For a brand just starting out, inventory management likely means physically counting products and recording tallies in a spreadsheet. For huge retailers with hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores, there’s likely a homegrown system or ERP. Inventory management becomes more complicated while brands are in phases of rapid growth—a state with which many Stitch Labs customers are familiar.
To address inventory management holistically for businesses of different sizes, we sat down with two Stitch employees, Ashley Purwin and Theresa Luke, to discuss the challenges they faced in their former roles as inventory planners, what inventory management looks like for businesses of different sizes, and which brands are approaching inventory with innovation and creativity.
Inventory Management Challenges
Theresa was working at a luxury women’s shoe brand when she identified a need for an inventory management solution after months of ballparking sales because she didn’t have access to accurate, up-to-date inventory and order data. Her team had limited visibility which led to missed opportunities.
Interestingly, even at a much larger company (think billions of dollars in annual revenue), Ashley faced similar challenges. “We were dipping across so many departments and organizations internally to get the right data, and then you have different teams analyzing different pieces of that data, so it made it really hard to get the right information to read and react to the business,” she said.
Here’s a quick snippet from the webinar in which Theresa shares some industry pain points:
What to Look for in an Inventory Management Solution
For Theresa, she identified the need for a centralized inventory system that would allow her team to make smarter business decisions. When evaluating solutions, she looked for automation, visibility, and partner opportunities. As a small team, her organization was reliant on third-party integrations so she knew her inventory management software system would need to connect to her point of sale (POS) system as well as her 3PL and accounting services. Ashley echoed the necessity of a solution that will grow with you.
Another must-have for any sized brand? Reporting capabilities. “It’s great once you know where your inventory is,” Theresa explained, “but then I needed to know how much to buy going forward.”
Brands Approaching Inventory With Innovation
Taylor Stitch is a San Francisco-based apparel brand that makes sophisticated apparel without the pretense or exorbitant price tag. Using a crowdsourcing model, they’re able to ascertain whether or not a product has the demand required to create it—before expending valuable time and resources.
Both Ashley and Theresa agreed that subscription box brands are approaching inventory in an innovative way by modernizing wholesale. Subscription boxes are a great way to test new products and markets and expand a brand’s reach by leveraging a third-party partnership.
Both Theresa and Ashley joined the Stitch Labs team out of excitement to build something they know would have helped in their previous roles as inventory planners. After spending many weekends (especially Sunday evenings) pulling reports together and late nights performing physical counts, they want to help others in their roles get time back and feel empowered to make smarter, more data-driven business decisions when it comes to inventory.
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