budget-friendly pricing which starts from $0 to $374 per month.

Pros:

  • Trial version available.
  • Integrates with Shopify, eBay, and Amazon.
  • Budget-friendly and transparent pricing.
  • End-to-end inventory tracking.
  • Accounting and CRM integrations.

Cons:

  • Lack of industry specialization.

SkuVault

SkuVault is another multi-channel inventory management solution that gives you access to advanced capabilities for your Shopify store. This software connects all your orders from multiple channels like your Shopify store and website, and allows you manage your inventory from one simple platform.

This platform will also allow you to run your warehouses effortlessly and automate your operations across your Shopify store and other channels. The main challenge with SkuVault, however, may lie with the limitations that growing businesses will find with its pricing strategy. For instance, all its price plans have limited monthly orders and only two users per account.

Pros:

  • Swift implementation.
  • Multi-warehouse inventory management.
  • Fully cloud-based.
  • Integrations with shipping partners.
  • Barcoding/RFID available.

Cons:

  • Complex and expensive pricing.
  • Limit of up to 20,000 orders monthly.

Veeqo

Veeqo is packed with all the inventory management features you need to help your Shopify e-commerce store succeed. It is trusted by some of the biggest brands globally and can help you sync your inventory and records across multiple marketplaces. We believe Veeqo is one of the best Shopify inventory management solutions for general purposes in the market and its features do not let us down. It features many functionalities that automate essential aspects of your Shopify store operations.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based solution.
  • Multi-channel inventory control and tracking.
  • Detailed reporting.
    Intuitive interface.
  • Integrations with multiple channels and shipping partners.
  • Strong customer support.

Cons:

  • Lengthy onboarding process.
  • Updates can take too long.
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A Complete Apparel Management Software to Handle All Your Business Needs

The Bottom Line

Shopify store owners who manage their inventory using the built-in functionality will quickly discover that its limitations may hinder their multi-channel strategy. This will affect their ability to scale upwards or even access advanced inventory management and reporting capabilities. If you’ve been spending too much time on repetitive tasks or having to manually update your apparel inventory on Shopify and other platforms, you’d benefit greatly from switching to Uphance. Schedule a demo to see how Uphance can take your Shopify inventory management to the next level.

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