Business Strategy

Understanding Inventory Management: For Growing eCommerce Stores

by Rita Sengupta on Aug. 20, 2020


As a print-on-demand business owner, managing inventory is not a responsibility that you normally have to or want to deal with. After all, one of the fundamental benefits of the print-on-demand process is that it eliminates the cost of storing goods and materials.

While you don’t physically need to hold inventory for your business, the manufacturing partners who produce your orders do need to forecast, store, and maintain inventory on their end. As a savvy business owner, it’s important to understand how this back-end process directly impacts your business.

Below, we will explain this critical process in the eCommerce industry, how Gooten participates in inventory management, and how this practice can affect your eCommerce store.

The Lifecycle of a T-Shirt

In order to understand the flow of inventory in a typical eCommerce supply chain, let’s take a look at the journey of one of Gooten’s most popular products, the t-shirt.

How Forecasting Sales Supports Inventory Management

In order to prepare for the busy holiday season, Gooten’s manufacturing partners order inventory from mills in April and May to ensure they have enough goods and materials in November and December. Any disruptions in stages 1 to 4 of the t-shirt lifecycle can trickle down and affect the availability of products for your store. Inventory management helps manufacturing partners plan and prepare for any possible disruptions or increases in demand.

At Gooten, in order to help our manufacturing partners with inventory management, we submit monthly sales forecasts based on the data we collect so that our merchant partners don’t have to. We create forecasts through a variety of methods including historical data, real-time order information, and predictive modeling charts. While we do this work on behalf of our merchant partners, we always ask that if you do anticipate an unexpected spike in orders, then you should notify us so that we can guarantee those products are in stock and ready for fulfillment.

How To Prepare For Unexpected Impacts To Inventory

Unexpected external factors can also impact inventory management. When the global pandemic hit this past spring, multiple mills and manufacturing partners were required to shut down or partially close down. This, in turn, affected the production and shipping times for many of our most popular products. While these cases are uncommon, the best thing our merchant partners can do is to communicate these expectations with their consumers.

There are several strategies online business owners can implement before, during, and after a consumer places an order to appease their concerns or questions:

  • Address shipping delays or any other known issues on your homepage and product pages
  • Reinforce any delays in the checkout process. Include estimated shipping and arrival times so that your consumer isn’t frustrated by uncontrollable delays or disruptions in the supply chain.
  • Update your transaction emails. Typically, the two main transactional emails consumers receive are 1) the order confirmation email, and 2) the shipping confirmation email. An additional email you may want to consider including is an order delivered confirmation. This notifies the consumer, who may have been waiting patiently for their order, that their package has arrived.

Happy planning!