There are currently 185 million active buyers on the eBay marketplace. If you’re an ecommerce retailer that isn’t selling on this marketplace, you should be!
That said, selling on eBay isn’t as simple as listing your products and then watching them fly off the shelves. You probably know that one of the biggest obstacles that eBay sellers face is eBay inventory tracking, and your store’s stock is no different.
There is a lot of room for inventory errors with any ecommerce sales channel. Luckily, we put together some expert tips to get you started with managing your eBay inventory.
#1 Track Cost Effectively
Product price fluctuations are commonplace on auction-based sites like eBay. These price changes are important to track if you want to maximize your profit and keep moving inventory.
Prices that are too high may drive potential customers towards alternative options, resulting in a loss of traffic for your business and leaving you with slow-moving inventory. Prices that are too low may result in more sales but an overall loss of revenue.
This pitfall is easily avoidable by keeping track of similar items and their prices. Listings from competitors will give you an accurate idea of which products are selling and the appropriate price point for those particular items.
#2 Understand eBay’s Seller Policies
Thoroughly reading and comprehending eBay’s policies for sellers is vital to the success of your business. Failure to understand these policies can have a negative effect on your inventory management, as well as other aspects of your business. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to the site’s seller policies:
Reaching ‘top seller’ status on eBay means that you have a history of making sales with positive customer interactions with few late shipments.
Top seller status hosts a number of benefits for the seller, including a discount on final value fees from the site. However, these benefits can be revoked if you no longer meet the requirements. Overselling or having products listed that are out of stock can result in the loss of your Top Seller Status, so managing your inventory is crucial.
Pay attention to detail when listing and describing your products, as negative reviews and customer complaints are taken very seriously. If your customer reports they’ve received an item that’s different from what your listing describes, eBay can tie up your payments until the issue is resolved.
#3 Bundle Your Products
Bundling items on eBay is easy with the site’s product building feature, which can be located under seller information. All eBay sellers should utilize this feature, as bundling can have a number of benefits when it comes to selling more products and managing your product inventory.
Bundling slow-moving products with your better-selling products will help you move them off the shelves when they might otherwise sit collecting dust. Additionally, if you end up with an overstock of certain items, you can bundle them in multiples to help get your inventory back to manageable levels.
#4 Practice Inventory Forecasting
Maintaining the right level of stock can become quite the balancing act, which is one reason why inventory forecasting is so important. Forecasting is a process for calculating the amount of inventory you’ll need to fulfill customer orders over a given period of time.
Forecasting typically involves looking at your sales history, as well as taking any planned sales or other potential sales influences into account. This practice helps online businesses avoid overstocking or understocking their products.
If you have too little stock, you miss out on potential sales opportunities while overstocking ties up capital that could be better spent elsewhere.
Another great option for keeping track of your inventory is to integrate with your suppliers. This will allow you to see your suppliers’ catalogs and product quantities in real-time, which makes it much easier to resolve issues before they impact your customers.
Supplier integration will allow you to prevent back-orders, overselling, and warn you of any products that are unavailable from the supplier. For instances of product unavailability, it’s wise to have a back-up supplier available to ensure orders are completed.
#5 Track Inventory Manually or Use Software
When you’re just getting started selling online, it’s fairly simple to manage your inventory manually – perhaps with an Excel spreadsheet or some other type of manual tracking.
Manual inventory tracking is a practical way to keep track of the products you have available to sell and doesn’t involve any online software (which can be complicated). Manual tracking should be done thoroughly and on a consistently timed basis (once a week, etc.), making this form of inventory management more practical for small businesses with lower inventory levels.
As your business increases, however, you have to consider investing in an ecommerce inventory management solution to maintain organization and quality customer service.
When you’re busy with spreadsheets and lists, it takes time away from dealing with your customers promptly and satisfactorily. Manual tracking also runs a higher risk of human error and inaccuracy.
Finding the right type of software solution – one that provides you with real-time updates, accurate inventory levels, and automatic reordering alerts, will make your life easier and your business run smoother.
Final Thoughts about Managing eBay Inventory
If you’re thinking about getting started selling on eBay, or if you’re just trying to tighten up your current eBay business, how to keep track of eBay inventory should be one of your first questions.
When you have an efficient system in place, whether you keep stock in your spare bedroom or use multiple warehouses for your inventory, you’ll find that increased sales, business growth, and satisfied customers are the by-products of simple inventory for eBay.
Investing in the right eBay inventory management software will make the process easier, and eliminate much of the hassle that can surround managing your eBay inventory.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published June 2017 and was updated in April 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.