Cash Flow Solutions

Inventory Sourcing Tips for Small Businesses

In order to have a successful inventory sourcing process, you’ll need to monitor two main aspects of your business: 1) efficiencies and 2) cost-effectiveness. It’s important to keep a calendar – if not on paper or online, at least in your head – of when you need more inventory in a given year, and then back out the dates to figure out when you should stock up on that inventory so you have it to sell in time for your busy season.

Because of the lower prices, wholesale merchandise will likely be most attractive to you, though you should be ready to buy items in bulk. Search online for wholesale distributors; for example, Ebay and Amazon have a whole category dedicated to wholesales.

Depending on your needs, you may also look for inventory at trade shows where you could meet hundreds of exhibitors selling the products you need. Trade shows can be helpful because the companies attending are all from the same specific industry, if you’re looking for items in a specific vertical. Trade shows are also great networking opportunities.

Additionally, you should keep your eyes open for any clearance sales going on at brick-and-mortar or online stores. You can find some great deals when retailers are trying to make room for the next season’s items and they need to get rid of the products on their shelves and storage as quickly as possible. Other resources for inventory could be flea markets, estate sales, and thrift stores.

When thinking of inventory, you should have a clear idea of your annual sales report and keep in mind that you don’t need extra stuff sitting around in your storage room. One of the secrets of Apple’s massive success, for example, is boxing and selling products in the same week; plan out your logistics ahead of time so you don’t get stuck with shelves and shelves full of items not making you any money. Especially since you don’t want to run the risk that the value of the inventory may decline before it’s sold, though it is important to have a small safety stock to cover any short-term sale spikes around major holidays.

USPS offers a service to ship online that you can use to print shipping labels and you can set up pick up times. You can also schedule a pickup time for your shipment through the UPS and as well as FedEx. This could be a solution for cost effective shipping and it could save you a lot of time. If you could provide your customers with an estimate for their package delivery, they will be very happy with your service.

Every business sources differently: needs and timelines vary with the products bought sold. Buy strategically but when you do buy, buy in bulk to cut down costs. And most importantly, understand the months and seasons of your own business to best optimize revenues by staying lean and aggressive.

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