Top inventory management trends in ecommerce for 2022

Top inventory management trends in ecommerce for 2022

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

Thank you! Check your email for the whitepaper
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Juni will not share your information with any third parties except for our verified partner network. Submit your email for even more valuable content, delivered straight to your inbox.

Right on cue. That black-hooded t-shirt, already packaged and ready for fulfilment has just been ordered. Remember when we used to wait for the order to come in and then pick it? So quaint.

All that’s left to do is print the labels and send it on its way. No need to worry about replenishing the inventory — the manufacturer knew this order was coming at the same time you did. Reordering will be automated following dynamic production schedules, naturally.

It still sounds a bit sci-fi when you set it out like that, doesn’t it? But these are current inventory management trends in commerce. The move towards automation and AI is only going to continue in the coming years.

You may well be wondering how long it will be until the labels are printed before the order is placed. We’re not quite at that stage yet, but let’s look at some current and future trends in ecommerce to see how they’re driving inventory optimisation.

Trends in ecommerce inventory management you should adopt

Some of the top trends in ecommerce at the moment include:

  • AI order picking — items picked from your warehouse before the order arrives or at lightning speed
  • Automated supply chain management — integrating with manufacturers to automate and optimise inventory
  • Dynamic production planning — adjusting manufacturing requirements in real-time
  • Streamlining returns — smarter approaches to returned inventory
  • Omnichannel inventory management — joined up planning across multiple sales channels

Let’s look at these trends in more detail and delve into the tech and processes you need to bring them to your business.

AI order picking

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the overriding trend in all aspects of inventory management. It’s arguably the most important of all ecommerce industry trends. Machine learning is being used to improve demand forecasting to speed up the picking process.

Online grocery retailer Ocado is one of the leaders in this area. Its AI makes 20,000 demand forecasts per day. That data is fed into an AI-powered air traffic control-style system, which makes hundreds of decisions per second. Those decisions guide order-picking bots around its fulfilment centres to maximise efficiency.

Investing heavily in warehouse robotics is beyond the reach of most ecommerce companies. But there are other ways to achieve similar outcomes.

How to embrace AI order picking

  • Work with a warehousing, fulfilment, or logistics partner that has invested in robotics and AI
  • Huboo’s hub-based model creates mini warehouses within its warehouses powered by software that makes picking easier and more affordable for small ecommerce businesses
  • Use kitting and bundling, supported by targeted upselling, to create lo-fi order picking forecasts and efficiencies

Automated supply chain management

Automation is a broad ecommerce trend in its own right. But automating stock levels alone can only go so far. The emerging trend is for automation of the supply chain as a whole. That means total optimisation of inventory from production through to fulfilment.

Supermarket Morrisons introduced a fully automated reordering process using AI-based forecasting to improve product availability while reducing stock levels. It achieved 2.6% sales growth, a 30% increase in on-shelf availability, and reduced its inventory days on hand by two to three days.

How to automate supply chain management

  • Track inventory and automate reorder quantities and frequency using inventory management tools like Orderhive and Veeqo
  • Use the machine learning of software such as Invent Analytics and Blue Yonder to automate your supply chains and make decisions based on real-time data
  • Maintain supplier relationships and communications via a single platform

Dynamic production planning

We’ve all seen how quickly things can change over the past few years. Maintaining an agile approach to production planning is increasingly important. Sharing inventory data with manufacturers allows for automated responses. You can increase or decrease production according to demand.

How to achieve dynamic production planning

  • Get end-to-end traceability from your manufacturers to as many warehouses as you use with Katana
  • Use on-demand manufacturing platform Hubs, which uses AI to create accurate quotes from its manufacturing partners, automate production processes, and guarantee capacity, lead times, and pricing
  • Use automated pricing software like Flintfox to monitor changes in costs, track margins, and adjust prices at every stage of the supply chain

Streamlining returns

Around 1 in 5 items bought via ecommerce are returned. That explains why smarter approaches to the returns process is a major trend for ecommerce retailers. PayPal’s Happy Returns saves ecommerce stores up to 40% on return shipping costs through a network of box-free, label-free Return Bars.

