Tracking your inventory: A shallow dive

Have you ever woken up and said, "I want to think about inventory today!"? No? Yes? It's okay if you don't want to tell us. We're going to talk about inventory anyway. This week on the podcast we're doing a shallow dive into inventory management.

Let's dig in!





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show notes.

  • [06:55] Should I track inventory?
  • [13:32] Should you display your inventory levels?
  • [18:08] What do you do when you're low on inventory?
  • [21:05] What do you do when you sell out?
  • [25:40] What if you never plan to have that product in stock ever again?
  • [29:50] Back in stock notifications
  • [30:52] Is Shopify's inventory system good enough or should I use an ERP?
  • [34:29] Managing omnichannel inventory
  • [37:24] How do I forecast inventory needs?
  • [40:49] Store shoutout: Benson Watch
  • [42:08] Store shoutout: Brickell



 Rhian (00:00):
Have you ever woken up and said, "I want to think about inventory today?" No? Yes? It's okay if you don't want to tell us, we're going to talk about inventory anyway. This week on the podcast, we're doing a shallow dive into inventory management. Let's dig in.

Rhian (00:19):
Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.

Kelly (00:24):
And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us. As we talk about all things commerce.

Rhian (00:35):
Hey Kelly, how can merchants leverage customer data to drive more revenue and increase retention? How could they create personalized experiences customers love?

Kelly (00:45):
I recommend Octane AI, the leading buyer profile platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.

Rhian (00:51):
How does it work?

Kelly (00:52):
Octane AI features a shop quiz, Facebook messenger and SMS, and opt-in tools. Using the shop quiz, merchants can get to know customers with interactive questions. From product recommenders to gift finders, you can learn about our customer's needs, preferences, pain points, and more. This information gets saved into buyer profiles, and you can sync your buyer profile data with your Facebook messenger, SMS, email and ad campaigns for personalized customer journeys.

Rhian (01:17):
What kinds of returns can brands expect?

Kelly (01:19):
Brands using a shop quiz have increased email signups by 16 times and driven a 28% increase in average order value. Facebook messenger and SMS. See 80 to 95% average open rates and drive up to a 20% increase in revenue. Better yet, Octane AI has plans for any size business and offers a 14 day free trial. Every plan gives you access to the shop quiz, Facebook messenger, SMS, and often tools. There are also plans available were Octane AI's experts will help you set up and optimize your tools for success.

Rhian (01:51):
It sounds great. Where can merchants go to learn more?

Kelly (01:54):
You can learn more, book a demo or try it free at Again, that's Good morning, Rhian.

Rhian (02:06):
Good morning, Kelly. How's it going?

Kelly (02:10):
It's going pretty great. On this day that we are recording, I am officially two weeks post vaccine.

Rhian (02:18):
Yes, you are.

Kelly (02:20):
My antibodies are all done doing their thing, and I can go back to licking door knobs.

Rhian (02:26):
I would just, look as a not medical professional, so take this with a grain of salt, because I'm not qualified to talk about it, but I would suggest not licking door knobs as just a general life decision, but it's up to you. It's your prerogative. If you want to lick a door knob and get salmonella, by all means.

Kelly (02:47):
I might consider your advice. We'll see. For now, I'm going to continue to stay inside and also wear a mask and also socially distance and all that good stuff.

Rhian (03:01):
All of those ...

Kelly (03:02):
I have to say though...

Rhian (03:03):
Good things [crosstalk 00:03:04].

Kelly (03:04):
... I texted a friend this past weekend asking if he had plans for this upcoming weekend and asked if he wanted to hang out. I felt like I was doing something wrong. We're both fully vaccinated, but it's just so weird inviting somebody into your home for the first time in over a year.

Rhian (03:24):
Yeah, you're like, "Is this how it's supposed to be? Are you allowed in?" I don't know. Are there rules? What are the rules? The rules, it's very confusing. I was fortunate enough. I too am post my dual vacces. I was able to see my parents, which was so, so cool. They've also been vaccinated. I drove from their house to somewhere else, and so I've been socializing with them with no mask on, and I haven't done that. I've barely, I've seen them twice in the last year, both times outside, both times 10 feet away masked. Then the next time I got out of the car, just something in my brain was like, "Do, do, do." I just got out of the car, no mask. I just left my mask in the car. I went, I got five steps out. I was like, "Oh no." I had to run back to my car and got my mask. I just forgot. It was that sense of, oh I don't want to use the word normalcy. Oh, my word. My body just clicked back into it so quickly. It was like, "Oh, this is how it is now. Okay."

