5 Inventory Management Strategies for Online Apparel Stores

September 28, 2017

While great fashion never goes out of style, apparel inventory can grow old. If you aren’t on top of your inventory strategies, your online clothing business could suffer. That means that you need extensive know-how and comprehensive analytics to effectively manage your inventory.  For most retailers, there are few strategies more critical than inventory management. Every aspect of ecommerce, including the customer experience, relies on quality products that are readily available at the time of purchase.  No matter what size your ecommerce business is – small owner-run companies with limited resources to multi-million dollar corporations with hundreds of employees – you must run your business with sound inventory management strategies in order to be successful.  But what is the best way to do that? Which tools will simplify your inventory processes? And how do you get the information you need to make sound inventory decisions?  Determining the answers to those questions, and more, are key to inventory efficiency for apparel merchants. There are some key inventory management and analytics tools that are designed to help online apparel retailers find the best strategies for overseeing their stock.

1. Build and Schedule Stellar Inventory Reports

The only way you can truly know what is going on with your inventory is with accurate, real-time, analytics and reporting – especially if you have a wide selection of product with different variants, as apparel merchants typically have. It is important that you find an inventory management tool that will allow you to build and schedule customized and automated reports that are specific to an apparel business, and that allow you to view key metrics at the product level.  

Glew – Inventory Report

Similar to creating customer and product segments in Glew, you can now also create inventory segments. For example, you could create an 'Inventory Running Low' segment based on the depletion days metric in order to identify what inventory is expected to run low in the next 30 days. Taking it one step further, you can add this segment to a new automated report so that you can be alerted when your inventory is running low.

Pro tip:In order to evaluate your inventory effectively, you have to be able to determine which products are doing well and which ones are lowering your profitability. Glew’s reporting tools allow you to sort your products across various ecommerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce – so you can quickly view and compare Orders, Quantity Sold, Revenue, COGS, Quantity Left, Refunds, Gross Profit, and Margin. Use the Inventory table to review metrics on Inventory Velocity, Sell Through Rate, and Depletion Days.  

2. Micro Segment at Configurable and Variant Product Levels

As an apparel retailer, your products are likely sorted into categories like clothing, shoes, and accessories. It’s important that you understand the performance of your products by category, but you cannot stop there. Micro-segmenting will help you understand how each individual product variant is selling and which products are commonly sold together. Knowing this key information allows you to customize recommended products offers to customers based on top-selling products.  

Glew – Product Detail

Pro tip:Viewing your product performance at its most granular level (individual product analytics), shows you how each product has sold over time and what other products are most commonly purchased along with it. Glew can provide you with key information about your merchandise that allows you to offer product bundling on products that you know have the highest potential for sales.  

3. Be Aggressive with Cold Products

Even with the best inventory management tools, you will find that you still have slow-moving, or cold, products that are collecting dust on your shelves, from time to time. That’s just the nature of retail sales. What’s important is that you deal with those products quickly and effectively so that they don’t negatively impact your bottom line. That means that you should not hang onto merchandise that is not selling – that costs you money, and your cash flow affects the livelihood of your business.  As you determine the best strategy for getting rid of cold products, you should think about selling it at discounted prices, remarketing it, or bundling it with better selling products. Donating cold products for a tax deduction should be your last resort.  

Glew – Cold Products

Pro tip:If you decide to sell your cold products at a discounted price or by remarketing them, use customer segmentation in your reporting to determine the best target audience for email marketing. Glew reporting allows you to customize segmentation so that you can precisely target those customers who may be interested in specific products, or who tend to make purchases when they receive discounts.  

4. Use Product Images to Make Your Work Easy

A picture is worth a thousand words – and it can be money in your pocket. Using beautiful, appealing images of your products on your Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, or other ecommerce site, will help move products online, especially apparel merchandise. You just can’t explain as effectively in words how a dress gathers at the waist or how a pair of slacks falls on shoes, as you can with an image.  Presenting your buyers with images of your apparel being worn by real people, from different angles and distances, is the best way to give your customers an accurate view of your merchandise.

Pro tip:Testing different images on products to see what your customers prefer, and what entices then to buy, is easy when you have Glew’s reporting tools. You can create custom product reports that show you real-time data from your A/B testing in different products areas.  

5. Build Custom Segments for Powerful Campaigns

A key part of inventory management is making sure that your stock is moving off your shelves, at a profitable price for you, and a fair price for your customers. That requires personalized marketing campaigns designed for your customers that are specific to the types of buying habits they exhibit individually. Ensuring that you are sending powerful campaigns to the appropriate group of customers is vital to moving your inventory efficiently.

Pro Tip:Use customer segmentation to target at-risk customers with promotions and deals that will bring them back to your site to make purchases, custom offers to your VIP customers, and to entice non-purchasers to become customers. Glew’s customer segmentation lets you target specific groups of customers for marketing campaigns designed to encourage them to purchase your products.  

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