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5 tips to prevent overselling in your eCommerce business

When we asked hundreds of eCommerce business owners what their biggest challenge was, 65% said inventory and stock management. 

No customer wants an ‘out-of-stock’ message, so you need to balance ordering enough stock to serve your customers – and its drain on cash flow - with your warehouse storage capacity and having too much stock on-hand. 

But the most specific problem business owners faced – and the one that could cause the most damage - was overselling. 

With stock listed on multiple channels, you are at risk of overselling if you don’t update your listings quickly and manage your inventory effectively.

 

The dangers of overselling

In eCommerce terms, overselling happens when you have one or more of the channels you’re selling on indicating that stock is available for a specific product, when you’ve actually sold the last one on another channel, and your inventory levels haven’t been updated accordingly. 

It’s where you accidentally sell your last item of stock to two different customers, on two different channels. 

One of those customers is going to be very disappointed if you can’t fulfil their order. And they’re likely to go elsewhere to find what they need – and will probably never come back. 

On top of that, if you do end up overselling too many times on marketplaces like Amazon, you might even find your account suspended.
 

 

So how do you prevent overselling?

Overselling is a big problem – but it can be easily avoided. 

The key is good preparation, good organisation, and an inventory management system that makes everything a lot easier.
 

 

1. Always keep track of products that are low in stock

It’s vital that you’re always monitoring your stock levels, and that you have a plan in place on when you need to re-order. 

There are some products you might be able to source with a 24/48-hour turnaround. Other stock might take you a couple of weeks to get back in. 

Make sure you know which products require a longer order time, and re-order early when your stock gets to a set level. 

Any good stock management software should allow you to sort and filter by stock levels.
 
 

2. Look after stock in your warehouse

Another possible reason for overselling is that you do have the actual stock in your warehouse, but it’s become damaged, lost, or cannot be sent out for some reason. 

You might find boxes have been broken, packaging has ripped, or perishable products are out-of-date. Older items may even have been updated with newer versions. 

Managing your actual stock is as important as managing stock levels, so keep your picking and packing areas as clean and organised as possible, and always practice the FIFO method – First In, First out – to ensure products are rotated and any older stock gets shipped out before newer stock. 

If you use a fulfilment service, this is out of your hands, though they are likely to have an efficient system in place to keep stock rotating correctly.
 

 

3. Keep a reserve of safety stock (if you can)

One way to ensure you never oversell is to always have a small reserve of safety, or back up stock on-hand. This is stock that you don’t include in your inventory levels, so you will never sell it accidentally. 

But if you do oversell (or there’s a sudden surge in demand), you know you always have this reserve that you can use to fulfil the order and then top back up. 

However, the problem with this is that you need to have a sufficient cash flow to purchase and keep this stock (essentially they’re unusable spares) and the space in your warehouse to store them.
 

 

4. Stay on top of stock taking

One reason for overselling might actually be nothing to do with the fact that you sell on multiple channels. It may simply be that you’ve done an incorrect stock take, and your recorded levels differ from the actual amount of stock of available. 

That’s why it’s important for you to complete regular stock takes, to help make sure all your levels are as accurate as possible. 

Although you might want to complete full stock takes every now and then (2 or 3 times a year perhaps) you don’t want to be counting every single product, every single week. 

Instead, you just need to make sure that all outgoing stock is tracked efficiently, and all new, incoming stock can be added seamlessly to your existing figures. 

Where possible, you’ll want to automate this process, and reduce the potential for human error. That’s where inventory management software like ChannelGrabber can help.
 

 

5. Use multichannel inventory management software like ChannelGrabber

A certain way to avoid overselling would be to segregate your stock to different channels, so you have a set amount to sell on each marketplace. That way, you’ll know if your stock runs out on one channel, the listing will simply end, and you won’t need to worry about crossed orders from another channel. 

But – you could miss out on sales. 

What if you have 5 times as many orders on Amazon as eBay, and you have stock sitting around, waiting for eBay orders whilst your Amazon listing has sold-out? 

That’s why you need multichannel inventory management software like ChannelGrabber. 

It allows you to sell all your stock across every channel. But more importantly, it synchronises your stock levels in real time – so if one item sells on your own webstore, stock levels are automatically updated on every other channel too. 

This means you don’t need to worry about overselling, because your stock levels will be the same on every channel, and will always be updated when an order comes through on any of those channels. 

Simple export and import options also make stock taking a lot easier too. You can export all your current stock levels to a spreadsheet and quickly check these with the actual products in your warehouse. 

And when you get any new inventory in, simply update the numbers on your spreadsheet and import into ChannelGrabber with a few easy clicks. 

All your stock levels will be updated across every channel, so you can quickly replenish any low stock listings and make sure you don’t miss out on any sales.

 

With multichannel inventory management software like ChannelGrabber, you can minimise the risk of overselling. It’s a challenge you don’t need to worry about anymore. 
 

ChannelGrabber helps you: 

  • Quickly and easily check stock levels of all products
  • Update stock levels without any hassle when you get new stock in
  • List all your stock across every channel
  • Automatically update your stock levels on every channel, in real time, whenever you make a sale. 


As soon as you start selling on more than one channel, you will start to face the potential problem of overselling on one or more of your products. Some circumstances might be beyond your control.

Others might just require you to be careful and plan ahead. But simple overselling mistakes can be avoided with inventory management software. 

If you want to keep your customers happy at all times, and prevent overselling wherever possible, it’s vital you synchronise your stock levels – in real time – across every channel that you sell on.  ChannelGrabber helps you do this – and takes all the stress away. 
 
If you haven’t tried ChannelGrabber, get started today, to see how good software can help you increase your sales, whilst eradicating the problem of overselling:
 
 Sign up now
 
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