How to improve boutique inventory management w/ smaller producers, limited re-order capacity

Ryan1991
New Member
1 0 0

Hey y'all!

We sell mindfully made women's clothing, shoes, accessories and lifestyle goods from top independent designers through our storefront in downtown Durham, NC and website, vertandvogue. Most of our designers produce their collections based on orders they receive 6 months prior and offer little if any re-order options in season. Many also don't sell repeat silhouettes. We invest a ton of time producing our website and the marketing and merchandising for our collections. Sizes can be sold out within days, even hours, after going up on our new arrivals page. This creates a poor experience for customers who can't find their size and a terrible ROI for us as we invest heavily in each product (photography, models, product creation, newsletter, socials etc). We need to solve for this and would love any feedback about apps or consultants that can help us manage our inventory better and buy enough sizing for our site so its not sold out too quickly. As re-ordering is limited for us this means we have to improve our buying in advance. We do not currently use any robust inventory management app beyond Shopify and LightSpeed Retail, as most of them we have seen assume re-order capability. Any help that the community can offer us would be greatly appreciated. 

Thanks so much.

Ryan Hurley

Reply 1 (1)
Jesse-James
Excursionist
21 0 5

Heya Ryan,Allow me to chime in

I used to have this exact same problem selling artisanal gifts (10k+ skus, hard to reorder or forecast as trends do change)  Anyway, conventionally, one would think to use an inventory forecasting app (some these days "say" their AI/ML powered, ha), though that wouldn't do much good because there are simply too many variables that move around (ie: 1 sale or season or social media post could skew the "forecast").

 

If your vendors would entertain a dropshipping arrangement, you could just assign a different location to each vendor and have a pseudo inventory count based on what the vendor says is available to ship.  Then, just send em the orders to fulfill.  Granted, this is harder to manage in the real world, ha

 

Though, instead, I would recommending a pre-order with a limit on each item.  As to why:

 - You can test the demand in real-time, while communicating to the customer what the expected [future] ship date would be if the out-of-stock item is the one they really wanted to purchase and are willing to wait (more popular with the customers then one would think!)

 - Your low stock items can then continue to sell once sold out, saving all that hard-earned promotions and resources

 - And, by limiting the amount of units (per variant) that can be pre-ordered based on what the limited re-order capacity will help keep pre-sales manageable

 

Just my 2c, let me know what you think!

Jesse Porter

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