Keeping track of all orders and stock levels across sales channels becomes more difficult as demand increases. If you're at this stage — which, congrats! — this is when most businesses start looking into inventory management solutions for their Shopify store.
In this guide, we'll explore why inventory management is essential for your online operation. We'll also help you choose the right Shopify inventory management app so you can prevent inventory and fulfillment issues as you scale.
The Importance of Inventory Management
Inventory management is a necessary part of running an effective ecommerce business. A good system will provide you with insight into your inventory and allow you to understand how often you should restock each of your products.
Inventory management can also help you keep an eye on your inventory turnover and figure out the right amount of stock you should be keeping in your warehouse; thus, preventing dead stock. This is especially important for businesses that sell perishable goods, such as food and drinks.
You should have a system in place to assist with the following:
Prevent Running Out of Stock, Overselling and Overstocking
Ecommerce businesses that have issues with tracking their inventory often purchase too much stock (resulting in cashflow issues) or sell more products than they can actually supply. Both of these problems are equally damaging to a brand’s reputation and bottom line.
As many as 72% of online shoppers will go to a competitor if the product they want to purchase on your website is out of stock. Additionally, 67% of these shoppers will continue shopping with your competition in the future.
Overselling is another major issue — selling a product you no longer hold in stock can cause angry customers and result in a tarnished business reputation.
An inventory management system helps you provide a better customer experience. You’ll be able to inform shoppers of how many products you have in stock (if you choose to list the number with the product), and save your customer support team from constant back and forth communications with consumers. Within this plan, you can also calculate your economic order quantity (EOQ) to map out your supply chain operations accordingly.
Manage Cash Flow
Inventory management gives you an accurate view of your cash flow and assets, enabling you to better understand how much you should budget for stock or invest in other aspects of your business. For example, managing your inventory effectively will help you save money on storage costs by allowing you to purchase just the right amount of stock you need.
You’ll be able to make informed business decisions on how to use warehouse space, when to restock products, how to price products and which products to stop stocking. This, in turn, will allow you to invest more of your budget into marketing and customer acquisition.
Improve Multi-Channel Selling and Demand Forecasting
Manually tracking and fulfilling orders is fairly easy when you’re just starting out. Once your business starts growing, it gets progressively harder to scale fulfillment and meet the demands of your customer base.
Managing inventory also becomes more complex: Businesses that don’t have a solid system in place aren’t able to track all the orders and sales that come through different channels. They’re also not able to see how these orders and sales impact their inventory.
An inventory management system will allow you to manage all your sales channels with ease and ensure that each channel has sufficient stock levels.
A system will also help you track and forecast sales, which will help you predict how much inventory you’ll need during different parts of the year. From there, it becomes a lot easier to understand how your inventory fluctuates over time, as well as how product demand changes from season to season.
Why You Need a Shopify Inventory Management App
A good inventory management app will help you streamline and automate inventory management, save on and reallocate resources, and help you forecast trends. You'll also increase team productivity and accuracy because employees won't spend large sums of time manually tracking inventory.
Basically, you should look into an inventory management app if you:
- Spend a lot of your time managing inventory
- Regularly run out of stock or have products oversell
- Find it difficult to track and update stock levels across all your sales channels
What to Look for in a Shopify Inventory Management App
There are different inventory management apps out there, each with their own distinct features, advantages and disadvantages.
However, at a minimum, the app you choose to manage your inventory with should:
- Offer extensive and detailed inventory tracking: You should be able to track all orders and order fulfillment information, as well as receive notifications on when to purchase additional stock.
- Integrate with other apps you use: The inventory app you choose should play nicely with the other apps you use.
- Have sales forecasting capabilities: While there are a number of variables involved with forecasting sales, your inventory management app should offer a ballpark projection of market trends and growth rate.
- Include a POS integration: A POS integration is crucial if you also sell from a physical store. This will allow you to automatically sync online and in-store orders and stock levels, and make sure there are no discrepancies between stock levels in your online and offline sales channels.
- Offer actionable reports and inventory analysis: Your app should offer reports and inventory analysis that fit your inventory management methods. The app should generate a variety of real-time reports and allow you to customize them as you see fit.
10 Popular Shopify Inventory Management Apps
Let's look at the best Shopify inventory management apps on the market. We cover functionalities, costs and more.
1. Stock Sync
Stock Sync is the most popular inventory management app in Shopify’s app store. With more than 400 five-star reviews, it’s also the best-rated app in its category.
Thousands of Shopify stores use Stock Sync to update their inventory automatically, manipulate product pricing, manage multiple suppliers, export inventory and sync to vendor websites. It allows retail businesses to sync inventory with their physical store through a number of different methods. The app also supports scheduled inventory updates.
Stock Sync offers a free plan and a 14-day trial. Paid plans start at $5/month.
TradeGecko is a multi-channel inventory management app that helps Shopify businesses keep accurate track of their inventory and manage sales that come through multiple sales channels. The app can be set to generate purchase orders automatically, saving you from running out of stock. Its automated workflows can help you simplify order routing.
