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Know How: Prepare inventory + catalog products

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Welcome to our "Know How" series - we share ways to maximize your success! See all our best practices.

Online store - check. Brand - check. Products - check!  Your business’ success hinges on one key factor - selling products and getting them into your customers’ hands. Before your busy season takes full swing, make sure that you have enough of the right products and that you’re managing them efficiently.

Here's a quick overview of our inventory and product tips - click through to jump to each section:

 

Prepare your inventory:

Any store requires inventory, but the key to a profitable season is making sure you stock the right product, get it at a good price, and that nothing is taking up valuable space on your shelves.

Estimate your best sellers:

If you’ve already been through at least one busy season then you have a leg up. Review your sales from last year to see what your biggest sellers were and compare this with any notable changes to your product’s market. Use this data to gauge which items are likely to be your biggest sellers this year.

Determining how much inventory to purchase is a delicate balancing act. 

  • Make sure that you have sufficient inventory to fill your projected demands. It’s very common for customers to abandon a shopping cart if they discover the item they want is out of stock.
  • Avoid overstocking. If you do not sell all your inventory, you’ll be stuck with the extra product, which could tie up valuable space on your shelves. You may also be faced with slashing prices at the end of the season just to clear it out, negating the profits that you had anticipated.
TIP: be sure that you’re promoting the items that you have stocked up on

Deal with stale product:

Your busy season can actually be a good way to clear out some of the product that hasn’t been selling well. Here are a few ideas to move your stale product:

  • Promote discounted pricing to draw traffic to your store.
  • Create gift baskets to make less popular items more attractive.
  • Use suggestive selling. Identify popular products that compliment your less popular items. When popular items are viewed in store, suggest a less popular one to go with it. If popular items are purchased, use marketing emails to recommend other less popular items that would compliment their purchase. 

Order your product and make space:

It never hurts to negotiate with your suppliers. Many wholesalers will also offer volume discounts. If you don’t need enough product on your own to reach the next volume tier, consider if you know other merchants interested in buying together to take advantage of bulk discounts.

Don’t forget to ensure that you have enough space to store all your inventory. This could mean setting up temporary shelving, renting an extra storage facility, or finding ways to clear out stale products asap.

 

Streamline your processes:

Before orders start rolling in, make sure that you have processes in place to efficiently handle your inventory and fully leverage your products. Shinkage eats into your profits and stockouts could result in lost sales. Your products also provide an excellent opportunity to promote your business.

Look into inventory management software:

This type of software integrates directly with your stores, shipping solutions, and other business applications for dynamic inventory tracking. Learn more about which inventory management systems are supported by ShippingEasy.

Merchants who use QuickBooks to track their inventory can integrate it with ShippingEasy to collect sales data. Learn more about ShippingEasy’s QuickBooks integration.

Consider a barcode scanner:

Barcode scanners work well with inventory management systems to track your inventory real time. Many systems support automatic alerts when your stock reaches low thresholds - giving you enough notice to reorder before you run out.

You can also set up your ShippingEasy packing slips to display the product barcode, making locating products a snap! Learn more about adding barcodes to packing slips.

Ready your ShippingEasy Product Catalog:

ShippingEasy's Product Catalog is a comprehensive list, or database, of the products you sell. Learn more.

Setting up your ShippingEasy Product Catalog allows you to apply individual product and SKU details across useful tools and features: Shipping Rules, Pick Lists, Packing Slips, Shipping Confirmation Emails, your shipping labels, and more. It’s also an efficient way to update product details and images in one central database vs in each of your individual stores.

It’s best to upload your product catalog before your start receiving a rush of orders. This ensures that orders are populated with the most current data and that your automation will apply to new incoming orders. Learn more about adding new product and editing existing products in your Product Catalog. 

Most merchants will want to save the following data for each product:

  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Warehouse location/bin
  • Image

Anyone with international sales will also benefit from these fields:

  • Description
  • Harmonized code
  • Declared Value
  • Country of Manufacture

With a complete catalog, the possibilities are endless! 

Print labels faster and get the best rates:

A complete Product Catalog saves you time printing labels and ensures that you get the best rates available.

  • Best dimensional rates: for single line item orders with product dimensions, ShippingEasy will automatically populate those to package dimensions. Then, ShippingEasy will display the best dimensional rates when purchasing postage from the READY TO SHIP page. Learn more about ShippingEasy’s exclusive Flat Rate Green pricing.
  • ORDERS page shipping: saving product weights allows ShippingEasy to automatically calculate the total shipment weight. While this speeds up shipping on the READY TO SHIP page, it also opens up options to ship from the ORDERS page.
  • Easy Customs Forms: customs forms require a tremendous amount of information and the more precise you can be, the faster your package will get through customs. In addition, accurate declared values ensures that the correct duties/taxes are assessed - this is especially important if you sell your products for a different price than they are valued. Learn more about customs forms.

    These Product Catalog fields populate directly to your customs forms:

    • Description
    • Weight
    • Harmonized code - learn more
    • Declared Value
    • Country of Manufacture
Pick your orders faster:

There is more than one way to pick products and using the Product Catalog means that you have all your options available.

Promote your products:

Tout your products and remind your customers what they ordered with product images on your shipment notification emails and packing slips. Learn more about adding images to your confirmation emails and packing slips.

Organize your orders and automate your processes:

Product Categories are key to using Shipping Rules with your Product Catalog. Think of Product Categories as master skus, allowing you to apply actions to a group of SKUs. Learn more.

When Product Categories are combined with Shipping Rules, the possibilities are endless. Learn more about Shipping Rules.

These are a few ways you might organize your products and apply automation:

  • Free shipping: if certain products qualify for free shipping, flag those orders and automatically apply the carrier and service that you use for “free shipping”. Learn more.
  • High value and/or fragile: some products require extra attention when packing, either because of their cost or their delicate nature. You may even want to automatically add insurance to them. Flag these orders so that your team knows to give them the care they need.
  • Right-sized box: if you know that certain products ship in the same kind of box every time, automatically assign that package via a Saved Selection. Learn more.
  • Perishable: these items need to be shipped faster. Flag these orders and automatically assign an expedited service. Learn more.
  • Promotions: you may want to extend special promotions to your customers based on the items they purchase. Create custom email and packing slip templates, then assign them based on the product SKUs. 
  • Backordered: if you run out of stock, you can flag orders containing unavailable items. This helps your team know which orders to split or to avoid processing the orders until the product is back in stock. Learn more.
Keep an eye on your product sales:

ShippingEasy offers a variety of preconfigured reports. The Unshipped Product Report makes it easy to track the quantities of individual products you’ve yet to ship. Learn more about the Unshipped Products Report.

Keep a close eye on the Unshipped Product Report, comparing it regularly with your physical stocks, to ensure that you don’t run out of anything. If you end up running out of inventory or frequently find yourself with backordered products, you can use ShippingEasy’s automation to flag these orders for special handling. Learn more.

At the end of your season, you will want to use the All Products Report to gauge you success and start planning for next season. Learn more about the All Products Report.

 


Related articles:

What inventory management systems does ShippingEasy support?
How to: Display Product Options for your items
FAQs: Product Catalog
How to: Edit product catalog weights while shipping
How does the Product Category rule work?

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