We recently wrote a blog about this for our website, and thought it would be useful information for a guide too :)
Overselling is a big problem – but it can be easily avoided.
The key is good preparation, good organisation, and an inventory management system like ours, that makes everything a lot easier.
1. Always keep track of products that are low in stock
It’s vital that you’re always monitoring your stock levels, and that you have a plan in place on when you need to re-order.
There are some products you might be able to source with a 24/48-hour turnaround. Other stock might take you a couple of weeks to get back in.
Make sure you know which products require a longer order time, and re-order early when your stock gets to a set level.
2. Look after stock in your warehouse
Another possible reason for overselling is that you do have the actual stock in your warehouse, but it’s become damaged, lost, or cannot be sent out for some reason.
You might find boxes have been broken, packaging has ripped, or perishable products are out-of-date. Older items may even have been updated with newer versions.
Managing your actual stock is as important as managing stock levels, so keep your picking and packing areas as clean and organised as possible, and always practice the FIFO method – First In, First out – to ensure products are rotated and any older stock gets shipped out before newer stock.
If you use a fulfilment service, this is out of your hands, though they are likely to have an efficient system in place to keep stock rotating correctly.
3. Keep a reserve of safety stock (if you can)
One way to ensure you never oversell is to always have a small reserve of safety, or back up stock, on-hand. This is stock that you don’t include in your inventory levels, so you will never sell it accidentally.
But if you do oversell (or there’s a sudden surge in demand), you know you always have this reserve that you can use to fulfil the order and then top back up.
However, the problem with this is that you need to have a sufficient cash flow to purchase and keep this stock (essentially they’re unusable spares) and the space in your warehouse to store them. Keeping even just one or two "spares" per SKU is a good idea though, just to be on the safe side.
4. Stay on top of stock taking
One reason for overselling might actually be nothing to do with the fact that you sell on multiple channels. It may simply be that you’ve done an incorrect stock take, and your recorded levels differ from the actual amount of stock of available.
That’s why it’s important you complete regular stock takes, to help make sure all your levels are as accurate as possible.
Although you might want to complete full stock takes every now and then (2 or 3 times a year perhaps) you don’t want to be counting every single product, every single week.
Instead, you just need to make sure that all outgoing stock is tracked efficiently, and all new, incoming stock is added to your existing figures.
Where possible, you’ll want to automate this process, and reduce the potential for human error. That’s where inventory management software like ChannelGrabber can help.
5. Enable Stock Management in ChannelGrabber
If you’re already using ChannelGrabber and you’d like some additional help in preparing and managing your stock effectively and reducing the risk of overselling, our handy guides can help – or you can get in touch and we’d be happy to offer our advice and support.