Blog: e-commerce

Company Stores 101: Inventory

Some company stores don’t carry any inventory; everything is custom-ordered and drop-shipped to the customer. But most company stores have at least some inventory, and many are a hybrid: inventory for fast-moving, high-volume items; drop shipment for everything else, like items that require a custom logo or a name drop. By combining inventory and drop ship items, you can cover all the items your client might need.

Inventory in your storeBlox CS company store is easy to enter and maintain yourself, but it’s also robust enough to handle just about anything you want to throw at it. Here are the basics:

Product Settings: At the most basic level, a product that you carry in inventory needs to be set up to Track Inventory. When a product is set up to track inventory, the available inventory can be displayed on the product page of your company store, and the inventory will decrease as orders are placed. In addition, you can set a Warning Level so that you’ll receive an email whenever that product reaches a certain level, so you can re-order it. Finally, you can specify whether or not a product can be Back Ordered if it’s out of stock. If this box isn’t checked a customer cannot complete an order for an item that exceeds current inventory.

Selecting inventory options in a storeBlox CS Company Store

Managing Inventory: Once you’ve set up inventoried products, you need to enter the actual amount you have on hand. storeBlox CS gives you a handy, one-screen tool for entering all your inventory information at once:

Managing promotional product and apparel inventory levels in a storeBlox CS Company Store

Just as importantly, the Manage Inventory screen is where you handle ongoing inventory adjustments. Ongoing adjustments occur when an inventory action occurs outside of a normal purchase transaction in the online store. For instance, someone might call in an order, or someone from the marketing department might be able to pull items directly from inventory. Your customer might also occasionally just decide to drop a product entirely and destroy them or give them away. Manage Inventory handles all of this.

Reporting on Inventory: Most programs with inventory typically involve an agreement with your client. They may take ownership of the inventory or they may want you to own it, in which case they (hopefully!) agree to order a certain amount from you. In either case, you need detailed reporting to make sure everything lines up.

Two storeBlox CS reports can handle most of your needs here: the Inventory Report, which provides a full transaction history of every inventory action in a store in a specified date range; and the Inventory Valuation Report, which gives you and your customer a detailed snapshot of the total value of all the items currently held in inventory. Even if you don’t think you need this report now, it’s good to get acquainted with it, because sooner or later the bean counters (yours or your customer’s) are going to come along asking for details on the monetary value of what’s stashed in that warehouse.

Inventory valuation report in a storeBlox CS Company Store

For more advanced programs, ask us about inventory integration, where we can set up your store to talk directly with your warehouse or accounting package, automatically!

Company Stores 101: Giving Customers Money to Spend

If you’ve ever been given a gift card for your birthday, you’re familiar with the concept of “stored value”. Gift cards (or “stored value” or “retained value” cards as they’re sometimes known in the retail industry) are just one way to give customers a limited amount of money to spend at a store or restaurant.

While your storeBlox CS company store can process normal credit card transactions, it also has numerous methods for giving customers money to spend. There are a lot of reasons you might want to do this:

  • Your client wants to limit the amount of money their customers can spend
  • Your client wants to reward an employee
  • A client’s department (a group within the company) has a fixed budget that they cannot exceed

A storeBlox CS company store has three primary methods for handling this:

Gift Certificates: Gift certificates in storeBlox CS work pretty much the same way they work anywhere else; you assign a dollar value and an expiration date, then storeBlox CS generates a unique code. This code is used by the customer when they place an order.

Every gift certificate has an audit trail, which is a fancy way of saying we track all the transactions against the gift certificate, right there on the certificate itself, including the final balance:

Gift certificate transactions in storeBlox CS Company Store

Budgets: Budgets are kind of like gift certificates on steroids, and they are used for a different purpose. Gift certificates are meant to be handed out to anyone, where budgets are assigned to specific users or groups to control spending.

Two other big differences you’ll see in budgets from gift certificates: You can continually modify a budget as needed, adding or subtracting funds down the road (and even adding notes as to why!). Budgets also have built-in detail reporting of usage, and these reports can be exported to your favorite spreadsheet program whenever you like!

Budget adjustment in storeBlox CS Company Store

Points: Points stores are a topic unto themselves, but points are simply an alternative “currency” that a store can use when regular dollars are not desirable. Points have two distinct advantages over other methods of storing value.

First, points can be accumulated. That means that your client can use points to reward employees for, say, safety or performance, and the employees can collect points over time to get the things they really want. 30 points might get them a shirt, but if they have six straight months of perfect safety they can get that iPod Touch they’ve been craving.

Second, using points may have accounting advantages over other methods of giving customers money to use (we’re not accountants, so please talk to your friendly CPA about this). Since things like gift certificates can store value, your client may be “on the hook” for that dollar value until it’s used or the gift certificate expires. Points usually have no real dollar value, so the accounting implications are often less complex.

Look for a separate Company Stores 101 on points stores very soon!

Company Stores 101: Using Vendors to Route Orders

Does your company store handle orders that get fulfilled by multiple outside vendors? For instance, do your stocked hard goods come from a fulfillment warehouse, while your name drop apparel gets routed to a embroiderer? Good news: Using Vendors in storeBlox CS, you can handle any kind of order routing, from simple to complex.

A Vendor in storeBlox CS is any entity that fulfills a product for your store. There are two types of vendors: “Manufacturer/Supplier” and “Warehouse”. In practice, you’ll want to use the former for drop-ship (custom) orders and the latter for in-stock (fulfillment) orders.

Setting up a product to use a vendor is a two-step process.

Create the vendor

First, you create the vendor in the dashboard, entering the relevant contact information:

storeBlox CS Company Store vendor edit screen

Assign Products

Second, you assign your product a vendor on the product edit page:

storeBlox CS Company Store vendor selection on promotional product page

And that’s it! The rest of it is done automatically for you – when a customer places an order, storeBlox CS automatically sends the relevant document to the vendor for each product in the order. Manufacturer/supplier vendors get a Purchase Order while Warehouse vendors get a Pick Slip.

Purchase Orders and Pick Lists in storeBlox CS Company Stores

Best of all, it doesn’t matter how complex an individual order is; even when a customer orders items across multiple vendors (say, a dozen custom-decorated polos and a couple mugs from the warehouse) storeBlox CS automatically breaks the order down and sends the appropriate documents to each vendor.

One other cool benefit: By using vendors, your shipping rates will be calculated accurately from the vendor facility to the shipping address for each item in the order. This means accurate shipment rates for every item in an order, regardless of how it’s split up. If you’re not using vendors to streamline your fulfillment processes, give it a try now!