How to Prevent Inventory Errors

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The customer experience will determine whether your ecommerce business is a success or failure. One way you can cause irreparable damage to your business is with an inventory management error, such as overselling. Yet, it is often an easy mistake to make once web traffic and sales start to increase.

To succeed online, you must implement an effective inventory management strategy to provide a reliable customer experience. For this reason, we are going to show you how to prevent inventory errors.

Avoid Overselling

Overselling can occur if you sell more products than you currently have in stock. Unfortunately, this will result in you having to send an email to a customer to inform them that the item they ordered is out of stock.

This will lead to a dissatisfied customer who may feel annoyed that you allowed them to order the item via your website. As a result, a customer will be unlikely to use your services again, and may even write negative feedback on social media, a review website or directly to your company. As a result, prospective customers may also choose not to visit your website.

Prevent overselling from occurring by keeping an accurate record of your inventory, and create a strict auditing procedure to eliminate any errors. If overselling continues to be an inventory problem, aim to identify the source of the error immediately by reviewing your history reports, while striving to rectify the problem for the customer as soon as possible.

You can also unify your stock levels using Magento integration with NetSuite. This can minimize both under and overselling by synchronizing your inventory levels between BigCommerce and NetSuite.

Forecast Stockouts

A stockout is an inventory issue that should never happen on your ecommerce website. It occurs when you have an item listed on your website, but you do not currently have it in stock. As the item sells well, you might be unwilling to remove it, as you are waiting for the product to return to a warehouse.

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However, an out of stock listing can be extremely disappointing to a customer, who may have researched the item only to discover it’s unavailable for order. This is not only frustrating to a customer, but it can damage your reputation.

Forecasting is an effective way to prevent stockouts from occurring, as you can identify trends for product sale speed. A reorder report can then remind you when the stock is low, so you can reorder the products to ensure you never disappoint a customer.

Prevent Underselling

Underselling occurs when you have a perfectly good product in a warehouse, but some or all product quantities are not listed for sale on your website. This is a common problem within unorganized warehouses, as it is easy for items to be mislabeled, misplaced or overlooked. Prevent this problem from taking place with location barcodes, barcode scanners and product barcodes, which will allow you to source the product as and when you need it.

Picking and Shipping Blunders

Another costly inventory management issue is picking and shipping mistakes, which can cause ‘mis-ships,’ ‘mis-picks’ or damaged goods. A ‘mis-pick’ occurs when a picker has selected and sent the wrong product to a customer. A ‘mis-ship’ happens when the shippers ship out the wrong product on an order. While a damaged product often takes place during transit to a customer’s address, which can result in customer dissatisfaction.

Quality control is a necessary inventory management process that can be implemented in various ways at different stages. For instance, a picker can quality control by checking an item against an order while checking for potential damage. A shipper can also quality control prior to shipping. The more quality control processes you put in place, the happier each customer will be and the less money you will waste on replacement inventory.

Reduce Human Error

Human error can pose the biggest threat to your business, which is why you must aim to reduce any mistakes as much as possible. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen due to low employee morale or a lack of passion for the job role.

Provide pickers, shippers and quality control personnel with an incentive to reduce or eliminate any mistakes. Not only will it allow you to track their actions, but they can take quantitative measurements of their work. Encourage staff to work harder with fewer mistakes by providing a bonus or reward for their efforts to boost both productivity and efficiency. You might be surprised by the big difference it can make to your operations.

Clear Labeling

Inventory mistakes can often occur due to poor labeling. Prevent errors from happening by using clearly named labels on products, which should be in a specific section within a warehouse. This will enable employees to quickly and accurately distinguish products to avoid any confusion. A member of staff can then double check the item against an order to deliver the right item to the right customer.

Regular Cycle Counts

Organization is paramount in any warehouse, as accurate inventory will prevent a stockout or underselling. Know exactly what is in your warehouse and where it is located.  That will stop any potential problems that could harm your sales and reputation. Undertake regular cycle counts to maintain accurate inventory. The ongoing process should also become part of a warehouse operative’s daily routine.


Overselling, stockouts or picking and shipping errors not only result in the loss of one sale, but they can result in the loss of a loyal customer. Blunders can happen when selling products on a popular website while running a busy warehouse; however, inventory issues can be avoided with the right processes in place.

Avoid inventory mistakes from occurring by adding more organization into your warehouse.  Do that through inventory records, cycle counts, quality control and effective back office management systems, which will ensure your customers can order high-quality products every time they visit your website. As a result, you can build customer trust, retain loyalty and streamline operations to make a business run smoother.