Despite all the advantages of the FBA program, merchants still have many challenges to overcome. Inventory management is definitely one of them.
In this post, we’ll compare two common approaches to managing FBA inventory: manual and automated.
Manual FBA Inventory Management
Sure, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) eliminates many of the fulfillment-related headaches of selling online. As orders flow in, the FBA merchant is able to bypass the disruptive process of picking, packing and shipping to each individual customer. Better yet, Amazon will even do much of the customer service for you, dealing with refunds and returns on your behalf.
Here’s the problem – you still have to get your inventory to Amazon. Granted, sending bulk stock to Amazon is less effort than preparing one-off orders. Nonetheless, it’s still work. And Amazon has some pretty specific requirements for preparing inbound shipping plans (click here for Amazon’s guidelines or here for a 16-page overview). In short, it’s your responsibility to ensure accurate quantity count, packaging, product labeling and box contents. It’s also wise to monitor discrepancies between your shipping plan and what Amazon indicates it has received. (There’s nothing worse than paying for inventory that vanishes into thin air.)
Although the Seller Central dashboard offers several inventory management tools aimed at expediting the process, your supplier information is likely spread across multiple spreadsheets, email attachments and PDF files. This de-centralized approach to information management forces the merchant to jump between multiple items, which can lead to costly typos and restocking oversights.
Here’s another problem – Amazon doesn’t tell you when or how much of an item to order (or reorder). That’s all up to your keen business judgement. Many sellers build spreadsheets, containing the secret sauce of their restocking models. Although better than nothing, a restocking spreadsheet is usually outdated the moment it’s created or updated. Remember, the Buy Box is constantly changing. Competitors come and go in the blink of an eye. Trying to make informed restocking decisions based on spreadsheet data is tricky, at best.
Automated FBA Inventory Management
If you’ve been searching for a better way to manage FBA inventory, you’re in luck. Our RestockPro platform (click here for a 21-day free trial) is here to make your life easier – and more productive.
RestockPro connects to your Seller Central account via the Amazon MWS (Marketplace Web Service) API, allowing your FBA inventory and order data to flow into our cloud-based tool. Upload your supplier list, define your restocking assumptions and prepare to be amazed by what happens next. Within moments, RestockPro gets to work, creating a color-coded to-do list of restocking priorities.
Red items require your immediate attention; yellow items are not far behind. RestockPro helps you make the most of your restocking activities.
Better yet, RestockPro even suggests how much of an item to reorder and ship (based on your “secret sauce,” of course). No more copying and pasting assumptions into spreadsheets. RestockPro applies your business rules real-time – and, in the context of current competitive forces.
Ready to restock an item? Give our intuitive PO builder and shipment wizard a try. We built RestockPro to be a “one-stop shop” for all restocking and FBA inventory management activities. The days of jumping between dozens of browser tabs and documents will soon be a distant memory!
Manage FBA Inventory with RestockPro
As an FBA merchant, you essentially have two options: maintain the status quo or automate your workflow. A tool like RestockPro can help you create scalability for your restocking model, make more profitable decisions and, ultimately, grow your eCommerce business.
Give our RestockPro a try (for free) today!