Square Inventory Management: How to Gain Visibility and Prevent Overselling (for Offline and Online Sales)

Business owners know that one of the most important aspects of their business is their inventory. When inventory management is done well, it can make all the difference between a thriving and a failing business. Inventory is important because it is what our customers will interact with most. When products are in stock and available, product listings reflect this. When data is input correctly, customers benefit from a tightly run ship and can get their orders without a headache or problem. This is known as proper inventory management.

When numbers aren’t accurately reflecting your inventory, items and products are misplaced, and customers have to wait a long time for their order (and even worse: if the order is wrong), it can lead to all sorts of problems that will not be easily fixed. Poor inventory management is a serious issue, but there’s more you have to do to fix it than just stay on top of your numbers. Inventory visibility and the prevention of overselling are also widely important for proper inventory management. These two factors can help your business grow in profits, lower costs, and solidify customer loyalty.

Many small business owners leverage Square as their Point of Sale (POS) to conduct payment transactions in their brick and mortar store. To maximize sales, savvy small business owners know the importance on selling beyond the physical walls and creating an online market presence as more selling channels generally result in higher sales. 

However, selling on multiple channels requires a centralized inventory management solution (with support for Square inventory management) to seamlessly manage inventory to prevent overselling on online selling channels (e.g eBay and Amazon). Keeping a firm grasp on your inventory becomes increasingly more challenging with every new selling channel.

Customer using Square Inventory in a coffeeshop

Understanding Inventory Visibility

A lack of inventory visibility is the result of using disparate systems and technology to manage orders and inventory. In addition, using poor systems can also result in steep costs, decreased profits, and damaged customer loyalty. When inventory information is not accurate, timely, or complete, it is virtually impossible to manage an inventory landscape of your warehouses, online and brick and mortar stores. In fact, the only way to accurately and efficiently achieve “end-to-end” inventory visibility is by syncing your business up with a single, centralized order and inventory management solution. When you choose an inventory management solution, it can make all the difference between success and further inventory-related problems.

How to Gain Visibility

When it comes to the “perfect order,” this simply means that your business delivers the right products and services at the very best price when and where your customers want them. In other words, you can serve your customers better than the competition. When you’re able to achieve the perfect order, you can rest easy knowing that you are operating an efficient and thriving business that delivers what its customers want and expect: they can buy what they want and receive the right product for a great price in a timely manner. The best place to start to provide your customers with the services they want and deserve is with a proper inventory management system.

The right inventory management software solution will streamline all operations thanks to integrations and cloud storage technology so that order and inventory information is up to date across all channels and marketplaces. You’ll have access to a single, enterprise-wide view of your collective inventory so that you can optimize business decisions that will please your customers and meet their needs.

A proper software solution will enable you to know when certain products are low, when specific products are really selling and when they aren’t, demand trends, which products need to be reordered straight away, and which can wait a bit since they aren’t selling as quickly. All this information means that you have an advantage over market demand so that you can cater to your customers and fulfill their needs without missing a beat. This level of inventory visibility allows you real-time order and inventory information so that you always know what your numbers and stock levels are. This way, you can always keep things flowing well no matter which marketplace or channel you’re using.

Finally, when your business is fulfilling customer orders accurately, efficiently, and in a timely manner, it improves customer loyalty drastically. Customers are more likely to shop with you again as well as spread the word on your business and products, which can lead to higher sales over time!

Square Inventory Management: What Happens When You Oversell

Another part of inventory management to think about is how much you are selling. Of course, high sale rates are great, but they can be damaging under a certain condition: you’re selling more of a product than you have. This happens when your product numbers aren’t accurate so that the amount of a product listed online does not reflect what’s actually in your warehouse inventory.

When you sell products you don’t actually have, this is known as overselling. Overselling can be detrimental to your business because it can break customer trust and loyalty, cost you money over time, and generate negative reviews on your product listings.  Even worse, not addressing habitual overselling will eventually result in being banned from selling on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and other large marketplaces.

How to Prevent Overselling for Online Sales

Square inventory management, Square Inventory Management: How to Gain Visibility and Prevent Overselling (for Offline and Online Sales)

Preventing overselling begins with your inventory. When you use poor inventory management systems, chances are you won’t ever really know your accurate stock numbers. This means that product listings on your online store as well as offline will not be accurate, which can lead to issues when customers start placing orders and trying to make purchases. To prevent overselling for online and offline sales, you first have to get your inventory in order with an excellent inventory management software system.  Once you’ve done that, you should follow up with these strategies:

    • Invest in Inventory Management Software: You’re not just picking an inventory management software system, you’re investing in one. When you invest in online inventory tracker and management software with that works well, comes with integration features and more, and streamlines your inventory operations, you’re really taking care of inventory management and your business for the long hall. This is the first step to being able to keep accurate, real-time inventory data, improve sales and customer loyalty, and accurately forecast demand. Some inventory systems are better than others, so do your research before you start shopping for what works best for you and your business.
    • Set Standard Levels: The standard level of a product refers to the minimum quantity of the product that you have on hand at all times. For example, you may make a rule to have 50 coffee makers on hand at all times to take care of orders for this specific product. When your stock falls below the standard level, you know it’s time to reorder more inventory. In addition, when you place an order for more inventory, you should also order the minimum (standard) amount so that you put the product above the standard level. To come up with a good standard level, think about how quickly the item sells and how long it takes to receive replacement inventory from your suppliers.
  • Schedule Regular Audits: Keep track of your inventory by scheduling regular audits. This can be done easily with your inventory management software system where you’ll also receive accurate reports on inventory levels and other pertinent data. Conduct an audit using the following methods:
      • Physical Inventory: Counting all inventory at once.
      • Spot Checking: Checking on specific products at certain times throughout the year.
    • Cycle Counting: Counting and checking certain products on a schedule throughout the year so that everything gets checked, but not all at once (aka the annual audit).

When you gain visibility for your inventory and prevent overselling both offline and online, you’re reaching an important level of square inventory management. Remember, you don’t really have a working business without proper inventory management strategies in place, so be sure to do all you can to make sure your inventory is managed accurately and efficiently at all times.

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