Inventory management is a part of supply chain management. Sometimes, these two get mixed up, so for clarity, let’s define them both, along with their differences.
What is inventory management?
Roughly, it’s about keeping the optimal amount of goods and deciding where to store them. The primary function of inventory management is to balance supply chain and demand, despite how big or small your business is. Storing doesn’t just mean finding the right warehouse, but also involves a storage system / logic to it.
Supply chain inventory management
The supply chain is about the flow of goods, rather than the managed amount or the storage of your inventory. This involves timing and working with partners / suppliers. Therefore, the supply chain spans beyond your own business / inventory management. It reaches partners and suppliers.
Retail inventory management
You’ll either be selling to consumers or other businesses. Selling to consumers is known as B2C (Business to Consumer) or, simply, retail. Selling to another business is known as B2B (Business to Business) or wholesale.
Most businesses start with selling to consumers. For that reason, in this guide, we’ll focus more towards that path. A retailer can sell their goods in two general ways: online and offline.
Retailers can sell and manage inventory online through marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. Also, they can put together their own websites. Each option has its strengths and flaws.
For example, if you’re planning to create your own brand, generally, you’re better off starting your own website. However, there are other options like Amazon Brand Registry.
Retailers can also sell the traditional, offline way. It means you’ll need a physical, brick-and-mortar store. Apart from POS (Point-of-sale) software, that takes care of everything you need for a physical store, most things are self-explanatory. If you’re planning to open a brick-and-mortar store, check out Vend.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one sales channel. Quite the contrary – we recommend selling on multiple channels. With software that combines numerous online and offline services (including Amazon, eBay and Vend), you can easily manage a multi-channel store. This is the optimal way to go, as you multiply your customer reach several times. And this huge benefit is just one of many. The software we’re on about is Multiorders and we’ll talk about it more in this guide. And for a good reason.
Any retailer would agree that a proper inventory management is near-impossible without software. Or, at the very least, incredibly inefficient time- and cost-wise.