Top Apparel Inventory Management Challenges

If you run an apparel business, you’ll quickly discover that one of the most important factors that determine your success is how you manage your inventory. Inventory management is crucial to the success of any apparel business. It is essential for ensuring that you consistently meet your customers’ needs while avoiding wastage and loss.

However, there are many challenges that businesses in the apparel industry will typically face when managing their inventory. The following explores the importance of inventory management and the typical challenges faced in the apparel industry.

Common Inventory Management Challenges Faced by Apparel Businesses

The apparel industry presents many unique inventory management challenges that, when left unchecked, could be potentially costly. Below are a few of them.

Running Out of Stock (Stockouts)

It’s been long established that stockouts lead to walkouts. Running out of stock can be very costly for apparel eCommerce brands as it generally prevents you from getting more sales. Preventing this scenario is essential for the success of your business.

Out-of-stock generally leads to lost sales, and reduced customer satisfaction and loyalty. Your customers may feel disappointed that you do not have an item they’re looking for and turn to your competition for something similar. You can experience stockouts for a wide range of reasons including the following:

  • Inaccurate data: Inaccurate inventory data could easily have you thinking you have products on paper and none or significantly fewer in reality. 
  • Late re-ordering: Failure to re-order products in a timely fashion as they get sold could easily have you selling out on in-demand items. 
  • Poor communications with vendors and suppliers: Failure to communicate effectively with your vendors and suppliers could result in missed or delayed deliveries. For instance, waiting too late to reorder a fast-selling product could lead to a breakdown in the relationship between you and your supplier. This situation can also be attributed to poor demand forecasts rather than negligence. 
  • Poor management of people, processes, and tools: Your inability to effectively manage your team, processes, or tools can adversely affect your apparel business. For instance, relying on manual inventory counts could lead to costly errors. Similarly, if you do not update your inventory to reflect replenishment, your buyers may assume that you have run out. 

An inventory management solution should ideally allow you to set restock levels to ensure you never run out while also storing the right amount of stock. Some of the ways with which an inventory management solution can help include accurate inventory control and automated stock replenishment.


This is worse than stockouts as it could result in selling at a loss. A deadstock situation arises when remnant inventory isn’t selling as fast as expected. This is significant and costly for the fashion industry globally. For instance, deadstock or unsold inventory in the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the global carbon emissions

Managing your inventory effectively will ultimately help you identify and remove deadstock before they become problematic. By preventing the accumulation of deadstock, you can effectively improve your bottom line.

Inadequate Software Solutions

If you run an apparel business, you’ll quickly realize that many clothing store inventory software solutions just don’t fit. Most of these solutions were built for general use and do not meet the peculiar needs of your industry. While these software solutions may be ideal for other industries, they typically require extensive customizations for apparel businesses like fashion brands. This means you’ll have to endure an extended phase of tweaking to ensure it’s the right fit for your apparel brand.

To fix this challenge, you’ll need to adopt a software solution that’s purpose-built for the apparel industry. A solution like this should recognize the unique challenges that the industry presents.

Too Many Disparate Software Solutions

Just like the challenge of using inadequate software for inventory management, you might be using too many clothing inventory apps that do not connect or communicate with each other. This can further complicate your inventory and business management processes. Using too many software solutions that do not communicate with each other could potentially mean that you have to login to multiple platforms to manage different aspects of your business. For instance, you might have to login to separate solutions to manage different aspects of your apparel business. This can ultimately be time-consuming and unproductive.

Ideally, you want an inventory management solution that connects seamlessly with the existing business process platforms you already use. An apparel inventory management solution should help you triangulate information from all your data sources and communicate flawlessly with other solutions that you already have, thereby improving your productivity and eliminating the need for too many disparate solutions.

Human & Administrative Errors

For apparel businesses that rely on too many manual processes including spreadsheets for their clothing inventory management, human and administrative errors are inevitable. For example, incorrectly recording inventory from your suppliers could lead to costly miscalculations that can hinder your ability to accurately plan for replenishments. Also, without barcode labels and scanners, your inventory management is more error-prone and tedious.