TradeGecko integrates with all the major 3PL companies and Fulfillment By Amazon. It can also be integrated with accounting apps, such as Xero and Quickbooks, which enables you to sync revenue and costs with ease. The app provides detailed sales reporting and demand forecasting, and allows you to analyze your sales channels’ performance.
TradeGecko plans start at $39/month for 50 orders per month. There’s also a free 14-day trial that users can take advantage of to see if the app is the right fit for their business.
Sellbrite helps Shopify store merchants sell their products on some of the largest online marketplaces, including Amazon, eBay and Etsy.
The app provides automatic inventory syncing of inventory across all channels to prevent overselling. It supports multiple warehouse locations and integrates with Fulfillment by Amazon. Businesses that use Sellbrite get access to a centralized fulfillment interface through which they manage and fulfill all orders.
Sellbrite’s pricing starts at $20/month for 100 orders per month and goes up to $160/month for Shopify stores that generate up to 10,000 monthly orders.
Stocky is a highly-rated Shopify inventory management app. It offers a host of advanced features, including demand forecasting, automatic stock updates and stock transfers.
Its demand forecasting capabilities are especially impressive. The app can help you forecast demand based on seasonal trends and give you specific purchase order suggestions.
Stocky can also provide forecasts based on recent performance by looking at your latest orders and sales performance. This type of forecast is especially useful for new and non-seasonal products.
ShipHero is an inventory management app with shipping and order management capabilities. It allows you to sync your inventory across all your sales channels and implement automated rules to reduce manual tasks. Batch order processing, barcode support, purchase order management, returns management and advanced reporting are all features included in the ShipHero app.
ShipHero also supports kit creation, cycle counting, merged order notifications and multi-warehouse inventory management. The app integrates with Amazon, eBay and USPS.
ShipHero’s plans start at $499/month.
Skubana calls itself “The Operating System of Commerce." It offers multi-channel inventory management, advanced multi-warehouse demand forecasting and automated purchase orders.
The app's dynamic analytics can help you reveal seasonal trends and calculate the true profitability of each of your SKUs in order to reduce expenses and improve your bottom line. It also provides alerts on how you can cut costs and generate more profit on each specific product.
Skubana integrates with Amazon, eBay and Walmart. The app works on a custom pricing model, with a minimum fee of $999/month.
This piece of inventory management software is an excellent option for stores that produce their own products rather than resell items made by others.
Katana allows you to manage your raw materials, finished products and sales orders all from the same place. Its visual dashboards make it much easier to keep track of your production process and maintain optimal inventory levels.
There are two pricing plans available for Katana: Essential and PRO. The Essential plan works for up to three warehouses and costs $99/month, plus $29/month for each additional user. The PRO plan works for unlimited warehouses and includes extra features such as batch/lot number tracking and a floor-level mobile app — it costs $299/month, plus another $39/month for each additional user.
Peoplevox was developed by Descartes, which is one of the biggest logistics companies in the world.
First of all, we should note that this inventory app is a Shopify Plus exclusive. If your store is on standard Shopify, you'll need to use one of the other inventory management solutions covered in this guide.
This inventory app is an excellent fit for particularly large online stores. It automatically scales to your order volume, so you never need to worry about a spike in sales affecting the performance of the app. It also has an offline mode that will help you avoid interruptions as well.
To find out how much Peoplevox will cost for your business, you'll need to contact Descartes for a quote.
SKULabs is another option that larger online stores should consider for their inventory management software.
Its prices start at $499/month for the Basic plan, which works for up to 2,500 monthly orders and includes features such as real-time sync, barcode scanning and same-day support.
The Pro plan is $799/month and works for up to 5,000 monthly orders. In addition to all the features that come with the Basic plan, it also includes inventory forecasting, batch picking and express support.
Stores with more than 5,000 monthly orders will need to obtain a custom quote from SKULabs for the Enterprise plan, which includes bonus features, such as custom reports and API access. Also, the Enterprise plan provides you with dedicated support that's ready to help whenever you run into an issue.
Merchants who sell their products through multiple online channels should strongly consider using Trunk for their inventory management needs. With this app, you can manage your storefronts on Amazon, eBay, Etsy and many other platforms from the same dashboard. The inventory across all of your stores will be synced in real-time.
Another benefit to this app? There are affordable pricing plans available to smaller stores: Prices start at just $29/month for 0-100 monthly orders, and all businesses with fewer than 800 monthly orders can use this solution for less than $100/month.
Trunk even allows you to test out its software at no cost for 14 days, so you'll be able to confirm that you like the features and interface before you commit to a plan.
Add Other Apps to the Mix, Too
Of course, there's no reason why you should stop at inventory management apps.
For example, the Shogun Page Builder app for Shopify offers a lot of value. It allows you to create custom landing pages, product pages and blog posts from scratch, even if you don't know a single line of code.
Shogun features a drag-and-drop editor and a large library of elements — everything from simple blocks for text and images, to advanced features, such as slider menus, accordion sections and customer reviews. You can use the editor to add, remove and arrange elements on the page in whatever way you want, and each element is highly customizable.
Consider a Shopify Inventory Management App for Your Store
By now, you should recognize that a good inventory management system is crucial for running a successful ecommerce business. With this knowledge, figure out the right app for your store so you can keep inventory under control and sales filing in.