Bulk Inventory Management: Weighing the Pros & Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to bulk inventory management, but is it worth it?

Jaques Cilliers - Writer for Egnition
By Jaques Cilliers
Head and shoulders photo of Michelle Meyer
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Updated May 24, 2024.

A person about to pick a box, marked as fragile, up from the floor of their warehouse, with various shelves containing other boxes visible in the background.

It's important for any e-commerce business to have an efficient inventory management system in place, especially when you manage bulk inventory.

Bulk inventory management (BIM) has three steps:

  1. Ordering your stock in large quantities
  2. Storing the stock while it sells
  3. Re-ordering new stock as you sell out

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of excess (or bulk) inventory can help you make an informed decision about whether BIM will help you manage your Shopify inventory better.



Pros


  • Access to bulk discounts and wholesale pricing
  • Reduced risk of product shortages
  • Accelerated order fulfillment
  • Swift stock replenishment

Cons


  • No margin for error in sales forecasts
  • Costly warehousing and storage
  • Higher risk of obsolete inventory
  • Reduced available cash flow
  • Higher insurance premiums

4 Advantages of Bulk Inventory Management

With BIM, you can manage and track inventory levels, order fulfillment, and product availability. This makes keeping an eye on your products, orders, and customers easy.

1. Access to Bulk Discounts & Wholesale Pricing

By ordering large quantities of stock, you can negotiate with your supplier for a better price. In turn, you can use this extra margin to adjust your own selling prices or run specific promotions that will help your store stay competitive in the ever-changing online market.

2. Reduced Risk of Product Shortages

One disadvantage of understocking is that you might suffer a product shortage, which can hurt your bottom line. On the other hand, the most obvious advantage of bulk inventory is that your risk of running out of these products decreases. It also means that you're less likely to lose customers and sales to competitors because your products are available.

3. Accelerated Order Fulfillment

If stock is readily available, then it's easy and quick to fulfill customer orders. Think of the great impression your store and brand will make if you can deliver a full order on a tight deadline. Customers don't have to wait for backorders or search for another store that can supply them sooner.

4. Swift Stock Replenishment

Depending on how quickly your bulk products sell, it's easy to monitor the stock levels and place another bulk order for these products as your stock levels dwindle. You also don't have to re-order as much compared to single products that you keep in minimal quantities.

» Here's how an automated inventory system can help you

5 Disadvantages of Bulk Inventory Management

Despite its above-mentioned benefits, BIM also has drawbacks—particularly when it comes to cash flow and warehousing.

1. No Margin for Error in Sales Forecasts

Without a margin for error, you can't plan ahead if sales don't meet expectations. This can lead to overstocking or understocking, causing your business significant financial losses in the long run.

» Opening inventory: Determine how much inventory you should start your Shopify store with

2. Warehousing & Storage Solutions Become Costly

Warehousing and storage solutions can become costly. Firstly, you'll simply pay more for the space necessary to store your bulk inventory as opposed to the space for a few items because you only order stock as you receive customer orders. Secondly, if your sales forecasts are incorrect, you must still pay to store your products, regardless of whether they're selling or not.

3. Higher Risk of Inventory Becoming Obsolete

Another potential risk is that inventory may become obsolete if you don't sell it in a timely manner. This may happen if you don't effectively monitor and adjust your inventory levels or if you don't properly plan your inventory forecasting, particularly when it comes to products that are seasonal or a temporary trend.

» Learn how to clear deadstock inventory

4. Minimizes Available Cash Flow

BIM can affect your available cash flow greatly. Again, if your sales forecasts are incorrect, you may end up with an overstock of certain products. This means that your cash is tied up in excess inventory that's costing you money because you still need to pay your supplier, storage, insurance, etc.

5. Typically Results in Higher Insurance Premiums

Your inventory is always valuable, but even more so when you work in bulk. Consequently, your insurance premiums can be higher because, as your inventory levels increase, so does your risk. You need to properly insure your inventory against damage, theft, etc.

» Find the best inventory management system for your Shopify store

The Verdict: Is Bulk Inventory Managing Worth It?

We recommend bulk inventory management as a strategy for well-established companies. Whenever you work with large quantities, you must be able to capitalize on economies of scale; otherwise, the venture isn't worth it. If you're a start-up or a young company, your risks are far greater at the moment than the advantages you would gain from this strategy. The costs of warehousing and insurance alone might make it unfeasible.

How to Make Bulk Inventory Management Easier

But whether or not you opt for bulk inventory management for your store, having a better grasp on your out-of-stock items can't hurt. For my own store, using the Out-of-Stock Police app by Egnition greatly improved my inventory management strategy.

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Out-of-Stock Police

Shopify store owners: Manage inventory with ease

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Lauched

2017


Customer support

24/7 availability


Free trial

7-day free trial


Automated workflows

Save time with seamless processes

Out-of-Stock Police by EGNITION helps you manage inventory with ease. It's a powerful tool designed to optimize and automate the management of out-of-stock items in your Shopify store. The app ensures a streamlined process, automatically pushing sold-out products to the bottom of collections or hiding them until restocked.

Out-of-Stock Police offers a straightforward interface, though setup may take a little time for automated workflows. Its natural integration with Shopify and available customer support make it an excellent choice,.

  • Push sold-out products in collections automatically in real-time
  • Hide out-of-stock products the smart way to keep organic traffic
  • Receive low-stock and out-of-stock notifications to your email or in-app
  • Export and download low-stock and out-of-stock products for re-stock planning
  • Improve SEO and generate more assisted conversions with out-of-stock products

Free plan available for up to 49 products

Easy-to-use interface for efficient inventory management

Customized sorting rules for tailored product displays

Automated workflows to save time and effort

Boosted SEO performance for increased visibility

Can have a slight learning curve


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