Early on in my craft business, Sara’s Texture Crafts I decided to spread my wings from eBay, to cross channel selling as part of my sales strategy. My thought process was that different sites may attract different customers. So I opened up an Etsy shop and later on introduced my own ecommerce website and an Amazon shop. I also dabbled in a number of other sites like; Not on the High Street, Folksy and the now defunked DaWanda too. Then of course there were craft shows on top of that.
If you have run your online business for a while and are familiar with good inventory management, you can immediately see the potential nightmare that can unfold if stock control gets out of hand – if you aren’t selling something you already sold elsewhere, then you run out of stock everywhere! These are just some of the obvious problems with multichannel retailing.
That doesn’t mean we should avoid this lucrative sales opportunity altogether, especially as a niche business creating unique handmade items. In fact, I wholeheartedly encourage it, because it grows your brand awareness.
There are two things you can do to make life easier as you begin to retail cross channel, you can either; sell different stock across each sales platform, or you can create a simple system that does the stock control work for you.
Why using a multichannel inventory management system is better than a spreadsheet
A few weeks ago on the podcast we talked about simple systems for inventory management and I introduced the idea of a spreadsheet. This works for those selling small scale and on one channel, plus shows because it’s easier to keep track of and our businesses have yet to evolve. As we grow and work cross channel this inventory system is no longer fit for purpose.
We need much more detailed information and much more accurate data that is provided in ‘real-time’ if we are going to manage multichannel retailing successfully.
Introducing Craftybase as a multichannel retailing solution
Craftybase started in 2011, when the founders came up with the idea in part from their sister site Folia - a garden tracking site which amongst other features allows gardeners to track their seed and plant purchases. Their users were asking for these features to also be available for their crafting endeavours and so they started work on a prototype in 2010 with a beta released towards the end of 2011.
Craftybase is a perpetual inventory software designed specifically for small craft-based businesses. They essentially offer bookkeeping features designed around tracking your inventory, sales and purchases - the system keeps track of your stock levels and also assigns costings to materials and orders so that you instantly have the inventory and cost of goods sold (COGS) totals you need come tax time.
Although Craftybase is designed specifically for US handmade sellers at this time, they do have many sellers around the world using their software to track their inventory across multichannel retailing providers from; Etsy, Shopify and WooCommerce. The way that they calculate COGS and inventory valuations can potentially mean that they are compatible with other non US taxation systems (although they would advise in these situations to speak to a financial advisor before using their system just to make sure.)
Craftybase features include;
Cost of Goods Sold – According to Craftybase “most bookkeeping software simply isn't designed for the complexities of handmade manufacturing - your costs of goods sold (COGS) needs to be much more than just a guesstimated number. The Craftybase system calculates accurate, fully auditable figures based on your manufacture and material cost history, and compiles a Schedule C Report instantly with the numbers you need.
Your complete manufacturing history, including internal labour costs are fully tracked, so that you can see exactly how much it costs to produce your products.”
Material Inventory – According to Craftybase their software allows you to “Keep sortable, fully searchable product and material lists - available online, where ever you are and maintain full purchase histories for everything you buy. This allows you to calculate your exact current inventory value.”
Pricing Guidance – According to Craftybase you can also “Confidently set prices for your products based on your exact current costs of production, calculating up-to-the-minute estimated profit margins including sale site fees and commissions.
This allows you to create pricing tiers and price points for your retail, wholesale, consignment and individual sales channels.”
Reporting – Craftybase offers a “range of powerful reports and dashboard features providing you with both nitty gritty and high level details you need to be on top of your business. You'll find an array of traditional, book-keeper friendly reports, such as; Profit & Loss, Sales and Expenditure and our popular Schedule C guidance.
Along with this comes a huge range of reports designed specifically for small batch businesses.”
Expense Tracking – finally you can also use Craftybase to track expenses where their system has a number of pre-set tax categories to help you (although you can also create your own).
Currently Craftybase integrates with sales channels like;
A start plan will cost you just $9 a month and there is a 14 day free trial offer running as of today!
What can a multichannel inventory management system really do for me?
It can give you peace of mind and save you time by providing accurate cross channel stock pictures and important real-time financial data.
When I ran my craft business I had a more basic system that ran my stock from my main website across the multichannel retailing sales set-up I had. What it failed to do was draw on the financial side of things for me, like tax reporting and I was stuck doing that by hand as a separate process. That’s not really the answer when you are running a 6-figure business and I knew it. It was certainly an area I could have done better on, but there wasn’t a good deal of offering that related to my specific, complex, product building business. You see most systems do one thing or the other, they; allow for inventory management, or book keeping. Their rarely handle both and I certainly never came across a system that can break down my complex handmade products. So I’m rather intrigued by Craftybase!
Multichannel retailing is complex and not without its problems, but when you have a complex product it is even more difficult. Yes, you can do it by hand, but honestly as your business grows why would you! The idea is that we delegate some of those menial data-entry tasks to software built to do this for us. This allows us the time to establish what the right products are for our customers and to make them to deliver on time, every time.
Have you considered multichannel retailing for your craft business yet? If so what channels are you thinking of trying? Tell me in the comments below.
Thank you for reading! I hope that was helpful?
If you have any questions or comments, please pop them in the comment section below.