The Ecommerce Reports You Need For Accurate Inventory Management
Ecommerce inventory management is a delicate balancing act. Too much stock places a strain on your warehouse, but too little means lost sales and shopper frustration.
As an online retailer, how do you forecast inventory needs, fulfill orders quickly, and achieve smooth stock turnover? The answer, as always, lies in your site reports and shopper data.
3 Ecommerce Reports to Inform Inventory Management
Data-backed inventory planning is key to sustainably scale your ecommerce site. Keep an eye on these three ecommerce reports to optimize your forecasts.
1. Popular Products
Sales data is one of the most reliable indicators of future demand. For forecasting purposes, focus on reports for top-selling products, repeat purchases, and items that are frequently bought together. Use seasonal and annual patterns to inform long-term inventory planning, but stay flexible. Monitor up-to-the-minute reports and be ready to order more of what’s popular, while it’s still in demand, to capitalize on the latest trends.
To keep inventory flowing after a restock, add merchandising badges to your site that highlight products that are “selling fast” or “back in stock.” As popular items sell out, use boost rules to remove them from view and surface similar alternatives – this tactic promotes sales of your other stock while avoiding shopper frustration and order fulfillment problems.
For shoppers that can’t wait to get their hands on your next drop, offer restock notifications. By inviting customers to join a waitlist or register their interest, you gather valuable data to inform inventory forecasts. Just make sure to replenish stock quickly and follow up on notification requests with personalized emails.
2. Slow-Moving Stock
Your slow-selling stock deserves just as much attention as your popular products – if not more so. An accumulation of sluggish inventory takes up valuable space in your warehouse that could otherwise be allocated to revenue-generating products.
Pull regular reports on which inventory fails to sell, and investigate the reasons why. Are the products in question difficult to find? Set a boost rule to elevate items with high levels of stock availability. Even better, feature these products as recommendations in targeted cross and upsell opportunities. For product pages that get lots of views but fail to convert, look for opportunities to optimize imagery and descriptions. Likewise, review product return reports to identify problematic stock or pages that need a content refresh.
Finally, to offload stagnant inventory, consider a flash sale for products that are about to expire or go out of season. Use a curated landing page and compelling merchandising to stimulate conversions. Most importantly, bookmark your reports on slow-selling stock to avoid over-ordering again in the future.
3. Search Reports
Shopper search queries are a goldmine of information on current trends and demand. Reports on popular searches, top grossing searches, and top converting searches should all inform stock planning decisions.
Pay close attention to your zero results report, in particular. These search queries generally fall into one of three categories, and should prompt the following actions:
- Products that your search bar failed to recognize: in this case, you need to set up synonyms and/or redirects to deliver accurate search results for these queries in future.
- Products that are currently out of stock: increase inventory orders to meet demand and avoid zero results. (In the meantime, offer shoppers similar alternatives in their search results.)
- Products you don’t carry: if customers regularly search for a particular product type that you don’t carry, consider adding it to your catalog. Put this data to one side for future inventory planning.
How to Interpret Ecommerce Reports for Accurate Inventory Forecasting
Data doesn’t lie, but it can be misinterpreted. Keep these three tips in mind for accurate decision making:
1. Compare Date Ranges
Remember to account for seasonal changes when pulling your ecommerce reports. Assess data within multiple date ranges for a holistic view of recent shopper trends, seasonal patterns, and year-on-year comparisons.
2. Cross-Check External Factors
Cross-check any data outliers with external influences during that time period. For example, products that failed to sell in 2020 could now be in high demand post-pandemic. Likewise, an unexpected spike in sales could be the result of a one-off marketing campaign. Before you act on an anomaly in your reports, take a moment to consider all of the circumstances at play.
3. Stay Agile
If you work in ecommerce, you already know the importance of planning for the unexpected. Review reports regularly and be prepared to adapt to emerging trends. Even with the best laid plans, it’s almost impossible to predict the next TikTok trend that could deplete your stock levels overnight.
Make Data-Backed Inventory Decisions
For ecommerce reports to offer true value, they need to be clear, accessible, and easy to act on. From at-a-glance insights, to deep-dives on individual page performance, ensure your reports deliver the knowledge you need to plan inventory accurately and make informed business decisions.