However, apparel inventory management solutions typically provide barcode labels and scanners that significantly reduce these errors.

Poor Production Planning & Management

If you need to avoid manufacturing delays or cost overruns, production planning is crucial. Poor production planning can have a negative impact on your sales forecasts and overall project scheduling. If you’re unable to accurately plan and manage your production, it can boomerang into additional problems like stockouts and deadstock.

Lack of Centralized Tracking

Many apparel businesses are still stuck with manually tracking multi-channel inventory across different software and even spreadsheets. This approach is, however, redundant, time-consuming, and error-prone. Without a centralized platform for tracking your apparel operations, you risk losing sight of how changes in one area affect another. Also, without centralized tracking, you’re less likely to leverage real-time monitoring and tracking of changes across your business.

You can fix this by adopting an inventory management solution that caters to your multi-channel needs and includes a warehouse sales system.


Overselling is a major concern for fashion eCommerce businesses and occurs when you sell significantly more than your available stock. This can lead to losing sales to your competition and hurting your relationship with affected buyers. Imagine where you incorrectly record incoming inventory by the thousands and make sales based on this. This will ultimately result in bulk cancellations and customer dissatisfaction.

A robust fashion inventory management solution can help you eliminate this problem by accurately tracking your multi-channel inventory.

Incorrect Product Pricing

Incorrect product pricing is also one of the major challenges confronting apparel businesses. Failure to price your products correctly can lead to reduced profit margins. It can also lead to you inadvertently driving away your customers, due to high product costs. 

The Importance of Proper Apparel Inventory Management

Over the past few decades, technology has significantly improved how inventory is managed in the fashion industry. In today’s fast faced world, poor inventory management practices typically have costly effects on your business’ bottom line. While there are so many tools available to help you manage your inventory, you’ll need to ensure that you choose one that best meets your needs and understands the peculiarities of the apparel industry.

The following highlights the importance of inventory management to the overall success of your apparel business.

Inventory Error Reduction

Inventory errors are inadvertently costly and are a priority for any apparel business seeking to improve efficiency and their bottom line. Fortunately, modern inventory management solutions empower your staff or team members with tools and functionalities designed to eliminate or minimize inventory errors. For instance, by using barcode scanners, you can more accurately identify products and seamlessly capture information.

Improved Planning & Forecasting

Inventory management is crucial for making accurate demand forecasts. Reliable apparel inventory management software solutions typically provide accurate stats, detailed reports, and a comprehensive dashboard that gives you a real-time overview of your inventory and overall operations to improve your decision-making.

Fulfillment Optimization and Improved Customer Relationships

Poor inventory management will ultimately lead to bad experiences for your customers. Reliable apparel inventory management solutions can help you deliver remarkable experiences, leverage cross-selling opportunities, and integrate support solutions like loyalty schemes, email marketing, and even your POS. An inventory management solution can help you make adjustments to orders and respond to specific customer requests before shipping.

Reduced Carrying Costs

Carrying costs typically include all the costs associated with purchasing, storing, discounting where products sell slowly, and handling your inventory. Apparel inventory management software can help you track your entire supply chain from a single system, helping you plan more efficiently and reducing your carrying costs.

Uphance Apparel ERP Provides a Comprehensive Inventory Management Solution

Uphance is an apparel ERP software that offers a comprehensive solution for managing your apparel business’ operations including inventory management. With Uphance, you can effectively manage your inventory and entire apparel business operations from within a single app. More importantly, it is cloud-based and integrates seamlessly with most support services available and e-commerce platforms like Shopify. See highlights below:

  • Cloud based. 
  • Multi-channel Inventory and Order Management. 
  • Inventory Tracking. 
  • Accurate Inventory Forecasting. 
  • Automated Replenishment. 

The Bottom Line: Overcome These Challenges with Apparel Inventory Management Software

If any of these challenges feel slightly familiar, you’ll need to proactively improve your inventory management practices. A reliable inventory management solution like Uphance is built to help apparel businesses overcome the typical challenges in the industry.

Try Uphance Now
A Complete Apparel Management Software to Handle All Your Business Needs

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