Rhian (04:25):
But anyways, it's fun. I'm so happy for you. I'm so happy for everybody getting vaccinated. Canada, we see you're moving into stage two, I believe it's called. We're sending y'all in the Great White North, our good vibes. For those of you globally, as your countries navigate the vaccination rollout, we are thinking of you.

Kelly (04:53):
We hope you all get vaccinated soon.

Rhian (04:56):
I hope you all get vaccinated soon. I hope you all get vaccinated soon.

Kelly (04:59):

Rhian (05:00):
With that being said, speaking of inventory problems, is that a terrible joke? I shouldn't make that joke.

Kelly (05:07):
Just click. That's kind of funny, also sad, also terrible.

Rhian (05:14):
Yeah, that's the kind of humor you're like, "Well, I mean, it's true." Speaking of inventory that has been terribly managed.

Kelly (05:21):
Yeah, we all know a little too much about that.

Rhian (05:27):
I feel like the typical person's understanding of supply chain and inventory management has skyrocketed in the last year.

Kelly (05:35):
You know what? Where was all of this knowledge back during Shipageddon?

Rhian (05:41):
Who's to say? Shipageddon was a lawless time.

Kelly (05:44):
It was.

Rhian (05:45):
It was truly ...

Kelly (05:45):
But it would have been really helpful for the merchants if everyone had a better understanding of how the supply chain works and how logistics works and how various scenarios can slow down deliveries. Then we would have fewer upset customers. Just an idea.

Rhian (06:05):
And how to communicate. And how to communicate ...

Kelly (06:07):

Rhian (06:09):
... during those time periods. With no further ado, we present to you our content on ...

Kelly (06:16):
Inventory management.

Rhian (06:18):
... inventory management.

Kelly (06:20):
We started this by saying, we're doing a shallow dive into inventory management. What we mean by that is that this is like maybe a kiddie pool, maybe it's four feet deep. You can't dive into it.

Rhian (06:36):
Don't dive into it.

Kelly (06:37):
We're going to scratch the surface on frequently asked questions that come up when I'm working with merchants and give you some answers to those and potentially foreshadow some future episodes that we're going to do with actual inventory experts that are not us.

Rhian (06:55):
This is exciting. Okay, so question number one. Kelly, should I track my inventory?

Kelly (07:04):
Is the sky blue?

Rhian (07:05):

Kelly (07:06):
Okay, next question.

Rhian (07:11):
Okay, see, we're being kind of glib about that, but the reality is, and I've worked in boutiques. I get it. You're like, "I have an inventory of five." Okay, awesome. You know that you have an inventory, but what happens when somebody calls and they want this dress and you're like, "Well, I've got five of the dresses." You're like, "Okay, well, what size were they again? What color way are they in?" There's so many parts of that that can fall apart and can ruin the experience. I mean that online as well. If you don't have a really good grasp of your inventory, what happens when you sell out of something, but don't know you're sold out, so now you've sold, I don't know, 10 units of said product, now your customers are really upset.

Kelly (07:54):

Rhian (07:54):
That is a bad review waiting to be written.

Kelly (07:58):
It is. Also, I could tell you a story about somebody who ended up not being client, so I don't mind telling this story. They approached me about moving over to Shopify, that they were currently on some other platform. It doesn't matter what. They had a brick and mortar location as well. Part of migrating a website is migrating all your product information over so people can purchase online. I'm like, "All right, do you have a spreadsheet or some kind of file that's exported that contains all your product information?" They're like, "No."

Rhian (08:35):

Kelly (08:38):
"Do you track? You have a brick and mortar location. Do you track your inventory at all?" "No, we don't." Let me tell you something.

Rhian (08:46):
This stresses me out. I'm feeling stressed out right now.

Kelly (08:50):
The time to start tracking inventory is now. The ideal time to start tracking inventory is when you start your business, as soon as you start selling. The second, most ideal time to start tracking your inventory is literally immediately.

Rhian (09:07):

Kelly (09:08):
Because this company, after I basically explained if you don't know what you're selling between your brick and mortar location and online or even what you're, you don't know what's in stock in the back room, that you only know what you see in the retail section is what you have and maybe it's there, maybe it's not. You're going to run into some really bad issues when it comes to trying to forecast your inventory, have a call asking if something's available and you're not present in the store at the time, you just got a shipment in, you don't know what's actually in those boxes. It's going to be an issue. Ideally, you start tracking your inventory now.

Rhian (09:54):
There's also another thing, by the way, all of those things sound like nightmare fuel. Let me add to that nightmare fuel. If you do not track your inventory and you have somebody who is maybe, I don't know, stealing from you, you're going to have no idea. I just think back to, I've worked retail jobs. We've talked about this. You would have to do double inventory, so full inventory. You're not just taking floor inventory. You're taking back inventory of everything. You did floor inventory, I think it was once a week. Then you did full inventory, dual verification, full inventory once a month. That's to make sure no one's stealing anything. You know what? We found out someone was.

