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The catalog of products I offer for sale is very large; so it would be impossible for me to keep inventory of all the products I sell without spending a large amount of money.
However, I'm thinking of trying to take an educated guess on products that I think will sell easily and bulk order these types of products to keep in inventory.
My question to you; is how do you determine which products to buy? based on products sale trends? products that are new and about to be released into the market?
The one thing I want to avoid is buying a product in bulk, and then have it not sell at all. Then I'm just sitting on inventory that's not getting turned over.
I want to try incorporate a JIT (just in time) inventory system...
Educated "guesses" aren't a great idea IMO, since it is a... guess.
I personally try all items myself before stocking it. I will mailshot existing customers by email first if I think the item will really sell. Its the best way I think. If your existing customers won't take it, its unlikely anyone else will.
My suppliers are pretty good; most of the time they get my orders to me within 2 days. But occasionally some orders get delayed and take 3-4 days; depending on which warehouse the products are dispatched from.
I'm sure stocking inventory is an issue that most small ecommerce sites with a large catalog face constantly.
I guess my best bet would be to see which products have the highest inventory and keep stock in those products.
I wish I could stock all my products because when I have a product in-stock I can ship it out the same day, and customers love that!
It would be impossible to stock every single product. Lets just say the catalog was 25,000 products with an average price of $40; that would come out to $1,000,000...Yikes - I wish I could afford that! :-)
After the first year, you have a good idea what numbers of which items you should stock, and they can drop ship the odd orders. You keep your suppliers happy by bulk ordering the popular items, and they keep you happy by drop shipping the less popular items.