As your WooCommerce business grows steadily, so does your frustrations with time-consuming inventory & order management tasks. That is why you need proper WooCommerce order management and inventory system.
WooCommerce boasts the ability to host a large number of products and orders from 5,000 to over 10,000. Even WooCommerce’s FAQ page comments that the “Sky’s the limit” as they’ve seen online stores with over 100,000 products, handling thousands of transactions.
Indeed, WooCommerce is excellent for managing a handful of products. You can do a lot in the Admin Panel > Orders tab:
- Add, edit and track a particular product;
- Set prices;
- Keep an eye on available stock;
- Mark orders complete, pending, processing, completed, refunded, canceled or failed;
- Add taxes, billing, and shipping details.
But that’s just for one product. Can you imagine repeating these frustrating tasks? With a growing number of SKUs, warehouses, and sales channels, this can become an enormous task. Are you willing to give up precious time and resources for it?
WooCommerce online store owners have also faced other inventory-related challenges including pre-order limitations, website scaling, theme updates and plugins that break the front-end, and compatibility with other software. So it begs the question –– does your commerce business need a more sophisticated system?
7 Questions to When Picking WooCommerce Order Management And Inventory System
1. What level is your business operating at?
Are you a startup seeking to fill a gap in the market? Are you a midsize business experiencing growth and concerned with scaling operations? Does your enterprise have extensive warehousing operations?
In the early stages, WooCommerce’s free inventory tool or a simple Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheet is enough to organize products, track and analyze your inventory, and invoices.
Budget is tight, or you may not be experiencing pain points to warrant a dedicated inventory management software. Until you get to ~$100,000 in turnover, a spreadsheet may be adequate for your simple inventory needs.
However, many SMBs with turnover between $100,000 and $100 million do find that their inventory complexity is alleviated with a more powerful tool.
2. What challenges are you trying to solve?
Inventory is money. A company’s inventory can be potential income, but also potential lost income if you don’t manage to sell things. That’s why you need proper inventory management techniques to help you manage your stock.
As a small business owner who’s built market share, you want to increase it and strengthen preference for your brand.
You’ve even expanded your sales channels. But, like 43% of business owners, you’re most likely tracking inventory by hand. You’re challenged with:
- Inconsistent data – leading to inaccuracy, mismanagement, and confusion among employees.
- Too much or too little stock – you’re unable to forecast demand, causing frustration among customers who come across “out of stock” messages on your website.
As a midsize business, you’re challenged with delivering top-notch consumer experiences – across all channels and various regions. You’re challenged with:
- Costs going out of control
- Efficient multi-channel sales to reach new and existing customers
- Tracking products across channels and geographies
- Keeping up with various tax and shipping rates
- Offering global payment methods
- Inefficiencies that are hurting your employees’ ability to do their jobs well. Lack of continuous training is also costing you time and, potentially, your reputation (lower customer ratings) if the company doesn’t deliver on promises.
You’re also challenged by two additional factors: communicating clearly with retail partners about product availability and sharing accurate business metrics to upper management.
You’re also challenged with:
- Turning data into insights from a single source of truth
- Or painstakingly collating data from disparate systems.
As a high-volume enterprise business, you have thousands of SKUs that need to be managed and updated regularly. You’re challenged with:
- Streamlining and optimizing your order fulfillment process
- Increasing sales and broadening product variety
- Viewing and analyzing data – from pricing, availability, features, orders, and customer profiles – consistently and accurately across all systems.
- Equipping growing employee base with knowledge and tools to manage inventory, deal with returns and exchanges, keep customers trust, and communicate operational policies with one another.
If these points are resonating, it’s high time to consider an inventory management system for your WooCommerce business. “You may pass go. You may collect $200.” When you’re ready to move forward, consider these next five questions.
3. How much are you willing to pay?
Take some time to define your budget. Inventory & order management systems can range from free to six figures. If you have a predetermined budget range, it will be easier to refine your search to a few offerings best suited to your company size, budget, needs, and operational capacity.
Also, consider which pricing models you’d be comfortable with: a perpetual license or a subscription model (monthly, quarterly, or yearly).
A perpetual license is often correlated with on-premise software, while a subscription model (SaaS or software-as-a-service) uses the cloud for data storage and processing. It will also be an interesting exercise to calculate how fast you’ll get a return on your investment.
4. What are your must-have features?
Before setting a budget, it’s best to understand your business needs. Your answers to question #2 (above) can be broken down into detailed, specific requirements for everyone to agree on or veto.
Which ones are must-haves versus nice-to-have? Categorize your features requirements:
- Functional requirements: how should it function from an end user’s perspective? Consider its intuitiveness, reliability, performance, and adaptability.
- Operational requirements: how easy is it to run the solution? Consider logging, startup/shutdown controls, resource consumption, backup, availability, monitoring capability.
- Technical requirements: can it perform technical tasks – such as inventory tracking, order management, shipping, purchasing, etc. – at the granular level you want? Can it integrate with other systems?
- Transitional requirements: what are the steps needed to implement the solution/software smoothly?
To get what you want, you must accurately define it. Cross-check your must-haves against each platform/solution’s list of features. Can it grow with you and your business’ needs?
5. What kind of reporting and analytics will be the most useful?
To be successful in commerce, you need to be able to track your performance and plan ahead. Sophisticated inventory management systems have tools like sales reports and demand forecasting features to help you make strategic decisions about your business.
Will it allow you to:
- Understand and dissect performance across all sales channels?
- Identify opportunities for growth?
- Maximize revenue and minimize stockouts with demand forecasting?
- Plan for profitability?
- Calculate commissions for clarity?
- Get sales and inventory reports wherever you are?
- See your finances (including taxes and payments) clearly?
- Learn more about your customers and their behaviors?
- Get an accurate view of your costs, margins, and profits?
- Gain real-time insights into online and physical store activities?
- Create custom reports based on your specific criteria?
6. Who will be using the system?
Determine how many employees will need access to the inventory management system regularly. Most pricing structures are calculated according to the number of total users; there are additional costs to additional users.
Also, figure out who will be using the system and from where. You could have suppliers, B2B wholesalers, customers, or upper management using your inventory management system.
If multiple teams or people will be accessing your system regularly from different geographies, it may be wise to choose a cloud-based inventory management solution that updates automatically in real time for everyone to see.
7. Do you need training or support?
Most providers offer varying levels and types of support as well as training resources, although costs can vary. Some providers offer free support included in the subscription, while others charge extra depending on the level of support you need and your subscription tier.
WooCommerce Order Management System Conclusion
When it comes to your WooCommerce business, your time and inventory equal money. But it doesn’t have to consume a ton of your time or resources. It is in your best interest to manage inventory efficiently and effectively to guarantee cash flow and save money.
Using an inventory management system will enable you to gain control over your inventory, so you can maximize profits, reduce costs, and raise your company productivity and team spirits. I recommend using TradeGecko as your go-to WooCommerce order management system.
TradeGecko is a commerce operating platform that gives entrepreneurs, founders, and independent brands the commerce superpowers they need to build a fantastic business.
Their cloud-based platform levels the playing field and gives SMBs the edge they need to compete through automation, AI, and integration with global platforms.