Kelly (10:46):

Rhian (10:48):
That was a big eye-opener for me, because I knew I wasn't stealing anything. Part of me's like, "This is so ridiculous that we're doing this." I'm sure that occasionally someone stealing something off the floor and I don't mean internally, I just mean, you're going to have people stealing things. That's part of retail. It sucks. You have to write it off. But no, I mean, there was somebody in house stealing copious amounts.

Kelly (11:12):
Oh now.

Rhian (11:12):
We caught it. They didn't know that we were doing this dual off full inventory, which by the way, took eight hours every time we did it. I found out I like to do inventory though. It's kind of soothing if it's organized in advance.

Kelly (11:31):
I remember my, the only idea of doing inventory and I'm finger quoting here is my dad just spending literally all day just out of the house at work from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, just doing inventory of whatever plant he was working at. He just retired at the end of this past year, so he is no longer having to deal with inventory in any form. Unless he's about to run out of eggs and then he needs to buy more eggs.

Rhian (12:06):
It's what a short term inventory challenge is now, eggs, milk, butter.

Kelly (12:12):
The usual, yep.

Rhian (12:13):
The usual. Well, congratulations, Mr. Kelly's dad. I don't know your maiden name. I realized.

Kelly (12:22):
I've told you before, but it's okay.

Rhian (12:23):
I know, I know. I was like, "I know this and I can't remember it." But congratulations to Kelly's dad who I'm sure is listening right now on your retirement. I am so happy for you. I'm so glad the only inventory you need to keep are eggs.

Kelly (12:37):
Kind of funny story about my dad's name. My maiden name is Ryder. That's R-Y-D-E-R. My dad's name is Scott. If any of you are Mass Effect fans out there, you might realize that you can play a character named Scoot Ryder. When Daniel started playing the game, he was like, "Oh, I'm going to be your dad."

Rhian (13:01):
Oh my gosh. Tell Daniel, I'll give him my 2 cents. Sorry, that's a joke that came from Twitter.

Kelly (13:14):
Worth it.

Rhian (13:14):
Anyways, totally worth. It was worth the pay. It was worth the laugh I know I was going to get. Okay, so we entered the should I track inventory in like five minutes, which was way longer than I think we were expecting to spend on it. Next question, Kelly, because I decided I'm asking you questions today. Should you display your inventory levels?

Kelly (13:32):

Rhian (13:34):
Whoa, what do you mean?

Kelly (13:39):
This kind of feeds into the next question, if you have like thousands in stock, there's no need to display that. It really depends on how quickly you run out of inventory, if this is a hot commodity. If so, let's say you're getting, you're doing a flash sale and you're going to have 2000 of them in stock. It's flash sale. You expect them to all sell out very quickly. Go ahead and display the inventory, because you're creating a sense of urgency. You know it's going to sell out. It means people are going to move quickly. If you have, 5-6,000 of something in stock and it's going to stay in stock into perpetuity until you restock again, you never actually run out, not really necessary to display that inventory on there.

Rhian (14:33):

Kelly (14:34):
There are certain products that I find are more useful when displaying inventory. For example, fabric. Selling fabric online, you want to know how much is in stock because you want to buy exactly how much you need usually, or maybe a little bit more than exactly what you need. You don't want to find out that there's not actually enough in stock, especially when you're coordinating different kinds of fabric and stuff.

Rhian (14:59):
Yeah, I was just thinking when you're saying fabric and then I was thinking yarn.

Kelly (15:02):
Oh yeah.

Rhian (15:03):
As if I can craft, which by the way, I can not. But let's just say if I was able to knit, I would need to know ...

Kelly (15:11):
Hypothetically speaking.

Rhian (15:12):
Hypothetically speaking, if I'm knitting a baby blanket, and then this imaginary baby blanket was yellow. I needed six balls of yarn. I know that's not what they're called. Skew, skewers, they have names.

Kelly (15:27):
I don't know the name of them. Skeins?

Rhian (15:28):
I'm just making things up.

Kelly (15:28):

Rhian (15:28):
Is it skein?

Kelly (15:33):

Rhian (15:35):
Is that right? Oh, look at me with my crafty knowledge. Let's say I need six of these things to make said baby blanket. Then I try to order six and there's not enough. Now my baby blanket plans are ruined, because my expectations were not managed.

Kelly (15:54):
Oh no. Apparently, I'm just reading about yarn now. Skein is one of them, but you can also have a ball of yarn or a hake of yarn.

Rhian (16:06):
Oh, well, I love that there's options.