How to improve your returns process

  • Use Yayloh to automate returns via a smooth process that encourages customer loyalty and retention
  • Calculate the likelihood of an order being returned with Invent Analytics’ return forecasting algorithm
  • Plug returns data into supply chain management and production planning using tools like Veeqo and QuickBooks Commerce

Omnichannel inventory management

Selling via multiple channels is nothing new in ecommerce. Whether it’s multiple Shopify stores or marketplaces, this often created a disjointed and atomistic approach to inventory management. The new trend is for a comprehensive overview of inventory across all channels.

How to create omnichannel inventory management

  • Make sure you can handle the additional work of marketing another sales channel
  • Use tools like Orderhive, Zoho Inventory and QuickBooks Commerce, which integrate with Shopify, Amazon, and other platforms to give you a unified view of your inventory across all sales channels
  • SellerCloud syncs inventory across all channels, including multi-warehouse inventory management
  • Create a single source of truth for your inventory using one of the tools we’ve mentioned or another to integrate all your platforms
  • Reconcile your inventory across all channels regularly to make sure your tools are working as intended

Invest in smarter inventory management

AI and automation are key to the rapid pace of change in ecommerce inventory management. As a result, embracing the latest trends means embracing tech that makes you more efficient.

You can start that process right now by:

  • Selecting the tech that’s best suited to your inventory management requirements
  • Working with logistics partners that use AI to cut costs and increase efficiency
  • Using demand forecasting to inform picking, production, replenishment, and returns processes
  • Adopting a comprehensive, end-to-end, and omnichannel approach to inventory management

Stay in the loop on future trends in ecommerce

If you’ve found this rundown of inventory management trends useful, you should definitely check out our other articles. Head over to our blog to read our latest blog posts.

Top inventory management trends in ecommerce for 2022
Financial platform

Juni is the financial platform built for ecommerce. We give you a unified view of your finances, with cards, mulitcurrency accounts, and banking, accounting and advertising integrations - all in one place. We can even help boost your cash flow with working capital, cashback and more.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

Thank you! Check your email for the whitepaper
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Juni will not share your information with any third parties except for our verified partner network. Submit your email for even more valuable content, delivered straight to your inbox.

October 19, 2022
Quickly pivot inventory planning with complete control over spend
Financial platform
Read article
September 12, 2023
Inventory forecasting for seasonal ecommerce businesses
Financial platform
Read article
August 16, 2022
Exploring the best inventory management software for ecommerce
Financial platform
Read article

Get insights like this in your inbox

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter
Juni Technology AB (registration number 559248-0908) and its officers, directors, owners, employees and representatives, including its subsidiaries and officers, directors, owners, employees and representatives of its subsidiaries (“Juni”) provides this information (the “Information”) for informational purposes only and you should not construe any Information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. The information and the opinions and views contained therein or otherwise by Juni have not been tailored to the objectives of any one individual or corporate entity, are current only as of the date hereof and may be subject to change at any time without prior notice. Juni does not have any obligation to provide revised Information in the event of changed circumstances. Juni strongly recommends you to seek a duly licensed professional to provide you with any legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice you may need. Juni expressly disclaims any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the Information. You alone assume the responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any Information before making any decisions based on such Information. You agree not to hold Juni liable for any possible claim for damages arising from any decision you make based on the Information.

Let’s keep in touch

Every month we round up the best news and insights from the world of Juni and beyond. No spam, just great content. Subscribe to our newsletter and you’ll stay up to date with:
  • Our take on current trends in the world of ecommerce
  • Hand-picked blogs and articles from the team
  • New features, events and more
By submitting your email address you agree to receive marketing emails from Juni. We won’t overdo it or use your data for anything other than sending emails - and you can unsubscribe at any time.

You're on the list

Thanks for signing up. Our next newsletter should be with you by the end of the month - enjoy!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.