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4 Features of a Best-in-Class Boutique Inventory System

“Sorry, it’s out of stock.”

Four words your customers don’t want to hear. And yet, without effective inventory management, you’ll find yourself saying them a lot.

Running a boutique is hard enough without having to worry about inventory tracking. Once paper and spreadsheets don’t cut it anymore, what’s next? A boutique inventory system could be the answer.

But how do you know which inventory management software or system to choose?

This article will help you make a decision. We highlight exactly which must-have features you should look out for — and how integrated inventory management could be the solution you need.

A Boutique Inventory System: Why Do You Need One?

For many boutiques, inventory is a major cost. From one-off pieces to seasonal items, you need to balance having the right stock and making profits. 

Unlike large chain stores, you likely have limited budget, staffing, and square footage. But you still need to track hundreds of SKUs across categories like apparel, accessories, jewelry, gifts, and more. 

Consequences of poor inventory management include:

  • Frequent stockouts of popular items
  • Missed sales opportunities and disappointed customers
  • Overordering products that don’t sell
  • Lack of visibility
  • Inability to account for loss, theft, or damages

…and more.

But with a boutique inventory system, you can say goodbye to those worries. Even better, a boutique point of sale (POS) system with integrated inventory management can be a game-changer.

#1: Real-Time Tracking and Visibility

Having an up-to-date, accurate picture of your inventory is the holy grail. The right inventory system will integrate with your POS and other channels to enable real-time tracking.

As each sale rings through your POS, your boutique inventory system automatically updates quantities in real time — across your physical and digital shelves. Staff no longer need to leave the shop floor to check out the back, they can see available inventory on their screen.

Aside from real-time tracking, you need inventory management software that makes your life easier. Look for capabilities like:

Multiple Vendors per Item

You might source plain black t-shirts from three vendors. Each vendor has their own wholesale pricing, minimum order quantities, and delivery times. 

With multiple vendors per item, you can assign all three vendors to the plain black t-shirt SKU in your product catalog. When it’s time to order, you can review each vendors’ pricing and lead times, leading to smarter purchasing decisions.

Related Read: Best Point of Sale Systems for Clothing Stores: 3 Top Options

Product Matrix

Let’s say you sell various styles and sizes of knee-length boots. For example, you might sell:

  • Styles: Black, brown leather, and leopard print
  • Sizes: 5, 6, and 7

Instead of creating each variant as a separate SKU, with a product matrix, you can have one knee-length boot item but assign details like style and size. Inventory would show:

  • Knee-length boot, brown leather, size 5
  • Knee-length boot, leopard print, size 6

It’s much easier to manage inventory when you don’t need to create a new listing every time you introduce a new style or size.

#2: Omnichannel Sales and Order Management

If you want to expand your boutique from just a physical store to an online store, you need inventory management software that manages orders and inventory across channels.

Related Read: 5 Things You NEED To Know About Omnichannel POS

With omnichannel management, inventory levels update into a single orders queue no matter where a customer places an order. New orders sync across channels, helping you track them from one dashboard.

Omnichannel inventory management also helps you provide a consistent customer experience. 

When a customer purchases something online, you can collect their details and build a profile. Staff can access full purchase history, order status, fulfillment details, communication records, and more, regardless of channel.

#3: Intuitive, Customizable Interface

Your team is diverse. Some may be tech-savvy, others not so much. An intuitive, easy-to-use boutique inventory system is essential to cater to their needs. You want a tool that’s simple, flexible, and customizable to your unique store.

For example, your dashboard should be user-friendly and show top-sellers, low inventory alerts, sales by channel, and other information to help you make decisions faster. No need to figure out complex reports.

Look for mobile capabilities. A mobile inventory scanner lets you manage inventory from anywhere — on the sales floor, from your desk, or out of office. You can perform counts, cycle counts, create orders, accept products, and more.

You can also scan products, select products from a menu, and take all forms of card payment, helping smooth out the checkout process.

#4: Smart Analytics and Reporting

With the right boutique inventory system, you can access reports on everything from daily sales to customer purchasing trends. You want to be able to break down sales by product, category, and collection, as well as individual item profitability.

Related Read: What Is POS Reporting? (& How It Can Boost Your Small Business)

It might sound overwhelming, but you can make better purchasing and inventory decisions with simple reports and an intuitive interface. Which styles resonate with your customers? Which brands get the most attention? Once you know, you can manage reordering and even launch marketing campaigns.

Last, you can automate some of your inventory processes.

Your boutique inventory software can monitor stock levels, and based on historical data, recommend when and how much to reorder. Setting minimum and maximum thresholds for each item ensures you only have what you need in stock.

Other Features To Look Out For

Aside from these main features of a boutique inventory system, there are a few others to look for when choosing your provider:

  • Vendor management: Look for a system that provides visibility into your suppliers' purchase history, pricing terms, and payment details. This helps negotiate bulk order discounts. You can also track vendor performance to assess delivery accuracy and timing.
  • Shrinkage prevention: Theft, misplacement, and administrative errors all lead to shrinkage and impact your boutique’s bottom line. Look for features like real-time inventory tracking, employee management and permissions, alerts for low stock or unusual transactions, and audits of all system activity.
  • Setup and support: Part of making your system easy to use is getting support when you’re setting up your software and hardware. Look for quick-start workflows, ongoing customer support (preferably 24/7), and data security features.

While these features seem secondary, they make inventory easier to manage — especially for boutique owners with a lot on their plates.

Boutique Inventory System Features in Your POS

It’s a tough but rewarding endeavor to open a boutique store. As e-commerce continues to boom and customers want a seamless shopping experience, you need a boutique inventory system that’s easy to use and unifies inventory across all of your channels.

The right boutique inventory system provides you with the features you need to almost put inventory control on autopilot. From real-time tracking to shrinkage prevention, there are processes you can use to make your life easier.

Perhaps the easiest thing to do though, is use a boutique POS system with integrated inventory management. That way, your systems are all connected. Comcash comes with all the features above and more:

  • Inventory management, including a product matrix and mobile capabilities
  • POS reports, including sales, inventory, and customer reports
  • An e-commerce integration for omnichannel selling
  • Baked-in customer loyalty

…and more.

To see how you can manage inventory effectively, schedule a demo with our boutique excerpts today.

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