Kelly (16:10):
Just in case you need your yarn to look a certain way. I also am no professional or amateur or anything at all knitter.

Rhian (16:21):
I'm so painfully not crafty. I have always been the mom where it's like half the kids show up and they've obviously had parental help, right, with their posters, not my daughter. She said, "I want to put glitter here." I'm like, "Sounds good." I have no, I'll point out a misspelling, but I'm just not that parent who can put a craft together. It's just not for me. I also can't sew.

Kelly (16:59):
I can pretend to sew.

Rhian (17:02):
Well, that's good.

Kelly (17:03):
I can sew a button back on.

Rhian (17:04):
Okay, fair enough. I can sew a button back on as well. The end.

Kelly (17:09):
I miss all the lessons for hemming something. I've never tried it. I'm sure I could figure it out. There are YouTube videos for everything, but I've never had to.

Rhian (17:19):
[crosstalk 00:17:19] sewing machine.

Kelly (17:19):
Basically [crosstalk 00:17:20] the Home Ec stuff.

Rhian (17:21):
See, I do have a sewing machine. Why?

Kelly (17:24):
Well, you're one step ahead of me.

Rhian (17:25):
Why do I have it? I don't even know how it works.

Kelly (17:28):
Because it's a domestic thing to have? I don't know.

Rhian (17:31):
Yeah, my mom gave it to me.

Kelly (17:33):
Oh, okay.

Rhian (17:33):
It was a subtle hint. I just was like, "Thanks mom." And then I've literally never used it. Okay, in fairness, it was used when she got it. She didn't spend a bunch of money for me to not use something, but I don't even know how to thread the bobbin. I don't even know how. Anyways, next. Okay, so speaking of thread, yarn, fabric, clothing that I love from different brands that are consistently low on inventory and consistently sell out, even when I'm still in the car, what happens when you're low on inventory? How should you handle that?

Kelly (18:08):
You should stress that you're low on inventory, because it's really great to create a sense of urgency. However, be honest about it. Don't say you're almost out of stock if you're not actually almost out of stock. You know how many ads I see on Facebook? I feel like we just keep going into tangents all the time in this episode, but it's okay. This is sort of tangentially related. I see a lot of ads on Facebook that are like, "We're shutting down our business. Everything's on sale."

Rhian (18:32):
Oh my gosh, yes. Why?

Kelly (18:35):
And then you see it six months later that you're still shutting down your business. It's a whole marketing model, and it's dumb.

Rhian (18:45):
It's also, I believe you would call that a dark pattern.

Kelly (18:47):
Oh yes. Let me ... Yeah, no. It's stupid. But yeah, anyway, when you're low on inventory, let your customers know you're low on inventory, because if they want to buy it now or if they want to buy it, they better buy it now or else they might not be able to. Especially, if these are these things are one of a kind or very few made or anything like that, that just naturally does not have a high inventory level, show it off.

Rhian (19:19):
Or a super hyped. For instance, I don't know Kelly, if you're familiar with the Nap Dress from Hill House.

Kelly (19:26):
I am not, but I've been watching the Haunting of Hill House.

Rhian (19:29):
I think they're not related.

Kelly (19:30):
Don't think they're related.

Rhian (19:33):
I will say this, these dresses sell out like hotcakes. They sell out like hotcakes. It's like that Everlane moment that I've talked about before, where I didn't put something in my cart and it said there was only three left, and I was like, "Oh, that can't possibly be true." No, I did put it in my cart, but I did not check out. I was like, "Oh, that can't possibly be true. That's some kind of scarcity tactic." No, it was legitimately sold out. I legitimately did not get the object. Hill House has the Nap Dress, and that dress sells out almost every time it hits, especially in different color ways.

Kelly (20:04):
I see that.

Rhian (20:05):
Luckily, I only wear black, so I think it's not one of the colors that people love.

Kelly (20:10):
I found a really cute one, but it's not in my size. The only one that's in my size is a cream color. I don't trust myself.

Rhian (20:17):
Oh, let me tell you a pro tip. If you are ordering a knack dress, if you're listening, size down.

Kelly (20:24):

Rhian (20:25):
Seriously. I bought my size, and it's too big.

Kelly (20:29):
Okay, then definitely nothing's in my size.

Rhian (20:32):

Kelly (20:33):
Okay, maybe next time.

Rhian (20:33):
Well, now you know. Maybe next time. Maybe next time. Okay, so that then goes to the, they sell out all of the time.

Kelly (20:42):

Rhian (20:43):
There are lots of brands that sell out all of the time. Oh my gosh. What's that pillow? Nugget?

Kelly (20:48):

Rhian (20:50):
Famous nugget.

Kelly (20:51):
Also, what is it called? From Our Place?

