Years ago, one sure sign of a brand’s success was seeing its products featured on the shelves of an ever-growing number of retailers and department stores. Today it’s being able to find a brand while browsing the online marketplace of your choice – and trusting that you’ll be able to order the products you need based on active inventory data without having to look somewhere else.
Brands understand this, but expanding through digital channels poses a different set of challenges than setting up physical locations or adding on more retail and wholesale partners.
First, there is no shortage of online marketplaces to choose from. Besides familiar names like Amazon or Zalando, retailers ranging from Macy’s and Bloomingdales to Belk and others are all actively working with third-party sellers. More than likely, growing brands will want to be present across many marketplaces at once in order to achieve their eCommerce revenue targets.
Why inventory data is critical to online marketplace success
Delivering a great customer experience across multiple channels, depends upon ensuring the correct stock data is sent to each marketplace, so consumers can see what’s available for purchase. Accurate pricing and inventory information is just as important as presenting details about product features and an appealing image.
This is why many brands seek out marketplace integration services in the first place, though their needs could evolve significantly as they continue to expand.
Initially, a brand might have product feeds from a central warehouse updated on an hourly basis during the day, and every few hours during the night depending on where it is based. At the same time, historical sales data could be used to determine which percentage of stock should be distributed to each marketplace.
In practice, of course, sales can fluctuate unexpectedly based on shifts in demand from one online marketplace to another. The risk is that the existing cadence of product feed updates won’t keep pace with purchases, leading to an increase in order cancellations. This isn’t just from a customer experience standpoint. It can also jeopardize relationships with online marketplaces which base their seller agreements on keeping cancellation rates to a minimum.
Innovation that addresses active inventory management
Highstreet.io recently developed a real-time system to address these challenges. It allows brands to dynamically manage active inventory across multiple marketplaces at once. This involved changing the architecture of our existing solutions to adjust the way data is handled once a product had been ordered, but not yet fulfilled.
The functionality Highstreet.io built introduces a series of dedicated “buckets” that manage inventory data in both physical and virtual warehouses, as well as a component that can calculate how inventory should be distributed based upon pre-defined business rules. Incremental orders could be “reserved” as they are created, for example, but the system also tracks when they were canceled or when the system needs to be reset.
Brands also need to store inventory values once orders have been distributed, of course, and Highstreet.io’s active inventory solution added that too. It also includes a module to configure the flow of inventory data across channels and a way to visualize a brand’s inventory by marketplace and SKU, as well as the history of all updates from a brand’s product feeds.
The benefits of enhancing your ability to manage active inventory
1. Reduce your cancellation rate
Highstreet.io’s active inventory solution will provide brands greater confidence that their customers will be able to find the products they want, regardless of the online marketplaces where they choose to shop. This also helps build a track record for increased accuracy, which allows brands to meet the key performance indicators of their marketplace partners.
2. Complete automation of a complex process
By calculating the precise stock value that gets sent to each marketplace, Highstreet.io’s active inventory solution will also save brands from having to conduct a manual, historical analysis of which orders were canceled or the rate of cancellation.
3. Gain insight into sales performance across multiple online marketplaces
While the technology takes care of the heavy lifting, brands need to have clear visibility into the health of their business at all times. That’s why Highstreet.io’s active inventory solution also includes reporting on the state of its inventory, orders and SKUs. These reports are sent via e-mail to simplify distribution to all the relevant stakeholders, so they can make informed decisions about how they want their sales and marketing strategy to evolve.
4. Ease of expansion to into additional online marketplaces
With more third parties opening up platforms for sellers, it will not be unusual for brands to make their products available across a wide range of partners. They will now be in a better position to do so, knowing thanks to the ability to dynamically synchronize pricing and inventory data across all shopping channels.
Ready to get your active inventory under control?
Building your brand using online marketplaces shouldn’t be limited by concerns around what’s in stock and what’s not. Connect with Highstreet.io to learn more about the solution we’ve developed to bring greater peace of mind, and the ability to continue on your path to growth.