Hi everyone! My business has a brick and mortar retail store and we sell online as well. My entire inventory is available for sale in both places. When we have an order online, my employees go find it on the shelf and put it in boxes for shipping. Some of my inventory is unique, and I may only have one item that is available for sale both in store and online.
The problem is that I may sell something online, and then later a customer buys the same thing in store the same day, leaving me unable to fulfill my online order! What I need is something in the POS app that pops up when there is an online order and tells my staff to immediately grab the item off the shelf.
I have heard of different ways to approach this problem but none of them work for me. The Shopify Mobile app does do order notifications but that would require my staff to minimize the Shopify POS app to manually check, meaning it has to be proactively done constantly. I can't use email notifications for the same reason, even when creating a separate email address just for online order notifications. I also can't have separate inventory levels for online and in store because I want to be able to sell to all my customers and a lot of my inventory is just one quantity of something. The solution has to be in the Shopify POS app itself. Ideally this would be a pop-up notification that requires my staff to acknowledge it before moving on.
This must be an extremely common problem for anyone who sells both online and in store, and also has small inventory quantities.
Is there a solution that I don't know about?
Thanks for weighing in on this issue Clement. While your suggestion is true for my online sales, it is not true in the store on the POS app.
However, even if I did have a way to disable in store sales when items are out of stock, I still have a very dissapointed customer in my store who I have to explain that they can't purchase something that saw on the shelf because it was bought online earlier in the day. Stores like mine need a way to immedietly be notified in the POS app that there is an online sale, so that we can take items off the shelf.
Oh you're right.
And I see what you mean regarding the not so great customer experience.
I'm not very familiar with the POS platform. I wonder if it could be accomplised with a custom app.
Also, I'd probably investigate whether you could set up push notifications on the Ipad whenever you receive an email on a particular address...
We explored the email notifications like I said in the original post, but that still requires employees to constantly be closing the POS app to check if there are any new emails. I need something that employees can react to like a pop up in the POS app, not something they have to proactivly be checking all the time.
Thanks for weighing in on this issue. I understand your point about the risk of having low quantities of inventory and a wide variety of options, however what works for a large retail operation would be the death of a small business like ours.
We offer a wide variety of products and try to be the first to carry a newer product because that is what we have found our customer's want, and we are limited on space / money to carry a large depth of every item. Our competitive advantage is being small and nimble, and carrying new and rare products that our customers can't find online or at a larger store. While we don't try to carry only one unit of any product, it is the nature of doing business our way. A lot of our products are also short-term offerings, for example we may carry 20 units of a product and sell 19 of them right away, but then 1 remains on the shelf forever as our customers have transitioned to something new. As we continue to introduce new products, those small remainders of unsold products build up over time until finally someone purchases that last unit and we can completely remove it from stock.
This issue is even more compounded with other small businesses that only can offer a single item of something, for example a one of a kind painting at an art store. The art store owner would surely want to be able to offer his painting both online and in store, and that allows the conflict of fulfillment that I discussed in the first post.
So in summary the problem is not the way our business is run. The problem is in this missing feature within the shopify app that we believe should be incredibly simple to add and very helpful for a lot of small businesses out there like us. Unfortunately without a background in computer programming we have no way of understanding if this is as simple a fix for shopify, or if shopify is just intentionally leaving this as an opportunity for a third party developer to swoop in with a solution and rake in some extra fees from businesses like us.
Brian - Yarn Junction Co
We have the same problem. Many of our items are vintage/collectible, and so we often have only one in stock. If it sells online, the staff in the store needs to know to go pull it from the sales floor. We use the POS app on an iPad as our cash point in our shop, and it would be extremely helpful to have a proactive notification pop up here to notify an online sale. (The POS app was designed to allow a sale even if inventory was zero, according to Shopify online documentation.) The web browser/admin has the popup functionality - seems that it would not be difficult to also get this programmed into the POS app?
It's nice to meet you and thanks for the further information. I understand your business better now.
Small and med merchants are where trends are born and it's merchants like you who have an ear to the ground and what people want.
I have found from working with fashion/trend forward businesses like yours, that there is still scope to balance your range so that you have a presence of staple items, that carry a healthy margin and are in stock for longer. Ensuring that you have some in your range can bring some predictability to revenues, but it sounds as if you know all of this.
I can see why that POS alert would be of enormous help to you. Sometimes it's more difficult to break into a product that's already built, that to add or adjust a product that is still developing.
Anyway, I hope you find a fix.
I'm happy to confirm that our app is finally live and in the app store under the inventory category.
We offer cost price upload in bulk or via our super helpful RAPID method, profit reporting through our easy to use, yet powerful dashboard, inventory visability across locations, purchase orders, price markdowns.
Feel free to take us for a test drive - we offer a 14 day free trial
Karen and the team
The Prosperous Shop