When you run a small business that depends on inventory and customers, focusing on the latter can be the key to success. Getting customer service right is essential for both small and large inventory-based businesses, but getting inventory right can also be important for creating a solid foundation for long-term success. So how can you balance your business’s inventory needs with customer service demands? You can start by taking note of these simple solutions to some of the most damaging and common small business inventory issues.
Telling Customers That In-Stock Items are Out-of-Stock
As your business begins to take off, you may have a harder time reconciling your daily sales with your inventory data. This may not seem like a big deal, but misinforming customers about product availability can cost you considerable profits, especially if you make that mistake over and over again. Investing in an all-in-one POS system could help you avoid these costly errors and could also make tracking your inventory for other purposes much less complicated. There are POS and business management solutions that help solve these inventory issues, but these comprehensive checkout systems also make it easier to process customer payments and generate sales data.
Since payment-processing security can also boost profits for your small business, purchasing a new POS system could help your business solve multiple dilemmas. Customers will feel more comfortable buying from your shop when they trust your payment processing systems, so investing in a payment processing option is smart. Your communication style can also determine whether stock issues cause customers to seek products from alternate retailers, so take care when communicating issues to shoppers.
Sending Duplicate or Inaccurate Orders to Customers
When you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer with a seriously small business, even the tiniest inventory mistakes can be detrimental to your success. For instance, order fulfillment mistakes could not only result in damaged relationships with clients and additional shipping expenses, but these seemingly trivial slipups could leave you with even bigger product losses.
Many small business owners do not realize that FTC regulations prohibit businesses from demanding that customers return unordered products or shipments, which means that the onus falls on businesses to correct these inventory mistakes. So if you ship a package to the wrong customer, you can request that they return the item(s), so long as you cover all shipping costs. If you attempt to demand a customer pay for unordered items, you could end up facing some pretty steep federal fines. So be sure to enhance order fulfillment processes for your business as you look for ways to improve the accuracy and efficiency of your inventory processes.
Running Out of Popular Products on a Frequent Basis
Selling out of products can actually be good for business, when this inventory issue is handled correctly. Creating demand for your goods can be a good way to boost the popularity of your small business, and to increase the urgency with which your customers check out. If your retail shop is constantly running out of in-demand products, however, you may end up forcing your customers to shop elsewhere. This is especially true if you operate a dropshipping site or if you sell generic products that are available via other retailers.
Striking this delicate but important balance between customer demand and business capabilities is more commonly known as capacity management. Capacity management means that retail businesses are producing or stocking the right amount of inventory to avoid unfulfilled orders and lost customers. So if you plan on being aggressive with your marketing efforts, also be aggressive with your inventory. Just as with inventory mistakes, how you communicate stock or capacity shortages to your customers can also create or damage their sense of loyalty and trust in your small business.
Making a mistake with your customer service can be costly, but so can failing to resolve inventory issues because quality customer service and accurate inventory management are both crucial for inventory-based businesses to survive in a vast sea of competition. So help your own inventory-based business thrive by implementing better inventory management solutions.
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