5/5/2022

5 ways virtual catalogues can help you get more control over what you sell and where

Author: Michelle Soriano, Senior Marketing Manager, Fluent Commerce

Today, consumers expect to find your products through many channels. This means you are now selling in more places than ever before. This not only includes your physical stores, but also online, marketplaces, social channels, mobile, in-store kiosks—the list goes on. It also means your stock is likely sitting in many different locations, including warehouses, 3PLs, distribution centres, and even with drop ship vendors.

All these options lead to fulfilment complexity and challenges with product availability. So, how can you get more control over what you sell where? How can you segment your stock by channel, market or region? The answer is: with virtual inventory catalogues.

What is virtual inventory?

Virtual inventory allows you to control what is sold through each channel or region. You can create virtual pools of inventory that can be segmented in many ways—including by channel, market, region, product—and include inventory rules such as buffers or exclusions. How can you best use virtual catalogues? Let’s explore the top 5 use cases where virtual catalogues will allow you to craft better experiences and increase profits.

1. Sell products on marketplaces or social channels

It is not sensible to try and sell every product through every channel. Each channel is different. What you offer on marketplaces or channels may vary compared to what you sell elsewhere. With virtual catalogues, you can easily control which products or categories you make available to promise in your preferred marketplaces or social channels. Need to set a different buffer or safety level stocks for each? No problem. That’s easy to accomplish with virtual inventory catalogues.

2. Segment inventory by banner

If you have multiple banners or brands, it’s time to get creative. Market leaders are innovating with cross-brand shopping and experiences. They are making products from one brand available in the online store of another. However, not all products make sense for cross-promotion. With virtual inventory segmentation ,you can control which products are made available to each brand, and set custom buffers or safety stock for each.

3. Segment inventory by region or country

It is also not feasible for all products to be shipped internationally. Think heavy, fragile or restricted items. You might only want to ship international orders from locations set up to handle customs processing. With virtual catalogues, you can easily manage product availability by region, set rules, and even manage product or category exclusions. Have items you do not want to ship abroad? You can set rules so they are always excluded from being available to promise in a specific region. Perhaps you are a luxury retailer that sells in many countries, but you need to make more stock available to sell in one specific region. With virtual catalogues, you have the flexibility to adjust as you need.

4. Test new markets

New markets are exciting, but they also are unknown territories. Will your top selling items be just as successful in a new market, or will other products be a better fit for your new market? That’s where virtual inventory catalogues can help. You can easily segment your inventory to test certain products or categories in your new market. Selling well? Great. Now you can make your full line available with confidence. With virtual inventory you can easily make more units available to promise in your new market. Plus, the opposite is true as well. If product A is not doing well, and you’d like to test out product B, that is no problem. With virtual inventory, you have the agility to adjust to demand.

5. Reserve inventory for VIPs

Your VIP customers are important. But how can virtual catalogues help? You can create a special pool of inventory that is only available to a select few. That way your most important customers will not be disappointed. You can even offer your VIPs different delivery options or perks, and even control back-end sourcing so they get their order faster. How? Virtual inventory lets you leverage and prioritise all pools of stock, internally or with third parties, to ensure fast, optimal fulfilment every time.

Summary

If you have multiple sales channels, being able to manage your product availability in each is essential. At Emakina, we partner with Fluent Order Management to set up virtual catalogues that can segment your stock so you can control what you sell in each channel, market, or region.

You can also apply buffer or safety stock levels to categories, products or locations to ensure you do not oversell to the point of cancelling orders. This means virtual catalogues are essential if you want to reduce customer disappointment and improve your overall customer experience. Especially if you are adding sales channels or expanding into new markets. With Emakina and Fluent Order Management, you can confidently grow and scale anywhere across the globe.

To learn more about how Emakina can help you utilise Fluent Order Management to improve your product availability, contact us today.

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