Rhian (20:57):
Oh, the pan.

Kelly (20:59):
Every, every, yeah, that pan.

Rhian (21:01):
The pan. I know it has another name, but the pan sells out.

Kelly (21:05):

Rhian (21:05):
All of the time. What do you do when you sell out? This is another time when I'm going to look to Everlane and say, "Everlane does a really killer job with this." When that sweater sold out, that was in my cart that I wanted, it directs you back. It's like, "Something sold out in your cart." You're like, "Okay, my bad. I should have listened." Then it's, "Sign up for ..." Basically sign up to know when it's back in stock. I did. Then I got the back in stock notification, and I bought it.

Kelly (21:39):
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. That's the correct answer.

Rhian (21:44):
That's what I think you should do when you sell out. Kelly, what do you think?

Kelly (21:47):
I think you should shut down your business, rebrand, and start a new line of products.

Rhian (21:52):
That's so ridiculous.

Kelly (21:54):
No, the answer is if it is something that's going to be back in stock, at some point, you add some kind of backend stock notification and let people sign up to receive a restock notification. These are pretty great for a few reasons. One, it gets customers back onto the store when there was something of interest to them, especially something specifically in their size. Two, you can market to them at this point, because these restock notification forms give you the option to, it gives the customer the option to opt into receiving marketing emails or SMS.

Rhian (22:34):
Yeah, yeah. What tools would you use here?

Kelly (22:40):
I'm a big fan of Klaviyo's back in stock functionality.

Rhian (22:42):

Kelly (22:43):
Also, what?

Rhian (22:44):
I was just teasing you. I knew the answer is going to be Klaviyo's, so I said, "No."

Kelly (22:51):
Do you know what the second answer is?

Rhian (22:53):
No, what's the second answer?

Kelly (22:55):
It's an app.

Rhian (22:56):
Is the app called Back in Stock?

Kelly (22:57):

Rhian (23:00):
I was asked this this earlier. Someone's like, "Do you have a good ..." literally today, "Do you have a good back in stock app?" I said, I think there's one called Back in Stock." The person's like, "Seriously?" I was like, "Yeah, app developers, just, we just really aren't great at names."

Kelly (23:15):
There are a lot of back in stock apps in the app store. I've used the Back in Stock app a lot. It always works. It works great. You can connect it to various email marketing providers that you're actively using on your store. If you're on Klaviyo, use Klaviyo's back in stock functionality. You get all those reports directly into your store, all the analytics for filtering, for segmentation, for all that good stuff. You can get, with a developer's help, you can get pretty custom on how the back in stock trigger occurs on either of these apps. That way it doesn't look like just the typical, like here's a little button on the side that has a back in stock button to enter in your information or let me replace the button that says sold out, sign up for reorders. You can have it embedded directly into the form. You can have it styled to match your brand, use your brand's voice on it, all kinds of really great things. Highly recommend. This is a great thing to ask your developer to help you implement if you're not currently implementing it.

Rhian (24:18):
I could not agree more. I have a side question, but I feel like this isn't the right episode, but I'm just going to throw it out there and just see what sticks. What do you think about taking a product that is out of stock and then turning it into a pre-order product for the next drop?

Kelly (24:41):
Technically, you can. There are some issues with pre-orders, which is something that everyone should be mindful of. You need to have very specific verbiage on your store that indicates when it's going to be shipping.

Rhian (24:56):
Yeah, customer management ...

Kelly (24:57):
Keep in mind that ...

Rhian (24:58):
... here is key.

Kelly (24:59):
Exactly, and the other piece that is really important to know is if you're doing pre-orders and you just want to authorize the card, you don't want to charge it, you have 14 days, that's it, if you're on Shopify payments. Then the authorization expires and you cannot charge their card. Just be mindful of how you approach pre-orders. But it's definitely an option. I've seen stores do it before.

Rhian (25:24):
Okay, okay. Just wanted to interject that little thing. Okay, so what happens if you sell the product out and you're never ever, ever, ever getting back together?

Kelly (25:40):
Ever? Thank you for the little Taylor plug there. I appreciate it. By the way, by the time this episode releases, [inaudible 00:25:49] version will be released. That's what I'm going to have on repeat.

Rhian (25:53):
I can't wait.

Kelly (25:54):
Anyway, the answer, well, first and foremost, don't remove that product from your store.

Rhian (26:02):

Kelly (26:03):
Don't hide, don't unpublish that product.

Rhian (26:04):
Do not.

Kelly (26:05):
You have built up ... Actually, Rhian, explain why from an SEO perspective.

Rhian (26:11):
I feel like, Kelly, we're just bullying people right now listening. You're like, "don't do this." I'm like, "Yeah, no, hard pass." Here's why

Kelly (26:19):
This is, it's tough love, something like that.

