Small businesses selling their products online likely have them on a range of platforms.
In addition to third-party sites, a lot of small businesses sell directly from their own websites and mobile apps. That’s a lot of product listings spread across a variety of platforms.
Among the many problems this situation creates is an inventory nightmare. And that’s where Zoho’s latest small business app can play a key role in a company’s operations.
Zoho has launched its latest app, Zoho Inventory. This is the 28th product released under the Zoho profile.
The company’s Chief Evangelist Raju Vegesna said in a recent interview with Small Business Trends, “Another day, another new product.”
Inventory is designed to manage a small business’s inventory from orders to sales to fulfillment and back to re-orders.
It’s also designed to work hand-in-hand with other apps available from Zoho under the finance umbrella of services. For current users of Zoho Books — the company’s accounting solution — the look and feel of Zoho Inventory will seem familiar.
And these services look alike because they’re designed to work in concert. Zoho built Inventory to look like Books.
“It’s tightly integrated with the rest of the finance suite,” Vegesna said.
Zoho Inventory is made to manage a company’s stock of products. All of a company’s products listed on sites like eBay down to a business’s own page can be managed in one location via Zoho Inventory. Right now, Zoho Inventory is fully integrated with online seller platforms eBay, Etsy, Shopify, and Amazon.
Raj Sabhlok, president of Zoho Corp., said of his company’s Inventory app:
“Inventory and order management is important to companies of all sizes. SMBs, in particular, can reap significant rewards when they automate those functions; but many still use a spreadsheet –r pen and paper. Zoho Inventory efficiently manages inventory and orders, optimizing them to dramatically increase revenues and profitability for any company that sells online or off.”
So, if an online merchant is selling the same product on eBay and his or her own website, the product listing is managed in Zoho Inventory. If a sale is made, the inventory is updated in the Zoho app. Inventory not only tracks online sales but also local sales, like businesses with a brick-and-mortar location, too.
In addition to just tracking and managing sales, Zoho Inventory integrates with other automated tasks so small businesses can manage low stock or overstock. If a product listing entered into Zoho’s platform is running low, users get a notification that alerts them that more of a product is needed.
Automation like that can reduce the amount of time a small business might spend manually doing inventory on the chance they’ll catch products that are low in supply or taking up too much space, collecting dust in the stock room.
But Inventory goes a step further and addresses the most important part of any sale, fulfillment.
Zoho Inventory is being integrated with at least 25 different shipping providers. So users will be able to select the best times for shipping orders, for example.
“These are out-of-the-box shipping integrations,” Vegesna said.
And after the sale is complete, Zoho Inventory also gets you prepared for future sales and for building your customer base. Inventory is also integrated with Zoho CRM. It collects customer information gleaned from all the shopping platforms to which it is connected. This gets you prepared to market your current customers in the hopes they’ll become future customers.
Vegesna warned that, at least initially, some commerce platforms will not allow users to import customer data into Zoho Inventory. Amazon, for instance, is one such platform that doesn’t allow exporting of customer data.
But any changes made to customer data on the company’s system are instantly changed across all Zoho apps a small business uses. And Vegesna noted that this change is instantaneous.
“I can’t even call it in-sync. It’s there,” he said. “We removed the concept of sync. Why don’t we just put them in the same database?”
Zoho Inventory also arms small businesses with some more insights into their product stock and their order statuses. On the Inventory dashboard, users get quick information like the number of orders that need to be shipped, packed, or processed. Inventory also gives information about your products, like best sellers and slow sellers.
Inventory is mostly a desktop-only application. However, iOS users can get real-time updates on order statuses on their mobile devices via a connected app.
About 1,300 users beta-tested Zoho Inventory before this release. New users get a 14-day trial period using the new platform. After that, Inventory is charged at rates between $29 and $449 per month. And to get users to realize the power of having more than one Zoho platform working for them, Zoho is including a subscription to the Professional level of Zoho Books at no charge.
Zoho does not reveal any financial information about the company. It does not however, accept any venture capital funding. And to this point, it hasn’t needed it.
“Unlike the industry trends,” Vegesna said, “We are private. We still remain private and profitable.”
Vegesna confirms that there are now 15 million users of Zoho products and services. And the company is about to celebrate its 20th year in business. It employs about 3,000 people.
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