Multi-Channel Inventory Management Challenges for Shopify Retailers
If you are involved in using more than one channel for your eCommerce, you will be aware of how challenging inventory management can become. If you find yourself in this difficult position, one platform that is almost certain to cause you headaches is Shopify.
Shopify might be one of the most commonly used eCommerce platforms, but it has some serious limits regarding inventory management. If you work across multiple channels, bringing your inventory management into Shopify is tough. In the native system, this is far more complex than it has to be.
The best thing you can do is invest in custom software for your multi-channel inventory management. Before you make that investment, let us look at the challenges you will face unifying inventory management across Shopify and your other channels.
What Are The Most Common Multi-Channel Inventory Management Challenges On Shopify?
The following issues are the most likely problems you will run into when trying to implement multi-channel inventory management into Shopify:
You Need Pro
Shopify Pro is very useful for many retailers, but for people just starting, it can be an expense you could do without. However, Pro is needed to access many features that help you set up a multichannel system. Without Pro, you run the risk of not being able to get the same level of detail and insight as you would like. As such, if you run more than one sales front channel, it might be wise to consider Shopify Pro as a worthwhile investment at this moment in time.
Lack Of Native Integration
Another problem is that Shopify, natively at least, makes it hard to pair up one store with another. This means that the POS in your brick-and-mortar store might have just sold your last product in stock. This does not alert your Shopify platform, meaning that someone buying that same product online is going to be disappointed when you have to, in the best-case scenario, inform them of a delivery delay.
This lack of native integration is hard to get right from one system to the next. It can mean a lot of customer support problems as you oversell products through each platform, leading to shortages, delays, refunds, and reputational harm.
Changes To Shopify
Over the years, multichannel vendors have worked tirelessly to have their Shopify accounts linked up to other retail platforms. This usually works great once in place…until it does not.
Shopify is infamous for making changes to the back end of the platform, which can cause conflicts and compatibility problems with customer software. Over time, you will unfortunately need to get used to some change on the end of Shopify, causing carnage with your platform. This can lead to technical faults and many manual adjustments while you wait for the software you use to be updated to work with Shopify’s latest changes.
The next problem you might have with Shopify is that, at its native and basic level, implementing a multi-channel approach is very difficult. This means you might find it hard to have your data line up accordingly at the very basic level. Over time, this will lead to issues whereby your stock levels for Product A on Channel A differ from those for Product A on Channel B.
This means a lot of back-and-forth as you try and manually adjust stock depending on where and when it has been sold. This makes aligning stock figures across all platforms more challenging.
Another issue is that, at its basic level, Shopify only allows for data to be stored for the last 90 days. This means that while you have stock data from other platforms across months, if not years, Shopify tops out at a pretty meagre number. This can lead you to lose a lot of valuable insights into how your business has been performing in the short, medium, or long term.
Getting that data to line up across all channels for the same length of time can be challenging without customised Shopify software.
Since everything is so hard to align with Shopify and other channels, you can be dealing with a potential headache scenario whereby you over-ordered one product whilst under-ordering another. Without third-party integration, you risk manually checking stock levels across all of your stores, ensuring you have the supply to meet demand.
This can lead to issues like re-ordering due to a supposed stock shortage on one system when, in reality, you have more of that stock being sold via Shopify – without either platform informing the other. Without third-party custom software, this can lead to your business overextending stock purchases. Over time, that can become very expensive, and lead to you being left with stock you now cannot sell once the opportunity passes.
Another issue you might have is ensuring that your barcodes line up from one store to the next. The SKU information that you upload using the barcode can be done quickly and easily using the Shopify app, but you have to then manually ensure that all of your barcodes and SKUs match up. This does not negate the issue of manually adjusting stock levels (you need custom software for that), but it does help you to get a good idea of what products have been added to what channel.
While this saves you from manually sorting items, it does mean you have to do this across your channels unless you can find bespoke software to fill in some of these blanks.
Can Custom Software Resolve These Issues?
You can use a custom software setup if you have difficulty resolving the above issues with Shopify’s multi-channel inventory management limitations. These solutions provide you with an easy and effective way to manage inventory across more than one channel.
This can give you a more unified, top-down view of your inventory management across different platforms. This is great for better control of your stock, but it can also be useful for ensuring you balance your stock management across your business.
For help with any aspect of custom software installation, contact BlueHub today. We can support you to ensure your bespoke software needs are addressed accordingly.