Your complete guide to sourcing the best mix of products to sell.
In many ways, your inventory is the blood that flows through the veins of your business. What you sell shapes the direction as well as the perception of your brand. It also impacts the long-term success of your business.
Selecting the right inventory (and managing it efficiently) is essential.
If you choose stock items that don’t align with your brand image or resonate with your target customers, they’re likely to collect dust rather than ‘fly off the shelves.’ And poor investments can seriously damage an eCommerce business.
To help steer you on the path to success and make your business a scalable and sustainable, we’re going to explore the essential steps you should take when selecting your inventory.
Let’s start by considering the very foundation of your business—the brand.
Understand your brand
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
In the digital age, your brand is far more than a logo and a slogan. Today, consumers invest in eCommerce brands with values that align with their own.
Before you start digging into your inventory, you should take the time to consider your brand and how you want to be perceived in the public domain.
Once you’ve picked the perfect eCommerce business name, you should take some time to consider the following brand elements:
- Your values. Think about what you stand for and why you exist. Write down a list of brand values (for instance, if you’re dedicated to saving the planet, you might sell a range of non-plastic eco products)- this will serve as a blueprint that will guide your marketing communications and key business decisions, including your inventory choices.
- Your voice. With your brand values firmly in place, you should decide on your unique tone of voice. Is your brand personality fun & lighthearted? Are you going to be funny? Or perhaps urgent and hard-hitting? These decisions will shape your commercial destiny and help to guide your inventory choices.
- Your scope. As a brand, do you want to focus on very specific niche or on a wider eCommerce category. For example, do you want to sell novelty vintage shoes or adult footwear in general. The choice is yours but you should make this decision from the get-go (you can remould your business model as you progress) to ensure you make informed, definitive stock selections that will result in profit.
Know your audience
With your brand blueprint firmly in place, your next logical step will be to know your audience. Like your branding, understanding your target consumers on a deeper level is vital to making the perfect inventory selections.
By studying your sector, analysing industry trends, and drilling down into relevant consumer data, you’ll be able to get under the skin of your audience and in turn, decide on the goods that they’re most likely to buy.
Without a doubt, one of the most effective ways of understanding your audience is by creating consumer profiles called buyer personas. For maximum customer profile success, follow our step by step guide to creating buyer personas.
Refine your niche and study the competition
At this point, you’ll know what niche or sector you wish to operate in, but to make successful inventory choices, it’s important to dig a little deeper.
Even if you’re looking to sell in a more general niche like clothing for women, streamlining your range and communications slightly will help you stand out while appealing to a slightly more concentrated, slightly more engaged audience. With this in mind, you might opt to sell casual and sportswear for the modern woman.
Upon refining your niche, you should start looking at your competitors under a magnifying glass to see what sells best with their audience while spotting any potential product gaps you can exploit.
Make a definitie list of your potential competitors, following them on social media to see how the sell their inventory and how they engage with their customers. Sign up to their email newsletters and study their communications while examining their store’s product pages.
Armed with these newfound insights, you’ll be able to start making an initial inventory list of products you want to sell, placing them into their respective sub categories in the process.
Examine pricing & logistics
By now you’ll have a wealth of information regarding your brand, audience, niche, and competitors – you’ll also have a rough inventory list. Now’s the time to make it official.
To transform your inventory list from a rough draft to the beginnings of a long term eCommerce stock guide, you’ll need to look at logistics:
- Pricing: First of all, what are the costs of your potential inventory items? Look at cost prices, profit margins, and pricing potential. To give your efforts direction, here are definitive eCommerce pricing strategies that can boost your store’s future revenue.
- Demand: Once you’ve considered cost and pricing, you should drill down further into demand. Look at the items on your inventory list, you should conduct research on best-selling products in your niche or sector and use sales estimators or forecasters to gain an insight into the specific consumer success of your prospective items in terms of physical sales.
- Access: When refining your inventory list, you should also think about your supplier sources and how accessible they will be on an ongoing basis. Your inventory suppliers should be cost-effective, reliable, ethical, and able to help you troubleshoot any potential issues or inefficiencies, should they arise. Also, if you’re importing your products from China, you should read our business owner’s guide to 301 tariffs.
- Shipping: The final logistical decision you should make when refining your stock list is how easy your products will be to manage, ship, and fulfil. Bulky items can prove challenging to ship and store, but if there’s demand and a viable solution bigger products may be worth including within your range. Once you’ve shortlisted your prospective inventory, you should prioritize your products in terms of how you’re going to position them on your online store in addition to potential stock quantities.
Once you have your definitive list and you’ve set your stock purchasing budgets, you’ll be ready to start building your inventory ready to sell to your customers. This is where you start generating profits, growing your audience, and scaling your brand for success.
“One of the great responsibilities that I have is to manage my assets wisely, so that they create value.” – Alice Walton
Select the right inventory management solution
As essential as it is to select the right inventory for your eCommerce business, your stock is only as effective as how it’s managed.
Presently, the global cost of inventory distortion (including shrinkage, stockouts, and overstocking) comes in at the $1.1 trillion mark. Moreover, 43% of small businesses in the US don’t track their inventory, or do so with a laborious manual system.
By managing your newly acquired inventory effectively and efficiently, not only will you gain an edge on the competition, but you’ll be able to scale your inventory seamlessly as your business grows. And to do so, you need to work with the right inventory management solution.
With your shipping and fulfilment processes firmly in place, it’s important that you choose the right digital inventory management platform for your business based on the following attributes:
- Easy to use. Your inventory management solution should be easy to navigate, with little technical expertise required to take full advantage of the platform’s features and functionality.
- Tailored. Any robust inventory management system should be customizable, allowing you to tailor your dashboard, data fields, and reporting tools to meet your specific needs and requirements.
- Universal. Effective inventory management solutions allow you to integrate other applications such as Quickbooks, creating a seamless digital ecosystem for successful and accurate inventory management and fulfilment.
- Support. Any inventory management software provider worth its salt will have an exemplary track record and offer exceptional end-to-end support, from initial setup to ongoing aftercare.
Our inventory management platform is easy to use, offering an accurate overview of all of your core shipping and fulfilment activities.
By integrating the Agiliron inventory management platform with your eCommerce business, you’ll benefit from precise receiving processes, streamlined order management, and seamless integration with your most vital essential business tools.
To find out more about us and our success, check out our selection of glowing customer testimonial section.We wish you the best of luck with your inventory selection quest and for more invaluable eCommerce insights, read these seven practical ways to boost your store’s bottom line.