Let's face it, stockouts are every online seller's worst nightmare. They always result in lost sales, dissatisfied shoppers, and damage to your seller rating. What's worse, if someone wants to buy something that you don't have in stock, they'll probably go to one of your competitors.
Fortunately, there is a new tool you can use to prevent stockouts and overstocks. Inventory and FBA Replenishment lets you manage the delicate balance between supply and demand across complex multi-channel, multi-supplier environments. And today you can get the inside story on it from the expert who developed it. Below is the edited transcript of an interview with Clyde Seigle, Etail's CTO. In the interview Seigle explains what Inventory and FBA Replenishment is, how it works, and why it matters.
Corrin Duque, Product Specialist: How does Inventory and FBA Replenishment help a company grow even when it seems to have reached a plateau? How does it increase productivity?
Clyde Seigle, CTO: Basically it's a workflow enhancement tool. It does what a person can do manually - but a lot faster - so much more gets done in the same amount of time. It levels the playing field for small to mid-sized businesses. By using Replenishment, these businesses can carry larger catalogs without taking on more staff. It also brings tools to the table that some merchants wouldn't normally have access to.
Corrin Duque, Product Specialist: How does Inventory and FBA Replenishment work? How does it enhance processes and workflows?
Clyde Seigle, CTO: It's simple. First it collects all of the sales information and current disposition of a specific item - or items - in one place so you don't waste time and manpower tracking it all down. Then, sophisticated modeling is applied to figure out what's going to happen going forward. Actually, this is stuff you could do manually in a spreadsheet or using some other external tool. But it would be a lot of work. First you'd have to export all the sales history data and import it into whatever tool you're using for analysis and demand forecasting. Then you'd have to put all that information back into the system to create the purchase orders to drive the rest of the process. WIth Replenishment, the data never leaves the system - it's all connected - and it flows automatically from sales history analysis to purchase planning to purchase order creation. The final step is to action the data directly. You can apply the results directly to the next task in the workflow. The next step is completed for you automatically using the information from the prior step.
Corrin Duque, Product Specialist: Put yourself in an online seller's shoes: How does Inventory and FBA Replenishment benefit them? How does it improve their quality of life?
Clyde Seigle, CTO: The obvious benefit is that the system does all this work for you every night - while you sleep! You just have to come in the next day and review the recommendations. Far less time and effort than doing all that work manually. Second, it eliminates the crisis modes of "I'm out of stock," or "I'm going to run out of stock," because now you've got this forward looking view. You know the week before or a couple of days before that you need to do something. It's not something that you suddenly realize. Confidence in knowing you're not going to run out of stock is the major benefit as far as I'm concerned.
Corrin Duque, Product Specialist: So Inventory and FBA Replenishment saves time and eliminates the stress of running out of stock. What other problems does it solve?
Clyde Seigle, CTO: Lost sales due to stockouts. At the end of the day, everything stems from this because stockouts negatively impact revenue and cash flow. You avoid lost opportunities by always having the right amount of inventory, in the right places, at the right time.
Corrin Duque, Product Specialist: How do you think our customers feel knowing that the Etail platform allows them to use Inventory and FBA Replenishment - something other platforms may not offer?
Clyde Seigle, CTO: How about smug, knowing they've got a leg up on their competition? Also, enthusiastic about the ROI it offers. Satisfaction - concerning the sales that will result. But to me that's secondary to the relief of "I don't run out of inventory now" and "I now avoid bad situations with inventory." And don't forget anticipation and excitement. You see, there's another benefit to this which is, "What should I be selling that I'm not selling now?" It's like having a crystal ball that opens up new markets and categories. And how about freedom from worrying about buying the wrong inventory, because you can review the sales history and avoid wasting money better spent elsewhere.
Corrin Duque, Product Specialist: That's a whole lot of positives from one feature.
Clyde Seigle, CTO: Positives is what Inventory and FBA Replenishment is all about.