Shopify Inventory Management

Shopify is a great platform for anyone who wants to sell online. It’s not only a platform for small home-based operations but also supports large businesses generating millions in revenue each year.

We have used Shopify since for Cool Chess Canada and Knight’s Writing Company since 2010 and it’s been a great platform platform for us.

Knight’s Writing Company has more than 500 products and over 2000 SKUs in its inventory and that number is growing monthly.

It’s very common for a product to have a number of variants. For example, a fountain pen may have four or five sizes of nib.

Even this modest number of products and variants as well as supporting multiple sales channel starts to cause problems with managing inventory.

Tracking inventory accurately when supporting multi-channel sales is very difficult because we sell products outside of the Shopify ecosystem.

It’s not uncommon for us to sell a product via our website only to find we are out of stock. This causes time-wasting and additional cost in ‘freebies’. The cost of customer happiness rises with every out of stock item and therefore the sale is more costly.

Updating product information can be time-consuming on Shopify and there is no way to match products with suppliers and their wholesale costs.

Because of this disjoint in information it is not possible to generate purchase orders for suppliers at the click of a button. Supplier details are kept in emails or a separate system and the act of creating purchase orders manually is difficult, error prone and costly.

And these are just some of the problems we encounter as our business grows.

Being from a software development background I decided to create an Inventory System that would solve the above problems (and more). And the result is Athena.

Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilisation, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill. Seemed an appropriate name for the inventory system.

Athena is now an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and we are actively using it’s basic features in-house.

These include:

  • Easy product import and update from Shopify.
  • Stock level management based on real-time orders.
  • End of day order reconciliation to guarantee accurate stock levels.
  • Alerts when products reach reorder level or zero quantity in stock.
  • Support for restocking and customer returns.
  • Vendor database and wholesale price management.

It’s early days but we’re now in the position to be looking for early adopters who face the same problem that we do.

This is a great opportunity because it’s the early adopters who get to drive the direction of Athena.

Our MVP is really that – a system that is functional yet limited. Awaiting input from customers who have needs that we have yet to think of.