Rhian (26:21):
This is tough. You have spent all of this time and energy in getting a product that sells out. Awesome. The likelihood of that product ranking is probably relatively high if a lot of your traffic comes from search. Even if it's paid, this is going to be a page on your website that has a lot of SEO energy. Do not turn it off. Redirect that energy to somewhere else. May I suggest the collection page from whence it came. That's mine, that's my preferred place to redirect to is put it, if it's a shirt and it's sold out, redirect it to your collection of shirts. The end.

Kelly (27:11):
Can I suggest another option?

Rhian (27:14):
Yes, of course.

Kelly (27:15):
It's a bit of a fun one. I'm going to get a little developery here.

Rhian (27:18):
Oh gosh.

Kelly (27:21):
It's worth it.

Rhian (27:22):

Kelly (27:24):
Okay, so let's say you sell one of a kind dolls. You make them yourself. There's never going to be the same doll in stock ever again. You don't want to just redirect back to the collections, because maybe you want to use this as an opportunity, like, "Look, you missed this one, but here's why you should consider buying another doll," instead of just pushing them right to the collections page. What you can do is create a custom product template. Of course, this is going to be a developer thing to do where you can change up how the page appears. Maybe you have certain styles of dolls that, if you didn't get this one doll or you didn't get doll A, doll B is pretty similar. You'd probably like this one or C or D or whatever. When a product goes out of stock, set a trigger with the API to change the template associated with the product. Then it's automatic. You don't have to do anything. Don't judge me.

Rhian (28:27):
I'm not. I actually, get this, SEO manager has a feature that you can click. It's like one of the ... People, it's really buried and we need to surface it better, because people who use it are like, "This is legit." Basically, if you click the button or the check box, it says, "When out of stock, redirect to ..."

Kelly (28:51):

Rhian (28:52):
Then the place to redirect to.

Kelly (28:55):
I love that.

Rhian (28:56):
Yeah. I don't know why we don't talk about it more as a feature, because it's actually a pretty rad feature.

Kelly (29:00):
Yeah, I'm going to add a link to SEO manager in the show notes, even though everyone should be familiar with it by this time. I just didn't, I wrote SEO and just only capitalize the S so it just became sale manager, but you know.

Rhian (29:14):
There's no rules. There's no rules.

Kelly (29:17):
What are rules?

Rhian (29:18):
What are rules? Wear a mask, actually. That's a rule.

Kelly (29:21):
Hey, that's a good one.

Rhian (29:25):
Okay, so we've talked about what happens when you sell out, what happens if that product is never going to be in stock again, and then we loosely touched on back in stock notifications and the method by which to deliver said back in stock notifications. Is there anything else you want to add around back in stock notifications?

Kelly (29:50):
Yes. First off, don't use the default email that comes with a back in stock notification. I mean, this goes for all of your transactional emails as well. Make sure your brand voice shines through on every email that you send. You can customize these back in stock notifications, especially if you're sending it via a platform like Klaviyo. You can add, "Hey, this necklace that you had signed up for restock notifications is finally back in stock. I'm really excited for you. You know what? This bracelet also pairs really well with it."

Rhian (30:25):

Kelly (30:27):
Use it as an opportunity to cross sell.

Rhian (30:29):
Yes, I love that. Cross sell, upsell all the sells.

Kelly (30:35):
All the sells.

Rhian (30:36):
Increase that AOV, average order value. Okay, so next question for you is this is Shopify's inventory system good enough or should I use an ERP?

Kelly (30:52):
First off, there are a number of people who are surprised to learn that Shopify has an inventory management system.

Rhian (30:59):
Yes, I quite like it actually.

Kelly (31:01):
If you did not know, Shopify does have an inventory management system built right in. So if you're paying for Shopify, you're paying for an inventory management system as well, and you should use it. Now, should you use an ERP or an enterprise resource planner or planning tool? Most people do not need an ERP unless there's, it's, there's enterprise is a word in there. Usually larger merchants are the ones who get the most benefit from using an ERP, which is just going to be the source of truth for your products. Then that data gets synced into a update your inventory counts on Shopify or any kind of various other channels you're selling. When something gets sold, that ERP again, updates, and then pushes out those updates across the other channels as well. You can also track as you're getting new inventory in what is going to be coming next.

Rhian (31:51):
I love that. I like using Shopify's native inventory system as much as possible, only because, like you mentioned, the E in enterprise center. I feel like oftentimes we get into this place as entrepreneurs where we start overthinking problems. This is one of those things that can be over-thought. Then next thing you know, when Shopify's native inventory is good enough, now you're integrating this third party ERP and adding a layer of complexity that maybe you don't need right now. I would just caution everybody to really think about that part critically, because there's that want to scale. I even do it, right? I'm ready to scale all the time, ready to go. But sometimes the enterprise solution is just not the right solution and that's okay.

