Fashion + Ecommerce, Part 4: Managing Inventory

Now we’re getting to the meat of your store: your products themselves! Here are some tips for listing and managing inventory, so you can put your best face forward. Even if you have great products, no one is going to buy them if your photos look terrible! Selling online is all about the photos. Since customers can’t physically touch the items you are selling, they need to be able to see details. Good photography is one of the most important aspects of your site to invest in, so buy or rent a nice camera, or hire a photographer pal to come shoot for you. (Editor’s note: here’s a post about how you can easily use your smartphone to take great shots.)

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Additionally, item descriptions are also very important. Tell a story about the photo you’re featuring. And if you don’t like writing item descriptions, find someone who does! There are companies out there that specialize in ghostwriting, and you can pass the work off to them. One great place to start your writer search is Fiverr.

You should also make sure your site has all the info customers need. For clothing, you should include a size chart on every item listing. A small in one brand could be a medium in another; cut down on returns by cutting out confusion. For further inquiries, a FAQ section can help cut down on unnecessary customer communication.

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Displaying Stock

Customers want to see what the product is going to look like on them. Figure out what your demographic is and choose models that resemble your potential customer. At the very least you should show the front and back of an item on a model. If your products have details or tiny patterns, include close-up shots as well. Customers also like to see lifestyle shots: they help them imagine what they’d do with your products, like how they’d wear them and incorporate them into their existing wardrobe.

While it’s important to have beautiful images, it’s also important to make sure the images accurately represent the products. When I first started my store, I had beautiful images but the colors didn’t quite match up to the products, which resulted in returns. Customers need to know exactly what they’re buying; otherwise they may feel deceived and lose trust in your store.

Additionally, you should make it easy for customers to navigate your site. If you sell jewelry, think about the types of collections you can create, such as bracelets, earrings, necklaces, etc. If you sell shoes, create collections for winter boots, summer sandals, etc. Collections make it easier for customers to shop. Nobody wants to scroll through pages of products to track down what they’re looking for on a website.

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Image Best Practices

You want your stock to look cohesive, so that customers feel that all items belong in the same shop. You don’t want one piece that looks like it belongs in Bloomingdales and another in Walmart. Again, think about your customer and target demographic. What would that specific person buy? If he/she wouldn’t buy it, it probably doesn’t belong in your shop.

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Managing Inventory

When I was shipping things myself, we had a shelving system with a bin for every single SKU. This is a must: you don’t want to have to go through a stack of products that all look the same in order to find a specific size. Minimize time spent looking for items, so you can focus on more important things. I have now moved my operations to a fulfillment warehouse, which was a huge learning curve for me. Here, we have to make sure everything is labeled and packaged the way the warehouse needs it to be, and I’ll admit that it was very time consuming at first. Once we got things going, our operation began to run like clockwork.

Handling inventory can be tricky, but when you get the hang of it you can develop a smooth-running system of selling. Hopefully these tips will help you get started!

To Sum it Up

  • Create awesome product listings. No one wants to buy items that don’t have informative pages. Go the extra mile to write compelling item descriptions and add detailed info about sizing to each listing. Also create collections of various products, to make it easier for customers to navigate your site.

  • Go all out with your photography. Use models that visually represent your customer base, so that shoppers can picture themselves wearing the items you’re selling. Additionally, make sure that product photos match exactly what’s going to ship to the customer’s door. This will help you avoid returns (and headaches).

  • Get a handle on inventory. Inventory can be a bear to tackle at first, but it’s one of the most important aspects of running an online business. Keep everything organized by SKU, so you don’t waste precious time digging around for items.