Clothing Inventory-Control Solutions
Trouble Managing Apparel Inventory? Try Clothing Inventory-Control Solutions
When you’re searching for that bottleneck in your apparel and e-commerce operations, stop looking at your website and start looking at your warehouse.
A dirty, discombobulated warehouse can lead to longer order-fulfillment times, poorer picking, more returns, shipping delays and so much more. Each one of those mistakes costs you revenue and cuts into your profit margins.
It’s time to solve your trouble managing clothing inventory by adopting an apparel inventory-control solution. Let’s look at some common challenges involved in inventory management and the benefits of overcoming these challenges to keep track of your inventory efficiently. We’ll also share some tips for how to manage clothing inventory like a pro.
Common Challenges in the Control of Clothing Inventory
- Stock-outs: When you don’t realize your stock is low and it’s time to reorder, you could end up with a stock-out. Seeing an item is out of stock can have an immediate negative effect on a customer’s shopping experience. In one study, around 25% of these consumers purchased what they wanted from a different site or store, and 15% either delayed or canceled their purchase altogether.
- Excess stock: Not having an accurate understanding of your current stock and failing to forecast effectively can also lead to excess stock. Excess stock ties up an undue amount of your capital in inventory and can leave you with product you end up having to mark down to move it and make way for the next season.
- Inaccurate tracking: To reliably let customers know on your website whether something is in stock, you need to maintain an accurate live count of your inventory You also need these counts to be accurate so you can manage your inventory effectively.
- Disorganization: A disorganized warehouse can be a huge detriment when you’re trying to control clothing inventory. Not knowing where to find certain products or having to navigate around carts or stacks of boxes to get around can make for an inefficient warehouse at best and an ineffective one at worst.
- Poor packing: Another issue e-commerce companies can run into is ineffectively packaging their products. Arranging items or cushioning them ineffectively can result in damage during shipping. Even if products arrive undamaged, a customer doesn’t want to open their box to find a disorganized heap of clothing items.
- Inadequate software: Another big issue for many clothing retailers is that they are relying on outmoded tools to manage clothing inventory. Whether it’s a manual spreadsheet or old software, your inadequate tech tools are likely holding you back. Without the right software, you’ll be putting in more work and running into more errors.
The Benefits of Effective Inventory Management
- Avoid stock-outs and excess stock: Having products in stock without having excess stock is a balance you can only achieve through effective inventory management. Keeping items in stock will help you make more sales and satisfy customers, and avoiding excess stock will help you save money.
- Find what you need when you need it: Effective inventory control also means knowing where to find products and ensuring items don’t get lost in the chaos of a disorganized warehouse. Being able to find what you need when you need it saves time so you can fulfill orders more efficiently. It also keeps your employers happier and even safer in the warehouse.
- Keep an accurate live count of your inventory: Manual methods of counting are subject to plenty of human error, but modern solutions for inventory control can help you keep an accurate count of what you have in stock. Periodic manual audits are still a good idea, but you should find fewer discrepancies when you’re continuously monitoring your inventory.
- Make informed decisions about your inventory: When you’re making decisions for your business, you need all the data in front of you. Otherwise, your decisions may be based on inaccurate assumptions or gut feelings. Accurate data on your inventory can help you make decisions about manufacturing, purchasing, marketing and more.
- Keep your customers and stakeholders happy: Your customers, employees and all other stakeholders benefit when you manage your inventory effectively and consistently. Controlling your clothing inventory is a win for everyone and will help you encourage customer loyalty rather than upset customers with a poor shopping experience with your company.
- Enjoy a more profitable business: Overall, effective inventory management can help you grow your business and increase your profits. As you reduce errors, reduce waste and deliver on expectations, you can expect to see some great results.
Tips for Controlling Your Clothing Inventory
Let’s look at a few tips that can help explain how to control clothing inventory effectively. You require a combination of solutions tailored to your needs to manage your clothing inventory as effectively as possible. These are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Conduct Detailed Audits
Inventory solutions for the apparel industry focus on data trails to build a better audit. The more you know, the better you’re able to serve customers and partake in advanced retail operations, like dynamic pricing models and cross-sell forecasting.
Trouble managing apparel inventory can often be addressed by performing cycle counts and looking at discrepancies, measured in both error rates and locational concerns. These perpetual-inventory counts break down audits into waves and can be analyzed to generate larger inventory trends – especially discovering shortfalls, errors and fraud – when tied back to business intelligence solutions for the clothing industry.
2. Make the Most of Your Space
E-commerce businesses may save costs by eliminating in-store shelf space, but they still require robust inventory solutions for the apparel industry at large. They need to make sure they’re making the most of the space they have set aside for receiving, storing and distributing goods.
Inventory errors in receiving are common, especially if your staff lacks the space they need or doesn’t have a clear area to move your inventory through after intake. Whether you’re working in a traditional warehouse or have a location that’s pulling double duty as an office, manufacturing hub or distribution center, you’ll boost overall margins by eliminating receiving errors and using platforms that automate part of your intake and storage processes.
3. Pick For Priorities
Apparel inventory-control solutions can help you identify what products are most valuable to your customers, which items do best in overall shipping and what needs the most care. These are three of the most common picking priorities to consider when fulfilling any order.
Focus on picking for your daily orders based on these and other categories that your IT backbone can discover, and you’ll experience less breakage and fewer returns due to damage.
You can also monitor which items are being added on to orders the most or have the most positive reviews on your site. Packaging these items at the top so they’re the first to be seen can be a major hit for your customers, especially if you’re working directly to consumers and hope to get in on the unboxing craze.
4. Pay Close Attention to Best-Selling Products
For some businesses, the 80-20 principle may accurately describe their sales. Applied to retailers, this principle would mean about 80% of your profits come from only 20% of your stock. Some businesses refer to these items as their flagship products or, simply their best sellers.
For some clothing retailers, product offerings change frequently, and there may be little to no overlap in what you sold six months ago and what you’re selling now. Even in these instances, you should be able to predict which items will be best sellers.
While effective inventory management is important across the board, it is especially critical when it comes to your top sellers, whether they’re timeless mainstays or seasonal favorites. Pay especially close attention to the typical sales lifecycle for these products and monitor their sales, ensuring you keep them in stock.
5. Use an ERP With WMS Integration
The right software can go a long way toward helping you manage your inventory successfully. Look for software that helps you streamline your process and that offers all the data you need to understand your current operations and make strategic decisions for the future.
A smart strategy for many businesses is to find enterprise resource planning (ERP) software with a seamless warehouse management system (WMS) integration. ERP and WMS integration will connect the parts of your business to help you make informed decisions at every level. An ERP is intended to centralize your operations so you’re not dealing with disjointed programs for each aspect of your business operations. If you use ERP software, make sure your ERP will provide the tools you need to manage your stock.
WMS – Ending Trouble Managing Clothing Inventory
Every retailer has been there. There’s always some trouble managing apparel inventory, especially when you have to break down shipments and then combine goods for new orders.
Warehouse management and inventory solutions for the apparel industry are specifically designed to help you address known bottlenecks and uncover other problems lurking in your apparel management. They’re the simplest way to introduce a method to the maze and madness that the apparel warehouse can otherwise fall into.
The moment you execute a robust clothing inventory-control solution, you’ll wish you did it seasons sooner.