Kelly (32:46):
Yeah, I think it's worth touching on ERP is in a little bit more detail ...

Rhian (32:51):
I think so too.

Kelly (32:53):
... in the sense that this is a back office tool, so this system is meant to help with a number of things that need to be done in the back office. One of the really popular inventory planning ERP, whatever you want to call it, solutions out there with Stitch Labs for quite some time. Stitch Labs got acquired by Stripe, er not Stripe, Square, one of the other S companies.

Rhian (33:22):
Wrong shape.

Kelly (33:27):
Yes, wrong shape. They're basically shutting down the tool. Brightpearl is another really great option. Brightpearl is a cloud ERP, which is nice. NetSuite is another really popular one that everyone loves to complain about how terrible the integration process is. It is a process. There are a number of inventory management tools out there. Skew [inaudible 00:33:56], Cin7, I think is another one. Anyway, if you want to look into an ERP, I personally recommend looking at Brightpearl.

Rhian (34:04):

Kelly (34:07):
We'll pause there, but most people just can get by using Shopify as inventory system, especially if you're omnichannel, if your other channels, which we're going to get into briefly, like literally next. Okay, let's just go ahead and jump into it, because this is no point in me starting to talk about. Managing omnichannel inventory, so if all of your channels are on Shopify, so you're using one of the other available channels within Shopify, your inventory is going to stay synced, which is really nice if you're using Shopify's inventory. If you're selling on other channels that are not connected to Shopify, this is when it's some kind of inventory management tool is going to be necessary for you to make sure your inventory stay synced. Yes, and this is actually, you want to talk point of sale because this is definitely your area of expertise.

Rhian (35:03):
Yeah, well, yeah, loosely. I have a point of sale app, which is why it's my area of expertise. I also have spent many an hour working in retail, like we have discussed. My favorite part about Shopify, I remember actually, let's just zoom out a second. I remember back in the olden days when I'd be pitching people on Shopify. One of my main pieces in that pitch was, and this is pitching to brick and mortars, was you can have your inventory everywhere synced in real time. That to me was such a huge selling feature to those merchants that they moved, not only their e-commerce presence or they might've been building any commerce presence, to be frank back then. They also moved to a different point of sale.

Rhian (35:56):
I feel very strongly about the future of Shopify's point of sale. That's why we built an app for it. We wouldn't have built an app for it if we didn't think there was a strong future for point of sale. Obviously, this last year, point of sale has looked dramatically different. It will continue to look different in the future, but it's still going to be real. Kelly, this is a topic for another day. We need to talk about when retail "comes back," what that is going to look like, because I think we're about to see, and I'm not the only person who thinks is a boom like we have never seen before.

Kelly (36:30):
I agree.

Rhian (36:32):
This is a very long way to say, I really like Shopify's native tooling for inventory management. It also supports multiple locations, so if you have a brick and mortar and a web presence, you can manage your inventory just through Shopify. That's what I would do.

Kelly (36:54):

Rhian (36:56):
Here's a good question, and this question is really in the weeds. Let's say I have inventory. I know it's good. I'm all seasonal though. Right? Maybe I sell bathing suits or something. I'm trying to think of a seasonal object. Bathing suits feel seasonal.

Kelly (37:15):

Rhian (37:17):
Except in California, where this is not a seasonal product. How do I forecast my inventory needs?

Kelly (37:26):
It's worth noting, can you define what inventory forecasting is?

Rhian (37:34):
I can. It's knowing how much inventory you were going to need in the future. If my bikini sales in January is still technically a resort, so if my bikini sales in February, let's say February, are a hundred units, what can I forecast for spring break, for summer vacation and those type of seasons that follow around? When I'm forecasting, that means that, A, I'm not ordering too much inventory that I'm then going to have to mark down and sell. It also means I'm not going to order too little and to sell out of everything and make a bunch of customers upset.

Kelly (38:16):
You can think of inventory forecasting as an art, but it's really a science.

Rhian (38:23):

Kelly (38:24):
It is analyzing historical data to determine what you need next. The cool thing is you don't need to do this yourself. There are services and tools that do this for you. When I said, I am going to give a sneak peek into a future episode, we're going to have Jill from Inventory Planner on to talk all about forecasting, because this is not my area of expertise, but it is something that is really important for businesses to get right.

Rhian (38:54):
Yeah, and it's so different depending on what you sell. It's such a it depends answer, because forecasting coffee inventory, for instance, which you consume pretty regularly throughout the year versus a seasonal item versus a limited item versus et cetera, et cetera.

