For businesses with their eyes set on the global marketplace, inventory management is key. It is not enough to maintain a single, central warehouse or factory full of products when consumers hail from all over the world – that would require a massive logistical undertaking and drastic shipping costs. Not only that, but it would make it harder to guarantee the customer will receive the right item in the right place at the right time.
Instead, e-tailers should lean on an optimized, modern inventory management system. That may mean partnering with a third-party logistics management enterprise that can outline the ideal approach and provide the necessary infrastructure to maintain it. To be sure, inventory management goes beyond just checking to make sure the boxes are all lined up on their respective shelves. It also means identifying areas and products of high demand, implementing a strong software platform to consolidate various functions, provide transparency, build accuracy in each step of the process and set up fulfillment and distribution centers where necessary.
These are the hallmarks of the modern, successful e-tailer – and they are also attributes that will allow a company to enter and succeed in the international marketplace. Here are three reasons why:
1. Multiple warehouses add flexibility and responsiveness
As noted above, one centralized inventory warehouse cannot possibly cater to the demands of a growing international client base. But there is more to that than just distance – in addition, regional distribution centers have a better grasp on the specific conditions, regulations and needs in each part of the world. For example, a warehouse in Germany will be better suited to identify and meet customer needs in the U.K., France, Belgium or Scandinavia based on the facility’s regional position than one located in Australia. When a customer has an issue, it’s much easier to reach someone right across the border, in the same time zone, who understands the area a little more intimately than someone on the other side of the world.
2. Modern software platforms align global inventory
Once upon a time, it was impossible to accurately update inventory across different facilities in real time. Today, not only is that possible, it is to be expected. The best inventory management systems know when an item leaves the shelf at the physical store, when an item is shipped from a warehouse in another country, when a customer returns a product to a regional distribution center – all at the moment those events occur. Moreover, the same system that manages inventory can also fold in with other business functions like customer support.
3. Transparency builds credibility and customer satisfaction
Even with the latest inventory management strategy, orders can still be delayed, damaged or otherwise during the supply chain – accidents can happen. But rather than leaving the customer out to dry, the best e-tailers build transparency into their fulfillment. Inventory management should reflect that, too – consumers should know when a product is sold out the very second it becomes unavailable, and they should know the moment it comes back in stock. Additionally, e-customers always appreciate being able to see where their order is along the supply chain, whether it’s en route, arrived at a distribution center, or delayed.
Armed with a modern inventory management strategy, e-tailers will be prepared to take on whatever global fulfillment challenges lie ahead. That strategy may look different from company to company, depending on each one’s needs and market focus. That is why it always helps to seek out leaders in e-commerce platforms to determine the most effective course of action.