Is your Magento inventory a mess? Most people know they have a problem, but don’t quite know the solution yet. This is why Magento inventory management extensions are so popular.
They seem to provide a simple solution to a complicated problem. But, what differentiates the good extensions from the cheaply built plugins? This guide will take your through four of the most important factors to look into when choosing your inventory management software.
You Need More Than Just an Inventory Management Extension
As a retailer, you probably think of your store and everything you sell as physical items. However, in the online retail world, everything dealing with your Magento store is just data.
The two most common types of data relating to inventory management are: inventory data and item data.
Every extension should be able to handle at least those two types of data. What they are able to do with that data is another story.
These are a few main feature you should expect to find in a good Magento inventory management extension:
- Change product availability based on amount of stock
- Get low stock notifications
- Support for drop-ship suppliers
- Import product data from Magento store or CSV
Even with all of these features, most extensions are leaving out the three other types of data your webstore handles: order data, customer data, and shipping & tracking data.
It should do more than manage inventory.
It sounds a little confusing, but an inventory management system should do more than just… manage inventory. It should be the central repository for all your data.
That way you aren’t just subtracting 1 from your Shirt inventory every time you sell one. You’re also sending the customer shipping information. You’re updating or creating a customer record to monitor this customers activity. You’re creating purchase orders for warehouses and suppliers.
You shouldn’t try to purchase an extension that does one part of a puzzle. You need an extension that can connect each piece together seamlessly.
Otherwise down the road, your data will be in even more of a mess than it is now.
Real-time Inventory Management for Magento Webstores
One huge downfall of most Magento inventory management software is that it relies on the user to manual push updates. This brings up two main issues.
First, who wants to have to manually push updated inventory levels every day? This much negates the whole point of having an inventory management system in the first place.
Second, if you aren’t automatically updating your stock every time a purchase is made, you’re leaving yourself open to selling items you don’t have in stock.
If you’re just updating your inventory levels every day, or even every hour, what happens if you had 5 items in stock but before you can update you sell 6?
This can create a terrible customer experience. A user bought an item you said was in stock. If they receive an email saying their order will be cancelled or delayed because it’s out of stock, they aren’t going to be happy.
And, in an market driven by product reviews and social media, one extremely unhappy customer can cause a lot of damage.
It’s crucial to make sure your inventory management extension runs in real-time. It will not only save you the headache of pushing an update to your store every day, it will save you the even bigger headache of unhappy customers.
Integrations for Your Magento Inventory Management Extension
Hopefully we can all agree that you never want to sell an out-of-stock item.
If your inventory management system syncs data in real-time, you should never sell an out-of-stock item on Magento.
But what happens when you sell on more than just Magento? For instance, what if you sell on Magento, Amazon, and eBay? Now your inventory management problem becomes even more of–well–a problem.
This is why your Magento inventory management extension should have an integration with every marketplace and webstore you sell on.
Otherwise you run the risk of selling out-of-stock items, and ending up with inaccurate and sloppy data.
If you don’t sell on Amazon & eBay (or any other marketplace), this may not be a problem… yet. But if you’re a serious retailer, I imagine selling on marketplaces is in your future.
Don’t box yourself into a future problem. Don’t choose inventory management software that you will just have to replace. Make sure your inventory management system can integrate with every marketplace you want to sell on.
24/7 Support and Monitoring
Now 24/7 support has its obvious benefits. Support is like car insurance. You hope you never need to use it.
Trust me, there’s nothing worse than something going wrong and having no one to help you fix it.
However, 24/7 monitoring another thing you need to look for in an inventor management solution.
This is different than support. 24/7 monitoring means if something goes wrong with your inventory management software, someone else is watching and ready to take action.
Will you know you’ve been accidentally selling out-of-stock products because the system didn’t update? Or, that an order never came through because the connection was down?
Your Magento inventory management extension should be monitored 24/7. You can’t constantly monitor your data, so your system should do it for you.
What To Do Next
These are just a broad requirements. Your unique business requirements are what will truly determine the best inventory management extension for your business.
If you think these requirements are relevant to your business, make sure to check out our Connector for Magento and our inventory management solution. Our integrations between Magento, Amazon, eBay, and countless ERP and accounting systems make it an ideal solution.
If you want to learn more about Magento, check out our posts on integrating multiple Magento stores, the best Magento POS system for your business, and Magento SEO setting changes and tips to increase rankings.