So How Do I Grow my E-Commerce Business? Part II: Manage Your Inventory

You have a fancy web page that displays all of the items you want to sell to prospective customers. You have the inventory to support the sales. You might even have Google Analytics running on your website to make you aware of how well your web site is attracting customers. This part was easy and fun. You realize that the Internet and mobile phones make access to your inventory available to customers worldwide. So the more exposure you can give to your products, the better chance people will be able to find your ‘stuff’ worldwide!

In Part I of this series you got brave and decided to branch out and sell your products on other Internet marketplaces such as Amazon, Ebay, and Rakute, just to name a few. You are having so much success selling on these Internet storefronts and you think to yourself, this is easy! So you decide to add more products to your inventory selection. You branch out and contract with new suppliers to round out your line of products.

But, now it’s getting a little harder to manage all these products. How do you keep all these marketplaces up to date with your current products and inventories without having to manually touch each one of them? Well, that’s where Inspire Technologies comes in. At Inspire Technologies we can download your web content into our database. Once we have your data, we conveniently send that same data automatically into all of your marketplace stores. And you want to know what the best part is?  This all happens without any manual intervention!  For more on our product feeds, read our article on Working with Product Feeds to Amazon.

Inspire Technologies can also work directly with your suppliers to import their product listings into our database to merge with your current products. This will automatically add or delete products based on their listing, include their inventory quantities with your own inventory so you have more items to offer for sale without having to stock the inventory, and post to your various marketplaces. So, what does this do for you? This will allow you to increase your sales by offering a wider selection of products to your customers. We all know that increased sales mean increased profits for you!

However, one of the challenges we face when importing supplier products is that of quality content. Each marketplace that you want to sell your product on have their own rules for how they will accept your product listings so it’s important that your suppliers supply good content to you. At the very least, each supplier should have an item/model number for their product along with a short title, sales description and stocking unit of measure.

However, the need for more content is never ending. Marketplaces like Amazon add most of their listings based on the manufacturers UPC code so this is a very important piece of data you need from your suppliers if you want to sell in Amazon’s marketplace. From this code they assign their unique identifier called an ASIN. Once they have established an ASIN, it is easy for other sellers to offer the same product.  For more information on ASIN’s see our article on Selecting the best ASIN for improved sales.

Some additional information needed from your supplier is the purchase price and recommended MSRP price. Manufacturers often have their own rules on how far you can deviate from their MSRP price, so make sure you are aware of their pricing rules before you start selling. Inspire Technologies can help you structure your pricing so that you can constantly compare your retail price to that of competitors. Our re-pricing program allows you to offer competitive pricing according to rules you establish. Contact Inspire Technologies to see how our re-pricing program can help with your sales.

Many marketplaces require you to submit an image of the product you are trying to sell. These too have rules. They may need to be a certain pixel size, may need to have a white background, or just need to properly represent the item being offered. Be sure your supplier can give you an internet link to their professional image or you could end up spending a lot of money on photography services. Inspire Technologies also has several options to help with images. We can calculate the pixel size of each image to make sure it meets the requirements of a marketplace as well as work with your suppliers to download images direct from their server to our server if they don’t offer an internet link. Contact Inspire Technologies with your image requirements to see how we can help.

Often times a product can be purchased in varying configurations, or attributes; size, color, quantity packs, material type, etc. If so, the main product is often referred to as the parent item. Each variant is known as a child or option and usually has a unique item number representing the exact specification of the variation. When a supplier gives you their list of products it is important that they identify these groups in a way that no human intervention is required to know what products make up the ‘group’. An easy way to do this is to have both an item number for the unique item to purchase, but also a base style number that uniquely ‘groups’ all variations of a products offering.

A simple Excel spreadsheet is an easy way to do this by having each attribute listed in a separate column:

parent items

This chart shows two products available for purchase; either a Floral or Plain Blanket. The blankets are available in green or brown, and either size 66 or 69. The Item Style number uniquely groups the two different offerings. In this example, you would be offering two products each with selections to choose color and size.

Inventory listings can be quite challenging to manage when you take into account all of the content requirements. Trying to sell on various marketplaces can add to this challenge by requiring lots of manual labor to keep your data updated. Let Inspire Technologies help you manage your inventory and help you grow your E-Commerce Business. Contact us with your requirements!