Kelly (39:15):
Bundles, yeah.

Rhian (39:15):
It can get really in the weeds. Oh my gosh, it can get super in the weeds, which is exactly why we're going to have Jill on. She's just a powerhouse of knowledge. I'm super pumped to have her on.

Kelly (39:27):
You know how I started this with, "Have you ever woken up and said, I want to think about inventory today?"

Rhian (39:31):
She does.

Kelly (39:31):
That's what Jill does. She is a wonderful person to know if you want to have a conversation about inventory. Also, Jill and I have shown up at multiple Shopify specific events together wearing the exact same thing.

Rhian (39:47):
That's true. I've been there while it's happened.

Kelly (39:51):
It's great. It's always a fun time when it happens. We're really excited ...

Rhian (39:54):
It's a full vibe.

Kelly (39:55):
... to have her on.

Rhian (39:55):
It's a full vibe. Yeah, I'm super pumped to have her on. She's good people for sure. Kelly, we were a little bit worried. I've got to be honest, everybody. We're like, "Oh, inventory. Can we talk about it for that long?" Well, yeah, we've been talking about it for 40 some minutes, so apparently we can talk about it, and this is just the shallow depth.

Kelly (40:13):
This is the shallow dive. Yep, so we're going to go a little bit deeper into inventory forecasting later, but for now I think we should talk about shout outs.

Rhian (40:21):
I think we should as well. This company that I'm shouting out, I actually invested in last week. I was part of Crowdhouse, which is run by Chandra Washington on Clubhouse. I was one of the judges, so it's like, you get to be a baby shark.

Kelly (40:37):
Baby shark, do, oh.

Rhian (40:40):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. I was a baby shark, do-doing around.

Kelly (40:43):
I was do-doing around.

Rhian (40:49):
I got to hear two people pitch. One person I invested in. One person I passed on. The person I invested in is Benson Watch. I love it. Here's the deal. I only invest in CPG, so consumer packaged goods, if I think the product is rad. I have to believe in the founder, but I also have to believe in the product, because otherwise why are you writing a check? The other thing that's really cool is he's actually raising his round on Republic, which is a crowd raising platform, which means you can be a non-accredited investor to invest in his product, so that's really cool if you ever want to check it out. Kelly, I know you've made some investments on Republic as well.

Kelly (41:36):
I have.

Rhian (41:37):
Anyways, it's just a really awesome watch maker, accessible price point, beautiful colors. I just am stoked on it. I'm stoked on the product. I would recommend everybody check it out. They're crushing it. They're truly crushing it. Kelly, what about you?

Kelly (42:02):
My shout out is actually not a product that I buy. It's a product my husbands buys, husband buys.

Rhian (42:07):
Your husbands, whoa.

Kelly (42:08):
My husband, just one. He's my favorite husband too. The company's called Brickell. I think that's how you pronounce it. I don't know. I don't buy it. I don't use it. The reason I wanted to shout them out is because Danny was opening up his most recent shipment from them. They sell skincare, haircare, all kinds of fun beauty products. He opens up this package. He's like, "Huh, this is interesting." I'm like, "What's up." He pulls out this card, this insert that came in the package. Brickell was a men's product line. In this package is a card with a picture of a woman on it. It says, "Meet our new women's skincare line Eight Saints."

Kelly (42:56):
People buying these products, they're likely not interested in this Eight Saints site because this one's geared towards women, but men tend to know at least one woman and everything's an opportunity to market their new product line to a new subset of customers. I thought that was the coolest thing that they included this little insert in there. Now it's just sitting on my desk, because I'm thinking about it a lot. Not that I need to buy any new skincare stuff, but if anyone else is interested, it's

Rhian (43:36):
Perfect, I love that. I love that strategy. It's so smart.

Kelly (43:40):
Agreed. All right, how about we wrap this inventory episode up?

Rhian (43:48):
Sounds good. Wrap it up in a bow.

Kelly (43:50):
Boop, boop. Thank you for tuning in. Thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. We have a YouTube channel. We're starting to get comments on our videos, which is awesome. It's also a reminder of how we still have not recorded videos yet. I promise, I'm going to wash my hair soon though, so we can coordinate on that one. You can watch our existing videos, which is our, there are friendly Shopify store tear downs, and some webinars that we did at If you like our podcast, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Reviews make us really happy. We would like to see more reviews on there.

Rhian (44:25):

Kelly (44:26):
You can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday, so grab your mug and join us then. We'll see you next week.

Rhian (44:33):
Bye, bye

Rhian (44:38):
Clocked In is a time clock for Shopify. With Clocked In, your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet or mobile. Check it out at or in the Shopify app store.

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