Top 4 Solutions to Common Shopify Inventory Issues and Limitations
Shopify has become a brilliant ground-breaking platform for e-commerce sellers since its inception. Easy to set up online stores with plenty of features and capabilities abound.
There’s no arguing that.
But the reality is also that it is a platform mainly used by drop shippers and resellers. Or at least until now.
Current trends and predictions for small manufacturing businesses suggest that 10-15% of current sellers are makers who have their own workshops and create their own products.
And that means that if you happen to be one of those special few, then you may well have already come across a number of Shopify inventory issues.
Because the truth is that there are few extended capabilities for makers to be able to efficiently control their inventory levels. It makes sense considering the bulk of Shopify users being drop shippers.
Sure, you can add as many items and prices you want till the cows come home. You can even add barcode scanning capabilities to keep your brick and mortar stock in order too.
But what about your raw materials? Purchasing invoices? Production? Optimizing stock levels?
In these places Shopify can fall short.
Which is why we have decided to compare Shopify inventory management with the more dedicated capabilities of Katana Smart Workshop Software.
Katana is an app which integrates with your Shopify orders to help you take control of your inventory as well as other vital aspects for the small manufacturer, such as production, purchasing and sales. Complete order fulfillment basically.
But here we’re just going to focus on inventory and see how Katana can help overcome makers Shopify inventory issues.
1. Raw Material Inventory Management
Okay, we know that most sellers on Shopify are dropshippers. Well, naturally that also means that Shopify’s inventory management is geared towards those kinds of sellers.
Of course, knowing what products you have and then making orders for more is a doddle. Shopify inventory will even display the “incoming” stock you have purchased and allows you to choose whether to keep selling a product when it is sold out or not.
These are all great options and definitely set a nice foundation for your inventory management. The tomato base on the pizza if you will. But there are few people for whom a tomatoey dough would be enough. Where are the toppings?
Well, the first thing to consider is that one of the main drawbacks for any maker here is that Shopify does not track your materials, in other words there is no raw material inventory management. That means that you have to keep track of materials separately in a spreadsheet and then constantly making updates alongside your finished products inventory.
Obviously, this is a massive waste of potential for efficiency. Not to mention all the time unnecessarily spent manually updating spreadsheets.
The Katana Solution
It won’t be too hard to guess that yes, indeed Katana tracks your raw materials. It’s that all-important cheese topping on your pizza after all.
You might even have guessed that it will match your products with the materials they are made of, essentially creating a bill of materials for you.
What you probably don’t know of is the magic of Katana’s auto booking system.
Because one of the greatest challenges with making products is that products can share the same materials as each other. This usually creates lots of confusion because you always need to keep track of where your materials are being used at any one time.
The beauty of Katana is that it will keep track of these so called “committed” materials so that you never have clashing orders.
The software also automatically books your available material stock to the higher priority orders (which you can adjust with a simple drag and drop).
This way you can clearly see the effects of prioritizing orders with a visual, color coded chart, and make sure that you can prevent any delays to your customers that you would otherwise not know about.
2. Purchasing Time
Knowing when to purchase more products and materials. Hmm, not the most fun task in the world to be fair.
One of the Shopify inventory issues is that it won't alert you as to when stock is low. And this is a double blow considering that you don’t track your materials here, as once you find out stock has run out you need to quickly get to making it as well.
There are minor workarounds for this if you hire an expert to do some HTML for you. But this also means that you are going to have to enter the code every time you want to change a reorder point... not exactly ideal.
And it still doesn’t solve the fact that you won’t have any constant visual on your inventory, or list of suppliers for which to invoice on hand.
The Katana Solution
Katana’s great addition to your inventory management arsenal is that you can set reorder points for each of your products and then keep track of where you’re at. That means that when stock is low you can clearly see which materials or products to order in.
The way it works is that the column “Missing/Excess” shows how close you are to the optimal stock level of 0.
If you are under 0 then the number turns red and you need to be filling up on that item. If it’s way above then you know that you are wasting resources there, and best to get rid of that stock as soon as you can.
3. Unavoidable Spreadsheets
According to Alteryx an average company wastes over 10,000 dollars a year due to the manual inputting and misuse of spreadsheets.
And as a maker it’s inevitable you’ve already got a web of inefficient inventory spreadsheets on your computer. Products, incoming stock, materials. One of the Shopify inventory issues is that your web of spreadsheets can get so complex that it becomes more burden than helpful.
As a result, it becomes difficult to keep track and update your stock levels on Shopify correctly. It’s just too easy to over stock or under stock.
Shopify owners without inventory management tools often end up having to choose one of the two. The lesser of two evils as they say.
Waste money and resources on over stocking, or risk agitating customers with late deliveries.
The Katana Solution
Imagine a world where all your spreadsheets are unified in one place and constantly updated without needing your input.
Well that’s basically what Katana is. It keeps track of your orders and inventory movements in a seamless fashion in real time. Otherwise known as the bad ass sounding perpetual inventory.
Which means that every time an order comes in on Shopify your inventory is automatically saved and updated to reflect that. You know how long it's going to take for an order to be completed and whether you have the materials available too.
That way even if an item is going to be late to be manufactured and sent off, you will know about it straight away and can pre-emptively deal with it.
No more pitchfork wielding customers.
4. The Back and Forth
As well laid out as Shopify inventory is, it can’t be denied that it’s not exactly the easiest to navigate.
If you want to make changes, you got to go from one page to another which is time consuming and inefficient. There are no real indicators to show how your inventory and orders are coming along or highlight you of potential issues.
That means you have no idea when items are going to be ready if stock is out, the cost of the items, profit margin and all that jazz. Essentially this means you cannot make business decisions with the information in front of you without consulting more spreadsheets.
Of course, Shopify will give you great analytics like listing your sales by product. There’s no questioning the value these provide when dealing with your inventory.
However, diving into the details to formulate strategies is a lot more cumbersome. If a product isn’t doing so well and you are considering cutting it, then making that decision is going to require a lot of back and forth between graphs and spreadsheets.
The Katana Solution
To tackle these Shopify inventory issues, Katana has designed a visual dashboard with the maker’s eye in mind.
The design is laid out so that you can quickly see all the details of the products, including but not limited to:
Value in stock
Amount in stock/committed/expected
There are no loading times, as everything is saved automatically which means that you aren’t wasting precious brain energy going back and forth to figure out a clear picture of your goings on.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The amount of inventory detail you can delve into is much greater and easy to access no matter how much understanding you have.
For a drop shipper these details and Shopify inventory issues might not matter so much. But we know that for makers that have to make crucial decisions on a regular basis, every detail counts.
Moving Beyond Shopify Inventory Issues
So okay, you got the message.
Shopify is great, but with Katana’s help it’s even greater.
But keep in mind that this isn’t the case for everyone. In fact, most Shopify stores don’t need to worry much about inventory management because they don’t even see their stock at all. Drop shippers often just order from a third party directly to the customers door.
It’s only if you are a maker that produces in-house that you need to think about the benefits of using an inventory management software.
If any of the following apply to you then it’s worth considering solutions:
Overloaded with spreadsheets
Inefficient inventory, whether that be over or under stocking
Struggling to track raw materials
Not knowing when to purchase more materials
Orders getting delayed or lost
Katana Smart Workshop Software has been designed for makers to overcome these Shopify inventory issues by directly integrating with your Shopify store. Your orders through the store will automatically adjust your product and material inventory so you don’t have to spend time making constant adjustments.
That way you can better spend time selling and working on your all-important products.
And after all, that’s what’s this is all about, right?