Home improvement, automotive, electronics — the hardware industry offers a lot of opportunities and vertical for DTC brands to expand into.
But managing hardware inventory comes with its own set of challenges. Without proper inventory management, businesses are at a higher risk of backorders, stockouts, and inaccurate records — impacting not only profit margins but also customer satisfaction.
Fortunately, partnering with a 3PL like ShipBob makes managing hardware inventory a breeze.
We feel like ShipBob is a partner that’s in it together with us. We never get the sense that ShipBob is just interested in getting our fulfilment fees. It is much more than that — they really care about our success and what makes us successful as a company.
Waveform Lighting Team,
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What is hardware inventory?
Hardware inventory management involves tracking variations of parts and components used for home improvement, auto, electronic, and other industries. The type of inventory related to hardware varies widely including items such as door knobs, cabinetry, drawer pulls, fasteners, nails, auto parts, and more.
Hardware inventory might also refer to tech components, such as microchips.
Managing hardware inventory can be a challenge. It often involves tracking a high number of SKUs that are similar but having several variations.
Whether it’s selling screws in different sizes or door knobs offered in different finishings — hardware inventory requires a system that makes it easy to track it all.
Here are some best practices for managing hardware inventory.
1. Track inventory in real time
Be sure to implement software designed specifically to help manage inventory in real time.
With inventory tracking software in place, your orders and inventory are synced in real time. This makes it much easier to track inventory by increasing inventory visibility and providing insights into when it’s time to replenish inventory, run a promotion, and track slow-moving items that are no longer generating sales.
2. Practice proper SKU management
When selling hardware, SKU proliferation is inevitable — especially if the parts you sell have an electronic component. But holding on to certain variations of hardware items that don’t sell can cut into your profit margins in the long run.
To stay profitable, it’s important to optimise inventory by determining slow-moving SKUs and possibly discontinuing them.
With the right inventory tracking software, you can easily track slow-moving items vs. fast-moving items and make decisions on what SKUs to discontinue or replenish.
If you are currently handing fulfilment in-house but offer different products in variations, it might be time to partner with a ShipBob.
ShipBob’s entire distribution network is powered by the same fulfilment software, which includes built-in inventory management software. ShipBob can receive and store each SKU separately, pick and pack orders efficiently, and ship orders through the most cost-effective route. This allows you to spend less time on logistics but maintain visibility into operations.
With a global fulfilment network and best-in-class technology, ShipBob offers a wide range of fulfilment capabilities to help you create a hardware inventory management strategy, including flexible fulfilment, advanced data and analytics, and other world-class logistics solutions.
With ShipBob’s network of fulfilment centres, you can strategically split your inventory across our locations to get your products from point A to point B more quickly and affordably. Storing inventory near your customers helps reduce the shipping zones and costs associated with shipping orders to faraway destinations.
Distributed inventory also helps you stay competitive by offering fast shipping to your customers. When an order is placed, ShipBob’s algorithm automatically selects the warehouse and courier that will give you the quickest turnaround at the best price. This strategy has helped our merchants bring 13% savings to their bottom line.
100% Coverage Across the Continental US
If you’re looking to expand into the United States, ShipBob has 2-Day Express Shipping that provides 100% coverage in the continental US from even just one fulfilment centre.
You can also distribute your inventory across ShipBob’s fulfilment centres across all regions of the United States. We leave it up to you to decide where you want us to store your inventory.
At ShipBob, we track your orders from A to Z. Filter orders by status, search for specific orders, see a quick timeline view of where your order is in the fulfilment process (e.g. when an order is picked, packed, or shipped), easily find shipping-related information (e.g., weights, dimensions, or courier service), and get a quick snapshot of any orders that require action.
With order management software for your direct-to-consumer and wholesale shipments, you can manage subscriptions, make changes to your orders post-purchase, map your store’s shipping options to ShipBob, and automatically share tracking information with your customers.
At ShipBob, we empower merchants to manage their inventory with the right tools and guidance. It’s easy to view the status of inventory and quantity on hand across locations at any point in time, identify slow-moving inventory with high storage costs, and gain insights into the performance of units sold over time by channel.
Our inventory management software helps you set reminders to proactively replenish inventory with reorder notifications, bundle your products for promotions, make inventory transfer requests, and much more.
Reporting and analytics
To provide you with visibility into our operations and performance, and also hold ourselves accountable, ShipBob’s free analytics tool is packed with charts to help you with everything from year-end reporting, to better supply chain decision-making.
Data can be a competitive advantage, and our reports show an analysis of which fulfilment centres you should stock, days of inventory left before you run out, impact of promotions on stock levels, each shipping method’s average cart value, shipping cost, and days in transit, your fulfilment cost per order, storage cost per unit, and much more.
End-to-end customer experience
We care about the customer experience as much as you and strive to be an extension of your team. From custom branded boxes to free plain packaging, ShipBob works with you to provide the unboxing experience you want. We also help you offer the fastest, most cost-effective shipping options to meet your customers’ expectations.
As soon as an order ships, tracking is pushed back to your store. We also offer return management services, allowing customers to generate return shipping labels and track returns, while getting your products processed and back into your available inventory as efficiently as possible.
How ShipBob improves your fulfilment and logistics
Save on fulfilment costs
Coffee creamer brand Prymal joined ShipBob in 2019 and was quickly able to save $8,000 per month on fulfilment costs, while at the same time achieving 4x growth.