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Our team of Fulfilment Consultants share warehouse management best practice and advice.

Beating the ‘ghost economy’ with a WMS

WRITTEN BY Paul Mullin /

06 December 2016

Whether you go with Hybris, Magento, NetSuite, Shopify or one of the many other e-commerce solutions, you may run into problems, especially as you begin to scale.

Most of these platforms do a stellar job of displaying your products and taking the money, it’s the bread and butter of the operation and they do it well. However, e-commerce is a multi-layered operation and it’s the bit behind that can have a less visible, but serious effect on your bottom line.

Having the right stock at the right time

Most e-commerce websites will experience a surge in web traffic during the Christmas period. This is mostly good news, but can also be fraught with problems in regards to stock. Hopefully the Christmas period will be a busy one for your business. This increase in web traffic will likely impact your stock control and inventory and you need to be ready.

The ‘ghost economy’

The process of updating inventories can be an incredibly sluggish one. Without easily digestible real-time data your business can find itself unable to respond in a quick and effective manner to market forces.

According to the retail technology company Order Dynamics, as much as 25% of products that customers see on retail websites are actually out of stock.

This is what is known as the ‘ghost economy’, and it is when customers fall victim to outdated digital inventory systems. This is where items that aren’t really in stock, appear to be when customers check online.

It’s important to ensure that your company doesn’t fall victim to mishaps in inventory management especially during seasonal periods. You must have technology in place so that you know what available inventory you have in real time. This makes life easier for the consumer on your webpage, and for the warehouse operative picking on the floor.

How a WMS helps

Most retailers electronically update their inventory once a day. This brings with it problems, such as stock that shows up on the website during the day, may already have been sold or set aside for an in-store pickup.

For example, in the past Mothercare Ireland inventory took 24 hours to be updated online after goods in had been received. Now since getting a WMS that process is almost instant.

It allows them to get rid of stock lags and inaccuracies meaning they’ll never have to buffer their stock again.

With everything done electronically you can remove the paper trail giving you the flexibility to accept orders later and still meet next day delivery.

A properly integrated WMS will work with whatever e-commerce solution you have. It will be able to feed back to your website when an item is in stock or shipped without constant polling.


By being aware and ready for the challenges you are likely to face during the holiday period and beyond, you’ll be in a better place to make sure that your website has the right preparation and measures in place. WMS helps relieve the added pressures of increased demand on your website and can help you remain in control of your stock at all times.





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